Monday, 20 October 2014

Emma Spare Tyre Tummy Award Gets Real In London

As English as a red bus, as warm as a smile in the eyes. 
In my new role as glitzy guru-go-gal I travelled to London. What a place it is these days. I zoomed in on an express train. I took a fast launch up the Thames from Waterloo to Greenwich by the O2 Arena.  I soared across the Thames on the Emirates Air Line cable car and boarded the Docklands Light Railway to Stratford. And then things got even better.....
Quantum Cloud by Anthony Gormley. Spot the man in the cloud.

I arrived at the Railway Tavern, 131 Angel Lane, Stratford, London E15 1DB. In this hotel world of chrome and glass logo splattered corporate spam, I had arrived at an oasis. This is a real London pub with old fashioned service and hospitality. The proprietors Tom and Jan Dooner just could not do enough to make me comfortable. I had dinner of first class fish and chips. I slept well and started the day on a full English breakfast that was FULL and ENGLISH. Oooh, I'm thinking back to those thick slices of juicy bacon, sausage, tomatoes, fried egg, baked beans and all the toast you could dream of. Naturally, there were generous pots of hot strong English tea and all the options of cereals, fruit and Muesli. Next time I go to London, this is where I'm going and I'd advise anyone to do the same. Go on! Let go and award yourself a treat - you deserve it. I won't tip off the cholesterol cops. You ain't gonna get the chance ev'ry day are ya?

In short me old muckers - this place is gem. The staff are diamond geezers. It takes its place in the Cosmo-international hall of fame that is the Emma's Spare Tyre Tummy Award. If you want genuine London, value for money, warm hospitality, a great bed  and a right old hard core cockney nosh up - this is where to go.

Michelin stars are trailing behind the spare tyre tummy awards. Book soon before the snobs catch up and get real.

Emma Thinx: You can put lipstick on a pig but you can't fake a bacon breakfast.  

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Sister Act Gets Technical

Guru Gal Struts Her Stuff With Steam Punk Laptop                                
Imagine waking up one morning and finding yourself re-branded as a guru. Could anyone seriously believe that I know enough about anything to advise others? Surely this world is run by folk who are competent. Ah well - maybe not when you think about it!

So, I was honoured and flattered to be invited to address some young women on the subject of e publishing, audio books and getting a life in the modern IT world. Most young folk I know are miles ahead of me with apps and snaps I've never heard of. 

Even so, thanks to the dynamic Jo Tasker, organiser of "Technopop" at the London Olympic site, I turned up on Thursday to be an inspirational dame for a group of young women. The idea was to geek up the gals and motivate the maidens for a full frontal assault on the testosterone towers of male techno dominance. Just being there made me feel important. Paris may be the city of lovers. London is the city of shovers. It's a beehive of bustle.
Old and new London in the same old flow

There's only one thing more daunting than a room filled with teenage girls - and that's a room filled with hungry teenage girls in the slot before lunch. Oooh - I know that rumble! All the same I strutted my stuff and told them the tale. Since my romance titles are hardly suitable for young ladies, I had to create a series of children's books to use as a case study. Guess what they really wanted to know about? Yes, the hunky Romance heroes. After their ordeal at my hands the girls made off for food. I collapsed with exhaustion and relief. During my lecture I had tipped a bottle of water into my computer. Luckily it's an old steam punk model. Of course this was to demonstrate my technical skills. I do like a bit of slapstick. 

A shout out for Danny who fitted my microphone. As he slotted my audio body pack under my top he told me I had the oldest equipment he'd ever seen. I didn't know how to respond until I saw he was staring at my lap top. I was quite worried for a moment.

All the admin for my visit was sorted out by the efficient and helpful Wendy Godley. She deserves my thanks.

Technopop is on until 2nd November and is free entry for children and students. 

Emma thinx: Modernity - updates are ready to download.

Friday, 10 October 2014

One of many faces that launched a ship - well, an ocean-going solo row boat actually @Oceansproject @TechnopopLondon #greatbritishvikingquest

The hull of Sarah Weldon's Viking Quest solo rowing boat
I know there was an American TV show called "Queen for a day". I am too young to have seen it. No worries because yesterday I knew how those folk felt. I was in one of those places where only the Queen and oily rag Bruce Springsteen types get to be. Yes - a boat launch.

Sunset at the Olympic Park, London
I dressed myself in my jewels and finery, left my computer and travelled to London. Could I survive without the internet? Would I meet that sexy billionaire perfect lover I've always been writing about? Big glitzy openings and fashion shows are where little meez always collide awkwardly with that eyebrow tweaking Count Lorenzo Wealthasmo. Well, no actually but I am a Romantic scribbler after all. 

What links a solo rower and a romance writer?

It was far better than that! I met Sarah Weldon. This gal is a real hero. In 2015 she is gonna row her boat solo around the British Isles and raise £100,000 for charity. Yes, she is going to confront the oceans with nothing but the strength of her arms and courage. She is going to follow in the footsteps of the Vikings except that footsteps are quickly swept away in water. Maybe she'll use G.P.S? I think that Nokkia is a Viking brand. 

It's all for a truly worthwhile cause.  Sarah is the founder of The Oceans Project.   Her Great British Viking Quest is a 14-week, 3000 mile, world first, solo row around Great Britain. She will be retracing the oar strokes of Viking seafarers, warriors, and conquerors, bringing ocean literacy, environmental, and STEM education to life for students worldwide. Funds raised will provide access to education for some of the world's most disadvantaged young people, helping every child 'go for gold' in whatever they do.

She will be hooked up to various head-bands, body-suits and muscle monitoring devices. These will link, via satellite, to scientists and students who will monitor how her mind and body cope with the stresses of extreme physical exertion, unusual sleep patterns and living on a diet of freeze-dried food for fourteen weeks.  She will be broadcasting live classroom lessons to over 17,000 pupils around the world on Skype.
My good-luck wish to Sarah - Sharpies Rule!

The hull of her boat was officially unveiled at a VIP party (that's why I was there!) at The Technopop Exhibition in London's Olympic Park on 7th October.  I have to say it looks a massive vessel for one person to handle. Luckily Sarah is having rowing lessons from the best in the field - none other than Olympic Silver Medallist Debbie Flood. 
Sarah Weldon and Debbie Flood

The boat is on display at Technopop 2014 until the 2nd of November. Over 100,000 children are expected to visit in the next four weeks.  I'm back up there on the 16th October to give a presentation to teenage girls about the impact and use of technology in my audio book production and publishing business. 

Pssst: Not a mention of the old romance novels please ( that would get me into BIG trouble with the headmaster ).  I've even had to bring out a series of children's books to use for my case study, so as not to corrupt any young minds!

And who do I have to thank for this chance to perform to a captive audience?  Well - Sarah Weldon of course!  I first met her last year when we were both screen-testing for a Yorkshire Gold Tea commercial. I was fascinated by her rowing project.  I've even donated some of my e-books and audiobooks to keep her warm and revved up during her lonely nights on the ocean. I think that's what romance writers are for.

Sarah is a warm, inspiring and motivated woman. Her drive and desire to advance disadvantaged kids will push her on through some hard times at sea. It is a privilege to be just a little bit on board with a true captain of dreams.

Emma thinx: Inspiration, piling stones into cathedrals.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Review of #thriller The Edge Of Sanity by @SherylBrowne #tense #drama

Looking back, I don't say much about writing. Maybe deep down I don't think I am a writer. Maybe I'm a lasagna guru or a laundry operative with delusions of poverty. Maybe I'm a French maid or an audio book producer. Maybe I'm a vacuum cleaner analyst, a taxi driver or school homework consultant. Time is running short. With more than fifty years and a power point presentation of kids in the CV it's about time to wise up and get a foothold in something. I'll start once I've peeled all the carrots and sorted out a book cover. You see, I can focus.

photo courtesy

I do know I'm a reader. In the whole rickety house of publishing, the reader is what matters. They are the walls and the footings. All the rest is huff puff and show biz.  The true talent of the reader is to suspend disbelief and follow the trail. My latest read has been The Edge of Sanity by Sheryl Browne. I had read a couple of her other books before and count myself as a fan. This book was like nothing she has done before. It is a tense psychological thriller with elements of drug abuse, teenage rebellion, violence and crime. All of this is set against a backdrop of personal tragedy and a dysfunctional relationship. Wow! 

Here is my Amazon review:

This is a page turner where you never know where you are going next. From the outset, Daniel Conner drew my sympathy. You kinda know that things are going out of control in a life that has already known tragedy. This is a dark story yet among it all there is a thread of hope and almost humour in places. Few authors would risk a chase involving police on bikes and a canal boat in the middle of a terrifying drama. The writer has obviously studied or experienced teenage psychologies and the haphazard life style of detectives. As I was reading I identified so much with the characters that I kept asking myself what I would do in their place. At times I felt quite anxious and had to assure myself I was just reading. The ending is not a cut off but rather a jagged tear or rip. Life is uncertain - an edge may fray or not. This is a tight tense read that is never quite finished with you.

Book Links

Emma Thinx: A good book sets you free by keeping you pinned down

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Wisdom Of Crows

Say Cheese

How long could I live if I were cast out into the wild? What use would be all my knowledge of the algorithms of Amazon or the price of peas in Walmart. I could live off my stored adipose reserves for longer than most, but quite soon I would fall from my perch.

I can never see the rooks in the garden without musing on these thoughts. These creatures live through wind, rain, ice and drought year after year. Estimates suggest that some can live for thirty years. I have a favourite whom I call HB, on account of his hooked beak. There is no easy way of sexing rooks. I assume he is male because he reminds very much of the Duke of Edinburgh. I first saw him seven years ago on the lawn.
Regal Rook

He was already a full adult so he must have been about four years old at least. HB is the most engaging creature I have ever encountered. He finds ways of eating almost anything. He takes any dry food to the drinking pot and soaks it for a while. He digs holes to hide spare food. When all the younger rooks flap off in a fright HB stands still, hands behind his back in Prince Philip mode and watches the situation.My guess is that he is completely politically incorrect. He then finishes all the food. We often look at each other. How I would love to communicate with this animal or indeed any member of the royal family. Recently I've been writing some children's stories and of course, the great wisdom of the world calls to us from the high trees of the crows.
Prince Philip

The rook is a social bird with youngsters not breeding for several years. Instead they stay at home and help with younger family members. In short they are the most wonderfully intelligent and adapted creature. Few could fail to admire them. I'd like to think we humans are at least equally aware of our problems and solutions. Sadly, a lot of the evidence is to the contrary.

I think that there are few problems on the Earth that we could not solve. That is a fairly staggering idea isn't it. Focusing the beam of human mind power and resources onto structured priorities is rather ambitious. But does anyone think we could not do that? I bet the rooks think we're bright enough. I bet Prince Charles would agree.

Recently I came across a London based group of charismatic,highly engaged and intelligent young people. They have created a website with a simple ambition. There are problems. There are solutions. All you have to do with join them up. You create the software to navigate through the issues and link up the resources. Everyone can join in with a spade, microscope or whatever they can bring. They have created a prototype tool which you can see demonstrated here:

Rather than me droning on about their merits, check out these guys. They have also developed some smooth video producers. All is not lost guys – there's a new generation out there trying to save us decadent old soaks from our follies. Whatever the result I know a rook who'll be working out what to do whichever way it all shakes down

Emma Thinx: Joined up writing needed feathers. Think wild.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Luck : Be A Knight To A Lady

Best tea bags in the world but hopeless for fortune telling
My mother used to read the tea leaves for friends, neighbours and a few paying clients. The family income dived when tea bags came in. Such is the cruel shrug of progress. I am only mildly superstitious except for anything to do with shoes on tables, harming of spiders,greeting of magpies, ladders, saying the word rabbits on the first of the month, spilling of salt, breaking mirrors, umbrellas indoors, changing a garment if inside out, my supernatural connection with rooks and general odd persons carrying scythes. I think I'm in the normal range.  
blessed by a winged messenger

Of course, there are always the omens. My whole family needed a healthy daily dose of soothsaying omens. My mother and her sister would often see shapes in clouds or interpret the cluck of a chicken or growl of a dog as a guiding word. Richer people had psychoanalysts and stockbrokers to advise them.  My aunt was once struck by a huge squirt of pigeon poo as she walked into the Bingo Hall. She won the regional jackpot that night and bought a colour television. She loved it so much she hardly left the house again. Needless to say, the winged excremental messenger never chose her again. 
The hand of the Universe strokes me

Imagine my feelings today as these memories flood back. As I walked to the shops a sight greeted me from the pavement. It was a supernatural and inexplicable omen. There on the pavement was a dice, face up showing a score of six. Come on guys - tell me that is not an omen! How did the bloody thing get there? 

I picked up the dice and of course it will always be with me. I needed to cross the road and for once there was no traffic. As I scampered across the tarmac a great dollop of bird shit splattered on my tracksuit bottoms.Tell me that the Universe has not twisted itself into position to show me these omens. I just know that in the next little while something astounding is going to happen. Perhaps I'll sell a book or someone who isn't a spammer will read this blog. If this be not an omen, never was there fate nor no bird ever shat. (Apologies to the bard's sonnet 116).

Emma Thinx: Before you chance your arm - arm your chances.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Emma's Spare Tyre Tummy Award Gets Spicy

Here's one I took earlier while it was still under construction
My dear old Oscar remembers when you could drive your Morris Minor up to the stones at Stonehenge, get out your picnic and lean back against against a priceless megalith. Not even a wandering Chinese neo-pagan clutching a crystal key ring, druid mouse mat or coffee table book of mystic spells broke the calm. These days armies of security guards and scientists would have you hauled away to the visitor centre and make you pay £13.90p to see it from a distance. Ah, such is the advance of Heritage. Sadly, the pressure of modern day tourism would crush the whole place to sand. Beats me why they allow all this valuable stuff to stay outdoors.

Fame at last
Over the week-end I headed for that area of Wiltshire on our tandem. We made it as far as the town of Amesbury which is the home town of the stone circle. We decided to spend our ancient monument money on a trip to the local tandoori restaurant. We were in for a feast of truly pagan lip smacking scrumptiousness. 

While Oscar refitted a mudguard I popped in to make a booking. On arrival my name was on the table on a cute label. Nothing like this had ever happened to me before. I felt like the  poor girl mistaken for the Honorable Lady Mountshaft in some kind of romance novel.

Romantic lamb balti
Since I had forgotten my specs and couldn't read the menu, I asked the proprietor to make a recommendation. Mr Burhan Uddin, was most helpful and charming. He suggested the lamb shank balti. Oscar had the shaslik chicken tandoori. We shared naan bread and pilau rice, all aided by a very acceptable Australian Merlot house wine. The food was superb.

A feast awaits you
The service was friendly and efficient. The menu is almost a fantasy feast with items such as venison sagwalla, duck tikka massala and lobster pepper fry. Believe me, this is premier league cuisine but without the prices. The restaurant itself is unpretentious but with a comfortable ambiance. I have great pleasure in awarding the full five stars of the Emma spare tyre tummy award to Tandoori Nights of Amesbury, Wiltshire,UK.

If you're coming this way to see the mysterious Stonehenge, get yourself to the town and treat yourself to a  fantastic curry experience. Oscar's theory is that the fourth megalith lines up the yuletide midnight moonbeam with the front entrance. Archaeologists and mystics are working on it. 

Emma Thinx:  When did the prehistoric period begin?