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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Well... que sera sera!

I picked up the box of stupid herbal stress remedy and two of the stupid glass ampoules dropped out onto the concrete floor of the kitchen, shattering into a zillion pieces. I've decided they are more bother than they're worth. So no more!

It's all too late anyway. The tour has begun, and it will move forward day by day through the schedule. For better or worse, there's nothing I can do. Que sere, sera...

The writing Course starts today and the group (a small one, just 5 since it's just me alone) will arrive at the Victor Hugo Hotel for dinner tonight. And, like the tour, we'll go day by day, step by step, through the process of creating 5 new works of fiction. And once that is underway it will have my full attention. No time to think about anything else. No time to worry about anything else.

Until, before I know it, it will be next weekend and I'll be travelling up to Paris, then flying out to meet up with Le Chef in Houston. I hope we find each other! There seem to be quite a few people descending on Houston at the moment...

Friday, September 02, 2005

Well my lacerated thumbs - yes thumbs plural, I managed to re-enact the ampoule drama left-handed - are getting better.

But, I have to say I am feeling more relaxed. And I actually slept last night.

One worrying thing, though, this morning I visited Peter's Blog page to see if he had updated and to find out his news (because of the time difference, I knew I wouldn't get to talk to him till at least midday).

And then...

I went to visit my blog page to see if I had updated. And... um... presumably, to find out my news....

Uh huh... well... eh... I hadn't updated.

I have now, though.

So at least now I have something to read....

Thursday, September 01, 2005

What do you mean - the writing course is in September....?

It starts in two days' time... on the 3rd of Oct-

Oh, right. I see. Yes. Right. September. The month of the World Tour of America. THAT September.


Got it.

Don't worry. I'll be there.

Stressed? Me?

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Stressed, me? No. No. I'm fine. Really.

And my thumb will heal in no time.

What? Where was I? Oh yes. Stress. Why should I be stressed?

I only have a writing Course to give from the 3rd to the 10th of October, then I get to join Peter in Houston.

And alongside the writing Course, I only have press releases to send out for San Diego, Bethesda, Oakmont, New York and Cambridge.

And I only have follow up press and media calls to do for Chicago, Minneapolis, Boulder, and Denver.

No problem.

Texas I love you, we're all set there. The Texans have filled Peter's diary with radio and TV interviews already!

But that aside, okay, I admit it - I've been suffering from a few sleepless nights in the run up to sending Peter off on this tour. So when he left yesterday, I thought I would try a French herbal remedy for stress.

It certainly cured it! Here's how....

They sell it in little glass ampoules, you take one in the morning and the other at night. You crack off a little nipple at each end of the ampoule and pour the weird-smelling potion into a glass of water and drink it. So yesterday morning, the first one went okay. I didn't notice any significant effect on stress levels, though.

Then came the second one... I couldn't get the nipple to crack off. Eventually employing brute strength, I squeezed it tightly between my thumb and index finger and CRACK! It exploded into a thousand tiny pices and embedded itself in my thumb!!

With stress remedy and blood dripping all around me, I found that instantly... all my worries disappeared!

There's nothing like trying to focus on a bloody thumb with tweezers, picking out tiny shards of glass to take your mind of stupid things like a World Tour of Amercia and a few hundred press releases.

And Peter....? Just don't say a word, okay? It could happen to anyone. I'm fine. The bandage is holding.... My thumb is marinating in disinfectant cream.... And it's feeling strangely relaxed...

Monday, August 01, 2005

Well, Peter May's World Tour of America looks like it's actually going to happen...

Just one date where I can't get the people to respond. Writers and Books in Rochester NY.

Ironically - the one place Peter will be visiting anyway, because our family is there.

The worst thing is, Writers and Books didn't even write to say they didn't want Peter. They just ignored my attempts to contact them...

I've tried E-mail, I've tried Fax. I've written to their Events guy, I've written to their Director. What is it? Well, they simply don't care to respond to me. Maybe my E-mail got caught in a spam filter. Maybe their fax machine isn't working.

Whatever... here are all the other people who DO think it's a good idea to have a visit from Peter May to talk about The Firemaker....

• CHICAGO, IL: Thursday 1st - Sunday 4th September
• Bouchercon
Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers
301 East North Water Street
Chicago, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 464-1000

• Bouchercon Panel with Peter May: 
"Far Away Places"
Friday 2nd September, 4pm - 5pm

• ROCHESTER, NY - Tuesday 6th September

• MINNEAPOLIS, MN: Wednesday, 7th September, 7pm
• Once Upon a Crime
604 W 26th St,
Minneapolis MN 55405
Telephone: (612) 870-3785

• BOULDER, CO: Thursday 8th September, 7pm
• High Crimes
946 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
Telephone:(303) 443-8346

• DENVER, CO: Saturday 10th September, 12 noon
• Murder by the Book
1574 South Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
Telephone: (800) 300-2595  (toll free voice)
Telephone: (303) 871-9401  (voice in Colorado)

• HOUSTON, TX: Monday, 12th September, 6.30pm
• Murder by the Book
2342, Bissonnet Street
Houston TX, 77005
Telephone: (713) 524-8597

• HUNTSVILLE, TX: Tuesday, 13th September
• Sam Houston State University
College of Criminal Justice
Huntsville TX 77341
(Time and venue to be confirmed)

• SCOTTSDALE, AZ: Wednesday, 14th September, 7pm
• The Poisoned Pen
4014 N Goldwater Blvd, Suite 101
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
Telephone: (480) 947-2974 

• SEATTLE, WA: Friday, 16th September, Noon
• Seattle Mystery Bookshop
117 Cherry St
Seattle, WA  98104
Telephone: (206) 587-5737

• SAN FRANCISCO, CA: Saturday 17th September
• China Books
Time and venue to be confirmed

• SACRAMENTO, CA:  Sunday 18th September
• Book Launch Party
Invited Guests

• DAVIS, CA: Monday 19th September 7.30pm
• The Avid Reader
 617 Second Street
 Davis, CA 95616
 Telephone: (530) 758-4040

• SAN MATEO, CA: Tuesday 20th September, 7pm
• M is for Mystery
74 Third Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94401
Telephone: (650) 401-8077
Toll-free: 888-405-8077

• LOS ANGELES, CA: Wednesday 21st September
• travelling

• NEWPORT BEACH, CA: Thursday 22nd September
• Book Launch Party
Invited Guests

• SAN DIEGO, CA: Friday 23rd September, 7pm
• Mysterious Galaxy
 7051 Clairmont Mesa Blvd.
 San Diego, CA 92111
 Telephone: 858-268-4747
 Toll-Free: 800-811-4747
 Fax: 858-268-4775

• BETHESDA, MD: Sunday 25th September, 2pm
• The Writer's Center
4508 Walsh Street, 
Bethesda, MD 20815
Phone: 301 654-8664
Fax: 301 654-8667 

• OAKMONT, PITTSBURG, PA: Tuesday 27th September, 6.30pm
• Mystery Lovers Bookshop
(Chinese Buffet before talk)
514 Allegheny River Boulevard
Oakmont PA 15139
Telephone: (412) 828-4877

• NEW YORK, NY: September 28th
• Mysterious Bookshop
129 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019
Tel: 212-765-0900
Fax: 212-265-5478
drop-in signing

• NEW YORK, NY: September 30th (time to be confirmed)
• Partners & Crime
44 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Tel: 212-243-0440
Fax: 212-243-4624

• CAMBRIDGE, BOSTON, MA: Saturday 1st October, 4pm
• Kate's Mystery Books
2211 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
Tel: (617) 491-2660 

Saturday, April 02, 2005

...and all before breakfast, at that.

So, this morning, in between having a shower and planning the WTA (World Tour of America), it was beholden upon me to go and feed the neighbour's cat. He's gone off on a trip and I've to look after Coco for 18 days. "He" being the neighbour and "Coco" being the cat.

But last night and this morning, we've been hit by some very high winds. And when I got round to the neighbour's house, after calling on the cat to come, I got to the top of the stone staircase to discover that the huge glass jar containing the cat biscuits, had been blown over.

So there we were. Glass and biscuits all over the top of the stairs, and one very excited cat bounding into the middle of it.

I don't have to describe what happened next, do I?

Yep - there I am.... trying to separate wild hungry cat from biscuitfest and potential internal laceration, while he's delivering some external lacerations to me. At least I think it was him, it could have been the shards of glass.

All the big bits of glass, I could gather up quite quickly - I soon got into a rhythm of throwing Coco down the stairs, and turning back to grab some glass while he bounded back up and leapt back into the sea of biscuits.

The lethal stuff was all the little pieces, mixed in with the food, embedding itself in my cuticles.

Anyway, suffice to say that it took a while but it's over now. I think Coco got a portion of food without glass in the end.

And now, before I can get back to work on the WTA, e-mailing more bookstores and libraries, then updating Le Chef's website to announce the dates, the marketing of our extra writing Course this summer, the making of cups of tea, coffee, lunch and dinner for Le Chef, who is writing another book right now, not to mention doing a laundry so that he won't be writing in the nude tomorrow, and the hundred other things on the "To Do" list.... it's almost time for the Assembly General of our hamlet.

This is about the restoration of the bread oven. You'd think now that it's restored that would be the end of it. But no, now that it's restored we have to plan the grand opening and the firing up and the celebrations.... and there's also the matter of the annual election of office bearers. Which I suppose I should be excited to be a part of since it's the nearest I get to exercising my democratic right in this country which takes my taxes but does not allow me to choose the president.

Of course they arranged the meeting for a Saturday morning because, I guess, they thought nobody would have anything to do on a Saturday morning.

They haven't seen my "To Do" list.

Thursday, March 31, 2005

...of mice and men.

Actually, on behalf of pedants everywhere, I'd like to say that what Robert Burns actually wrote was..

"The best laid schemes o' mice and men gang aft agley"

But whether plans or schemes, it is not a comfort to me that I'm in the same boat as the mice right now.

I'm not likely to get too many words of advice from them. I mean, just how many mice have tried to organise a world tour of America? Why yes... World Tour of America... well if it's the "world series" of baseball, then I just thought...

Hey, I'm Scottish - I speak all that Robert Burns "gang aft agley" stuff - I've only just started to learn American - give me a break!

Anyway. There I am with my charts, and my maps, and my join-the-dots-with-drawing-pins-and-lengths-of-string to represent the flights zigzagging back and forth across the US... Chicago - Minneapolis - Denver - Atlanta - Houston - Phoenix - Etc - Etc - Etc... (That's Etc CA , Etc PA, and Etc NY, by the way. Yes. I'm also learning now why you have to get into the habit of tagging the state name onto every city name.)

So - I've got this tour beginning to come together like a military exercise.

Except that... yesterday, I encountered a problem that the military never have to contend with....

Labor Day. Labor Day?

Well, since to labor is to work, obviously I assumed that Labor Day would be the day when everyone works really, really hard....

But no.

It's the day when nobody works at all.

We were planning to be in Minneapolis, but it appears that Minneapolis will be closed that day. And since Minneapolis was right at the start of the tour, the whole schedule had be be pushed on and all the dates changed. But it's okay because it was one of the first places I had approached, so at least I didn't have to reschedule a whole lot of engagements, just a whole lot of string and drawing pin flight plans.

But can I just make a suggestion... for the benefit of us poor foreigners who don't speak your language, couldn't you re-name it "Don't Labor Day" or "Stay And Home And Slob About In Bed Day"? That way we might find it easier to get a picture of what really lies in store...

Of course, the whole thing was rendered all the more confusing by the fact that Bouchercon, the convention for mysteries which Le Chef will be attending is described as taking place on Labor Day Weekend.

Well really - Labor Day Weekend? Labor Day Weekend? I'm sorry - isn't that a contradiction in terms? In my country... oh, never mind the semantics. This Labor Day Weekend starts on the Thursday. That makes the weekend longer than the week by my calculation. And then it stops on Sunday - the day before what I later find out is Labor Day. But, wait a minute, if Labor Day isn't part of Labor Day Weekend then how come...

I give up.

"two countries separated by a common language" I'd attribute that quote, but its origin is disputed - some say Oscar Wilde, some say George Bernard Shaw, some say Winston Churchill.

Well, for your interest, if it had been Robert Burns, he'd have said...

"Twa landis teert apairt by ane toung"

So you can see where that leaves me.

Has anyone got an American-Scottish dictionary out there?

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Okay, so how many things did I get done off the "To Do" list yesterday?

All right... none.

But give me a break - item number one is "Organise an 18-city, month-long author tour of the USA for Le Chef". I think it may take me quite a while to finally score that one off the list - probably around October this year. When is the tour? September.

Anyway, I can at least report that we have lift-off. We have a confirmed booking.... The Poisoned Pen bookstore in Scottsdale, Arizona on 14th September.

Now I just have to get some more....

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Since I know you're interested, I can report that my "To Do" list got shortened by three items yesterday and lengthened by about three hundred this morning

Confirmation came overnight that le Chef's U.S. tour will be going ahead. Well, that is to say, the plans for it will commence. The Firemaker will be released in the USA in September and so I start now to line up talks/signings/cookery demonstrations/whatever.

So one of the major items I was able to cross off the "To Do" list yesterday - updating le Chef's websites, and his new website for the media and organisers of author visits,, was back on the list straight away.

So this can't be a long entry. Must get back to the "To Do" list....

Monday, March 28, 2005

My "To Do" list just keeps growing.

It doesn't help that I got this great little program called "Dossier" by Vortimac which lets me not only create a "To Do" list, but allows me to cross refer folders and documents and link to any other document in my computer or a web page or anything. It actually lets me write this journal entry then post it in one wee click.

So I've spent a lot of time entering up my whole life into this program. All my projects. My writing projects. The Writing Courses we give each year. The websites I'm responsible for keeping updated. The publicity and promotion schedules for Le Chef and moi. Finally I've found a place where I can file all my usernames and passwords (and encode them!) so that I can remember how to access all those sites I need to access to get stuff done. I can note the things I've done, the things I'm waiting for people to reply to, the things I have to follow up, the deadlines. It's fantastic.

In fact, if Rob Minerick, the designer of Dossier is listening, I've thought of a couple of refinements for the next release... if you could just get it to load up the dishwasher and the washing machine, and fix it so that I can turn them on from my study it would just about have my life completely under control.

That's the trouble, you see. For a while I was overwhelmed with all the things I had to do and felt that everything was out of control. Then I discovered Dossier and it helped me to really get everything organised. Suddenly I had a "To Do" list that brought everything together in order of priority, and allowed me to click immediately to the relevant documents and get to work.

In theory.

In practice... the more I add to the list, the more I think of more things to add. In fact, I'm beginning to think that I don't actually do anything except add to the "To Do" list.

It's beginning to seem more like a "Wish" list. I think the tell-tale sign was when I noticed that item 45 on the list was World Peace. I know, now you're thinking I'm crazy. I can hardly believe it myself, but yes, it's true, there are actually 44 things in my life which take priority over World Peace. No-one understands the kind of pressure I'm under.

People think - yeah she moved to this rural idyll in France, I bet all she does all day is look out of the view across the valley from the window of the study at the top of her tower and drink wine.

Well that's just not true. I drink wine out on the terrasse, in the garden, in the dining room, in the sejour, but never in my study.

The truth about this damn list is, I think it's really an... "I Wish Someone Would Come Into My Life And Do This Stuff For Me" List.

So I wondered... if I used my journal to keep tabs on what I did each day, would I achieve more? Because then I would be able to look back and see - oh yes, that's where the last year went...

And that's why "Keep my Journal up to date" found it's way to the top of the "To Do" list. So there we have it. And at least that's something I can score off the list.

And with a sense of real achievement I can also report that World Peace has now moved up to Item 44.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Pretty grim start to the year as the death toll mounts daily after the tsunami.

I heard one British politician saying that the British public ought to donate enough money to match the British government's contribution. Well fine, we've exceeded it with our donations. But hold on just a second... where do governments get their money? Em... oh, yes, that's right... WE give them it.

Ah how easily the American and British governments make decisions about allocating OUR money for bombs - but not for aid.