Mary's musings

Mary Hoffman, author of over 90 children's books, including the Stravaganza series and Amazing Grace, has begun a web journal which will be updated roughly once a week. You can read more on

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Glittering prizes

I can now reveal, after two weeks of keeping it to myself, that Troubadour has been shortlisted in the children category of the Costa Award. (Full details on News page). I don't think it will win but it's one of only four books chosen, so I'm honoured. I did enjoy winning that prize in France and wouldn't mind having that feeling again!

My team wasn't allowed to win a prize at the Kids' Lit Quiz Regional Final in Northants last Friday, but we did all get nice certificates. (It's for the children, really, you see). I'm going to the Final in Oxford along with about another 30 authors. Should be fun.

I've been busy Skyping - a new joy - and trying to use Google Wave.

Chapter 20 of the adult novel will be finished tomorrow.

I finished The Graveyard Book, which has just won the Booktrust Teenage Prize, and read The Traitor Game and shall blog about them both over at The Book Maven (

And I read most of another long short story by Vitaliano Brancati, Il Vecchio con gli Stivali (The old man in boots)for our assessed discussion in Italian.

We've now finished watching all of The Return of the King, which we had to do in tranches, the last of which was last night. Now on to all the extras.

The jacket of City of Ships came today and looks very exciting. I'll try to post it on this website next month.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Memory Lane

I've blogged about Remembrance Day and other memory-related things over at but here are some more personal ones. A visit from a dear friend from Germany, involving lots of chocolate, talking about his new dog (a whippet) and even watching a bit of the Two Towers in the extended director's version together. That's friendship.

Then on Sunday a visit from friends we have known since before we were married, though a link by marriage. They brought their middle son, who had himself got married in Mexico a few weeks ago. He is waiting for his wife to get her visa to come here. I remember when my wedding ring was that shiny.

I was in Cambridge overnight on Tuesday and made a little pilgrimage on Wednesday morning to St. Bene'ts church. We were married there by special licence nearly 37 years ago.

On Friday middle daughter arrived for a weekend of celebrating her and her father's birthdays. She was 30 on 2nd November but spent that week in Vienna with her partner. She was a deliberate Scorpio - my husband wanted another in the family. We were all gathered together, apart from youngest daughter, who is currently in Morocco. How intrepid they all are! They'll all be here, with partners, for Christmas.

I finished reading The Island of the Day Before at last, with little real pleasure. Am now reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book - much more fun.

Page proofs of City of Ships have gone off and Troubadour has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal and got a fabulous review in yesterday's Guardian. Chapter 18 of the adult book has been finished and I start 19 tomorrow. If I can waddle to my computer, after all the birthday feasting!

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

After the wallabies, the kangaroo!

Not another dream, you'll be relieved to know! We were entertaining our niece from New York with her delightful two-month-old Juliet. For Halloween, Juliet had the sweetest kangaroo suit, complete with pouch and joey but actually found it too hot and got fretful.

She was otherwise very charming and smiley and we had lots of cuddles. She got bathed in the bidet and was very co-operative about it! Our two nephews came to meet their first cousin once removed and were very good with her.

They were less sensible about the cats and Lila managed to bite one and scratch the other. But they would not leave her alone - absolutely fascinated by her. Still, Freddie did tell me that "inside Lila's ear is like a bouncy castle."

Oh dear, one should never tell dreams or children's quaint remarks - I have broken two cardinal rules.

We dressed up a little bit for the boys' first Halloween party ourselves, wearing hats we bought one Hogmanay in Edinburgh - husband's even had lots of baubles attached to a battery, so that they could be made to flash on and off. But we didn't stay late, since it was the 40th anniversary of our first meeting, and went off for a curry à deux.

I've read the page proofs of City of Ships, nearly finished chapter 18 of the adult novel and continued to research the historical.But the November birthday + pre-Christmas entertaining is looming: two occasions this weekend, big family bash next etc. So there's a lot of cooking to be done.

I saw and greatly enjoyed the BBC1 Emma a bi to my surprise, since the casting wasn't promising. Some anachronistic language jarred but otherwise OK.

I'm still reading Eco's Island of the Day Before, which has its longeurs. But I read a really entertaining 20-page short story by Vitaliano Brancati for Italian class.

I saw the DVD of Under the Tuscan Sun. Beautiful to look at but, having decided to change the book drastically into a love story, the writer/director then lost the focus and had Frances Mayes ultimate partner not turn up till the very end!

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