PLEASE DON’T BE MY FRIEND

The other day I posted the following on my Facebook Timeline.

Dear Prospective Face Book Friend, I do understand that you may be looking for pen pals and maybe even a romantic connection, especially if you are posted abroad in a war zone. However, despite this being a public page, I use it to chat to my reader and writer friends and exchange hints, reviews, and other marketing information. So it’s probably not the kind of page you are looking for – besides, I’m a happily married grandmother, who’s rapidly losing the wrinkle war. I hate to decline friends, so I hope you’ll understand and not make a friend request.

Yes, I know I come across as hard, overbearing and pretty unpleasant, but I’m really a softie inside and I don’t like to refuse a friendship, my page is public after all. The problem is, I don’t like to be rude or offend, but then (like many of us) I get bombarded with virtual roses and bottles of drink and even more flowery comments.

I was also hoping my post would deter the ones from humans who, deep down, may not be genuinely interested in me and my books. For example I had one who asked me what I was wearing. Ah, I thought, s/he was curious about writers and their habits, so I told it (with a name like Alex it wasn’t easy to tell). I’m sitting here I wrote in my usual creative gear, IMG_0726my fluffy red and white pyjamas liberally adorned with red reindeer and Xmas trees (I bought them around Christmas time) under my red furry dressing gown with the rabbit on the pocket, a pair of free airline socks and my favourite reindeer slippers. (They may be mooses, I’m not quite sure).

I was then treated to a picture of my new friend. S/he wasn’t wearing very much at all and what s/he was wearing defied comprehension.  DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

So with the very best intentions, I hoped my post would not subject me to such heart-stopping shocks, (it’s not good to call the paramedics in too often), this post will do the trick I thought.

Sure enough a few minutes later I got a friend request from a dear little granny living in France. She looked so cute and cuddly, grey wavy hair, delightful smile, pretty dress. Great, I thought another fan friend who has heard about my brilliant books and can’t wait to read them, she might even buy one, or two, or three, or four. I cheerfully pressed accept and said how happy I was to connect with her.

In just a couple of minutes she private messaged me, telling me how thrilled she was to be my friend. She lives in France, and she was dying of cancer. How sad I thought, my fingers were poised to send her virtual hugs, hearts and kisses.  She was a widow previously married to an English entrepreneur, (I hadn’t noticed at this point she had a German surname) and he had been killed in a car crash with their only daughter. I reached for my hanky

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and upped my mental reply to include a bunch of virtual roses (I was trying to decide if a bottle of plonk would be suitable as well in this instance). She continued by telling me she had 10.5 million Euro in the bank and if I promised to donate it to various charities….I could keep 20% for myself.

I groaned. Yes, it’s what we called in South Africa a 411 letter – they want your name, bank account number, the date you stopped being breast fed, your inside leg measurement and all your pin numbers.

What a disappointment. Off I go to Facebook to do the blocking and reporting thing – DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!  But FB do send you a nice apology don’t they – saying they’re sorry you’ve been subjected to this.

They can’t still be catching people out with this scam surely? Did s/he think I was born yesterday? Well maybe looking at my avatar…?

Now the big question of course is, she’s given me her private email address, so do you think I can add it to my Mailchimp list so she’ll get my monthly newsletter? I’m a bit worried she might unsubscribe.

You can subscribe if you like http://eepurl.com/cBu4Sf

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$/£ 0.00318 for a smile

Once upon a time when I was writing for a living (and are we going back a long, long way), I wrote mainly promotional, educational and informational content – usually for radio and television, often in a drama format.

few of the videos I made

Then, as I got to the wrinkly stage, pretending to be retired, I turned to books. I wrote three memoirs, and two novels. If there was any theme it was Africa, well I lived there for almost forty years, so I got to notice quite a lot, especially filming in deep rural areas miles away from cities.

Then I broke the mould and published my political/satirical book set 200 years on in Fairyland, possibly described as similar to Tom Sharpe or Monty Python. I was unsure if the rather ‘British’ humour would transcend the Atlantic, but surprisingly I’ve had more sales on the other side of the pond.

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Readers who knew me best from the Amie novels (and let’s face it, she has a very limited sense of humour), expressed surprise as it was so ‘not’ my genre.

Most writers have a genre we’re told ‘it’s the right thing to do’. So, Ludlum writes spy books, Steven King writes horror books and Edit Blyton wrote books for children.

But as often as I could, I put a humorous slant on most of my writing. It’s there in my memoirs, even in Walking over Eggshells. I’ve had to see the funny side of life in order to keep sane through the ups and downs of the bizarre situations I found myself in.

So Unhappily Ever After is possibly more me than Amie’s servant, telling her story to the world (well OK to the occasional reader who clicks on the link).

Why am I rambling on like this? Just a reminder that Unhappily is at $/£0.99 this week for 311 pages of really funny stuff, even I giggled at some of it. And as an extra teaser, here are some of the Twitter adds I put together (no, not going in for the graphic awards any time soon), which might give you a taste as to what it’s all about.

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It climbed to #6,246 overall in paid books this morning in the US and #35,868 in the UK but I had a bit of help with one of those promos. Go take a peep, here is the link

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

and please, if you are in a good mood, reblog this for me as well? And if you feel depressed then check out the look inside and smile.

Have a great week.

PROOF I’M AN IDIOT – THE BIG TRIP VII – AND NEXT UP MONARCH

Just as you think you’ve got a handle on things life smacks you in the face. Last week I was so proud of myself. I wrote my blog in Word on the Sunday to free up my half day ‘me time’ on the Monday. I found all the pictures and popped them into the media box – so now all I had to do was quickly cut and paste and I’d be writing Amie 3.

Now if you are about to ask why I didn’t do the whole thing and then press publish on Monday, well I’ve yet to work that one out. The last time I tried it, it went live immediately.

So, all completed nice and early, pressed publish and then remembered that I’d not added the categories and tags. No problem I thought, I’ll just pop back and edit it. So I did and then I sent out a blog which was only tags and categories. A kind follower alerted me to this so I had to go back and do the whole thing all over again – sigh.

So, where were we in SE Asia? Oh yes, on the boat on the Halong Bay in Vietnam and believe me it was pretty cold, being January I guess that was to be expected. I had packed some winter clothes, in fact I was wearing all of them – at once, all at the same time.

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While DH had a massage down one end of the boat, I tried to relax with a book in our cabin, until I noticed it was getting colder and colder. The damn aircon was on full blast. I fiddled and fiddled with the remote- no luck. I then clambered up and pressed every button in sight, no luck, I tried to unplug it but it refused to cooperate. Finally in desperation, I went for help. The guide failed, the steward failed, the engineer failed and the captain failed.

After a long discussion they decided to give us another cabin – the presidential suite. Well this was the life – except you didn’t want to sit down on these chairs, unless you were very well padded.

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And the bathroom – or more correctly posh heads? When did you see a Jacuzzi this size on a boat?

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There were, however two small problems. We had been warned that after 8.pm there was no hot water on board. Time now? 8.30pm. I was already cold enough, and the thought of sitting in freezing cold water with even colder jets spraying over me was not too enticing. Also, there were no instructions and we hadn’t the faintest idea what you twiddled, pushed, pulled or thumped to make it work. We settled for admiring the red-brown coloured enamel work.

Then problem #2 arrived. Somehow, while using the sink, I managed to get the metal flip stopper stuck in place. There was no way to empty the sink. Frankly I just didn’t have the courage to call for help a second time, so for the rest of the time on board, we had to brush our teeth over the loo.

It’s not all fun in these posh places you know.

But all was not lost. We visited this pearl farm floating on the water, where they nurture and grow them in little pens and then kill them and wrench the pearls out of them.

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I passed on the cooking class, as by then I was feeling really ill – from frost bite I thought.

But I managed the trip to the fishing village, all on stilts. It was just amazing, set among 2,000 limestone islands but the kayaking, swimming and diving were a little out of the question. If you take a trip there, go in the summer!

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We shared a boat with these nice people, and as we all remarked, when they get the pics developed we will all be asking “Who the hell were they?” Little did they know it was me!

Then it was time for bed, so I popped over the side to take a quick pic of the boat with its lights on.

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HISTORY LESSON PART SOMETHING

Sadly the little prince died when he was 11 years old, and then his Daddy died, and then Queen Anne herself popped off her mortal coil in – 17 something or other and now parliament was in a fix. No heir? They looked around Europe desperately and began offering current accounts at Barclays, books of green shield stamps, Amex cards and Debenham accounts to anyone who was protestant and would sit on the throne of England. They even threw in a free subscription to Readers Digest.

Eventually they had a taker in George who came from somewhere in Germany, only it wasn’t Germany in those days, just a lot of little states and I won’t bother to mention which one as I would probably spell it all wrong.

Enter George I and we’ll meet him next week.

 

 

 

FED UP WITH BEING POLITICALLY CORRECT?

Once upon a time in 1989, I sat down to write a book in the pre-politically correct days. It was my very first attempt to write a full length novel – this was before I gave up teaching to write for a living – so that’s how long ago it was. Ha, I bet some of you were not even born then. Now, I’m really depressed.

Of course I was going to take the literary world by storm, you know the stuff, gala performances, entertainment on mega yachts, people queuing round blocks just to get a peek at me – only the lucky first 5,000 would get the signed copies. I’m sure it must have saved so many getting nightmares after the shock of actually seeing the real me.

But guess what happened? Hollywood – yes Hollywood!

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Not for my book you understand, but someone else’s book. How dare they! They made a film called Shrek and that bore similarities to my masterpiece. You see I had also come to the same conclusion that Cinderella, common as muck, brought up in a pigsty doing manual chores would not really jell with Charming with his upper class true, blue blood lineage. And who is so say that the prim Snow White wasn’t married to a king who couldn’t keep his hands off anything in a skirt. Let’s not forget the Sleeping Beauty who’d got a name for herself as a raving nymphomaniac before she fell asleep?

Hollywood got in first, and so my masterpiece went under the bed.

Two countries and 276 years later I dusted it off and was about to shred it, when I thought – why not?

For all two of you who like my weird sense of humour on this blog, now there’s a whole book of it.

Outside the sun blazed out of a clear blue sky, the birds twittered in the trees and the peasants called happy greetings to each other as they toiled unceasingly in the fields. Inside the palace everything hummed with its usual efficiency as servants hurried to and fro, brushing the acres of carpets with toothbrushes and dusting the furniture with Q-tips.

Only those who are truly in love could sympathize with Charming’s problem. Only those who lived from second to second thinking of the object of their affections, could understand the despair in his heart. But he must be brave, tell her now, today, this morning, at breakfast.

His melancholy thoughts were interrupted by the bugler, who drew himself to his full height, clicked his heels to attention and began the fanfare.

“Oh, stuff that bloody ‘orn in yer ear” snapped Cinderella, as she attempted to sweep into the room. “Yer gives me an ‘eadache every time yer blows it. Mornin’ Charmin’.” She approached the table, padding across the blue carpet in her bare toes. “I bet there ain’t a room in this palace smaller than a football field. By rights, I should lose pounds every day wiv’ all this bloody exercise.” She flopped into a chair.

It was not a pretty sight. Large areas of royal flesh protruded from the royal housecoat, her hair was a mess and traces of last night’s make up were still clearly visible. She looked as if she’d been dragged through several hedges backwards.

“Bring me the royal kidneys, an’ the royal kippers, an’ the royal kedgeree, an’ a royal pot o’ tea,” she shrieked.

Charming winced, his darling was not in a good mood. But the very sight of her brought tears of love to his eyes. He was so lucky, where else would a man find such a perfect woman?

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At long last, Unhappily Ever After is up for pre-order – very different from my other books, but I’ve had to be versatile in the past so why not now?

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPVB4M8

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01DPVB4M8

Can I do the grovelling bit here and plead and beg and exhort – you get the picture – to please re-blog this and spread the word. I will be eternally grateful. Please send your bribes in a plain brown envelope and I’ll write out the checks.

Have a great weekend.

 

 

THE BIG TRIP II HONG KONG + ANNE

I got it all wrong – we didn’t spend the night at the airport till later in the trip. As I was describing our route to friends, DH gave me a hard stare and explained I had it all muddled up. So let’s jump straight to the first destination.

We landed in Hong Kong, took the airport express bus and then a taxi to the hotel. It’s one of those upstairs ones in a busy main street – but I’ve got used to that in Europe.

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I wasn’t expecting a long, sweeping, maple tree-lined drive, even I know that Hong Kong is just a small island – except it’s not. Half of it is on the mainland with China, which is a bit confusing to someone like me with limited brain power. The two are linked by a ferry which is very famous. I know, I’ve read about it in books. Now here is a view of HK you’ve probably not seen before.

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That was taken from the cable car as we went up to the Peak – well you didn’t expect me to walk up there did you?

HK blew me away. I have a sneaking suspicion I was an architect in a previous life – Sir Christopher Wren springs to mind – as I have a fascination with tall buildings and HK is full of them.

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What also blew me away were the hotel facilities. I was amazed to see they provided us with a free lap top and it wasn’t even chained to the wall either! Imagine that in most cities.

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Since I was already going into a deep depression about leaving my lap top at home, I hastily checked to see if there was a price for it. There was certainly a price for everything else. A first, and one we were to see in lots of places. It intimates that you don’t steal the soap, bed linen, fluffy towels, even fluffier bath robes etc but pay for them at the reception desk.

I’m still trying to work out how someone would take the safe? It was bolted to the wall for a start and you could hardly pop it into your pocket and sneak out the door.  I thought some of the stuff looked quite cheap while HK$ 1,000 for a phone seemed a bit steep.

I was also quite amused at this reminder that you should not hang your clothes up on the sprinkler – in case of fire I guess.

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As this was not part of the tour – we were on our own – we bravely ventured out for our first meal in one of the cute little back streets. This will be fine, we thought, HK is a very civilized place. We will order ‘safe food’ for our first night. It would not be a good idea to get a bad tummy on the first day of the holiday.

So we bypassed this restaurant. I know these pictures are not very clear but I had to include them – unselfishly we chose to prolong the life of these cuddly crustaceans.

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DH ordered Indonesian fried rice with a fried egg on top. No problem, except they only had chopsticks available and you try eating a rubbery fried egg with those!

I was more sensible and opted for scrambled egg and spam, which I’d not had for ages. It came floating in a bowl of soup of an indeterminate origin – my chopsticks were equally redundant. Since we were the only diners in there, maybe the locals knew something we didn’t?

We went for a wander round the streets, crowded, vibrant and cluttered until it was time for bed where we slept a full 12 hours.

While I’m boring you to death with the intimate details of our Big Trip, I’ll keep the history thing short. I’m fed up now with WilliamanMary so let’s move on to the next one Queen Anne.

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Anne (centre) and her sister Mary (left) with their parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, painted by Sir Peter Lely and Benedetto Gennari II

Her Daddy had been James II & VII of run-a-way fame so you can guess that her elder sister Mary of WilliamanMary fame did not have any surviving children. Having also been brought up as a Protester, it was fine to pop Anne on the throne without upsetting anyone.

When Anne was about 6 she made friends with a girl called Sarah Jennings, who married John Churchill and his sister became the Duke of York’s mistress. Later he became of course James I & VII. Confused? Well I am.