Saturday, March 24, 2018

He's Worse than a Smoky House

I'm doing research on corvids (like magpies and crows) for my work in progress and found myself today looking at Shakespeare's references to ravens.  I came across this speech in Henry IV, Part I - Hotspur is speaking about a problem companion - one who is longwinded and who doesn't know when to leave the party. 

You might want to read this over a couple of times. I did and thought, whoa,  Shakespeare is as good as they say.  Thanks for stopping by.  Stay tuned...

I cannot choose: sometime he angers me
With telling me of the mouldwarp and the ant,
Of the dreamer Merlin and his prophecies,
And of a dragon and a finless fish,
A clip-wing'd griffin and a moulten raven,
A couching lion and a ramping cat,
And such a deal of skimble-skamble stuff
As puts me from my faith. I tell you what;
He held me last night at least nine hours
In reckoning up the several devils' names
That were his lackeys: I cried 'hum,' and 'well, go to,'
But mark'd him not a word. O, he is as tedious
As a tired horse, a railing wife;
Worse than a smoky house: I had rather live
With cheese and garlic in a windmill, far,
Than feed on cates and have him talk to me
In any summer-house in Christendom.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

For Your Listening Pleasure

Hi All -

I've had a lot of nice correspondence and interest from those of you in the UK who downloaded the e-book during AmazonUK's recent half term promotion.  I hope, if you're stopping by here, you've finished the book and liked it.

You'll know there's a key scene near the end where Miles plays some music on his iPod for a certain someone. The music has a tremendous effect on the listener. You might like to hear it yourself, so there's a link below to a particularly beautiful rendition. You might like to get your earbuds or headphones out for this.

I've become more and more grateful in the passing years for musicians and those who make it possible for them to share their gifts with us all. I say this as one with no musical talent whatsoever.

I hope you are having a restorative Sunday and that you will have few minutes to let Mr. Tchaikovsky and these players work their magic on you.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Today's Top Tip - Matt Haig's "How to Stop Time"

I got to know about Matt Haig first on Twitter.  I gathered he was famous (mostly) for a book  called Reasons to Stay Alive. It gets praised all over the place and seems to have helped a lot of people.  He talks a lot on Twitter about his own fragile mental health and I've found him to be witty, humane, and tough.  I'll admit I hadn't read Reasons to Stay Alive - yet - despite the usual intentions.

His tweets recently included a lot of book launch stuff on his new release, How to Stop Time.  I knew that it was a Big Book, getting lots of attention and again I planned to check it out. Then, mirabile dictu, it came to me and it can come to you too.

If you have been here before you know I lurk around BBC Radio as much as possible. I was very pleased to find last week that How to Stop Time been serialized for the Radio 4 series, Book at BedtimeHere's a link to the web page where you can find it, at least for the next little while.

While we're on the subject, Book at Bedtime is just one chest of BBC riches that US listeners can now plunder, for free. There is sooo much more.  If you get the BBC iPlayer app for your smartphone, they will all be laid out there before you and you need never be bored again.

But back to the book. This BBC version is abridged so you'll probably still want to buy a kindle version or a hard copy,  but its a fine production of a wonderful story. I won't spoil the fun, but our hero is a man with a rare condition that has him aging at about one tenth the speed of the rest of us. The premise of the book is that these rare people have always been among us but hidden for their own protection.

It's been a long time since I came across a writer that pleased me so well.  I think David Mitchell of Cloud Atlas fame was the last discovery that had me chattering away like this.  So, you're welcome.  Happy New Year.  Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Sale!

"Tandenbaum" by Juan Wijngaard (cover artist of Up, Back, and Away)
Yes - it's true. Between now and Christmas day Up, Back, and Away is on sale on both sides of the Pond.  You can get the e-book for 99 cents at or 99 p from Amazon UK.

Wishing you all some leisure time for old fashioned e-reading this season, because uou can't spell "kind" without "kindle."

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Second Season of the Crown: Review

Yes, we had a little viewing party at my house on Friday night...
If you were a fan of the first season of the Netflix drama "The Crown" as I was (no surprises there) I can guess how you spent much of your weekend, or at least you can guess how I spent mine.

The second season dropped on Friday, December 8 here in the US and, this being Sunday, December 10, I have managed to get nine of the 10 episodes under my belt.  I was working on number 10, from a spot on my carpet last night (having gotten a backache from so much couch sitting), when sleep overtook me. I succumbed as the Profumo Affair was raging.  I'll be back before the end of the day to find out how it all ended.

If you don't know about "The Crown" you're in for a treat. If you have Netflix and haven't made it there yet, go! If you don't have Netflix, "The Crown" makes it worth subscribing.

It was reportedly the most expensive television production in English history and every penny shows up on the screen.  The acting is brilliant - and not just from the stars. Claire Foy as Elizabeth 2nd is, well, words fail. She's brilliant, as is the rest of cast (I have a soft spot for Eileen Atkins as the Queen's Grandma, Mary).  But not a footman or a sailor or man-in-crowd-12 is out of place. The production values are as stellar as the actors.

This TV series is so seductive that we come away feeling we know the Queen intimately. We don't, of course, but I can't help feeling that the producers and writers have captured something essential about her accurately, whatever artistic license may have been brought to bear.

I'll say that I don't think this second series has quite the interest of the first which is something to do with a falling off in world and personal events for the family in the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the series is set, and something to do with choices made by the writers and producers.

 The first three episodes, a full 30 percent of the series, focus on a five-month trip by Prince Philip to the far corners of the Commonwealth: a protracted sea-going stag party that tested the royal marriage to its limits, as per the producers. There are longueurs here that the first series never presented. The same is true of the Princess Margaret's dangerous liaison with the photographer Tony Armstrong-Jones, who became her husband and Lord Snowden. (A disaster in the making as we see at its making).  But these are my only cavils. The best episode is number 6 - which brings back some erstwhile hidden history of World War II and so Winston Churchill and the old King George and the tragic King Edward, of abdication-for-love fame. (Alex Jennings as the reduced former king, dressing for costume parties, taking birthday photos of his dog, playing bridge in exile, is brilliant).  The failed king is revealed to be not just self-regarding twit but an actual villain and the story gives Foy and Jennings and the writers a chance to present inner and outer turmoil beautifully.

Episode six also dares to tread into Queen Elizabeth's religious faith. She was, if the series is to be believed, quite taken by the American evangelist Billy Graham who visited England at the time of her uncle's visit. I have long had the sense that the Queen has survived and managed and coped all these years because she is at her core a sincere religious believer. (Not much of an insight, I'll grant you but no one ever seems to come out and say this). There's a brilliant scene where the Queen is listening to the Rev. Graham preaching in the private chapel of the family. She is rapt. Philip and the Queen Mother look on, partly bemused, partly concerned.

If you want to read a proper review, The Atlantic has a good one. As for me, I'm off to church this Sunday morning... and then to find out just how the Profumo Affair ended.


Since Christmas is coming, another e-book promotion is on the way for the US and the UK.  Watch this space.

I have also had some kind inquiries recently about a sequel to Up, Back, and Away.  The Muse dragged me off that broad highway months ago and into a strange corner where I have been writing a children's book inspired by images from the digital images collection of the New York Public Library.  Once that is out of my system, I'm hoping to get back to the sequel.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


If you bought a copy of the e-book during the sale last week. It's always fun to watch the book climb the charts.  I hope you'll like it. It's been great to hear from those who want a sequel. I want one too. I have a little project going that has morphed into a larger one and then, I hope, back to work on the sequel.  (I have the usual excuses - mostly it's down to having to go to a day job every day).  In the meantime the paperback giveaway is still happening on Goodreads for another week or so. If you want to get in with a chance have a click.  Thanks again.
What lies beyond? I went through this gate once and found a lovely place. A metaphor for life itself?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Summer Sale Time!

It's still summertime, and the living remains easy
The kids are back in school around here but Labor Day weekend is still ahead. So, I thought, why not discount the old e-book for this last week of summer?

In the UK if you can find 99 pence somewhere in your budget, you can have a lovely new Kindle book to read in your leisure hours.

In the US the deal is slightly better at 99 cents.  Just a click - and parting with less than the price of a bag of snack size chips which wouldn't be good for you anyway.

The deal is counting down and ends Sept. 4, along with summer.