Monday, January 30, 2012

Back to real life

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She’s gone. They’ve gone. As I write this, they are flying Virgin Atlantic back to San Francisco. The last week was very special, even though Lux couldn’t settle into our UK time zone and was awake and playing for several hours in the middle of every night. We stumbled around in various states of sleeplessness and tiredness and (for my part) bliss, and even though she already has her own Twitter account - @thebeean – Isaac felt she needed another one for her alter ego - @jetlagtoddler – so she tweeted under that name, these last few days…


i am on my very own timezone, people.




running round the house giggling at 2.24am is the best therapy.

and this is me…


current status: have captured @jetlagtoddler and she's asleep in my bed. Greenwich Mean Time: 06.05. Jetlagtoddler Standard Time: who knows?

at endcliffe park

Now it’s back to real life: writing fiction.

And also an announcement about the planned publication next year of the sequel to Plotting for Beginners.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Speak up, speak out for Holocaust Memorial Day

Early this morning, I read a piece on Guardian Online about the way the Israelis treat Palestinian children whom they’ve arrested. I was shocked. 

Just now I’ve been on Twitter and saw this tweet:

Video shows Israeli interrogators breaking down arrested boy, whose coerced testimony was used against village leaders

There was a link to the video, but it was broken (I wonder how that happened?)

Then I saw a tweet saying it was Holocaust Memorial Day.

I visited the Holocaust Memorial Day website which said that this year’s theme is Speak up, Speak out.

First They Came - Pastor Martin Niemoller

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left

Join the dots, dear readers.

The good, the bad and the downright exhausted

Jet-lag and toddlers don’t mix.

Jet-lag and toddlers who are teething don’t mix.

Jet-lag and irrepressible, never-sit-still toddlers don’t mix – at least not for the parents.

The west coast Hepworths staying at Hepworth Towers are merely grazing on sleep, but…

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this one is doing just fine.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Life with Lux

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Is jet-lag infectious? Or is it just that I’ve forgotten that toddlers are exhausting, as well as fabulous fun?  …off to bed (while she is napping) to watch Neighbours and chill, and reculer pour mieux sauter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Got the toys, the books, the cot and the trike

If you don’t hear from me this week, it’s because I’m busy with my American family:

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Wendy Nov 2011

flying in today from:

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p.s. Isaac and Lux are in the Twitter office in the top picture.

Monday, January 23, 2012

News from over the ocean

Sometimes I mention “the Aging Hippie” to you, don’t I? I met her on a peace demo in San Francisco on my very first trip there, just like Fran Suskind (in BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU) made a friend on a peace demo.

The Aging Hippie lives in Redwood City and goes to a book group which has meetings on a Sunday. They have a shared lunch at someone’s house, and the food they take has to be mentioned in the book or it has to be from the culture in the book.

Several years ago they read Plotting for Beginners and I went along and talked about it and they all brought English food: the offering that amused me most was Heinz tinned spaghetti, because that is what Gus in PfB adores.


Yesterday they discussed BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU, and the Aging Hippie, under strict instructions from me to remember and report EVERTHING, has emailed to say this…

“First, food: I made the potato leek soup, at your suggestion, and it was good, especially since it is a cold and rainy day. Mary said she was hoping someone would do that.

“Pam's addition was the best, of course, in terms of relating to the book. She brought

1 – Sol. i.e. dates that she stuffed with peanut butter. It was crusty and sweet on the outside and totally nuts on the inside. It was coated with sugar because Fran has to sugar coat much of her life in living with him. It is put on a plain white plate because who needs fancy chinaware?

2 – Fran. Sliced pink lady apples for socialist communist leanings. They were in a pretty bowl with decorations of lovely countryside on the rim.

Irene brought cooked carrots.

Jeanne brought cauliflower curry with lots of veggies from the back of the refrigerator.

The other foods were not related to the book but were equally delicious.

Second, the book: everyone liked it and enjoyed it. Discussion of the characters, especially Sol, led to a long discussion of Asperger's, the autism spectrum, and then, to what men are "normally" like anyway (much like Sol).”

AH wrote more, some of which I couldn’t report here without permission, so I’m going to leave it at that. There were some criticisms of the book, but as they relate to particular plot points, I can’t report them without spoiling it for someone who hasn’t yet read the book – and there may be one or two people reading my blog who haven’t read the book! (and I do still have hopes.)

Today I am preparing the house to receive important guests – my family from California – who arrive tomorrow. (Yipppeeee!) One urgent task is to make the sitting room 18-month-old–proof, so that this little person doesn’t have any unfortunate accidents.

christmas eve 2011

Friday, January 20, 2012


Jane (Linfoot) and I are having huge fun working on the sequel to Plotting for Beginners. It’s such a delight to talk about the characters with her: to us they are real people. Working out back-stories for quirky bits of their behaviour is a delight, but then I do tend to work out back-stories all the time for people around Bakewell, whom I recognise by sight but don’t know.

I’ve even got a back-story for the cat, who was a stray. The cat rescue lady thought Chione was dumped at the age of 6 months when her owner did not want to pay to have her spayed. (the cat lady’s back-story for the cat.)

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Chione isn’t interested in drinking from her bowl downstairs, she likes to drink from soapy containers she finds in the bathroom. Or she climbs in the bath after my shower and laps up the water from around the plughole. Easy-peasy: I’ve decided that when she was a kitten her owners must have kept her in the bathroom when they went to work, and she became hooked on water with a hint of soap in it.

Dave is not convinced by my back-stories, but then he’s a non-fiction man, so no surprise there.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I don’t ask you for much and I don’t ask you often

Here I am, writing my blog three times a week, and you can drop in any time you like. And if you stay away for months on end and then come back, there are no questions asked. (Although… I haven’t had a comment from Shafia for ages…I wonder if she still drops by.)  

Sometimes the blog is interesting, sometimes heart-searching, sometimes funny, sometimes nostalgic, sometimes inspirational. Sometimes it has stuff in about writing and editing. It’s always, always pretty.

OK. Here’s the thing.

You know that large order that the 55% discount wholesaler took from me?

They can return it if they don’t sell the books.

Soohh…  I need you to buy a book. If you haven’t already bought a copy of BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU, then why not buy one and read it?

If you have already bought one, why not buy one for a friend or relation as a present?

Don’t give me the excuse that it looks like a woman’s book and you’re a man. There are plenty of men who have read it and liked it. The last one I met told me he thought the book was “Superb. Moving and compassionate.”

Some people see the serious side, as he did. Some readers take it more lightly, and view it as a holiday read. A reader will bring their own baggage and interpretation to any novel. I do think that if a book is accessible and easy to read, some people mistakenly assume it is not serious, or has nothing important to say.

It’s available as a paperback or an ebook.

You can buy a paperback postage free – wherever you live – at The Book Depository. It’s only £6.95.

You can buy it from Amazon for £6.95 for the paperback, and for £3.60 for an ebook.

You could even go wild and support your local bookshop and order it from them.

What did you say?  Will you enjoy it?

If you come back here time and again, then you’re bound to like it, because you like my view of the world.

If you’re new here, and you know nothing about me or my book, then here is what some people have said -

Judith Murray, top literary agent, said it’s "clever, funny, subtle, wry, sad and uplifting all at once...Sue Hepworth writes thoughtfully and insightfully, and with such tenderness and humour"

Professor Stuart Murray (no relation to Judith Murray)  said this.

So how’s about it, guys and gals? (yes, yes, I know full well that dates me.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Odd and contentious trivia

My brother emailed yesterday to say that he likes my new blog header, but why had I changed it and not written a post?

It was because I was fed up. And I was fed up well before i knew it was Blue Monday, a concept which is bunkum anyway. Quite apart from anything else, if you were going to choose the bluest day of the year in the northern hemisphere it would have to be in February.

I feel slightly more cheerful this morning in spite of the fact that I dreamed Dave had let someone in the village use my beloved saxophone without asking me (and neither of them had screwed the neckpiece on properly, either.)  Dave is without remorse. He says he is not responsible for his behaviour in my dreams. I don’t altogether agree.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Day (off) in the life of a

publisher author…
  • wake up and think about new comic novel in progress, switch on light and see Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side on the bedside table, waiting to be read, and realise shan’t be able to read it now have started writing a new book
  • read emails from co-author of new comic novel and laugh at her suggestions
  • read email from wholesaler requesting more copies of latest book and groan. Why have they sent three smallish orders in the last ten days, rather than sending one big order? Every time the printer/warehouse fulfils an order it costs you X, no matter how many books they send. This means you have paid 3X to the printer instead of X to the printer. As the wholesaler in question is already taking 55% discount on your book price you feel – in the words of Sally Howe, heroine of new comic novel - “well pissed off.”
  • ring manager of friendly independent bookshop who also publishes and get some inside info on how wholesalers (and independent booksellers) think.
  • ring wholesaler and suggest (as you already have the last two times) that they up their order this time to save you money, with persuasive argument that your book has been featured in Guardian Readers’ Books of the Year, that it was only published six months ago, and that it is a specialist title (give details) and will continue to sell. Wholesaler promises to talk to manager and email you response.
  • practise two tunes on sax and then see that the gales have stopped and decide that as you only have an hour before going to Sheffield, you will walk round the village with husband instead.
  • drive to Sheffield for lunch with friend. Talk about lots of things, including death, and how sometimes when you are sitting with a dying person, they choose the time when you pop out to the loo to die. Speculate on why this is: one theory being that your love is holding them back and only when you leave the room can they get on with what they know they have to do.
  • arrive at daughter’s house early before she is there and sit in her kitchen with feet up, thinking how nicely she arranges her house.
  • make cup of tea for tired daughter on her return and then drive to school together to pick up the boys.
  • watch Shaun the Sheep on the telly (excellent) and The Ooglies (appalling). Childrens’ telly is fab, but that programme is not funny, has no plotline, no words, and has an obnoxious soundtrack. Wish with whole heart that younger grandson (5) still liked The Octonauts.
  • play Smuggle with daughter and elder grandson (7). He wins. He plays Smuggle like a Las Vegas professional poker player and has you in stitches with his minimal facial expressions – the twitch of an eyebrow, the tiniest pucker at the corner of his mouth.
  • come home and find email from wholesaler saying they would like a BIG order of your books. Yay!
  • collapse in front of the fire, talk to husband about things that are bothering you, and then watch M*A*S*H together for prophylactic and life-affirming dose of humour.
  • write blog and curse cos you can’t make the bullet points do what you want them to do. Realise it’s those damn OOglies queering the pitch.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Frances Suskind* and I like Jon Snow

Every night at tea-time I get an email from Channel 4 News telling me what’s coming up on the programme at 7 p.m. The email is called Snowmail. Sometimes Jon Snow writes it, sometimes he doesn’t.

Last night he had a para on the Republican candidates at the Iowa caucus. This is it (the italics are mine):

Mitt Romney ahead as New Hampshire votes

From the amazing events of the Iowa caucus in which one of the most extreme Republican candidates trying for the presidency came within a whisper of winning, Matt Frei tonight emerges in New Hampshire. The next, and some believe, the more real test of the primary season for the Republicans. Frontrunner Mitt Romney has dropped a few clangers. Will they matter? And who from the clutch of god-botherers, gay-haters, Iran-bombers and the rest will emerge as the tribune of the far right in the Republican party?
Read more>

*Frances Suskind is one of the two main characters in But I told you last year that I loved you.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

News for fans of Plotting for Beginners

Whenever I finish making a patchwork quilt I always swear I will never make another one. I begin the task enthused with the colours and the thrill of design, and I end the process in a filthy temper, hand-stitching the binding with bleeding fingers.  But it’s like the old cliche about having a baby – you forget the pain and as time passes, you yearn to make another.

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And whenever I have a book published I tell my friends and family that I will never write another. This is for different reasons, though. I usually think that I don’t have another one in me…how could I possibly do it again? 

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But on Christmas Day there wasn’t much happening here (as regular readers will already know) and I read Plotting for Beginners to cheer myself up. And it did cheer me up. I was reading the last hundred pages with a smile on my face. This may seem like an unseemly admission for an author – to read her own comic novel and be amused by it – but I try to be honest here.

Sure, there were things I noticed in the text that didn’t work. There were weak spots, and there were things I would do differently now. But I guess that’s the case with all writers. And it was our first published novel. We’ve both developed as writers since then. And Jane’s emails in the voice of Kate Wensley stand the test of time. They still make me chuckle. Her pared down writing is so very classy.

Anyway…I emailed Jane and asked how she felt about writing a sequel. Was she ready now?

Last week we had a meeting and agreed. We’re going to do it. Yay! We spent a lot of time laughing – as we did when we worked on Plotting before. It is so much fun writing a comic novel with someone who shares your sense of humour and who loves to live with fictional characters, just as you do.

So I have months of collaborative enjoyment and laughter ahead – what a cheerful prospect at the start of a new year.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Sitting here

I am sitting here in my study in my pyjamas because there is no point in having my morning shower until I have been on the exercise bike.

I’ve done all my emails, and now it’s time to think about the Christmas tree. Today is the day for taking it  out to the shed to acclimatise it, before I plant it out.

But I’m wondering whether Christmas trees kettled in someone’s study in a house where there’s been an OFF Christmas, whether they have to follow the same rules as ordinary Christmas trees. It’s been so sweet and so small and so quiet, and I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’m wondering whether to just to move it to the other corner of my study, where it isn’t visible from the hall…

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Not much to be said

There’s not much to be said for waking up in the night and being unable to go back to sleep - not because you’re worried or sad but just because you can’t turn off your brain. And there’s not much to be said for having friends who live in a different time zone. But when you have a friend 8 hours away who checks her email as frequently as an unpublished author waiting to hear from a publisher, and that friend likes to play Scrabble as much as you do, you’re quids in.

The Aging Hippie and I usually “chat” non-stop during our online games, but last night at 2.30 a.m. we had a calm and quiet game and afterwards I managed to get back to sleep. Thank you, AH. It was just the ticket. And as you didn’t know the word, here is a trug:

Monday, January 02, 2012


We had an OFF Christmas this year, and if you judge it in its own terms (i.e. that an OFF Christmas – in my view – can never come up to snuff) it was a good OFF Christmas. Dave’s contribution – bringing me breakfast in bed on Christmas morning, and making me a beautiful hand-crafted 3D card. My contribution – keeping the tiny tree-in-a-pot kettled (his word) in my study, and only having half a dozen Christmas cards displayed on the dresser in the dining room (the rest in my study.)

And in 2012, Christmas will be ON. Yay!

As for New Year plans, I am working on a new writing project, and I’ll tell you about it when it’s a little more advanced. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for ages, so I hope it comes off. And I am VERY excited!

p.s. My current header is a picture I took from our bathroom window last January 1st. I’m not sure it works as a header: the full moon seems a little too portentous. And anyway, a new moon would be better for the start of the year. But it’s the only suitable January photo I have, and as regular readers will know, I only have photos up there that I have taken in the appropriate month.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

I know I have said it before, but it bears saying again…

It is better to light one small candle than to curse the darkness.

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