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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.