Brickbats and Lemons

Full of Happy New Year cheer I headed into 2014 … unfortunately just around the corner was January with a ‘brickbat’ to throw at me! My father (with whom I share the care of my lovely mother who is suffering from vascular dementia) took a tumble and ended up in hospital .. where he still is as I write.

‘Tiles’ followed (minor in comparison) with the speaker I had booked for January WI meeting not being able to come along.  Instead I led a belly dance session and another member produced a wonderful quiz based on nursery rhymes. I thought myself well versed in these .. but was stumped by more than one .. including one based on the Rhyme Oranges and Lemons … I obviously have in my memory a truncated version whereby St Margaret’s did not feature! Indeed, I sang the shortened version to my youngest son, Clement, as his bed-time song (minus the chopping off of heads)  However, it is in the longer version that you will find the term ‘brickbats and tiles’ … which, once brought to my attention in a non-singing-to-children situation, made me wonder..

“Brickbats and Tiles say the bells of St Giles”.

What on earth are /were brickbats?

Well the internet came to my rescue and so that you all may know …

A brickbat is less than half a brick – generally useless… except for throwing at someone to cause injury.  Now used in terms of criticism damning a performance

Here’s the full version of the Bells of London

Gay go up and gay go down, To ring the bells of London town.

Oranges and lemons, Say the bells of St. Clements.

Bull’s eyes and targets, Say the bells of St. Margret’s.

Brickbats and tiles, Say the bells of St. Giles’.

Halfpence and farthings, Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

Pancakes and fritters, Say the bells of St. Peter’s.

Two sticks and an apple, Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs, Say the bells of St. John’s.

Kettles and pans, Say the bells of St. Ann’s.

Old Father Baldpate, Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings, Say the bells of St. Helen’s.

When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich, Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be? Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know, Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed, Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.
Chop chop chop chop The last man’s dead!

Anyway … this meant I was then unable to attend a family wedding that I am making the wedding cake for *sigh* – the cake will get there though 🙂  Bit of a lemon!

Such has been my 2014 so far… not sure I want to know what is coming up … hopefully no more brickbats, very few tiles and only the odd disappointing lemon.

How has your 2014 panned out so far?

What is your favourite nursery rhyme?

Have you asked for your free copy of Some Kind of Synchrony yet ? Last chance today!  Go On! Do it! Click here to go to the offer post.

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** Pre-Launch Party ** for The Angel Bug

WoooHooo – Welcome to the Pre-Launch Party for THE ANGEL BUG  – due to be released on the 1st July!

What is a blog pre-launch party? Well, I’d love to break out the champers and serve up the caviar but on a blog all I can offer is some PRIZES  and some TASTERS.

champers PRIZES  *******

I will give away one ebook a day (winner’s choice) from my previously published novels, to a correct entry in the competition below – EVERYDAY ALL THROUGH JUNE!

So get reading,

answer the questions

and email your answers and your book choice to ann@anfoweraker.com.

The sooner you enter the more chances you get! Each week I will organise a random pick for seven lucky winners!

COMPETITION QUESTIONS!

(click book links to read first 3 chapters of each, in pdf, to find the answers)

1] In DIVINING the LINE what county does Liz live in?

2] In NOTHING EVER HAPPENS HERE where, in Cornwall, does Sally suggest Jo and Alex might go to, to get away from London?

3] In SOME KIND of SYNCHRONY what is Di’s new job?

{hint: all answers are within the first chapter}

Competition Rules:

You need to be signed-up to this blog (email sign -up is easy if you are not signed up already – see ‘subscribe’ box top left)

Answer all three questions and email the answers and the following information to ann@annfoweraker.com

The novel* you’d like to receive as a prize AND the eformat you would like it in (MOBI for kindle: EPUB for nook/sony/kobo: or  PDF)

* to read blurbs – to help you chose – go to Ann Foweraker Bookshop on TOP bar

One winner per email address; chosen via random.org. The prize ebook will be emailed to the winner after the weekly draw.

and now the caviar TASTER  ******

every week, added to the usual blog, will be excerpts from my latest novel The Angel Bug due to be released on July 1st … read the first instalment Today !

The Angel Bug  1

Gabbi – October 18th

Thirty years should change a man, I thought, but looking at the handsome face on the huge poster it didn’t look like it had done much to Luke Adamson’s features except, perhaps, make him look more rugged, a man to be taken seriously.

I hadn’t mentioned knowing him when it was first mooted that he might be able to fit the Eden Project into his UK trip; publicising his book and film, rumoured to have made him a millionaire already. ‘Jungala’ was a box-office phenomenon, though it started out as a serious film on ‘Man’s relationship with plants and the importance of preserving biodiversity’.

It shouldn’t have made it as a blockbuster movie, however, something happened in the filming; the ‘baddies’, a real threatening force, turned up and turned Luke into an Indiana Jones character. Added to that, in the three years it took to film, two major breakthroughs in treating terminal illnesses in man had been developed from extracts of plants hitherto only known and used by natives of the rainforests. With his superb on-screen presence, deep knowledge of his subject, film-star good looks and some excellent cutting, the serious ethno-botanical study became a mainstream ‘true-life’ film complete with soundtrack and an eco-song reminiscent of ‘Born Free’.

You see I knew all this, I’d read about it in the papers; his name, as always, drawing my eye and, despite my conscious thoughts, my interest, I’d even gone up to Plymouth to see the first screening. So why hadn’t I said anything to Mikaela when she was bubbling on about ‘how wonderful it would be’, and ‘what a coup it would be’, and ‘wasn’t he the most sexy scientist out there’? Well, I knew myself too well, I knew if I’d said anything that I’d have blushed, and then there would have been that kind teasing that they went in for in the Eden family, and I didn’t think I could cope with that, and they would have no idea that it would be difficult for me.

The Eden family, that’s how I felt about them all, a great bunch of people that easily became friends as they seemed to have, at their core, the same values. To me they had been a true life-line, welcoming me in and giving me both a focus in life and the gentle external framework I had needed to grow into a stronger person when my main support had been so suddenly cut away.

Well I’d had a month to get used to seeing his photo everywhere, even in my local Co-op, and now his visit was only a couple of days away. I wasn’t really worried, I told myself, even at university he’d been one of the ‘celebrities’ and I was definitely ‘one of the others’. He probably wouldn’t recognise or remember me, so it wouldn’t be anything to be fussed about, I told myself – again.

‘Gabbi!’ Mikaela called, waving me over as soon as I reached the open-plan office floor of the Foundation building. When I got close enough, Mikaela swung her chair round to face the others too, ‘Hey, listen – Luke Adamson’s emailed me. “So looking forward to seeing the eighth wonder of the world! I have heard so many good things about the Eden Project – and as it is the last date on my tour I intend to take a break and see a bit of Cornwall while I’m there. Recommendations welcome.” Wow, what do you think? What would a guy like that want to see?’

‘He’s American – anything older than 200 years should do the trick,’ cut in Andy from the plant pathology desk.

‘Cynic!’ Naomi muttered, her eye to a microscope.

‘He’s used to old buildings,’ I murmured, seeing him standing under the arch of King’s College, then, as Mikaela turned a puzzled face to me, I added quickly, ‘PhD at Cambridge.’

‘So he did!’ Mikaela turned back to Andy, ‘So, maestro?’

‘So, it had better be King Arthur then, Tintagel, um, some of the prehistoric stuff, Men-a-Tol,’ Andy offered, pushing himself back from his desk, ‘Coffee anyone?’ Heads were shaken, one hand up, Andy shambled off to fetch one for himself and one for Naomi.

‘You know I keep thinking this is his first UK visit, when it’s just his first visit to this part of the UK!’ Mikaela beamed brightly, ‘I’m sure we can find some really Cornish places to recommend to him, might even be able to escort him round a bit,’ she added with a twinkle in her eye.

I smiled at Mikaela’s enthusiasm and thought he’d probably be quite happy to be escorted by Mikki. Twenty-eight, pretty, long-legged, blonde and shapely, Mikki was the antithesis of the dowdy scientist, very much the sort of girl Luke used to go for, I thought, and the type who went for him back then. I didn’t suppose he’d changed in that respect either.

By mid-afternoon, truth be told, I was feeling a little drowsy as another restless night caught up with me and I was finding the rows of figures in front of me swimming. Somehow, while Eden was between senior botanists, I had ended up with the role, partly through an odd deference to me as the senior by age and, I believed, an acknowledgement of my organisational skills. I shook myself and, deciding on a restorative cup of tea, pushed my chair away from the desk. As I did so my phone rang, sliding the chair forward again I answered with a voice much brighter than I felt.

‘Hello, Gabbi Johnston.’

‘Gabbi! Josh here, I’m in H03. There’s something not right with the Moringa – I think you had better come and take a look.’

From the designation, H03, I pictured the slight, pale boy, Josh, standing by the Orang dan Kebun, the Malaysian house and garden area in the humid-tropics biome.

‘All right, Josh, I’ll be right down,’ I said already standing as I replaced the phone. A quick whiz down to the pit was probably the best antidote to the lethargy I was feeling anyway.

Picking up my mobile I headed out of the Foundation building, turned sharply and collected my bike. As a health and lifestyle statement and as a method of keeping fit I kept a bike at Eden for getting around. Easy on the trip down into the pit, as the site of the biomes was appropriately known to the employees of Eden, but a darn sight harder on the muscles on the way back up to the administration buildings on the rim.

I felt that sense of wonder and exhilaration that I always did as my pedal strokes brought me in sight of the Eden that everyone recognises from books, TV and adverts, the soap-bubble constructions piled against the sides of the once raw granite china-clay pit, then, as I neared, the panoply of the temperate zone, the largest, the ‘outdoor biome’. All of it looking both small and vast at the same time.

After walking briskly through the jungle conditions of the humid biome I was perspiring slightly by the time I reached H03 and there was Josh standing beside the Malaysian house, keeping out of the way of the visitors who were wandering, gawping upwards, stopping and bending to read notices, children dashing back and forth to drag parents on to the ‘thing’ they’d found, or trailing behind, tired and hot.

‘Hi!’ Josh said when I stood beside him. ‘You have to get to the higher side to see it.’

We walked with the crowd round the edge of the garden, but where the rest flowed onwards we stopped and stepped to the far side of the path.

Josh raised his hand and pointed to the top most leaves of the Moringa oleifera.

‘There!’ he said, ‘Earlier, when it was clouded over, I could see quite clearly that the top-most leaves are going red.’

The sky beyond the ETFE bubble biome structure was bright now, I shaded my eyes but I still couldn’t see the leaf colour properly; the higher delicate fronds were just dark silhouettes.

A family came and stood between us and the tree. The mother read from the guide in clear tones. ‘ “Moringa oleifera, also know as the Horseradish or Miracle tree, has edible leaves, beans, flowers and roots.”  I wonder if it’s the roots that give it the Horseradish name. “Beside it stands the Neem tree known throughout the East as the world’s most useful tree, providing medicine, fuel and food.” Well that sounds impressive for one plant. ’

The family stood a moment or two looking the two slim trees up and down, the younger boy pointing out the bean-like seed pods. They moved on, the mother reading the next section as they walked.

‘I’m going higher,’ I said. ‘I can’t see well enough from here.’

Josh nodded assent and followed me as I turned and took a near vertical route up through the planting to get as high as possible.

Now I could see. Josh was right; there were a significant number of leaves turning red, as if for an early autumn. Yet these trees shouldn’t have an autumn, shouldn’t be changing colour.

‘What’s the watering like?’ I asked

‘Fine, checked that, no problems now or recorded.’

‘Hmm, okay, well we will need leaf samples anyway – so dehydration can be ruled out while we look for other baddies,’ I smiled. ‘Could you arrange that for me Josh?’

‘Sure, only one for you, or one to each?’ he said, meaning, a sample for the plant pathologist and one for the entomologist too.

‘Better make it one to each, thanks,’ I said frowning. ‘Better make them bio-safe and labelled urgent. Okay?’

‘Okay, no probs!’

No probs! Indeed! Big Probs!! I thought as I sweated the bike back up the slope. Perhaps I should have had a sample sent to Mikki too. It might be easier than actually telling her that there was a problem with the Moringa. Of all the trees in all the biomes, why did it have to be that one, a paraphrased Bogart said in my head, if no other plant, Luke would certainly zero in on his pet, the tree that made his name in ethnobotany!  Back at my desk I bashed Moringa oleifera into the Forestry-Compendium website to check out if it had any history of turning red, and what the cause might be………

 I hope you enjoyed that little taster ….. more next week.

Have you ever been to The Eden Project in Cornwall?

Do share your thoughts on the excerpt, the competition or Eden … you know I love to hear from you.

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What are YOU reading?

Do you like reading?  I freely admit that I love reading, and have done so from a young age.  And I guess, if you are reading this, you probably do like reading, though I am well aware that there are many people who, though competent readers, do not read for pleasure.

So, what do you like reading? I am a generally a fiction reader.  I love to lose myself in a good story, well told.  However, I will read a weak story if it is written well and I will read a well-paced and interesting story even if it is poorly written. Actually, if I start a novel I will almost always finish it, giving it every chance to impress.

My dead-trees 'To Read' pile (with glasses always to hand!)

Recently I’ve been reading a collection of newspaper columns put together by their author as a book. This was given to me, otherwise I would probably never have chosen to read this book, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Caitlin Moran writes columns for the Times that veer between the amusing, mildly eccentric and the serious point of view.  It all depends on what she can find to write about that week (as she cheerfully admits). She even wonders if the role of the columnist is to give the letter (or email) writers something to rail against, commiserate or laugh with, or, even, for certain men of a certain age to ‘get off on’.  I found myself agreeing with some of her serious columns and going ‘oh really, tehe!’ at some of her sillier ones – but they were all entertaining ‘tooth-brushing’ reads

WHAT? Tooth-brushing reads? What are they? Well, it’s one of the ways I find time to read (as a very busy woman!) Cleaning teeth, if done properly, takes TIME, so I clean my teeth and read at the same time. A book with short chapters is ideal for this. I know, weird, but works for me 🙂

On the kindle I am reading two books at the moment. One is a writing craft book and the other is Jasper Fforde’s ‘One of Our Thursdays is Missing’ .

This is a fantasy novel set in ‘book world’ populated by characters from all the books ever written, their scenery and stories. They have to be ‘on hand’ to be read whenever a book is read in the real world. Like other Jasper Fforde books, you just have to get your head round the concept the book works under – but they are very clever with many smiles of recognition. The more you have read, the more you will find these gems in any of his novels.  And reading lots and reading widely is very important for any writer – so I can tell myself that this is ‘work’ no matter how much I am enjoying it ;).

The writing craft book needs a bit more time – as it has exercises that I (sometimes) do.  So I read this one when I can see quarter to half an hour free and am somewhere where I can jot down a few answers. Needless to say this means this book is taking longer to read than the Jasper Fforde which I use for reading at any short gap – waiting in the doctors, a quiet moment at a market, waiting for something to cook (that I daren’t go off and leave) – all sorts of odd moments. And because it’s on the kindle I have the font set larger than normal so I don’t even have to go and find my glasses before I can read!!

I am a (relatively new) member of Goodreads (book lovers group on the internet)  and occasionally get my act together to update my reviews of the books I have read. On Goodreads you form book-reading friendship groups and can follow another member who you think shares your tastes so you can pick up good recommendations from their reading list too. Like I said – I almost always finish any book I’ve started and so can usually find something to say about a novel, and then, having written the review I may slide into the Amazon page for the same book and leave a review there too.

It’s not that I’m that keen of spreading my opinions about books – it’s just that I am very aware how important reviews and ratings are to the Authors (at least to those of us who are not mega already) .  Amazon will ‘grade’ a book’s popularity by how many reviews it has got (as well as the star rating)  – so I will try to leave reviews there too – and hope that my readers will do the same for my novels.

So what are YOU reading? What was the last book you read?

Do you review?  If so, do you post on Amazon or Goodreads or somewhere else?

Do you read the reviews of a book before you buy?

How do you find time to read?

Do share your favourite reads  – we are all blog friends here – and I love to hear from you

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Baby, you can drive my car …

 … except, no one drove my first car but me – I was very possessive about my first car!

This week we have been looking for a new car. Not NEW as in NEW NEW – just new to us.

Anyway, we swanned off to Totnes to look at and test drive this car. The salesman lifted the bonnet and there was this shiny looking engine squeezed into the space.  There was no space around the engine whatsoever and, as I understand it, no home-maintenance can be done to this car without upsetting the  all computer controlled, and diagnosed, electronics.

It made me yearn for the simplicity of my very first car – a Morris 1000 Traveller.

This isn’t the photo I was actually looking for, that one has JUST me and my car, without the current boyfriend getting in on the picture – and shows the iconic wood-framed back to the Morris 1,000 Traveller. The wood frame that had to be rubbed down, scraped out and filled if there was any rot, and re-varnished every summer!

The ‘Traveller’ was an estate car – and was great for cramming loads of stuff into the back, often extra friends.  This at a time when seat belts in the front had only just become mandatory (that is to have them at all – let alone mandatory to wear them).  When the seats were all full, to have a couple of extra lads rattling around in the back was commonplace, after all, not many of us had cars at all and we lived in a village!

 Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

Not only did it have woodwork that you had to care for, but it also had a ‘choke’ you had to pull out before you tried to start the engine. If the battery wasn’t too good it had a handle you could insert into the front and crank the engine with. You sometimes had to double de-clutch to get it to change gear. It rattled alarmingly when it went over 60 (which wasn’t often as you could only do that if you went up the motorway – and I didn’t need to go that way very much) And there was so much room around the engine it felt like you could reach every part with no problem.

I have fond memories of that car! It is there in the background of  my social life from seventeen to twenty two – it is just as well it couldn’t talk 😉

 Beep beep’m beep beep yeah

It scared the life out of me once, when the brakes failed as I came up to a huge busy roundabout near Staines, a nifty bit of double-de-clutching slowed me enough to tuck behind a lorry (rather than going into the side of it) and I completed my journey using the gears and the handbrake until got home safely. It took me to my teacher training college everyday for the first year (while I still lived at home) and saw me right through the following three years of my training and degree.  And I still prefer to drive estate versions. Ahh! Memories!

Despite this fondness for my first car I have not been particularly attached to any of my other cars, or interested in makes and models, and I notice that even when cars appear in my novels they are barely described. Even in Some Kind of Synchrony, when the story within the story is told whilst driving back and forth to work, the type of car is never discussed. Interestingly, other novelists, perhaps ones more fixated on cars, often go into fine detail over the vehicles their protagonists drive. I can see the value in that and it is something that I shall think about when I start my next novel.

Do you have fond memories of your first car?  What make and model was it?

What do you remember most about cars you have owned?  What does the car a character drives, say about them to you?

Join in the conversation – you know I love to hear from you.

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And a pressie for YOU!

I hope you all had a great Christmas day! Our household was full – two sons home, plus one girlfriend, two sets of aunts and uncles and of course my husband and parents, all making eleven for the day ( and for today – boxing day)

So, now it’s calmed down a bit and I only have the boxing day lunch to make ( a huge turkey and gammon pie with loads of leeks, carrots and other veg in it ) I have decided to give all my readers a present – your choice of one of my e-novels – from me – to you – free 🙂  

It doesn’t matter what kind of e-reader you have or whether you have one at all – you can still request one of my novels and it will be sent to your email address. If you have an e-reader ask for the right type of file for you (mobi for kindles – epub for most other e-readers – or pdf)  if you haven’t an e-reader just ask for a pdf version and you can read it on your computer!

Just go to my other website  annmade.co.uk (BEFORE the end of 2012) and click into CONTACT ANN – there carefully enter your email address  and request the BOOK TITLE  and the FILE VERSION (MOBI / EPUB /PDF) you would like  – one e-novel free per person as a gift !  [before the New Year]

Your choices 🙂

The first time it happened it felt like stumbling across another avenue to an ancient monument, but this one pulled at more than just his head, there was a tightness in his chest, the lights twinkled and flashed inside his mind, the intensity giving Perran a firework of a headache. Following the line – years later in the early nineties – leads him into Liz Hawkey’s ordered life, and together they discover the source of the line.

A story of family, love and loss, Divining the Line brings the ordinary and the extraordinary together into everyday life.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Living in London suddenly becomes too uncomfortable for the attractive Jo Smart and her sixteen year-old son, Alex, after he is beaten up, so when they are offered the chance to take an immediate holiday in a peaceful Cornish town they jump at it. But not all is as peaceful as it seems as they become involved in a murder enquiry, drug raid and abduction.

DI Rick Whittington has also escaped from London and the reminders of the death of his wife and child, and through his investigations finds himself meeting Jo and being drawn into the events surrounding her.

This is a love story set in the early 1990s which combines the historic Cornish love of the sea and smuggling with hard faced twentieth century crime and detection. The perfect blend for a woman’s crime novel.

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Faith Warren, married mother of two, is a secretary in a newspaper office. It wasn’t what she’d hoped for, but her dreams of university and becoming an author were lost long ago. Telling stories to entertain her lifelong friend on their journey to work and back is all that is left, until she tells The Story.

The real trouble began with the minor characters, just unfortunate co-incidences, but when do you stop calling them co-incidences and begin to wonder what the hell is going on – and how it can be stopped

Click here to read the first three Chapters

 

Don’t forget to ask for your Christmas pressie of an Ann Foweraker Novel before the New Year! 

And I’d love to see your review of your choice of my novels too! Please send them to me here on my blog, for inclusion on my website, or post them on my pages on Amazon 😉 (just search for Ann Foweraker in Amazon Books) or do both! 🙂 Thanks, and Happy Christmas!

 

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