Tuesday, January 30, 2007

How Green is My Valley

Because it's a long time till Spring, and sometimes you need to remember how green the world can get...

This is Borrowdale, a valley about ten miles from where I live. Childhood holidays were spent here, and it is, in my mind and my heart, quite simply the most beautiful, tranquil, loved and living landscape in the world.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just hold still...

...while I clean behind your ears.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Reasons to be Sqeeful

I received a sneak peak at my evolving website today.

Oh, wow. I wish I could show you.... but I won't till it's all ready, and that could take some time, seeing as I haven't started writing the content yet! Eeeek!

I've also been buying books - I haven't read romance for a few months, been on a Terry Pratchett binge, but I've been collecting recently. I bought Michelle's latest, A Noble Captive the three Brides books from Kate Walker, Anne McAllister and Liz Fieldings's contest (details here) and Julie Cohen's Driving Him Wild. There was a Kate Hardy title there that I badly wanted to buy, too, but it was set in a maternity ward, and, frankly, I'm just not that strong. Weepie romance, yes. Maternity wards, yes. Both, um, no.

Actually, I think I'll go back and get it, because I can always read it... after, one way or another, can't I?

Don't you just love buying friends' books? I do. Makes me feel all warm and sqeeful.

Anyway, I want to have a stack of titles for when I finish with the Discworld oevre, and I fancy being romanced again.

Do you find what you want to read goes in phases?

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I’m female, so I’m a multi-tasker. This manifests itself in a variety of ways – reading on the loo, writing in the car (via Dictaphone), plotting while praising husband on his annihilation of the Mongols in Medieval Total War II, taking the bean goulash off the stove with the left hand, taking a serving spoon out the drawer with the right hand and closing the vegetable drawer with the right foot at the same time – I’m definitely a multi-tasker.

This is a very, very good thing.

Because currently, without my trying very hard to do it, I seem to have ended up working on four books at once. Proofing Run Among Thorns, finishing Taken, revising a partial of Dangerous Lies and mentally plotting WIP #6. Which I shouldn’t be doing, because Danger: Deep Water hasn’t been plotted yet, and that’s nominally WIP #5.

Sometimes, only a WTF? will do.

Are you a one-at-a-time kind of person, or is it the more the merrier for you?

Monday, January 22, 2007


Durham is lovely, you know.

I mean, really lovely.

The weather was kind: a little snow on the drive over and back, a little rain while we ate delicious Italian food in the conservatory next to the 15th century bridge. In the darkness, the black river turned into watered silk as the raindrops struck it. It whispered on the glass overhead, and rustles the stately beeches on the steep riverbanks.

The next morning the sun shone. Brightly, strongly, adamantly, hurting the eyes. We walked along the river, passed by ducks and by University rowers, watched by jays and little bobbing yellow wagtails.

We talked, we rested, we relaxed.

I plotted a book.


One last thing to say, to the couple in room 16. Whilst we appreciated your sense of rhythm, and were frankly in awe of your stamina, if you are going to engage in an intimate activity on a squeaky bed that involves the headboard repeatedly striking the wall, could you have chosen a more appropriate time than 4.30am? We were going to give you a round of applause at the, er, audible climax of your activity, but, on discussion, thought that it might have spoilt your afterglow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Away Day (well, two)

Husband and I are having a night away from home... the night they're saying it'll snow.

And we're doing it in our second-best car, the one affectionately known as the Noddy Car.

This could be fun...

Back Monday.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I don't want to talk about it...

... about, well, about the interior light not going off in my car, until I'd figured out what was stopping it. About the rain and the wind, and the fuel warning light coming on halfway up a mountain pass while the water was gushing out of the ground, and the road was slick with sleet. About the two closed petrol stations. About the over-long meeting on Thursday night, about stuffing envelopes with 500 seperate items because admin were too busy, about my phone breaking, my temper breaking, about my car braking not quite working.

I don't want to talk about my windscreen wipers ceasing to work four miles south of Penrith on the M6, in the rain, in the gales, at approximately 10:45pm last night. I don't want to talk about lying on the floor of my car, with my head upside-down under the steering wheel fiddling about with fuses. I don't want to talk about having to spend too much money on a Travelodge room, or losing money in the vending machine so I could eat chocolate for dinner at midnight. We will draw a veil over my locking myself out of my room while I fetched said chocolate.

I'm not going to discuss the intermittent sleep or the clicking radiator in the room.

I could probably talk about the overwork today, but not about the walking miles to and from meetings because I didn't have transport. Or the garages that were unable to fix my windscreen wipers.

Or the constant, burning, urge to SCREAM.

I am happy to praise the nice tow-truck driver who got me, and my car, home tonight.

I'm happy to talk about the hot bath I'm about to have, or the glass of port I just HAVE had. Tomorrow we can talk about my brother being here to stay, and our friend John visiting tomorrow so the boys can play war games.

But right now, mostly, I don't want to talk about it...

(And hey, was that a drive-by Waxing?)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Best Laid Plans...

I'm sitting here, eating my warm porridge (not too appetising, but does me a lot of good!) trying to think of something blog-worthy to post.

Anyone striking the outside of my cranium this morning would hear a booming echo...

As I drove home late last night, my head was seething with writerly-thoughts. What to do to DANGEROUS LIES to improve the partial. When I think I could set up RUN AMONG THORNS in house style and get it to Medallion. If, by some amazing chance, the Other Publisher requests TAKEN, how soon could I finish the full MS?

(The answer to that one, I suspect, is end of March earliest. My diary is chronically overbooked with evening meetings in Feb. In order to preserve health and sanity, I'm going to need to accept I can do very little writing in that blessedly short month)

Then, as I drove past Threlkeld and the rain lashed down so hard it was reflecting my headlights like mist, I started wondering what I would write next.

It was nice wondering what I'd write next. I rather enjoyed it.

I suspect I'll do Gareth's story next. That's DANGER, DEEP WATER. Research is going to have to involve a yacht trip...

By next, of course, I probably mean 'in summer'. Oh, the writing year gallops on apace.

Do you have long term plans as well as short term goals? How do you keep track of them?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Monday Review 2

Not as good a week last week, but not bad, either. I'm deleting things from the top of the To Do List once they've been reported done, adding as things crop up, and modifying things that need it...

5) Complete website design brief (requested by designer) DONE - just as they e-mailed me to ask if I'd done it!
6) Assemble partial of DANGEROUS LIES (yuh-huh. This is the option book) - I'm two-thirds of the way through edits.
7) Write DANGEROUS LIES synopsis
8) Fill out my RWA PAN application
9) Start writing my web content
10) Finish TAKEN
11) Do MCWIFE (Now officially titled RUN AMONG THORNS, hooray!) edits (this one needs to move down the list - not due till after Sept 07)

It's not a bad list, but the list of meetings and actions in my diary IS a bad list. I'll be lucky to get (6) done this week, but we'll see.

Have a good week!

Saturday, January 13, 2007


It's still windy, when I'd much rather have cold, clean, crisp frosts like these:

The wind's not such a bother, because Mum and Dad are visiting. We had a fun but tiring day pottering round shops, and now Husband's playing on the computer, Dad's dozing in the living room (or possibly reading What DVD magazine...) and Mum's snoring can be heard through the wall from the spare room...

She'll very likely kill me for that. She reads this blog. Mum - I am a dutiful and loving daughter, but the fact remains that you snore like a bandsaw. ;-)

It's Dad's famous Christmas Balti tonight. Heaven's Be Praised! I'm hoping he's laid off the chilli - if not, someone will say, "it's a bit hot," and Dad, puzzled, will remark, "but I hardly put any chilli in at all..." Close examination will reveal the chilli content to be near the "cleans out sinuses" level.

A neighbour of ours (who carries on an intense and unrequited platonic love-affair with our cats) gave me one piece of advice when she heard Dad was terminally ill. "Don't pass up any moment to spend time with him."

She's right, and I'm not.

It's too much fun being with Mum and Dad, anyway, especially now we've added dark humour to the mix. I'd never have believed we could cry with laughter over things like trying to determine exactly what type of chemistry set it tastes like Dad's eaten, when he takes his chemo tablets.

He reckons its the cheap and nasty one, for beginner kids.


Friday, January 12, 2007


The wind's howling again.

And last night it didn't just howl. It shouted, it roared. The trees didn't rustle, they thundered. The windows didn't rattle, they impersonated machine-gun fire.

Each gust bore down on the house like a distant train rushing closer. For the really big gusts, you held your breath and it raged down the valley, and gasped when it savaged the trees opposite our house.

The house breathed. Flexing its floors like ribs, gusting its cool, slightly fusty breath through open rooms and around closed doors.

At one point I whimpered to Husband, "I'm scared."

After a few minutes, he lifted the cover on his side of the bed, raised an arm and invited me across for a cuddle. "C'mon then..."

A pause. "Nah. I'm comfy."

Cue much muttering and grumbling from Husband's side of the bed. He should know by now that to speak my fear is to halve it... ;-)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


First great writing achievement of 2007? Posted my partial of TAKEN today. Embarassingly, that has to be my world record shortest time between request and post... only five weeks.

Actually, that's really rather good, taking into account Christmas!

Had one last minute panic, trying to pin down some research details. I've been trying to get this info for months, without success - how can a passenger induce an emergency stop and exit the train on a French TGV service?

Then the wonderful, knowledgeable and deliciously-voiced Carl from EuroRail came to my aid. He not only know all the facts I needed (and looked up those facts he wasn't sure of) but showed a remarkable grasp of the inherent nature of my heroes when we came up against a problem.

"Well," he said, "if he gives the door a couple of good, hard kicks, it'll open anyway."

This will be my second good, hard kick in this particular publishing direction. Let's see if the door opens, eh?

UPDATE:- With ironic timing only achievable in real life (because if you wrote it in fiction it'd be called unrealistic) my courtesy e-mail to let them know I'd posted the requested material came back with a note that the requesting person had now left the company. *sigh* Methinks the door just swung back and severely bruised my foot. It may, however, not yet be locked...

Monday, January 08, 2007

Five Crazy Things About Me

Beth tagged me with this one, but it's haaaaaaaaard! *whine*

But because I'm always up for a challenge, I thought I'd make all mine tree-related. Because.

1. I once had a panic attack in a tree. I was rescued by a rather gorgeous chainsaw instructor. Did I say rather? I meant, "very".

2. I once lay in a tent huddled together with two other girls, listening to an elephant eat a tree not twenty feet from where we were camping.

3. I have eaten my lunch seated among the roots of a 3,000 year old yew tree. It graciously sheltered me from the wind and rain.

4. My Dad brought me fossilised tree remains back from the Sahara desert.

5. I was once hit on the head by a falling birch tree. Even better, I had PULLED OVER the birch tree that hit me on the head. Although it was a sizeable little tree, it was rotten through, so was light as a feather. Unfortunately for the aforementioned gorgeous chainsaw instructor, who leaped up the bank in a single (and very heroic) bound, this was not apparent until AFTER it hit me on the head. I think he aged that day. But he was still gorgeous.

Monday Review

Well, last week wasn't so bad...

Looking at the Panic To Do I posted on Dec 29th:-

1) Write author bio (requested by editor) DONE
2) Fill out Cover Art Sheet (likewise requeste by editor) DONE
3) Edit first three chapters, or however much I can work, of TAKEN (you guessed it, requested by A N Other-Editor) DONE This one ended up at 115 pages, which I'm pleased with.
4) Write TAKEN synopsis (see above) DONE Well, a first draft anyway. I'll polish it up Tues.
5) Complete website design brief (requested by designer)
6) Assemble partial of DANGEROUS LIES (yuh-huh. This is the option book)
7) Write DANGEROUS LIES synopsis
8) Do MCWIFE edits (not sure when these are coming)

This week I need to do a last read-through of that partial, polish the syn, write a covering letter and send the lot off. If I get on to the website design brief, that's bonus. Mind you, it's going to be a busy week, with three late nights and family coming to stay at the weekend. But the spare room is made up and ready, and I'll take Friday off in lieu of those late nights, so... it's all doable, right?

I do need to make sure I re-do the progress meters in the sidebar as they don't relate to what I'm up to at the moment.

Right. *cracks knuckles* Onward.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

View from the.... well, me, actually

When I'm at my computer desk, if I look down, this is what I see.

It's nice and warm, but it's murder when you want to type.

(The reason Pippi's eyes are odd is that she was hit by a car and her right eye was damaged. Our vet managed to source some medication for humans which meant she didn't have to lose the eye, but the retina was detached, so she can't see out of that one. She also had to have her crushed paws reconstructed, a toe amputated, and her broken jaw temporarily wired. This is the reason that a) we think our vet is a Bearded God and b) Pippi gets away with absolute murder)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

They're all grown up, I swear...

This is what Husband and his friend, John, got up to last weekend.

They are both in their thirties.

*shaking my head*

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Reviewing Resolutions

Last year, about this time, I said:

As someone who leans towards the emotional, anxious, thinks-too-much character type, the introspection of New Year's eve can be a tricky time. The perennial resolutions of lose weight, get published and get pregnant weigh heavily (A-ha. Ha. Ha.) on the mind, a kind of leaden Holy Grail.

I'd just like to take a moment to shake my fist at my pessmistic self and say, "I lost two stone and sold my first book, f***wit!!!"

I also made some Frivolous resolutions last year, that I'd like to review...

1) I resolve that in 2006 chocolate eating shall be a transcendental experience, not simply a desperate search for sustenance and seratonin. Chocolate will be savoured, gloried in, and celebrated. I resolve to eat more high-quality confectionary, and less junk chocolate. Dark chocolate, cherries and kirsch may well feature strongly in the enacting of this resolution.

Yes, achieved good and solidly. I have certainly suckled at the teat of the Great God Chocolate.

2) Next Year I shall wear Red Shoes as often as possible. Since I have today bought two pairs of red shoes, and my sister in law gave me a very grown-up and very gorgeous red hand-bag for Christmas, I think this one's going to be a doddle.

Yes, I was right. It was a doddle. Could do with some red boots, though...

3) I shall have much more sex in 2006 than I had in 2005. Since I am by nature and choice both faithful AND frivolous, all this fabulous sex will be with Husband. How virtuous is that? I'm going to have it slow, fast, easy and hard, long and langurous, down and dirty, and as often as possible. I also resolve to laugh during sex much more. If only to watch Husband go crosseyed.

If I enlarge on this one, Husband will kill me. I'll just nod, smile and wink a lot.

4) There will be at least one bath-and-book-and-glass-of-wine event a month in 2006. In celebration of the new bath installation, this resolution may well combine with 3) on occasion. Let the good times roll.

Sigh. I slipped up on this one. I think I only did the cadles-wine-bath thing twice. Must Do Better!

5) I will walk barefoot in the rain at least once in 2006, and will make time to swim in the River Derwent in warm weather. I deserve it.

Oh Pffft. Easy. Barefoot in the rain twice, and swimming... well I actually lost count. Somewhere around half a dozen times. We had a good summer!

I'd like to keep those frivolous resolutions, and add a further one to them:-

6) I shall sing at the top of my voice at least once a week. Probably in the car.

There. That looks about right. What about you?

Monday, January 01, 2007

I'm learning so fast at the moment. Today I've been working on that cover art sheet. And a new philosophy of time spending. You see, I think the amount of time you spending on non-writing writing-related work breaks down into 5 classifications.

I've explored them for cover art sheets, but they could apply to many tasks...

Yes, we all know you'd rather be writing the latest sex scene (oh yeah... oh baby). Hell, you'd rather count commas or check how many times the word, "but" appears in your MS. But, "somewhere in England," is not a suitable location detail. Nor is tall dark and handsome a usable description. Particularly when it's in the 'heroine' box.

So you've answered all the questions, but you've still spelled rugged with three gees, and inserted a picture of your last car accident, instead of a tropical beach scene. Could Do Better.

This is the professional ideal. Just enough time, but not too much. A few pictures, some good scene suggestions for cover inspiration. But not a character family tree, or an explanation of how the villain comes to have the Hapsburg jaw. Juuuuuuuust right.

Apple for Teacher
You tell yourself a little more tweaking of description in the scene suggestions would be good. Maybe a few more urls. Five photos of the house will surely give a better impression than just one, right? Before you know it you're serving buttermilk scones on paper doillies, and then there's no help for you.

Give it up already. No one wants to know how many nose hairs your hero has. Or what's your heroine's favourite flower. Unless she uses it to beat the villain to death, that is. When they asked for a key landscape, they did not need to know a complete geomorphology! Step away from the computer. Now.

No prizes for guessing which classification I fell under today, folks.