VIP’s for One Evening

For Sam’s 60th birthday I was lucky enough to get VIP tickets to the Freddie Mercury and Queen exhibition of photographs taken on various tours in the 1970s and 1980s by their official photographer Denis O’Regan, which are being displayed across the UK in various BMW showrooms.  Denis was also there to answer questions and tell us some funny and risqué stories about what it was like touring with the band.  We were encouraged to take as many photos as we wanted and even pose for selfies with Freddie (which we did as you can see).

Here are a few of Denis’ photos for your delectation and delight.  Apart from the selfies of Sam and I, the chap dressed as Superman was Freddie’s bodyguard at the time.  My favourite one is of Freddie in a rock stance wearing his famous yellow jacket.  Thanks to Denis O’Regan, the Offbeat crew, and BMW for the food and drink, and the chance to see these great photos of a band that we’ll never see the like of again.

Thankfully Queen are still touring with singer and frontman Adam Lambert, and we shall be off to see them in December.



The Last Taboo


I read this morning on my trusty BBC News app that the last taboo is loneliness.

There we are in our teens with (usually) our parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends all alive and well.  The majority of us then go on to create our own families in our twenties, and are busy juggling the demands of a family with work commitments.  There is no time to feel lonely.

In our thirties our children are growing up, and the house is full of their friends.  Even though our grandparents may die in our thirties, we still have busy lives.  We mourn them, remember good times, and carry on carrying on.

By the time we reach our late forties and early fifties, our children may have left home.  Our parents are ageing and might have already passed away; likewise our aunts and uncles.  Our immediate family is growing smaller.  However, our children have their own busy lives now, and may have presented us with a grandchild or two to fuss over and love.  When parents, aunts and uncles are here no more, we become the older generation.

We are retired in our seventies, eighties and nineties.  Our children and grandchildren may have moved far away, and therefore visits might be few and far between.  Life partners, family members and friends may begin to pass away, one after the other.  Our mobility might be compromised, causing us to become housebound.  Sometimes the end result might be that the only person we get to speak to every day is the carer, who comes in to do our shopping and housework.

And so it comes to pass that we sit in our doorway or stand for as long as we can manage at our garden gate, hoping that somebody might come past so that we can have a good old chat.  There are a couple of lonely elderly folk in our village who do just that, and if I’m passing I will let them talk nineteen to the dozen at me, because I know they are desperate for human contact and have not spoken to anybody all day.

Nobody likes to admit they are lonely.  There’s something sad in having to reveal that not a soul phones or comes to visit, and there must be thousands if not millions of lonely old people all struggling on.  A previously vibrant, busy person can sink into depression and maybe even dementia if they are housebound and are the type who thrive on conversation and human interaction.  Of course there are some who don’t like other people at all and are happy in their own company.  These are the people who will enjoy their old age, and all I can say is good luck to them!



Friday Roundup – 22nd September

1.  Thanks to Your Word Nerd for explaining whether to use ‘who’ or ‘whom’:

2.  Scott Lorenz at The Book Publicist lists the top book awards to enter:

37 Top Book Awards for Authors in 2017

3.  Meg Dowell gives advice on how to connect with readers:

How to Connect With Your Readers

4.  The Eternal Scribbler gives advice on backing up your writing:

5.  Barbara G. Tarn on Kobo Writing Life writes of 5 things she learned in the age of the typewriter:

Five Things I Learned in the Age of the Typewriter

6.  D.E Haggerty gives some hints on making your blog title catchy:

7.  Claire McKinney, guest at Writer Unboxed, gives advice on the best month to publish a book:

8.  Michael D. Turashoff gives advice on how to write a great beginning to your story:

How to Write a Great Beginning for Your Story

9. The Maltese Tiger gives 5 pitfalls to avoid when writing dialogue:

5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Writing Dialogue

10.  Brian A. Klems, guest at The Writer’s Dig, gives advice on submitting short fiction and poetry:

11. Jacqui Murray gives 17 tips for writers from Theodore Bernstein:

12.  Paul Thayer gives us 25 grammatical terms to read and inwardly digest:

The top 25 grammatical terms you should know

13.  Sean Early, guest on Nicholas C. Rossis’ blog, gives 5 marketing tips:

14.  Thanks to Rachel Poli for these tips on how to give your short story a neat ending:

How To Give Your Short Stories A Neat Ending

Thanks to Chris, the Story Reading Ape, Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie, and Don Massenzio for the re-blogs.

8 Mistakes To Avoid While Working From Home

Ha ha, I did laugh at the ‘Lock Your Door’ section! My husband works from home upstairs full-time, and I work from home downstairs for part of the week. He’s often chatting to colleagues in the US on Skype, and I have to make sure I’m not in the background if I go upstairs, as he never closes the door!


There are lucky few that have flexible work arrangements with their company on working from home and then they are the freelancers as well. One of the cost cutting measures is to allow employees to work from home.

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Review of ‘Victoria & Abdul’.

At last after much recovery I am able to restart the monthly cinema club with a friend.  Last night we had the delightful pleasure of watching the new film ‘Victoria & Abdul’, which is based on a true story, with just a hint of embellishment.

Dame Judi Dench is very convincing as the aged Queen Victoria (QV).  The film is set in 1887, the queen’s golden jubilee year.  QV is in her eighties, and at that time she is also Empress of India.  When an Indian servant, Abdul Karim, is sent from India to present her with a commemorative coin while she is at a banquet, she is less than enamoured with the coin but takes a liking to Abdul, who dares to smile at her.  She is heard to say that he is very handsome.

QV is a lonely widow, and with 8 of her 9 children scattered all around the globe she soon comes to depend on Abdul.  Much to the court’s displeasure, within a short time Abdul is promoted to the queen’s Munshi (teacher), and he introduces QV to curry and teaches her Urdu.  The royal household are furious, and decide to collaborate to send Abdul back to India.  Do they succeed?  You’ll have to watch the film to find out!

Victoria & Abdul is an utter delight!  Dame Judi gives a very strong performance despite her own age of 81 years.  My favourite part of the film is when QV is sitting at the banquet, bored to tears.  She eats each course very fast and falls asleep between courses.  As soon as she has finished eating, the servants take everybody’s plate away, whether they have finished their meal or not, because QV has eaten her course.  In fact Dame Judi spends quite a lot of the film eating something or other.  I wonder if she put on weight whilst making the film?

The film was largely shot at my favourite National Trust house, Osborne, on the Isle of Wight.  In fact while we were visiting there last year we were allowed to see some rooms which had been turned into film sets.  Apparently they still shot scenes while the house was open to the public, although some rooms were closed at the time.  I’ve been there so many times, I think I know Osborne just as well as QV herself did!

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Avoid 11 Debut Author Mistakes…

Thanks Chris. This post by Derek Haines is worth reading.

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

by Derek Haines on Just Publishing Advice Site:

Debut author? Your first book is finished and published! Now What?

It does not matter if you have self-published, or have been published by a small press; you are very excited, motivated and very keen to start seeing your book sales roll in.

Unfortunately, though, in their eagerness and excitement, many new authors make silly mistakes that can have exactly the opposite effect.

Most of these mistakes can be labelled as instant ‘sales killers’, and although the intention may be positive, the real results can be very negative.

Avoiding the normal debut author mistakes will save you a lot of time, and embarrassment.

11 Do’s & Don’t’s for Debut Authors.

(These points could apply to ALL authors – TSRA)

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From This Day Forward…

I was contacted on LinkedIn by author Peter Davidson today, who has a rather amusing blog on which he gives marital advice to his grandson, who has just become engaged:

This started me thinking about what advice I could give to a newly-engaged couple after my own 37 years of marriage.  So here goes.

  1.  You can only know a person better by living with them.  Live with them before you get married to discover the real person you are intending to spend the rest of your life with.
  2. Girls – don’t try and check up on what he’s doing when he’s not with you.  Leave him to do his own thing.
  3. Guys – As my new friend Peter has said, she will remember everything you’ve ever said to her or done.  She can’t help it – she’s a girl.
  4. Make sure of your facts before you accuse your partner of anything.
  5. Don’t argue and bicker over silly little things – life’s too short.
  6. Find out how the other one feels about having children, and what their thoughts are on raising them.
  7. Don’t be jealous of your partner’s friends or relatives.  They have known them for years before they met you.
  8. Don’t be jealous of a previous partner (s).  Your guy/girl is with you now because they choose to be.
  9. Give each other space to pursue a favourite hobby or interest.
  10. Be kind, and love each other!
  11. Infidelity will ensure that your marriage will never be the same again.  Forsake all others!

Have you thought of anything to add to the list?  The next step is getting the young couple to take all this advice on board!

I’m working tomorrow, so back on Wednesday.


Saturday Sale – 16th September

My family drama ‘The Donor’ is just $0.99 today and until 22nd September:

When you meet the love of your life, the last thing you expect is your sister luring him away.

Clare faces this scenario when her sister, Isabel, marries singer and guitarist Ross Tyler. To make things even worse, Ross hits the big time, makes a fortune and moves to France with his family.

But when tragedy strikes, Ross and Clare are forced to revisit their common past, one which they must try to put behind them for Isabel’s sake.

Panic on the Tube Then and Now

There’s been another terrorist attack this morning.  Some passengers on a London tube train suffered injuries as a device inside a supermarket bag exploded on a train that was travelling eastbound from Wimbledon and was just arriving at Parsons  Green station.  Passengers fled from the train and ran for their lives.  One witness confirmed that people were piling on top of each other because some of them fell over whilst trying to run too quickly in the crush on the stairs leading to the street.  She stated that there were two ladies underneath her, and one little boy to her right whose head had been smacked into the concrete.

This has echoes of the wartime disaster at Bethnal Green tube station.  The station was still being built during the war, and had been converted into a kind of subterranean town.  There was even a hospital and a library down there, plus chemical toilets, a canteen, and about 5000 bunk beds.  During the air raids whole families would run down a couple of flights of steps towards the escalators leading down to the safety of the platforms.  The first flight of steps was slit by a single 25 watt bulb.  The steps were slippery due to recent rain, and there was no central rail.

Convinced that enemy aircraft were nearby, the air raid siren sounded and a battery at nearby Victoria Park fired rockets, which panicked the people descending the stairs.  A woman carrying a baby tripped, and an elderly man tripped over her.  Before they could get up, others were falling over them.  Piled ten deep, people ran out of breath and 173 people, mostly women and children, were asphyxiated.  My mother Dot and her own mother Elsie could have been amongst the dead, but on that night they had decided to stay in their flat as they hated the smell and the crowding down on the platforms.

Although this morning’s event caused injuries to 22 people, it thankfully did not cost any lives.  However, it still goes to show what panic can do, and, apart from the odd have-a-go hero/heroine in these situations, how it all comes down to survival of the fittest and strongest.  Faced with a life or death situation, it’s usually every man/woman for themselves. I hope the two ladies mentioned and the little boy who was trampled on this morning make a speedy recovery. The memory of the event will stay in their minds forever, and may even prevent them from ever wanting to travel on a tube train again.  For me, if I never travel on a tube train again it’ll be too soon.



Friday Roundup – 15th September

1.  Thanks to Erica Verrillo for these 11 literary fiction publishers accepting manuscripts:…+and+Other+Forms+of+Insanity)

2.  Thanks to D.E Haggerty for this blog on sharing an awesome review of your book:

3.  Sue Vincent gives some advice on how to write a book:

How to write a book…

4.  Who’s joining the BlogBashChat on Twitter this Sunday evening?

5.  Loretta Livingstone, guest on Helen Hollick’s blog, writes about embarrassing book signing events:

6.  Thanks to Martin Crosbie for these secrets he learned whilst running a book promotion site:

7.  Thanks to Diana Urban on the BookBub Partners Blog for these 7 ideas on getting your book more international exposure:

8.  Bryn Donovan gives 50 plot ideas for a mystery story:

9.  Thanks to Rachel Poli for these 5 elements of a short story:

The 5 Elements Of A Short Story

10.  Zoe Carter, guest on Nicholas C. Rossis’ blog, gives 7 best options to test your writing skills:

11. Thanks again to Rachel Poli for these Sept/Oct writing competitions:

September/October 2017 Writing Contests

12. Sarah Bolme on The Book Designer writes about building an author platform:

Thanks to Chris, the Story Reading Ape, Writer’s Treasure Chest, and Don Massenzio for the re-blogs.