Friday, August 31, 2007
Listening to: Sandy Denny (am in the mood for melancholy music)
Reading: Nicola Cornick, Deceived plus a pile of nonfiction
Yesterday was a bit of an odd day. Worked a bit, then my ed rang to talk through revisions to the latest Med; nice to have a chat with her. Floated an idea past her and apparently we’re going to discuss it in London next month. I was working on my George Borrow chapter at the time so I told her some of the interesting snippets (this isn’t a muckraking book – more a celebration of our county’s motto, ‘do different’).
Then did an interview for Mills & Boon’s involvement in Breast Cancer Awareness month, wrote more begging letters for pics (well, not so much pics – I want to visit a certain museum and take my own pic of Sarah Glover’s glass harmonicon), sorted out the children’s plimsolls for next week and a new lunchbox for Madam, picked up my train ticket for London next month… oh, and went to my neighbour’s Virgin Vie party. (Madam didn’t suss this or she’d have been Limpet Girl… She will however be getting a half-share in my purchases.) Also had nice post: French copy of The Italian GP’s Bride.
Today: definitely town, to finalise school bits and pick up a laundry pen (I loathe sewing in name tags), and (oh PLEASE let us have a blue sky for once) maybe take some pics. If it’s nice I can talk Madam into the riverside walk as there will be swans. We have a swan register in the local record office – very interesting – swans can be told apart by the markings on their bills.
Also need to go to local library and pick up my research books.
And this is officially the last day of my holiday – I’m back to work tomorrow. I have revisions on a book, a project management job, and some notes to write up on my nonfiction. (Once I have the first draft written up I can go to the library to fill in the gaps, via the newspaper archive and some reference library stock.)
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Listening to: Sor, 25 progressive guitar pieces (some of which I can actually play, to my delight)
Reading: Nicola Cornick, Deceived - plus a pile of nonfiction
Yesterday was a dodo day. I’d woken up in the night, feeling bleugh… and then slept through my alarm. Eventually staggered downstairs after a shower and there was a note from the postie: couldn’t deliver a parcel. (In other words, son had ignored doorbell. Sigh.) So just about all we did yesterday was pick up the parcel (work – another PM job) and do the weekly shop. And I had a long chat with my proofreader. And lovely Sainsbury's had a 2GB flash drive at a decent price (my old flash drive, um, isn't up to the size of photos from my new camera, and I need a backup of my pics for the book.)
Today we need to go into town as I need to get my train ticket for London – was going to stay the whole weekend but my best friend sensibly reminded me there’s often engineering work on a Sunday. And as I get travel sick on buses, I’d prefer to avoid them. Sadly, there is indeed a connecting bus service on the Sunday, so I’m coming home on Saturday after all. But as I’ll have a screaming deadline at that point it’s probably a good thing.
Also need to get Madam a new lunchbox and check son’s PE kit and both children’s plimsolls. And go to the post office. And probably the library. And please let the sky clear up so I can take shots of the guildhall and persuade the kids to do the riverside walk…
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Listening to: Nick Saunders, Resonance
Reading: Nicola Cornick, Deceived
Scary to think that the kids are back at school, a week today. Which means I need to ease them back into school routines, this week. (Easier said than done. Madam had a hissy fit last night and wouldn’t go to bed. Consequently she’ll be tired and grumpy this morning… and she’s just invaded our bed, which is how come I’m awake now. She hogged all the space until her dad sent her back to her own bed – and then she had the light on to read, which meant I couldn’t sleep. When she fell asleep, I turned her light off; but now I’m wide awake. Gee, thanks. Guess I’ll be on coffee all day.)
Yesterday, went to Houghton Hall – built by Sir Robert Walpole, the first English Prime Minister. (His nephew Horace was the Gothic novelist who wrote 'The Castle of Otranto’.) The house was interesting inside – and they had a lovely guide for children so they could see different things, and Madam amused several people by reading her guide out loud (and very good she was, too).
But what really interested me is that one of the subjects of my book – Walpole’s grandson, the Third Earl – doesn’t appear to have any portraits there. OK, he sold the paintings to Catherine the Great (to pay off his father’s and grandfather’s debts) and removed the stone steps from the east front, and was a bit of, um, a character… But I was expecting at least a portrait. Or a memorial in the church where he’s buried. His bed is in the house (the one given by his godparents, George II and Queen Caroline) but no portraits. Hmm. (Bang went my idea of asking to take a photograph, which isn’t allowed inside the house anyway.)
The gardens were quite pretty (and in the rose season I bet it would rival Alnwick for scent – the pic here is of the sunken fountain garden in the centre). The conservatory was lovely and I thought I’d try the macro function of the camera with a closeup flower pic.
Then we went to Hunstanton – the place with the famous striped cliffs (as mentioned in my book The Doctor’s Tender Secret). It’s meant to be a really good source of fossils. We beachcombed for about an hour and found nothing, but we enjoyed it anyway.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Friday was just bleugh, weatherwise, so we moseyed around at home. Saturday, nipped into town in the morning to take a couple more pics, then went out with friends for a meal and then when we got back we had a walk round their village. Beautiful sunset:
Yesterday, worked on the book and got my pics in order and captioned while DH took the kids to see his mother; then daughter was desperate to go to the funfair. A pink moon was rising over the Denes (and yes, of course I did the arty view through the grasses)…
...and then it was time to go on the rides.
Plan for today: we’re off to Houghton Hall. (This is sort of family time... but also it's work because I want a pic of the hall for this book and the church for another book.) And I’m sneaking in some work while everyone’s asleep.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Current work: nonfiction
Listening to: Claire Sproule (eponymous debut album)
Reading: Nicola Cornick, Deceived
Rain stopped play. Well, we went to the Bridewell museum yesterday but that was about it. Apart from the fact I don’t want to get my camera wet (!), the kind of very pale pink (rainy) sky we have at the mo messes about too much with the white balance of a photograph, so there’s no point in going to take pics. So today’s plan is just chilling and playing with the kids and maybe playing a bit of guitar or piano. (Work? Wossat? The crows are back. But then again, so is my editor so maybe I might get my revisions soon so I can start working on my next book.)
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Listening to: Xue Fei Yang, Romance de Amor
Reading: Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveller in Time’ (just finished it - lovely, lovely story. I've always liked timeslip books - my fave is Barbara Erskine's 'Lady of Hay')
Yesterday, I was so excited to see myself (and the other Modern Extras released as a Promotional Presents – Kelly Hunter, Julie Cohen and Trish Wylie) that I forgot something really important. Something really, REALLY important. Firstly, I’d like to apologise for my appalling lack of manners. And then, more importantly, I’d like to say thank you very much to those readers who bought my book and put me on the list. I really hope you enjoy Mistress On Trial.
Our day yesterday was pretty much scuppered by rain. Went to my dad’s for the day and took him out to lunch (and the children were very well behaved). But we couldn’t go to the park and they’re getting a tad stir-crazy.
Today… depends on the weather. The one definite thing is a family swim this evening.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
I know it’s horribly un-English to blow my own trumpet, but I’m so excited about this that it’s having a post all of its own.
Mistress on Trial (aka Strictly Legal) is officially a Waldenbooks Top 10 bestseller.
One in the eye for the crows.
As yesterday’s pics seem to have sparked interest… more about the Green Man. Lou has put a great link in the comments to the last post (thanks, Lou); you can also see more pics of the cathedral’s Green Man here – http://website.lineone.net/~dominicow/norwich_cathedral.htm - and an interesting article about the Green Man here – http://www.sedayne.co.uk/heads-with-leaves.html.
Spent yesterday in the city. Some of our churches are closed but they’re open for one afternoon or morning a week in the school hols under the Church Ranger scheme. So I marched the kids off to St Laurence’s (because Sarah Ann Glover, the inventor of the Tonic Sol-Fa system, has a memorial there – and it also features in another story for my book, so I wanted pics). Thanks to damage by the congregation in the 1860s (they ripped out the box pews and rood screen) and the Baedeker raids of 1942 (which did for the glass), it’s a bit forlorn. But I spotted this beautiful painting on some of the remaining woodwork.
Also went into St John Maddermarket (very high church – bit ornate for my taste – odd, I prefer King James to modern renditions of the Bible and yet I prefer my architecture unadorned except for stained glass and wall paintings) .
But before all that I had a reply to one of my emails about borrowing pics which really made my day. The Hospital Arts Project is top of my ‘lovely people’ list this week as they’re letting me have pics of five of the Norwich doctors. Happy wiggle. I’d rather have portraits than pics of the memorials, to be honest. (Well, except for the window dedicated to John Greene Crosse in St Luke’s chapel, Norwich Cathedral – shame the pics in the book will be mono as this is glorious. Might have to put that on the book’s page on my website.)
Then Jim rang to reschedule my guitar lesson. And because I haven’t practised for ages… and wanted something pretty (I like Victorian music as much as I like Victorian art – Chopin being my fave)… he’s making me redo some of the grade 2 stuff (specifically, the Ferrer piece… expression is the point here, playing certain bits very slowly and very softly and then keeping the bass soft and the melody line fortissimo… tricky stuff).
Plan for today: write blog for eHarlequin (out next month), then take the kids over to see my dad. We’re doing lunch. And I need to be strict with myself, bearing in mind last week’s rubbish weight loss. (Have done well on the walking front so far – 18k on Monday, 15k yesterday.)
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Listening to: Keane, Hopes and Fears
Reading: Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveller in Time’
Still fighting the crows – firstly because of waiting to hear about the book (this was meant to be done and dusted before my ed comes back later this week… or so I thought… and I am trying quite hard not to stress about it) and secondly because my lovely weight loss from last week went straight back on. So as it started as a bad day yesterday I thought I might as well continue it and do the shoe check. This usually means at least twenty minutes waiting in a packed shoe shop… but to my surprise yesterday although the shop was heaving we were seen straight away. New shoes for both children; then went to M&S and new shoes for me, too. Madam absolutely insisted on going to the M&S café (I had a skinny latte and fruit salad – they had cake). And then I talked the kids into letting me do more pics for the book, bless them.
We went back to the cathedral (which son has decided is one of his favourite places)… and because I can’t resist, here’s a pic of the Green Man boss in the cloisters, and a wallpainting from the Treasury. (I promised my ed I wouldn’t have millions of pictures of the bosses in the book. I am keeping my word. I’m putting them on here instead.)
And on the way back to the car (I didn’t tell the kids at this point we’d walked over 16k steps or Madam would’ve thrown a hissy fit/demanded chocolate) we heard this Spanish flamenco music and saw this incredible dancer outside the Forum…
Monday, August 20, 2007
So please get in touch with your snailmail addies (to kate dot hardy at btinternet dot com – closing up the spaces and replacing the dots with a dot and the at with an at sign – the things I have to do to avoid spam, and particularly so at the moment because they’re all going on about weight loss and I’ve just realised why this morning’s weigh-in was so disastrous, i.e. we had dinner out on Friday night and I was a Very Bad Puppy with the pudding menu) and your prizes will be on their way.
Listening to: Athlete, ‘Tourist’
Reading: quite a bit (see below)
I’m a bit fidgety at the moment. Can’t really settle to work (though am doing some nonfiction; am so glad I have the new book to keep me sane). Am full of ideas (some of which are, frankly, mad – and one is just as an excuse for me to buy an antiquarian book for research purposes, though until I know whether it has the right info I can’t justify buying it) but not settling to anything. I think it’s because I’m still waiting to hear from my ed re the last book. With ADHD, I’m really not good at waiting. The best distraction would be to focus myself – preferably on my schedule for the rest of the year (3 fiction and 1 nonfiction by end December, which is very doable in my terms because it means roughly 2,000 words a day). But focusing is easier said than done. Especially during the school holidays (and I'm supposed to be taking the whole of August off anyway). But my agent likes my MX outline, so that’s a good thing as it's due to be started next week.
DH had the bright idea yesterday to go to Felbrigg Hall. A wander round the house and the estate sounded fab; but when we were halfway there the heavens opened – we’re talking about really poor visibility to drive. Kids and I flatly refused to get out of the car in torrential rain. So then DH suggested the beach. And the rain got worse. Finally we headed inland – driving through what’s normally a road but what had become a river…
Today it looks as if the rain has set in, so I’m not sure what we’re doing today. Might see if we can take one or two from my pics list. Or we might just go to a local craft shop for something I need to get that I’ve promised to do (can’t give details here but it’s a joint think that will put a smile on someone’s face).
Read quite a bit over the weekend. Prescription for Happiness by Pat Posner – lovely and heartwarming. One Special Night by Margaret McDonagh – lovely read, gorgeous characters (and I’m not just biased because Cameron was inspired by the same pic as my Charlie Radley – I should add he was Margaret’s and she inspired me!). Make Up to Break Up by – enjoyed it and she behaved herself about the hero’s job whereas I would’ve gone to Fiona Harper town on it and had lots pulled by my ed on grounds of her nerd radar *g*. Sovereign by CJ Sansom (had started it ages back but it got lost on my desk before my big tidy-up) – loved the conspiracy stuff and I do hope he writes another Shardlake book. (I think he shares my view of Henry VIII.) Currently reading Alison Uttley’s ‘A Traveller in Time’ – although it’s a children’s book I was in the mood for something different. I might read some Alan Garner next. Just to shift my focus a bit.
Friday, August 17, 2007
The photo shoot yesterday was great fun. The pic here of the Norman keep is an ‘arty’ shot to give you an idea of what the townsfolk of Norwich saw when the Castle was first built. This is the symbol of William the Conqueror. In an age when there weren’t any tall buildings (the average round-towered church is quite small; plus Norwich Cathedral wasn’t finished at this stage and the spire then was much smaller), the castle completely dominated the skyline. Its precincts were huge, stretching from present-day King Street through to Rouen Road and down to Prince of Wales Road. (The Back of the Inns was once known as the ‘Castle Ditches’.) Quite a lot of houses were flattened to accommodate the precincts, and you could see the castle for miles and miles around.
The photographer was lovely – he’s taken my pic before – but then he asked if I’d brought a copy of my book along. Um. No. Stupid me. So as I was five minutes early, I had enough time to nip down to the nearest Waterstones (i.e. not the one we went to the other day) and buy a copy. The assistant looked at my debit card, then the book, then at me. ‘Is this YOUR book?’ Um. Yes. Explained. He was highly amused at the idea of an author buying her own book… but wanted me to come back and sign the rest of the stock. (Which I did, later.)
So then we went to the dungeons. ‘Nope, she needs to be INSIDE the cell, next to the death masks, because the lighting won’t work otherwise and my brief is to get a nice spooky picture,’ said the photographer. But there was no key to the cell… (This one.) Eventually a key was procured, and in I went. I can honestly say that few people have been practically nose to nose with the death masks at the castle. (Of COURSE I didn’t touch them.) Son and Madam were really good and held the photographer’s flashgun exactly as he directed (I owe them chocolate). But it was boiling hot down there and I have a feeling I’m going to look like a Belisha beacon in the paper. In fact, I know I will because son took a pic with my camera and my face is BEETROOT. Ah well. If people feel sorry for the poor short, fat, obviously boiling hot author inside a cell behind bars, they might buy more copies…
We also had a wander round the museum. It’s the kind of place where you can see something new every time you go – though we do have favourite haunts (Madam’s being the Egyptian section and son’s and mine being the Anglo-Saxon room). The light around this suit of armour was gloriously spooky (think The Mummy crossed with Indiana Jones – sigh, if only I could’ve persuaded my ed into that particular story). We also chatted to a ‘Roman lady’ who told us all about Roman cookery and eating habits (the stuff about the vomitorium is untrue and the upper classes looked down on drunkenness. But the Egyptians did the vomit thing). She also let us handle and sniff various things (Michelle Styles would have LOVED this… and I can confirm that fish sauce smells absolutely repulsive); and a ‘Roman senator’ who told us about how one of the equitaes could rise to power. (He mentioned the Vindolanda tablets – I told him we’d been there a couple of years back and loved it – and then Caerleon. Um, we were there a couple of weeks ago…)
We always have such a good time at Norwich Castle. Even if we didn’t have a Museums Pass, we’d go a lot because it’s such a good experience. The exhibits are fascinating and the curators are VERY approachable. And the coffee in the café is very drinkable…
And then I came home to an unexpected and very nice parcel from a friend whose thoughtfulness and kindness REALLY made my day. I'm not going to out her here, but she knows who she is - and thank you again. :o)
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Current work: pics and notes for new nonfiction; thinking about Med duo outline
Listening to: various piano
Reading: Prescription for Happiness, Pat Posner
Down in the dungeons? That's where I’ll be today for a photo session - at Norwich castle. This time I’m going to be in front of the camera rather than behind it, as pics are going to be taken to go with the piece about The Norfolk Poisoners (will be in the Eastern Daily Press on 1 September).
Yesterday was fairly busy. Started with cookie-making with the kids; then the interview (which went very well as Angi is so nice – mind you, I’ve yet to meet someone from Archant who isn’t); then did the weekly shop.
The morning’s torrential rain turned to sunshine, so we went into town. Started at my accountant’s. This year, they actually had my papers ready to return to me, which was nice – but I’m still going to talk to the Society of Authors to see if they have any recommended accountants in my area because communication isn’t brilliant and they just don’t match the service of my lovely accountant who retired. (And I loathe being called ‘Mrs Brooks’ by someone who’s in a business relationship with me: I much prefer first-name terms.)
Then we went to the Rosary Cemetery to look up certain gravestones (no, the new book isn't macabre book, but some of my subjects are late 19th and early 20th century so they’re no longer with us and I wanted to see their memorials).
Then into town proper – went to the bank, bought a larger atlas of Norfolk (I like ringbound maps and I wanted a large-scale one for work purposes) and signed all my stock in Waterstones to keep them going until we've sorted a date for the proper signing. (Now Ottakars have been taken over, they no longer stock M&Bs. So sad, as they gave me a launch party for A Baby of Her Own. Am just relieved they've kept their good local history section.) Took the kids swimming with DH; and then had a very slobby evening. (But I did over 12,000 steps yesterday so that's not bad...)
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Listening to: Pink Floyd, Echoes
Reading: The Boss’s Wife for a Week, Anne McAllister
Wrote the MX outline; here’s hoping my ed likes it, as it’s due in the end of next month.
Nice post: Dutch copies of Strictly Legal and German copies of Her Honourable Playboy.
And as it was pouring with rain, I didn’t think the kids would appreciate being dragged round churches. So I spent the day doing the thing I loathe: tidying my office.
Started by sorting out my overflowing shelves. Originally I had all my M&Bs together with my nonfiction on the top of the bookcases – looked impressive, but then I ran out of room. So at the moment I’ve got just the paperbacks on the top of the bookcases, and all the translations (one copy of each, in book order) in the bookcases (having moved some of my fiction around first). Even double-shelved, I’m up to two full shelves (i.e. four single shelves). Maybe I need a Kate Hardy bookcase… Anyway, I have a boxful of books to put on the shelves upstairs in my ex-office (now known as my spare copies shelving), and a boxful of duplicate translations to give to my local library.
DH was a star and helped me when he got home – did the shredding, moved the boxes of books, got me a box for my proofs (which I filled and which needs to go in the loft). So everything’s neat and tidy (tidier, anyway) and… my ‘personal bookshelf’ looks kind of shrunk. There are still over 60-odd books on said shelf (and the equivalent of two whole bookshelves, excluding translations) so it’s still an achievement… but I suppose I’m having an attack of Impostor Syndrome at the moment. Chasing my tail, getting nowhere (aka waiting for revisions on the last Med and getting twitchy, and I can never settle to a new M&B until the old is done and dusted - I must get my head round this and switch between projects, the way I do with nonfiction, or I'll end up with stupid deadlines again).
Watched James Bond with DH last night (great special effects) and then thought I’d read the first couple of chapters of Anne’s book. Yeah, right – try the whole thing… there’s always a detail in Anne’s books that really strikes me, and in this one it was Spence’s grandfather’s ring. Fab setting, too. I want to go and stay in a bure treehouse with a waterfall shower…
Interview with local paper this morning. Do I make cookies? (Problem: I have no willpower and I don’t want to wreck the unofficial diet which is doing v nicely – 6lbs so far – this is to do with trying to take more exercise.) And I have to hoover up as Byron decided to roll on the rug in the living room and cover it with dog-hair. And I’d better slap on some make-up and look a bit less scruffy than I usually do.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Listening to: Pink Floyd, Echoes
Reading: Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night (finished it last night – definitely caught the feel of the mid nineteenth century and of course the world of antiquarians/bibliophiles (but as he’s MR James’s biographer I would’ve been very surprised if he hadn’t) – I did guess the denouement but it was well done)
Off into town with the kids yesterday. Bank, library, more pics, then went to see Surf’s Up at the cinema. Not bad (there were some funny bits and I liked the surfing chicken) but this summer’s crop of films is pretty disappointing. (Not going to see HP on the big screen – will wait for DVD as I think Madam’s a bit young and she doesn’t like scary films.)
Also updated my website - including info about new books, new recipe and new reviews.
Plan for today: back into town as St Laurence is open under the Church Ranger scheme and I need interior pics; and then massive tidy-up before the lovely EDP journo comes to interview me tomorrow. (I have to tackle my office. Which is worse: synopsis or tidying? Decisions, decisions.)
Monday, August 13, 2007
Listening to: Romance de Amor, Xue Fei Yang (highly recommended)
Reading: Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night
My cheque finally arrived on Saturday. It’s only taken about two and a half weeks to reach me by first-class post (cough). And apparently it went via Chatham. Um, how the word ‘Norfolk’ looks like ‘Kent’…? But at least it’s here now.
Also received a reader’s letter about Disasters. (They enjoyed it – in fact, they described the book as ‘splendid’ and ‘most enjoyable and informative’ – but wanted to point out the font was too small – will reply this morning thanking them for their time and pass on their comment to the publisher.) One of my research books arrived; and a package from M&B with a South African edition of Their Christmas Dream Come True and a Japanese edition of His Honourable Surgeon (with the most amazingly raunchy cover for Japan – I’m used to seeing pretty pics of flowers on Japanese covers).
Finished copyediting; awaiting author’s replies to queries.
Plan for today: sun is shining so we’ll be out somewhere - see what the kids fancy doing when they wake up. In the meantime, the house is quiet so I'm getting on with some work.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Listening to: Romance de Amor, Xue Fei Yang (highly recommended)
Reading: Michael Cox’s The Meaning of Night
Finalised corrections for the PM job, then spent the day at in the garden at my dad and stepmum’s (had a barbecue, which was v nice). Home, squeezed in a bit more work, and then DH decided he fancied going out as it was a nice evening. I perked up. ‘We could go and have a drink by the river. How about Bramerton?’ Is this to do with your book? (Suspicious man. But he knows me well.) And as my Amazon parcel arrived I managed to sneak one of my new discs into the car – this is absolutely lovely, and also introduced me to a new piece by Aguilar called ‘Anak’ which is very, very pretty.
Reached Bramerton (which is approximately two miles outside the city boundary – but it’s completely the other side of the city from us) and DH started muttering, ‘You look like a tourist,’ and ‘This is SO embarrassing.’ So I sent him into the pub and the kids and I sorted the pics. And then we chilled out for a bit, watching the sun gradually set and the ducks swimming in the distance. Like so:
Friday, August 10, 2007
Listening to: Mozart Piano Concerto no 20
Reading: Kate Harrison's The Self-Preservation Society (finished it last night and thoroughly enjoyed it)
Lovely day yesterday. Into town to take some more pics; then moseyed back via bookshops. Started with Jarrold’s – firstly because I wanted to pick up a copy of ‘A Historical Atlas of Norfolk’ (expensive but good reference book), and secondly to introduce myself to the book buyer because I’m supposed to be sorting out a signing. I may be doing the signing at their November shopping evening (depends if he can get bigger names than me, obviously); but then he asked for my details and things sort of changed. ‘You’re Pam Brooks? Oh, I’m so pleased to meet you.’ Apparently my books are doing well. (Even better, he named ALL my history books. I was quite impressed.) And I am on the shortlist for the four authors, so fingers crossed.
Then we moseyed into Smith’s (more stationery – let’s just say pink sparkly stuff and kittens were involved - and discovered The Italian GP’s Bride has nearly sold out - and I signed Disasters and Streets while I was there, because customers love books with ‘signed by author’ stickers on…). Then we had to stop in the M&S café before doing the uniform shop (chocolate cake was consumed but NOT by me, and I didn’t get my biscuit with my skinny latte either because vulture daughter swooped on it); and finally did the weekly shop.
And by then I was in naughty mode, because I think it’s time I introduced the kids to some of the books I loved at their age – especially son, as he likes fantasy/SF (hmm… I bet daughter would like Joyce Stranger, Elyne Mitchell’s ‘Silver Brumby’ books and Ruby Ferguson’s ‘Jill’ books – how I loved them, and most are OOP. Can I be trusted in a second-hand bookshop?). So I’ve ordered the complete The Dark is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper (replacement copy for me, actually, but I’m planning to read to the kids) and My Friend Flicka (because I think Madam will like it… and this one comes with a little pony necklace so that will make me Top Mummy). Also ordered a copy of Cheryl Reavis’s Blackberry Winter as Liz Fielding was so taken by it and I liked the sound of it too (wasn’t in Smith’s or Border’s), and a couple more research books, and discovered that Amazon is listing The Pregnancy Ultimatum (aka ‘In The Gardener’s Bed’ - except they’ve listed the release date as Jan 07 instead of Jan 08, which needs correcting)… yep, it was a booky sort of day. The kind of day I like.
I also REALLY have to tidy my office. And I have a definite deadline now as the Eastern Daily Press is interviewing me next Wednesday and, with my journo hat on, I know my office is going to come into the interview at some point…
Guitar lesson yesterday evening – how I’ve missed my Tuesday morning setting the world to rights with Jim. My playing… um. Let’s just say I haven’t touched my guitar since my last lesson, and it showed. A lot. He even commented as such. Sigh. So now I have two difficult Sor pieces to do, and I’m going to try to practise every day. I was going to whine for some Mozart… and on the way home, what happened? Mozart’s piano concerto no 20. Gorgeous. (I like his D minor stuff because it’s so dark and edgy – the Requiem being a case in point, but I can’t drive to that because it makes me cry.) So I added that to my little binge, along with a Mark Knopfler CD that was a bargain and a really early Neil Young one just because (and hey, I haven’t bought any CDs for a week – well, I bought some a week ago but they’re taking a Very Long Time to be delivered).
Actually, I’ve got the title of this post wrong. Should be a booky and musicky kind of day :o)
And with nice emails from publishers in my in-box as well… all’s very well on Planet Kate.
Especially as I had a really exciting pic from my friend and fellow Medicals author Lynne Marshall in my inbox this morning - my book ON SHELVES IN AMERICA! (Thank you, Lynne.)
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Listening to: Crowded House, ‘Time On Earth’
Reading: Kate Harrison's The Self-Preservation Society
I have my to-do list organised again and blu-tacked to the wall above my desk. So I know what I’m doing and when, and what looked like a scary list feels much better. (Tidying my office doesn’t have a deadline… actually, I do need to sort this, and I want to get my cuttings folder in a decent state too.)
Had a brilliant day yesterday researching with the kids. Started in the cathedral – and I’m so pleased with the new camera. In the vaulting of the nave (which is at least 70 feet above your head) there are these amazing bosses, all telling the story of the Bible. And because the new camera has a) a decent zoom and b) quality pics, it meant I could get a reasonable shot of single bosses. (Not perfect but I’ve only had the camera just over a week. Left is the view above... I zoomed in for the later ones.) The guide at the cathedral was lovely and showed us various bits I hadn’t seen before. Kids loved every second and then made me buy them elevenses in the refectory. They were also very taken by the stained glass window (which is pretty stunning) and the wall paintings (oh good, they're going to share another of my little obsessions).
Also went to St Peter Mancroft’s and the verger was fantastic and let us into the sacristy; he also suggested some things which he got out of the cabinet for me to photograph. (Definitely getting a mention in the acknowledgements.)
And that, um, took up all our time. (As well as helping me do over 14k steps.) And I forgot my M&S vouchers anyway. So… we’ll do it today instead. And the weekly shop. We did get my camera tripod, though. (Need to try that out… maybe later today.)
Came home to the large print of The Consultant’s New-Found Family – and also the hardbacks of The Doctor’s Very Special Christmas. Third Christmas book in a row but this time it’s a close-up of the tree. (I love writing Christmas books.)
Took the children swimming when DH was home; great fun.
Plan for today: school uniform, weekly shop, and maybe some more picture research. The St Giles area of the city today, methinks. (Yup, more churches...)
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Apologies for moaning yesterday – and thank you for the support and private comments. Back to normal mood today!
Sadly, I’m not going to Italy personally – but my books are. First of all in August with Strictly Legal; it keeps its title, too - Strettamente lecito. Am v pleased. Here’s the cover (a bit small but it's all that was available). It’s also available on the shelves in the US this month, as Mistress on Trial – available in e-book form as well from eharlequin.
The Posh Docs series starts in Italy in September, with Primario e Rubacuori (Her Celebrity Surgeon) and a fab strapline: NOBILTÀ IN CORSIA Quando prestigio, fascino ed eleganza indossano un camice bianco. (And just for info, Her Honorable Playboy – the second in the trilogy – is also available in e-book form here at eharlequin.)
I’m starting to make progress on the tidying front. OK, so I got a box and put the contents of my desk (except PC and memory sticks and SD-reader and my accounts file) into it, which means I’m no longer working in a mess as long as I keep my eyes fixed on the desk itself (the whole room is in a state). But I got an offer yesterday. ‘I volunteer to help you.’ That’s a big word for a six-year-old. Do you know what it means? ‘Yes, it means I offer to do it.’ (Remember: her reading age is about 11. Smart cookie child.) Hmm. So what’s this going to cost me? (Thinking it’d be another Nintendo pony or princess game.) ‘Nothing. I love tidying. I want to help you. Can we do housework tomorrow?’ (She’s completely sincere and earnest. Bless her.)
Real plans for today: shopping for school uniform (DH measured them last night – son is still on 91st centile and daughter on 75th. Which means son will end up about 6 foot 1 and daughter about 5 foot 6 (both taller than me). There is a tall gene in my family but I didn’t inherit it: I inherited the fat gene instead. Sigh. (But I did lose 3lbs last week without trying. I’m not strictly trying now. Just not eating between meals, avoiding bread and wheat as far as possible, and trying to exercise more.)
Also have to do weekly shop (as we’re going swimming tonight) and as we’re in town I want to take a couple of shots for the book – so it’s the Cathedral and St Peter Mancroft today. I need to look up a few things in Pevsner before I talk the kids into visiting other churches, and I’m not 100% sure that St George’s Colegate is open.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Started in the office supply shop. ‘Oooh no, we can’t photocopy that if it’s copyright.’ Sigh. Look, I’m the publisher’s freelancer and this is a set of proofs – the book hasn’t been published yet. I need to get this photocopied so I can check the computer files against the hard copy to check all the corrections have been done. They’ve asked me to do this. It’s my JOB. I’m not contravening copyright. As an author myself, I’m very careful about copyright. ‘Nope, can’t do it without a signed letter from the publisher.’ The publisher is in London and I can’t get you a letter because a) there is a postal strike, which is why I’m photocopying this and working from computer files instead of doing this my usual method via Royal Mail and b) we have a screaming deadline, which is the other reason why I need to photocopy this. Any letter they send you won’t get here in time. And my printer at home won’t cope with copying 600 manuscript pages, which is why I’ve come in and asked you to copy it for me. Look, if I ring my editor and ask her to confirm it’s OK, will that help?’ ‘No. We have to have a letter.’ I can’t get you a letter. Is there another way round this? ‘Well, we can accept a fax…’ Luckily the mobile phone was a) charged and b) in credit. Had to ring directory enquiries as my business diary was at home and I couldn’t remember the number offhand. Rang lovely desk editor. She faxed a letter straight over. ‘We can do this now. It’ll be three hours.’ Thinks: three hours for six hundred pages? The school photocopier works a lot faster than five pages a minute, and it’s really old... But smile sweetly. Thank you.
And the second I get home, they ring. Except when I answer they hang up. Twice. So I return the call. ‘Ooh, no, we didn’t phone you.’ Please can you try the copying department, just in case it was them and there’s a problem with my job? ‘Yes, your job’s ready. It didn’t take as long as we thought.’ Go back to collect it. Discover they only sell jiffy bags in PACKS OF TEN. (I did ask about single ones... ‘Not any more.’) Buy a box instead. Go home via supermarket cashpoint (courier only accepts cash or cheque and I’m not 100% sure I have cheques left). None of the machines are working. Drive home, and utter idiot in red car belching smoke decides he’s going to weave in and out of the cars, undertaking and overtaking (and breaking speed limit and cutting people up). Narrowly misses me – I flash my lights and he replies with obscene gesture. (DH says I should’ve called the police and got him cautioned. Yeah, right - as if that’s going to stop this kind of person driving like an idiot. The sad thing is, he’s going to cause an accident and come out unscathed, unlike his victim.)
Dropped stuff off to courier (where the kids discovered a cute Jack Russell and made a huge fuss of him), then home. So much for going out with the kids. But it was hot and sticky and not very nice outside.
I really ought to tidy my office.
But I can’t face it after a day full of aggravation.
So I’m going to play with my new nonfiction book instead. Lovely soul-soothing history... and I had a really good lightbulb moment, so I need to buy more books. I reckon I can sell this if I pitch it the right way, but I need to do some research first - hence the need for certain texts in the original Medieval rather than translation.
I also need to remind previous winners to get in touch (otherwise the authors can’t send you your prizes): Minna (for Anne McAllister’s book The Antonides Marriage Deal), Devon (for Shirley Wells’s book Into the Shadows), Janie and Mona (for Lynne Marshall’s book In His Angel’s Arms).
Listening to: The Feeling, Twelve Stops Till Home
Reading: Kate Harrison's The Self-Preservation Society (excellent – thoroughly enjoying the flashbacks for the nostalgia trip of school in the 1980s; the present-day story’s good too, and it’s very easy to sympathise/empathise with the main character)
During school hols it’s quite hard to fit in my work schedule. Best time for me is first thing in the morning (this is because I am a natural lark). Made some headway on yesterday's to-do list. Managed to sort out the proof collation on Project 1 and the second proofs on Project 2 yesterday; did second proofs of Project 3 this morning and really need to start the copyediting on Project 4 (but it might be a good idea to do the tidying stuff first). Picked up library books and the children joined the “wild read” campaign. Son’s taste in fiction is clearly humour (he leapt on the new book of the guy who wrote “The Toilet of Doom”) and Madam picked up a couple of Animal Arks (I do hope they’re not ones she already has or there will be sulks).
DH had used up all my ink on walkthroughs of PlayStation games (note to self: stick a note on corner of screen saying PRINT IN DRAFT ONLY because with all the pics it’s v ink-intensive) so didn’t print the holiday pics, but did get the kids to update their diaries.
Spent most of yesterday playing with the kids (DH came home to find us all colouring… the look of disbelief on his face was priceless. Tough. They asked me to do it. I’m on holiday. Ish).
Plan for today:
- go to Staples for the photocopying (this might cost me because there will be squeaks about the need for new stationery)
- ring courier to see if I can drop off a package (sorry, posties – I sympathise with your management problems but I have contracts to fulfil and I need things delivered rather than sitting in your picket lines… not to mention the fact I’m a small business whose cashflow is NOT being helped by cheques I’ve been waiting for from publisher who has been very slow also being held up in your sorting office in Exeter, so I’m afraid you’ve lost my vote)
- make a start on the mammoth office tidy-up operation (is very, very, VERY bad – hmm, daughter likes tidying… will promise her CD by band I hate and she loves if she helps)
- as the sun is shining I think we should go to the park this afternoon
- think about new synopsis
Monday, August 06, 2007
Listening to: Bach lute suites (if my Amazon package arrives today)
Reading: going to start Kate Harrison's The Self-Preservation Society this evening
Managed to finish the book this morning and sent it off to my editor. Was pretty much head down all weekend, though I did chill out on Saturday evening with DH – one of those lovely warm evenings when the stars are bright. So we sat on the patio – I wanted the security light off so I could test out the starry-sky setting on the new camera (verdict: works, but I need a tripod because I can’t hold the camera still for a whole minute), and he brought out a couple of candles so we didn’t fall over things. It was lovely, chilling out to Katie Melua and John Martyn and Nick Drake, occasionally accompanied by DH on guitar. (Then he went onto Badfinger, which I loathe… sigh.) I think we need to invest in some citronella candles, though, because I have some enormous bites! One is on my heel (so putting shoes on is going to be nasty), I have another on the top of my foot (which itches horrendously), and another was from a particularly vicious beast and is currently about two inches in diameter. I know my name means ‘all honey’, but I’d appreciate it if the biting insects wouldn’t take that literally!
Plan for today:
- some PM work (proof collation due on one project, second proofs on two others)
- print out holiday pics and help the kids get their holiday diary up to date
- go to stationer to get manuscript corrections photocopied (in an attempt to deal with the havoc of the postal strike I need to use couriers to the typesetter and get PDFs back… hence photocopy so I can check PDFs against corrections. So glad I have broadband now!)
- pick up library books (research for new book)
- tidy my disgusting pit of an office.
And then tomorrow maybe the kids and I can have some time off...
Saturday, August 04, 2007
On a more sombre note, I was so sad to see that foot and mouth is back. I do hope that this time round the government (and Europe) supports our farmers. And that the media is responsible rather than scaremongering.
Friday, August 03, 2007
On the way to meet DH and the kids after the slot, I discovered that the August M&Bs are on the shelf. So here am I, with The Italian GP's Bride, sandwiched between two very good friends of mine – Margaret McDonagh and Maggie Kingsley.
Met up with DH and the kids; the latter ran to meet me and gave me a huge hug – nice that they missed me as I was only out for an hour. Because we had time to fill before the cinema, we nipped into the castle (yup, we have museum passes) and I took a couple of shots for the new book.
The Simpsons Movie had some good (and clever) jokes but, as DH said afterwards, 30 minutes is quite long enough. On the way out we spied this sofa. And as I had my luvverly new camera with me… I couldn't resist taking the pic on the left. Then home to sneak in some work before visiting DH’s brother – took Ruby (their Viszla) for a walk and it was hysterical, with my niece creeping along, my daughter following, and Ruby stalking them until they stopped, then pointing until they threw her toy. Wish I’d had the camera with me! Also met this beautiful four-month-old Springer called Marbles and went a bit (OK, a lot) broody, but DH is not budging on the puppy campaign. (The walk meant my step count for the day was a little over 14k, so am pleased with self.)
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Yesterday – as it’s a special place for us – we went to Wells-next-the-sea. The sun was shining. And we sat on the beach for about three hours (sans book, sans PDA) just watching the clouds scud across and paddling with the kids and collecting shells; the water was lovely. Best thing about Wells is that the beach is enormous. Although there were loads of people there, we weren’t crammed in and you still had lots of space. (I liked the pattern of lines here. I should've maybe taken this with less sky and got the line of seashells in too, but I'm still playing with the camera and getting used to it.)
One thing I hadn’t seen before: when the wind blew, little clumps of sand started rolling down the beach, a bit like a cross between a snowball and tumbleweed, gradually increasing in size. Very odd.
Came home to find the most lovely bouquet of flowers from my best friend. (Waves to London with a big smile.) Then out for dinner, when we had another draughts match between son and DH. Son was getting fed up with being trounced (chess is his game – interestingly, it seems he’s 14th in his school British Chess Championship, so how come he’s taken until now to tell us?) and challenged me. I’m not good at draughts so he was beating me… until DH took over, and taught him some finer points of strategy (i.e. why I’d done badly and why son ultimately lost the game). It’s lovely watching them doing some father and son stuff; this and pitch-and-putt will definitely be bonding for them. (Son claims to be rubbish at sport, as does daughter - help, they were meant to inherit DH’s sporting brilliance, not my hopelessness!)
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
As I still can’t get to the bottom of why my email forwarder isn’t working (I may just have to change it completely, sigh), please email me at myfirstname dot mysurname at btinternet dot com (replacing the words and dots and at sign as apppropriate) again, apologies about the format but I’m desperately trying to avoid the spammers!).
Twenty-two years ago (give or take a couple of days), it was our first date. DH tried to impress me with his designer T-shirt – but I’m not and never have been trendy, so I was completely oblivious. The arrangement was that we’d meet outside the post office. No way was I going to stand there like a lemon, in case he didn’t turn up, so I stood outside the record shop next door, pretending to read the top 40 chart list.
I didn’t know anyone who had a car, at that point (all my friends were poor students, like me). So I really wasn’t expecting him to turn up in a car; he ended up circling the one-way system three times before he spotted me. He had this bronze-coloured Cortina (very similar to the one Gene Hunt drives in Life on Mars… another reason why I have a soft spot for that programme) and it just ATE petrol – but he had this wonderful stereo system. And no tapes visible. I asked about his musical tastes. ‘No, no, you won’t like the stuff I do.’ Eventually he caved in and told me his tape box was in the glove compartment and I could have a look if I wanted to. ‘Hmm. Got that one, that one, that one – ooh, can I borrow this? I’ll lend you Stormbringer, seeing as you haven’t got it.’ He was gobsmacked that I shared his taste (mine’s probably wider, but we have a decent crossover). He was even more shocked when I bought a round in the pub. (‘Girls don’t buy rounds.’ They do if they’re students.) And although everyone thought we were complete opposites, it just worked. We knew within a fortnight we were going to get married. (We took so long to actually do it because I needed to finish uni first, then buy a house while we could still afford one, then move to a house with a garden and get a dog, and... then we ran out of excuses.) And here we are, over half a lifetime later. Still married. Still happy. Still a team. (This takes work. And learning to compromise. But it’s worth it.)
So what are we doing on our anniversary? Well, I have a deadline. The deal was, no work on holiday and I’d do it when we got back. Except my brain is a bit sluggish and I'm not doing very well. So I’m going to do some negotiation; and it's sunny and I want to spend time with my family. But dinner out tonight is a definite!