Thursday, January 27, 2011

Colour break

I think I have flu, and I don’t have anything to say except – urrrgghh. If you like colour and you like tests, try this colour discrimination test. I got a score of 70. What did you get?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Publicity and Marketing

The PR subcommittee of the management board of Delicately Nuanced has just had a brainstorming meeting on how to publicise the book – THE BOOK – BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU - when it comes out in May. Dave was very helpful. I kept saying to him – Is it all right if I say this about you? Is it all right to talk about that? and he said -

“Short of modelling in my underpants, I’ll do anything to sell your book.”

What a sweetie.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Who is the man…?

…of whom my friend Mary said:
“I can’t hear what he says any more, because every time I see him on the telly I just want to smack him.”
and of whom Philippe Sands QC (professor of law, University College London, and a barrister at Matrix Chambers) said:
“[he] took an early decision to support President Bush in the quest to remove Saddam, assured him repeatedly of his unequivocal statement of support, ignored the law, and deprived the cabinet and parliament of key information.In short, [he] managed to skilfully lead the entire machinery of government - attorney general, cabinet, parliament - into a place from which British involvement in the war became inevitable. [He} has paid a big price for delivering his commitment to President Bush: his legacy is an unlawful and disastrous conflict that continues to cause misery and claim lives, shredding public trust in government, diminishing Britain’s role in the world, and undermining the rule of law. To the Chilcot inquiry falls the task of picking up the pieces.” from The Guardian, 22 Jan 2011.
The man’s name has been removed, as I won’t have it on my blog.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Losing a parent

“Losing a parent is something like driving through a plate glass window. You didn't know it was there until it shattered, and then for years to come you're picking up the pieces.”            Saul Bellow

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Busy Day

1/ worked on PR campaign for new book
2/ practised sax
3/ attempted to deliver manuscript to copy-editor while en route to my daughter's house but was so engrossed by feature about Hattie Jacques on  Woman’s Hour on car radio that drove right past copy-editor’s house, and forgot until much too late to turn back
4/ admired my daughter’s jumble-sale booty that she bought on Saturday for use in her craft work
5/ went to Waterstones in Sheffield to check out book covers and fonts used on same, receiving expert advice from daughter on which fonts appeal to which socioeconomic strata
6/ chatted with (very helpful) Darren behind the counter about my new book
7/ complained to the Rowan Wools lady at John Lewis (Coles to Sheffielders) about the way daughter’s home-knitted jumper has pilled. Rowan lady receptive, charming, helpful and effective. Hooray for Rowan lady and Rowan!
8/ pleasant lunch with daughter
9/ advice to daughter on current craft project
10/watched  Neighbours on the net while recuperating on bed
11/ watched Koala Brothers and Little Robots on TV with my younger grandson(4)
12/ played with fire engines, camper vans and air ambulances  (and younger grandson) on the stairs
13/ talked to elder grandson about the Pioneer space craft and the meaning of the plaque on the side of it

13/ played exciting game of hide and seek and became so tightly wedged between the piano and the wall I thought I would be there till daughter came home and yanked me out. 
14/ played hilarious game of all-together-land with my younger grandson which entailed being tied tightly to each other with a red rope and attempting to walk
15/ tasty tea with daughter and family
16/ monthly discussion group at friend’s house with three close friends
17/ bed
18/ phew

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

They were armed with nothing but love and hope

If you’ve been reading my blog for two years or more you’ll remember that when the Israelis spent a month bombing Gaza in January 2009 I was so outraged and upset that  I blogged about it every day. During that time, I mentioned a Palestinian doctor called Izzeldin Abuelaish whose family home in Gaza was bombed. Three of his daughters were killed. Immediately after the attack, he rang a journalist friend in Israel, who was live on air, to ask for help. This is what happened. 
Dr Abuelaish had always been a passionate advocate for peace, for Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in mutual respect. He himself worked in an Israeli hospital.  After his personal tragedy, he continued to speak for peace, and refused to hate the people who had killed his children. "Violence is never the right way,” he said. “My daughters and I were armed with nothing but love and hope."
This week, two years after their death, his book I Shall not Hate has been published by Bloomsbury.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A storm of commas

Both of my proof readers/copy editors think I use too many commas. This may be true. It is also true that I am very busy with Delicately Nuanced and I have been way too tired to blog.
If you are as old as me you will remember 1950s television and how the BBC used to have interludes between programmes (they had not thought of trailers – how delightful!) and in those interludes they either had a speeded up film of the train going from London to Brighton, or one of a kitten playing.
Here is my interlude – Lux learning to sit up.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New app required

Did you know that in the front of modern paperbacks printed in the UK, the publisher generally tells you the font used in the book. But as far as I can see, American publishers don’t. Why is that?

And why is it that Garamond is lovely, but italic Garamond is horrid? We’ve been typesetting the book in Garamond, and only now do I realise how much I hate the Garamond’s italics. (Also, I never realised how often I use italics in my writing.) I am hunting now for a serif font I like that has attractive italics, that aren’t too squashed together and ornate. Any suggestions?
The iPhone should invent a new app that enables you to point your phone at some text, and find out what font it’s printed in.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Binding, fonts and covers

I’m sorry not to have blogged for several days. My mind is taken up with publishing and everything that goes with it.

For one thing, I can’t pick up a book now without assessing the cover design, checking  what font they have used, and looking to see if it has perfect binding or is “sewn limp.”

We are having fun – the best thing about self-publishing is being able to choose my own cover. I am looking at a lot of designs on the net for inspiration. There are a lot of stunning ones out there. This is one I like a lot – though mine will be nothing like it…


Saturday, January 08, 2011

Delicately Nuanced

It was the first working day of the New Year on Tuesday and the first day of the new moon, and Dave and I started work on the great publishing adventure of 2011.

Dave has been making a critical path plan so all the elements of the process fit together in some kind of manageable order (he is a planning genius). He has also been learning to typeset. I have been thinking about fonts and cover design, and also researching all the things we will have to do between now and the launch party (oh yes, I know what’s important), e.g.registering for an ISBN, getting copyright permissions for the quotes I have in the book, and sending a copy to the British Library. Meanwhile, over in California, Isaac has set us up with a domain name for our publishing company. We have not yet set the month of publication, but…

But I told you last year that I loved you

will be published by

Delicately Nuanced.

I love it, I love it, I love it!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

A confession

You know I said last week that I like to spend the time between Christmas and New Year doing a lot of thinking? It was true – that is what I like to do. However, last week I was captured by a book someone gave me for Christmas, with the result that I didn’t do an awful lot of thinking apart from about that book.

It wasn’t that I was gripped by it, I was consumed by it. When I wasn’t reading about it I was thinking about it. I can’t remember the last time a novel had that kind of effect on me. It had such a powerful effect that it didn’t hit me until three quarters of the way through that it was narrated in the first person and present tense, which is a style I usually loathe.

The book was Room, by Emma Donoghue. If you look at the blurb about it you might think it is dark and gruesome and miserable. But it isn’t at all. I wouldn’t read it if it was: I couldn’t bear to. The thing I am left with a week later is the deep love between a mother and a young son, and a woman who gives her son an exemplary life in the tightest of circumstances.

I’m not going to say “You must read it,” because I HATE it when people say that to me. I just wanted to tell you about it.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

My family and the earthquake

The news of an earthquake with the epicentre in Yorkshire reminded me of the earth tremor we had here some years ago. I had a piece about it in The Times. It’s my favourite ever piece, because it has all my family in it. Here it is -

There we were, quaking in our boots

Derbyshire. Monday morning 12.54 a.m. We wake to a sound like a bowling ball rolling across the wooden floorboards of our bedroom. My husband switches on the light and sits up, “What the hell was that?”

“Don’t know,” I say. “Weird. Let’s go back to sleep.”

But he is sitting up, fretting. Is it settlement ? Subsidence ? Last year we built an extension and now we are sleeping in it. “What the hell was that noise?” says DIY man again.

I want to sleep, but I need a pee. My adult daughter – who is staying with us – hears me out of bed and calls out, petrified: “What’s happening ? The walls were shaking. The roof was rumbling. The wardrobe doors came open and now they won’t shut.”

She had been lying in bed unable to sleep, so was writing a to-do list for the following day. I give her a hug, thinking Silly billy, fussing again: she lives her life on the margins of hysteria. Then I remember her ringing me on September 11th last year telling me to turn on the telly, and my refusing because I had to post a birthday card.

I return to our bedroom to find DIY man getting up. He has heard daughter speak of the shaking walls, and thinks the house is falling down. He dons a dressing gown and wellington boots ( the mission is too urgent to find the beloved boiler suit) and prowls around outside for fifteen minutes with a torch, looking for cracks, subsidence, disaster.

He finds nothing. He comes back inside and engages in anxious discussions with daughter while I retreat under the duvet and long for sleep. The front door opens: it’s our younger son. He has been sitting on the village recreation ground under the full moon, having a philosophical discussion with his friend.

Only on arrival at our garden gate did he become unnerved – not by unusual shakes or rumbles, having felt nothing and heard nothing - but by the freakishness of all the house lights being on after half past ten. A rarer sight is DIY man still up and about. Younger son is phlegmatic, but he is also an X files fan, and suggests to DIY man and sister that the noise was supernatural.

DIY man comes back to bed and props himself up in worry mode, arms tense, head twitching. His next theory is that something has happened to our older son, who was flying to Denver and arriving there in the middle of our night. You hear stories, he says, of people dying and doors opening in family houses miles away. He gets up and leaves a message on our son’s mobile phone: “Are you safe ?”

More effectively, younger son (in the UK) logs onto the internet, gets instant messaging and immediately contacts older son (in the US.)

[01:40] son in UK: isaac. say something

[01:40] son in US: hello. wozzup?

[01:40] son in UK: thank god for that

[01:40] son in US: :S?

[01:40] son in UK: theres some weird shit goin down here

[01:40] son in US: o no... what?

[01:40] son in UK: hang on, let me tell peeps youre ok. brb

Younger son tells aged parents that older son is safe, then returns to the computer.

[01:43] son in US: what gives?

[01:44] son in UK: i got back at 130 to find everyone up and wandering around the house looking worried

[01:45] son in US: there's been an earthquake

[01:45] son in UK: where?

[01:45] son in US: uk.

[01:45] son in UK: haha coool

The lights are off and I am just dropping off – oh bliss - when younger son brings us the printout from BBC news online: an earth tremor shakes the Midlands – 4.8 on the Richter scale.

“Great. Can we go to sleep now ?” I say.

“Are we insured for earthquake damage?” says DIY man.

Morning breaks and I go downstairs to find him outside checking the drains. He has heard of damaged drains and wants no truck with them.

If something needs fixing he will fix it. If the earth moves, he will steady it. Failing that there’s always the BBC. ( But yes. The drains are fine.)

© Sue Hepworth and Times Newspapers 2002

printed here with kind permission of The Times

Monday, January 03, 2011

Growing more brains

Yesterday my daughter rang while I was practising my sax, and in the course of our chat I said, “Hey, Zoe, I read in the Guardian on Saturday that if you learn a musical instrument when you are an adult, you grow more neurones and expand your brain. Isn’t that great? I don’t have to worry about Alzheimers any more.”

Zoe: “You told me the same thing yesterday.”

Sunday, January 02, 2011

There are some things you can’t turn off

I’ve been lying in bed fretting about my mother’s house, which we sold in August. It’s been empty since then. My brother in Wensleydale rang last night to wish me happy new year, and he told me that one of my mother’s neighbours had heard rushing water and another had a key, and they went in to turn the water off, and found burst pipes in the bathroom, and extensive damage. I put down the phone and feIt sad.

You might think it has nothing to so with me any more, but that’s not how these things work. An elderly friend died in September and his brother has been worrying about the empty house (now sold) and fretting about whether the new owners had turned off the water and drained the system.

These properties are not in our care any more, but we can’t turn off our concern for them. My 80 year old friend was brought up in what became his brother’s house. And my mother’s house was the centre of family happiness for 45 years. Yes, yes, I know. Houses are houses. They don’t love. They don’t care. They don’t suffer. But when they have been such a stable part of your life for so many years, you can’t turn off your concern for them as easily as exchanging contracts. You want people to treasure them, the way you have.

(photo courtesy of Peter Sharman)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

New Year quotes - 4

“Our life is love and peace and tenderness; and bearing one with another, and forgiving one another, and not laying accusations one against another; but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.”

Isaac Penington, 1667

I wish you all a better year than last year.