Can’t really believe it, but I had a card to prove it, amongst scores of others and so many loving messages on Facebook and Twitter I couldn’t count them. I shall have to start answering at least a few of them. But what a day yesterday was. At the end of the day, I had a family tea party with my daughters, son-in-law, daughter-in-law whom I’ve known since she was 18 and love dearly, my lovely, loving grandchildren and some of my great-grandchildren. It was absolutely lovely – just look at the pics!
I’m going to do the proud mother, grandmother, great-grandmother bit now, that first pic is me and my grandchildren. Remind me to do a bit of growing, I’m shorter than any of them! Second pic is my youngest great-grandchild happily toddling about in the living room! The bulge behind the curtain is my son-in-law waiting to jump out and chase her! In the next picture my granddaughter had prevailed upon her to sit up to the table with her brother (more or less), I rather like this picture as it shows our four generations – or at least one set of them.
And here are my daughters giving me a cuddle – bliss. By the end of the day I was quite squiffy with hugs and cuddles, presents and cakes. Normal service will be resumed as soon as my feet touch the earth again.
I have just had two emails, the first from Gill Jackson who has asked to me to print a correction to my last blog in which I said Hale had ‘gone bust.’ They did not go bust, and were hurt to think I should say they did, in fact they decided, after a family consultation to cease trading. So I apologise to them for giving out the wrong information. I have always been fond of Gill and would not wish to upset her or Robert Hale.
The second Email was from the Crowood CEO to tell me that they had decided, after all this, to revert the rights in the book Hale were intending to publish on February 29th. It just shows you what you can do if you stick to your guns.
When is a contract not a contract? And no, for once in my short, blogging life, this isn’t a joke and I didn’t get it out of a Christmas cracker. It’s a genuine and very worrying question, as anyone in the NHS or the education service who has been TUPED will tell you.
I’d always assumed that when two people – like an author and the publisher who is going to publish her book – sign a contract, that it’s a legally binding document, entered in to willingly and in good faith, as they say, with certain provisos on both parties but no real snags. It came as a profound shock to me when I discovered that the last contract I’d signed had suddenly become “an asset” and had been sold to another publisher I knew nothing about. I felt like a tatty coat or a down-at-heel pair of shoes, being offered for sale in a flea market. Very unpleasant.
So what was to be done about it? I put on my deerstalker hat and set about finding out as much as I could about both publishers, checking on the legal meaning of the words “contract” and “asset,” which as far as I can see were two completely separate things, and contacting as many other writers from the first company as I could. Along the way and with the help of the Society of Authors, I found a small innocuous sentence in my original contract “The expression ‘the Publishers’ as used throughout this agreement shall be deemed to include the person or persons or company for the time being carrying on the business of the said ### whether under its present or any future style… and the benefits of this agreement shall be transmissible accordingly.” I have to confess, the first time I’d read it, I’d just skimmed through it and didn’t think it was important or even applicable. How wrong I was. Transmissible meant my contract could be sold.
In early December last year, the book seller reported that my publisher had “ceased trading” from the 1st of December. Not long afterwards and after nudging my editor, whom I’ve always been very fond of, I was sent the most peculiar letter entitled “Important Announcement” and containing the chilling information “We are delighted that our publishing assets including contracts and stock… have been acquired by the independent publisher ###” My forthcoming book which is due for publication on February 29th 2016, had become, according to the Oxford dictionary, “goods to enable a company to discharge debts or a property that may be made liable for debts.” In short, it had become a useful thing to sell, I still can’t get my head around the idea. When I see doctors rightly angry and holding up these huge and powerful posters, I know exactly how they feel.
I would love to hear from other authors to whom the same sort of thing has happened or is happening and to know what they think about it.
I spent sometime last week with a ‘squad’ of lively boys and girls who were teaching me teenage slang. Almost at once I discovered that the word ‘fit’ didn’t mean healthy but hot and sexy – love it. I learnt a lot about drinking habits which don’t seem to have changed much although the vocabulary has taken a shift and also found out how to express approval of something that is really quite good, although you describe it in a guarded way (so they told me) as ‘pretty dec’ which you pronounce deese to rhyme with peace and which is short for decent.
‘Crap’ is still widely used and so are all the other established swear words. But there were lots of new words too. The most often used being ‘bare’ which means extremely and is usually applied in a complaining way to something that is too much to be borne.
I found the whole experience wonderfully entertaining and enlightening, teenagers are such fun. I am going back for even more sessions with my ‘mentors’ because I need to know how to speak the language if I am to write it and there’s nothing like living in the country to teach you the language.
If there are any teenagers out there who would like to add to my vocabulary, I’d love to talk to them. Because when I start to write I would like my work to be ‘sound’.
Stand well back! I am repellent with germs. Don’t say you haven’t been warned!
The medicine cabinet is so well stocked, it’s in danger of falling over sideways.
Even a few samples, looks like a chemist’s shop. This is a very serious matter, having a cold. It needs organisation, lots of time for moaning and plenty of warm drinks, even if I do have to sip them through a straw – oh sob, oh woe! And because the chemistry of a cold wrecks my ability to think, my computer and laptop and tablet can yell at me all they like, but it’s a waste of their time because I can’t write. Oh sob, oh sniff, oh woe! I’ve half a mind to go back to the beginning of the year and start all over again.
But at least the pills make a pretty pattern on my Christmas tablecloth.