Saturday, 30 April 2016


Yes, it's a long shot you might twig that the title's linked to my favourite musical theatre show of all time - The Rocky Horror Show - but I'm definitely feeling it. Anticipation, I mean.

The Scribbles have been quiet of late, because I've been working hard on my rainbow quilt (there will be an update in the next few days), I've not felt much like writing (although I've started to play with Rurik again) and I've just been living an ordinary life that's not worth blogging about. (Unless you really wanted to hear how many loads of washing I've done or how many times I've hoovered/cooked dinner/tidied up... No? Didn't think so.)

Actually, I think the quilting binge I'm experiencing is actually some kind of displacement tactic. StarMark is due to be published TOMORROW and there's nothing I can do to make sure it reaches that deadline.

There's a weird mix of nerves, disbelief and a tinge of excitement in me; I can't let myself get too excited in case there's a last minute hitch and StarMark doesn't hit the shelves on time. Am I being pessimistic? Probably - the book is in good hands with Bink, who are very experienced publishers.

In the meantime, I'm stuck in this...limbo. Waiting for something to happen that I have no control over. A bit like being at the airport when there's a delay, or in a traffic jam. You can see the end result, but you can't do anything to make it happen any faster.

Just going to have to grin and bear it...and hand quilt a few more squares to pass the time...

Thursday, 21 April 2016

A quick update

Things haven't quietened down at all...

Presentation about India. Check. Went well - lovely food, lovely company, and lovely to share some of the other highlights of our trip with church members.

Two school assemblies on India. Check. Great to share the Union Christian School with children from Holywell. Learnt not to ask questions in assembly, as it takes too long...

Typesetting edit of StarMark. Check. Sent back to Bink - amazing how much you can spot that needs changing, even at this late stage. It's shaping up really, REALLY well, and I am so proud of the book. I read some bits and wondered - 'did I really write that?'

Quilt blocks assembled. Half a check - I managed to get all the blocks put together in strips, sew half of the strips together, AND learn how to put the binding on the edge of my sample rainbow quilt piece. So...maybe that's three-quarters of a check?

Decorating finished. Check. The paint's all dry - though we sometimes need to go out of the back door to get the front door open first thing in a morning! You know that little bit of stickiness that remains on gloss paint after it's dried...?

Beta reading a friend's novel. Half a check - it got put on standby 'cos of the typeset edit, but I'm back on it now.

Booking into the Festival of Writing in York in September. Check. Woo-hoo!

And now... going to choose a carpet for the stairs. Catch you later!

Saturday, 16 April 2016

Busy, busy, busy!

What a week! Because of it, this is a HUGE blog post, so grab a cuppa and put your feet up for a few minutes while you read it!

We've got the decorator in. No, that's not a euphemism - we really DO have the decorator in.

Chateau Squidge has been in dire need of decorating TLC for some time; our loft extension was completed Feb 2007, and we promised ourselves we would decorate the hall, stairs and landing as soon as we were able. I bought the curtains I liked (cream base with brown and green circles on them) and painted a few match-pot squares around the place to check I'd found exactly the right colour...

However, about the same time that the loft extension began, Big Bob (our wind turbine) was being built, and that took rather a lot of pennies - pennies we didn't have as Mr Squidge also cut his hours at work so he could manage the project. Couldn't afford to decorate, not just yet.

Then the house started to fall down. It's quite common for 1930's semis like ours, with the staircase built onto the outside wall, to have the outer wall begin to bow and peel away. Unfortunately, in our case, it wasn't helped by leaky drains in the drive. So - drains were mended and the wall was pinned back in place. No point decorating until all that was done...and it took even more of the pennies we didn't really have.

We also needed a new bathroom. A shower was much more practical for two teenagers than the old cast iron bath - which, being essential - rather took priority over prettifying the hall, stairs and landing.

Oh - and then Mr Squidge decided to insulate the same outside wall that was now securely fixed. By now we were OK with the pennies, it was just a matter of lining up the jobs in the right order.

Finally, we were ready to paint. We've cheated - got a man that can in to do it, because we were working on the theory that if he does it for a living, he'll be a lot quicker than us! Plus, although Mr Squidge's back is vastly improved after his operation, we didn't think that so much painting would be particularly good for him.

Dave has done a brilliant job so far - here's the pics to prove it. Mr Squidge had managed to do most of the wallpaper stripping before his recent back trouble, but the ceiling was done by Dave and his mate, Paul. It was a pig of a job for them - and took out some of the ancient plaster as well, it was stuck so firmly...

But we're already lining-papered and painted - still got the gloss to go on a few doors, but we've got walls of Faded Leaf and Crushed Pearl instead of mucky pink...

I am ridiculously excited to think of having everything smartened up at long last. There's only the new stair carpet to sort out now...before I move onto decorating the lounge. At least I can manage that one myself.

But there's more! The final edit of StarMark has been seen and sent back to BInk...I think I might have mentioned that it was available for pre-order? *wink wink* And I've been putting out feelers for a venue for a launch event...

I've also had to prepare some presentations on my trip to India, which will be delivered next week to members of our church congregation at a social event AND to around 400 schoolchildren in two assemblies! Lovely to revisit the photos and go back through my notebooks and remind myself of that amazing experience. If you've not read the earlier blogs about it, you can find them here: First impressions; Saratha's and saris; Tea and elephants; On India and spiritual matters. 

There's something else I've been doing too. Remember I did some quilting?  Made a small quilt as a bit of an experiment? And that I was booked onto a quilting course, with the idea of making myself a rainbow quilt? Well, I've done two of my four Mondays on the course...and I'm loving it!

For the 'Falling Blocks' pattern I'm making, each block is constructed from three pieces;

Oh, the seemingly endless cutting to size!

I ended up with 80 blocks - spot the not-strictly-in-the-rainbow colour, which I had to include to make the finished quilt wide enough for our double bed. (I also had two emergency extra colours in mind to add on the far end if eight colours weren't enough...but I don't think I'll be needing them.)

I had a play with layouts...

...and plumped for the last one, because it has more rainbows in it. Look closely and you'll see there's a rainbow from left to right; diagonally up from left to right, and diagonally down from left to right.
Here's the entire layout on the floor of my lounge;

Next week, I hope to get all the blocks pieced together ready for the actual quilting. Because it's a big project and I only have two more lessons left to complete it (which would have been perfectly do-able if I'd stuck to the small quilt planned!) I realised there is one important thing I don't know how to do - add the binding around the edges - and I'm never going to manage to do all the quilting on the sewing machine before I finish the course. So...I had a play with a smaller quilted project, with the aim of trying out hand quilting AND asking the teacher about the binding.

In my fabric stash, it'll come as no surprise that I have quite a few fabrics left over from different rainbow-y projects made over the years. I decided to add a few more into the bedspread ones and make a vertical rainbow quilted panel. Apart from the fact that I had to buy a lot of extra cottons to match the fabrics (which will be used on the bedspread later), it's looking rather good, and should be enough to find out how to bind it properly.

Not convinced I've got quite the right shade of
green for the top green stripe...

If it was turned the other way up, apparently
the colours are perfect for my chakras!

All that, in just one week! I'm exhausted reading it all back...but I hope you've enjoyed seeing what we've been up to - and why I've not blogged for a few days. 

Here's to a less busy week next week?

Saturday, 9 April 2016

StarMark - available for pre-order!


I posted last month that I'd been working on the publisher's edit of StarMark, and just this week I've been working through the little bits that were left over on a second publisher's edit. (Thankfully there was a lot less this time, as you'd expect, but I'm still making some of the same mistakes...Not sure whether there'll be a third pass.)

Publication date for StarMark is the 1st May, so we're getting very, very close...wheels are in motion.

I know StarMark's listed in the IPG catalogue  - has been for some time - and will be sold via Amazon, even though my inclination in the past has been to steer clear of Amazon with Granny Rainbow. I think that, working with an American publisher but based in the UK myself, I have to recognise that I need something like Amazon to help publicise the book on both sides of the water and beyond...

Anyway, don't know what made me do it, but I decided to see whether the book's listed yet on Amazon.


It's available for pre-order in paperback - not sure when the ebook link goes up. And I've already been informed of an order being placed.

This is really happening!

Here's the UK link, and here's the US one

Just in wanted a copy...?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Family (Half) Day Out

We finally got some time together yesterday as a family, and went to Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. I think the last time we went with the kids must have been about eight years ago, and although it's not every teenager's idea of a day out (no technology was allowed, though Squidgeling T managed to reinterpret the 'no phones' rule because I hadn't specifically said 'no tablet'...) we had a better time than we hoped.

I'm not going to go through the history of the house or anything - this blog post is based on Squidgeling T's photos, 'cos he was happy wandering round taking pics of things that caught his eye. And if he was happy, we were all happy. I've cut it down from the 110 photos he took... but there are still a fair few to look through! Here goes...

It was cold and windy when we arrived...
There were some pretty groovy purple chairs in the Stables courtyard - this is one of the few pics I took.

And then we get into the house itself... The entrance hall is pretty amazing, not least because of the fabulous painted ceiling. For some reason, T liked taking pictures on the slant...

Love the wall paintings - they look like carved stone.
Can't remember the name of the technique though...

Chatsworth is just as famous for some of the modern and contemporary art it contains as it is for the 'old' art and masterpieces. Here's one example:

Here's another - I can now say I've seen a genuine Damien Hirst piece - sited in the chapel. Look at the golden statue - it was called 'St Bartholomew's Pain', and shows the saint (who was flayed alive) holding his skin over his arm. A bit 'yeurch!' but also a bit 'Silver Surfer' from the Fantastic Four film. Except in gold. 

There are so many things to see - you could spend hours looking at stuff and still miss loads. 
Ornate carvings

A two-foot tall geode of amethyst

Wonky candles

Polished crystal

T taking a selfie with the chandelier in a mirror
 This was another art installation - the tiny ceramic tiles which stud one wall are apparently based on the mitochondrial DNA patterns of teh current Duke, his wife, son and daughter-in-law. There's a panel in it for 'Everyman' as well, and it's all reflected in the ceramic-framed mirrors on the opposite side of the gallery.

Clever placement...I should've stood on tiptoes...

Anyone for dinner?

The ceiling - inspiration for my next patchwork project?

Stag's head chandelier - complete with REAL antlers!
 By the time we got into the gardens, the sun was out a bit more, it'd warmed up, and we went for a wander...

Perfect placement
 You can't go into the garden without walking beside - or even in - The Cascade. Here's a view from pretty near the top - and yes, T stood in the middle of the water to take it!

What was fascinating was that the wind was blowing directly up the slope, so one minute the water was running smoothly down the steps like this:

The next, it was being blown back up the cascade!

 The movement of the water fascinated T, so he took a few more at the top, where the fountains were...

The walk beside the trout stream was rather lovely. There were lots of daffodils, sculptures to enjoy, and of course, a bit of rock-climbing. (On a much lesser scale than what T usually does at the Climbing Station...)

An artistic 'lightning struck tree'

The innards of a dead one

This next sculpture was being spruced up; two men and a cherry picker, applying a special wax and buffing it up to make it black again rather than weathered grey. I really liked this sculpture...

And of course, no self-respecting stately home is without a maze.

Slap bang in the middle

Just before going into the maze...
spot the selfie being taken in the middle of it! 
 I didn't go into the maze - I sat and enjoyed the sunshine instead.

This chap was doing the same...

And then it was back round the end of the Emperor Lake towards the house.

T got within a couple of feet to take this
 And to finish off the day, T even managed to capture a rainbow or two in the fountain...

A fair chunk of the house is shrouded in scaffolding at the moment as part of a huge renovation project - quite a contrast between the facade that has been renovated and the scaffolding poles.

Windows onto a very different life...
So there you have it. Selected highlights of an afternoon out with the Squidges! As I sit here and the rain's pounding against the window and wind's howling down the chimney, I'm glad we went yesterday and not today, as we'd planned...