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Oct. 24th, 2016

Hope's Huskies - Bunty cover

My Weekend In Children's Books

I spent Saturday at YA Shot, a one-day event in Uxbridge celebrating young adult fiction. £20 gets you a sparkly wristband and eight hours of panels, with a choice of four tracks.

The four venues had been given names, so I attended my first panel of the day in Narnia, a.k.a. Uxbridge Library, where there was Turkish Delight on offer, then headed to Waterstones/Wonderland before spending the rest of the day in the Civic Centre's Middle Earth and Ministry of Magic suites.

I heard authors talk about rewriting and editing, magic, feminism, sci-fi and the difficulties of having murders in a children's book. I came away with a lengthy To Read list, including Simon Mason's Running Girl and Barefoot on the Wind by Zoe Marriott.

On Sunday it was off to the very lovely Unicorn Theatre for Wild Wolves, at which two authors who have written books with wolves in talked about their research and experiences. (William Grill's book The Wolves of Currumpaw is based on Ernest Thompson Seton's short story Lobo, and he's also written a book about Shackleton; I need to check both these out!)

At the end of the talk, a sweet and sleepy Labrador guide dog came on stage and the audience was invited to draw her in charcoal.

TL;DR version: there are great things happening in young people's fiction, and young people are reading it avidly. Good news!

Oct. 21st, 2016

Casino Royale

Lunchtime Drinking

Bromley usually features market researchers wielding clipboards, and I generally give them a wide berth, but today one caught me off my guard and I responded before I had time to process that this wasn't just someone asking for directions.

I'm glad, though, because they wanted my opinions on GIN AND TONIC.

Now, I have lots of opinions on gin and tonic, which I am happy to dish out for free on every occasion, so this was a novelty.

We repaired to the bar at the Churchill Theatre, where I answered questions about my drinking habits and preferred brands, tasted samples of mystery tonic #1 (ugh) and mystery tonic #2 (very nice), and was sent on my way with a fiver.

The researcher said there was gin in the samples, but I couldn't taste it. I was pretty happy afterwards, though.

Oct. 12th, 2016


Why Not?

They Might Be Giants are having a catchup sale, in which you can download three recent albums for $5 each. I haven't been listening to a great deal of TMBG lately, but I seized this opportunity to acquire Glean and Why?. I may yet go back for Phone Power.

Why?, like the earlier No!, is designed to be kid-friendly, but it is equally agreeable for big kids. I started laughing at the second line of the first song:
"Don't accidentally do things you'll later regret!
Oh, no, you did!"

Elsewhere, there's a meditation on things to do when I Am Invisible ("Did the cat turn on the dishwasher? No I’m holding his paw"), a celebration of different kinds of family in And Mom And Kid ("And dad and mom and kid and kid and grandad"), and Definition of Good, a sort of junior Reasons To Be Cheerful ("Cardboard box that a large appliance came in...Mixing pieces from two different board games...Thing that's stored in a larger version of itself").

To my joy, the album also contains a cover of Sixties favourite Walkin' My Cat Named Dog, accompanied by a cute video. So here you go!

You can listen to all of Why? here.

Oct. 10th, 2016



The London Film Festival is in full swing. Last night I went to see Mascots, the new Christopher Guest movie, at the Haymarket.

What Best in Show did for dog shows and A Mighty Wind did for folk music, Mascots does for costumed performers from the world of sport - i.e. portrays them as a bunch of eccentrics with problems who take this stuff way too seriously.

Like its predecessor, it is surprisingly touching as well as hilarious and often horrifyingly awkward; I got quite emotionally involved in the struggle of Sid the Hedgehog (from South Croydon) and whether or not he would defy his dad, the previous incumbent, to incorporate a risky new element into his act.

And, yes, furries are mentioned. Not in a very flattering light, it has to be said.

I obviously didn't read the small print when booking the tickets, because I was unaware in advance that Christopher Guest himself was going to be there, and take questions from the audience afterwards. (I did not ask a question. I'm shy about that at the best of times, and Guest was pretty rude, although very funny, to most of his questioners.)

My flatmate informs me that the film will be available on Netflix, who paid for its making, from Wednesday, but I regret nothing. It was a brilliant evening.


Oct. 5th, 2016

Casino Royale

Happy Birthday, Mr Bond

It's 54 years today since the premiere of Dr No, so have some film tie-in covers from my collection!

(I don't know what the heck is going on with that Lazenby cover, but it could not be more 1969 if it tried.)

Monocle Husky

I Believe In Coyotes

Remember that story I wrote that won a literary award?

It won another one.

The Cóyotl Awards are nominated and voted on by members of the Furry Writers' Guild; a small pool, but one filled with writers I respect and admire.

(Obviously part of me is worried that they only voted for my story because they like me as a person, but come on, I'm not THAT nice.)

Best of all, the award statuette is a small, cuddly coyote. I am torn between 'must keep pristine' and 'must take to bed':

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Oct. 1st, 2016

Monocle Husky

October 2016 is Furry Book Month

This October, we're raising the profile of anthropomorphic literature and bringing furry stories to a wider audience.

The Furry Writers' Guild has joined forces with some of our fandom's great authors and publishers to offer special deals during the month, from free shipping and discount codes to free books.

If you don't read furry fiction, take advantage of the special offers and try a furry book in October.

Already a reader? Give a book to a friend, try a new author, or write a book review. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads needn't be long, and really help authors.

What will you do this Furry Book Month? Spread the word on social media using #FurryBookMonth!

Visit furrywritersguild.com/furry-book-month/ for the list of offers.

FBM logo 800
Logo by Ultrafox!
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Sep. 28th, 2016

Airplane pisser


  • Renegotiate mobile phone contract, saving £24 per month
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Sep. 27th, 2016

Snow Fun

Dress Rehearsal

I had a birthday on September 16th, which I neglected to mention because there was so much going on. Thank you to everyone who noticed anyway!

The 16th was a Friday, which is a nice day for birthdays (I was born on a Friday). I took the day off and Howard took me to Duxford. It rained a lot, and we spent much of our time dashing from hangar to hangar, but it's a wonderful museum at any time. The American Air Museum in particular has had a refurb and is a delight to look round.

Friday evenings are not a good time to go to the pub, because it will be busy and noisy and many of your friends will have other plans. Nevertheless, I got a good turnout at my old favourite De Hems.

This means I have less than a year to work out how I'll mark my 40th. I do not intend to go quietly.


Sep. 23rd, 2016


NC500 by NC700: Sunday 11/09 - Monday 12/09

At some point on Saturday. Howard's bike had picked up a screw in the back tyre, and by Sunday lunchtime it was looking pretty deflated.

My repair kit was more of a get-you-home fix than one suitable for hundreds of miles of motorway, so we called the RAC, but they offered later and later arrival times. A van rolled up at half past five and the patrolman made a quick and competent repair, but by this point it seemed more sensible to stay another night and set off in the morning.

This gave us time to leave the motorway and enjoy a cross-country journey, with lunch at the Battle of Britain Visitors' Centre. The Lincolnshire landscape looked flatter even than usual after Scotland, but gave enough visibility to overtake the many lorries and tractors on our route.

We parted company at Peterborough, and I was home a couple of hours later. Total mileage was approaching 2,000, much of which was the travelling to and from. But it was worth it.

Miles: 251.2

Photo by Clive:

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