Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jam today for Lux

It’s jam-making season at Hepworth Towers. I know some long-time readers will be sick of jam posts, so follow the asterisk at the bottom. (For new readers, you might enjoy this jam post or this one.)

But today is Lux’s birthday.

Happy Birthday, Lux!

And this jam-making sequence is for her.

lux on stairs

She is 3. And just choosing the photo of her to put on here made me miss her. I can’t be with her in California till October. She loves our jam, and she wanted to pick “berries” with me when she was here in May when the blackcurrants weren’t.

So here is what happened this week, Lux…

July 2012 006 

July 2012 007

July 2012 013



Dave had to to get the sticky labels off the old jam jars that wouldn’t come off with soaking in water…


July 2012 015





July 2012 019


July 2012 024

And it will be happening several times over the next few weeks: this was just the first batch. We have far too many blackcurrants.

Note to eagle eyed adults – no, Dave didn’t change his shirt during the process. I used pics from several years for the sake of clarity, so suck it up.


Lux’s Dad, Isaac Hepworth, tweeted today -

asked what she wants to do for her birthday today, @thebeean declares "I want to be three"

*(Those who aren’t interested can read my bunny club postings in July 2010. Start with The Bunny Club – a late-night posting and then read the one above it.)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tweeting from the brink of death

No doubt you’ve all read about the violent mysongyny abroad on Twitter.

If you read my blog last week, you’ll have seen the use of Twitter to get some action from a company that was dragging its heels.

Twitter is used in all sorts of ways. As I write, there is a National Public Radio presenter, Scott Simon (@nprscottsimon), tweeting bulletins from his mother’s death bed in Chicago. When I saw his tweetstream it reminded me of me, writing at my father’s bedside when he lay dying. I wrote in The Guardian about this. And I also used the material in my novel, Zuzu’s Petals.

Here is the latest (as at Monday 11.15 GMT) from Scott Simon.

You have to start from the bottom and read upwards.


Things have moved on since I took this screenshot. If you’re interested in the developing story, you can look at his tweetstream for yourself.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Who’s who

Whenever she’s reading a book I’ve written, one of my sisters-in-law always asks who – amongst friends and family – a particular character is based on.

The truth is that most of my characters are fantastical concoctions and bear little resemblance to anyone I know. There are some exceptions. For example, some of the members of the writing group in Plotting for Beginners were tweaked people from a writing group where Jane and I first met. No-one recognised themselves. And one person, whom Jane and I are both fond of, said he was sad that he wasn’t in the book - when he was.

Also, there are a couple of minor characters in But I Told You… who are based on unknown people I frequently see around Bakewell. But that is just their looks – not their personalities.

The other exception is Dave. Many of my characters are based on him. I’ve told him more than once that he has far too many interesting traits to use up on just one character. So all of the following characters have something of Dave in them – Gus, Sam and Richard from Plotting for Beginners; Gus and Richard in Plotting for Grown-ups; Rob in Zuzu’s Petals; Sol in But I Told You Last Year That I Loved You.

Kit in Plotting for Grown-ups bears no resemblance to anyone but I did get the idea for his liking for wearing white shirts with suit waistcoats from a photo (of a less attractive man than Kit) in a Saturday Guardian.

I’ve reported the following interchange before, but you may not have seen it -

Sue: “You were the hero in my first three novels. You can’t expect to be the hero every time.”

Dave: “Of course. It would be too exhausting.”

Hero with hair -

aug 09 097

Hero without hair -

Dave Aug08

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My lazy Friday

The clematis is out:

garden 001

The Crocosmia Lucifer is out:

garden 021

And whatever this is, is out:

garden 014

And the weeks are busy. So many people want to visit, which is lovely – of course – but even so, when it gets to Friday and nothing is booked in the diary, it feels like wall-to-wall luxury.

I love padding around in my bare feet and pyjamas and not getting cold. I love playing the sax in my pyjamas, taking my breakfast back to bed, getting up late, and then walking down the Monsal Trail with Dave for a coffee at Hassop Station. Yesterday we sat at a table outside, under a blue sky with pretty cirrus clouds and a welcome breeze. It was heavenly. Isn’t this summer fabulous?

Then we came home and I blasted out a few more take-down notices to internet pirates, and played my sax again. I’m working on an attractive new arrangement of Fly me to the Moon, which is hard enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that I curse and want to hurl the music in the bin.  

I did do some publishing work – but I took it slow and easy. I am feeling so smug about completing my accounts for my tax return - another annoying job ticked off the list.

At teatime I cycled up the Trail and back, and then in the evening went to the local for a meal with a close friend, and we caught up on the last 6 months of each other’s lives.

A good day.

A very good day.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The headlines this Friday (with a tiny update)

1/ Kobo has promised to remove Plotting for Beginners from their site within 24 hours.
It’s taken a two week stream of emails from me and Snowbooks (the original publisher). Yesterday, in desperation, Isaac and I contacted them via Twitter.
In an apologetic email I received at teatime, Kobo said:
“Just as a bit of context for the delay on removing the book from the site: we are legally obligated to obtain permission from the entity that supplied the book to Kobo before we can remove it from our website”
That is fine, but I am puzzled as to why it took so long for my enquiry to be escalated to the next tier up where someone could actually do something.
Now there are other dragons to slay. It’s becoming a full time job chasing people on the internet who are “file-sharing” a book they have not written and to which they do not own the copyright. Why would someone (and I do not mean Kobo – who were acting in good faith with what they thought were legitimate copies) assume that because they can copy a book, or a piece of music, it is OK to offer it to the world for free – or for money? Do they think artists and musicians and writers live on fresh air?
2/ The Aging Hippie informed me that she can rarely comment on my blog because Blogger loses her comments. If this has happened to you, I am very sorry. If you are desperate, you can email me at infoatdelicatelynuanceddotcom, but I only respond to people I haven’t met, on the subject of my blog or my books.
3/ The strawberries are almost finished, and it’s time to start picking the blackcurrants and making jam.
4/ My elder grandson has become an archaeologist.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I need your help

I’m feeling better today. I realise now that what was wrong with me yesterday was exhaustion – so will you please suggest this to me, next time I put up a bad-tempered post?

But I need some help from you, dear readers, in another direction.

In trying to get Waterstones to stock the paperback of PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS I need to tell them who my likely readers are – not just intelligent women, but which other authors do these intelligent women like? If you were sorting and categorising your bookshelf, which authors would you put me next to? How would you describe my fiction?

Please, please overcome your resistance, your shyness, your modesty, your desire for anonymity, and tell me in the comments section below. It would be a HUGE help.

Your comment will appear as soon as I’ve checked that it’s not from a spammer. A friend emailed today to say that she has tried several times to leave a comment and her comment has got lost. If this has happened to you, I am sorry. I have no idea what the problem is.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

lower case bits and bats a la giovanna – a bad tempered post

the kobo team who answer plebs’ emails have escalated the problem. watch this space.

i was invited to a charity hog roast at the weekend and could find no-one to go with. I have too many friends who are either busy, or who are squeamish veggies. sometimes no-one but a sibling (who grew up on a farm and is unsentimental) fits the bill. it’s a shame mine all live so far away.

Holton Beckering 028 -  X1a

(i am the one in the pretty dress at the front.)

there is nothing else to say this morning, as I am feeling both under the weather, and also pretty dyspeptic. you are so, so lucky I don’t do politics on this blog: there is so much in the news at the moment that is driving me nuts. OK, if you insist, try this headline. and this one.

i just read this on twitter

It is said that authors become grumpy when they are not writing.

i wonder if that’s what’s ailing me….


Saturday, July 20, 2013

The infringement of copyright; and Quaker weddings

On the plus side, we are getting some great feedback from peeps who have read PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS. They love it!

On the minus side, Amazon emailed me last week to tell me that we were in breach of our Kindle publication contract, because although we should be selling PLOTTING FOR BEGINNERS exclusively with them, Kobo were also offering it for sale. Kobo is a large American company who sell e-readers and ebooks. I emailed Kobo immediately and have been emailing them most days, and still, a week later, they have not taken PfB off their site. The file is inferior and the price is ridiculously high, but that isn’t the point.  They are infringing copyright.

Snowbooks, the original publisher of PfB has also emailed them. Kobo’s answer? We need to contact their supplier – a firm that neither Snowbooks nor I has heard of. Is this how a reputable company would behave? It is outrageous. Scurrilous hounds pirating copies and offering free downloads is one thing (how are authors supposed to live?) but a large company taking money for something they have no right to?

Matthew and Daisy Willis

On the plus side, I am going to a Quaker wedding today at Bakewell Meeting (where I go every Sunday.) Quaker weddings are the most romantic of any weddings. We have no minister, and the bride and bridegroom marry each other in the presence of the rest of the Meeting. They stand up together and each one in turn says “Friends, I take my friend X to be my…..”   The marriage ‘ceremony’ is wreathed in the silence of a meeting for worship, which silence is occasionally broken by members of the congregation getting up to speak (as they are moved) about the couple or about marriage, or about anything else that is pertinent.

All the guests are witnesses and sign the certificate. I have my mother and father’s huge wedding certificate and also the huge certificate from my grandmother’s and grandfather’s wedding. The photo above is the wedding photo of the latter, Matthew Willis and Daisy Jacob, after their marriage at Cartmel Meeting House in 1909.

(There will be no hats today.)

p.s. The new blog header is the view over our front garden wall.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This year’s favourites

Favourite film seen this year -

Before Midnight

Favourite book read this year -


Favourite excerpt from a review of one of my books (in this case a review on of BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU)

“The only problem now is that I can read faster than Sue can write...”

Favourite drink -

A margarita made by the Little Red Hen and enjoyed on her deck in San Francisco.

Wendy Nov 2011

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I am not superwoman

Sometimes people say to me – How do you manage to fit everything in?

The answer is – I don’t. Things don’t get done – e.g. cleaning, weeding, household accounts, publishing accounts, tax returns,  contacting the police about a peace vigil I am organising for later this year.

On Friday I went hell for leather all day, apart from a brief interlude when a friend visited and I sat down and talked, and laughed my way through her Glen Baxter book, which contains gems like this.

 glen baxter

On Saturday morning all I could manage was picking two kilos of strawberries from the back garden and doing the food shopping before I collapsed in the steamer chair on the patio until teatime, dozing, reading the papers, and listening to three episodes of The Archers I’d missed. I was zonked. My sinuses were also playing up.

lazy day

Later, I managed to summon up enough energy to make myself a Bloody Mary to The Little Red Hen’s recipe,


play table tennis with Dave, and water the sweet peas. The heat does me in, but I am not complaining.

Yesterday I called at the GP surgery for something and for the first time ever the car park was empty. Maybe if we had constant sunshine, the NHS wouldn’t be on its knees.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Remembering Christine

Do you remember my post about Christine’s funeral?

Do you know what a well-dressing is? Read this post and you’ll find out.

Last week the children at the village school made a well dressing in memory of Christine, the lady who ran the village shop with her brother, Nick.



It brought tears to my eyes.

The shop is still closed.

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Monday, July 15, 2013

First up, lizziem!

The first review on of PLOTTING FOR GROWNUPS. Thank you, lizziem, whoever you are!

first five star review on amazon

Friday, July 12, 2013

The garden: current status

Finally, the garden can have some attention.

I’m really delighted - Dave has made me some compost boxes to replace the useless ones we got from the council.


This morning, before it gets too hot, I have to transfer all the rotting stuff into them.

Meanwhile, the blackcurrants are ripening, and soon you’ll be getting another blog post about jam making (don’t yawn.)


I am picking a kilo of strawberries every day, and Dave is eating most of them, which is fine.


And the sweet peas and attendant weeds are doing well.


The OFF Christmas tree (remember?) is starting to recover from the rigours of Hepworth Towers in-out on-off Christmases…


and don’t you just love the way Lady’s Mantle seeds itself in unpromising places?


And we got out the table tennis table. Dave is thrashing me as per usual.


Wishing you a sunny weekend!

Ooh, ooh, ooh….nearly forgot…who’s going to be the first to post a review of Plotting for Grown-ups on Amazon?


I got up early to sort out the compost in the cool of the morning, but then had to waste an hour and a half of precious time, chasing people who are offering illegal downloads of Plotting for Beginners. Amazon are the only ones selling legal copies of my ebooks. What’s more, they’re cheaper than the second rate pirated ones.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Publication Day for Plotting for Grown-ups!

It all started on Boxing Day 2011 when I emailed Jane thus -

Hi Giovanna

I hope you’re surviving your Christmas…...

We have survived an OFF Christmas thus far. Dave brought me bacon and eggs in bed, and made me a special 3d card: his contribution.

I kept the tiny tree-in-a-pot in my room, along with the cards: my contribution.

I’m writing because I read PfB again – after 5 years away – to cheer me up. And it did. It was very cheering. I loved all the stuff about Iain, and Richard and Pippa, and I loved your emails.They are a model of understated, pithy wit.

I was wondering how you felt these days about a sequel.

I know you are busy with…….and could not contribute much because of that, but how do you feel about my writing a sequel and you contributing minimally?

I have not planned it out and it is just an idea I had this morning…..

Let me know what you think………….

Happy New Year,

Love and best


and Jane’s reply (massively expurgated as I have not asked her permish to quote it)

hi daise

great thoughts - delay in replying as i am officially on holiday ie not writing …………….i think a sequel wd be brill....

…………already excited

best cover versions, love g

and now….drum roll….

And now, today, Delicately Nuanced is proud to announce the worldwide publication of the ebook edition of PLOTTING FOR GROWN-UPS. (The paperback edition will be published on September 24th.)

Layout 1

You can buy it here.

The publisher and authors would be delighted if you’d post an honest review on Amazon when you’ve read it. Reviews help sales. And we need sales.

I am laughing. Why? Because it’s finally happened.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

The Monsal Trail in summer

You’ll remind me, won’t you, how much I love living here when I am climbing up the walls with cabin fever next February?

I cycled up the Monsal Trail early today to beat the tourists, and this is what I saw…







Great Longstone station platform…


Banks of ox-eye daisies…


the light at the end of the tunnel…


The view of the Wye from the viaduct…


and from the other side…


This is the viaduct…

may08 253 

more daisies…


and keck…


You should come and see it, and while you’re up here, drop in at Hassop Station for a coffee or lunch.Or you could come on September 24th to cycle or walk on the Trail and then come to the launch of Plotting for Grown-ups at Hassop Station in the evening.