Friday, May 30, 2008


Current work: just finished proofs of Norfolk Ghosts and Legends (Spooks, Scandals and Sieges)
Listening to: Vaughan Williams, Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis
Reading: Anya Seton, Katherine (finished last night and really enjoyed it)

Wednesday – best to draw a veil over the day. I did finish my revisions - but this was no thanks to the constant interruptions, plus DH standing chatting to neighbours while the dog stood on the chair in my office and making a fuss until DH came back indoors

... not to mention the flooded kitchen, meaning urgent need of a plumber (let's just say DH is THIS close to being murdered).

Thursday – no electricity, so the neighbours’ wailing house alarms and our smoke alarm’s loud ‘bip!’ every ten seconds drove me crazy. Had it not been school hols, I would've gone straight to the library from school and avoided all this. The plan was to leave the house before it all started and have a research day. Er... nope. Went to visit Dad and then spent a couple of hours running errands for him. We did get a walk round the Roman town at Caistor St Edmund, but the research day didn’t materialise (and yes, I know I’m selfish for resenting that and I feel guilty). I did however do my proofs and am very pleased with how the book's shaping up. The cover is fab as the designer has made one of my pics into a negative and it looks really spooky.

Today – depends on the weather.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Righty - report as promised.

London. It was son’s birthday trip and I discovered a couple of months back that there was a new film museum in London, near the Eye, called Movieum. I visited MOMI (the Museum of Moving Image) with my best friend some years back, loved every second of it… and sadly it closed years ago. There really has been a gap in London museums since, so I was delighted to discover that Movieum had opened. The official site mentioned an animation section, so I thought it would be right up son’s street. Plus I discovered there was an Ardman exhibition in Bury Street.

We didn’t tell Madam (she cannot keep a secret), so son had absolutely no idea where he was going, except that it was in London and his mother was very pleased with herself for discovering it (!).

Day started off quite mizzly, but by the time we reached Liverpool Street it had dried up.

Had intended to work, but it seems the PDA doesn't like dealing with a 52,000-word file (or maybe it doesn't like 'track changes' sections, though I know it can cope with highlight). So I ended up being Good Mummy and playing cards with Madam, while DH read the paper and son had his nose in a book all the way.

Started at the Movieum in County Hall:

Kids thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the bit where you acted in front of a green screen. Oh, and playing with light sabres that really do light up and make sounds...

Fairly obvious why the gong doesn't have the (um, word block here... the thing used to hit the gong) with it, but it would've been nice to pose with it. However, this is second best. (Son is 5ft 2, by the way, so this gives you a clue to just how big the gong is.)

From there, went to High Street Kensington for lunch; then to a gallery in Bury Street (near Jermyn Street) to see the Ardman exhiibition. (Was v small but interesting.)

Then to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs etc. This has to be one of my favourite buildings in London - it’s just beautiful.

(That's a giant caterpillar in front of it, btw - there was a butterfly exhibition.)

Every time we go, I notice something different about the building. This is a close-up of the roof.

Then it was time to see the dinosaurs - both the skeletons

and the animatronic one.

Discovered some interesting things about arachnids: spiders have 3 sorts of hair - one to hear, one to taste (ie open ends) and one touch-sensitive; and male crab spiders tie up their chosen mate in a 'bridal veil' web so the female doesn't grab him and have him for dinner.

Saw a dodo.

Then up to the earth galleries to look at stuff about volcanoes (actually, this counted as research for my current Modern Heat - and there was a desert rose) and earthquakes and the solar system.

Then it was back to the train station; glad we allowed extra time to eat as the Tube closed for an emergency.

Bit footsore today - we did 32,616 steps. (Yup, you did read that correctly. So this means I can be a slug and not move from my desk for the next two days, yes?)

Today: dragged myself out of bed (was a mistake to start reading Anya Seton’s ‘Katherine’ – good read and I was distracted). Plan is to spend the day working, and hopefully will get the peace and quiet to let me finish the revisions. (Not happening at the moment, but am going to have major hissy fit in a moment. If they’d let me work in peace at the weekend and on Monday, I could've taken today off. But this is the consequence. )

Monday, May 26, 2008

eye candy

Really, I should be linking to the Daniel Powter video ‘Bad Day’ (which is how today has been a bit for me – bad weigh-in and not enough peace and quiet to finish the revisions, and actually I feel like skiving off with my piano) but instead I’m going to post some eye candy.

This is a great song, by one of my favourite singers. And the actor – in every interview I’ve read or seen, he comes across as a really lovely guy. And his first name’s the same as my DH’s. He has a gorgeous smile (as does my DH… no, I can’t mess about on YouTube to find Bruce Willis clips, bad me).

Take a look for yourself:


Current work: Med duo 2 revisions
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: Louise Allen, The Outrageous Lady Felsham (excellent read)

Busy weekend – either working or partying (!). We had planned a barbecue party for son and DH’s joint birthday – it poured with rain and it was really windy, too, so we simply moved everything indoors. The original plan was to relax in the garden with a glass of wine; it turned into everyone messing about on Wii Fit and laughing so much that my stomach hurts today. (Note to my diet buddies – I was incredibly good. Jersey Royal potatoes, grilled chicken and salad. And only one ice cream. And a very small piece of birthday cake with the icing removed.) Son showed off some of the models he’d made (he’s done a really good one of Byron, which sits on my desk) but sadly he’d left his animation CDs at school so we weren’t able to do a showing of the films he’s made.

Today – I need to finish the book and the people who, ahem, decided to be obstructive on Saturday and make lots of loud noises so I didn't get much work done will discover that because they put me behind schedule I’m working today and they’re eating leftovers!

Tomorrow – won’t be blogging as we’re off to London. Have kept plans for son’s birthday treat completely under wraps (and have also discovered there’s an Ardman exhibition with the opportunity to buy signed books etc, so we’ll go there as well) and cannot wait to see his face when he discovers where we're taking him. Tomorrow is going to be excellent even if it does pour all day (which is also what it’s meant to do today – well, of course, it’s a bank holiday). Back on Weds with lots of pics.

But in the meantime - Mars. The Phoenix probe landed safely yesterday – all pics are their site here. Really, really interesting stuff (have been into space stuff since I was old enough to point at the moon – apparently I used to refuse to go to bed as a toddler until I’d waved at the moon. Imagine the fun my parents had on cloudy nights…).

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Current work: Med duo 2 revisions
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: Louise Allen, The Outrageous Lady Felsham (I needed a treat last night, and this hit the spot very nicely. Gorgeous hero, with flaws; the kind of heroine you’d like to be your friend; and some secondaries I want to see in their own stories. Am halfway through so it’s a carrot to work today)

Busy with revisions and will spare you a rant about snarkiness (it’s not big, it’s not clever – and it’s far easier to pull something apart than create it. If you hate your life and where you live, do something positive about it and change things instead of sniping and venting your spleen; and I was brought up that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Ever heard the saying ‘do as you would be done by?’ … oh, whoops, I did the rant anyway. Compact version).

Anyway. Have nothing to say today (see paragraph above for reason why *g*) so here’s a pic of the Mexican orange blossom in my back garden.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Serendipity and weekend (part 3)

Current work: Med duo 2 revisions
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: no time at the mo :o(

Excellent day yesterday. At the radio studio on Monday, I was a tad early as traffic was better than I’d expected. So I flicked through the local theatre programme and discovered that Beauty and the Beast is touring – and it’s here on the week of Madam’s birthday. Booking opened a fortnight back, so I was expecting that all the best seats had already gone. But clearly fate is smiling on me at the mo as I managed to get front row upstairs (i.e. perfect for a musical/spectacle – I’d always go for first or second row downstairs for plays). Even better, the seats are for the actual day of her birthday. Told her the good news and she’s so excited – as is son. I’ve never been to a musical so I’m really looking forward to it.

Son enjoyed his birthday yesterday. Everyone gave him money this year so I foresee two requests: a) the Digiblue camera and b) nagging re a newer computer (hmm – maybe if he pays towards it he might look after it properly). Went to Old Orleans for dinner (his choice, bless).

Part 3 of the weekend: on Sunday, I nabbed the return home as a research day, as we were travelling through the far north-west of the county and were within a couple of miles of a few places I wanted to visit/research for the Little Book of Norfolk (out next spring). And then DH realised how near we were to Oxburgh Hall, so we had a meander round there, too. I was messing about with reflections, so here are my lot on the bridge over the moat (which does have swans but they were round the other side - and yes, this pic is indeed as we say in Norfolk, 'on the huh'... I should've fixed it in Photoshop but am lazy).

And here’s the hall itself reflected in the moat (from the far side of the bridge in the previous pic).

And this is East Lexham church, with the oldest remaining church tower in Norfolk. (For fellow church architecture aficionados, there are actually three different sorts of windows in the tower – I rather like this one, with the Maltese cross.) The sheep in the churchyard gave me a real Thomas Hardy moment.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Lincoln (part 2) + happy birthday to my son

Current work: Med duo 2 revisions
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: no time at the mo :o(

Dog came home and sulked. Actually, he sat and howled ALL afternoon. A weird, deep, rusty-sounding howl that sounded as unearthly as Black Shuck, the spectral hound of East Anglia; the author in me thought, ‘Excellent sound effect,’ but the net result is that he scuppered my work because the only way to shut him up was to give him a cuddle, poor boy.

My radio spot went really well – I had the most FANTASTIC time. Thanks very much to Nicky Price, who sparked off several ideas.

And the birthday? It’s my son, today. (Well, at the time of writing, I still had a few epidural top-ups and twelve hours of labour to go…)

Righty – back to Lincoln. I left you halfway up Steep Hill. So I walked up to meet Kate Walker and her lovely husband Steve, fellow M&B authors Trish Wylie and Natasha Oakley, and editor Suzanne Clarke. And then my nerves set in a bit.

Back down the hall to the Drill Hall. Suzanne introduced us and talked about the history of Mills and Boon (a hundred years of romance!).

(LTR: Trish, Suzy, Kate, Natasha and me.)

And then it was our turn and we all chipped in on each other’s speeches - it felt more like a group of friends chatting than anything else.

(LTR Suzy, Trish, Kate.)

From where I was sitting it looked as though the audience enjoyed themselves, too. And then we drew the raffle and Kate Walker presented the prize.... the most fabulous box of signed books!

Then we had dinner at a gorgeous Italian restaurant. (And, yes, of course I'm going to talk about the food. Kate Lardy, right?) As I'd done over 19,000 steps that day before I set out for the talk (and would estimate another 6,000 steps during said evening, including one and a half trips up Steep Hill) and I wasn't drinking (thanks to the antibiotics), I felt very justified in being greedy. (All right, I admit I'd scoped out the menu online beforehand.) I chose arancini di riso (a mixture of rice and mozzarella made into a ball and deep fried, served with rocket and napoli sauce), gnocchi quattro formaggi, and this...

Strawberry panna cotta. Beautifully presented. I was particularly impressed by the two-colour coulis.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lincoln (part 1) + radio show

Current work: Med duo 2 revisions
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: no time at the mo :o(

Friday - dog sulked all day, sitting on my bed next to the suitcase with his nose between his paws, but we just couldn't take him with us. DH took him to kennels; then picked up the kids and travelled to Lincoln. We found the cottage with no problems and dropped off our luggage; as always in Lincoln we got lost on the one-way system, but eventually found the car park and walked down Steep Hill. The cottage was lovely - small, cosy, with everything we needed. It's probably the best equipped of any cottage we’ve ever stayed in.

This is the front: the cottage is on the far right.

Back garden:

And the view from the front (this house could well be a future setting for me).

Saturday, had to be up early to feed the parking meter; there was a lovely little farmer's market setting up between the cathedral and the castle, full of herbs and organic veg and bread and cheese (not so keen on the idea of eating baby ostrich, though).
Had a quick browse in the second-hand bookshops (where I was remarkably restrained), met my dear friend Kate Walker for coffee (in this lovely little tea shop)
and then went into town with DH and the kids. Checked out the Drill Hall where we would be speaking that night (that face is just amazing)
and made an emergency purchase at the bookstall - Kate Dopey had forgotten to bring a book in case we did a reading ... Second emergency purchase of nail polish at M&S (very impressed with it - highly glossy); then, as it was too grey and damp for a river trip, went to the cinema to see Nim's Island.

Thoroughly enjoyed it - unlike Alex Roper the writer in the film, I don't have OCD or agoraphobia, but I (and many writers of fiction who might see the film) identified with the way she talked to her hero, Alex Roper the adventurer. (The kids asked me afterwards - do I do that? Yup, when I'm on my own...) I thought the ending was a tad rushed, but that could be pickiness on my part - it ended as a romance would just be starting. The acting was good, though.

Then it was time to get ready for the evening talk and walk up Steep Hill for the third time that day...... and I'll tell you about that tomorrow. (Tease? Moi?)
And the radio show? That's tonight, 6-7pm on BBC Radio Norfolk - 95.1 / 95.6 / 104.4FM and DAB digital radio. I'm with Nicky Price, doing 'What's Rocking Norfolk', and I'll have both my fiction and nonfiction hats on. You can listen in online (click on the link and then choose the i-player).

Friday, May 16, 2008

off to Lincoln, life by Shakespeare... and another new cover

Current work: MH duo book 1
Listening to: various chilling out
Reading: thinking about the next on my TBR pile…

Am off to Lincoln today after school for the event at the Lincoln Book Fair. Back on Monday with a report and pics.

In the meantime, I nicked this one from Michelle. Hmm. Not quite the one I would've picked and not one of Shakespeare’s better plays, in my view. My fave is Antony and Cleopatra, for the sheer poetry, closely followed by King Lear, Macbeth and The Tempest. I have a bit of a soft spot for Twelfth Night as well, and Much Ado (best romcom ever).

Your Score: Romeo & Juliet
You scored 33% = Tragic, 37% = Comic, 60% = Romantic, 16% = Historic

You are the Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps one of Shakespeare's most memorable works, Romeo and Juliet tells the story of two star-crossed lovers of warring families and their untimely deaths in each other's arms. What your score tells us about you is that you are most likely a romantic person who is willing to go to extremes for the ones you love. For this, your family and friends love and respect you (even if they may tease you from time to time). While you may be a bit of a fickle-heart, you are also a spontaneous and adventurous person with a big heart and a lot of love to give. We certainly love you, and we're sure that a lot of other people do too!

Link: The Which Shakespeare Play Are You? Test written by macbee on OkCupid

Some more author copies arrived yesterday - the second edition of How To Research Local History. Again, a lovely cover. I've been very blessed, this week.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

and another lovely new cover

Current work: MH duo book 1
Listening to: Kathryn Williams
Reading: thinking about the next on my TBR pile (got caught up in research last night)

More nice post: cover flats for my US August release, One Night, One Baby.

And a few little facts to amuse you (well, they amused me). Feel free to add more in the comments – although I’m not in need of distraction right now, I do enjoy this sort of thing.

  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter A? One thousand. (“One hundred and one” etc cannot be included because “and” is not a number.)
  • A crocodile cannot stick its tongue out.
  • A snail can sleep for three years.
  • Polar bears are left-handed.
  • In the last 4,000 years, no new animals have been domesticated.
  • “Stewardesses” is the longest word typed only with the left hand.
  • A dentist invented the electric chair.
  • Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
  • The “sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick” is said to be the toughest tongue twister in the English language.
  • Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy birthday and a FABULOUS new cover

Current work: MH Duo
Listening to: Lifehouse
Reading: thinking about the next on my TBR pile (got caught up in research last night)

It’s my best friend’s birthday today. Happy birthday, Fi, with much love.

I’m on a roll, here, with covers. I was checking to see if there was anything new on Amazon, and it seemed very odd that my September paperback was listed but my August one wasn’t. So I googled the title, just in case… and yep, Amazon got the author name wrong. So I’ve put in a correction (which they’ve acknowledged, so hopefully it will show up soon).

And I think this is going to rate as one of my favourite covers ever. Thank you, lovely art department at M&B.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

new book…

Current work: going back to work today
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: thinking about the next on my TBR pile

Exciting post this morning. I was busy making breakfast/the children’s packed lunches when the doorbell went. Son raced to the door, signed for the parcel, hefted the box and informed me it had to be a box of books. Not the usual courier for M&B (and I’m not expecting any paperbacks until next month in any case). Second edition of How To Research Local History, perhaps? But no… it was this one! (And it deserves a screamer.)

I’m really pleased with the final production. Looks great – and it’ll be out on the shelves in a couple of weeks. The kids had their signed copies this morning (seems to have become a ritual that they get the first two out of the box – quite flattering that they actually want copies) and son was even happier when I flicked to p171 and showed him the photograph’s caption, i.e. his name in the credits. He wanted to take the book in today to show his friends, but I’ve suggested it’s better to wait until after SATs when they’re all less stressed.

Oh, and one bit of personal good news. Since we got Wii Fit, 10 days ago, I’ve lost 6lbs. Actually, that figure needs adjusting as the initial weigh-in was after dinner and I prefer to weigh myself before breakfast, but even so that’s a huge loss for me – usually I struggle to lose 1lb a week. But it proves this new healthy lifestyle (ha – says she, who’s had the lurgy for nearly a week) is working.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Gio in Germany

Current work: still officially poorly, but feeling better than I was last week so I might tinker this morning
Listening to: not at this time of the morning…
Reading: Liz Fielding, The Three Year Itch (usual sparkling Liz – I especially liked the snow scenes)

Spent the weekend doing very little apart from coughing (!), so I had little to say until my mate Nicola Marsh emailed me to let me know that Giovanni is in Germany. (And it happens to be her 5th anniversary of 'the call' today, so please go over and say congrats.)

Anyway, here's Gio in Germany:

Seit Fran zusammen mit Giovanni Mazetti einen Coffeeshop leitet, steht ihre Welt Kopf. Der blendend aussehende Italiener und sie sind schnell gute Freunde geworden, obwohl ... Für Fran ist es viel mehr als nur Freundschaft – sie hat sich unsterblich in Giovanni verliebt. Doch der Mann ihrer Träume will keine feste Bindung, und Affären am Arbeitsplatz sind für beide tabu. Da bietet das Schicksal Fran überraschend eine zweite Chance: Giovannis Großmutter kündigt ihren Besuch an! Und er braucht dringend eine Frau an seiner Seite ...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

officially poorly

Current work: officially poorly, so not up to it
Listening to: not
Reading: Liz Fielding, Instant Fire and An Image of You (am poorly enough to be greedy with my stock of vintage books - right now I want comfort reading and there's NOTHING better than Liz Fielding)

Yesterday morning was pretty grim. Coughing until you can't breathe, to the point of throwing up, is unpleasant - especially when someone has sandpapered your throat while you were asleep. So I moseyed off to the doctor's. (Actually, as DH was in a meeting, I took a taxi - no way was I fit to drive, with these coughing paroxysms, and I couldn't face an uphill-all-the-way 20-minute walk to the surgery. Not when I'd have to stop every few seconds to cough up icky stuff.)

Daughter had hissy fit that I wasn't up to taking her to school. Son: 'If you were ill, would Mum say, "No, I'm working, you have to go to school?" [imitates her having a hissy fit] No, she'd stay with you and look after you. So stop being so selfish.' (What a sweetheart. I couldn't have put it better myself, had I been able to string that many words together between coughing fits.)

Doctor took one look at me. 'You're really poorly.' Yup. Hurts to breathe because I've been coughing so much, and I can't handle this cough keeping me awake. (It's keeping the family awake, too.)

My larynx is pretty swollen and that apparently is what's causing the cough. So it's ibuprofen and steam three times a day to help that, and she thinks it's a severe virus (her words) that will sort itself out; however, if it's still the same tomorrow morning then I have to take antibiotics. (I slept better last night, probably from exhaustion, but as soon as I woke I started to cough... this really has to go before next weekend.)

Must stop feeling so sorry for myself. On the plus side, this must be good for my diet - I'm drinking loads of water (one small sip at a time), and all I'm eating is stuff that slides down my throat without hurting (aka plain yoghurt, home-made vegetable soup and low-fat macaroni cheese - and that's only because I have to eat something with the ibuprofen). Not to mention all that energy used in coughing; it feels as if I've done way too many sit-ups...

Friday, May 09, 2008

your age by chocolate

Current work: MH duo book 1
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Natasha Oakley, Wanted: White Wedding (finished it last night and really enjoyed it)

I’m still full of lurgy (someone has sandpapered my throat, I’m freezing but sweating at the same time, and I really should buy shares in Kleenex – not to mention the cough from hell) so today I’m going to give you a mathematical puzzle in which you can tell your age by chocolate. (Work it out as you read; don’t cheat by looking at the end.)

  1. Pick the number of chocolates you’d like to eat today (between 1 and 9)
  2. Double it (just to be greedy)
  3. Add 5
  4. Multiply by 50
  5. If you have already had your birthday this year, add 1758 – if not, add 1757.
  6. Subtract the four-digit year of your birth.
You should have a three digit number.The first digit is the number of chocolates you’d like to eat per day; the next two numbers are your age.

(NB obviously that only works for this year - you need to tweak the mathematical equation for it to work next year)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

happy birthday

Current work: MH duo book 1
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Karen Maitland, Company of Liars (just finished – fabulous ending, really sent shivers down my spine. Thoroughly recommended)

Happy birthday to my dear friend Kate Walker! Please go over to her blog and wish her a lovely day.

Yesterday wasn’t quite as I planned, as son has the lurgy – headache, sore throat, earache. (And I have a sore throat this morning so I’m hitting the Lemsips.) He’s off today, too – and I might keep him off tomorrow to be on the safe side (he has SATs next week so I don’t want him being ill during them.)

I did however manage to do my proofs and finish writing a proposal for my next nonfiction with lovely Halsgrove. And my daily target is still very doable.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


My fellow M&B author and Writer In Residence for Bedfordshire in the 2008 National Year of Reading, Natasha Oakley, has started in style by challenging her fellow authors to come up with chocolate recipes.

I've been beaten to the choc-chip cookie one... so here's one for White Chocolate Mousse.

Please note this recipe contains lightly cooked eggs and may not be suitable for children, the elderly or pregnant women.

175g white chocolate
250ml double/whipping cream
3 tbs milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
raspberries, to serve

Place chopped white choc in a medium microwave-safe bowl . Heat on high (100% power) for 2-3 mins, until choc is melted, stirring twice. Remove from oven; stir until smooth.

In small bowl with fork or whisk, beat milk and eggs. Gradually beat egg mixture into melted choc until blended.

Cook choc mixture on medium (50% power) in microwave for 2.5-3 mins, until thickened slightly, stirring halfway through cooking. Do not boil.

Stir in vanilla extract.

Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins, until well chilled, stirring occasionally.

Beat chilled choc mixture for 1 min at medium speed.

Whip cream until soft peaks form.

Gently fold cream into choc mixture. Spoon into serving dish. Decorate with raspberries before serving.


swans and bluebells

Current work: MH duo book 1 /proofs of Med duo 1
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: Karen Maitland, Company of Liars (absolutely excellent – the period details are spot on, the characters are compelling (there are two I’d like to strangle) and the pacing is fabulous: a secret is discovered here and there, which keeps you wanting to know more and see if you’ve guessed the next secret)

I’m afraid I spent yesterday loafing, too. We went to Blickling Hall. And the title of this post will give you an idea what we saw…

These are the bluebells under the plane tree.

The swans on the lake (this is the lake that inspired Sold to the Highest Bidder) – one of the swans was a real show-off and kept flexing his wings. They were all fairly young as they still had some brownish feathers.

And here they’re more serene. (Actually, I think they were going to annoy the ducks, because shortly after this there was a lot of quacking. Someone threw some bread to them and they were most disdainful: the expression on their faces was along the lines of, 'What do you think we are, ducks?')

Oh yes - and when we went into the shop, guess whose book was on display? Now I know I've arrived, if the National Trust is selling my books... (And yes, of course I was overexcited about it. It was the first thing we saw!)
Plan for today: school run, guitar, proofs, school run, Madam’s swimming lesson, a bit on the new book.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lovely weekend

Current work: MH duo book 1
Listening to: various chilling out stuff
Reading: Michelle Styles, Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife (excellent read – strong heroine, strong hero and a real conflict. I liked the secondaries too, and will be nagging her to see if she’s writing a certain person’s story in the future. And I loved all the Viking mythology/saga stuff – this was one of my big passions before I went to uni, and it influenced my choice of course: I chose Leicester because it included Old English)

Fate is clearly being very kind to me at the moment, because I’ve had a truly lovely weekend.

Starting with a fab review of In Bed with her Italian Boss by the Pink Heart Society – ‘This is the first Kate Hardy book I’ve ever read and I’m so glad I did! It’s a little like Prince Charming meets Sleeping Beauty… This is one sweet and tender love story……an awakening of sorts for both Gio and Fran and one you definitely will not want to miss thanks to Kate Hardy’s storytelling ability!’ Thank you, Marilyn, for making my week. (Rest of the review is here.)

I also had an email with one of the producers at BBC Radio Norfolk confirming a conversation I had with lovely Maggie Secker (one of the presenters) when we bumped into each other outside the library last week. Now, I’m known for being a bit of a music junkie (I don’t know how many CDs I have, but we have 5 of those wall-to-ceiling storage units that contain 180 CDs and they’re pretty much full, let alone the ones in my office/the conservatory/the kitchen/my car) and I’ve always wanted to do one of these Desert Island Discs type programmes. Tune in to BBC Radio Norfolk on Monday 19 May 6-7pm and you’ll find me chatting away and some really good music. (NB It’s an hour slot and I need to keep my audience in mind, so this is the middle rather than the extremes of my very eclectic taste, and it spans all the decades from the 1950s until the album I’m overplaying right now…)

And I had an email from lovely Mills and Boon confirming that I’m the writer in residence for Norfolk libraries (2008 is the National Year of Reading and I’ll be banging the drum about that in the future). I’m very, very proud of that, as I’m very much a champion of libraries. Several of my friends are writers in residence for their counties, too, so I foresee some collaboration and a lot of fun, for a VERY good cause.

Can it get much better than this? Um, yes, because my ed liked my tweaked outline so I was able to start work on the new book. (And I’ve just discovered something about my hero that, um, my editor might not like too much, but I do… his nerdy side. It involves volcanoes.)

The sun was shining this weekend so I loafed with the family and went for a walk in Foxley Woods. (Actually, that was officially work, as I like to visit all the locations mentioned in my local history books. You can’t beat being there yourself. Foxley Wood is at least 4,000 years old, though in the 1970s it was pretty near being ruined by industry.)

It was boggy (and someone had a hissy fit about her pink wellies becoming mud-coloured – the fact she fell flat on her face afterwards made it worse) but we found this.

In fact, more than that. We found these, too:

I love bluebell carpets. And how privileged I am to live in this part of the world, where there are real woodlands with natural carpets nearby (And I do mean natural. These are English bluebells, as opposed to Spanish or hybrid - the flowers are on one side of the stalk, the bell is narrow, and they're dark blue.)

Then there were some little pathetic squeaks from me and DH was very indulgent (actually, he rather likes poking round churches, so he didn’t need much persuasion). Again, it was work-related, but it was pleasure too: I really wanted to see the wall paintings at Wickhampton. They’re utterly fabulous. I particularly liked the hare in the Quick and the Dead painting. (The St Christopher was good, too, and the Seven Acts of Mercy. There was also a monument I was after for the new non-fiction.)

We also went to Booton church, which is very, um, unusual - many of the features are direct copies of features from other churches, e.g. the west door is a copy of Glastonbury Abbey's. It was rebuilt at the end of the 19th century by Reverend Whitwell Elwin, and I think you could almost call this a folly. (The glass was OK but I would've preferred either straight copies of 15th century glass such as that in St Peter Mancroft, Norwich, or pretty PRB glass - Elwin, however, loathed the PRB.)

The wooden angels in the roof were ENORMOUS (my camera didn’t do them justice, so no pics) and I felt they were a little bit threatening. (The Dr Who episode 'Blink' came to mind really strongly.) The statue of St Michael the Archangel at the front really spooked me. If I were a dragon, I'd be running just as fast as I could!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Sunny days

Current work: tweaking MH duo outline
Listening to: various chilling out stuff
Reading: Brittany Young, The Sheik’s Mistress (lovely, lovely hero – really honourable and really torn, and if you think you hate sheik books this one might change your mind)

Lovely day yesterday. Lots done in library; coffee and lunch and lots of talking with a friend; and now I can get cracking on my new fiction, which is much needed as the characters are really nagging me.

Today the sun is shining, I have a cup of tea on my desk just the way I like it, and the dog is snoring gently at my feet. All’s right with the world.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Happy May Day

Current work: new nonfiction (research, bliss)
Listening to: Karine Polwart
Reading: Carol Townend, The Novice Bride (finished it last night and really enjoyed it)

May 1 already. Where does the time go? In two weeks (well, 16 days – hmm, how much blubber can I lose in that time?) I’ll be at the Lincoln Book Festival talking about romance. This is what the official site has to say:

100 Years of Romancing Readers
Start time: 6pm - 7.30pm Join in the festival's celebration of 100 years of Mills and Boon and meet romance authors Kate Walker, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley and Kate Hardy while enjoying a complimentary glass of Champagne courtesy of the publisher - and don't forget to pick up your goodie bag to take home too.

Location: Lincoln Drill Hall
Admission cost: £5/£3
Tel: (01522) 873894

We’ll be answering questions, discussing all sorts of things – and there are drinks, books for sale (and authors are always happy to sign them!). And we’ll be drawing the raffle for EIGHTY-FIVE books. Mostly signed. From romance authors worldwide. (Tickets are on sale May 9th -17th 2008 at the Festival Bookshop and the proceeds go to a cause very dear to my heart - Breast Cancer Research. So even if romance isn’t your thing, please buy a ticket.)

I’m off to the library this morning, then meeting a friend for coffee. And hopefully when I get home from the school run I will be able to get my teeth into revisions. (Otherwise it’s admin. My not favourite job…)