Time to say goodbye to another luminary of the book world and to fondly recall the day in 2009 when I met Colin Dexter at the Winchester Writers’ Conference. It was late morning, he had just finished speaking, and was suitably dismayed to learn that the bar was closed. “Can’t we go to the pub?” he asked Beryl Bainbridge. I have no idea what I was doing standing there – I was gobbier in those days, I’d probably pushed my way to the front to announce my addiction to Morse and enduring crush on John Thaw – but I was able to share with both these great writers, the intelligence I’d gathered the night before when in a similar fix. You could buy wine direct from the kitchen staff. I led the famous author to the chap who’d done the deal the previous evening, he purchased a bottle of red (it could have been two) which he generously invited me to share. I was speaking later myself, so God knows how that went, but I do recall a most entertaining lunch with the pair of them, feeling privileged indeed. “It was a delight to be with you,” Mr Dexter wrote in my Inspector Morse Omnibus, causing someone to joke that if I fell on hard times I could take the inscription to the News of the World. He laughed. I have treasured the tome ever since. I was pretty delighted too.
And now for something entirely non-brexit! In a welcome distraction, I’ve been feeding this little chap, who seems to have fallen out of his nest yesterday and who spent most of his day squeaking outside the front door. We were worried a fox or cat would get him so when he wandered in to what we call our lobby, we left him there overnight. I fed him last night – he had a sleep – and woke me up at five a.m. for breakfast. He’s now back outside – still squawking – and his mum has taken over… Blackbird breakfast on youtube
I have been updated! The flab book has a new cover and youtube trailer and I have been given an author page on facebook. Not entirely sure what to do with it, as yet 🙂 but if you are on facebook yourselves and feel inclined to click the “like” button, that would be marvellous…. If you feel like trying the flab tips or encouraging your friends to*, that would be even more wonderful… (before and after pics always welcome! :-))
* NB As I instructed my father, after he thrust one of my postcards at what he described as “a large lady” in the queue in Tesco, this has to be done with caution. I have advised: “Of course YOU don’t need this, but it’s vaguely amusing…” as a potential opener next time. He has promised to bear it in mind when he’s out of the plaster…
100 Ways is now on YouTube!
Click on the ‘play button’ below to view this video…
If you liked it and / or have some feedback, we’d love to hear from you. Do leave a comment below. Thank you. 🙂
This was my Isle of Thanet Gazette column, published 8/05/2015 that gave rise to the following on this week’s letter page. As I said on twitter – thanks for all the amusing response! – I love the idea that I should pay for my sins by attending a council meeting…. Punishment indeed!!! 🙂
The offending piece:
“They are homophobes; they are sexist.”
“They are self-opinionated and won’t take criticism.”
“They’ve shown how incompetent and secretive they are.”
“They play games.”
By the time you are reading this, we will know which party’s representatives have landed in Thanet, and whichever one it is, the chances are it will have been described as one of the above. The most enjoyable part of interviewing the various candidates for the seats of South and North Thanet in the lead-up to the general elections, was hearing the rants that I wasn’t allowed to print. Above is the short version. I have acres of tape on what is fundamentally wrong with Labour, the Conservatives, the dreaded UKIP, the Lib Dems (actually nobody took them seriously enough to be rude) and the Greens (ditto).
When we got down to analysing individuals, most of my interviewees were keen to protest that they weren’t in the business of knocking their rivals, but did manage to shyly reveal:
“He’s not going to do anything for the area.”
“He’s not going to trot around dealing with people’s problems.”
“He’s a bit like the temple in Cambodia with four faces”
“I’m a different breed of politician from him. I’m not here to tell lies.”
“He’s just using it as a stepping stone up his own vanity ladder.”
“You can’t trust him.”
So welcome whoever made it through. You sound thoroughly delightful and I’m sure we’ll get on like a house on fire. One thing is for sure – it will indeed be a HE in South Thanet. Our current incumbent at the time of writing, Laura Sandys, is sadly not standing for re-election. I can honestly say I have never heard her say a bad word about anyone.
I have had various conversations with Laura over the last five years: as a journalist seeking her views, at local gatherings various, and as a constituent to her MP. Ms Sandys was unfailingly smiley, concerned, committed and above all, moderate. Even my most left-wing friends had little negative to say apart from the obvious – that she was a Tory. In traditionally right-wing circles, hallowed was her name. When she first came on the scene, the criticism levelled at her most frequently was a puzzled: “She seems a bit too nice.” Eventually we realised she actually was nice. Very! She also worked like a Trojan, was passionate about her causes, would turn out to the opening of an envelope even when it was cold, dreary and pouring with rain – make-up-less, hair wet and still managing to look as if she were privileged to attend – and always seemed to be one of those rare creatures: the politician who is in it to try to make the world a better place, not for their own self-glory. I know I am not the only one who would have voted her back in, in a heartbeat, whichever party she was standing for. (Except UKIP, obviously. But the good lady is far too intelligent for that!). Good luck with whatever you do next, Laura! I doubt Thanet will see your like again.
ALSO BY THE TIME you are reading this, I will be propping my eyes open with matchsticks, having flown back from a week working in France (see www.chez-castillon.com) in time to cast my vote and pitch up at the Winter Gardens for the count. It’s a long sleepless night, filled with politicians and council officials, news bulletins and anxiety, and not even an open bar. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ll have seen who we’ve got and be suitably relieved or disappointed or in deep despair .
Whichever of the three, my message for the new chap is this: I hope you’ll do a bit more for Thanet than they said you would…
A month left to enter! And a totally FABULOUS prize. So what are you waiting for? 🙂 jxx
So you’ve started your novel with great enthusiasm. You’ve finished the first few chapters and don’t know where to go next. Running out of inspiration? Woman writing competition judge Jane Wenham-Jones has good advice for unpublished writers taking part in our search for a new star of women’s contemporary fiction.
- Remember there is no “right” way to plot a novel – only what works for you. Some novelists plan everything out meticulously before they write a word, others just start typing. Many – including me – know what’s in the first chapter, have a vision for the end and have a few ideas for the major events along the way, but work out the detail as they go. All are equally valid.
- Experiment with different ways of planning. Some writers like to use index cards – with notes for each scene or chapter on separate cards and keep them neatly…
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Love the Romaniacs – crazy, cake-eating romantics that they are. So thrilled to get a spot on their blog. If you like cake and romance, take a look at them. If you like cake TOO much – read on here… 🙂
Let them eat cake….
(And we’ll have some too!)
Jane Wenham-Jones, author of the revolutionary new eating plan 100 Ways to Fight the Flab – and still have wine and chocolate, explains why every successful diet still involves a slice of what you fancy…
No Cake for YOU….
If I told you that you could never have cake again, what would you immediately fancy? Yep, a great big lump of Victoria sponge, or a rich moist coffee and walnut gateau, or a gloriously chocolatey brownie, or perhaps a fresh cream éclair…(insert your own weakness). You may not even like cake (you strange creature) but if your downfall is crisps (as mine is), pizza, or fresh crusty bread with lots of butter, and I suddenly tell you that if you want to lose weight, it has got to go – ? Well, you get my drift…
There are two big…
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Am pleased to have been recognised as a “diet expert” 🙂
Says she, with the chocolate nut cookie hanging out of her mouth…
(Brazil nuts – full of selenium you know….)
But if you are planning summer parties, barbecues, and foodie days out – hope this might be useful 🙂
WANT to let off steam this summer without piling on weight? Diet expert Jane Wenham-Jones reveals her top 10 tips…
Nobody (except the teetotal) should be expected to go to a wedding or a big birthday and say no to champagne. Or refuse those yummy little canapés and stand there with a carrot stick. Even if we arrive at a barbecue or garden party with the best of intentions, determined only to drink water and eat the salad garnish, we’re soon going to start feeling deprived and hungry and miserable and as though we’re missing out. No surprise then that, before the end of the evening, so many of us fall off the wagon and stuff our faces with abandon.
Jane Wenham-Jones, the author of How to Fight the Flab and Still Have Wine & Chocolate, offers her top…
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You never really know someone until you live with them. A truth universally acknowledged by generations of women who’ve been swept off their feet with champagne and roses only to discover too late, that he always leaves the loo seat up and his socks on the floor. No such worries when in one’s own, beautiful ensuite accommodation, and sharing a house with other females but the rest holds true.
In return for their own silence, I have promised to be judicious on the matter of what exactly I discovered about my fellow authors when we spent a week together in France but suffice to say I can thoroughly recommend the experience . It was billed as a “Writers’ Retreat”. For which I’d suspected, you could read “Writers’-sit-around-and- Drink-Too-Much”. I was, after all, going with members of the RNA – not an organisation famed for its temperance in pastures new.
But when Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Jo Thomas and Catherine Jones and I moved en masse into Chez-Castillon, a gorgeously restored 18th century townhouse on the banks of the Dordogne, owned by Micky Wilson and Janie Millman who have turned their talents – they are both actors and Janie is also a writer and one fabulous cook – to running creative courses, surprising discipline was shown. Katie was up at six completing her daily word target before breakfast, Judy was heard to say she wouldn’t have any wine at lunchtime so she could work hard in the afternoon (“say” being the operative word here, I didn’t actually spot her without a glass in her hand) and Jo had completed 7,500 words by the end of day two, (by which time I had managed to pen a TO-DO list and wander down the road for a pedicure). Nor was it just writing!
Catherine “Brace Up” Jones put us all to shame with dawn swims; we did walking, shopping and wine-tasting (naturellement) and in the evening made our own entertainment. “Stars in their Eyes” saw Katie as Mary Hopkins, me as Joni Mitchell (ambitious, yes!), Jo providing the entire score from Calamity Jane (with hand movements) and Catherine as Edith Piaf. Micky was Nat King Cole, Judy contributed hilarious jokes (in French no less!) and Janie a poem about knickers and vicars which is now a blur but went down a treat after the fourth bottle. The whole experience of spending a week with fellow scribes was madly, gloriously, divinely inspiring and even I – Queen of Displacement – returned with a list of book chapters, a short story, two columns and some riotous photos. We will be going back….
Fast forward to NOW…
And back we’ve been – several times!
I’ve taught a number of courses, hung out with the usual suspects – which most recently included the lovely Clare Mackintosh, director of Chipping Norton Lit Fest, and used Janie’s recipes in my 100 Ways to Fight the Flab, proving you can eat well, drink copiously and still combat your writer’s bottom if you only know how.
The authors will, I’m sure, testify to the magical, inspiring qualities of the place (it’s not just all the wine :-)).
It is fab!
And I’d love to see you there.
Who dares? :- ) Be great to see anyone who can get here – to watch even if not to take part…. 🙂 jx
Seeking a way around the slush pile? Brave enough to have your manuscript critiqued in front of an audience? Whether you’re ready to throw your hat in the ring, or just want to pick up tips for your own writing, this event is one for aspiring authors everywhere.
Literary agent Carole Blake (pictured right) teams up with author of Wannabe a Writer? Jane Wenham-Jones for this interactive ‘reality show’ event. Submit 1,000 words of your novel in the form below by the end of February 2014 for the chance to win one of five places.
Click here for full details, terms and conditions, and the entry form.
By way of an intro I must tell you that I found these on my computer while looking for something else. They were written for a column in 2007! And the shameful thing is, they are just as pressing – with minor updates (see notes in italics) – now, as they were then. Proving that Old Writers Never Learn – they just get bigger arses…. (or something!).
Whatever you resolve, I hope it comes to pass. Happy New Year!
New Year’s Resolutions for Writers
1. Writers’ Bottom
I will finally face the fact that Writing does not use up 500 calories an hour and that food eaten at the desk does count – particularly when it is two packets of Kettle chips dipped in houmous, a bar of chocolate and half a bottle of white wine. The excursion from computer to sofa to watch EastEnders does not constitute exercise. Writers Bottom is not a hereditary condition but caused by sitting on it for eight hours a day while cramming junk food. (Now of course I am the proud author of a tome designed to consign one’s writer’s derriere to a thing of the past. If you wanted to help my new year go with a bang you could always buy it :-))
I will remember that actually alcohol does not enhance creativity and that there is no point in writing down the brilliant idea I had for chapter seventeen when I was three sheets to the wind. Even if I can decipher it, it will still be drivel in the morning.
I will not scream: YOU JUST HAVE when family members walk into my writing room, saying “I won’t interrupt you but….”
Nor throw things at their heads when they answer: “But you were only looking out of the window… “
I will remind myself that the sensible, grown-up way to handle a deadline is write 2000 words a day, Monday to Friday, with Sunday off to allow for bracing walks and cooking the family roast. I will no longer spend five months and three weeks emailing and going out to lunch and then book into a hotel for seven days and stay up all night swearing.
I will go into bookshops to buy books. I will stop rearranging the bookshelves by moving myself from W (down in the corner at ankle level where the cobwebs lurk) to A where everyone can see me (especially if I put all copies face out over the top of Jeffrey Archer).
Alternatively I will change my name to Arkwright.
I will stop grinding my teeth over the Bestseller lists and be totally thrilled when someone who has never written a word in their entire life gets a six-figure sum and half a million quid’s worth of film rights for their memoir on eating slugs in the jungle or having a breast enhancement operation, live on Big Brother. After all, there’s room for all of us…
7. Humour. I will smile widely when the 4, 752nd person says: Ha, ha, ha – have you sold as many as 50 Shades of Grey yet? (of course when I first wrote this, it was J K Rowling. Doesn’t make it any better!)
Even when that person says it every time I meet him.
I will try and keep to these longer than I did last year (January 17th)
I will tell the truth. (It was Jan 4th)
I’m a late addition to this brilliant authors’ auction set up by the resourceful Keris Stainton. Am giving a dollop of my best agony-aunting plus a couple of books – signed and posted out to you or a friend. Please pass on details if you can think of anyone who might be interested in bidding. All funds raised go to help the people of the Philippines and if you don’t fancy my lot there are hundreds of other fab authors’ offerings to go for…. thanks xx
ITEM: A copy each of Wannabe a Writer? and Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? (Not to be mistaken for the same thing!) Signed to you or a friend (think useful Christmas gift for someone misguided enough to want to join the ranks)
PLUS half an hour of telephone or skype writing* advice – which can be a general chat or feedback on a short story or first chapter of a novel.
* NB: I am a frustrated agony aunt proper – if you want to spill the beans about your complex personal life instead, that’s fine too. 😉
BIO: Jane Wenham-Jones is the author of four novels and two non-fiction books with a third due out in 2014. As a short-story writer and freelance journalist, she has written for a wide range of women’s magazines and national newspapers and has regular columns in her local paper – the Isle…
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A lovely blog post here from the immensely talented Clare Mackintosh (watch out for her debut novel next year – it’s going to be astonishing) about our recent time together at the legendary Chez Castillon, where I have had so many happy times.
This visit was particularly special, as I had my pals Katie Fforde, Catherine Brace-up Jones (who made me walk up and down hills mercilessly) and Judy Astley in residence too, along with Betty Orme, (my partner in crime in the crisps department), Jo Thomas and lovely, lovely students, all of whom taught me as much as I imparted to them. Everything Clare says about Janie and Mike’s gaff is spot on – it is a miracle* I came back weighing the same as I went out (Brace-up did me a favour, there, even if I did whinge at the time).
I am back at Chez Castillon in 2014 – doing a general course in May and a specialised short story course in September. Watch the website for details. In the meantime, I’ve still got the photos, Gorgeous….. 🙂
*not such a miracle actually – you can pre-order, now…
You can click the picture above for Clare’s article or here.
A quickie to say please do watch part two and let me know what you think. Proper blog post next time… xx
Yes – here is part two of the Wannabeawriter TV show and I so hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment, please tell your friends, and if you fancy being on a future programme then do fill in the application form. 🙂
Thank you again for all the great comments and enthusiasm we’ve received so far – we are hugely grateful.
all best and happy writing
PS and while I’m at it, this is a great campaign too. www.booksaremybag.com
I was at the fab launch at Foyles last week and think the whole concept is a stroke of genius, frankly….
Carole is indeed a star and thanks Bridget for taking the time to write about this… 🙂
Heard from two bloggers – Catherine Ryan Howard and Kathleen McGurl – about a pilot for a new reality television staring real wannabe writers trying to get publishing deals and receiving advice from professionals alone the way.
It’s the baby of Jane Wenham-Jones, novelist and author of Wannabe a Writer, a practical no-nonsense guide written in a humorous, conversational style that makes you feel you’re in a wine bar together rather than receiving pearls of wisdom from on high.
I must admit I have a bit of a problem with reality shows. I watch The Apprentice every series along with 98% of the country but I’ve weaned myself off Big Brother and the more ‘respectable’ ones like Embarrassing Bodies because there’s seems to be such a big freak show element and I feel uneasy being a voyeur.
So, does WAW TV fall into the same category?
Yes, it does in…
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A quick post to say a Very Happy Birthday to the fabulous Morgen to whom I owe a great deal. This is the woman who keeps me (just!) the right side of insanity by sorting out my blogs and various online endeavours I am too dim to manage myself. It was she who single-handedly set up www.wannabeawritertvshow.com – thus allowing Stephen and I to get on with making the show and just pop in and out to add a bit of content in between things. I heartily recommend her services to you all – except not so much that she gets too busy to regularly bail me out…
Happy Birthday sweetie! Have a great day.
And thanks for everything
Here at last….
Am all very thrilled – and not a little nervously twitchy 🙂 – to announce the launch of the first half of the pilot episode of Wannabe a Writer? The TV Show, a joint project between me and my mate Stephen Arkell of Retina Productions , in which we bring an exciting new concept in Writer-centred TV to your screens…
Bit late getting this up here as have been away to the Winchester Writer’s Conference where I had the enormous privilege of hearing Julian Fellowes speak! Fabulous. Top quote: “just because nobody’s found you, it doesn’t mean you haven’t got it”. Could have listened to him for several more hours. I have come late to Downton Abbey (currently on series three of boxed set so please don’t tell me what happens) but adore it. In love with Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Lady Mary. ANYWAY, the column won’t be of particular interest to those of you living outside the fair Isle of Thanet as it is a rant about local parking (high cost and general inconvenience of/Council ineptitude over same). But just in case and because after an encouraging start with the new website, it is impossible to find online again, (My-mate-Mike eventually tracked me down but you wouldn’t know I’d written it if I hadn’t just told you), I am sticking it up all the same.
The basic premise of it is that there’s nothing like parking to bring out one’s inner tightness, but if you’ve nothing better to do you can read the whole lot HERE. Hope you are having a nice weekend even if the weather is shite. jxx
Well what a lov-er-ley time I had at this year’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival – a treat indeed. You would never believe the festival is only in its second year from its big-name line up and terrific organisation but it is and I’ve been lucky enough to be there for both of them. This time I had the enormous pleasure and privilege of being “in conversation with” the super-best-selling Peter James on Saturday, who talked about his forthcoming Dead Man’s Time (I got to read a review copy – bloody brilliant!) fascinated us all with his police tales and amused greatly with his unique revenge tactics on Martin Amis (ha ha!). Peter is a dream to interview!
As is the gorgeous and delightful Fern Britton. I met her for about a minute before we started our event around her latest entertaining novel The Holiday Home but she was as warm and relaxed as if we were old friends. What a totally lovely, natural and generous lady. The audience adored her and so did I. She had some hilarious stories too… (Was Chipping Norton ready for the word c*ck? Certainly seemed to be…. :-)) We all laughed lots.
Thanks Jan Harvey for taking this one
So put next year’s dates in your diary now. Chipping Norton Lit Fest 2014 runs from 24th – 27th April and I’m excited already….
Whenever I give one of my friends one of my books to read (some are too tight-fisted to cough up for one themselves :-)) I always say the same thing: you can be brutally honest. Of course, people still feel they can’t be. One pal took months to admit she hated my third novel with a passion, after loving the first two, thinking that by saying that, she’d upset me. Actually I was fascinated. It was illuminating to hear what had affected her so badly and we had a really interesting exchange as a result.
Refreshingly, My-mate-Mike, my fellow-columnist on the Isle of Thanet Gazette has no such inhibitions. I wouldn’t normally shove a review in front of you but the running commentary spread over several emails, made me laugh so much, I thought I’d post the edited highlights. (The dots are where I’ve removed a spoiler – just in case after reading this, anyone still feels like braving the PRIME TIME. The Italics are mine. ) It’s been good to see how one of my books – primarily aimed at the female market – goes down with a chap too. Could he possibly empathise with the heroine? It seems not…
“I’m enjoying the plot but developed an early and intense dislike for the central character. No wonder hubby cleared off.”
“Not a difficult choice when the alternative is a wine-saturated busybody, always wittering about her internal workings.”
“Too much wine and whine in first 100 pages.”
“What the hell’s it got to do with her if he….? Surprised he didn’t smack her when she started quizzing him.”
“I trust you have planned a suitably hideous end for her.”
“Don’t like the sulky son or the oily television bloke, either.”
“Really enjoying it, especially now she’s …… Very droll and picking up pace splendidly. Still hope central character comes to a distressing end.”
“I reckon oily tv bloke will turn out to be a ******” (NB he was wrong)
“Looks as if the raddled woman might finish up with ….. Serves her right.”
“Your best book so far, by a mile. Can’t understand why it was nominated in the romantic comedy section…”
“Didn’t find a typo for more than 200 pages, then two more followed quickly, but three in 300 pages is a miracle nowadays. I trust they sacked the myopic work experience dunce who allegedly roof-read ……” (Insert title of one of my previous books) (Not sure if this is Mike being hilarious or he really left the “p” out…)
“I shall be sad when I’ve finished – which is the highest compliment anyone can pay an author! ”
“Wonderful! So the two ghastlies finished up ….”
“A very good modern morality tale, which I think is too profound to deserve a rom-com tag. ”
“Wonderful! Apart from the beginning….”
Thank you, Mike! Reviewer to the Non-Faint-Hearted.
Am sure if YOU’D like a no-holds barred review for your magnus opus, I can probably persuade him to oblige… 🙂
I can’t find this up on thisiskent.co.uk despite the invitation at the foot of the printed column – if you can, please do send me the link! So here it is, for those that care, my take on why Broadstairs is a fabulous place to live – as spotted last weekend by The Times. Thoughts and comments welcome…
This is Why We Love Thanet
As those of you who read a quality newspaper will know, Broadstairs has been named by The Times as one of the 30 Best Places to Live by The Sea. The newspaper cites as its high points: good schools, blue flag beaches and the fact that London is 80 minutes away by train. Can’t dispute any of that, but those of us who live here can surely do better. As a long-time resident of what the Times refers to as this “genteel” town (they weren’t here on a Friday night, then), may I offer my own top reasons why Broadstairs in particular, and Thanet in general, is a fab place to live.
1) The Ahhh factor. When skipping among the dropped litter, dodging the dog poo or sighing sadly at boarded up shops, it is easy to forget how totally gorgeous Thanet can be. Look at the sweep of Margate Beach from the harbour arm, take time to stop and stare at Ramsgate’s glorious marina and feast your eyes on Viking Bay, twinkling at night or picture-book pretty by day, fishing boats bobbing. I can still wander the twisting pathway behind Bleak House, down past the 18th century Tartar Frigate and think: Wow.
2) Independent shops. Glossing over the lapse in taste that brought Iceland to Broadstairs High Street – most of the outlets here are small or quirky. Never underestimate how entirely fortunate we are to still have butchers and bakers and greengrocers and traditional stores like Harrington’s the ironmongers, the Bottleneck, York Street Post Office (or a post office at all!) and Peters Shoe Repairs.
3) Pubs. They may be under pressure but we can still boast as fine an array of timeless hostelries as you’ll find anywhere. Consider not only the lilies but the White Swan or The Brown Jug. And with 5000 boozers having closed across the country – the fact that we have bars opening. Check out the new wave of real ale micro pubs and rejoice.
4) Old Buildings Steeped in History. The bijou Palace Cinema in Harbour Street, the tiny Dickens Pantry and mullioned windows of Serene Place, York Gate, The Theatre Royal, the Tom Thumb ETC.
5) Old Codgers steeped in controversy. Credit where credit is due – we have the most entertaining local council in the land. Where else could you boast a set of elected representatives who have variously been put away for forgery and corruption, hauled up for brawling, played fancy dress with Arab sheiks, been dressed down for abusive phone calls, accused of homophobia, animal neglect and drink-driving… and just know in your heart, there’ll be more laughs to come ….
6) Interesting locals. An eclectic, eccentric bunch ranging from the old school, dyed-in-the-wool stalwarts of middle England to the arty dilettantes to the campaigning, table-thumping thorns in the council’s side. Millionaires shuffling along in hand-me-downs. Flash Harries with personalised numberplates on their third bankruptcy. All life is here!
7) Calendars and customs. Annual events that soldier on. The Dickens Play, Dickens Festival, Folk Week, town carnivals, Water Gala, Ramsgate Week… A shame the bank holiday punch-up on Margate seafront petered out but still lots to enjoy.
8) A proper local paper. With a letters page. (And Smudger). Take a look at the rags in other necks of the wood. See what I mean?
9) A local airport to take you pretty much anywhere. Hurrah for KLM and daily flights to Schipol. Am I the only one excited? The Loop isn’t bad either.
10) Being safe. Yes, Thanet has its moments but overall crime is relatively low, and residents mostly decent. If you fall over in the street, someone will usually pick you up. There’s an A & E up the road, police to be seen, the bins get emptied (eventually) and it could all be worse. At least it’s not Dover.
Would love it if anyone would like to follow the new FLAB blog. One hot (no pun intended) tip per week – you won’t be inundated.
And if there’s nothing good on TV tonight I am on Radio Litopia at 8pm till nearly 9. See http://www.litopia.com/radio/shows/litopia-after-dark/ Happy Sunday jxx
So eat a chilli. The hotter the better. Chillies raise the metabolism and the fierier they are, the greater the effect. I ate my last fresh one last night and it’s too cold to go shopping today so here, by way of illustration, are some I bottled in olive oil the last time I was being a domestic goddess – HA!
Experts estimate that one can expect a 15% increase in calories burned for about two hours after eating a hot chilli sauce. Buy packets of fresh chillies from the supermarket and then keep and dry the seeds. Growing them yourself is easy, cheap and satisfying (sorry to sound like an excerpt from Cooking on a Shoestring in a Bedsit for One) and the plants look pretty on the kitchen window sill. I used to grow new ones each season until a nice girl called Hannah Harman, who works…
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Very pleased to have been interviewed by the lovely Catherine. She is hilarious. (And knows a bit about a bit too! Have a look and enjoy.) Only just remembered one can do this reblogging lark. So here goes…
Jane Wenham-Jones is the author of one of my all-time favorite “how to” writing books, Wannabe a Writer? And since I started writing full-time, my arse has been expanding at a rate that’s in direct proportion to the amount of time I’ve been spending sitting on it. So when I heard that Jane had published a new e-book, 100 Ways To Fight The Flab: The Wannabe Guide to a Better Bottom, it was like all my calorific Christmases had come together, minus the associated post-Christmas binge guilt.
Today she’s stopping by to tell us how we can all avoid the dreaded Writer’s Bottom. Welcome back to Catherine, Caffeinated, Jane!
Tell us about your experience with Writer’s Bottom, the tragic and devastating condition that led you to write this book.
WELL… First of all, I would like to make it clear that I coined the term—in a hundred years, when…
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Quick one to say that they have technical problems over at Radio Litopia so I won’t be on this evening after all…
Will post new date as soon as I know it. In the meantime, hope you are all having a lovely time on this wet, windy bloody-freezing Sunday – or is that just the fair Isle of Thanet?
Despite the horrible weather, I have been much cheered this weekend by a great review by the lovely Kath over at womagwriter.blogspot.co.uk.
Coming up next in a blog post that Morgen made earlier….
There – don’t they look pretty? Prime Time with the covers of the other lovely books shortlisted for the Romantic Comedy category of the RoNas.Very proud to be in such excellent company. You can see all the other categories and short-listed novels HERE. 18 days to go to the ceremony with Richard & Judy (how thrilling is that!) – as I see from Morgen’s countdown box on the right (which also means 18 days to follow my own advice so I can get the zip on my dress done up!).
In the meantime if you happen to be hanging around, having a fiddle on the internet on a forthcoming Sunday evening (as one does), I am on Radio Litopia (date t.b.a.) from 8pm which sounds like fun. I gather you listen – or even join in – by clicking http://litopia.tv/rad. Can’t tell you any more as it’s all new to me too. It was Ms Bailey’s idea so we’ll blame her if it all goes wrong 🙂
Until then – have a great weekend and don’t drink any more than I would. 🙂
PS More of the shortlisted books – including some by lovely friends…
My column in the Isle of Thanet Gazette is finally online (hurrah) but does not yet bear my name (possibly a blessing in disguise as will not be top favourite down at t’ local council this morning). To see it in all its questionable glory click HERE and take my word for it that I wrote it.
For those not living in Thanet, who don’t give a flying f*** about Mssrs Worrow and Gregory (very wise) then in other news the programme for the CHIPPING NORTON LITERARY FESTIVAL is out now! Am very excited about this and will be wittering on about it in much greater depth as we get closer.
Have a great weekend….
Remember my excellent advice on coping when the old man is suddenly at home ALL BLOODY DAY?
My esteemed fellow columnist on the Gazette, Mike Bah-Humbug Pearce, has waded in with his own rantings on the matter. Still, keeps him busy, love him. He is retired, you know…
The perils of retired life by Mike Pearce
SO WHERE were we before we were so rudely interrupted by Christmas?
Ah! yes, my columnist chum Jane Wenham-Jones was offering advice to a wimpy woman wanting to know how could she cope now her husband is retiring, which is like asking a flower how it’s going to cope now that the refreshing rain is on its way. All chaps know it is the MAN who will need help.
So agony aunt Jane and your new pal, please go off and have a natter while I reveal what he needs to know.
Dear Jim. Make sure you invest in a sat-nav.
You are now an on-demand chauffeur and your navigating spouse will invent a new compass point – There.
Whenever you ask “Where do we go?”, she will reply “Over there”. One lady told me, when we stopped at a T-junction, that we should go straight on.
Be prepared for preposterous assertions, the most popular being “You don’t want another drink” after you have just announced that it’s exactly what you would like.
Don’t announce your plans in advance, because you will be headed off at the pass with previously unthought-of things that can be done only on the day you plan to play golf.
Women used to have sinus trouble – “Sign us a cheque for this, sign us a cheque for that.” In the electronic age, leave your credit card at home if you are ever forced to join a shopping expedition.
Buy a second television. Your beloved will sit like a trappist through hours of soaps, then gabble like a goose as soon as anything remotely interesting comes on screen.
And yes, you can afford to have Sky Sports, if she can afford to buy glossy “style” magazines. And if you can’t afford both, get her interested in football. Tell her the centre-forward’s having an affair with someone from Eastenders, which she will find interesting and will probably be true anyway.
Treat yourself to an ipod and a set of earphones. Enjoy records you haven’t played for years, while at the same time blocking out the hour-long phone calls to the friend she had lunch with just hours earlier.
Accept that your suit-and-tie days are over. Casual clothes always look rumpled on an ageing frame, so don’t be ashamed to wear them for days or to leave them lying around the bedroom, the bathroom, the dining room and the hall. She will pick them up eventually, if only to allow the door to close.
Be careful how you react to her cooking. Be over-enthusiastic and you will get the same dish over and over. And when you point out that liver and bacon three times a week might be excessive, expect the: “I thought you liked it. What’s wrong with it?” sulks.
Say you’re not that keen and you’ve taken a short cut to the “What’s wrong with it?” stage.
Be prepared for sighs, an irritating affectation exclusive to women.
You spill your coffee, they go “Tch-huhhhhhhhhhh”. You forget (along with an increasing number of things) to put out the dustbin – “Tch-huhhhhhhhhhh”.
Be prepared for daft questions. When your phone rang at work, nobody would chirp up “Who’s that?”, as if you were Claude the Clairvoyant. Now you’ll get it all the time. Same if there’s a knock on the door. You might try answering “The neighbour I’m having an affair with”, or “The bailiffs”, but it’s a high-risk strategy.
And remember Jim, if this all sounds too daunting, B&Q are always keen to take on older workers.
The winner, ladies and gentlemen – picked at random* from all those who left a comment on my tea-tastings, who receives, courtesy of the good folk of teapigs, this marvellous teapig-and-mug set is ….NORMAL FOR NORFOLK!!! (Hurrah). NFN is, I glean from her blog, actually called Sam Whiteoak. Send me your address, Sam, and I will pass it on to to teapigs. Thank you to every one of who who left a comment – I enjoyed them all. I’ll think up another little contest before Christmas.
* OK, I have to be honest, it was mostly random. First out of the hat was actually My Mate Mike but I put him back again. Because A) he says he only likes PG tips B) I’ve already posted him some teapigs just to annoy him 3) He’d only say it was a fix 4) it would look like a fix – teapigs-for-the-boys – seeing as we’re on a job share and all that. 5)He still owes me lunch.
So congrats to Sam who was a worthy second and who receives this wonderful prize for her endless excitement and joy, and don’t forget that everyone’s a winner on this blog with your BLOGGER12 discount for 15% off teapig products…
You’ll be glad to know I have found one I don’t like either. It has to be a thumbs down for the teapigs‘ exotically-named tung ting oolong tea which is billed as being “between green and black”. I should have known from that, really. Am not keen on black tea generally and green tea without flavourings tastes of compost. So needless to say it was a mega UGH at the first mouthful.
However, waste not, want not is my mantra (my mother was a war baby) and I can happily report it was perfectly salvageable by the addition of a super fruit on which Morgen has written a veritable essay right here.
Anyway, it seems most of you DO like tea – have had lots of hits since I started carrying on about it – but in case you also like marketing your books, today is the day that the podcast came out that I recorded with lovely Sue Cook recently. You can hear How to Market Your Book – words of wisdom from Alison Baverstock, Catherine Ryan Howard and me (twittering on in an alarming manner), here.
And back to those who like the dried-leaf beverage – may I offer you Pat Wood‘s verdict on the peppermint selection…
“Had to try the Liquorice and Peppermint first: they sounded dead odd and I’m not sure I would have volunteered to buy any. But the tea was lovely. A huge surprise. Not especially liquorice-y or minty, just a warming comforting yumminess. Great winter’s day tea. Mmm. 🙂 I will be looking out for these so I can buy them. Really good. And the little ‘tea temple’ made a second cup!
The ‘Tummy Tonic’ peppermint leaves made another great cuppa. Not overly peppermint, just enough to be tasty. I drink a lot of mint teas and this one compared very well in flavour with my usual brands. Thumbs up again.
The third tea temple was Green tea with Peppermint. I’m familiar with the Tea Pigs Green Tea and do drink that occasionally, but never had this particular one, so that was interesting. Nice minty flavour without being over the top, plus that always welcome caffeine hit. I don’t like my green tea very strong, so didn’t leave it as long as they advise. Floated the bag and out again quite quickly, so I could not only get a second cup, but it didn’t have that bitter after-taste you sometimes get with green tea.
Thank you for sending them and for letting me participate in the tasting.”
Thanks Pat! Think we may have had enough tea for now (am still up for Champagne and Chocolate tasting – bring it on) but never say never cos I still have popcorn, rooibos and chilli flavours sitting here…
PS I almost forgot – as a special for you, my blog followers, there is a DISCOUNT no less.
Go to www.teapigs.co.uk and enter code BLOGGERS12 and you will get 15% off your order (excluding gifts and cheeky deals as these have already been discounted).
Finally – don’t forget that anyone making a comment here will be entered into a draw to win a teapigs mug and pigs set. We’ll do the draw on Thursday at 4pm (or thereabouts) and announce the winner here shortly after.
Until then x
Well of course, I’d always rather be on the fizz cos it means there’s something to celebrate (or there isn’t, but there ought to be) but right now I am rather enjoying the old teapigs still.
I wasn’t convinced about chocolate flake tea (sweet drinks? ugh) but sometimes needs must. I turned to it when I was having one of my fasting sessions and it got me through – does actually taste like you’ve dipped some cadbury’s chocolate fingers (a small passion I devoted about a quarter of my first novel to) into the cup, which is probably because you sort of have – it has real flakes of the brown stuff in it. And I liked it! Which was a surprise as the tea bit is assam and I’m more of a darjeeling woman. Not sure I’d want it all the time but good as a pick-me-up when you can’t eat the real stuff.
My absolute favourite so far is Jasmine Pearls – this is really lovely – little balls of tightly wound jasmine leaves and buds in the pig bit – that unfurl in the water to produce a really aromatic, flowery, light (God, I’m rubbish at this descriptive bit – would never make a restaurant critic – hang on what do they say? “Very delicate green tea with a light, floral, refreshing, natural jasmine taste.” Oh, am not doing so badly then) flavour. I LOVED this one.
What I also love is the teapigs’
whereby you can choose tea according to your current state. It includes…
I used to drink so much coffee it gave me blotches. In the decade that I gave it up entirely (I now have the odd cup here and there) my skin improved, the jitters went, but I had to find another way to get my caffeine fix so started drinking gallons (literally) of variously-flavoured green teas instead. I usually begin the day with a lemon one, so on Day One of the teapigs tasting extravaganza, I started off on a pure lemongrass. Think the clue’s in the name here. Lovely and lemony but yes – lemon grass only – no actual tea in there I suspect. Definitely felt a lack of the morning caffeine kick BUT being a resourceful sort, I solved this by putting it together with a “silver tips white tea” pig (in answer to those who’ve enquired, the pig is a little biodegradable “tea temple” of a bag filled with proper leaves of tea and not the powdery bits swept up off the floor) and the resultant brew was very pleasing – tho quite light and delicate. Probably not for those who like Builder’s tea you can stand a spoon up in.
Teas drunk today: pure lemon grass; silver tips white
Verdict: thumbs up
Today’s tasting notes: I really don’t like mint teas much – so if you do and would like to taste the green tea with mint, the caffeine-free peppermint leaves or the liquorice and peppermint tea pigs, email me your address, say which one you fancy, and I will post my sample to you to test out instead and contribute your verdict.
Remember that if you leave a comment here (keep ’em clean please) you will be entered into a draw to win some teapigs of your very own together with a special teapigs mug. Oh, the excitement….
Those nice teapig people did a spot of sponsoring at the Guildford Book Festival – where I first discovered the teabag-with-real-tea-in-it – and have now kindly sent me a selection of their “pigs” with which to tempt you. A full tasting (with full reference to their mood-o-meter) with full tasting notes, will be taking place over the next few days with a chance for YOU to win a delightful mug-and-teapigs prize. All you have to do is leave a comment here on this very blog and the winner will be picked at random (not by me!) when I have exhausted all the flavours (this could take some time). Watch, as they say – when needing to procrastinate, this space…
Or anyone within distance of. Just flagging up tomorrow’s excitement – RAMSGATE’S GOT WRITING TALENT – the annual literary bunfight that could win you lunch with ME (plus a couple of other local good eggs) and an intro to a literary agent. For more details see HERE (bloody peculiar photo I grant you) or read my column in today’s Isle of Thanet Gazette (to which there ought to be a web link but to which there usually isn’t – don’t get me started).
Anyway it’s a bit of fun with a great prize and a workshop from me – all for a tenner. Comment below if you want any more details. Happy Friday! jxx
So who saw the Horizon programme on Monday about fasting? Review of it here. Seems that arranging your life in alternate “feed” and “fast” days not only helps you lose weight (well it would, wouldn’t it) but aid longevity and gives you a fine set of blood results to boot. I am going to try it. As I have just completed 351 Feed days, today I am going to Fast. As a shift-the-lard method it appeals to me psychologically cos 1) you can stand pretty much anything if it only lasts 24 hours, 2) I do love a quick fix 3) I can feel virtuous while all around me others are stuffing their faces and getting heart disease 4) I am at the upper end of my acceptable fat zone
I am telling YOU so I have to stick to it and not cave in at 6pm and hit the wine and crisps.
In fact, one doesn’t have to totally fast – on the TV Michael Mosley had a little soup thing in the evening. I have found an Ainsley Harriott cuppa soup lurking at the back of the larder that claims to be leek. It has a sell-by of October 2008 but I expect by this evening I’ll be past caring. So far it is eleven o’clock this morning and I am not being “a right bitch” as confidently predicted by my son. I am smiling in a sublime (and slightly manic) fashion and drinking lots of green tea….
Please feel free to send encouragement, bracing words, etc (and possibly a box of Kettle chips I can mainline tomorrow).
Malcolm Chisholm gets a signed copy of PRIME TIME in the books-for-comments draw. Email me your address Malcolm and the novel shall be yours. Winner picked at random by a friend by text. I’ll be honest – he picked Tony’s number first and I knew he would cos Tony’s already bought every single one of my books – some of them twice (God Bless Tony!). So I thought we’d have two winners and asked him to choose again. Tony I am going to send you a book for a friend. Also email me please and say if you’d like to receive it direct or nominate someone to get a surprise through the post? Right that’s enough displacement for today. Back to the blank screen for me….
Someone was asking somewhere – but I can’t find the comment – when Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? was going to be cheap on Kindle. Well, whoever you are, today is your lucky day. WAWWHO is a mere snip at 77p as I write and its predecessor is FREE once more. And, just as you thought you couldn’t take any more excitement, I have TEN free codes to give away – each one entitling you to a free download of PRIME TIME from itunes. Do your cups runneth over? Stick with me kids and you’ll be OK…
So – here’s how it works:
And if you want a FREE download of the first Wannabe book you click HERE.
AND… if you can tweet or facebook either of these and let me know by inserting @janewenhamjones or tagging me, I’ll pop you in a draw for the free download of Prime Time. Will pick ten at random tomorrow evening.
Later today, I’ve got a little story for you. Watch this space, as they say. Or a space very much like it….
It would make me very pleased with you indeed if you’d download it.
Thank you – have a lovely Sunday xxx
PS and it would make me downright adore you if you could tell your friends… (all about charts/ratings etc and blah. I just do as I’m told…)
Yes, I’m afraid I did. I wasn’t going to. Thought I’d grown out of it, and all that. But as the boys told me, it’s become a bit of a tradition and once they started singing “Diana”….
It seemed rude not to…… 🙂
Writer’s Holiday, Caerleon, Thursday 26th July 2012 – one of the best nights of the year…..
To my talk at Caerleon and a spot of audience participation from Barry Adams who gamely agreed to attempt to balance on my exercise ball to demonstrate one of my hot tips for keeping one’s Writer’s Stomach at bay…
I was afraid I might fall off myself…
(and apologies for lowering the tone…. :-))
Text comes in saying “great review” (see yesterday). Also adds “let’s hope you sell as many as Fifty Shades of Grey…”
Terry is a mate so do not tell him I have heard this quip 356 times since publication day. With previous books, it was the Harry Potters. (Sold as many as JK Rowling yet? Ha ha ha.) Bloody hilarious.
Luckily I am not the sort to be bitter. There is room for us all. And 0.01% of EL James’s sales would be a fine start…. 🙂
PS I still have a vile cold and a dodgy shoulder. Does anyone feel sorry for me?
(If so please send chocolate…)
Nothing like a lovely review to put a smile on one’s face…
Long Live Sara Lawrence at the Daily Mail…
Is this a unisex term? I generally think of a git as being male but today it’s the best word I can think of to describe myself. Got more of a ring to it than cow. Blogs don’t have to be full of the joys every day, do they, so in the absence of anything else happening, and by way of displacement, of which I am queen, I thought I’d list the ten* top reasons I’m pi**ed off.
Year End – as in tax. It’s all over the floor
Unopened post that’s bill-shaped – ditto
My back – hurts – see post on Monday
My arse – huge. Have taken no discernible exercise since LAST thursday. See posts from Friday. I am supposed to be an expert on a hundred ways to combat Writer’s Bottom (vague work in progress) – where will my authority be with a backside the size of Milton Keynes?
To-do list – also vast. Three columns, two blog posts, one article and a short story. Do I have ideas for any of them? No.
Cold. I have one. Caught it from my son so it must be man flu. Be why I’m being pathetic.
Olympic Torch – passing through town today. The Olympics annoy me, I don’t want to go, but don’t want to feel I’ve missed it either. Grrr
Phones ringing – One more call asking if I’ve got PPI, and I’ll contravene the Telecommunications Obscenity Act
Phones not ringing – since when has “within two hours” meant three days?
Wine – totally out of Macon Blanc Villages
Bed – wish I was in it with my head under the covers (you probably do too)
Relatives – my sister has texted the following: “When we sit for long periods our fat cells become stretched and store 50% more fat.” She thinks this will cheer me up.
Spouses – don’t get me started.
But ON a brighter note, it is not raining, I am not dead and the local booze shop delivers. Down but not out. Or something. Oh and I have lots of chocolate. So it could all be much worse. And as Eeyeore might observe – it probably will be… 🙂
* ok 13 – but let’s not be pedantic
Did two stints at the splendid RNA conference this year, brilliantly organised as ever by Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson. On Saturday, a panel – In it for the long haul– with the ever-delightful Annie Ashurst, our veritable Chair (on whom I have a small crush), Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot. These lovely ladies have written an astonishing number of books between them (making me feel a downright slacker with my mere six) and sold ’em in their millions. I asked the questions, and they enthralled with their wit and wisdom. Next up was a talk of my own. They gave me the hangover slot as usual – 9.m. Sunday morning – tho the audience, gathering there in the middle picture before I started, seem to be holding up quite well. Thanks to Blue Stocking Mum Debbie White for the panel pic and Liz Fenwick for catching me pulling one of my usual faces.
And special thanks to all who dragged themselves along to listen. We had a giggle or two didn’t we? jxx
Wannabe a Writer? on Kindle, is a mere snip at 77p right now. Please pass it on.. Bargain.
Photos of RNA Conference tomorrow. Still all behind (and I’m not just talking about my Writer’s Bottom).
Intended to post suitable witticisms and photos from RNA conference this morning but day went to Ratsh*t when someone drove into me necessitating endless conversations with police and insurance companies, long hot baths to ease hurting shoulder and medicinal wine, ditto.
Photos to follow tomorrow or maybe later tonight if not comatose.
In meantime totally lovely to see everyone in Penrith. Thank you for making it as fab as ever and for your warmth and support.
God Bless and Long Live the RNA…. (etc)
(Morgen – can you do something clever and make that RNA into one of those link thingys?) (ps love yer x))
done 🙂 M x
Thank you to Neil, Gabriel, Donna et al at Thanet Waterstones where I had a most entertaining signing on Saturday. And even bigger thanks to those who came in and bought Prime Time instead of Fifty Shades of Grey. Sitting watching which shoppers made a beeline for the FSOG display was fascinating… 🙂 Apparently a lot of “non-readers” are buying it, Donna told me, quoting women who’d announced it was to be the first book they’d ever read. We agreed this was astonishing. Not only that it should be true, but that anyone would be prepared to admit it!
I rearranged the stock this morning….
David Rankin receives a copy of Prime Time plus a Wannabe book of his choice…
If Clever Morgen was doing this there’d be thumbnails of covers and links and all sorts, but cos it’s just me and a glass of wine, that’s all you get… 🙂
Waterstones, Westwood Cross, in the morning from 11am signing books (in theory). If you happen to be passing please come and say hello
Thanks for all the visits to the blog today jxx