This episode gives the back story of how Mary Bennet met Robert of Mali and is, frankly, an excuse to throw in a few more puns of varying quality. Or, in the case of “‘scuse me while I right this skiff”, not so much throw in as crowbar in. Ah well. Fans of Lord Byron will be happy to know that he will be returning soon, and I will be stocking up on double entendres in the meantime …

In other news, I was very chuffed to get a mention on Scott Pack’s blog as a result of my previous post on the Firestation book swap. If he wasn’t already (and I think he was), this most definitely makes Mr Pack a Good Egg.

And finally, I’ve got a bit of a curveball to throw out to you. A chap called Daniel Clay, who is a proper author with a proper book published, got in touch with my colleagues at the Verulam Writers’ Circle to draw attention to the rather extraordinary offer that he’s currently making on his blog. He is offering to look at your covering letter, synopsis and first ten pages of your novel FOR FREE.

As it happens, I almost met him once before at the Winchester Writers’ Conference in 2008, when I was booked for a one-to-one session with him, but he was taken ill and was unable to attend. However, he did provide me with some very useful critique afterwards, although by that point I’d pretty much shelved the project in question (a high-concept kids’ book, since you ask).

This time around, I thought I’d try him out by sending him Mrs Darcy, which stumped him slightly as he wasn’t familiar with the original source material (go on, say that it hardly matters). But he did make some helpful comments on the rest of the package, and I believe that he was even more helpful with one of my fellow VWCers. In both cases, he responded very quickly – on the same day in my case.

Anyway, it’s up to you. If you fancy it, give it a go before he gets swamped. As to the obvious question as to why he’s doing it, my guess is that it’s a mix of genuine altruism, a way of spreading his name around and possibly a path towards a future rôle as a paid manuscript doctor. Obviously I provide no guarantees as to his bona fides, so caveat emptor (or whatever the Latin word is for when you’re not actually empting anything). But I’d be interested to hear how you get on if you do decide to use him.