Happy Halloween

For the last four months Eleven Twelve (the Halloween edition) has been dominating my life. The finished version is a long way from the first final draft which went to my long-suffering alpha readers who both said um, NO.


They both said (and they don’t usually agree on anything) was that their main concern is that the book steps right out of the established series, and they couldn’t see how I could get back to finishing the series in its usual comfortable format afterwards.

The only way round that was to publish it as a Halloween edition. That solved that problem, and cheered the alpha readers up, but created a fairly considerable new one—Halloween was only six weeks away, the book still had to be beta read, pulled into final shape, edited, tweaked a little more, it wasn’t possible. On the other hand, since I write novellas, and pop one out two to three times a year, waiting for Halloween 2015 wasn’t really an option either.

eleven twelve (2)

Five of my wonderful beta readers stepped up to the plate at short notice. I recruited three new absolute crackers, one of them a powerhouse from ALLi (no pressure there, then), and two lovely series regulars said they’d be interested in beta-reading. My editor promised me a time-slot on 20th October and suddenly we were green for go.

Long story short: it’s done. Loaded, minutes before the witching hour —hah, because Eleven Twelve has witches, and chapter headings from Macbeth, and is a definite eye-opener for Edge and co. It was riotous fun to write and some readers will love it, and some will probably disapprove completely. The beta readers all finished it, and all had strong, ultimately positive, feedback, which was wonderful.   Anyway, as soon as I have the published link I will start pushing it like crazy. This is just a brief blog to say this is one major reason I have been virtually invisible for months, and I am so looking forward to resuming normal life from tomorrow.

Oh, and the series returns to normal with the next book. Promise.halloween_black_cat_wearing_a_witches_hat_ready_to_put_a_spell_on_you_0515-0909-1716-2448_SMU

Mature man looking for that special woman. GSOH. Own hair and teeth.

Whatever the type, the signs of the professional single older man are fairly easy to spot. His approach will be direct but not cheesy.  If you respond, the correspondence will be chatty, lively, and fairly interesting. He can spell reasonably well, and string words together, a novelty in itself. You will start to find things in common. After a slow start*, he is becoming flatteringly keen—keener than you are, but not to an alarming degree. You feel the first real tug of attraction.

Obviously some are con-artists, and dangerous in the extreme, and you would emerge poorer and wiser and possibly broken-hearted. The more charming, attractive and eligible someone is, the more wary you should be, but that adrenalin rush is addictive. Mr Right, especially when he confesses he has been around for a while yet never met the Right One, is not for catching. He can be fun, though, if you know the rules. The commonest types (well, on the website I watch) are:

  • The Heathcliff, brooding, heartbroken, bravely carrying on after the loss of a dearly loved spouse, who has to be wooed and coaxed into talking about his pain and fights against his attraction to you.
  • The Cad, who admits to several adventures in the past, warns you off, despite his great attraction to you. He says disarmingly that he’s never felt like this before, but his track record is dire, he knows the fault must be in him. Yet, with you, he feels different . . .
  • The Waif, who loves too deeply and gets treated badly by women, and is almost afraid to trust but is drawn, despite himself, by your honesty and sincere nature.
  • The Bluffer, who puts a bold face on life but under it all feels insecure and unsure and confesses he envies you your confidence and wonderful personality.
  • The Married Man gets a surprising amount of action. He usually lists himself as single, but confesses early on that he is married and hanging in there for the children / grandchildren / his wife couldn’t cope alone. (Quite often he isn’t married at all, by the way. Very handy shield, and a way of juggling his diary to suit himself and run several women at once.) Women find him safe, and feel a little sorry for him, and he’s obviously attractive enough to at least one other woman. He often seems a little naïve, and asks for advice a lot. His seductions are often the most intense and if you’ll take my advice, don’t risk it. Those ones always seem to end up in tears. Choose another professional.

You’ll get stung somewhere along the way. Always gonna happen. Congratulations, it qualifies you as a semi-professional.  Go try again. Do no harm.

I wrote a book a while back (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) about the predators lurking in the deep end of the singles pool. I have learned so much since then I might need to rewrite it. On the other hand, it is a lively novella about murder and deceit. These guys are all about love. No, honestly. Cross their hearts.

*you made the cut. They usually have four or five lines in the water at the same time. If you suddenly stop hearing from him, you didn’t make the cut. Don’t worry. Plenty more fish in this sea.

Do No Harm (more advice on veteran singles)

If I had been told, at 20-something, that I would be still going squee because a guy fancied me rotten when I was 50-something, I would have been, well, taken aback. And my mother at 70-something was getting a little breathless and giggly about one of her neighbours in her retirement village, until she realized he made a lot of the female neighbours breathless and giggly. She switched her attention to another neighbour who was shyly picking flowers for her and inviting her to quiz nights.

So when does it stop? Well, probably never. And why should it? We are a gregarious species and if life throws a curveball and dumps us on our own, doesn’t mean we should become hermits. Socializing is essential to our wellbeing. Finding someone who makes your heart skip a beat is one of the most exciting bonuses of being single. ‘Better together’ (too soon?) is the ideal state of affairs but that’s usually companionship and shared experience rather than heart-skipping excitement. Not knocking that, not at ALL, colour me green regarding those of you who have it, but an increasing number of us are single by nature. We like people, but we also like time off.  Our relationships erode quickly and become unsatisfactory and before too long we are back on our own, a little ruffled and bruised but secretly also a little relieved.

It has never been so easy to meet other single people, in their tens, in their hundreds. Dating websites have boosted the sales of webcams into the stratosphere.   20 something, 50 something, 70 something, there are thousands of us out there buying into the lottery of love and wondering if, maybe this time . . .

Distance is a huge factor in the success of singles websites, and you can have an entire relationship—rise, fall and the crack of the breaking heart—without meeting. There is a misleading feeling of safety in those relationships. You can have several running at once, for that matter, although you lose your amateur status on the spot. A note on safety – Skype should be just for talking, remember there is a camera facility in the webcam. Never do anything, even a flash of cleavage, that you wouldn’t want captured in frame. Exchanging sexy messages – sexting – can be surprisingly erotic with a person who writes well; like personalized soft-porn.  Use a false name.  Some relationships run their entire course on messaging.

There are thousands who are addicted to that skip of the heart and nothing more. Professional singles.  They’re not bad people, but they do have a different agenda and they are not going to change. In a perfect world they would be registered with a central authority, with gradings on how adept they are, how scrupulous, and of course how much fun, because some are clumsier and more selfish than others, but we don’t live in a perfect world. The first rule of all should be Do No Harm. It isn’t, but adopt it as your own and when that central authority is set up, you’ll be a shoo-in.



Professional singles vs amateur singles (veteran category)  

Since my books are about older single people, the relationships of older single people are of paramount importance to me. There was, however, a limit to the amount of personal research I could do, so the good news for me was finding a singles website with a lot of older singles who discuss their experiences endlessly. I’ve been watching and listening for about six months now and I find I’m slowly evolving some theories.

I’m not going to be able to resist throwing in the occasional blog, because what most people don’t realize (I certainly didn’t) is how completely unlike the over fifties singles scene is to the first time round. Forget wanting to nest-build, for starters – noone is looking to have kids. A semi-professional might politely say they welcome your kids, but professional singles simply don’t want the fuss.

Professional singles should not be confused with scammers (who they can spot at a glance). They are the men or women who are perfectly happy with their lives as they are, but enjoy a flirt, or a fling, every now and then. They cause chaos amongst the amateur singles, who believe everyone on the site is eager to find that perfect companion with whom to sail into the sunset years.

This blog touches lightly on the combinations, and what one could expect from each combination. I will, I promise, be putting together a blog with the tell-tale signs for identifying  the professional, vs amateur, single. Any reader who can add to the list should please kick in with a comment!

Both singles are professionals

Both parties know exactly what is going on, although it is considered polite for at least one to act like an amateur to add a little freshness to what might become a slightly jaded performance. They both keep their nets cast wide throughout the fling. Skilled flirting is very much enjoyed by both but there is a certain lack of thrill and usually the attempt is put aside or on hold, with mutual relief, when an amateur appears on the scene.

Professional man, amateur woman

For any amateur woman who recognizes the situation fairly early on, this is the best way to be introduced to the world of the Older Single. There is charm and entertainment, an exciting intensity in the early stages, after which a nicely-judged distance is maintained, and a good time is enjoyed by both. It can, however, be painful for those women who simply refuse to recognize the warning signs and persist in the belief Something Deeply Meaningful Is Happening.

Amateur man, professional woman

Professional women take on amateur men for one of three reasons:

  • Boredom
  • Mistaking the amateur man for a professional, or semi-professional
  • Genuine attraction

The luckier amateur man will meet a professional woman who is a gentleman about the whole thing and lets him down lightly after a charming relationship. The more set on his own agenda he is, the less likely it will end well. Even if marriage (if that is the amateur man’s goal) is achieved, the professional woman will always seek out new flirts and flings. That’s what rocks her boat. However, for the amateur man who wants to become a professional, this is the ideal introduction.

Amateur man, amateur woman

First time round, remember that? This was the usual combination. For senior singles, it is relatively unusual for two first-timers to meet first time out the starting gates, and there is of course always the chance of a happy ending. In about 1% of cases. For the other 99% there is usually one who achieves semi-professional status, and one who leaves the world of website dating forever, or at least determined to do better next time.

Managing expectations is the first and most important thing to learn. Older singles either intend to stay single, or are passionately determined to latch on to someone who can fund their emotional and financial old age, or have low expectations, a pragmatic outlook, and a very clear idea of what they would find attractive.  The third group tend to enjoy themselves the most. And yes, to those regular readers who know I was away on holiday recently (never let it be said I don’t do thorough research), it was great. In hindsight I must have been nuts, and I wouldn’t recommend anyone following my example, but I was lucky and had a wonderful time. Same time next year? Yes please.

Ever researching on your behalf,