A Minor Inconvenience in paperback, and 4.5 stars from RT Magazine

For those who, like me, still love hard copy books, A Minor Inconvenience will be released in paperback on January 6th. The paperback is now available for pre-order from Samhain.

Speaking of A Minor Inconvenience, I’m delighted that it has received a 4.5 star review in RT Magazine’s January issue. The book has also been nominated in the 2014 Goodreads M/M Romance Readers Choice Awards (voting is here, should anyone feel so inclined – there are some terrific books nominated in all categories). I’m thrilled that people have enjoyed Hugh and Theo’s escapades!

Thinking about the book coming out in paperback led me to reflect on my book-buying habits since getting my first eReader a couple of years ago. Yes, I think it safe to say I was a late adopter. I love the way filled bookshelves look in a room and find something immensely comforting and also exciting about looking along the row of spines and deciding what to read next. I love visiting friends’ houses and browsing their bookshelves, and often finding shared favourites. I love that feeling of excitement when opening a book for the first time.  It did however eventually dawn on me that it didn’t have to be either/or, so I took the plunge and got an eReader. Two years on, I buy ebooks more frequently than physical books. But when there’s a book I really enjoy, or one I know I’ll want to re-read – or even relax with in a long, hot bath – then I’ll always opt for a physical copy of the book.

For some reason, I don’t buy non-fiction for the eReader. I think it’s partly because when I’m researching something, I tend to have multiple books scattered around me, open at different pages, and I haven’t yet worked out how to achieve the same thing satisfactorily on my Nook. And despite the wonderful convenience of my eReader, nothing quite beats the thrill of holding a new book in my hands.


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Raising a glass to comets

For the last couple of days I’ve been glued (with brief breaks for the ATP tennis finals) to the gallant adventures of Philae, sitting on the surface of a comet hurtling through space at 83,000 miles per hour after a four billion mile chase lasting ten years. Romance novel heroes take note – that’s dedication.

Watching the footage from the surface of a comet, I was reminded of the Great Comet of 1811 – sometimes known as Napoleon’s Comet, as it was thought by some to portend his invasion of Russia.

1812CometAccording to legend, the comet was responsible for the superlative vintage of 1811 produced by all the major growing regions, to the extent that many wines from that year became known as Comet Wine. I can’t speak as to the quality of the wine – a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem sold recently for £75,000, which is a little more than I usually spend on a bottle from the local off-licence – but certainly those people who know wine speak breathlessly of the quality of wines from that year.

And now I am feeling the need to research Regency-era astronomy and wine-growing. There’s a story there demanding to be told, I’m sure.


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Firemen and kittens – there’s a reason they’re a trope

I’ve just returned from a wonderful holiday in Tuscany and Rome. I saw (and ate) so much that it’s going to take a while to process it all, though some pesky Etruscans are rattling around inside my head, muttering things that might turn into a story.

But despite the wonderful architecture and art I saw during my visit, the high point of the holiday wasn’t experiencing the power which the Pantheon exudes. It wasn’t even enjoying the grace of the Temple of Minerva in Assisi. It was sitting in the sunshine, drinking really good coffee and watching six Italian firemen spend half an hour rescuing a kitten. To be strictly accurate, they spent ten minutes peering anxiously up at the ledge the kitten was stuck on, and when a neighbour managed to lean out of a window far enough to grab it and bring it in, they then spent twenty minutes gathered around it, cooing and rubbing its tummy. As my companion observed, the kitten’s undoubtedly going to head back to that ledge on a daily basis.

So, do you think Etruscans would go to those lengths to rescue a kitten?  Back to the drawing board for me, I think…

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Lapsing into a comma

I’d never heard of eggcorns before this afternoon. Apparently the word was used by somebody (I have no idea who) to refer to acorns. This came to the attention of a linguist, and the group of linguists at Language Log began to use this term to refer to the spontaneous reshaping of terms and expressions.

I’ve been trawling through the database of eggcorns, and while some are, I think, due to simple spelling errors, others are flat-out hilarious. I’m just sorry that the only ones I’ve encountered so far in real life are the rather boring per say, and off one’s own back.

Some of my favourites:

  • Like a bowl in a china shop
  • Cease and decease (I’m definitely going to start using that one)
  • Lack toast and tolerant
  • Social morays
  • Windshield factor
  • To get one’s nipples in a twist
  • Chickens come home to roast.

I’m hoping to get some writing done tonight. I shall have to be careful to use a posable thumb, hope I don’t lapse into a comma, and be very pacific about my subject matter.


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Stranger than any fiction I would dare to write

The BBC news website has been running a rather fun series based on strange and unlikely stories culled from Victorian newspapers. Today’s contribution is the case of the pig singing contest – not a singing pig contest, but one in which the competitors had to belt out a tune on stage while holding a pig.

Then there was the case of the lawyer who shot himself in an attempt to prove a client’s innocence. While it’s always sad to read of someone’s death, the chap himself should be in line for a Darwin award – after conducting some experiments with a pistol at the scene of the crime, he returned to his hotel, with some bullets still in the chamber of the pistol. On reaching his hotel, he was handed the suspect’s unloaded gun for examination. Apparently he then went to his room and laid both pistols down side by side. It seems somehow inevitable that in an attempt to prove his theory to a visitor, he picked up the wrong gun with which to shoot himself.

And then there was the balloon riot in Leicester, resulting in residents of Leicester being known for a while as Balloonatics.

If you want to explore further (and they really are fun), links to these and other stories are on the pig singing contest page.

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Of periwigs and taxes

I recently received the annual nudge to complete my tax return. Somehow that provided me with the perfect excuse to avoid completing my paperwork and to read instead about the tax levied on hair powder in 1795.

The Duty on Hair Powder Act required those bewigged people who wished to powder their wigs to apply for an annual certificate, which cost a guinea. This didn’t apply to all equally – it perhaps goes without saying that the royal family and their household were exempt, but so were poorer clergy and some of the military.

One of the results of this tax was the ruin of countless periwig makers. Another consequence, which I can’t rue overmuch, was the speed with which powdered wigs were rejected by the majority of the population in favour of the hairstyles that became so common during the Regency. In 1812, 46,684 people still paid the tax apparently, but by 1855 only 997 did, and almost all of these were servants. The tax was finally repealed in 1869.

400px-William_Hogarth_-_The_Five_Orders_of_Perriwigs William Hogarth’s “The Five Orders of Perriwigs as they were Worn at the Late Coronation Measured Architectomically

While on the subject of taxes, I noticed that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have put up a list of some of the more improbable excuses proffered by those who didn’t complete their tax credits return on time. I’m not sure whether number 3 is my favourite for its sheer audacity, or number 5, because what list would be complete without it?

  1. I didn’t need the money because I’d met a rich bloke, but he dumped me
  2. My mum usually does this for me
  3. The form was locked in the boot of my car, and then my car caught fire
  4. My baby used the paperwork as a colouring book
  5. My dog ate the form.
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UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet

UK Meet logo

How is it that I registered months ago for the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet, yet with one day to go I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to remember what it is that I’ve forgotten to pack?

I will report back – on the Meet, not my packing failures – next week. The programme looks fabulous, and the attendee list even more so! It’s my first time attending the UK Meet and there are so many people I’m excited about meeting.

Now, back to working out why my suitcase looks so empty…

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