Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treat

In our area, if you have goodies to give to trick-or-treaters, the convention is that you put a pumpkin outside.

One of DH’s friends grew giant pumpkins this year. So this was outside our door tonight… Just showing off, really, LOL.


Current work: PM job
Listening to: Anna Nalick, Wreck of the Day

DH carved our pumpkin last night. Will try to get a pic tonight when the candles are in. It’s HUGE, which delighted the kids. They’ll be off trick-or-treating tonight, and it’s DH’s turn to go with them. (Plus my cough has reached horrible hacking stage… so I’d rather stay in.) Have spoken to the restaurant about Madam’s cake. Now I just need to get some last-minute bits (e.g. sparklers for said cake and Sunday’s), tomorrow morning.

Am feeling pretty bleugh (the cough is getting to me, and I must look rough as I was told at school to go home to bed).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

of mice and men…

Current work: outlines + PM job
Listening to: Cut, Millionairhead

As in, the best-laid plans. Mine were scuppered yesterday as I had littlest one home, sick. She’d slept all day Sunday but seemed so much brighter yesterday morning that school appeared to be an option. So she got dressed. Had breakfast. And went all wobbly on me. ‘Mummy… my head hurts.’ No colour at all in her face. So I spent the day playing with her instead of working. Also ended up going to bed early and just flaking. (Still really tired this morning. Hmm. Maybe it's time for another blood test.)

Discovered that ‘Strictly Legal’ has a new name in Germany. Wait for it… ‘Sexgott-Alarm’. Nice cover, though I’m not sure this gets across ‘stuffy barrister meets flaky vintage clothes dealer’. (In fact, the German version refers to Rose as a fleamarket stallholder. Hmm.)

Oh, and for those who like wordgames? Go here. At the same time you're donating free grains of rice. (And for those of a competitive nature - your target is 49...)

Monday, October 29, 2007

clearing the decks

Current work: loads to do!
Listening to: Cut, Millionairhead

I might’ve finished a book, but a) it was very late (agreed with ed, but am still not happy about it) and b) I have three more deadlines before the end of the year (yes, three), so I’m not planning to do that much loafing this week.

First up is clearing the decks. I loathe filing and tidying, but it’s something that has to be done. So I spent yesterday on admin stuff. Such as tidying my desk, printing out the book to send to my agent, sorting out essential correspondence (copyright stuff and accounts). And then I had to buy my baby something outrageous for her birthday. Something she’s wanted for AGES. Clue: it’s one of her mummy’s bad habits. (And no, I don’t mean chocolate or CDs – two words, initials R and H, if you need a second clue.)

Because of the cold/cough, I’m skipping my music lessons this week – I don’t feel up to playing, and I don’t want to spread the lurgy. For the same reason, I’m moving a planned photoshoot to next week. So that means I have the next couple of days to:
  • sort the outlines for next year’s books for my agent, ready for discussion on Friday
  • do a proper outline for the medical duo for my ed (‘book 2 has a Welsh hero’ is a bit too scrappy… I know where things are, in my head, but they need writing down)
  • copyedit the current PM job so I can post it to the typesetter on Monday
  • make a pile of phone calls (dog needs to go to vet for annual vaccinations, I need a taxi for Friday, and I’m talking to the chief librarian at the local newspaper as I’d like to borrow some photographs for the book)
  • sort my RWA membership and RITA submissions (I am in two minds about this…)
  • return books to the library and pick up new ones
  • get as much as I can done on the nonfiction (this is mainly putting my rough notes into proper order, seeing where the gaps are and filling them in where possible – those not will be earmarked for another research day)

Then on Wednesday I have a meeting with the guy I hope is going to be my new accountant (note to self, check ‘terms of engagement’ letter re old one; Thursday is my baby’s birthday (dinner out AND cake…); and Friday I’m in London for lunch and my annual ‘career planning’ meeting with my agent and editor in Richmond. Saturday, my best friend is coming up; Sunday we have a houseful for Madam’s family party (and I have much baking to do).

So it’s a busy week, really.

And then I’m starting my new fiction on Monday, with a clear head.

Oh, and this is the cover flat I got at the weekend, re my January US release. It isn’t the same as the one on Amazon (so I’ll be asking my ed on Friday what the difference is), but it’s gorgeous. Just what I'd wanted for the gardener book.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Current work: Just finished book; now to tackle the dreaded task of tidying
Listening to: Cut, Millionairhead
Reading: Just finished Marcia Preston’s The Butterfly House (enjoyed it)

Finally… the book is finished and off to my editor. A lot later than it should’ve been, from my original schedule, but let’s leave it that writing has been pretty difficult these last couple of months. The prolonged dental trauamas didn’t help, and I think tetracycline may be on my list of ‘please don’t give me these again’ antibiotics because they made me feel seriously rough this week.

Comment from daughter on Friday evening: ‘That’s a really nasty cough you have, Mummy.’ Mmm. Guess who gave it to me? (And it’s an even nicer cough when you’re throwing up and have a sore tongue because of the antibiotics. Not.)

Plan for today: print out book for agent and tidy my office because I can’t even begin to tackle my to-do list until this mess is sorted!

Friday, October 26, 2007


Current work: Archaeologist book, which has just grown another chapter…
Listening to: Justin Currie, What is Love For (very, very good)
Reading: The Butterfly House, Marcia Preston (enjoying it - the bits about butterflies are fascinating)

Am busy with book so am leaving you with the chance to do two things:

1. Go and see Julie Cohen – you could win a copy of the hardback of her book One Night Stand

2. (particularly for readers with children…) click on the link below for a seriously funny song – it’s everything a mum would say to her kids over the course of a day, cut down to 2 mins 55 seconds and sung to the William Tell Overture (this was sent to me by my good friend Medicals author Amy Andrews,whose 10th book, The Italian Count's Baby, is out this month - I have a copy on my TBR pile). I admit, I’m guilty of a lot of these…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back to fiction

Current work: Archaeologist book, nearing end of draft 1

Good day yesterday fossicking around the ruins. Son and Madam enjoyed exploring Thetford Priory.
This is a very nice 12th-century arch in the prior's lodgings.
Had lunch out afterwards with DH and the children (incidentally in the same pub as our first date - over 22 years ago. I feel old), then dropped in to see my dad. Started picking up Madam’s cough, and today it’s a full-blown sore throat/headache/no voice job. DH woke in the night, watched TV for a while… then came back to bed and discovered I was nice and warm. So he woke me up. Men. Now, I could be mean and wake him up as he’s sleeping in, but I don’t have a Y chromosome. So I'm working instead.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Current work: (whispers – I am working, honest)
Listening to: Joe Lynn Turner
Reading: not at the mo, focused on writing

So – London. Caught the train on time, breakfast of bacon baguette and a latte on the train, caught the Circle line at Liverpool Street to South Kensington… and at Aldgate, all of two stops away, the train was evacuated. Apparently here was a lone black case with an airline label on our train and the security people were not happy. Sigh. It was probably some poor person who’d left their case accidentally, but in the current world situation they couldn’t take a risk. (Take rant against terrorists as read. This is half term, so a high proportion of passengers this week are children. These people need a conscience and a dose of reality.)

So we walked down to the river, over Tower Bridge
[son and Madam by Tower Bridge]
and headed for HMS Belfast. Spent three hours wandering round the ship (involved lots of ladders so I reckon that counts as a week’s exercise *g*). Here's Madam on the deck below the waterline (the waterline starts at the top of the blue bit).
And son sitting on the Admiral's chair (not quite pretending to be Nelson, but getting that way...)

Lovely view of the Tower of London from the ship:

And then we went back to the tube station via the Roman Wall (c'mon, with the book I'm writing just now, of course I wanted the inspiration).
We headed to the Science Museum, on the birthday girl's request. It was boiling hot and so packed you couldn’t get near any of the hands-on exhibits, so DH had the bright idea of going to Harrods’ toy department. £15k for a kid’s electric car, anyone? Or £95k for a golf buggy? Or how about £100 for a babygro? (A Dior one... really practical and value for money for something that'll last a month before baby grows out of it and will probably end up being washed every day. Am glad I bought all mine from M&S.)

Also browsed in an estate agent’s window and it was shocking. A WEEKLY rental of £6k? Or you could buy a 1-bed flat for just over a million pounds… How the other half live. (I would much rather earn less and have my lifestyle.)

So we ended up in Hamley’s. Birthday girl got a bear and this drawing board thingy (was rip-off but by this point DH and I were knackered and this averted a potential tantrum in Oxford Street in the rush hour. She promises no more tantrums after she turns 7 next week. Yeah, right).

Anyway. Was an interesting day. Next time we go to London as a family it’s for my birthday, and we are going where I want to go (i.e. the Tutankhamun exhibition in Greenwich – OK, they want to go too, but this is my bright idea and we’re going with my best friend too). Ice cream and cake will also be involved (apologies to my diet buddies – some days I just have to be Bad Kate and my birthday usually lasts for at least three weekends and half term).

Today I’m working on two books. Fiction, and also pics for nonfiction book #2. Haven’t visited Thetford in years so we might drop in to the museum while we’re there. Then we’ll see my dad on the way home, and I need to persuade DH to drop me home before he does the weekly shop for me… Also desperately need to go to post office or I am in severe trouble.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fabby new cover!

Current work: archaeologist book c14 /15
Listening to: Joe Lynn Turner
Reading: not at the mo, focused on writing

I have a new cover! (And it deserves a screamer.) I’m SO pleased – I was pretty unhappy with the UK cover of ‘In the Gardener’s Bed’. This new cover fits the book much better. Meet Amanda, a buttoned-up female accountant, and Will, a sexy horticultural designer who turned down an unconditional place at Oxford (i.e. he’s very, VERY clever). Not the people on the UK version (or even on the Aussie version, which got the thumbs-up from my DH – except, ahem, he isn’t the target market).

The book is going to be on sale in all good bookshops in the US in January (that's a big deal for me, too), retitled The Pregnancy Ultimatum.

I will be smiling all the way to London tomorrow morning…

Season of mists

Current work: archaeologist book c13 /14
Listening to: The Fray
Reading: not at the mo, focused on book (but I did watch a v good programme on Silbury Hill last night)

The early morning sunlight was filtering over the dogwood yesterday, and I couldn’t resist this snap.

Busy weekend workwise. The book is running a tad short at the mo and I also need to layer in some extra emotional stuff as my hero is dropping some late bombshells. This is why, although I’m a planner, the book never ends up quite how I plan it; something comes up partway through which means I have to rejig the beginning/end/motivations/what have you. But in my view that’s what makes the book come alive from the plan.

My mouth feels a lot better today (though I’m aware of the, um, ‘bony socket’, as the dentist referred to it) and I think 10 days of tetracycline is going to do wonders for my eating habits: you’re meant to take them 1 hour before food or 2 hours after, which means grazing would interfere with the meds schedule. (As in – hmm, we’re having dinner at 7, which means take antibios at 6, so I can’t nibble after 4…) I’m usually reasonably good – especially if the book is going well, which is when I’m more likely to use the timer to remind me it’s lunchtime and I need to grab a sandwich at my desk. But if my book’s going through a sticky patch I tend to take a stroll from my desk to the kitchen from time to time and see what’s in the fridge. (There is a running joke among some of my friends about my similarity to Nigella. Yes, sure, if you ignore the fact that I’m shorter, rounder, and much less beautiful than she is. But I do admit to a similar, ahem, appreciation of food. And I bake nice cakes.) The cup of tea will be accompanied by a cookie (home-made if the book is going really badly), or the glass of water by a cracker with a piece of brie/a breadstick. Or – my current bad habit (which I will inflict on certain friends when I see them next because I know they will love them too) – chocolate torsades. (The Bonne Maman ones. My daughter is extremely partial to them. The chocolate is nice and the biscuit is nicer than those in Cadbury’s fingers. Note to self: buy baking parchment and introduce the kids to the joys of dipping biscuits in good chocolate.)

The spam people are surpassing themselves at the mo. One of yesterday’s came through addressed to Kate Fatface. (Seriously. I didn’t make that up.) I’m still laughing about it (even though it’s rather appropriate).

Today: piano lesson and getting on with the book. But if the weather’s nice I might be tempted out to play. Tomorrow's London.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

medical drama?? Not as I know it...

Current work: archaeologist book c11/12
Listening to: Badfinger (aka torture by DH because I made him be mine and Madam’s bag carrier)
Reading: Annie West, The Sheik's Ransomed Bride (enjoyed it thoroughly)

Nice post yesterday – cheque, the Nick Drake sheet music for DH, and part of Madam’s birthday pressie. DH was a star and did the afternoon school run (codeine makes me sleepy and I would rather not drive on it unless I really have to). Got some work done… but nowhere near as much as I wanted, thanks to the codeine.

Lost a lot of time today, too – had to take Madam shopping to get part of her birthday pressie – a posh dress from Monsoon and posh cardi from Next. (The necklace will have to wait until later in the week.) I did mosey through the Radley section in Debenhams (she's trying to talk me into getting her a little bag) and the new signature bag is really cute… but DH would kill me if I bought another Radley bag. The kids said I should do it because it's against the law to murder your wife. But I think he'd go bananas. Men do not understand about handbags.

Also dropped in to the Carphone Warehouse (because I wanted to see if they would do something as the phone's under warranty) and they were much more useful in the shop. They let me try a phone that’s the same model as mine, and the earpiece speaker was louder, so my phone clearly does have a problem. Though since we took the sim card and battery out and replaced them, it seems to working a bit better… odd. I explained re the call centre and he apologised on behalf of the company AND he was helpful about my phone, so maybe the company’s not so bad – it’s the call centre that’s a problem.

Anyway. Medical drama. This one was passed to me by fellow Medical Romance author Lucy Clark. It’s another Mitchell & Webb clip, and it’s hilarious. Enjoy. (And no, I’m not accepting any dares to write my Med duo in this way!)

My horoscope yesterday was also hilarious. ‘Add a bit of discipline to your day, dear Aquarius, and don't waste away the hours by twiddling your thumbs.’ (In other words, get on with the book. Riiiight.) Be especially respectful of other people's property, and make sure you clean your mess up after you are done with a project. (I’m always careful with other people’s stuff and I will clean my office – when I’ve finished my book. I have a deadline.) Maintain a positive energy flow in the spaces you inhabit by really making a conscious effort to keep them well cared for. (In other words: my desk is a tip and you can write your name in the dust on my windowsill, so it needs sorting. See previous sentence.) Smile while you work. (Even though my mouth hurts? … not as much as yesterday, admittedly, but still there, and the tetracycline is a pain as I have to be careful about dairy stuff, and the mouthwash means no tea or coffee. Am despatching DH to purchase sugar-free Ribena so I can at least have a warm drink.) The better the energy you put in, the better the energy you will get out. (Ah, now this is more like it. The Paddington Bear philosophy: ‘Life is like a marmalade sandwich. You only get out what you put in.’ Very true.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

the joys of mobile phone shop call centres (not)

Just before Christmas, I bought a Motorola Razr phone. I have a small problem with it in that the earpiece is really quiet so I find it difficult to hear the other person talking. It appears to be a known problem (I googled it) and the way to fix it involves messing about with phone software to modify my phone. I don’t want that kind of hassle. I just want to be able to hear people without having to switch my mobile phone to speakerphone so the whole world can hear my conversation.

I bought it from the Carphone Warehouse so, stupidly, I thought they’d be able to help. So I called the shop where I bought it. Except you can’t ring the shop direct – you have to talk to their call centre. After they take ages to put you through, that is: two minutes’ worth of ‘if you are calling about x, press 1’ and then 30 seconds of sales spiel followed by ‘and if you are calling about y, press 2’, and then a three-minute wait for someone to answer because ‘our advisers are busy’.

And then it got interesting.

The girl on the end of the phone was so ditzy it was untrue. I told her the problem with my phone. (I’m an author. Before that I spent 10 years in Marketing Communications. Communication is my strong point. I’m polite and I don’t use jargon.)

‘Er, what’s wrong with it?’

So I try again. When I make a call it’s hard to hear the other person, so I think there’s a problem with the earpiece.

‘What’s an earpiece?’

At this point, I lost patience and started speaking in that really sweet, breathy voice you use to an irritating small child. (Rude of me, perhaps, but I did not shout or swear.) ‘You know when you hold the phone to your ear so you can hear the other person speaking? The bit you listen to is the earpiece.’ And I asked if they’d be able to do the software hack for me if I brought the phone in to a shop.

‘Is your phone broken?’

No, it’s just I can’t hear people because the earpiece is so quiet. Let me explain. I am deaf. Not stupid, it’s a physical thing. [This is why I hate telling people I’m deaf. They tend to equate deafness with low IQ. This is the quickest way to annoy me.] I need a phone with a loud earpiece. Can you recommend one?

‘Er, well, Sony are known for music, so theirs will probably be good.’

Give me strength. This is meant to be a company that finds the phone to suit your needs. This girl is barely even trying. ‘I don’t think you’re going to be able to help me, are you? Never mind. Bye bye.’

Then I tried a different shop. One without a call centre – I was connected to someone who worked in said shop in Norwich, was polite and friendly, and listened to what I had to say. ‘Oh, yes, a few people have had that problem – it’s because it’s a flip phone and there’s often a problem with the electrical connection to the speaker. You’d be better off with a bar-shaped phone.’ I explained that I am deaf and need a loud phone. ‘Which network are you with? Are you on a plan? Do you have a budget in mind? Right, that’s all easy. Nokia are good – they’re very reliable and they have a repair centre next to Mark’s and Spencer’s so if you do get a problem they can sort it quickly for you. If you can come in, we can show you what we have and work out which one’s right for you.’ In other words, good customer service. Why couldn’t the Carphone Warehouse girl have treated me like that?

So the Carphone Warehouse – with their poor customer service – have just lost my business. OK, so I’m not a heavy user of my mobile phone and I only change it if it’s broken/the battery stops keeping a decent charge (that’s every couple of years) - but I’m still a customer. Do I not deserve to be treated like a human being?

The saying used to be that an unhappy customer told 10 other people. With the advent of blogs, I’m guessing it would be considerably more than that...

last day of half term – and the d-word

Current work: archaeologist book c11/12
Listening to: The Fray (daughter complained about Rush…)
Reading: not had time :o(

Busy day yesterday – harvest festival assembly at school. It was my baby’s last one there, and our lovely bursar (formerly secretary) retired… so I admit to having tears in my eyes. Home, made cake, worked on book, school run, work, evening at school at retirement do (went very well).

Plan for today: ring dentist. My mouth still hurts and it’s been over a week now, so I’m guessing it’s probably an infection. I don’t want to be on codeine all weekend (I have a book to finish) so will have to be brave, as I don’t think it’s my dentist’s day at the practice (and she might have already started maternity leave). Just please don’t let it be the dentist who hurt me last time. I’m hoping it’ll be an x-ray and antibiotics. The idea of more pain… no, ta. (See Shirley’s blog for her other half’s major dental nightmare – puts this into perspective.)

Edit: the dentist was very nice and sympathetic – elderly Aussie, I think from the accent – I gave him the short version of the tooth story, and he had a look and said, ‘Inflammation – and pain that goes that deep usually means infection.’ So it’s a 10-day course of antibiotics, mouthwash – and codeine to get me through today because I can’t put up with the pain any longer (will be better in a day or two when the antibios kick in). Yeah, I’m a wuss. Too bad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

right and left brain

Current work: archaeologist book - tinkering with earlier chapters
Listening to: Ray Wilson
Reading: catching up on sleep instead

Radio interview went well yesterday. So did open day at school. DH was really late home so I didn't get as much done as I wanted to. Am out tonight on governor stuff. (And he really, REALLY needs to understand that this weekend must be work and no socialising on my part - or else I'm not taking time off at half term. Men. Sigh.)

As I'm busy, I'm going to leave you with a link - originally given to me by my Meds author friend Jessica Matthews - to see if you're right-brained or left-brained. Give it a try - do you see the dancer going clockwise (right brain), anticlockwise (left brain) or both? (For the record, I saw clockwise until I looked out of the corner of my eye while reading on the lefthand size of the page - then I could see anticlockwise movement. Son was definitely anticlockwise, and daughter was clockwise. DH had to be different: 'Hang on, it's just switched...')

And... being nerdy, of course I needed to know the science behind it. Which you will find here.

So are you left- or right-brained?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

vile child

Current work: archaeologist c10/11
Listening to: Suzanne Vega
Reading: next on TBR pile

Radio interviews went well yesterday; ditto guitar lesson and parent-teacher consultation (am v pleased with son and I like his teacher – he’s sensitive and has a good approach that will work well with son).

Son was a bit grumpy when I picked him up from school – turns out that this vile boy has a) claimed their teacher told him son was bottom of the class for everything except maths (complete rubbish for two reasons: teachers don’t discuss students with other students, and son is much further up the class than said vile child) and b) been walking round saying that son’s entire family are “lowlifes”. (How pleasant. Not.) I’ve spoken to son’s teacher about it because this is not acceptable behaviour – son will lash out if provoked, and being nasty about his family is the quickest way to wind him up. (His teacher will deal with it – and I noted that nothing I said was questioned. Actually, the vile child is known for this kind of behaviour and also lies like mad so his mother storms up to school and accuses other children of bullying him, when it’s actually the other way round.)

Was very tempted to tell son to return the name-calling and dub said vile child “clotted cream” (i.e. rich and thick) but resisted. Just. Instead, explained to son that in a) above it's untrue because vile child knows he's not as clever and is jealous, and in b) vile child is talking from an uninformed perspective (he doesn’t know us) so his opinion is worth precisely nothing. “His dad works for the Bank of Scotland and says it’s more powerful than the Bank of England...” Hilarious! Since when has a clearing bank (and not even one of the Big Four) made monetary policy? Vile child doesn’t have a clue about economics or even a grip on reality, does he? So maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh - could be fantasising because he doesn't get enough attention at home. (I would really, really like to lecture his parents on good manners and social mores, though.)

Today: interview with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire; work, work, work and a bit more work; school open day so I need to show my face as governor and wear make-up (will do that 3 mins before leaving house). And then work. Might have got more done yesterday had son actually DONE his homework instead of needing help with it at the last minute. He was supposed to do an outline for a story, so given what I do for a living it would’ve been a tad mean of me to make his dad be homework helper. So I gave him the quick and dirty guide to mindmapping a story (starts with character) and acted as an amanuensis to write down the structure as he dictated it. Seems he is on the side of people who loathe writing outlines…

Would also help my productivity if DH wouldn’t wake up at stupid o’clock, wake me up to check if I was asleep (duuuuh)… and then fall asleep again and snore while I’m wide awake. That’s two nights running he's done that. (And yes, that’s why I’m writing this at stupid o’clock. Either that or go buy myself a ‘chocolate tasting selection’ from Hotel Chocolat.) If he does it again tonight, he's sleeping on the sofa.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

exciting anthology

Current work: archaeologist c10/11
Listening to: Genesis, Calling All Stations (I like this album. A lot.)
Reading: Nicola Cornick, The Virtuous Cyprian (very good)

The Modern Heat/Sexy Sensation releases seem to have skipped a couple of months in Aus. I was a bit disappointed to think that Giovanni wouldn’t see the light of day (especially as it’s my 25th)… and I was just fossicking on the Aussie M&B site (as all paranoid authors do) when I discovered something… Am very excited to be in such company.

The radio interviews went really well yesterday; followed by a useful session in the library. I need to consolidate my notes and write them up properly, and then I can see where the gaps are.

Also had some really good post – as in my December paperbacks arrived yesterday. Both have nice covers - The Doctor's Very Special Christmas has a bauble and One Night, One Baby has a couple by a cathedral and lamp-posts (nooo... I haven't repeated the lamp-posts!). But, best of all – despite the fact that One Night, One Baby isn’t an October release, it’s been flagged as part of the Breast Cancer Campaign and 10p from each book is being donated. I am SO PLEASED. Apart from the fact that I’m doing the publicity for the M&B support for the campaign, it’s a cause close to my heart. I think my mum would approve of the way I’m making something bad into a way to help others, as she used to do a lot to promote the British Heart Foundation and became a cardiac nurse because her mum died from a heart condition. (I’ll spare you the gooey stuff, but my mum was the nicest person I’ve ever met and someone I admire deeply.)

Bit tired last night so I ended up loafing and watching Nigella. (Her version of eggy bread looked lovely… except not coated in that much sugar and I’d add a little cinnamon with the vanilla.) I have severe envy of her pantry. Cue much whimpering of ‘why can’t I have a pantry like that?’ and DH saying, ‘Well, you can, if you convert your office…’ – no, my books do not move…

Plan for today: school run, radio interview, guitar lesson, radio interview, school run – and in between work on fiction. (My lovely ed is being so nice about this. She knows I'm back in the land of the living and hasn't put any pressure on me.)

Monday, October 15, 2007

a day of interviews

Current work: nonfiction today
Listening to: Genesis, Calling All Stations
Reading: Lilian Darcy’s Café Du Jour (just finished it – was very, very good)

Busy day today – spending the morning in BBC Radio Norfolk’s NCR room chatting to radio stations across the country. Am going on be on BBC Southern Counties Radio and BBC Radio Manchester in the morning; am also doing a pre-recorded one with BBC Radio Leeds. More to come tomorrow and Wednesday. (And in between I’ll probably nip into the library and work there.)

This is all promotion for Mills & Boon’s support for the Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign – for every Modern or Modern Extra books bought this month, M&B will donate 10p to the campaign. Although I don’t have a book out this month (my next two will be available on the Mills & Boon website in November or in shops in December), M&B have asked me to do the promotional activity because they know it’s a cause very dear to my heart – I lost my mum to breast cancer, and my 2006 RNA award shortlisted book, Where the Heart Is, is very closely involved with the subject.

Apart from that, I spent Sunday morning baking – we went swimming in the afternoon with friends and had tea over at theirs, so of course I needed to make cheese stars and cookies and lemon cake. (Yes, THOSE ones. The recipes are all on the website.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

duvet day

Current work: um – no progress whatsoever yesterday
Listening to: Genesis, Calling All Stations
Reading: Lilian Darcy’s Café Du Jour (very, very good)

The SDP will no doubt be delighted to learn that I had a duvet day yesterday as well – with son and dog on sofa, watching Everybody Loves Raymond. Atrocious of me. (Also messed about on the piano as my new sheet music arrived.) The Genesis album is excellent – glad I bought it.

Today the headache has practically gone (though the bruise on my hand is quite spectacular now) and I might even get some work done…

Friday, October 12, 2007

back in the land of the living

Current work: slept all day yesterday
Listening to: Genesis, Calling All Stations
Reading: next up is Lilian Darcy’s Café Du Jour

Thanks to everyone who emailed me offloop or sent me cards. I’m fine now, thanks – a bit sore and headachy (it feels like a hangover), but no more pain.

Sedation is definitely the way to go. I was horribly nervous beforehand and I slept very badly the night before. But the anaesthetist was lovely and chatted to me about the sedation stuff (it’s a hypnol drug – apparently related to Valium) and the dentist was also lovely and reassuring, showed me my x-rays and pointed out that the teeth root were lovely and straight so it wasn’t going to be a difficult extraction. Anyway, the cannula hurt (always does, and I have a luvverly bruise this morning – not as bad as it would’ve been because they put pressure on it, but needles always mean bruises with me), and the sedation stuff… Well. Two seconds after it hit my veins, I felt woozy and smiley. And I have absolutely no recollection of what happened next. I remember being wobbly on my feet when I got off the chair, but I don’t remember leaving the building (I do hope I thanked the dentist), I don’t remember DH putting me in the car and I don’t remember walking in the front door. I do remember lying on the sofa and DH tucking a duvet round me, but that’s all. And that’s about all I did yesterday.

I was awake again when it was time for the school run and I thought the fresh air would do me good. Then DH had the bright idea of going out for dinner. ‘Er, honey, I can’t chew at the moment…’ So we ended up at Frankie and Benny’s – soup and risotto were both manageable.

Today: son is at home this morning as school is closed for the funeral of their former SENCO (a lovely, lovely man – son is quite upset about it). DH is taking Madam to school as I’m not quite feeling up to driving. I’ll see how it goes – might be another duvet day if the paracetamol doesn’t shift the headache; otherwise I’m halfway through a wedding in the book and I’d rather like to get on with it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

lovely music

Current work: archaeologist c9/10
Listening to: Ray Wilson, Live and Acoustic (is very, very good)
Reading: next up is Lilian Darcy’s Café Du Jour

Best statement meeting we’ve ever had yesterday. Really positive. Am thoroughly reassured about next year. Son is going to be happy, and that is the most important thing.

Thanks to everyone who's sent me private emails or commented here about my, ahem, scary day ahead. I'll be offline until tomorrow as I'm likely to be asleep. (No using machinery for 24 hours... hmm, I'd be gutted if I accidentally deleted my book, especially as I had enormous fun with the wedding yesterday... not to mention a lightbulb for one of next year's books.)

I actually had some post yesterday, yay. Ray Wilson’s “Live and Acoustic” arrived. Superb. His voice is just gorgeous (and, as I said, he’s a bit of a babe). Just to give you a flavour, here’s ‘Not About Us’ on YouTube. Listen to the lyrics as well – lightbulb stuff. I’d also recommend his MySpace page for more music - (I really like ‘Lemon Yellow Sun’).

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

the not so scary d*nt*st?

Current work: archaeologist c8/9/10
Listening to: Robert Plant (comfort music I can sing along to at the top of my voice is required right now – the louder the better so it drowns out the fear)
Reading: finished Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (absolutely excellent read)

Great guitar lesson yesterday, working on a McCartney piece. The end result was something that I’d have baulked at as 'too difficult' if Jim had presented it to me as written now, but because we built it up together I know what I’m doing and it’s manageable.

Got home to find message from the Scary Dentist to ring them. Gulp. Did so: they wanted a) to make sure I was still going to attend on Thursday [ye-es, but panicking hugely about it] and b) to run through the procedures and make sure I wasn’t worried about anything.

That’s SO sweet.

So even though I’m in severe quake mode right now (this is a big deal, actually – an extraction that couldn’t be completed last time because I was in so much pain and sobbing my eyes out) I feel a lot more reassured about it. I can even cope with the fact that the dentist is male. I think. (Well, I bought myself some more piano scores to help distract myself. DH will be pleased as while I was there I bought him the complete Nick Drake. Sadly, Jon Lord’s ‘Pictured Within’ is not available in a score. I really want to learn how to play ‘Wait a While’ – gorgeous piano, but I’m not quite up to working it out for myself. So I bought a couple of other books to, um, distract myself. Easy-play Bohemian Rhapsody. Heh heh heh.)

Parent-teacher consultation last night was as I expected. Madam's doing well. Less chatting while working (but they're going to move the class around a bit which will solve that one). We also have new strategies to stop her being bored with the books at school.

Then my best local friend dropped in for coffee as her daughter was canoeing with the cubs about 5 minutes away from us. (Yes, that did say cubs. Girls do cubs nowadays.) Nice chat and sorted out our 'early Christmas dinner'.

Today: statement meeting. SENCO (special educational needs co-ordinator) from son's new school will also be there, so that’s good; we can work together to make the transition as easy as possible for him. But it means I’m not going to get much work done today. And tomorrow… well, according to the Scary Dentist’s receptionist, I will probably spend most of tomorrow asleep.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Current work: archaeologist c8
Listening to: Plain White Ts (thanks to lovely DH)
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (excellent read)

With the postal strike, it’s kind of quiet around here. Will spare you the rant about how the strikers are shooting themselves in the foot because they’re affecting cashflow and operations for small businesses, who will turn elsewhere so they can keep their firms going.

Anyway, I had a ‘relief postie’ yesterday. Admittedly, said postie was about 30 years younger and two feet shorter than our usual postman – and also yelled through the letterbox, ‘Hello, the post is here’ before giggling her head off… Bless. And there was the sweetest, sweetest letter on the doormat. (Actually, she retrieved it and delivered it to my desk. Double postie duty.)

To Mum and Dad. Your [sic] the best parents. I love you two, I’ll hug you lots!

It was signed with love, kisses and the cutest little hearts.

That’s going in my keeper box. (And I’ll correct her grammar later. I’m not mean enough to do it when she’s just told me she loves me – why destroy the moment?)
Apart from that, yesterday was pretty busy.

  • School governor photographs (note to self: Kate Hardy, you are COMPLETELY round and you need to stop messing about and get an exercise routine in place)
  • piano lesson (went OK, need to practise the chords and also decide whether to look at a Liszt or Schumann piece next)
  • writing my book (my hero is really running away with me)
  • attending an open evening at son’s high school for next year (he LOVED it, so relief all round. And what caught his eye? The science lab and the business studies (they don't do the latter until Year 10... but it looks like a really interesting course)

Was also a teensy bit naughty on the CD front yesterday.

OK, I was seriously bad.

Apart from wheedling DH into buying me the PWT album this weekend, I caught half of a programme about Genesis on Saturday evening. My favourite era for them is the mid-to-late 70s – particularly ‘Wind & Wuthering’, which is in my all-time top 5 albums. Then the programme moved on to the late 80s and the 90s, the stuff that turned me off. (‘Invisible Touch’ etc – DH was very scathing at this point about Phil Collins. Although I reminded him that ‘In the Air Tonight’ and a couple of his other solo tracks are very good, he countered with ‘Sussudio’ – sigh, can’t argue with that as it's a terrible song.) I was going to flick channels when suddenly I heard this gorgeous voice. Not something I recognised (and I, ahem, have a lot of Genesis albums, on vinyl and CD). Turns out it was a guy called Ray Wilson. I didn’t bother buying ‘Calling All Stations’ back in 1997 because I’d been so bored by ‘I Can’t Dance’ and the like – and I’ve discovered that I missed out on something excellent. Have remedied this now. And after a dabble on YouTube I’ve also bought a couple of Ray’s solo albums, because I like his voice and his musical style. (Millionairhead – the album that was the equivalent to the next Genesis album – is available on his website. So I picked that up as well… Apparently he signs orders from his website so I’m looking forward to that. He’s a bit of a babe, too.)

And finally - my part of the world is known for its amazing skies. This gloriously dramatic sky is what I woke up to this morning:

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sensational romance

Current work: archaeologist c7 (got hijacked by nonfiction yesterday)
Listening to: Plain White Ts (thanks to lovely DH)
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (excellent read)

So – my exciting news.

For those of you who love Modern Extra books (Modern Heat, as from January – and they’re going retail in the US then too, yippee), you might like to mosey along to our brand new joint website, where you can find out all about the books and the authors (and some secrets… and not-so-secret secrets…)

And in the meantime, I have a book to write (well, not the whole thing) and piano to practise before my lesson this morning, guitar to practise before tomorrow’s lesson, nice biscuits to purchase ready for statement meeting on Wednesday – and no thinking about Thursday because otherwise I will be a quivering wreck and do nothing. I need to work to keep myself occupied. Go and see us on the new website. :o)

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Current work: archaeologist c7 ; nonfiction research

It’s fairly well known that I work on two books at a time – a fiction and a nonfiction. (It's my way of avoiding writer's block.) Actually, at the moment, I have two nonfiction books on the go (just signed the contract for the second one this week, deadline not until March). I did most of the pics for the second book last year, but there’s one particular place that’s not generally open to the public.

Anyway, this morning I was working on my fiction. For no reason whatsoever I decided to nip into Google to look up this particular place – and discovered that it’s open today as part of the village flower festival. Now, how spooky is that? The day I decide to multitask and write a nice letter to the owner, I discover I can actually go and see it! (Even spookier, given the book's working title... but I digress.)

So this afternoon I am dragging the kids and DH off on a location research trip. Afterwards, we’re going via the train station to sort out train tickets for our trip to London in half term and also my lunch with my publisher on Nov 2.

And tomorrow I’ll be announcing something exciting. (To do with Modern Heat.) So do come back and say hello…

Friday, October 05, 2007

Dream home

Current work: archaeologist c4
Listening to: Josh Groban (daughter is word-perfect on 'In her Eyes')
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (excellent read)

Nicked this from Fiona Harper’s blog.

Your home is a

Magnate's Hideout

Your kitchen is someplace you never go, because you "have people for that." There's a Chocolatessen, which is rapidly becoming your favorite room of the house. Having one is also becoming a trend among your wealthy neighbors. Your master bedroom is the size of a small barn, with carpet thick enough to reach your ankles. Your study has hardback editions of every classic ever written, plus a special edition of Rich Dad, Poor Dad with the parts you ghost-authored highlighted. One of your garages holds your collection of ferraris, and is measured in acreage.

Your home also includes a guest wing and private quarters for your servants. Outside is your hedge maze and gardens, meticulously tended by a team of world-class botanists.

And, you have a pet -- a doberman pincer named "Warren".

Below is a snippet of the blueprints:

Build YOUR Dream Home!

Hugely amusing. Ballroom would be for daughter (but it needs pink, fluffiness and sparkles). Romance library and chocolates, fine (don’t care about my waistline today as I’m on countdown to the scary dentist appointment with sedation). Ferraris will keep my son and husband amused. But an AI testing centre? LOL. Kate Nerdy’s there, all right.

Maze? Hmm. No, I want a moat. With swans. And a greenhouse would be nice.

A Dobermann? No. Spaniels. (Plural. I am still getting nowhere with my puppy campaign.)

The library is way too small. (And I want it stocked with books and comfy chairs, not chandeliers and chocolates. And an archive section with rare medieval manuscripts.)

As for never being in the kitchen: er – I cook most of this family’s meals from scratch, thank you (OK, so we go out to dinner a couple of times a month). And I like cooking. I love baking. (Yeah, yeah. We know about the weight problem. I cook healthy stuff. But then the scents of vanilla and chocolate tempt me…)



Thursday, October 04, 2007

I love my job

Current work: archaeologist c3
Listening to: Josh Groban
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (excellent read)

I’m so enjoying writing this book. Alex (my archaeologist) has really come alive. I hope my ed likes him as he’s… I suppose, another Seb. A charmer, impulsive, and gets his own way (but in a nice way – his sheer enthusiasm carries everyone with him). I had great fun with the research yesterday (the wedding).

And I love this book.

It really feels good to be back in love with my job. Earlier this year, I was debating about going back to the rat race. Days like this, I’m glad I didn’t take that step.

Also had nice post – German copy of His Honourable Surgeon (‘Der Doktor und die Lady’) and Danish copy of The Consultant’s Christmas Proposal. Plus books from a friend (happy wiggle).

Sorted my post yesterday, made the cakes (as I half-expected, DH did the "well, if you made one for school, where's one for me to take to the office?" ... called his bluff and made two), had meeting.

Heard back from the library - all bar three of my pics are fine. The remainer need permission elsewhere - two are from the photographer who did my wedding pics and they were lovely when I rang to ask, and I've been warned in advance that the other tends to say no so I need to work out another way of getting the image. Guess I'll be talking to the people who have the painting hanging to ask if I can come and take a pic...

Plan for today: early guitar lesson (switched from Tues) and then back to my book. So it's a good day ahead.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

gearing up a notch

Current work: archaeologist c3
Listening to: Josh Groban, Awake
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (excellent read)

Good day yesterday. I’ve finally decided to move accountants, so I rang a couple to see what they could offer me. One seemed nice enough, and am waiting for callback from senior partner later today. Another is coming to see me. (Excellent phone call – the guy is on my wavelength – and I was impressed by the firm’s professionalism. Let’s see what he has to say when we meet – after half term and after my deadline book is in, just before my daughter’s birthday and my meeting in London with my editor and my agent. I have a seriously busy last week of October.)

Also had coffee and chocolate torsades with Caroline and talked Medicals.

Finalised the current PM job, so I can bill it (hooray).

Long phonecall from my dad, and the good news is all his tests are clear. (I thought they would be. But at least it will stop him worrying.)

And then it was school run, Madam’s swimming lesson, and a bit of work on the book in between. I’m having fun and enjoying writing again, and that’s a Very Good Thing.

Plan for today: I believe there’s going to be a postal strike from tomorrow until Tuesday so I need to get all my promised post out NOW (including new contract which I could swear I put on my desk but I’ve mislaid temporarily – my desk is a skip). I also need to write up the PRESMA minutes, make a cake for tonight’s governor meeting, and get my RNA entry in. Also need to decide if it’s worth entering the RITAs or not. I think my voice is probably too British, but I’m open to persuasion. And in between I’m going to write the next chapter or two (having worked out where the heroine lives, I have a wedding to plan – fictional, that is).

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Current work: PM job/archaeologist c2
Listening to: Kate Rusby, The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (thanks to DH who indulged me)
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (very, VERY good – the setting is superb, the heroine is lovely, and it’s clearly been properly researched – better still, the research doesn’t show!)

Yesterday seemed to vanish, too. But the book is back on track (and I’m just tweaking something slightly to make it even more emotional in the middle) and the meeting yesterday was good albeit long!

Plan for today: have swapped guitar to Thursday because I’m, um, loafing this morning, aka having coffee with Caroline Anderson and talking Medicals. So it’s sort of work… (All right, it’s loafing.) Will be focused this afternoon, then it’s school run, and then Madam’s swimming lesson. And then I’m head down working.

Monday, October 01, 2007

where did the weekend go?

Current work: PM job/archaeologist c2
Listening to: Kate Rusby, The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly (thanks to DH who indulged me)
Reading: Jane Jackson, Dangerous Waters (very, VERY good – the setting is superb, the heroine is lovely, and it’s clearly been properly researched – better still, the research doesn’t show!)

The last couple of days have just vanished. Saturday, did some work (albeit not as much as I intended); went shopping for new beds for the children; spent the evening at DH’s brother’s playing games and talking too much. Sunday, spent rather a lot of time nagging son about homework and presentation etc; sorting out statement letter; and dragged into town shopping with DH and the kids. The idea was to take some of the last pics for the history book… except St George’s Colegate was closed and they’re doing some restoration work, so we couldn’t even look properly round the outside. I think the gravestone I was after might not be visible any more, there are no extant pictures of my subject, and his biography isn’t much use either. So I’ll have to think up something else to illustrate that particular story. Maybe chat to the Records Office… (And no, this isn’t one of my trumped-up excuses to visit the archives!)

Today… finishing off some PM work and then focusing on the book. Need to do a post office run, too. PRESMA meeting tonight – mm, so I also need to make a cake this morning. That can be cooking while I’m going through the PM proofs.