Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Attack of the Sequel

So. It's like this.

I have something like 70 writing hours left before my self-imposed deadline of the end of the month in which to finish the Frenchman's story. That's about 1.1 pages an hour. Every moment counts. I need to finish this story, and finish it to my own goals.

The geraniums and bacopa that should have gone into the hanging baskets a month ago are still growing leggy and limp on my windowsill. If a dinner takes longer than twenty minutes to cook, I ain't cookin' it. TV is out. Reading is minimal. Husband is long-suffering. Pippi thinks longingly of the days when Mummy brushed her fluffy coat once a week... Husband thinks longingly of the days when Wifey brushed-- *cough*. Never mind.

This being the case, can someone explain to me why I wrote the first two pages of a new story today? Hmmm?

Okay, so it's the story of one of the secondaries in the Frenchman's story - not so bad. It's set locally so I haven't got Realistic Setting Angst to deal with. It has (so far) a light an uncomplicated plot - the Holy Grail! But... it's not the book I'm supposed to be working on! Argh!

Actually, it's not so bad. It's a good sign. When I hit that last third of a book, the next idea usually elbows its way into the queue and starts tapping me on the shoulder. It means I'm about to accelerate into that mad rush of completion.

Bring it on.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Orange Kitkats

Orange Kitkats. Orange bloody Kitkats. HOW am I supposed to lose weight when some bright spark has decided to buy orange Kitkats for the work tuck shop? No, no, NO!

But they're so loooooooooovelyyyyyyyyyyyyy!


Feelin' the burn

I wrote last night. Not expecting to, not having planned to - the weekend was dedicated to Husband and to equal parts fun and housework. But I managed ten pages at the end of the day.

That, of itself, was an achievement, but it wasn't the best bit. No. The best bit was how it felt.

Because I was feeling what the characters were feeling. Emily, the heroine, was scared for her life and I was shaking. Tristan, the French hero, was bitterly angry* and my every muscle was tight with it. They were wildly angry, and I burned with it.

That's when I love writing. When the emotion is in me, and the words move through me. It's liberating, energising, even healing.

Of course, it can go too far. My heroine is missing the little finger on her right hand, which makes hitting the full stop and 'p' keys somewhat challenging in her POV...

*In one paragraph I managed to use "bitter" and similar words like bite, twist, sharp and bit about ten times. This will change, but at least I can be sure what he was feeling... *rolling eyes*

Sunday, June 26, 2005

I'm famous!

The rather nice farmer who's our neighbour popped round today. And somewhere in the midst of chatting about trees, hay making, roof repairs and septic tanks, he said, "so you're writing books?"

"Er, yes," I said, following up with the disclaimer that I wasn't published or anything. Then: "How on earth did you know that?"

Apparently one of his daughters had read an article about a writing group I belong to in a regional paper's glossy periodical. The article featured each of six members of the group in turn, with our photos, romantic inspirations, and what we're working on.

He stood there in his check shirt and cow-dunged wellies nodding and grinning while I explained about the writing group, and the workshop we're organising. "Arr," he said, and I braced myself for a teasing comment about writing 'fluff'. "So we're going to be living next to someone famous!" he said, obviously delighted with the notion.

Well, I'm working on it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Breakfast in garden. Nodding columbines the colour of custard and strawberry jam. Galleried lupins, stately and bright. More columbines like miniature powder puffs dipped in puce eyeshadow. Spreading hostas. Shamelessly scarlet lillies and the sage bushes in flower. Sweet-scented mint, cammomile underfoot and swallows dog-fighting for mosquitoes overhead.


I can't do a pretty description for this one. Let's just say it was hell. I was scowling a the computer so much my forehead aches...

But I wrote 7 pages.

That will do nicely.

Big Goal/Little Goal

Little Goal - to eat breakfast outside in the front garden surrounded by flowers and sunshine instead of inside at the computer surrounded by clutter and Things To Do.

Big Goal - to write five pages this evening after work.

I'll let you know how I do...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Random Holiday Musings #2

I made a mistake on holiday. Actually, I made the mistake long before.

I expected the holiday to magic away the funk I've been in for some time.


I do have a bad habit of refusing to own my own moods. I don't blame others for them (thank GOD), but I do wait for outside factors to 'make me feel better'.

The effect of this is that periodically I live my life in a level of breath-held suspension, waiting for some thing, some happening, to make it all better.

I'll feel better when we get a bit more sunshine. When I have a swim. When work calms down. When I've had a break...


But I am responsible for how I feel, and I'm responsible for a) learning to live with it and b) changing it.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Turn your back for a second...

Lunch? What lunch? Whose lunch? Your lunch?

*Pause, licking lips*

Well, you should have put the lid on properly, then.

Lunch Thief Posted by Hello

Random Holiday Musings #1 (and a whine)

I should be at work right now. Instead I'm off sick, due to a tag-team combination of headache and stomach ache. Earth has no irony to show so evil as drifting to full consciousness at 3am to realise the headache has gone, lying there in painless bliss for a few moments, then feeling your stomach ache stir to life.


Husband announced on holiday that my lack of publishing success is due to my refusal to use the phrase, "man-custard" in my love scenes. If I used the phrase, "man-custard" he averred, I would now be published, and wildly successful.

Furthermore, he decided that when I do finally give in and use the phrase, "man-custard" in a love scene, he would like to buy a house in Walberswick and a beach hut in Southwold on the ensuing profits, and cross between them on the Walberswick Ferry.

Since the beach huts alone go for £40,000, that's pinning a lot of hope on the phrase, "man-custard".

I'm hoping my using it repeatedly in my blog will satisfy him for now.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I'm baaaa-aaaaack!

I'm gathering together some random holiday musings, probably for posting tomorrow. In the mean time I wanted to say hi to Seo, Ozami and LG - thanks for visiting!

Speak to you soon...

Saturday, June 04, 2005

And so farewell

But not for long.

I'm off on holiday for a couple of weeks, so it'll be quiet here for a while.

I've just updated my links list, so while away your time visiting some other friends...

Last but not least...

And this is Minnie.

I lost one beloved cat earlier this year, nearly lost another soon after, and I'm still achey over the loss of Geri the Ginger Tom... last year? Year before?

So there's something in me that gets really nervous when I bring up the subject of Minnie. When I say, "she's really cute, I adore her," I feel like I ought to whisper, in case some vengeful power overhears and whisks her away.

So between you and me... she's gorgeous. A joy. An indiscriminate purrer, a confirmed player, an occasional licker and a champion wriggler. She's bright, inquisitive, energetic and pure fun. She loves to be stroked, but hates to be picked up.

Just don't tell anyone, okay?

We've been so lucky in our cats - every one unique and completely adorable in their own ways.

Sleepy kitty Posted by Hello

Friday, June 03, 2005

You twisted my arm...

So, Kate wants to know more about Caerlaverock. How can I refuse?

It was the residence of the Maxwell's, a power on the Scottish border for a looong time. Originally they built another castle nearer the shore in the 1220s, but made the slightly obvious mistake of building it on a marsh. Anyone else getting Monty Python Holy Grail moments? HUGE tracts of land...

It was noisome, too close to the docks, and ultimately too small. In the 1270s, the 'new' Castle was built a few hundred yards away. It's a moated castle, and triangular, and even on the larger site it's quite crammed - no open bailey inside.

In the Wars of Independence it looks like the Maxwells flipped a coin each month to decide whether to fight on the Scottish or English sides. They swore allegiance to Edward I (Hip-hip-HUZZAH!) but soon changed sides again, and 1300 found the castle under seige. It didn't last long - after some work with trebuchets (there's a fab replica at the castle today) they surrendered little more than a day later.

They lost John, the fourth lord, and three of his brothers at Flodden in 1513, but the family continued, the fifth lord becoming Regent of Scotland when James V was away. The held to the Catholic faith through the sixteenth century, building a wonderful tudor palace within the walls of the castle. They dabbled with intrigue and invasion, but in 1640 they surrounded the castle to the Covenanters, who dismantled it to make it indefensible.

And yes, Biddy. We can go visit.

The Nithsdale Lodging Posted by Hello

A triangular moated castle Posted by Hello

Favourite Places

Do I actually need to add anything to this?

Ask in comments if you want to know more about this gorgeous Border castle...

Caerlaverock Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Secret Love

I have a shameful guilty secret.

I've been having an illicit love affair since I was about fourteen. Probably the seeds were sown much earlier, when I was wrapped in an embrace that was beguiling and strong.

All loves that have followed owe so much to this relationship. I'm ashamed to say that as much as I love my husband, my family, my cats and my writing, this passion came first, and I continue to visit my lover every day.

My lover is breathtakingly beautiful, but it's what I know about him that binds me so close. My lover is old, but fails and regenerates constantly. My lover is languid and thoughtful, angry and vital, peaceful and charming. My lover knows - and has seen - so much.

There is no lover in the world so wonderful as mine.

I'm in love with the English Landscape.

From Montgomery Castle Posted by Hello

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Small is beautiful

Wednesday's picture...I have two postage-stamp sized front gardens that we created from a rubble and gravel pull-in for a car. And I do mean postage-stamp - they're about ten feet by fifteen - that lawn is about big enough to sit cross-legged in.

What the previous owners were thinking, creating that space, I don't know - it wasn't even big enough to fit a whole car in it, and to make it they demolished a lovely old half-height sandstone wall.

Which we then had to dig out of the ground in pieces. It's the first time I've ever dug a garden with a crowbar. Then we threw bag after bag of well-rotted farmyard manure at the impoverished ground and went mad with the planting. Believe it or not, this garden plays home to fifteen different herbs, six climbing plants, six different aquilegias, three types of crocosmia, rosa 'maiden's blush', lupins, allium, delphiniums, hostas and rudbekia. And more.

Planting distance rules are for wimps.

The picture here is of one of the gardens - the other one is still knee-high in weeds and debris. That's my project for later this year. I'll be going for a cobble circle, larger than the lawn in this picture, with blue irises growing through it, and a yellow rose climbing an obelisk in the centre. Slate paths around the cobble circle, and small borders in blues, yellows, and some whites will be a rather more ordered reflection of the other garden's eclectic, crammed, cottage garden style planting.

This is only the second summer for this first garden.

In an English Country... Ga..aa...rden Posted by Hello