Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Insert Foot (a) into Mouth (b)

Today, I'm in the staff room and someone mentions the naked rambler.

"Oh, I knew a naked rambler once," I say, blithely. "He got erected for indecent exposure."

You know those moments when you look out over the words that have just escaped from your mouth and desperately wish you could reel them back in?

I will NEVER live it down...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Desk Buddy

This is what I see when I look up from my desk - that's Minnie keeping my in trays warm... I also see that the calendar is set to August. Which is when I stopped counting the year and started running to catch up.

It's nice to look up and see a smiley sleepy face. What do you see when you look up from your desk?

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Sunday, November 27, 2005


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Finally I get close enough to the terrible twosome to get some pictures! And it took Chrissy (the ginger and white) being a sicky kitty for me to achieve it. She's got the sniffles, and will be seeing the vet tomorrow. Cleo, the dark tortie, is already a lot less shy and nervous, and is showing a marked tendency to seek out laps and otherwise unoccupied hands...

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Having said that they're not very good pictures. I have to stand at least six feet away and stretch out the camera towards them - any closer and they bolt for behind the sofa!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

One more for the road

Look, I know this gets boring after a while, but it's not *my* fault all my dearest friends are selling books!

This time it's Emma's turn. And I'm tickled pink for her.

(Just never get between her and a GMC problem)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And again...

Blimey, I do so love celebrating friends' sales, and I never expect to do this much of it!

Go see Dee and congratulate her.

I can't say much, or I'll start snivelling again, but Dee is the reason I ever sat down and tried to write a romance.

I owe her a lot, and love her dearly.

Monster Post

I've been taking notes for this blog all over the place for days, but lacking the computer time to type 'em on in. Hold onto your horses, folks, this is gonna be a long 'un.


Some Equations

Freezing fog + over 100 miles of exposed roads = Driving-Induced Whimpering

Slick shoes + black ice = Car Park Ballet

Bursting up out of the fog into a world of bright, uninhibited sunshine, icy blue skies and white-frosted moorland + momentary on-road solitude = Tearful Awe

Sub-zero temperatures + no gloves = Blue Fingers

Hazelnut capuccino + Youth Policy lecture = Perfection


People Watching

There are things I'm enjoying about being a student (however part-time) and things I'm not enjoying so much. I'm not enjoying the eternal search for a parking place, or for somewhere safe, warm, quiet, cheap and good to eat, for example.

One of the things I am enjoying, though, is observing a much wider pool of people.

Whether it's the historian with her Laura Ashley-esque wardrobe, elfin build and kick-ass big, clunky buckled boots, the metalhead mathemetician with his over-long sideburns, neatly pony-tailed dark hair and his habit of slowly rolling up the sleeves of his pullover to reveal wholly fascinating forearms. The bulky US lad who's gone for the 'hairy' motif, and whose exagerated air of casual ennui I suspect hides an equally exagerated intellect. The soft spoken beautiful girl who takes great care with her appearance, but who, I have only just realised, doesn't think of herself as beautiful at all.

There is so much to draw on, it's frankly intoxicating.

And they keep catching me staring...


Fantasy and Reality

Written Monday afternoon

Writers deal with worlds.

The world we write in, the world we live in, shop in, earn a wage in, mop up after.

And then we talk about the 'real world'. For some, it's the place we go into when the alarm goes off at ugh-o'clock on a Monday morning. For others, nothing is more real than the screaming toddler, and the schoolkid terrified of the school yard because they have the wrong sort of coat.

I know I talk about having work to do in the real world. I know I want the social research lecturer to explain practices and theories in terms of their application to the real world.

I can live with my impatience with academia that doesn't try and apply its learning to improve the fractured world we live in - I can be proud of that practical passion.

But it saddens me that, to me, the day job is 'real' and the writing is not.

One pays, one doesn't. That's at the heart of the problem, I'm sure. Writing is becoming more and more of a luxury. Something I can justify when there are no other 'real world' demands on my time. And you can guess how often that is.

There are exceptional circumstances, of course. This is likely to be the busiest term I will ever experience while studying for this MA (I should be writing a presentation right now). This is (I hope) the most stressful time I will ever experience at work. The house is being redecorated. It's the run up to Christmas.

I can look at those factors and say, stop beating yourself up. I can say, things will change.

But one of the few certainties of this life is that there are always exceptional circumstances. Those who wait for them to go away, wait for ever.

And because I have no intention of waiting forever for my writing to have the chance to become 'more real', I'm going to find somewhere to eat this evening after lectures and write a revisions plan for the MS that recently received so many outrageous compliments.

I want my fantasy to become real. And all the dull, grinding necessities of life to recede - just a little, just enough to be healthy - into mere flights of fancy.


Wrote the revisions plan. It's good, too.


Kitten Tails

Yes, we have new kitties!

I swear to you, as soon as Chrissie and Cleo(catra) emerge from behind the sofa, or as soon as I think I can take a photo without scaring them back into hiding for two days, I will take pictures and post them.

Cleo and Chrissie (for thus are their names) are the most shy and nervous kittens I have ever encountered. At least, I could say that if their arrival hadn't turned Minnie Kitty into the third most shy and nervous kitten I have ever encountered.

Pippi, however, is insouciant (sp?). Oh?, she seems to say, hesitating with one paw halfway to her mouth. New kittens? How sweet. Although having said that, Pippi did nest in my hair on the pillow last night, purring and kneading. I guess she needed a little you-do-still-adore-me-don't-you reassurance.

We do.

Back to the CleoChrissie (like Democracy, only CleoChrissie actually exists). I love watching how they interact. At one moment it seems Cleo follows Chrissie's lead, tentatively poking her head out only when Chrissie has darted out from hiding. The next second, Chrissie's under the coffee table and Cleo's trying to perforate my knee (first contact! Yay!).

Husband, I can tell, is very slightly disappointed he's not peeling rumbunctious kittens off various parts of his anatomy. But there is something in me that loves providing a home for kittens who really need the love we are damned fantastic at giving.

I know all about being the last one picked for the team. The CleoChrissie were still at the rescue centre at twenty weeks old because every time someone came round to choose a kitten, they hid behind the sofa. I've done enough metaphorical hiding behind the sofa in life to know that there's a lot more to be found back there than just dust and toenail clippings.

When they want to come out, we'll be waiting.

With a camera.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Parting Shot

Husband, being the perfect specimen of a married male, suggested we spend his surprise three days off visiting my parents. *Happy Sigh* What a man.

In the meantime, I suggest you visit Kate Walker's blog and read all about my favourite Harlequin Presents book, CONSTANTINE'S REVENGE. Go search for it on Amazon and get a load of the cover... the hands my dear, the hands....

There's just something about Constantine.

Oh yes, there's something about Constantine.

In fact, I'm not completely sure I'm willing to share....


PS - it's just possible we might come back from our visit with a furry addition to the household. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

When friends makes sales....

Go here

Go see. Go congratulate.

Life is good.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A time for every purpose...

It strikes me that there is a time to be modest, and a time to be utterly, unredeemably, unashamedly boastful.

So today I'm going to boast. Settle down and pay attention: this doesn't happen very often.

A little background... I'm a member of the glorious, wonderful, fabulous Romance Novelists Association. I'm a member under what they call the New Writers Scheme, which is membership for unpublished writers, who have a chance to submit a MS every year and receive a detailed critique from a published author.

With me so far?


Now, if an NWS MS is deemed of publishable quality, it gets a second read. If the second reader agrees, then the writer is given a chance to polish it up, and then the RNA submit it to an appropriate publisher or agent on their behalf. A second read is a real achievement, rather like finalling in a contest. Only a few MS get a second read each year.

My MS got a second read. The second reader loved it too.

I'm going to polish it up and they're going to submit it for me.

Life is good.


It certainly passed the wanting-to-turn-the-page test. The plot, too is exciting and you are good at both the thrill of the chase across the desert as well as the sex scenes, which are erotic without being prurient.

I'm sure that you have plenty of natural talent but your typescript also shows evidence of understanding of plot, how to keep up tension and so on.

There are a number of things that I want to look at - I have every faith that you can deal with them.

... this is a page-turner and extremely readable. It has an exciting plot, well-drawn characters and a vivid setting.

Their relationship sizzles and it is at the heart of the book.

I thought you showed the emotional tension and the developing relationship beautifully and very much in the style that the publisher is looking for.

Overall I would say that this is the sort of book you don't want to put down.

See - I said I was going to be boastful! There are, of course, things to work on. But nothing I can't do. And THAT, my friends, feels wonderful.

I will be thanking my readers appropriately, but in case they're reading this - THANK YOU! I've been in a very bad place writing-wise, for too long. I can't begin to tell you how welcome, and how desperately needed, this sort of boost is.

There. Boast over. Now I'll go off and be embarassed...

Under the Howgills

(Written 11/11/05, 9am)

It hasn't been an easy week. Pressures from different directions, car woes, decorating, work stress.

With all these impacts I didn't expect to feel as joyful as I do right now. I'm sitting beside our Chief Exec as we drive to a meeting. The wind is blowing like a malevolent spirit - we've already passed one overturned lorry. The little red Italian car shivers and skips in the crosswind, but the motorway flies by smoothly, at speed.

Counting Crows is on the stereo. We're driving through the Howgills, broad, rounded moutains, secretive and largely ignored. They're verdant green, marbled with bracken-bands of gold, and grey stone lines of possession. Hundreds of people pass these hills every day, rushing by on the curve of the motorway. But hardly any of those drivers and passengers know their name.

We've claimed these hills a thousand times over, bound them in stone walls, trampled them under our feet and under those of our beasts. But they still own themselves, and they're still beautiful.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I don't believe it.

I go outside this morning and there's fuel all over the road - the Renault's fuel line has been cut. Then I try to get to work and get a flat tyre in the Micra. And I do mean flat.

So that's three breakdowns in less than 24 hours. One with criminal activity.

I'm going back to bed and I may be some time.

From Awesome to Boresome

I think I'll do the short version of this one:-

Driving through the Sainsbury's car park in Durham at around 7pm the Renault's rear right shock absorber snapped. I and the car had to be recovered back home, and got back at 11pm, having last eaten at noon.

I had a room booked in Durham, and today I should have been in the University Library by seven, and have a lecture this afternoon. So, scratch one MA day and gain one work day. *rolling eyes* How the world turns....

On the plus side a) I didn't have to drive home in the torrential rain and gale force winds and b) the tow truck driver was a marshall at Crofts motorsport circuit, so we got to talk British Touring Car Championship etc.

So it's not all bad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

The wanderer returns


Yes, we're back. Well, we got back yesterday, actually, but we're still clearing up the house after the builders. The wonderful parents baby-sat our house and cats for us, and we got to spend the afternoon with them yesterday, too.

Ah, what can I say about the Northumberland Coast? Wild, remote, bright and grey by equal turns. It rained, of course, but with excellent timing - usually just after we stepped inside.

We had a wonderful time. I read an Alistair Maclean (Bear Island), a Colin Dexter (The Wench is Dead) and two Harry Potters (a first for me - and I'm not sure I *like* them, but I dont' seem to be able to put them down... odd). Husband ploughed his way through several Simon Scarrows. We played black twos (card game), one deadly serious and highly bankrupt game of monopoly, and several other games my natural modesty and reticence forbids me to discuss in public forum....

We also *may* have played around like children on the beach. There is a vicious rumour that Husband wrestled me to the sand when I dared to push him, and certainly on several occasions we returned to our cottage soaked to the knees. Considering it's November, and damn cold, this is true dedication to the cause of horseplay.

It wasn't our fault, y'r honour. There was this post, see, and the tide was coming in in big breakers, and you had to see if you could run out between waves, see, and touch the post for the count of three without getting wet and.... Well, never mind.

Personally, I think messing around on beaches (minds out of the gutter, please) ranks right up there with messing around on boats. Perfect.

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