Elspeth Cooper

Purveyor of fine fantasy adventures


Black cat - lucky for some?My mother-in-law was ruled by superstition. If she dropped a piece of cutlery on the floor, it would lie there until somebody else came into the house and picked it up for her – sometimes for days.

If two knives crossed on a plate, she’d spend the rest of the day waiting for a fight to start – and heaven help anyone who spilled the salt, or opened an umbrella indoors. Just as well I never told her Rob had seen The Dress before we got married, or I might never have heard the end of it.

But me? Not a superstitious bone in my body. I’ve never had a lucky pen to do the lottery, and if ladders are in my way I walk under them without a qualm. Dropped a teaspoon? I pick it up. If I’ve just come in from the rain, I leave my umbrella open to dry in the utility room because if I close it up wet it’ll go funky and smell bad.

I don’t even have any writing rituals. Some habits I’ve got into, maybe, like writing notes longhand, but not what you’d call rituals. Or so I thought.

Last night, making a cuppa, Rob fumbled the coffee jar and dropped it onto my favourite mug. This one:

My writing mug

and took a gurt chip out of the edge. And what was Ms Rational’s first thought? Sheer horror: how am I going to finish writing my books now?

[This space intentionally left blank for your gales of incredulous laughter]


I’ve had this mug a very long time. My best friend gave it to me years ago, for my birthday I think. I used to use it at work; first for its intended purpose, then, when I got sick of the horrible over-boiled taste of the water from the work kettle, as a pencil-pot on my desk. When I gave up the day job I started using it for tea again: it holds much more than the everyday mugs in the kitchen, which meant fewer trips up and down the stairs to refill it, and the handle was comfy to hold.

Now I am bereft. I know it’s only a thing, and things are not important, but I hadn’t realised just how accustomed I’d become to having it to hand whenever I was writing. Fortunately, it’s not terminally cracked and I can still use it, but clearly, its days are now numbered. This will not do.

Perhaps I can exploit my husband’s feelings of guilt and get him to buy me one of these:

"Go away, I'm writing" mug


  1. I have one of those “Go Away, I’m Writing” mugs and by gum, but it comes in handy sometimes. They really ought to come with instructions: when someone bothers you while writing, simply hold up the mug and point. It works a treat! 😉

  2. In my defense, me being the aforementioned husband, the whip my good lady was cracking, and the foot she was stomping while screaming at me to “Get that tea made, slave.” Were a contributing factors in said incident. I plead my innocence and suggest to the court that leniency be given on the grounds that I am merely a man and therefore am generically prone to getting everything wrong.

  3. I’m not superstitious either–except about my lucky copyediting blue pencil which I have used to correct the copyedits of every book I’ve published since 1987.

    Sadly, hen it came time to work on the proofs of Star Crossed Seduction, I had to face the fact that my lucky blue pencil had been sharpened to where it could never be sharpened again, so with much trepidation I went out and bought a new one.

    I’m still waiting to see if this means the end of my publishing career!

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