Friday, November 30, 2007

how many days to go?

Current work: revisions to Modern Heat (archaeologist)
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: Judith Lennox, All My Sisters

Yesterday was a bit scuppered. Two littlies at home with a tummy bug. I am a bad mother because instead of being the ministering angel (hmm – that’s the Victorian idealised view of the perfect mum) I let them curl up on the sofa with the dog and a duvet and watch the Simpsons. I was in the room next door so I was well within hailing distance, and I checked on them every half an hour… but… arggh. Work. Christmas preparations. Difficult. Especially when they perk up and you hear a herd of elephants going upstairs. Then again, it’s a tummy bug. They’re on the mend but I don’t want to send them back today in case it takes another downturn or they pick up another one on top of it.

I can feel the panic starting now…

Good weekend lined up. ‘Early Christmas’ with my fave aunt and uncle tomorrow (am doing beef rather than turkey, though) and hopefully finishing my revisions and the Christmas shopping on Sunday; plus I want to look in Smith’s as I have TWO M&Bs out this month… (The Doctor’s Very Special Christmas – a weepie to warm your heart – and One Night, One Baby, aka my stormchaser.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

focusing on work

Current work: revisions to Modern Heat (archaeologist)
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: Judith Lennox, All My Sisters

Busy with book; nothing to say!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

REALLY busybusy

Current work: revisions to Modern Heat (archaeologist)
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: Judith Lennox, All My Sisters

Yesterday... let's just say I was sleep-deprived. Am very glad Madam didn't wake me up in the middle of the night again.

Busy on revisions today and I am NOT going to be distracted by admin stuff or music lessons or the fact that my desk is a tip or... anything at all. (Well, apart from the weekly shop being delivered and there are Christmas presents in it - I have never, EVER been this disorganised or late re Christmas before and I am not happy about it.)

But revisions must be done FIRST.

In the meantime, for anyone local, just a reminder that Waterstone’s has a local author event on 12 December. I’m joined by Keith Skipper and Neil Storey. Obviously it’s nonfiction – as Ottakar’s they launched my first M&B here, but as Waterstone’s sadly they don’t stock M&B. But if anyone brings either – or both! – of my two new M&Bs in, I’m more than happy to sign them. :o)

Here’s the poster from their window:

Monday, November 26, 2007

at a rate of knots

Current work: revisions to Modern Heat (archaeologist)
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: Judith Lennox, All My Sisters (enjoying thoroughly – she usually writes stories with three or four main characters and has such a brilliant handle on them all that they’re thoroughly amalgamated; her characters are strong and very easy to identify/sympathise with; and in this one she’s fantastic at evoking the Edwardian period. I first read her years ago, with ‘Some Old Lover’s Ghost’ (which is superb) and she’s an autobuy author for me because she always delivers an excellent read)

Busy weekend. Actually, Friday was a bit of a washout because on Thursday night I’d felt really tired and persuaded DH to get a Chinese takeaway. Bad move. I spent Friday completely unable to face food, Saturday wasn’t much better, and I had to confess to my sister yesterday why I was only picking rather than eating properly. (Positive side: might kick-start me into a diet which I need to work on NOW, before the wedding in March – will have to confess to my diet buddies that I have been too half-hearted and not really focusing on it.)

Anyway. Feeling rough aside, Friday I finished the work I wanted to do bar some last bits of research; Saturday morning was library time and afternoon was writing up my notes; yesterday was a skivy day off to Essex to see my family (and wow, the babies have grown hugely! They’re walking while holding on to your hands, now, and it brought back a lot of memories for me of when mine were that little, not so very long ago).

Plan for today: sort to-do list so I can get organised (in other words, I have a lot of little time-consuming things to do which MUST be done today); piano lesson; revisions to my book.

Oh, and here are a couple of arty pics I took in the car last night on the way home – 15-second exposures on the ‘starry sky’ setting (yeah, yeah – I know I should’ve bought a proper SLR to give me manual control over the exposure time – but point-and-shoot suits me better right now). The first is the M25 and the second is the M11.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Mozart

Those of you who were concerned about Fred’s owner yesterday will no doubt be pleased to hear that Fred has been found – even better, he’s dry and not muddy! Klepto-dog had wandered into the spare room (he's also nosey as well as a shoe/teddy thief) and left Fred among the ironing. (And no, of course I didn’t discover Fred while tackling the Ironing Everest. It was a search, not a penance...)

Very productive day yesterday. Started with a trip to the Norfolk & Norwich Association for the Blind to take a pic of the founder’s statue – they were really, really kind and helpful. Then to see my contact at the Norfolk Records’ Society to pick up a book or two I’d ordered. (All right. So there were four. They were research material. As were the three books that arrived in the post yesterday. Now, books are not frivolous purchases – they are the necessary tools of an author, yes?) (Rhetorical question. Of course they are. Necessary, I mean, not frivolous.) Then to the city, where I finished the research I needed to do on HVV and took the pics I needed of printed woodcuts (many years out of copyright, I should add – I am particular about not breaching copyright. Apart from the fact it’s against the law, it’s morally wrong).

Then I did some of the last bits of Christmas shopping (which leaves me six people to sort out, plus DH and the kids), bought my Christmas cards (will tackle them in batches), and came home to a seriously noisy environment. The smoke detector kept beeping (it’s wired into the mains so if the electric goes off it beeps every few seconds), and someone’s house alarm was clearly the type that was triggered by electricity going off and was screeching permanently. I could hear it even with the hearing aid off, so I dropped off the shopping, made a fuss of Klepto-dog (who practically glued himself to me – ‘Mummeeeee, I am so neglected’ – he’s used to me being around all day. And he’s one of the reasons why I can’t ever go back to a ratrace job, because I can’t let my lovely boy go into a sad decline). Met the kids from school and took them Sainsbury’s cafĂ© – a) because it’s nearer than the city and b) the electricity wasn’t due back on until 4.30 and the noise was unbearable.

Two of my missing Amazon orders turned up today (phew); and I also had something nice from my lovely, lovely publisher. And a set of proofs. And a set of revisions. So I’m going to be a busy bunny over the next few days, especially as I’m out on Sunday at my sister’s.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

butter wouldn’t melt…

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Suzanne Vega

This dog looks sweet and innocent, right?


This is Klepto-dog.

A dog who steals shoes – doesn’t chew them, just pinches one of a pair, cuddles it for a while, then leaves it somewhere and the owner has to spend ages searching for said shoe. Often it turns up at the bottom of the garden, behind the apple tree, where it’s been left overnight in the rain. (If it’s one of my shoes he is in DEEP trouble as I only possess three pairs of shoes, and two of them have high heels and are therefore unsuitable for driving and the school run.)

But on Tuesday night he went a step too far. He stole Fred. Fred is a teddy whose owner cannot sleep without him – and Fred is irreplaceable because, in his owner’s words, ‘I’ve had Fred ever since I was born…’ (Cue wobbly bottom lip.) I tried offering a substitute (which was rejected); I’ve turned the house upside down and Fred is still missing… and I can’t search for him today as I’m out taking pics for the book/picking up books/working in the library while our electricity is off for the day. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I don’t usually post political rants but this particular case deserves one. I’m not sure what shocks me more:

  • The fact that the government has lost 2 CD-roms containing the names, addresses and date of birth of every child in the country, along with their parents’/guardians’/carers bank account and National Insurance details
  • The fact that it has been missing FOR A MONTH and the public is only told about it now (it happened on 18 October and the Met Police weren’t involved until 14 November – and apparently it was agreed that ‘remedial action’ should be taken before a public statement was made yesterday. Hmm – should that not have been made quite a lot earlier? It’s possible to communicate bad news without panicking people, as long as you explain what’s happened and what they need to do now. Not difficult - and they still haven't done that properly)
  • The fact that the government uses CD-roms rather than downloading the data through a secure link
  • The fact that the government transfers said CD-roms using a postal system that isn’t recordable/tracked properly (give me strength)
  • The fact that senior management at the Revenue have known about this for nearly a fortnight (they were told 2 weeks after the event) and decided to wait to see if they could find the data first (not good enough)

Anyone handling data like this is meant to be trained in Data Protection Act protocol. This is a major breach of the law. They’ve messed up so badly, it’s almost unbelievable.

I think the government needs to explain its security procedures (within limits) to reassure the 7.5 million families and 25 million individuals affected that this will NOT happen again with other forms of record (health is the first one that springs to mind). A simple ‘check your account for unusual activity’ isn’t really enough communication on the issue. The banks are likely to be run off their feet with people panicking and wanting to change their account details (and those with offshore call centres are going to have the extra difficulty of a language barrier and a culture barrier here...).

What about the possibilities of identity fraud? And with incompetence at this level, how on earth could we trust this system (OK, this government) to deal with identity cards and keep people’s details secure?

Interestingly, the company involved is TNT. I have three orders from Amazon which haven’t arrived (one of them was apparently sent to me on 5 November). If the first one isn’t here by Friday, they have agreed to replace it (they have yet to reply to my other two queries)… but guess which company they used as a courier? Yup. TNT. I have no confidence in them (and I’m rapidly losing my confidence in Amazon).

The only one who has behaved with even the slightest honour in the data fiasco is Paul Gray, the head taxman, who resigned over this. A head of a department actually taking responsibility for his juniors’ action – now that’s refreshing. He messed up, he admitted it, and he did the decent thing. He could’ve hidden behind excuses, as many of the fat cats do. So I admire him for being a man of principle. (I’d employ him, actually, because a mistake of this magnitude means he’d run a very tight ship in the future.)

Let's hope that today will see much more effective communication from the government. But this, following the Northern Rock fiasco, could well bring the government down.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

good things come in threes

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Sandy Denny

Yesterday started off with a bit of a wobble – turned the PC on when I got home, and was shocked to see my screen had turned red. Uh-oh. Loose wire or something more sinister? Had a quick panic: the idea of having my PC in with the tecchy guys to sort a graphics card, when I have lots of work to do in the next 6 weeks, is scary in the extreme. (I even rang my lovely tecchy shop. Who laughed and said, stop worrying as it’s most likely to be a dodgy wire… take them ALL out and put them back in. So I did.)

Relief: it was indeed a dodgy wire. So that was the first good thing: computer was OK.

Next, the post arrived, with a copy of Strictly Legal from Brazil. My first translation from there, so I was really chuffed. And then I moseyed over to the Harlequin website for Brazil, and discovered that In The Gardener’s Bed is also coming out there. (Dear tax inspector, please may I go to Rio…?) Here are the covers – which are definitely different:

And then I had a phone call from Waterstone’s (as in the branch that used to be Ottakar’s, which threw the launch party for my very first M&B, A Baby of Her Own). Would I go and do a signing? (Sure.) And a talk? (Err… how long?) 30 minutes. (Eek!) We’ve agreed that I’m going to do a reading. With a difference: because it’s the Norfolk Almanac of Disasters, I’m going to get people to give me a day and I’ll tell them what happened on it… So there we go.

Lovely start to the week. And I don’t think I’ve mentioned this yet, but I’m going to see the Tutankhamun exhibition for my birthday, with DH, the kids and my best friend (booked the tickets on Friday night) so that’s lovely too. And I booked our family tickets for the panto. Was tempted to book Kate Rusby for me, but the available seats aren’t that good. (My fault for leaving it so late.) Am also temped by the Mediaeval Baebes – the Playhouse is very small so it’d be great. Then again… (Had it been Kathryn Williams, I wouldn’t even be dithering: I would’ve bought my ticket the day the box office opened. And I would dearly love to see Sheryl Crow…)

Plan for today: guitar this morning, then meeting a friend for lunch, and the PRESMA (pre-school music association – I’m a trustee) AGM tonight. And in between sneaking in some work.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Special offer: Breakfast at Giovanni’s

Just realised that it’s the 19th today, not the 18th! (I did say I'd been busy this weekend...) So I have some very good news to share.
If you live in the UK, you have a second chance to get hold of a copy of my 25th Mills & Boon release, Breakfast at Giovanni’s.

Mills & Boon are running a promotion with QS clothing shops. Customers who spend £15 will get a free book - either Breakfast at Giovanni's or Fiona Harper’s award-winning first novel Blind-Date Marriage.

Better still, you also get a coupon for £2 off any other M&B series book, redeemable at W H Smith’s.
QS have more than 200 shops across the country and you can find your nearest one here.
Go treat yourself to something nice... and get a good read to go with it!

productive weekend

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Michelle Styles, The Christmas Wedding Wager (I loved this – some of the twists I guessed, but that’s because of some of my nonfiction, and her details are absolutely accurate so it was really satisfying. Great heroine, gorgeous hero (I could see Mr Armitage acting this role…), a plot that really worked, and lots of wonderful (and accurate) period detail. And VERY Christmassy… it really put me in the mood.)

So. Saturday, went shopping with DH and the kids. He made the mistake of ‘we’ll do the boy stuff, you get our niece’s birthday present’. Righty. Soon as the boys had gone off to find Dr Who stuff, Madam looked at me. ‘Does this mean we can go shoe-shopping?’ (Ha. Well, she has to make up for me, because I have more Radley handbags than pairs of shoes (four handbags, since you ask – which isn’t that bad).) We found this gorgeous pair of suede boots, and then there was the phone call. ‘Where are you?’ Um. In the shoe shop…

I also did the majority of my Christmas shopping on Saturday – online. Much, MUCH easier than struggling round crowded shops with heavy bags. I have a really manageable list for Thursday (when we have no electricity so I can’t work at home – it’s to do with work on a transformer – but am going to have library time to finish off HVV and pick up some books I’ve ordered from the Norfolk Record Society).

Then I went through How To Research Local History to prepare the second edition. Interesting exercise. You need to:
  • check if the audience has changed in terms of gender/age/background/overseas markets (in which case you need to alter the tone or scope of the book – in my case, it hasn’t, and it’s still aimed at beginners so it’s still practical)
  • catch any typos that slipped through the last edition (there were about three so I was very pleased)
  • address any criticism from reviews (mine had wonderful reviews, because it is a practical guide. The only negative coment was that the index was too thin, which I will address at proof stage – it’s impossible to do it before because you need the correct page numbers)
  • check details of all contact addresses, websites, phone numbers and email (and blimey, there were a lot of them!)
  • think about adding value (I have – expanded some sections and added two new appendices of useful information)

And yes, it was time-consuming.

  • Stage one, go through old book in pencil, checking info and adding sticky notes to the page so I know there’s a change when I come to mark up in stage six.
  • Stage two, read through the text and make additions/corrections.
  • Stage three, there’s been a house style change in headings, so go through all headings and alter where necessary, making sure they’re changed in the index.
  • Stage four, another readthrough to check I’ve caught everything I intended to.
  • Stage five, add new copy.
  • Stage six, transfer all changes (either to a fresh copy of the book in red pen or, as I thought it made more sense for the typesetter to follow, on a Word file - I really hope my editor agrees that print is easier to read than an author's scrawl).

Plan for today: other history book. Note to self: no slacking on the internet. The d-word approacheth.

Friday, November 16, 2007

new book cover

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Nicola Cornick

Am busy with books so thought you might like to see the new cover (of the book whose second edition I need to sort out this weekend…) I’m very pleased with it: looks classy. (And this book has had excellent reviews – the critics say it’s perfect for someone who’s just starting out and wants to know what’s out there and where to begin. Which is exactly what the aim was, so I’m pretty chuffed.)

The children's schools are both doing a non-uniform charity day today... so my daughter is angling to wear her posh Monsoon dress. Um, not when she's likely to get paint and felt-tips on it...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

busybusy – and Santa

Current work: fiction and n0nfiction
Listening to: Yes, Going for the One
Reading: The Interpretation of Murder (am struggling to read this – I think the narrator is smug, though at the same time over-egging his humility about being not worthy to talk to Freud (which reminds me of the Bill and Ted scene with Alice Cooper). So far, I don’t like the tone, and some of the details are too gritty for my taste. I might have to give up on this one; though I feel guilty as it was a present from a good friend. Is just not my cuppa tea.)

Today am busy with books and sourcing pics. Had a quote in for two pics I want to borrow – bit steep. Will see what my publisher thinks. Would be a shame not to have them, but they’re eye-wateringly expensive. Am just glad that the other institutions I’ve approached share my view that these are stories that are part of our heritage and should be shared, so they’ve been really kind about loaning images I simply can’t get (mainly because many of my subjects died before I was born).

And I really must move the fiction from the thinking stage to the writing stage.

And I need to do my Christmas shopping.

It’s been reported in the news this week that Santas with a certain firm in Sydney have been advised not to say ‘ho ho ho’ because it’s too close to the American slang ‘ho’ and is offensive to women – for pity’s sake, Santa is for CHILDREN. (The recruitment company is backtracking hastily and saying they’ve left it up to the discretion of each Sanda.) Hmm. What’s next – the Seven Dwarfs no longer being allowed to sing ‘Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go’? Political correctness gone mad. It would be so nice if our children could be allowed to be children, without this pressure to grow up so quickly, cake on make-up (for the girls) and think about their sexuality (why on earth should it matter whether Dumbledore is straight or gay? What's the big deal?).

I’m ranting. Better shut up and get back to work. For fans of Kate Walker’s Hecks, you might like to read this news story here

Edit: and another story. Fabulous. The equivalent for me would be suddenly coming across something in an archive... (I had to have a little antiquarian book spree after this. Could be worse. I don't do maps... yet. The day will come.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

lucky for some/I love my publisher

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Genesis, Wind & Wuthering

There are many superstitions about the 13th. Yesterday, it was a super day for me. Guitar in the morning (did an arrangement of ‘Every Breath You Take’, which is just lovely on classical guitar); bit of work on the book; school run (saw a double rainbow as I left – then hit the hailstorm and it was bucketing down in the playground); madam’s swimming lesson; and then the Jarrold's booksigning.

I had a wonderful time. It was lovely to meet Neil Storer and Mark Cocker; and Mike, the head of the books department, really looked after us. Any excuse to talk history *g * - and it’s quite a confidence boost, walking into a book department with a big pile of your books on the table. (Mine are in the middle.)

Not to mention the big placard advertising it…

And then this morning I had a delivery of a case of wine from my publisher to say thanks for my help on a publicity campaign. (I wasn’t expecting it, so it was even nicer. It’s a cause close to my heart so I didn’t mind in the least talking to various radio presenters and talking about the medical bits as well as about the company and romance in general – as far as I’m concerned, the more publicity for Breast Cancer Awareness, the better.)

And I have a gorgeous cover for the second edition of How To Research Local History (note to self: sort the text this weekend. Problem is, in the second edition you’re meant to address issues that cropped up in reviews. My reviews were all really positive. So I need to think how else I can improve it… which I guess means adding pictures).

Life is pretty good on Planet Kate at the moment…

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

ticking away

Current work: fiction and nonfiction
Listening to: Pink Floyd
Reading: Donna Hayes, Some Kind of Hero

The weekend has just vanished. Am pleased to report that, bar some damage at Cromer, Lowestoft and Walcot, this part of the world managed to keep a few centimetres on the right side of the surge. The newspapers report that it was pretty close.

Spent the weekend licking the nonfiction into shape and dragged the family out on a photoshoot.

Piano lesson good, yesterday – not perfect on the Katie Melua but a huge improvement. Started a new piece: Liszt’s ‘Liebestraum’. More work on book. Quick chat with local newspaper’s chief librarian (am on the hunt for my remaining pictures). Governor meeting (was long but useful). More work. Sleeeeeep. (I had a very interesting dream on Sunday night involving Hugh Grant. Can’t remember it now, but I woke up smiling yesterday.)

Plan for today: guitar, as much work as possible, and then a booksigning at Jarrold’s in Norwich from 6-9 pm. If any readers happen to be in the area, do come in and say hello.

Also might have some exciting news to reveal about next week...

Friday, November 09, 2007


Current work: fiction and n0nfiction
Listening to: Justin Currie

I was early for my meeting yesterday so nipped into the cathedral to get one of my last pictures for the book. It was very strange, being the only person in the whole cathedral apart from the organist (who was playing Elgar) and one member of staff. I ended up tiptoeing.

Meeting good; then home, sorted out some notes... and caught the weather forecast. They’re predicting a storm surge around here – they say maybe as bad as 1953 (which had a 3.2m surge – the predicted one is 2.9m and we have a similar forecast and tides to 31 January 1953), and we’ve just had the biggest evacuation of people in the flood warning areas since 1953 (which was a national tragedy – the 1978 floods were also very serious).

I’m hoping that it won’t be as bad as expected. We have a better warning system in place than we had in 1953 (flood sirens that our dear government wants to replace with text messages – HOW STUPID IS THAT?… oh yes, it’s cheap and we’re not in London) but we also have flood barriers that are in appalling condition and completely inadequate (we’re not in London so we’re not one of this government’s priorities). Now, I know from my research on the Norfolk Almanac of Disasters that the east coast is hit pretty regularly with flooding (every 20-30 years it’s REALLY bad). So the said flood barriers are NOT a luxury – without them, there’s a real risk to life and an appalling amount of damage (insured, possibly, but large insurance payouts means that insurance costs for EVERYONE rise, and some flood areas are now practically uninsurable).

This part of the country is the driest, hottest and sunniest region and it's a fabulous place to live, but there is a downside: we’re also very low-lying. According to the environment agency, about 25% of the area (which also includes Lincolnshire) is below sea level and we have 160km of coastline. So it doesn’t bode well for us. Southtown Road in Yarmouth is already flooded, as is Blakeney; the sea has also gone through the doors of the lifeboat museum in Cromer. At the time of writing, we have 50 schools closed in the county because of flooding or flood alert; we have 8 severe flood warnings, 9 flood warnings and 25 flood watch warnings in the region. So I really, really hope everyone stays safe.

Edit: Seems we've escaped the worst - very relieved. Our local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, has pics here.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

settling in again

Current work: various bits and bobs
Listening to: Phil Manzanera, Listen Now
Reading: considering what’s next on my TBR pile…

Nice day yesterday – put some roses and freesias on my mum’s grave, then went out to lunch with my dad at a local pub. Scrummy food (and my diet buddies – waves to Diane and Melissa – would be proud of my choice: Italian chicken with new potatoes and lots and lots of green veg, and NO PUDDING).

Have more or less sorted the new layout of my website and talked to my lovely designer. (I want something I can update myself very easily – I just don’t have the time to spend on learning CSS between now and March, and I want the website up and running in January, so…)

Came home to nice post – Italian copies of Her Celebrity Surgeon and Dutch copies of The Cinderella Project. Didn’t do much actual work; tinkered with book outline. Am thinking about giving up the project management work, but need to mull over the financial implications plus the ‘all eggs in one basket’ thing.

Plan for today: meeting with potential new accountant. (Am not coughing so much, though still sound as if I have a 40-a-day habit.) And a bit of shopping as I have a friend’s birthday. Also need to sort my Christmas shopping – am doing as much as I can online so I don’t have to face crowds and lugging heavy bags around. Next week for that, I think. And I must finish that outline. (I woke up with the first scene this morning, which is a good sign.)

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

day off

Current work: finished doing website update yesterday. Am skiving off today.
Listening to: Del Amitri, The Collection
Reading: Amy Andrews, The Italian Count’s Baby (finished it last night – excellent conflict, and I think Katya’s mum should’ve got some just deserts…)

Day off (ish) today. Sorting admin this morning, then off to put flowers on my mum’s grave (it would’ve been her 62nd birthday tomorrow) and take my dad out to lunch.
This evening… depends on how much I’m coughing (woke up coughing in the middle of the night and that was quite freaky!) but it really ought to be either tinkering with my outline or doing some solid work on the second edition of How To Research Local History. (It’s only been out a year. Second edition already? … and the idea is to change it according to your reviews. The only negative comment I had was lack of pics. But that still seems a bit… well… not enough. I dunno.)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

sneak previews of the new books…

I’ve spent much of the day working at a very gentle pace (waves to the Slowing Down Police), so my website is now up to date. (It’s going to have a makeover soon, but I’m keeping that under wraps until I’m ready!)

So do go over and take a look (and I have to say I’m very pleased with my November/December bookshelf – what do you think?).

There are also some new excerpts – from The Doctor’s Very Special Christmas and One Night, One Baby , both of which are out in the UK shops at the end of this month (and the Christmas book is out in Aus and the US too) – and a page about my new medical, The Spanish Consultant’s Love-Child (including a very scrummy recipe for spinach).

Go and have a read. Meet Rob and Emma (and yes, you may recognise her dog) and Jane and Mitch. Enjoy. (And then – if you want to get your hands on them early – they’re on the Mills & Boon website.)

enjoying the sunshine

Current work: tail end of PM job/med duo outline/nonfiction
Listening to: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Raising Sand (really not sure about this – the only track that grabbed me on first listen was one written by Robert and Jimmy Page. I like their voices but sadly the songs don’t work for me)
Reading: Amy Andrews, The Italian Count’s Baby (enjoying it)

Have more or less finished the PM job – just waiting for a couple of queries to resolve. Am still dog tired (and still coughing, sigh), so am taking it relatively easy today: tinkering with an outline and doing a little work on the nonfiction. Am going to shift my accountancy meeting again, though, as I’m not feeling up to it. (I’ve cancelled my music lessons this week, too, which says a lot.) It’s sunny today so I’d love to take the dog out for a long walk – but I can’t match his pace at the moment because it makes me cough. The infection really needs to go before next Tuesday, when I’m doing a signing at Jarrolds’ customer evening.

I also need to update my website... new books...

Monday, November 05, 2007

a weekend of partying…

Current work: PM job
Listening to: Del Amitri, The Collection
Reading: Sarah Morgan, The Magic of Christmas (read it Friday night – excellent book and the secondaries as always are just wonderful)

Am completely shattered after some excellent but busy days. So what have I been up to?

Thursday, saw GP and it’s not bronchitis – it’s a throat infection. I’m on antibiotics (so I couldn’t toast my baby in champagne or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – bah). Then we took Madam out for her birthday tea and she absolutely loved it when they brought the cake over and played ‘Happy Birthday To You’ and ‘Congratulations’ (as in Cliff Richard).

Friday was London – lovely day for it and the train got me to Richmond a little bit early, so I sat out on The Green under a chestnut tree and just chilled out for a while. (All right. I started working on an outline...)

Then it was lunch with my agent and two of the senior eds (one of whom is mine, the senior Meds ed, and the other of whom is head of the other line I write for and is absolutely lovely) and we worked out what I’m doing next year. Although I write for two lines, from now on there will be one Kate Hardy style rather than me trying to split myself into two – so readers will know exactly what they’re getting. (And when I asked what they thought made a Kate Hardy novel, the three of them chorused the same thing – which is good to know. I think it’s easy to describe someone else’s style but much harder to analyse your own, as you’re too close to it.)

And then I came home to some gorgeous flowers from my sister via interflora – a ‘get well soon’ thing which was very much appreciated. (I did get a telling-off for keeping quiet about the dental traumas and the cough... especially as it's been going for nearly two weeks now. Sigh.)

Saturday, my best friend came up, so there was much talking and much listening to music.

Sunday was the family party and daughter looked FABULOUS. (Here’s proof. Not just maternal pride, is it? And her godmother did her nails so she’s showing them off, too.)

We ate too much, laughed too much, watched fireworks… perfect family day, really.

Today is back to work, though I’m half-considering having a duvet day. Certainly another early night as I’m still well under par with this cough. Have cancelled my music lessons this week and I might have to reschedule a business meeting – will see how I’m feeling tomorrow.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy, Happy November 1

Current work: PM job
Listening to: Justin Currie
Reading: Sarah Morgan, The Magic of Christmas (hope to start it tonight, anyway)

November 1. All Saints’ Day.

It’s a very special day for me for two reasons.

First of all, it’s my gorgeous girlie’s birthday. She’s seven today, but it seems like yesterday that I was holding her for the first time in hospital. She was actually due on my mum’s birthday (next week) but was born a week early because I had an elective section. (Not because I was too posh to push – I had a really difficult first labour and, with another back-to-back baby, didn’t want to repeat it. My midwife and consultant agreed.) I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she has blue eyes like my mum’s (genetically speaking, my eyes should be the dominant colour).

Here’s my baby – one of my faves from when she was a toddler – and my mum. I wish they’d had a chance to meet. However, I’m not going to be maudlin. Today is a celebration day.

I might add that Madam was utterly delighted with her Radley handbag. She scared her dad by saying, ‘Now Mummy and I can BOTH go shopping with our Radley handbags…’ (Great idea, honey – shall we start in Monsoon or M&S? And we need to go to Waterstone’s and…)

Secondly, it’s my anniversary with M&B. A double anniversary, actually. I started my first M&B Medical Romance, A Baby of Her Own, a little under 7 years ago – on Christmas Eve, at my baby’s bedside, when she was in with bronchiolitis. By coincidence, M&B accepted the book on my baby’s first birthday and published it on her second. (This story usually makes my editor go all misty-eyed, and I guess I need to retell it tomorrow over lunch.)

So I’ve officially been an M&B author for six years today – out on the shelves for five – and I’ve just delivered my 32nd book; starting #33 (first of a duo) on Monday, and discussing #35-40 with my editor and agent tomorrow. (These figures are starting to get a bit scary.)

Plan for today: paracetamol, school run, very quick trip into town (got paid yesterday, yay), more work on PM job and email some of the queries to my author, school run, see doctor (because I’m driving DH mad with the cough), and go out to dinner.