Open Book Blog Hop – 17th December

This week the topic is:

Do you believe in true love?

I think it all depends on what age you are.  When I was a young teenager I saw the world through rose-coloured glasses and fell in love at the drop of a hat.  Sam and I got engaged at the age of 21 after knowing each other for only 3 months!  However, we’re still married and still love each other, but my goodness, we’ve been through some testing times!  We both agreed it was true love at the start and were very starry-eyed, but that starry-eyed-ness faded when reality set in, and now a more steadfast love has emerged out of  troubled times to take us into our old age.

These days I’d be much more cautious about getting engaged to anybody after just 3 months. That’s because I’m older and wiser, more realistic, and less prone to taking risks.  I’d advise my grandchildren to get to know their prospective partners a bit better first, but would they listen?  Would they heck!  They’d make the same rash decisions I made – simply because they’re young and starry-eyed!

Do you believe in true love?  Read other blogs or add your blog via the link below.

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.


Christmas Dinner With the In-laws

Christmas Dinner With the In-laws’, a poem by Stevie Turner (to be sung to the tune of ‘Silent Night’).

“Oh”, she sighs.

Then she tries

To insert a turkey

Twice the size.

The oven door

Won’t shut anymore,

Legs and wings stick out of the door.

“Shit – the dinner won’t be done…

When the in-laws come.”

Flustered and grim

She starts on the gin,

It goes down well,

What the hell…

She gives a rather maniacal laugh,

Then she saws the turkey in half.

“That’s the thing to do!”

Then she crawls into her shoe.

The turkey was burned

In-laws were stern,

“Why did our son

Marry such a duff one?

The sprouts were hard and the spuds were a joke,

She’s no good at feeding her bloke.”

They walk out the door,

She falls asleep on the floor.

She wakes with a jolt,

With a gut in revolt,

He cares not she feels ill,

He loves her still.

“I loved every bit of my dinner.”

She knows that she’s married a winner.

“I’ll never drink gin again!

When in-laws I must entertain.”

Painting Pebbles

I had a message from our daughter-in-law asking if we could look after our granddaughters so that she and Leon could do some Christmas shopping.  So this afternoon we took the two girls (aged 11 and 13) out to lunch at Frankie & Benny’s, and then took them to see The Grinch at our local cinema.  Following this we brought them home to ours for tea.

I’d been wondering which activities would appeal to both of them when I originally agreed to babysit, and so bought some acrylic paints and a selection of pebbles for painting.  I reckoned this activity would keep them amused until tea time.

Freed of their phones, we all sat around the table, chatted and painted pebbles.  This activity, simple as it was, seemed to go down very well.  The girls commented on how quiet our house is, and we replied how we like it that way.  They’re used to the TV being on in the background at home, and at first they whispered until they became used to the silence.

They remarked about how much they’d enjoyed themselves when it was time to go back to Mum and Dad.  I know as soon as they get home they’ll be on their phones again, but hopefully they’ll remember how nice it can be to sit around a table with family members and chat face to face.

Painting pebbles is cool.


2018 Christmas Charity Appeal – Help Me Raise £250 For The Dogs Trust By Leaving Me Links To Your Blogs And Books

Leave a link to your blog and your author page on Hugh’s Views and News to help him raise money for charity.

Hugh's Views & News

The Christmas tree is up, but something is missing. There are no gifts under it, and I need your help to put that right.

#christmastree #christmas #charity #dogstrust

For this year’s Christmas charity appeal, I’m asking you again to help me raise some money for The Dogs Trust.

The Dogs Trust, formerly known as the National Canine Defence League, is an animal welfare charity and humane society in the United Kingdom which specialises in the well-being of dogs. Click here to go to their website.

Want to get involved? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the comments section of this post, leave the name of your blog and a link to it. This can be a link to your ‘about me’ page, a favourite blog post you’ve published, or the home page of your blog.
  2. If you’re an author, you’re also welcome to leave a link to any books you have published. So, for example…

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Friday Click and Run – December 14th

Sometimes when we’re busy it’s nice to simply leave a link to our blog or blog post and run, and so Friday Click and Run is just for that purpose. However, of course you can check out others’ links and share away if you want to. So… every Friday do add some info of what your blog is about and also link to your blog or blog post in the comments if you’ve got a minute. You don’t have to do anything else such as sharing or commenting unless you really want to. Isn’t that cool? People may decide to check your link out, or they may not. They might decide to leave their own link and run as well, so you may meet each other heading out the door. If I see a post that’s a bit risqué, then I shall be running too – straight to the ‘delete’ button!

Fire away then… let’s see what we end up with. This will run all week up until next Friday.

Thanks to the authors 9 who left their blogs last week.


A Fascinating Creature

I know it’s a strange subject to write about, but I’m fascinated by my son and daughter-in-law’s tortoise.  Little Sheldon is 4 years old; they’ve only had him since July, and so a tortoise’s habits and lifestyle is still a learning curve to them.

When he’s not plodding around the garden in the summer or getting lost inside the house, he’s usually in his cage in the front room.  The house and the room that Sheldon is in is always kept a regular temperature.  However, at the end of October Sheldon stopped eating and drinking and began to move less.  My son plied him with food, but he refused to eat anything.  Marc read up on tortoises via Google, and then realised that of course Sheldon was going into hibernation for the winter.

My question is this:  If Sheldon is in a warm room all the time, how on earth does he know it’s winter outside?  Marc found out that tortoises’ brains secrete a hormone that tells them it’s time to sleep, and then pure instinct I suppose must tell them to stop eating for a few weeks before they hibernate.  Marc discovered that as their digestive systems shut down for hibernation then any food inside them rots, and so a body full of rotten food eventually causes death for any hibernating tortoise.  Sheldon usually throws himself on tomatoes and gobbles them up, but for weeks had not taken a drop of water or even a morsel of food.

When I went to Marc’s house today, my little grandson took my hand and pulled me towards the fridge.  There lay Sheldon in solitary splendour in the vegetable drawer at the bottom, covered in hay.  I’m not sure if it’s a nice way to spend the winter or not, but I sure wouldn’t mind sleeping January and February away under my duvet!

They’re going to warm him up again after Christmas and give him tasty treats.  I wonder whether they ought to leave him to wake up naturally in the spring?  Does anybody else have any experience of looking after tortoises?  Funny little creatures, aren’t they?  Some of them can live for 200 years.



Authors Beware

Last week I was surprised when I decided to submit a tweet for December’s  #PitMad exercise.  I had sent a few tweets in the past, but they had never been favoured by any agents.  However, to my surprise, within a short while of sending my tweet, it was liked by somebody I assumed was a literary agent.

Having been stung in the past by a few small publishers eager to make a fast buck, I decided to do my homework and check this person out.  I found out the ‘agent’ who liked my tweet is actually an ‘acquisitions editor’ from yet another small publishing company, where there is a distinct overlap between the authors and the staff members..

The write up by Victoria Strauss on the threaded view in the Absolute Write forum says it all really:

I just reviewed an I……. W…. contract, and it’s pretty bad. Among other problems: an agent-of-record clause that empowers the agent in ways that may exceed the actual author-agent relationship; editing clauses that empower the publisher to edit and make abridgements without the author’s consent (the author’s only recourse is to walk away); vague language that makes it hard to figure out the meaning of some of the clauses, including the actual term of the contract; and language that empowers the publisher to bill the author for unspecified editing and production costs if the publisher decides the author is in breach or has missed a deadline. There’s also language that suggests that they compensate “referral agents” for sending authors their way.

I……. W…. appears to have published just 10 books since its 2016 startup. This is a really, really slow publication schedule–kind of hard to understand, given that there’s a pretty big staff for such a small press. The publishing schedule is also troublingly irregular, with several months’ gap between releases in some cases. For instance, they released a book in November 2016, then nothing until March 2017, and then nothing until August. It’s just not very professional.

The books’ Amazon sales rankings are dire, especially the Kindle rankings. Doesn’t look to me like a publisher that’s putting a lot of effort into marketing and promotion.  

So authors, beware when you take part in #PitMad next time.  It’s not always literary agents who favour your tweets;  sometimes it’s an ‘acquisitions editor’ from a small publishing company that Victoria Strauss has already checked out and given the thumbs down to.  You need to do your homework and find out if it’s worth sending off that manuscript you’ve worked so hard to create, or whether it’s better to self-publish.

From what I can tell by using a print-on-demand publisher/distributor like Ingram Spark and then registering my books with Nielsens, it’s only the same thing that many small publishers do anyway, and so you might as well pay Ingram’s fees, do it all yourself, and be your own small publisher and cut out the middle man/woman/person/ who is after a slice of your royalties.  Nielsens then add your books to Gardners, and hey presto, your books are then able to be seen by buyers from the big bookstores.  I’ve sold far more paperbacks via Ingram and their Advance catalogue in the past couple of months than any other sites where my books are on sale (one morning I checked my Ingram dashboard and I’d sold 27 books overnight!).

Of course I’m sure that there are wonderful small publishers out there who do care about marketing your book, and who do not want you to sign away the rights to your work for 5 years or more.  Also I’m after the one whose top priority is not how much money they can make from my work.  As I said before, I’m sure there’s a lovely small publishing company out there –  it’s just that I haven’t met them yet.

I’m still going to increase the word count on my story and send it to a few chosen literary agencies.  I’ll even take part in the next PitMad exercise on 7th March.  You never know, a bona fide agent might even ‘like’ my tweet!




A Christmas Show

It’s nearly Christmas, and a very fitting celebration for this festive season was a trip to the West End last Saturday with the family to see an excellent production of ‘The Snowman’.

We all met up outside The Peacock Theatre in Portugal Street about half past ten.  Sam and I had left the car outside our hotel in Perivale for the day and travelled the 14 stations on the Underground instead of fighting with the Christmas traffic in the heart of London.  It had been almost a year since I had been on the ‘tube’, and I hadn’t missed it at all.  It’s a way of travelling that has to be endured as far as I’m concerned.

However, once we exited the station at Holborn, the theatre was just around the corner and it was time to pose with Mr Snowman before we filed into the auditorium.


Our grandsons were enthralled with the whole show, especially when the boy and the snowman began ‘flying’ across the stage.  The boy, played by a very competent Lewis  Chan, was chosen from one of the stage schools, and is already an accomplished dancer and performer.  He looked about 9 or 10, and although no words are spoken throughout by anyone (just as in the animated version), there were a lot of moves and routines for him to remember.

I cannot fault this show at all.  The musicians were extremely talented and the show kept pretty much to the animated film, although there were a few extra dance routines.  The snowman even rode a real motorbike on stage, to my grandsons’ delight.  I looked for tracks, but there weren’t any.

All the little people in the auditorium were quite entranced, and some of the adults were too!  However, I couldn’t help but wonder how the performers coped with the heat from the lights on stage whilst clad in their snowman costumes.

If you’re in the vicinity and have little people to entertain, I thoroughly recommend ‘The Snowman’.  However, I do have one quibble – the staff might have sold more snowmen toys if the prices weren’t so high.  I think nearly ten pounds for one little snowman is taking the piss really…


Open Book Blog Hop – December 10th

This week it’s our chance to shine, as we give some excerpts from our work:

All these excerpts and more can be found in the books featured on my Amazon author page:

So here’s a conversation from ‘The Daughter-in-law Syndrome’.  Arla Deane is talking to counsellor Toni Beecher.  Toni begins the conversation:

“For instance you could see this as a chance to welcome your new daughter-in-law into the family, and to make sure the relationship gets off to a better start than it did with yourself and your own mother-in-law.  It looks as though your son has already chosen his life partner; do you think that in time you might be able to get to know her and accept his choice?”

“It’s easier said than done.”  Arla raised the palms of her hands. “We’re worlds apart. We have nothing in common.”

“Yes, you do.”  Toni smiled.

“What?”  Arla replied with some irritation.

“You love your son as much as your daughter-in-law does.  Your son thinks the world of you both, and I expect would love it if the two of you got along, especially now there’s a new baby on the way.”

“The trouble is, I have to take second place again in his life now; it’s so hard getting used to it.”  Arla looked down at the carpet. “I was his whole world once, and now she is.  I don’t feel I’m the most important person in anyone’s life now.  I’ve been cast aside; made redundant.”

“Do you think it’s possible that maybe your mother-in-law could have had those exact same feelings when you married her son all those years ago?”  Toni pressed on, peeped under her fringe, and tried to make eye contact.

Here’s the opening of ‘No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal!’ – the story of a couple’s mid-life crisis:

“Sorry, but it’s still the same as when I told you the last time and the time before that.  It’s too painful, and I haven’t got a vagina anymore!”  Lyn Fuller sighed as she removed her husband’s wandering hand. “Can’t you just accept it?”

From a clear vantage point between his wife’s legs, Neil Fuller let out an expletive as he risked a quick second glance.

“Yes you have, I can see one!”  His finger pointed directly towards the object of the dispute.

“It’s for exit purposes only.”


“No, that’s the other end.”

“Well, can’t you stick something up there to help?”  He took another glimpse; his erection deflating rapidly as he spoke.

“Wild yam is supposed to do the trick if you can’t take HRT.”

“Eh?  You’ve got to stick a yam up there?”  Neil looked quizzically at the size of the introitus on display, mentally comparing it to the dimensions of the root vegetable.

Last but not least here’s the beginning of Chapter 5 from ‘The Pilates Class’:

Edith Lambert sighed and looked in the mirror. It was bad enough being invisible, but now Julian had styled her hair just like a cauliflower again.  She wanted it to look the way it had been when she first met Leonard, when she used to walk into a room and heads would turn.  However, as that had been 54 years ago she was rapidly resigning herself to the fact that it was perhaps rather optimistic to expect Julian to perform miracles, and that she would have to get used to looking not unlike a vegetable from the brassica family.

To add your own excerpts or read those from other blog-hoppers’ work, please click on the blue button below:

1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge – 9th December

This week’s topic on the  Sunday Stills Photo Challenge is ‘Traditions’.  For all those who celebrate Christmas, it’s a tradition to erect either an artificial or real fir/pine tree in your front room and decorate it.  I don’t go along with digging real trees out of the ground and chopping them to bits after Christmas has passed, and so Sam decorated our own pine tree in the garden.  It’s still alive, and we’re pleased to be able to do a tiny bit to save the planet!