Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Northern Children's Book Festival

Visiting author tries to trick class into thinking a badger is a kind of fat ferret.

A boy and his dog.

Visiting author prepares to eat child's entire head.

Girl swamped by ferrets.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

joined up typing

I feel as if I've been away for much longer than just 5 days! It's been one of those intense chunks of enormously focussed time - 11 events, anywhere from 15 to 90 kids a go. I was down north doing the Northern Children's Book Festival and then over to West Dumbartonshire doing the second day of their Crackin' Crits project. AND IT WAS GREAT! All of it!

But I've come home with a problem.

My whole life I've been jealous of people with beautiful hands. (I inherited my father's sausage fingers.) But I always consoled myself with the thought that MY hands were really really useful. Hard-working, functional digits, mine. I was less than chuffed when I started to get arthritis and my hands became EVEN LESS BEAUTIFUL, but at least they were still - mostly - useful. (Okay, not for opening jars. But I had sons for a reason.)

This week gave me a new level of trouble, though. I don't know if it was carrying too much luggage (I was doing 2 different kinds of events so I needed to lug around two sets of props.) Or maybe signing too many books (though I can't believe there ever could BE too many books.) Whatever the reason, my arthritis has flared something fierce, and I'm down to one functioning finger on my RH to type with. (Ruby Ring, in case you were wondering.) And I feel incredibly unfluid. My thoughts are coming out jerky, to match the rhythm of hunt and peck. I don't like it. As soon as I finish this blog I'm going to see if I can find some wonderfully weird cure from my old friend Nicholas Culpeper - but if anyone currently alive also has any good tips, give me a shout. (It doesn't even have to be weird.)

I want to get back to doing joined up typing so I can maybe have some joined up thinking to go with it.

I really do.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Quote Unquote

This is the geek in me coming out, and on no level do I think that this is deeply significant, but ...

... it's interesting how the different versions of my books have different quote/unquote marks to indicate speech! (I told you it was geeky.) Take Questors, for example. The British version uses single quotations marks. The American version uses double quotation marks. The German version (Questors - Die Weltenretter) uses double arrows, and the Czech version (Patraci) uses double close quotes at the bottom of the line to open a speech and double open quotes at the top of the line to close it. I haven't seen the Russian or Spanish translation yet, and there isn't a French one. But in the French version of Ely Plot and Fen Gold,* there's just a dash at the beginning of a speech.






- Dejeuner!

(The fonts available on Blogger don't include umlauts or accents or moving punctuation around vertically or curved quote marks, so you'll just have to picture them in your mind. But if anyone asks, "What are you doing?" it's probably better not to reply, "I'm imagining curvy quotation marks." Not if you have any pretensions to coolness. Or even mild-to-moderate sanity.)

Next week I'm off on the marathon that is the Northern Children's Book Festival, so wish me stamina.

Cheers, Joan.

* Le roi et l'orphelin and Le tresor viking in Les Mysteres de la Gargouille. Impossible to say (even with my school girl French) without sounding luscious!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Islay Rocks!

Because I left immediately after it for internet-less Hawthornden, I never said anything about the Islay Book Festival - which was EXCELLENT!! Great kids, great hospitality, great landscape.

Thank you for having me!

Cheers, Joan.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Girton, the Fitzwilliam and Slightly Jones

Girton College Cambridge in the 1890s - that and the Fitzwilliam Museum are the places I need to know about for the third Slightly Jones Mystery (working title: The Case of the Cambridge Mummy). And I need to get a move on writing it because ...

One of the problems of writing a series is if the publisher wants to put an excerpt from the next book at the end of the preceding one. So before Book 1, say, can be considered finished, Book 2 must be finished too, for the extract to be accurate. Hence the need for me to get Book 3 finished (and indeed, started) in order for Book 2 to be.

And that's what I'm doing. Getting on with Book 3. And that's why I need to know everything there is to know about 1890s Cambridge generally* and Girton and the Fitzwilliam specifically.**

I feel a research trip coming on ...

Cheers, Joan.

P.S. Please - if anyone out there knows stuff about * and ** - get in touch. The weirder the better!