Thursday, February 28, 2013

"In the midst of total uncertainty, we can love."
- Terrance Keenan

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

One of our characters has won an Oscar!

I don’t spend a lot of time describing the physical appearance of the characters in my books, partly because I want readers to imagine the characters for themselves, and partly because I think that what someone says and how they say it is much more interesting than the colour of their eyes. Having said that, I do need to have a clear picture in my mind when a completely new character appears on the page. So for the last two novels, I’ve tried to find a photo in the press or on the net to represent such a character in my mind’s eye.

Here is Christopher Waltz:


I found him last spring, having spotted him on a film poster at the Sheffield Showroom. To me, he is Kit in PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS. Yummy, or what?

Well, there he has been for the the last year, in the pages of my imagination,  doing all the things he does in PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS, alive and irresistible, and now he’s gone and won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Do you think it’s an omen?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Leaving home


I left home on Saturday morning feeling sad. Dave had already driven off in the other direction so I was leaving an empty house. It felt like a foretaste of the future: bitter. But what was I thinking? None of us knows the future.

I arrived in Wensleydale and felt happy: my big sister Kath was there. She always gets there before me. She is fast and reliable. She is a rock, just like our mother was.

I had a lovely weekend. How could I not? A great place to stay in my parents’ village, good food, seeing my brother, walking with Kath on the footpaths our parents and grandparents did before us,


and checking in on the burial ground.


Dave wants to be scattered in a river. I want to be here, with my parents and grandparents.

I felt sad to leave the dale on Monday morning.


But oh, it was so lovely to be home.


Maybe I am just no good at transition, at letting go.

Friday, February 22, 2013

“In the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed”

I don’t like shopping and I don’t like going to town, and because I don’t like it, I save up errands for one big trip, and then I like it even less. Yesterday, for some strange reason, was different. It was chocca with trivial pleasures.

  1. I got some cash from the bank to buy my dollars at the travel agents, and saw my first ever £50 note (rather a lot of them)
  2. I went in Waterstones to buy a Mary Oliver anthology and used my Society of Authors discount card, which always gives me a buzz (“an artist’s life has so few rewards” – M*A*S*H)
  3. I found their copy of Plotting for Beginners on a shelf in the fiction section and put it on their display table for Mother’s Day suggestions (perfectly valid)
  4. I went in John Lewis for vaccuum cleaner bags and decided to treat myself, looked at the clothes, and bought a jumper and a holiday bag, knowing that I would take them home and look at them some more and then take them back (I love John Lewis)
  5. I went to the hairdressers and my current worries swooped in on me; and my hairdresser, who I’ve been going to for twenty years, sat down on the chair next to me and looked me in the eyes and talked me through it (just like the counsellor she wants to be, but will never be, because she doesn’t pursue her dreams; and yet, she can do her counselling where she is, can’t she?) Then she cut my hair and we had a good laugh.
  6. I came home and checked my email and got a rejection from a literary agent and felt genuinely blase about it (as in “It’s her loss”) and then I felt really pleased with myself:

Sue at Midland blog pic

I love this photo, which my sister Jen took, but since I changed my blog header, it doesn’t often get an outing.

And talking of blog headers, mine are always strictly seasonal. For example, I took the current view of Bakewell bridge in February (though not this February.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Sometimes I think I’ve lost my voice – my blogger’s voice. It’s not really true, but it’s what it feels like when stuff is happening that I can’t talk about, and I have to post about what isn’t in my heart.
But yesterday was different.
I may have two granddaughters  who live too far away for comfort,

but I do have two grandsons very close by. Zoe brought them over yesterday as it was half term. I admired their latest Lego acquisition: a derelict house on fire with flames that disappear when the fire engine arrives with foam and water. Then we got out the Lego boxes that live upstairs and messed around on the sitting room floor. But the boys were full of beans, and it was a bright cold sunny spring day, so we walked down the Monsal Trail to Hassop Station.

These two guys are such good friends with each other, it warms my heart. Yesterday they were just like those idealised kids you get on adverts. (They aren’t always like that.)
On the way home they played Romans and Celts. When I was little, it was cowboys and Indians. I know it’s no longer acceptable to say “Indians,”  and I don’t, usually, but you have to admit that “cowboys and native Americans” doesn’t have the same cadence. Whatever the factions – it’s blood and death. I’m a pacifist, and my parents were pacifists, and yet my Gran made me a Davy Crockett hat, and all five of us had pistols and holsters and contests to see who was the quickest on the draw. Those were happy days. Yesterday I had another to add to my collection.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Have you ever read PLOTTING FOR BEGINNERS?


If you haven’t, and you like ebooks, there is good news: Jane and I have re-acquired the digital rights to PfB and it will be available in a few months time on Amazon. Yippee! The book has always been available as a paperback (of course) – just click on the book cover at the side of my blog, if you want to buy it now on Amazon.

And in case you never saw the review in The Guardian, here it is –

I don't know who Sue Hepworth and Jane Linfoot are, or why they've written Plotting for Beginners (Snowbooks), "a wry evaluation of long-haul marriages", together - but boy, does it work. I loved every minute of the 330 plus pages. A very funny, quirky tale of a year-long trial separation, played out in the American Rockies and the Derbyshire Dales. It's different, refreshing, and spot-on with its observations of the frustrations and rewards of long-in-the-tooth relationships, especially those between two people with very different sets of needs and priorities. Reminiscent of my own long-haul!

The Guardian

Sunday, February 17, 2013


Last Friday I wrote a long post on here about Twitter. I discussed it with Isaac the next day, and realised there was a lot of stuff I’d omitted. One day, some day, I will rewrite the thing and repost it. But right now, it feels like a nasty homework essay, and I am tired. And outside the window it’s a lovely, early spring day.

March sky

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I am lost, but with several happy spaces

It’s true, you know, I do feel lost now PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS is almost sewn up and ready to roll. Last week a good friend copy-edited and proof read it for us and found a few tiny glitches which needed attention, and when I leafed through the typescript to read her notes, and made the amendments on screen, my heart gave a little leap. I love these characters. I love the things they say. They’re total wack-jobs.

Back in the real world, I finally managed to get to my sax lesson. I can’t count the number I’ve missed because of icy roads. I showed Mel the Youtube video of the flash-mob in the Madrid Unemployment Office and she reacted the same way as me – she loved it. It gave her goose pimples and brought tears to her eyes. Then I played her Here Comes the Sun myself because I needed help with some of the more difficult bits of musical notation. And then she said “We should do a flash-mob ourselves!” And she meant it! She’s going to get all her students involved and we’re really going to do it! Saxophones, flutes and clarinets. Watch this space.

The other thing that’s cheered me up (in this unforgiving month which dare not speak its name) is reading Billy Mernit’s blog called Living the Romantic Comedy. Billy is a Rom-Com screen-writing guru living in LA, and he writes so entertainingly and knowledgeably about his subject that I’m completely taken over with the idea of having a go myself. Watch this space.

And here, a propos of nothing, are my darling granddaughters Lux and Cecilia, who I’ll see in exactly a month in San Francisco. (Another space I’m watching.)

Lux at breakfast Feb 2013


Sunday, February 10, 2013

Tea-time conversation

Brian (son-in-law): “Is your book finished, Sue?”
Me: “Yes.”
Brian: “Are you happy?”
Me: “No, I’m bereft.”
Tate (8): “What does bereft mean?”
Me: “It means, sad, lost.”
Gil (6), who is currently writing a Jaims (sic) Bond adventure: “Well, why don’t you start writing another book?”
Me: “Because I don’t have an idea for a book right now.”
Tate: “Why don’t you write a children’s book?”
Me: “I’d love to, but I don’t think I could. You have to be very clever to write a good children’s book.”

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Meanwhile…and then

I woke up feeling dreary, lay here for ages feeling worse, sat up and and wrote a long email to a dear friend, a litany of problems and complaints, ending with, “Meanwhile it is February.”

feb09 009

Then I had a second mug of Yorkshire tea, two home-made oatcakes with home-made lemon curd, the sun came up, and Dave and I had a chat about the tricky art of translating poetry.

Things felt better.


Wednesday, February 06, 2013

This and that and not very much

I don’t stop thinking about you when I’m not here. If I’m not posting, it’s because I’m too busy, or too busy with things I can’t tell you about, or because I have nothing to say.

I am at present busy with a list of various book-ish/ publisher/writer-y jobs that are confidential, and also tedious, so there’s no blog fodder there.

The thing I can tell you is that Jane and I are wrestling with the blurb for PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS and we’ve been tossing various versions back and forth for several days. Finally, today, I have created a new Word file called Blurb Factory so we have a dedicated working document rather than disparate unmanageable emails littering our inboxes. Maybe this will bring some clarity. Usually clarity is not a problem, but we’ve both been undisciplined lately (for different reasons.)

The other thing to say is that I have been tweeting a lot, and also thinking it’s time to write a post called “Twitter for the Baffled Beginner.” But it takes time to get my thoughts in order on the matter, and I AM SO BUSY!

I should also be writing a submission for our Quaker newsletter on the topic “Financial decisions are the most morally crucial decisions that human beings make.” This feels like an A level philosophy question and horrendously difficult, and every time I sit down and think about it, I just get a stream of ill-disciplined thoughts on the topic. Ill-discipline seems to be the leitmotif running through my intellectual life at the moment. Is this because of the fragmentation of my brain due to too much tweeting and playing drawn out games of Scrabble on the internet which involves checking once an hour to see if the Aging Hippie or my other friend have had their turns? Probably.

A propos of nothing, here are links to my two favourite blogs  - The Scent of Water, and Viva Hodie.

Sunday, February 03, 2013


I was sitting on the sofa in front of the fire with a glass of wine at teatime the other day, when Dave told me a quote he’d found (and liked) on the internet -

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.’” Radmacher

I liked the quote, too. And suddenly from nowhere I was missing my mother, and in tears.

Where do these waves of sadness come from? Was it because I’d been looking at a photo of the latest addition to the family tree – my newborn great niece – whom my mother will never see? Or was it because when I consider the word encouragement, I think immediately of my mother?

Maybe it was neither. Grief follows no pattern: It can ambush you years after you thought you’d left it behind.

Friday, February 01, 2013


When Dave and I were playing Scrabble yesterday, the word WAZOO popped into my head. It comes from Dr Seuss – some characters called the brothers Wazoo.

And it occurred to me that I would far rather have written Dr Seuss’s oeuvre than any number of Booker winners. (See yesterday’s post where I decided I was a cultural low-life.) Dr Seuss’s children’s books are funny, wise, moral, creative and life-affirming. My favourite is DID I EVER TELL YOU HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? Go on, treat yourself: it’s a Seuss classic. It costs £4.79 on Amazon, and if you’re boycotting Amazon, you can get anywhere else for a fiver.

We quote him all the time at Hepworth Towers.

He did win the Pulitzer prize, but then I’ve always found Pulitzer prize-winners more accessible and enjoyable than Booker winners e.g. The Stone Diaries, Breathing Lessons, A Thousand Acres, Olive Kitteridge, March, all of which I came across with no idea that they had won a prize.….maybe I have an American sensibility when it comes to fiction.