The Clean Reads List

I’ve added a new page to my site called The Clean Reads List. It’s tucked away under About Jessica on the menu bar above (which, granted, isn’t the most intuitive place to put it, but I couldn’t think where else it would fit).

That list mentions three other authors I know personally who also write stories along similar lines to the ones I do. If you like my work, then you might like theirs too.

I intend to gradually add to the list as time passes, and I will notify you all here when I add a name.

So pop over there and take a look at the list as it currently stands.

Millennial Musings: Why Do Cold Countries Love Ice Cream?

 

My personalized Magnum, with raspberries, coconut flakes, and cinnamon almonds. Yum!

As an Australian, I have always equated ice cream with summer. There’s nothing better than eating an ice cold Magnum in forty degree heat (Celsius, that is). And so when I would hear about people eating ice cream in the dead of winter (such as during the Ice Festival in Harbin, China) I would shudder at the thought. How could you eat something that cold when it’s below the temperature of your ice cream outside?

The purpose of ice creams after all, in my mind, was to cool you down. And wasn’t that the last thing on your mind in sub-zero?

But I never gave the subject too much thought until my recent visit to Helsinki, Finland.

It all started when I came across this store…

Magnum Helsinki store welcome poster.

Yup, there’s an actual shop in Helsinki where you can go inside and watch them make a Magnum to your specifications. You say what type of chocolate your Magnum is dipped into (white, milk, or dark) and then choose three toppings from the sixteen options. After that you choose the type of chocolate that is drizzled over it and then you’re given the ice cream right there and then in a little tray to enjoy. You can see my personal creation at the beginning of this post.

As much as I loved so many things about my time in Helsinki, this was one of the highlights of my trip. I’ve been a Magnum tragic for so long that to actually make my own blew my mind.

Helsinki isn’t the only place where you can find one of these stores. Search for “Magnum Pleasure Store” in your country and see what comes up. (Sounds dodgy, I know, but Google tells me that’s what they’re called.)

Anyway, allow me to return to the point of this post. A little later in my visit to Helsinki (while I was still dreaming of the custom Magnum experience) I got talking with an American visitor and she described the Finns as “obsessed with ice cream.” Which got us talking about why it was that cold countries seemed to love ice cream so much when we always equated it with hot countries.

It took our Millennial brains a little while to come around to the perfectly logical conclusion.

Ice cream was a thing long before refrigerators. And in pre-refrigerator times the only place you could have an ice cream was in a cold country in the dead of winter.

Yeah, duh. Took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that, but then I do come from Australia and have only seen snow a couple of times in my whole life, so cut me some slack. 🙂

Once my brain clicked into that gear, I suddenly remembered reading one of the Little House on the Prairie books (I think it was in one of those, 1880’s Girl will correct me if I’m wrong) where she was snowed in and she was able to open a window, scoop up some snow, and make ice cream by hand. Ah, those were the days. What would Laura Ingalls Wilder have made of a Magnum Pleasure Store?

So it turns out that ice cream was not invented to cool down those of us who live in the baking heat (who knew?) but have simply come to fill that role thanks to the advent of refrigeration. Cold countries were on to the creamy goodness long before we desert dwellers were. (Or should that be dessert dwellers, as I could happily live in ice cream land. Couldn’t you?)

Random Fact of the Day: Iota

Throughout my life I have used the word iota (meaning “an extremely small amount”) liberally and without thinking about its origins. Until the other day when I came across in my reading the explanation of what an iota actually is.

Iota is the ninth letter of the Greek alphabet and the smallest letter of said alphabet.

It came into common use in English because of the Biblical phrase “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”

I was well aware that the words “alpha” and “omega” were Greek (again brought into common usage in English because of Biblical phrasing, as have a surprising number of other words and phrases) but until this week I had no idea “iota” was also Greek.

While we’re on the subject of things I didn’t know (but most of you probably did) Ππ pi is also a Greek letter. Which I probably could have worked out if I’d thought about it, but it had never occurred to me to put the brain power in.

So anyway, that’s what’s going on in my brain at the moment. How about yours? Any random facts hit you this week?

New Release: Neville and the Arabian Luncheon

The big day has arrived! My latest novel, Neville and the Arabian Luncheon, is now available.

Thirty-seven-year-old Neville Hardencourt IV lives a life of leisure in the 21st century. But his core is forged from good old-fashioned British chivalry.

Unfortunately, this chivalry doesn’t exempt him from the burdens of a disapproving mother, an overbearing brother, and a girlfriend with strong views on their future together. All three threaten to “make something of him”—a prospect any man worth his salt would find highly offensive.

With beloved roadster and devoted valet in tow, Neville must discover a way to regain some semblance of control over his life while still maintaining his chivalrous standards—a balance which may prove beyond even his finely-honed abilities.

This comedic novel, reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster stories, introduces the lovable hero of the Neville Hardencourt IV series.

This novel is available as an e-book and a paperback. You can purchase this title at AmazonKobo, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. Other stores will be available soon.

My fans on my e-mail list received discount codes for this release. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, then sign up to my fan list now for future discounts.

Millennial Musings: Do Phones Still Go Ring Ring?

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting near a very talkative 6-year-old during a long train journey. She wasn’t talking to me, thankfully. (Due to health, I don’t have the stamina to maintain a young child’s conversation level for more five minutes at a time. From six minutes onward I start looking out for any family member who can take over for me while I have a little lie down and a half hour of quiet.) She was chatting very happily to a teenager she had made friends with in the next row. They shared a window and so were conversing through the little gap between glass and seat.

One of the first things that occurred to me was how difficult it is to keep a child’s attention when in a fast-moving train, especially a child you have only just met. The usual stand-by game my grandmother always employed during times of tedium, I Spy, is completely useless in a speeding train. “I spy something beginning with–oh, never mind, we’ve passed it already.”

Thankfully the little girl I was eavesdropping on was a self-starter in the conversation topic department. She told personal details, stories, and so forth, as well as peppering the conversation with questions such as “What’s your name?” which was followed by an endearingly honest admission by the little girl that she wouldn’t remember the name in question and would just substitute one she found easier to recall.

The girl herself had bright, dancing blue eyes and a true “shock” of short red hair which was thick and curly and looked unlikely to be tamed for years to come. She was accompanied by a patient father who took advantage of the girl’s conversation with someone other than himself to get in a few games of Candy Crush on his smart phone while he had the time. Her other companion was a small brown and yellow stuffed toy dog, whose name seemed to continually change depending on the girl’s mood at the time (Spot, Gruff, Robbie, Squeal-something).

The dog’s usage also changed.

About halfway through the conversation, the little girl’s dog suddenly became a smart phone. “Excuse me,” she said to the girl in the next row mid-conversation, “I have to text. I have to work on my phone now but I can still talk to you while I do it.” And away she went pushing imaginary buttons on the dog’s fluffy little tummy as she continued her conversation with a teenager who had (ironically) never looked at her phone once in the entire time I’d been watching them.

A moment later, her texting presumably finished, she held up her dog and “took a picture” of the girl she was talking to and then verbally wondered who she could send the photo too. While she was busy with that, her “boyfriend” messaged her and she had to take care of further texting while the conversation continued.

I can only assume that the little girl has a teenage sister whom she has studied closely (as all children do) and was doing a perfect imitation of her.

I found the whole act fascinating. I have of course watched many children pretend to use telephones. My brother in his formative years used the dismembered tail of a wooden crocodile toy as a mobile phone. He also used to call bananas “hello hellos” because when distributing the fruit in question my mother would hold the banana up to her ear and say, “Hello, hello? Who is it? Oh! It’s for you!” and hand it to my brother. It must have been an earth-shattering day when he discovered she had been practicing on his credulous simplicity and that the signal strength of the banana is virtually nil.

So, as I say, children pretending to have phones is not new. But I had never seen a child imagine up a smart phone with such detail.

And yet, what really caught my attention, was that when her stuffed-dog-come-smart-phone rang, the little girl vocalized it as, “Ring, ring!”

It made me wonder when in the child’s living memory she would have come across a phone that went ring ring. Do mobile phones nowadays make that sound? And if they don’t (which I would have said they didn’t), what form of onomatopoeia will the next generation use to describe the actual noises our phones make? Brr brr when on silent? The shrill bing when receiving an sms?

Perhaps ring ring is becoming one of those sounds that we just use even though we know it’s nothing like the sound we’re trying to reproduce. After all, smart phone rings now are so numerous and melodic that there really isn’t a word we could form to properly do them justice.

Thoughts on a New Blog

Having now got my author website finally looking how I’ve always wanted, I can now turn my attention to starting a new blog.

I blogged for several years on my Creativity’s Workshop site, but had to stop back in 2014 due to health. The topic of creativity is one I’m passionate about and I did really enjoy my years blogging about it, but I eventually came to realise that I was spending all my time writing about writing and not actually writing the fiction I wanted to create. Rookie mistake, I know. But I made it and finally got wise to it.

So I don’t want to make the same mistake again. This blog isn’t going to be regular or scheduled. It’s not going to be filled with long, detailed posts about a unifying subject, though I’m  not ruling out the possibility of inserting a lengthy essay here or there if the mood takes me. It’s going to be different, but still very me. In fact, probably more me than my previous blog, if such a thing is possible.

I’ve been considering for a while now exactly what kind of an author blog I want to have. For a few years I’ve been at a loss.

I’ve decided I don’t want to write a blog about writing. There are plenty of other great blogs on that topic out there written by people who are far better at explaining the subject than I.

I don’t write consistently in one genre or about one topic to have a blog to do with that subject. As much as I admire blogs like 1880’s Girl (which you should check out if you’re not familiar with it), I just can’t tie myself consistently down to one time period, subject, or genre.

So I got to thinking about the kind of author blogs which appeal to me, the ones I find myself happily spending half an hour scrolling through if the mood takes me. One of the blogs on that list is by John Finnemore who writes radio shows for the BBC. (If you’ve never heard of Cabin Pressure, John Finnemore’s Souvenir Program, or Double Acts then check them out, they’re heaps of fun. They can often be found as podcasts on the BBC Radio site, although you can *cough cough* find clips on Youtube *cough cough*. Though if you like his style, I recommend purchasing the box set of Cabin Pressure since the episodes are all gold and build on one another.)

In his blog he informs readers when one of his shows airs on the radio and how to hear the podcast of it. He also provides some backstory to where the idea came from or how he wrote it. But there are heaps of other cool things he adds in to do with crazy facts and interesting things he encounters. He also includes from time to time (especially in December) doodles from his notebooks which are interesting in their own right.

Which got me thinking about what kind of blog I could write.

The thing that defines my fiction is that they are all stories I’m passionate about. I write with wild abandon in any direction my Creativity wants to go. (Forgive the capitalization there, but my Creativity is a voice in her own right and so I capitalize accordingly.) And that’s what readers love about my work. They won’t love every story I write (because I write in so many random directions that the only person who is likely to love all my work is myself) but they do recognize that passion and come to trust that if they pick up a Jessica Baverstock story I’ll have put my heart and soul into its telling.

Which brings me to the subject of this blog. I am going to make this blog a collection of the random things I’m passionate about. The new words I learn, the interesting facts I discover, the people and experiences I encounter, the thoughts that flit across my mind. Because I figure if you love my fiction because of my passion in writing it, you might just love to know the other things I’m passionate about–the things grab my interest and make me think “Hey, I wanna share that!”

I want this to be a fun, random, interesting place to come. A place where you can pop past when you’ve got a minute, when you want a laugh, or when you’re looking for a little lighthearted distraction. I will naturally mention on my blog when I’ve got a new release coming out. I might also give some back story about why I wrote the story–what got me passionate about the subject or character. But peppered liberally between those posts will be interesting, random things that caught my attention.

I write stories because something pops into my head, setting off a rainbow of possibility or a niggly pre-pearl-irritant and won’t leave me alone until I write it. It’s something that hits a chord–almost literally, as I feel like my mind hums with the idea like someone has struck a tuning fork in the back of my brain. It is this bright, incessant rush of possibility which leads to my stories and it is that feeling that I want to share in this blog. Because some of those moments, those flashes, can’t or won’t make it into stories. It’s those things I want to share with you.

So what do you think? Do you want to follow along? I won’t be blogging to a schedule. I’ll only post when I have something I feel is worth sharing. I don’t want to tie myself down to having to produce things whether I’m ready or not. So if I’m passionate or intrigued or amused by something, I’ll post. If I don’t have anything, I won’t. In that way I plan to provide you with a stream of posts which you might just enjoy browsing for half an hour or so when the mood takes you every few months, or something that pops randomly into your inbox to lighten your day.

If that sounds like something you’re interested in, then sign up for e-mail notifications at the top of the page. And if I don’t have an option to follow this blog that you’d like to have, let me know and I’ll see what I can do to accommodate you. In fact, that goes for the whole site. If there’s something you’d like to see, or you think would improve things, leave a comment or contact me directly and I’ll give it some thought. 🙂

So, here we go! A new blog. What fun awaits!

Welcome to My Blog

Hi everyone,

I’m in the process of updating my website. The process is almost complete.

I’m also preparing my latest novel, Neville and the Arabian Luncheon, for release. I’ll have more information on that soon.

Thank you for your patience.