Sunday, 26 October 2008

Only 60 shopping days 'til Christmas

So, with only 60 days to go you're probably starting to plan what you would like to receive for yourself this festive season. I know that these days I pretty much buy my own presents for the rest of the family to give me, which is great, because I'm fortunate enough to get exactly what I want. Who cares if the surprise element is gone? Better excited certainty than a disappointing surprise.

However, if you're not sure what you'd like this year, then why not pop over to There you can get hold of pretty much anything and everything from iPod alarm clocks (available for £39.95) to MechRC dancing robots (retailing for a cool £399.99).

Stuff you don't need... but you really, really want!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? hits the streets

As any regular reader of this blog will know, I have been busy promoting What is Myrrh Anyway? of late, but I'm not the only one.

I have to say a huge thank you to Mat Cooper for doing the same thing in and around Sheffield. On Monday morning he visited bookshops, libraries and art galleries asking staff if they would take some of the Moo MiniCards I have had made up to promote the book.

I hear that the staff of the Orchard Square branch of Waterstone's in Sheffield were particularly helpful. When Mat whipped out a copy of the book the kind gentleman on duty recognised it as recent stock, took a bundle of the cards and went to the actual area where the book was on sale to distribute the cards where readers would be looking.

So, thanks again to Mat and if anyone else would like to do the same thing in and around their area, drop me a line via this blog. And you will receive a gift in kind for your efforts. I am a great believer in the adage 'If you scratch my back...'

Here's Mat holding some of my MiniCards and his signed copy of What is Myrrh Anyway?

The Christmas Story - but not as you know it!

For an alternative take on the familiar Christmas story, you can't beat Chanel 9's 'Sprog' from the 1996 Fast Show Christmas Special. (1996? Is it really 12 years old?)

My favourite line comes while the shepherds are keeping watch over their flock, but I'll just let you watch it for yourself.

Cockington Christmas Fayre

Cockington Court, is described as the jewel in the crown of Torquay. Set in 450 acres of beautiful parkland it is home to a thriving craft centre, with tearooms and stables attached. It's open seven days a week, entry is free and on 7 and 14 December it is to be home to the Cockington Christmas Fayre.

At the Fayre you will find Santa's Grotto, traditional story telling for the kiddies, a craft fair, mulled wine and mince pies, a Christmas letterbox trail, a hog roast, face painting, festive carriage rides and even glass blowing by candle light. To find out more about this South Devon event, click here.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

My Myrrh Moo MiniCards

Having been hard at work on a novel for the last six weeks, I'm now taking some time to work at the other side of the writing business, as it were - that of self-promotion. Such is the lot of a freelancer; you have to learn to blow your own trumpet pretty fast if you don't want your latest publication to sink without trace among the other 399 new books published in Britain alone every day! Hence the renewed vigorous blogging and the latest promotional item I've had made up - Moo MiniCards, to help promote What is Myrrh Anyway?

Moo MiniCards are great. They come printed with an image on one side and six lines of text on the other. In my case, that's enough space to entice someone to look at the card with an intriguing question on one side along with the details of my latest book on the other. I'm going to make sure I've got a box of my minicards with me everywhere I go, so that I can hassle coffee shops, bookshops, and perhaps even libraries, to see if they wouldn't mind me leaving a handful around the place, on tables, by the till, wherever.

So, keep an eye out and you might just be able to snap one up for yourself.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

What would Christmas be without carols?

These days, carols and carol singing are inextricably tied to Christmas, but it should be remembered that carols have been written for many other festivals that occur throughout the year. A song does not even have to have any religious relevance for it to be called a carol!

There is, of course, a whole chapter on the subject of Christmas carols in What is Myrrh Anyway? However, due to such things as word limits and page limits, I wasn't quite able to cram in all the tasty facts about carols I would have liked, so here they are - presented for free! A small Christmas gift from me to you. ;-)

Did you know...?
Joy to the World was written by Isaac Watts in 1719. However, the current music that accompanies the carol was adapted from Handel’s Messiah by Lowell Mason.

Did you know...?
Adeste Fideles (which is also known as O Come All Ye Faithful), was supposedly written by Saint Bonaventure, Saint Francis’ biographer, who died in 1274. However, the earliest existing manuscript is dated 1790 and signed by one John Francis Wade, a French Catholic music dealer.

Did you know...?
Origins of God Rest You Merry Gentlemen are obscure but it is likely that it comes from 16th century Cornwall.

Did you know...?
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing was originally written by Charles Wesley, the famous hymn-writer, in 1737.

Did you know...?
The children’s favourite Away in the Manger was inspired by Martin Luther’s From Heaven Above I Come to You, written in 1535.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Kings of Orient like you've never seen them before

Neil Kring Cole delivers his own 'unusual' take on a well-loved Christmas classic. You have been warned...

Highly informative

This is the clipping of What is Myrrh Anyway? that appeared in The Bookseller magazine. The Bookseller is the lead publishing and bookselling trade magazine, and it's very difficult to get a review in there at all. As a result, although the reviews that appear are inevitably somewhat on the small side, any mention in The Bookseller is a real coup.

However, it still feels rather like Earth's entry in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: 'Mostly harmless.'

Saturday, 4 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? Hits the ground running!

What is Myrrh Anyway?, published by Icon Books, is available from all good bookshops now!

I happened to be in the Richmond branch of Waterstone's today, so if you're passing that way tomorrow you'll find a festive message scribbled in the front accompanied by a scrawl that happened to be my signature.

Consider it an early Christmas present from yours truly. ;-)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Deck the halls with What is Myrrh Anyway?

Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Makes the perfect Yuletide gift - wow!
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Answers all you Christmas questions.
Fa-la-la, la-la-la, la-la-la
Even comes with treat suggestions.
Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la!
(To be sung to the tune of Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly.)

Thursday, 2 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? Released today!

Yes, it's like all your Christmases have come at once - What is Myrrh Anyway? is finally released today!

It should be in all good bookshops now or, failing that, you can buy it online.

And in case you're new to this blog and wondering where the title of the book comes from, click the video link below.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Countdown to publication - 1 day to go

It wouldn't be Christmas without Raymond Briggs' The Snowman appearing in the TV schedules at some point during the festive season. And the most memorable piece of music from it is Walking in the Air, sung by Aled Jones - right?

Wrong! Aled Jones made the song famous after he recorded it for a subsequent single release. The record reached number five in the UK pop charts, and Jones became a celebrity off the back of it.

However, for the TV programme, Walking in the Air was actually sung by St. Paul's Cathedral choirboy Peter Auty who is still singing but now as an operatic tenor. You can remind yourself of Peter's performance again by clicking on the video clip below.