Christmas Survival Tips – tried and tested

Jane Wenham Jones A5 Christmas Card.indd

Dreading the rellies? Christmas can be a minefield when today’s modern – often blended – families are suddenly brought together. But you can survive them with a little forward thinking…

  1. Make a seating plan. Grannies will like sitting next to their grandchildren and can deal with their runny noses and dodgy eating habits. Second wives can be put at the opposite end of the table to the original spouses, and alcoholic uncles placed away from the wine. (Make a plan even if it’s not your house and enlist an ally to help herd all into position.
  2. There is a fine art to judging how much alcohol to serve and to whom. As a general rule – for anyone likely to fall asleep, as much as you can get down their necks. Those with grievances to air? Hide the whisky!
  3. Prime younger members of the family on suitable topics of conversation, and remind them that while they may consider a baah-humbug farting sheep a hilarious centrepiece, Great Aunt Hilda probably won’t.
  4. Talk of sex, religion and politics can all add spice to the proceedings. Put a ban, instead, on discussion of parenting skills, divorce rates or anything that happened “in my day…”
  5. Invite non-family too. Relatives will behave better, and may offer polite chit-chat instead of bickering over the remote control and dragging up what Uncle Roger did in The Great Christmas Row of 1996.
  6. Prepare a fund of “rescue subjects” to distract and divert if tensions are rising. New babies, holiday plans and the short-comings of other relatives not present, will usually go down well.
  7. Serve all food in quantity. It is harder to be argumentative when stuffed to the gills.
  8. If you have a cream sofa – cover it.
  9. If all else fails, whip out the Trivial Pursuit.
  10. Try deep breathing, mindfulness techniques, meditation or yoga. Repeat to yourself: “I am relaxed, I am calm, I am enjoying this.” Then hit the gin early, grin a lot and remember in a few hours it will all be over.

 

Extracted from the back of Mum in the Middle (HarperImpulse) by Jane Wenham-Jones.

(If you now feel so moved to treat yourself – or one of those relatives – to a copy you can download or get the paperback here.) Happy Christmas!

The book’s out and I’d forgotten what it’s like…

I don’t mean the plot – though God knows I started writing it so long ago and it went through so many edits, that is hazy enough, but all the other stuff surrounding a new book hitting the (virtual) shelves. (The paperback for those who like a real book – yes me too – is out in September.)

What I’d forgotten is  the obsessive checking of the amazon ratings and the looking through one’s fingers at the latest reviews (not to mention the video of one looking rather raddled and wittering on about the squeezed generation that one’s publisher put out on launch day – it was the morning after one of those nights before). The small jump of elation when some kind soul has doled out five stars, and the resigned sigh when it is slated for having a strand about dementia – apparently entirely inappropriately for a book billed as “hilarious”. (I don’t think anyone was referring to that particular storyline.)

I’d forgotten the thrill of someone taking the trouble to write to say they liked it. (And the quiet pleasure of making a small plasticine model of those who didn’t and popping it in my pin drawer 🙂 ho ho.)  And the anticipation of planning the launch party for the paperback (watch this space). And the worry over which crash diet I am going to have to undertake in order to fit into something vaguely presentable for same (usually when I have a book out I put ON weight – it is the constant excuse to hit the fizz and open a celebratory bag of crisps – not a great look for someone who’s also written a weight loss book!).

I’d forgotten the quips. It used to be: have you sold as many as JK Rowling/50 Shades of Grey yet?  Now it’s have you made a million and  will it be made into a series on Netflix.

And the four a.m. horror of remembering who you forgot in the acknowledgements.

And which detail you included that makes it blindingly obvious to all the locals EXACTLY who you were basing THAT character on…

But mostly I’d forgotten how utterly delightful it is to have a book published and how one gets a little rush of joy every time one sees the cover.

You can hear me talking about it here, courtesy of the great Peter James…

or here thanks to my lovely publishers at Harper Collins…

If you have downloaded it – I know a few of the followers here have – then thank you SO much. If not – it’s only 99p – a bloody bargain if I might make so bold  – and I would absolutely love to hear what you think. You can be honest! I wouldn’t want anything less jxxx

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