Holidays - and How to Survive Them

By Allan | Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 07:13
Category: Writing

We’ve been on holiday. Well, when I say “been”, I don’t mean we actually went anywhere - but Claudia took a couple of weeks off work and I cleared my desk of things to do and Claudia’s parents flew in from Germany to stay with us for two weeks of sun and fun and lounging in the garden and eating and drinking way too much.

So far, so good. By the way, the reason we didn’t go away was that we don’t like to leave Siouxsie alone. Now this may sound crazy to some of you, but Siouxsie our 18 year old cat is used to having people around most of the time, and we think she would get really distressed to be left on her own while we went away on holiday - so we stay home.

Well, long story short, Claudia’s Mom got ill - in fact she got so ill, that we had to call an ambulance at 4 in the morning and have her taken to hospital. A major fly in the ointment is that Claudia’s parents don’t speak very much English (Claudia’s German, in case you don’t remember or didn’t know) so Claudia had to translate between her Mom and the doctors in the hospital.

Anyway, Claudia’s Mom recovered quite quickly and within two days she was well enough to be discharged from the hospital - but while Claudia was driving her Mom back here, the cat got ill! The poor thing was howling and running around and hiding in corners and it was very distressing. Claudia couldn’t believe it when she got home at 9 in the evening with her Mom and I told her about Siouxsie.

I went online and found an all night emergency vet not too far away, and we bundled Siouxsie into her basket and drove off. Siouxsie, by the way, really hates travelling, and howls all the way - plus she was in pain so there were double howlings! The vet gave her some pain killers and anti-biotics and we went home. Siouxsie fell asleep on the bed and Claudia fell asleep on the couch - until 4 in the morning, when Siouxsie started howling again. We got back in the car and went back to the emergency vet for more pain killers.

That gave us until 8.45 am when we were able to visit our normal vet. Siouxsie was given a good examination - and she was very quiet and good - apparently the pain killer included morphine, she she was pretty much spaced-out after two shots and her eyes were like dinner-plates. The vet said she most likely had a form of cystitis and that we should carry on with the antibiotics.

Good news is that Siouxsie is much better now, in fact she’s just settling down for an early morning sleep on the old office armchair next to me right now as I type. The other good news - and proof that Fate can work in strange ways to do good things - is that the doctors in the hospital here in London have finally diagnosed what has been wrong with Claudia’sMom for some time, and which the German doctors missed! So we’re all hopeful that she will make a full recovery.

And finally, Claudia phoned her partner in the company where she’s Office Manager and told him the sorry tale of her “holiday” and he agreed to cover for her for a few days more - so she’s not going back to work till Thursday night!

So, that was our summer vacation. I do have a lot of stuff to tell you, but it’s 7 in the morning now and Claudia has just woken up and asked me what I’m doing up working so early, so I guess I’ll sign off for now and get back to you soon with news of a Radio Broadcast I’m booked to do later in the year, as well as the fact that the first advance copies of Sundered Lands book one have arrived at my place and someone has asked me whether I’d like to write a short story for a fantasy/romance anthology. Oh, and probably a couple of other things, too.

Meanwhile, I’m off to make some coffee for Claudia and to mash up the last of Siouxsie’s antibiotic pills into some chocolate milkshake - that cat loves chocolate milkshake!

I hope your Summer Vacations turn out to be more relaxing than mine! But for the next week or so I’m going to laze around watching the Tennis at Wimbledon on TV.

Write A Children’s Book And Other Stories

By Allan | Saturday, 5 June 2010 at 08:38
Category: Writing

Hello there.

Sorry I haven’t blogged recently - all kinds of stuff going on!

I have a new iMac computer now. A lot of it is quite different to my slow old PC, so it’s taking me a while to figure everything out - and next week I’m going up town for a one-to-one training session, which should help. My wife Claudia is finding it trickier because she really understands how PC computers work, so she has a lot of stuff to unlearn and relearn. Which I don’t - because I NEVER knew how the old computer worked and I’d be forever yelling “Claudia! The computer’s broken again!” and she’d come in and say, “No, it isn’t, get out of the way!” and five minutes later it would all be fixed. Claudia is the perfect proof of how great being married can be! Oh, and she was out last night with a pal of hers for a midnight performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth (oops - I think I should have called it “The Scottish Play” to ward off bad luck…or is that just for actors…?). She saw it at the rebuilt Globe Theatre (It’s an exact replica of the Shakespeare Theatre that was on the same site in the 16th Century but burned down a long long time ago.) She got home about 3:22 in the morning. I woke up for no reason two minutes before she opened the door - I think I’m getting like a cat where Claudia is concerned - I know when she’s coming home. Anyway, before she collapsed into bed, she said it was a fantastic performance. I’ll find out more when she wakes up, I hope.

What I actually set up this blog to tell you is that I have a new book out. It actually came out two days ago - but before you start wondering what book this could possibly be - it’s a non-fiction rewrite of a book I first wrote with a colleague of mine way back in 1994 - it’s called WRITE A CHILDREN’S BOOK AND GET IT PUBLISHED - and its part of the “Teach Yourself” range of books. You can check it out by going to Now, over the past months, since I set my website up, I’ve had plenty of people asking me for writing tips, or advice on how to get started writing, or how to turn an idea into a proper story. Well, for any of you interested in that kind of thing, this is a good book for you to read. (Modesty prevents me from telling you its the best one out there - but I do think it gives a lot of insights into the whole business of writing for children - up to and including what we call in the UK Young Adult (teenagers, to you) - and also explains the kinds of pitfalls and problems you will encounter as a new writer trying to get your work published.)

If you are interested in this book, I’d recommend you buy (or borrow) the 2010 update - the older versions that you might find on Amazon etc are pretty badly out of date now. Believe it or not, when we wrote the first version, we had to explain what the internet was! (”Some people even write on computers these days - and there is this new invention out there called the world wide web, which is full of useful information.”) Yes, just sixteen years ago, most people had to have the internet explained to them, it’s true.

What else? Oh, I’ve finished the rewrites of Warrior Princess 4 (very few - they really liked it) - and it is now about to wing its way over the Atlantic to be looked at by the American editors in New York.

Oh, and we finally got the DVD of Alice In Wonderland - and watched it - and totally loved it. As some of you may already know, I am a total Alice in Wonderland freak - I have the two books (wonderland and Through The Looking-Glass) as hardback copies, I have them unabridged on talking books, I have a radio play of it, I have an Alice in Wonderland chess set, I have pictures on the walls, and I have ornaments of the Mad Hatter, White Rabbit and Alice as well as a bass-relief of the Mad Tea Party. And I also have five versions of different Alice in Wonderland movies on DVD, going all the way back to 1933! Although the Tim Burton version tells a different story than the original books, I thought it was great. Okay, I’m done talking about Alice now - in fact, I’ve kept you reading now for long enough, I think, so I shall disappear now…bit…by…bit…until only…my…grin…is……left….