Saturday 28 February 2015

Emma Does ASDA Pulse Of The Nation - quirky veg is sexy!

Meet my buddy spuddy
It has just been Oscar season. The host opens the envelope and the winner is announced. Every year there is the Man-Booker literary prize shortlist. All the scribes are interviewed on posh BBC radio and eventually the winner is crowned. Huge cheques are awarded. Limos and red carpets enter our subliminal souls. Thousands cheer while rivals grind their teeth in bitter angst.

Until a couple of days ago I'd always just missed out on this stuff. Then it happened. Suddenly I was a selected one! ASDA (Walmart) chose me to be on their green "Pulse Of The Nation" forum. I became part of the great discussion on green behaviour and politics. Decades of playing trolley dodgems at ASDA had led up to this moment but I was soon to realize that my style of being green was a pathetic pastel imitation of the real thing. There are some fantastic folk out there.

Bottoms Up
There are people who buy and sell worms on e-bay. Then you nurture the little creatures on waste in a wormery. Then you separate the droppings from the worm urine and feed it to your veg'. There are people shredding up all the family scrap paper for chicken bedding.  I thought I was being good by putting my old clothes in the rag bin. Some folk cut them up and use them a dish cloths. Of course, I'm also a bit of a carnivore and I know that's not too green.
Once you start hording you just can't stop

Once I realized that I was more green dwarf than giant I settled down to discuss what happens to pigs' heads and trotters these days. I did get a bit passionate about misshapen veg. I revealed my tower of old tubs I can't throw away because they contain other junk I can't throw away. I also confessed to loving ASDA 3 for £10 deals. Well, you just never know when you're going to need an extra pack of bacon.

So thank you ASDA for having me and thanks to all the folk who replied to my posts. I came across a fabulous librarian who loves crows and ferrets. People like us have to stick together. I've put up a few of the nutty photos I added to my inane comments.

Emma thinx: Against all the odds Time and Destiny chose YOU.

Wednesday 25 February 2015

A Little Birdhouse In My Soul

A ball of fluff against the cruel cuts of Nature
A couple of years ago I posted a blog here entitled "Are my tits out of proportion to my hole?" You cannot imagine the torrent of criticism that drowned my sensitive soul. The feature, which concerned the frustration of my empty nesting box, was reviled and despised by right minded people. Old friends and supporters turned away in disgust. I was forced to crawl away like the ugly duckling. The post went on to collect my biggest ever readership and topped the poll every day. Can you believe that pervy hornythologists search for such words on line? In the end I took it down out of shame and promised myself and the Devil that I would never ever use the T word again. Faust may have succumbed to an offer of knowledge and worldly pleasure but I am a chastened harlot. I am not the sort of big mamma mammal who would ever give suck to such conduct.

So it is that I can report that the smallest of the T word species has arrived in my box. Better known as Periparus ater by you academic Latin speakers, the little soul has moved in to claim his home. At dusk he pops in and immediately fluffs up his feathers to conserve heat. He/she is a miracle of beauty and of life. I cannot find the words to tell you how blessed I feel that this vulnerable little creature is in some way in my care. Folk I pass in the street have hopes, loves, losses and regrets that I cannot touch or share. Yet - a wisp of a bird, that demanding weightless heaviness of life itself - that flight and gravity of the universal soul, has come at last. Fragile bird - you carry the burden of my kisses and hopes. 

Emma Thinx: Only love gives you the weight to fly.

Sunday 22 February 2015

Roads to Freedom

 A coded message from Emmadamus spotted on a French country walk
This week the storks returned to Saint Savinien from Africa. The world was otherwise filled with death and mayhem. Tanks (apparently privately owned by amateur military enthusiasts) rattled around Eastern Ukraine. Amateur religious enthusiasts did some mass beheading to bring us all closer to God. Euro money politics fenced around with the concept that it's the Grexit wot wrecks it.
In a clear sky it's easy to tell stork from clutter
And yet even in the cold air a thermal lifted these hopeful voyagers above our little town in South Western France. The legend of storks bringing babies is that they re-appear in Europe nine months after mid summer day. Maybe the message is also a cryptic reminder of re-birth and new hope.

Generally I am a very positive person. Fears of doom and disaster are over played in the media. Yet, as the pretty face of Spring makes its first weak smile, I see a troubled frown ahead. A vicious war is stoking up at the gates of Europe. Rootin' Tootin' Vlad' the Impala is leaping ahead of our lame pen pusher bean counter politicos. Elsewhere, radical religion offers young warriors the sense of belonging and purpose denied to them by the world financial system. The fact is that our play safe geeky faux meritocracy is weak and we have been sussed out. It is not that our leaders have not stood up for our beliefs for they do not know what they are. Our swords have withered into spreadsheets. Politics has been played out on a pitch the size of a handkerchief in an arena the size of Alaska. 

Brave young French kids ride the torrent at Saint Jean d'Angely
The financial collapse of 2007/8 was a warning that the structure was rotten. The bloated corpse of private greed was covered over in a shallow grave dug at public expense. We've thrown in some quick setting cement and all our gold coins but erected no headstone. We resemble the court of Louis XVI at Versailles.Who could not marvel at our palace? A stock market failure or other financial crisis will capsize our fragile little boat into a white water torrent. From such catastrophe new leaders arise; and quickly. Cometh the vacuum, cometh the fist. Every accordion player is a philosopher.The suck is as strong as the blow. The one invites and defines the other.

We are at the e cigarette end of the Christrivian era. Our cosmetic goodness-lite is non judgmental and not tested on animals. Yet. 

Emma Thinx: You can't back off if you've got no front.

Friday 13 February 2015

A Rose By Any Other Thorn - #Valentine's Day Snags

It is Friday the thirteenth. Although my life is an obstacle course of superstition, this occasion has never brought me any bad luck. Happily this morning I saw two magpies out of the window at first light. In the semi gloom I did put my knickers on back to front and resisted the urge to adjust the mistake. I'm just so pleased I don't wear a thong. So, I'm safe. It is well known in supernatural circles that the defiant power of reversed knickers always trumps the hand of doom. 

Far more important is the date tomorrow - 14th February. I guess it's potentially the best or worst day of the year. You love him. He loves you. He loves you not. He loves you but doesn't know the date. He loves you but he's a creepy stalker with dog breath and a socially plausible excuse! She sends you a card out of capricious vanity....dear me - just remember what happened when Bathsheba sent Mr Boldwood a teasing card in Thomas Hardy's novel "Far From The Madding Crowd". Yes - it's an interpersonal swine-field. 

Like most things spontaneous and romantic- they can be improved with good management. For the past two weeks I've been indicating to my man that there may be a package arriving that he is not to open because it may contain items he should not see yet. I've been casually talking about the Valentine's merchandising in Walmart as I complain about regular items being moved. 

"Do you know they've moved the unwashed organic potatoes so that they can sell more cards with gaudy quilted hearts!" I say casually. He nods. He gets it. He loves it when I talk dirty.

But, it's a wonderful festival of sentiment. It can be over the top and under the bottom but that's how love is. Check out my Valentine poem. It's an indulgent fest of vulgar velvet but that's the way I love my man.

Emma Thinx: You are not my heart. You are its beat.

Friday 6 February 2015

Erin, aged 6, #reviews all three Once Upon a NOW #books @ajcraftybox #kidlit #giveaway

ajbookreviewclub, kid's review, book review, book blog

My children's book tour and giveaway is now up to stop number seven: the  ajbookreviewclub

I've been delighted to be included on many blogs where real children have been invited to read and share their thoughts about the series with adult reviewers in the feature. Here on AJ's blog we meet the delightful and wise Erin (who is six). She had all three books read to her and tells us about which bits she liked (and didn't!) and which of the stories is her favourite. 

One common comment on all the reviews of 'Alf The Workshop Dog' is that readers love 'the song'. They are referring to  the fictional National Anthem of Zanubia, which you can hear and watch being sung from within the book.  

Zanubia, King of Zanubia, Zanubia National Anthem, song, Once Upon a Now song,  Oscar Sparrow, narrator
It's performed by my daughter on the piano (she's very clever and wrote the music) and Oscar Sparrow who is the wonderful narrator on the audio book editions of all my children's stories. 

He was very worried about being too fierce and frightening the kids - so we made him a paper crown to go with his plastic sword.  This then gave us a lot of trouble as he couldn't keep a straight face and we had to record many takes.  In the end I set the camera rolling and left the room and that solved it.

Want to see the video and hear the song? Well I'm afraid it's exclusive to the book... it's one of the 'bonus features' included via scannable QR code and secret URL links.  

(A hint for my special readers - ALF will be FREE on Amazon Kindle 8,  9, 10 Feb:  grab your copy and hear the song! )

All books in the series are 'chapter books'.  These are aimed at younger readers maybe not yet ready to read a whole book in one go.  The stories are divided into manageable chunks with the bonus materials as a 'reward' for the end of a section. The videos, photos and colouring pictures are accessed via QR codes and URLs in the book. QR codes let people with the paperback version still get the benefit of these interactive materials. I guess they are a bit of a gimmick but I think they make for a richer experience and help make story time more fun. They certainly added a new element to the job of creating the books! 

A big thank you to AJ and her daughter for sharing their thoughts on my stories - I'm so pleased you enjoyed them!

Child Labour – digging it out to write for kids with @Maryannwrites - The inspiration behind Alf The Workshop Dog.

French flag wine, It's not all Gravy image, Emma Calin

Stop #6 on my Children's Fiction Book Tour is back on 'It's Not All Gravy' - this time for a chat and a lovely glass of wine with Maryann, tlaking about the about inspiration behind Alf The Workshop Dog.

Here's the REAL Alf who spends his days in an busy inner-city bus garage.

Alf The workshop dog, Alf, Dog, Children's fiction, paperback book, kid's books

Find out how I worked backwards from meeting this little mutt to the mythical ancient kingdom of Zanubia, an evil king and a kind time-travelling prince - visit Maryann's blog here.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Who couldn’t love a dog like that? @maryannwrites #review

it's not all gravy, blog tour, blog, review, book review, Alf The Workshop Dog, Children's fiction, kid's books,

Day Five and my Book Tour is visiting the blog of Maryann Miller which is called  It's Not All Gravy.  

Alf The Workshop Dog cover, cover image, kid's fiction book, kid's book, children's storyShe has kindly hosted all three books in the 'Once Upon a NOW' series and includes a review of 'ALF THE WORKSHOP DOG'.

With a daughter who is a graphic artist she was particularly interested in the illustrations in the book.  
Alf The workshop dog, time travel, dog, kid's fairy stories, kid's fiction
I also know she downloaded one from the book to colour-in for herself. 

Find out why she highly recommends these books for children of all ages..

Thank you Maryann!

Father and son duo @grabthisbook #review ALF THE WORKSHOP DOG

Grab this book blog, book review, blog tour, Once Upon a NOW, kid's fiction, children's book, Alf The Workshop Dog, review

Stop number four on my Book Tour for the Once Upon a NOW series is at the wonderfully named review site "GRAB THIS BOOK".

It's great to get a dad's perspective on my children's books.  As a mother of sons whose father was frequently away and busy when they were small, I always felt it was a shame they never got to share special reading time with him.  

Alf, Alf the Workshop Dog, children's fiction, book cover sketch, colouring picture, Once Upon a NOW
It's wonderful to be allowed in to this father and son's story time and share an 8year old's perspective on Alf The Workshop Dog.  What a perceptive young man - and what  a lovely review.  Thanks to the little chap for telling us how the book made him feel.  Thanks to Dad for  hosting us on his blog.

Interesting too that the lad is now demanding to be a regular guest on his dad's blog.  The next generation of reviewers is here!

Take a visit and hear their thoughts on Grab This Book.

Everyone needs a ferret godfather #kidlit #review by @JossRadillo

Chapter 5 Blog, book reviews, blogger, book blogger, Joss Rodillo

Today the Once Upon a NOW! series visits the Chapter 5 Book Review hosted by Kindergarten teacher and book blogger Joss Rodillo. 

Frankie Ferret, ISabella's Pink Bicycle, Once Upon a NOW, children's books, kids literature, Emma Calin, review

Which book in the series is her favourite?  The clue is in the title of the blog..... yes she fell in love with Frankie Ferret the sidekick and adventure-buddy of Isabella in 'ISABELLA'S PINK BICYCLE'.

I was delighted that she gave the whole series a whopping 5***** and can't wait to share the stories with her little charges.

Find out what else she had to say about 'ALF THE WORKSHOP DOG' and 'KOOL KID KRUNCHA AND THE HIGH TRAPEZE' on her blog here

Sunday 1 February 2015

Full Monty in Fabulous #Blackpool

Blackpool Beach, Morecambe Bay, Snowy mountains, sunrise, lake district, Golden Mile
Distant snow covered hills try to imitate the pure beauty of winter Blackpool
Through rain, sleet, ice and snow we battled through to Blackpool in the dark. The journey was the best part of 300 miles, half of it on the pitch black truck fest strip of the M6 motorway. Ooh what fun it is to slalom along in the spray and blurred windshield mess of mystery tarmac. Most of the time I had no idea where I was. Forget the sat naff. I needed radar. 

In the swirl of icy night we arrived on the closed down Golden Mile. Loveless and mocked, Albericht once again had stolen the Rheingold from the maidens
promenade, illuminations, Blackpool, tramway, hotel, hotel view, Strand Hotel,
Silent plastic sirens cling to lamp posts
. The clamour of glamour had been gagged and bundled into a dark cupboard. The glitz hid pinch-faced with collar up in shuttered doorways. The fun of the fair sulked moaning that life was effing unfair. It wasn't Bleak House - it was bleak homeless. Yet it was wonderful. Blackpool lay like a beautiful forgotten film star, her allure un-painted, her face bared  back to nature ready for her next come-back. Blackpool - you are the electric daydream of the insomniac poet. You are the Kiss Me Quick Carnival of the Northern Post Industrial Venice. 

Along the Promenade glowed the blue signed entrance of the Strand
Stand Hotel Blackpool, promenade Blackpool,
Top hotel - a real spread and breakfast.
hotel. The wind whipped the car door from my grasp and the air from my lungs.The gale shrieked through the tram wires and the giant plastic lamp post mermaids: Oh silent sirens of the raging deep. We fought the Atlantic blast to the front revolving door and spun into the foyer like circus clowns fired from a cannon. All was calm. A lovely smiley lass issued drinks. We were safe at last. 

We slept well in room 101. The sea roared outside. I dreamed of the
Blackpool hotel room, atlantic rollers, Executive double, Strand Hotel
The wild universe as seen from a warm comfy bed
roaring wheels of hurtling trucks and the flip flop smear of windshield wipers. We awoke warm to gaze upon the merciless Atlantic ocean. Pity all those mariners and creatures of the wild. My thoughts were of this Island England and all that it could offer. Yes - a full Monty fry up breakfast. Oooh you have to come up north to stuff yourself on black pudding to fortify your soul. As Britain remembers the 50th anniversary of Churchill's funeral, this was the land of tradition he fought to save. We had the lot - the egg, the fried bread, the mushrooms, the beans, the hash browns, the sausage, the bacon, the black pud and washed it down with hot dark tea. Strand Hotel - you scoop the spare tyre award with honours and distinction. As we munched the ocean threw its fury at our Island race. We fought back on the beaches with our insoluble cholesterol and never surrendered. 

Fried Breakfast, English Breakfast, Full Monty, eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, hash brown, mushrooms, tomato, beans, hot tea, toast and marmalade
A Lancaster, Hurricane and Spitfire breakfast

Blackpool surely offers the greatest choice of hotels in the Northern hemisphere. It is a competitive market and the value is extraordinary. You could stay for a week at the price of a London night. A big big thank you to all the staff at the excellent Strand hotel, Blackpool

Emma Thinx: Darkness is but the stage where light reveals our part.