Gather Thee Rose Buds

 As you will know, I spend a portion of my life at the wheel of a bus. Another portion is dedicated to general mother hen coop behaviour and a huge floral purple chunk is lavished on Romance writing. This has always created problems of identity and to some extent fear. In the back of my mind was that one day I would be driving a bus load of rugby club stag night revellers and that one of them would have read my book and would seek to discuss that naked outdoor scene. 

Lord  Lucan

And so it was that I did something rather naughty. Normally such things bring me pleasure but today I have to confess. The photo on my website and blogs was not me. I bought it from an agency and I have no idea who she is. Of course, she is not beautiful and sophisticated like me – although a goodly number of anonymous gentlemen have been very drawn to her, seeking friendship and small amounts of money for their plane fares. If you look at the photo today – yes – that is me. In the end I figured that since in a year I had not met any drunken stags who had read a book, I had been worrying about nothing. When I wrote the book and brought it out, I had no idea what would happen and knew nothing about modern publishing. Sending off stories to faceless editors was easy and for all they cared I could have been Lord Lucan. In fact, I think that would have been a great gimmick.

 Putting all that aside, something quite remarkable happened to me. I was invited to join an online literary group of writers, reviewers and publishers. Going under the title ““, they have been in business for a year and aim to showcase and support authors and readers for mutual benefit. They held their first literary festival ‘A Summer Audience’ at Tetbury on 16th June. I met some fantastic and energetic people. At the end of the session they announced their choice of new authors – and I was one of them along with Ali Bacon and Carol E Wyer. This was a big WOW moment for me that dwarfed the responses of my passionate heroines. Being chosen is such a great thing. Everyone was so welcoming and I felt wanted straight away. Whatever happens in my writing career, this will be a top moment for me.  To see my author page on their platform click here.

The Love A Happy Ending Team

The group is an astonishing mixture of styles and genres. There is everything from crime to spiritual healing. Until now I have had very little exposure in the UK and I look forward to joining in all the activities of the group. I would like to thank all the guys who fixed the food, arranged all the logistics and made the day so enjoyable. I’m hoping to introduce some of the elements of publishing that I have learned the hard way by marketing in the USA.  Everybody loves a happy ending. 

Emma thinx: The happiest endings don’t. 

Going For Gold

Heavy Sabre

There are three types of sword used in the sport of fencing. They are the foil, épée and sabre. My readers will probably suspect that I have not done a lot of fencing. However, I am very well acquainted with the noble art of parry and riposte since I used to be the bus driver for a famous public school. One of my missions used to be driving the fencing team around to equally famous public schools so that the young gentlemen could duel with each other.

 Now, as you will know comrades, my sympathies and background are somewhat proletarian. The accents and demeanour of the young blades and their masters seemed almost from a different planet. They exuded wealthy effortless self confidence and played esoteric japes in Latin with their peers and instructors. I always felt I should have disliked them. In reality they behaved towards me as absolute gentlemen and when food was served they ensured that I was treated equally. When packed lunches were provided, I received exactly the same. When they got off the bus they cleared every item of litter and thanked me for my service. Every time I got home I had to go to my secret naughty drawer and fondle my copy of the communist manifesto just to relieve the tension.

Plus ça change
Olympic Torch
And the point of all this is to announce the arrival of the new Olympic sport of sabre rattling. As the London 2012 games approach on the anti aircraft radar, our News bulletins are filled with accounts of battleships, snipers, commandos, missiles, and socket repelled grenades. In the air helicopters, Euro fighters, Tornado attack jets and AWACs planes will circle and hover over the city. Soldiers in masks practice kidnap and hi jack operations on riverboats. Thousands of extra security staff are being recruited and trained to say “No!” Oooh – it’s come a long way from a few sexy Greek boys doing a bit of running and hurling their shafts. I know all this stuff is necessary but it does bring home to me the actual nature of the world we live in. Like everyone I will be watching our pure boys and girls attempting to defeat the drug fuelled ugly foreigners. Luckily I will be in France and their cameras are programmed to ignore all competitors other than their own. Even the 100 metres is a solo event. We Brits are not like that of course. Please please let us get through the coming ordeal with nothing more than a few dreams, prides and records being broken.

When I wrote “Knockout”, the Olympics were just a TV news item showing a lot of cheering important British folk with glasses of champagne and lots of glum looking foreign important people. It was at that moment that I decided to write an account of the darker aspect of sport and corrupt gambling. I called an old friend at Scotland Yard and asked for some inside info. He asked me if I was free for dinner and what I was doing afterwards. I tried to work on an objective account of serious international crime but in the end everything got kinda mixed up with love and sex. It was much the same story when I came to write the book.

Emma thinx: Is there a gold medal for Nationalism?

When the Saints go Marching Up

On you Reds

I bet some of you thought I had gone into a convent. It would certainly be a challenge to write a Romance in that setting – but by no means impossible. I’ll never forget seeing “The Nun’s Story” starring Audrey Hepburn. I’m not sure I’m allowed to say this – but I’ve always liked those sexy priest type stories – you know, broken hearted hunk turns his back on love and celebrates the celibate by performing some kinda priestease. Oooh – all the ladies want him but no one can admit it or make a move. But there’s always one isn’t there!

My guess is that hobbling about on one leg is not likely to attract any kind of hunk. Until my meeting with the wet deck of the Brittany ferry “Bretagne”, the words medial collateral ligament were unknown to me. Now, I trot them out all the time. On Friday I made it back to the steering wheel of the bus. I was just in time to share in the public mood surrounding one of the greatest moments of all historical time. A great unity between religion and legs gelled into a synthesis. The Saints have been promoted to the Premier Division of English football. For anyone not familiar with the “Saints” this is the popular name for the Southampton football club.

The kids on the bus are hardly the most advantaged or ambitious in our society. On Friday, a rare unity gripped the city. The following day, Saints had to win or draw to gain the greatest prize in many lives. As I dropped them off we exchanged tense glances and repeated the magic formula “On You Reds”. Fists were clenched but there were few smiles. We all knew that the next time we met, the world would be a different place.

Now, in fact I’m not any kind of football fan – but I do not entirely mind the odd muscular leg. (By the way, I think they shave them – does anyone know about this?). Football stands as a metaphor for many things that real community used to be. It offers shared aims and equality of voice. We know that in a merciless money driven society the greedy and the selfish get the most, but no supporter is more or less than the other. Many poorer fans could not afford to see the matches very often and yet their tribal passion is no less. Last week Gilles and I had dinner with a local University Professor. In all seriousness he told me that they were watching the league tables intently because as a Premiership football town, many more students would apply. 

And here is the world business news: My book “Knockout” is now available on Amazon USA in paperback, priced at $9.99 +P&P.   The UK is slightly more complicated as the book has to be shipped from the USA so it costs a bit more on Amazon UK £12.41 + £ 2.80 P&P.  I will be holding stock in the UK too and this will be available for £10 per copy, including 3-5 day shipping.  Just email me if you would like to buy a copy by this method.

In addition I am giving away two signed paperback copies to winners of a draw on Goodreads. To register your chance to win, click this link before May 21st. The prizes will be mailed to the winners,  anywhere in the world. 

In total now there are 28,000 Kindle copies of “Knockout” somewhere out there thank you to all the kind folks who have purchased or downloaded for free – will you be one of the first to grab the paperback?

Emma thinx: Struggling writers – Enjoy your posthumous success on credit today. 

Biting the bullet

Mystery headless man in white spotted at crime scene

I diesel droned the bus by the police tape that closed the block of flats and the shopping parade. Regulars might remember my little moan about derelict buildings and the vision of children. Well, the area is closed because of a shooting. Various young men have been arrested and the judicial processes set in train. Gowns and wigs will be televised. Pronouncements will be boomed in posh voices about violence and the protection of  decent society. No one is surprised. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday are lottery days. This time….this time!!! Such things can happen anywhere I know. Circles are vicious. Cones and spirals can take you up or down. I’ll leave it to you to judge the general direction. 

Now – I’ve spent several months in a dilemma. When your name is Emma that can tear you in two. It’s not that I have not been writing – it is more that I’ve been uncertain as to the direction to go. To be frank – I am under frilled to be a Romance writer. I am a real person with tubes, follicles, on lazy/writing days occasional armpit and leg fur and the beginning of a tummy. Well actually – quite a mature tummy. Maybe it is time to write that gritty Earth moving novel about poverty and greed set against a backdrop of boiling revolution.  A young peasant girl gives her only remaining kidney to save a dying investment banker who once tossed her mother a dollar to buy the baby milk that saved her life.  He falls in love with her but with both her kidneys gone, she dies. Oooh – I’ve told you the story now so there’s no need to bother. By the way – she sold her other kidney to pay off her dying father’s pay day loan and a new winter jacket for the elderly three legged dog they rescued from the burning barricades.

So – I have actually scrapped most things I have been doing. The fact is that I love the escape of Romance and the its ability to blend sex with glamour and true love. Good sexy romance can educate women and men a little too!  (My theory is that if a few of the angry young Kalashnakids had a bit more sex they’d be a bit more mellow).  If you think kids get told it all at school – think again. The facts sure ain’t the whole truth. It’s gonna be Romance with all the sex-joy-love-passion power I can muster. I’ve been writing the story in my head for a while and things might go a bit quiet for a few weeks. 

Now –let’s talk serious bus driving. I am a full bodied Lycra clad righteous planet saving eco green cyclist AND a bus driver. You know, the real problem here is the way we manage traffic. Basically we are savages. I’ve never had any sort of impulse to injure a cyclist but driving long, wide and heavy vehicles in crowded tense situations is difficult and stressful. Big trucks and buses do not mix with bikes! Why do we think they should??? Now I’ve upset the  the cyclists.  Guess I might be the subject of a flatwa. You gotta laugh.

Emma thinx: When in Romance. Do!

Pistons on La Piste

It is snowing here in Southern England. Two issues occupy my brain.
1) Will it be snowing in the morning and will the school be closed?
2) Will Gilles and I be able to slither the car to the Brittany Ferries terminal at Portsmouth in order to cross the Channel so that we can go home to France?

Come what may I am going home! Sunday morning hot baguette and oysters for lunch with wine ….Nothing will stop me! I will crawl through the snow living on nothing but the huge cask of brandy around my neck like a St Bernard mutt. (I love dogs and always think that mountaineers should have the rescue brandy round their own necks). 

There is always much controversy over reverse parking and driving skill in the benda fender gender agenda. My sexy French lover, Gilles is an executive high earning occasional car driver. I am a minimum wage full time bus driver. If he offers to drive in the snow and ice – yup, he’s got the job. Would I ever say anything…….? Do you think I would ever offer a single word of guidance…?

Emma thinx: Love has no end – only endings.

A Right Old Pickle

Heaven and Hell in a jar

“Can ya tell’em at the school he’s got a tempracha,”  came the voice of intercom mom from floor 23 of the tower block.
“Is that an’ igh tempracha or a low tempracha,” I ask.
“Woh – dunno for sure dear – but ee’s right poorly.”

I trudge back to the bus. It is Friday. The chances of intercom mom having a thermometer seem unlikely. Her boy is a right little sod and secretly I must admit I did hope that if she did have one, she had inserted it up his bottom. I think he attends about one Friday in each half term. At the school I informed the staff. As I swung the bus out of the yard I’m sure I saw them dancing in my mirrors. 

However, let me get back to the real business and glamour of my life as a best selling romantic novelist. In my last blog I raised the issue of pickles and a lady apparently had not encountered pickled onions. You know, we always think that everyone is like us. When you are a kid you think that your family is normal. I never forget when I first went to a friend’s house and found that not all parents hated each other. I was astonished. 

You never know when you might need a pickle

Now I think about it, you do not see many pickled onions in France. You do see cornichons (dill pickles) and one just cannot eat dried pork saucisse without them. But the pickled onion is probably almost as iconic as British fish and chips.  Most fish and chips shops still have a huge jar of pickled onions on the counter. It was my first ever experience of the impulse buy. Mr Henry Papadopoulos, the Greek fish and chip shop guy, plopped an enormous crisp vinegar soaked onion on top of my battered cod and chips (fries). Oooh, As my mouth blended the acid onion crunch with the crisp batter and the soft hot white fish sprinkled with salt, I experienced a deep physical joy. Soon after I discovered sex and I think it was only that that saved me from addiction and a life in the chippie. Incidentally, if you do eat a pickled onion, make sure your lover has one too. Greasy, salty gum-sucks are OK but unilateral pickled onion can slow things.

I think the goldfish might be dead.

 Before I get away from the fish and chip issue I must make a major statement. The best fish and chips I ever ate were on the pier at Santa Cruz in California. As I sat in the open air overlooking the Pacific Ocean, an enormous pelican decided to dispute possession with me. Those birds are killers!

I’m sure there are all kinds of pickles out there unknown to Brits. In Texas, somewhere near Fort Hood, I found a quaint “old time western” shop selling cactus pickle. I wonder if anyone else does pickled boiled eggs? I received some as a gift at Christmas. Chip shops often sell them but they are just so acidic that my poor old tubes shriek at the sight. I’ve dotted a couple of pickle pics around the text just to excite you all.

And finally, some readers will not have encountered the quest of Kathy Lynn Hall to raise money for Wounded Warriors. She has written an e book, “The Great Twitter Adventure“, the profit of which will be donated to the fund. It sells at only 77 pence in the UK, and is a first rate read! The above link is for for Amazon UK. Here is the Amazon USA link. Come on guys….99c or 77p…

Emma thinx: If you think you’d give your right arm for something, remember those who’ve given theirs for you.

Cook The Books With A Gastrocrat

Italy is to be led by a technocrat. Greece has been handed to a technopinion of technocrats. All of this misses the vital point. What is a crat? Also what is the proper collective noun for a number or gathering of crats? And another thing – how could you hire one or apply to be one?
“Excuse me Frau Merkel – we have a problem here. Could you send us a couple of crats?”
Anyway this whole issue has led to me re-branding myself as a writocrat, busocrat, laundrocrat and very much of a gastrocrat. World governments please note. If you need to pay a big wedge of cash to hire a crat, you need look no further. Once you’ve put a crat in your team you’re on the way to salvation.

Well now, I’ve been kinda loafing about and kinda busy. You poor souls had to clear your inbox every single day of my output and I figured you might need a rest. I actually needed to get down to some good solid chocolate sampling and digging up of sexy tingle dust to sprinkle on a video trailer for “Knockout”. I’m sure some of you already know that it takes about a day to do 10 seconds of visual. If you would like to see my efforts they are here.

At an educational establishment where some of my bus kids attend, they offer “life skills” training. Often this involves retail orientation and expertise development. You probably know this better as shopping. The idea is to show them how to handle money and how to evaluate the best price. During a recent tutorial held in a hypermarket, a student was grabbed by security guards for impulse buying without payment. There are several terms for this practice. The suspect explained that he had been asked to obtain goods at the best possible price. Now, that lad got the best deal in the world.  And they say educational standards are slipping!

Tonight as I drove my bus on a 4 lane highway at about 50 mph a black cat flashed into my vision as it sprinted across the 2 lanes to my right, across my path, body swerved a lorry to my left and sprang on to the foot-way. I’m guessing that’s 4 lives used up. If he makes the return he’ll only have the one in reserve. Should I buy a lottery ticket?

Emma thinx: Why do the big breaks all come in life number nine?

The Worth Of Words

On May 19th I pushed out my first blog. At that time I was in my little home in France. Blogging was apparently all part of reaching one’s readers and building a platform. I must confess that I sighed a little when Rosina told me that this was what the modern author does. I decided to do it everyday, I think as a form of the discipline that you need to write anything. Deadlines are the best possible master. For me there is always a feature to read or a last ever chocolate to eat before I’m ready to write. So, TODAY completes 6 months of daily blogging. Manuals about self promo tell you that it is hard to think of a subject. My problem has been that it is hard to choose which of the many to attack. As I write this, my book “Knockout” sits at No 1 in the Kindle Romance/ Suspense Romance tag search. I think it changes by the second and works on a formula too deep for tears. (Check out these last four lines of Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations….) 

Thanks to the human heart by which we live,  205
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.

I was not looking for a tacky DJ style link to this piece. The full text is here. If there is one poem that really tries to tackle the slippery subject of metaphysics, this is it for me. 

I know I should not, and I assure you it will be the last time, but the affairs of Silvio Berlusconi have once again caught my attention. In common with very few world leaders, he was a cruise ship crooner. As he resigned from office he released an album of songs called “True Love”. I just wish I could have been at meetings between him and Angela Merkel. He was an outrageous clown and so often accused of immorality and corruption. All the same he coloured my life a little and I can’t believe that he will never influence the odd character creation in many a novel. Ecco la musica. He was a monster – with a perma-tan facelift.

Looking back on my blogs I do chastise myself for my unkindness to  some members of the teaching profession. Since the corporate tide swept Gilles to London for a while I have been back in the UK. I was lucky to find some casual temporary work as a bus driver and have been plodding a route with special needs kids. Everything I’ve said about the horrid teacher petty types is true. Since these characters are for more spiky and in your face, I have been guilty of noticing them more. This week I was chatting to an angel without knowing it. One kid is very challenged and has laundry issues. One day I happened to see his shirt was different and clean as he boarded the evening bus. The teacher washes stuff up for him. She’s never reported a bus driver for being a minute late or early and she’s never shouted her mouth off about being an angel. But she is! Obviously going nowhere in this world.

Emma thinx: Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can do both, LOVE.

Homeward Bound

It’s week 4 of the Warm Fuzzies Blogfest and it is also the last week of my daily blog before it moves to a new twice-weekly schedule.  

The quest this week is to discover what makes us scribblers do it at all? Hmmm – well, I would have to give two separate answers. I write poetry because I want to magnify that small voice that is the essence of life. Most of the time you cannot hear it above the rumblings of lusts, stomachs, diesel engines and the pick and mix dilemma of daily decision. As I have aged the sound has become ever fainter and more distant. These days it is the blurred hiss of the TV sound system between segments of the jangling multi-coloured commercial breaks.

I write Romance because I like sexual passion, travel, wine and drama amongst most other things as well. The sensation of warm sun on my skin, a glow of Bordeaux wine and a long deep kiss of lips and souls that starts to build my desire, is where I want to be mentally all the time. As it is I aim a bus through heavy traffic and shop in Walmart. I am saved by a gorgeous lover. Romance writing is a turn on and is intended to nudge the love nodes of my readers. For me this  is fantastic because it gives me too an erotic buzz and allows me to use what I learned about words and moods as a poet, but without the ruthless discipline of poetry and short stories. If I combine my two responses it would be in saying that I write because I love words and words of love are the writing of our emotional DNA. 

I have chosen a passage from my novel “Knockout!” when the lovers are spending the night in Paris. They have dined and become engaged that evening. Both Anna and Freddie know that huge forces beyond their rapture are hurtling in. At stake are their lives – or worse – their love.

That night they made love tenderly, without urgency or complication, reaching out to each other like the roots of two seeds blown by chance and interwoven as one. At around midnight they lay touching hands in the moonlight. The window was a little open and admitted sounds from the street. In the distance voices and traffic spoke the muffled language of other lives. Somewhere close by in another apartment a sad saxophone played reflective moody late night jazz. If there had ever been a moment when she would have stopped time it would have been then – in the mellow moments of their after-love and their before-life.
The great River Seine rippled and pushed on to the sea as the sun tip-toed the back stairs of the world climbing towards dawn across Paris. Maybe the morning light would never uncover two lovers hiding within the protection of each other’s arms…

I would like to add my thanks to Juliana for hosting this blogfest. It has been a marvellous opportunity for me to encounter so many other writers. I know this kinda stuff is hard and eats time and so I wish you now a little peace and poetic space.
Tonight as I drove my route, the setting sun was a cold red disc in a sky of cruel blue. The kids were singing along to Rihanna’s “We found love in a hopeless place”. A particular lad always wants to sit next to me. He pointed at the volume control to indicate he wanted to pump it up. I pumped it up as a V formation of rooks passed across the void of space and we sang, bopping about in our seats. For just a moment I really felt the lonely turn of our planet in the cold indifference of the cosmos and heard it filled with defiance and a kind of love. The lad cannot speak.

Emma thinx: A beautiful second will fill all time.

For Juliana: WFPF 4xposts plus 4xtweets = 24 ?

Toilet Humour For Robots

You know those shows like “Les Miserables” and “Oliver” where there are always packs of ragged urchins in dirty clothes and smeared faces. All the same, they intone in posh fake underprivileged accents and defy their filth with their perfect white teeth dazzling from their blackened well nourished rosy skin. It’s a form of theatre I have always called Singing In The Pain. You would think that these historical “shows” are colourful cameos of those poor n ‘appy snappy, golden gutter, good old days. Please forgive my little pastiche of show biz poverty. It helps if you flap your arms like a bird and do a knees up misery minuet. 

The trouble is that when you come across kids who are are only slightly less piteous, who smell and whose crooked teeth are already stained with tobacco, you kinda think they should be cheerful.  They are not. I pulled up in the bus this morning and picked my way through the detritus spilled from ruptured bin bags on some wasteland which adjoins a run down house. A chaos of bins, old bikes, a bed and a rusty supermarket trolley vie for dominance in a garden of unintentional  urban art. Eventually a lad stumbled out, unwashed in the same torn soiled clothes he always wears. This is 2011. We have been to the moon. So far we haven’t got to poverty and more importantly, its causes. Some politicos will tell you it is not there. Follow your noses guys.

As an act of goodness I agreed to do some child sitting this morning. It was not too tough, but it was a peep at a world that I had forgotten. On the TV was a channel clearly sponsored by some global coloured plastic manufacturer. A few seconds of cartoons were followed by about 15 minutes of toy advertising. One toy caught my eye and actually made me laugh aloud. It is called “Stinky the garbage truck”. It is billed as “interactive” and you can see it here. The imagination of these toy designers is truly fantastic. This machine belches, farts and defecates. It bellows and sings and actually is the most crass and UTTERLY DESIRABLE TOY  I have ever seen. I have had dinner parties with  people who have behaved very similarly but without the entertainment. I want one and I’m gonna pester and pester and pester and stamp and whine ’til I get one.

Another toy was a radio controlled tarantula. Some horrible boy was tormenting his squealing sister into terror. In my youth they just stuffed a frog down your knickers. I guess  you just can’t  get the frogs these days. I’ve never mentioned it to Gilles.

Emma thinx: Imagination – the pale public mask of unlimited fantasy.