The deadliest, jelliest site ever. Brought to you by Niamh Shaw


I admit it: I have an automatic Google search that informs me when Smart/Casual or About Time is mentioned on a website.

Mostly the alerts are about second-hand copies of my books for sale, but occasionally it is something else: The Ampersand Agency’s blog, the debut album from Kids in Glass Houses, or the Smart Casual Raiding Co. of Earthen Ring (“Someone talked to Tirion and decided we don’t need the strength of Wrynn buff – and we do not!” Don’t ask. Here. See for yourself and let me know if you have any idea what brand of mushroom they’re smoking.)

A couple of weeks ago, Google Alerts emailed me the link to this review of Smart/Casual, by Read in a Single Sitting. My critic was kind enough to award it 4 stars out of 5. That’s an A-, right? Well, it is in The University of Western Ontario, which doesn’t sound like the type of college where you can buy your degree at all.

So that would be the highest score I ever got for English Composition and, you know, I can only consider it a failing on my former English teacher’s part that she never likened my writing to:

a Jack Russell: small and with a lot of character, but once you get past the fact that it jumps all over you and tries to do the dirty with your leg, you can’t help but love it

Comments on: "Overachiever" (14)

  1. Cian said:

    a Jack Russell: I have two (small) scars on my face, one from a Jack Russell Bite. I hate the little things (They are vermin little sh^$s), so I commend your former English Teacher for not comparing your writing to one as your writing is far less painful – well less painful on this reader anyway.

    Would it be cruel to say that 4/5 = 80% = B+ (or B1 according to current Irish grading system). Giving yourself an A- when you really got a B+ – Ahem! Next you will be looking for the bonus points for honours Maths or for being examined in Irish. The UWO have a lot to answer for with the declining standards in Education. Next they shall be telling us that a Fail is below -10% and a D is from -10% to 20% etc.

    But actually it was a great Review. Of course I thought that it deserved a 5/5 but I might be a tad biased. Perhaps you could ask the Author for a recheck. Don’t worry, at least with rechecks they cannot downgrade you, but you might get the 5 stars you deserve.

    As for declining Education Standards, our current Minister for Education has asked the Universities to consider an E in Honours Maths a Pass for Matriculation purposes. This is due to the low numbers taking it for their Leaving Cert. OMG – What will she come up with next?

  2. Hi Niamh,

    I’m the critic in question, and I just noticed the trackback on my site. Your book was a tremendous amount of fun, and I really enjoyed it. Looking forward to picking up your next one.

    (and oops about that typo–I’ll fix it up!)


  3. Such vanity. Why am I not surprised?

    I’m pretty sure Earthen Ring is something to do with the newfangled pastime of using your computer to play with other people (as opposed to the more traditional using it to play with oneself). Probably best to accept their naming graciously as a tribute to your excellent[1] work, and not draw their attention.

    [1] … or so I firmly believe, although I’ve never seen a live copy…

  4. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Cian – I understand why you’re not keen on jack russells, but honestly I can’t commend my former English teacher for anything else. Although she once described me as ‘too smart for my own good’ which, considering I’m now a penniless writer, was almost accurate.

    Ok, ok, FINE! B+ You’d never guess I got an A in Maths. But only in the Matriculation, not my Leaving Cert. Does THAT count?? Did you really get bonus points for being examined in Irish? I never knew that! Not that it would have made any difference – I was a nuff in Irish.

    Sounds like the current Minister for Education is a nuff in English, Maths and Irish.


  5. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Steph – thanks for commenting! I was totally chuffed with my review and paid you back by reading it out to my husband. He thinks you’re a funnier writer than I am. Things were tense for a while.

    Hope you enjoy the next one – it’s rather different to Smart/Casual and sorry to say it doesn’t have a mystery. Although thanks for your suggestion of a manager swinging by the tie in the stairwell. Given me a great idea for the plot of Book #3 😀


  6. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Vet – why are you not surprised? Well, you’re kinda jaded and cynical. Never mind, I’m sure there’s a pill you can take for that.

    Do you think I am in danger now that I have drawn the attention of Earthen Guild? Perhaps I can call on the strength of Wrynn buff to protect myself.


  7. You little beauty!

  8. Cian said:

    Oh yeah – the good olde bonus points for answering in Irish has been in place for yonks. You can get up to 10% extract depending on the subject and your result. One of my brothers went to an all-Irish school so he would have gotten these extras! I was a nuff in English (still am if the truth be told), so you’re one up on me. I was never language inclined.

    ‘too smart for my own good’ – I think that is a standard line for teachers in Ireland. If only I had a euro for every time I heard that…

    It reminds me (although not directly related) of one of my favourite/favorite “Irish Mother” sayings. Perhaps other mothers use it too.
    “If you fall off that wall and break your legs, don’t come running to me.”

  9. Cian said:

    10% extra – just proving that I am still crap in English

  10. Definitely looking forward to your next one. I’ll keep an eye out for it. 🙂

    If you must use the tie thing, at least make sure it’s an awful cartoon-print tie! 🙂

  11. deadlyjelly said:

    Cian – at least you’ve got the maths covered 😀

    Love your mother’s expression; mine used a variation, but she still thought one broken leg wouldn’t hamper progress. My mother’s favourite was, “you didn’t lick that up off the floor” and all these years later, I still have no idea what she was going on about.


  12. deadlyjelly said:

    Hi Steph – Husband is currently wading through About Time like it’s War and Peace (I can assure you that’s the only time I will ever compare a novel of mine to War and Peace). He tends to sulk when I poke him and ask where he’s at, but he did say About Time reads better than Smart Casual. So it’s nice to know I’m improving 😀


  13. Keren said:

    I say ‘pish posh’ to all this Mathematical talk and, as I am the only English teacher on this forum/blog/site, I say you get an A+++++! As you know, I am not afraid to give full marks for great work! I have to say that the punctuation in your book is FLAWLESS ;D
    I loved the review and thought it was spot on. Even the Jack Russel part, which I happen to love. It suits your sense of humour perfectly (now if it had been a feline rather than a canine simile, I’d have written ‘purrrrfectly’)!
    Well done, girl! You are truly the wackiest friend I have – and will ever have. Can’t wait to read the next book. xxx

  14. deadlyjelly said:

    Aw, thanks darlin! Although surely there has to be at least one person wackier than I am out there. It’s a big world 😀 Will call you soon for a chat; I think Husband can route me through his office, or one of the nearer planets, or something.


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