Jingly balls, jingly balls, jingly up your way. It’s time for #TWANTA2016 to shove another tree up another fairy’s frock and display his shiny balls for the seventh time. For the uninitiated, it was all @captain_doodle’s idea. There he is on the right, the sexpot. Those taking part in Twanta send a cheap but fun gift to someone that I nominate, possibly a complete stranger, and in return they receive a similar pressie from someone else. TWitter secret sANTA, see? As usual I’ll link you to the blog post from @davidtims from a few years ago which beautifully sums up the spirit of Twanta.
FOR NOW, JUST TELL ME IF YOU WANT TO TAKE PART so that I can add you to the Master Wallchart here at Twanta Towers. I’ll give people a few weeks to join, and you’ll receive the name of your Twantee shortly after that, deffo before the end of October. Those of you who are old hands will know all this already, but for the sake of completeness here’s a reminder of how the whole thing works.
You must have specifically asked me, and I must have confirmed that you’re taking part before you can join in. I reserve the right to reject anyone that I suspect of being dodgy. This is an attempt to avoid the slight wobble that happened several years back for two of our lovely twantadors (see below for a glossary of terms).
Make sure you follow @twanta2016 on Twitter. He (it’s me really, but don’t tell the little tweeters. Let’s not spoil the magic, eh?) will follow you back. DM your address to him so that he can pass it on to your own Secret Twanta. I do remember some of your addresses from last year, but once #Twanta2016 is over I will always delete the addresses of those who ask. If the Twitter Unfollow Bug has caused @twanta2016 to unfollow you, let me know so that I can correct that.
Tell me if there are any mortal enemies that you don’t want to be paired with. We don’t want to be responsible for any “INCIDENTS”. You can also make special requests (e.g. if you’re allergic to chocolate, or perhaps you don’t want to post anything to a different country). We are a benign Santa, and will accept all reasonable requests.
Very occasionally things go awry, and when that happens Twanta Fairies step in to send a gift at short notice. Please also let us know if you would be happy to be a volunteer Fairy, should any be required (though that’s not very likely).
Once @twanta2016 has everyone’s address, he’ll DM you to let you know for whom you are buying a gift (grammar), together with their address. You might want to spend a little while researching their timeline to find out a little bit about them. Yes, that’s a bit stalkery, but you’ll be able to make your gift a bit more personalised that way.
Buy a pressie for your twantee (as the recipients have somehow come to be known) and send it to them. Mark the envelope #TWANTA so they know what it is. Let @twanta2016 know that you’ve posted it (so I can keep track in case anything goes missing). It’s entirely up to you whether to remain anonymous or to expose yourself *snigger*.
Do NOT buy hugely expensive pressies (unless you’re buying for me, obv). Small, fun and imaginative is the rule of thumb, but don’t send an actual thumb. That would be hideous. I recommend spending no more than a tenner, though that of course is up to you. The photographs accompanying this post are of some previous gifts, should you need inspiration.
When you receive your #TWANTA pressie, again let @twanta2016 know. Challenge yourself to wait until Christmas Eve or Day to open the thing. Harness your willpower, grasshopper.
When your willpower fails, take a photo of your gift ready to post on Christmas Day when there will be a special SundayPix theme so that we can all follow the fun. Post the pic on Christmas Day including the hashtag #TWANTA2016 so that we can all follow the fun, and collect the pics on a special Pinterest board.
Have fun, and if it all goes tits up, remember that it was originally all the idea of that @captain_doodle, and castigate him mercilessly, not me oh no leave me alone.
Having trouble separating your twanta from your twantee? Completed your trifecta yet? Got no bloody idea what I’m talking about? Then this section will save you from social embarrassment akin to leaving the Ladies with your skirt tucked into the back of your knickers.
TWANTA – this word has two meanings. Firstly it is the all-encompassing name for the whole cosy event itself, although usually with the relevant year attached to its tail. Secondly, the Twanta is the person sending a gift. It is the Twanta’s own choice whether or not to remain secret.
TWANTEE – the person receiving said gift, with a smile and a song.
TWANTADOR – general term for anyone taking part.
TRIFECTA – the magic three milestones achieved by a Twantador who has (1) sent a gift, (2) learned that it has arrived, and (3) received their own.
TWUMBUG – a dirty rapscallion who fails to send a gift as promised.
FAIRY – a good-hearted TWANTADOR who volunteers to step in and provide a gift at short notice for anyone who falls victim to a TWUMBUG.
TWANTAVERSE – every bloody thing to do with Twanta. Constantly expanding.
EPISTLETOE – a hand-written letter included with the gift to add a virtual Christmas kiss and a personal touch. Not to be confused with Camel Toe, which is something entirely different.
Occasionally I get told off by SundayPix lovers because I either forget or CBA to set a theme. In an effort to overcome this I’ve drawn up this schedule of themes for the rest of the year. Bookmark this post, then if dim old Wombie forgets again you can simply refer back here. I’m especially looking forward to 13th November.
For those who don’t know, SundayPix is a weekly photograph thingy I run on Twitter. See me there for more info.
25/09 Festival – @dbrereton
09/10 The pattern on my duvet cover – @little_mavis
23/10 Sunday Confessional – a weekend guilty pleasure – @allthisandless
06/11 Bonfire night
13/11 Audio – speak a movie quote for others to identify – @kjcollard
04/12 Favourite book cover – @_polyhymnia
01/01 To be decided by a poll of SundayPixers
Four years ago today, encouraged by Alex Brightsmith, I published my inoffensive little “Magnificent Seven with fur” tale about rabbits and cats working together against seemingly insurmountable odds. I doubt Alex knew what she was unleashing back then, but I’ll be eternally grateful that she did.
There are now nine substantial books out there with my name on the cover as either author or editor, along with a couple of other small things. These days you can buy some of my stories translated into Russian, and even get yourself a Wombie audiobook to listen to while driving. You can buy Wombie jewellery and stationery, and you can employ me to edit your manuscript and format it correctly for publishing (yeah, I’ve not made that page yet – I ought to get my finger out). The tenth book and fourth full-length novel***, The Raven’s Wing, is well on its way to completion now that I’ve fallen back in love with it again.
I’ve met numerous authors, attended signings and book fairs, and made a lot of new friends. I’ve had “Oi, Wombat!” shouted at me in a busy town centre. Perhaps my favourite meeting, though, was in Michigan when I was introduced to a stranger whose first words to me were “You asshole, how could you end Fog like that?”. In short, I’ve had the BEST bloody time, and it’s down to you lovely buggers who read all my blather. Thank you *snogs your faces off*. And if you don’t like my writing (a) what are you doing here? and (b) blame Alex.
***if you can’t actually count four, that’s probably because you’re not aware of the privately published novel called ‘Murder at Wombat Towers’ which was written about and for a dozen Americans to thank them all for their remarkable hospitality and friendship over the years.
I can’t describe this book any better than my chum Lisa. This is a marvellous book and currently FREE.
Hitting you up with another extra post and OFFER this week…
and you can’t afford to miss it.
If you want a stunning set of stories based on pieces of music…
you can’t go wrong with this beautiful and intelligent book!
And this week it’s FREE to download from Amazon Kindle. FREE from September 2nd to 6th – you don’t want to miss this one.
This is the first book from The Anthology Club. I have a story in their second book…
Stories by Marissa Ames, Michael Walker, Michael Wombat, and Michael S. Manzwill captivate you. Each story is accompanied by a song, and you get a brief explanation of its inspiration. An eclectic mix of genres and something to inspire everyone.
“Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” Plato
I couldn’t have put it better myself!
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My Scrivener file for The Raven’s Wing is enormous. I’ve done so much research, spending a big gobbet of time making sure I get as many details right about 1322 as I can. One of the best things about research is the learning process itself, and this quest for accuracy is a lovely bunch of fun. How much do you know about the 14th century? No, nor did I until I began to write this book, but it’s an intriguing period. Did you know they didn’t have orange carrots yet?
I’ll pop a lot of the fascinating things that I’ve discovered into Author’s Notes at the back of the book, as usual, and you’ll perhaps be interested to learn that as with Fog, there will be a Raven’s Wing Special Edition. Think of this as the extended DVD version – the four-disc Lord Of The Rings type extended edition. It’ll be in hardback for a start, and will contain a lot more historical background information than the paperback.
There will also be “Deleted scenes” – chapters not in the paperback that cover events that happen ‘behind the scenes’ of the main plotline. There may also be a few versions of events written from a different character’s point of view.
Add to this the added graphics, medieval art, character sketches by Kit Cooper, maps, my drawings of locations – and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll tell a backstory that cries out to be told; that of Moss, the one-eyed fire-dancer who hints at a secretive, violent past. FYI Moss is named for my author friend Sophie Moss. whom I’m pretty sure doesn’t have a shady past.
I only wish I could include a CD of all the songs that are scattered through the book (my hero is a minstrel after all), performed by me and Blondie, my uke. Perhaps I’ll post a series of YouTube videos. The book’ll be a few more months coming, but it’ll totally be worth it. It’s going to be FUN.
I’m chuffed to little mint balls to be in such august company as the other nominees, quality writers all (well, mostly) who include one Alex Brightsmith I’m pleased to see.
Voting starts on September 1st, and I’ll bang on about it at length then, no doubt begging for your votes.
“The church maintained that a man’s penis was required to have fulfilling sexual activity, and therefore frowned far less on women lying with women than it did on male homosexuality.
Indeed, medically there existed a school of thought that the womb of a woman contained a build-up of her seed, and without penetrative sex this would cause suffocation of the womb. The cure for this was to find a midwife or cunning woman willing to place hot items upon the woman’s privities and bring her to release.”
– a little snippet there from the ongoing The Raven’s Wing.
The Game is a futuristic bloody killfest put on for the entertainment of the masses in the late 21st century. An Exhibition Match is mounted to decide the greatest fighters of all time, and the book is written from the viewpoint of the commentator known as The Voice.
Unlike some reviewers on Amazon, I found the opening slow. I had to force myself through the first few chapters before the style of writing – a combination of interviews, flashbacks and autobiographical rantings from The Voice (not a character I ever really warmed to) – began to weave its spell on me.
I’m pleased that I persevered, for the novel grows into a “beautiful kaleidoscope of blood, violence, gore and vengeance”. Not kidding, these pages are soaked with red, but the action is so well-written, so well paced that I never felt like I was reading some schlock-horror pulp. This is superbly-crafted book for adults. Take it on the bus with you and you’ll miss your stop.
4/5 wombats for Ed Kendrick’s The Voice of Reason.
So, the first ever UK Indie Literary Festival in Bradford was a thoroughly jolly beano and no error (sorry, I went all Fifties Celia Johnson for a moment there). Organised superbly by the remarkable Dawn Singh, author of the excellent Regina books, it all went swimmingly, though no one got wet.
This was my first book festival as an attendee, and my first wow was at other authors’ banners, proudly announcing who they were to visitors. Made my laminated A4 sign look a bit meek, but then I had something they didn’t – free sweeties and a daft hat. Never underestimate the attraction of a daft hat.
The table that really struck me was Alex Brightsmith’s, as did the paper aeroplane that she threw at me, entirely oblivious to the distinct possibility of HAVING MY BLOODY EYE OUT! This inspired a happy ten minutes of flinging the thing around our end of the room with reckless abandon. And that’s the memory that will stick with me most from this event – the friendship and supportive good-humour; the laughter and respect in that room full of truly talented writers. Plus I signed and sold a few books, too, so, you know.
I found it difficult to find a table guard so missed many of the readings and panels, although once the current Mrs. Wombat turned up I did manage to attend a fascinating panel on World Building given by Dawn Singh and Joe Kipling. That too rippled with laughter. My own reading went very well, I thought, and I was flattered to be complimented on my woman’s voice. No really.
And of course I collected some books. My #UKIndieLitFest tsundoku (reading pile) consists of Alex Brightsmith, J.G. Clay, Rose English, G.K. Holloway, Diana Jackson and more I’ve grabbed since on my Kindle. These should keep me going for a long while yet. Thanks for all the fun, UKIndieLitFest Alumni. Here’s to next year!
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know of my occasional forays along the deeply dismal A58 to Bolton, whose market is smaller but far more vibrant and less anodyne than Bury’s vast but mostly bland affair. You will also be aware of my love of the coffee served by Nigel at The Coffee Grind in Bolton Market. Why, I even wrote him into a short story, look.
Well, here’s good news – Nigel and Gill have expanded with a new shop on busy Newport Street. It’s on the left as you walk up from Town Hall Square. Stepping inside The Coffee Grind from the busy thoroughfare is like walking into a welcoming cup of finest coffee after a busy day (without getting wet: you understand similes, right?). The ambience is welcoming, calm and full of taste. There’s a sense of enormous space, thanks to the mirror wall at the far end, and more seating downstairs for those who prefer a more intimate setting, like lovers or spies.
With the extra space come extra goodies, and Gill will happily sate any hunger you might have for cake and paninis. Nigel continues to rush his bottom off serving punters in the market, so now you have a choice of independent venues at which to buy coffee (or tea, or, I have to say, a quite stonking hot chocolate). Avoid the major chains and give The Coffee Grind a try. Your tastebuds will love you for it.