Friday, January 30, 2009

deadline, deadline, deadline

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Badfinger/Nick Drake (DH has control of stereo)
Reading: next on TBR

Apologies – another week where have been a hopeless blogger.

It’s all to do with my deadline. I love this book; the more research I do, the more I want to visit Norway. I so want to see the northern lights. 2013 is the best year to aim for as solar flare activity will be very high.

Righty. So what have I been doing this week? Working. Guitar lesson. Working. Talking to the council’s lovely pest controller on Wednesday about Ratty. Working. While making cup of coffee for lunch at my desk (i.e. working), saw the squirrel having a major strop at lack of food on mesh tray (so he draped himself over the pole, stretched out his little paws, grabbed the fat ball holder and drew it close enough to nosh – by the time I got the camera, sadly, he’d disappeared. This pic is from the weekend. So you can see how hard he had to stretch himself to get to the fat ball holder).

And then, just for a change, working. Quick trip into town yesterday to meet lovely friend Kate for lunch (we’ve had to postpone it so many times – sick kids, builders, yada yada yada – so I was determined not to cancel again – had a lovely lunch, and she also gave me a signed copy of her husband’s latest book, utterly lovely – also had to get Dad’s birthday pressie). Working.

And today (when deadline is at screaming pitch) DH announces that he has a day off, as he needs to use up his holiday entitlement and can’t do it next week. (He’s also off during half term, when we’re going to London and then going around East Anglia to get my final pics for the next two nonfics, which also have very close deadlines. Yeah, yeah. I know. And the answer is no, I’ll never learn. I like being busy. I just miscalculated a tad for this batch.) Point out that am busy and have a deadline. ‘But you have to come to town with me.’ Why? ‘To look at carpets.’ Not until I’ve got my PLR money, we're not. ‘And get your birthday pressie. And I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.’

Hmm. Hot date with gorgeous man (which is refilling the well and inspiring a certain dark-haired hero with gorgeous blue eyes, yes?).

Just call me weak-willed. Picked up daughter’s new guitar book, son’s gum shield thingy (rugby – or, as he puts it, ‘I’m going to be beaten to a pulp’… oh, dear), and moseyed into Sonkai with DH's card at the ready.

There’s only one person in the world who could buy that bead for me – ‘heart of gold’. And yes, of course it’s on my bracelet now. (Am the genetic link for son’s ADHD. Am so not good at waiting.)

Then it was coffee. And, um, because I’m weak-willed, this.

(Dear diet buddies. This was my lunch and it was not very big. I know it wasn’t nutritionally balanced and I will have to walk about ten miles to counteract it, but… it was extremely nice. Toffee tart with a white chocolate heart piped on the top. How could I resist?)

And as certain people have been making a fuss about wireless broadband and X-box live, we called in at MASS on the way home and ordered my new PC. Which will be ready the day after my birthday. And next week I will speak to my ISP and sort out the wireless bit of it. (Think I may be forced to buy the laptop next week. But not until I've finished my book.)

And now… hopefully peace and quiet and I can go back to work. Hellooooo, deadline...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Dire Straits, Love Over Gold
Reading: next on TBR pile

Not my deadline (though that is, too). Told son to stop looming over me in the kitchen, as he has this nasty habit of rising up on tiptoe. ‘Put your feet FLAT on the floor, son.’ He just grinned. ‘Mum, they already are.’ Checked. He wasn’t teasing. Oh. This means he’s my height. Already. Madam then made me admit that I am the shortest of my generation in the family. I have to say, I think it’s grossly unfair that I inherited the family roundness gene but not the height gene. I would love to be tall and slender (with long dark hair and blue eyes, like daughter). Could live with being tall and round. Could put up with being short and petite. But no. I get the short straw (and the round one, too).

Beautiful school run this morning – the sun was huge, and as it rose so did the mist. Camera battery was on charge so I couldn't pull over by the river and take a pic. Son was begging for Hendrix, this morning (he’s just discovered the CD – bless), but I wasn’t in the mood, so he had to sit through Telegraph Road instead (do not think son appreciates Knopfler). Love Over Gold must’ve been one of my first CDs after DH and I bought our first CD player; I was amused to see that the sleeve talked about new technology. Er, no, this was late Eighties, though the album itself was 1982… when I was doing my O levels. How time passes.

Found my first grey hair this morning, so am feeling a bit reflective. It’s the whole ‘ubi sunt’ thing. (There was class on that motif that I really wanted to take in my Finals year, but not enough people signed up for it so it was cancelled. I have a nasty feeling I might’ve been the only one…) Shouldn’t bother me really, as most of my friends my age have either had grey hair for ages or colour it anyway. But it’s one of those moments when you realise how short life is. And that realisation leads me to think it’s worth living to the full. Recession or no recession.

Plan for today: walk dog (actually, he’s asleep right now, and completely ignored me when I said ‘walkies’, so make that ‘work’ instead), guitar lesson, work.

Monday, January 26, 2009

life in coffee spoons (aka Bad Kate)

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Sibelius/Justin Currie
Reading: Bedded By the Greek Billionaire, Kate Walker – another of Kate’s trademark emotional rollercoasters, perfect for a frosty Saturday morning read – really liked the hero.

Very busy weekend. Friday afternoon, news from my wonderful ed that she loved the revisions, so my Penhally book is done and dusted and I can settle down to this one. I know this is unprofessional of me – I should be able to switch to the next book straight away, but it never flows properly until the previous one is completely put to bed.

Friday, needed to go to the post office and the bank, so went into town with DH and the kids after school/work. Huge queues into the city, so he let me out of the car at the bottom of Exchange Street… and en route to the bank I had to pass Sonkai. Well. I say ‘pass’. Of course I didn’t. And I was slightly naughty (murano glass, clear with a turquoise stripe, which DH says doesn't go with my bracelet. Hmm. Maybe I should have a selection of glass ones that I can swap round to change the colour scheme...).

Then was slightly naughtier, as Madam helped me choose a lapis lazuli pendant to go with my outfit for the awards do. (I’ve always, always wanted a lapis lazuli pendant. This is my early birthday pressie to me.) And then we went out to dinner. I could not BELIEVE how much son ate. However, I remember what DH was like when he was 20. Think son is going to be the same. Hollow legs.

DH then wanted to know where I’d like to go for dinner on my birthday. Hmm. I fancy Greek, but it has to be somewhere that does food that the kids like, too – Madam’s willing to try stuff, but son is very conservative. Seems that the second week of Feb is going to be a seriously bad week in terms of diet. Family birthday party on Sunday (is actually a joint party for Dad and me, but I’m catering it to his preferences rather than mine); dinner out with two of my oldest friends in London on Monday; the RNA awards lunch on Tuesday; birthday dinner out on Wednesday; possibly taking Dad out to lunch on Thursday; dinner out on Saturday; and it’s half term, the week after…

Prufrock may have measured out his life in coffee spoons. I think that in February mine might be measured out in, um, puddings. (Which I did not have on Friday, in case any of my diet buddies happen to be lurking here and saying in tones of horror, ‘Baaaad Kate!’ And yes, that did deserve a screamer.)

Saturday: a frosty start, and I’ve had Kate Walker’s latest on my TBR shelf for too long (this is the one that’s been shortlisted for Best Presents of 2008 by Romantic Times – congrats to Kate W). So I was a bit self-indulgent. Should’ve been working but decided to refill the well a bit first. Enjoyed it thoroughly.

Then it was a matter of settling down to work. I’m back on deadline, so the idea is that DH and the kids leave me to work unless it’s really important (i.e. not squabbles – anything that’s inspiring or interesting is fine, but ‘she poked me’ and ‘because he said I was stupid’ is not fine).

Then DH marched in to my office, brandishing the local paper. ‘You’re in the bestseller charts again.’ Huh? But I only posted the book to my editor yesterday, and it’s not out until April. How? ‘No, it’s Norwich: Street by Street.’

Wow. I’m back in the local bestseller charts with a book that’s been out for THREE YEARS. Am pinching myself slightly. I’m really proud of that book. I did a lot of research.

Wrote a chunk of the book (oh good, heroine has decided she has extra conflict); had hair cut; answered call from M-I-L and said yes, I could do a talk for her local school, but have lots of deadlines coming up so it’ll have to be end of April; and did the Big Garden Birdwatch for the RSPB with the kids. In our hour slot, we saw 3 blackbirds, 3 bluetits, 4 chaffinches, 6 collared doves, 2 great tits, 4 long-tailed tits, a robin and a great spotted woodpecker. Unfortunately, we also had another visitor to the mesh tray on the bird table – not squirrel, this time, but Rattus norvegicus (again), who appears to have a burrow under Madam’s playhouse. Sigh. Will be ringing the council this morning to sort it out. To avoid recurrent problems, we may have to change from the mesh feeder tray to a seed feeder on a hook, which is a shame. As DH said, he’s a nice-looking little fellow, and he sat there washing himself so he’s also a clean little chap. BUT. He’s a rat. (Not a water vole, because he has obvious ears, a long pink tail and a pointed nose – as opposed to ears hidden by fur, a short furry tail and a blunt nose – and he’s bigger than a vole.) We have children and a dog. So… much as I feel guilty, he has to go.

Sunday, interview with lovely Maggie Secker at BBC Radio Norfolk. Lovely chat, as always. And on the way back, I was a bit naughty… I parked at Chapelfield, which meant going through House of Fraser to get to the car park. Bearing in mind I have this awards do in a fortnight and my make-up is out of date (in both senses of the phrase), I needed some foundation. I asked which colour would suit me, and this lovely, lovely make-up artist in the Bobbi Brown concession did me a makeover. DH and kids reacted very positively when I came home. However, I didn’t buy all the make-up – I know I’m far too lazy to do it properly (eyeliner, rouge etc), so I stuck with just lippy, new eyeshadow and foundation.

Plan for today (in between school runs) : ring council about Ratty, pay bills, work, post office run.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Crowded House, Together Alone
Reading: next on TBR

Whoops, where did the week go? Oh, yeah. On my deadline. Sorry for going AWOL and worrying people (and thanks to those who sent me an email asking if all was OK). Am very relieved to report that it wasn’t a crisis. I was just a bit caught up in my deadline. The problem with writing The Norfolk Miscellany is that it’s one of these books that takes you off at tangents. (It does what it says on the tin. Lots of facts on lots of subjects.) And the readthrough was even tougher, because I’d come across something and think, Hmm, now I really should check this out – and this – and this… And, two hours later, I would realise that I was starving because I’d forgotten about lunch, and the dog was looking immensely fed up because he was expecting either a walk or a bit of my lunch, and I wasn’t paying attention.

But it is done, printed (which seemed to take all evening), copied to CD-rom along with the jpegs, and I will be posting it to my editor later today. Yes, I know this is the age of technology. But jpegs – of the size you need for book publishing as opposed to low-res thumbnails used on the internet – are better sent on disk. Plus my publisher likes a hard copy.

As well as that, I did check out Barack Obama’s inauguration with the kids, the other day (and best of luck to the man – he has one hell of a job before him); and… what day is it? Friday. Hmm. Thursday, made cups of tea for lovely carpenter and my kitchen is fixed, so I’m a happy bunny.

Plans for today: visit Dad (we agreed to change from Wednesday as it was so icy – and it’s just not worth taking the risk on ungritted, single track roads), then crack on with my Norway book. Am concentrating on fiction for the next fortnight.

Oh, yes. I promised my review. Lovely Julie Bonello from Cataromance has been as sweet as always, and put a smile on my face. (Thank you, Julie.)

Warm-hearted, satisfying and hugely appealing, The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby is another wonderful Medical romance from award-winning author Kate Hardy!…romantic storytelling at its best! Poignant, enjoyable and absolutely terrific.

You can read the full review here.

I’m also appearing on Maggie Secker’s show on BBC Radio Norfolk on Sunday – I’m her first guest, so I’ll be there just after 3. You can listen online here (click on the ‘listen live’ bit) or tune in to 95.1, 95.6 & 104.4 FM, and DAB Digital Radio.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

twice the pleasure…

Current work: nonfic and Modern Heat
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR

Busy on deadlines today – but remember that blog piece I talked about writing for my editor, on what it’s like to write for two different lines? It’s up at I Heart Presents right now if you want to go and take a look. And later today (don’t ask me when exactly, because US time zones are complicated and I can never work them out) there will be an exclusive extract of The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby.

And tomorrow I’ll share the review I promised. (And I might just have some new pics...)

Monday, January 19, 2009

coming up for air

Current work: Just finished Penhally revisions, second round
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Sarah Morgan, The Prince’s Waitress Wife (lovely fast-paced read – a real whirlwind of a romance, with a gorgeous hero and the most lovely heroine – recommended)

Been busy with second round of revisions. It’s been a while since I’ve had to do revisions on revisions, so as I’m a paranoid (read: typical) author, I had a slight attack of the crows over it. My ed was away, so one of her colleagues briefed me, and was utterly lovely about the way she explained what they wanted. The way my head works means that I needed a day or so to let it brew in my head, before getting down to actually writing it yesterday. (In the meantime, while that was brewing, worked on my nonfic. Which also has a tight deadline.)

Finished it at lunchtime, and my ed is back - as she said, it was a matter of making the most of the opportunities I'd put into the book, not that I'm rubbish and have completely lost it :o) (And I imagine other authors out there are nodding sagely. You KNOW that feeling. It's illogical, but it feels all too real.)

Today is wet and miserable (it's meant to be Blue Monday, where everyone's got a cold, is broke and feels miserable - hmm, why am I hearing New Order? Oh, yeah. I grew up in the eighties), but yesterday afternoon was glorious. I needed a shot of the Broads, so I begged for a quick trip out to Ranworth. The ducks and geese were out in force. As were the swans. As soon as I neared the water’s edge, up they all came. And when they realised that I didn’t have any goodies for them… Let’s just say swans are big birds, and when they hiss they're a little intimidating. So I took my pictures and vamoosed.

The winner from the draw for a signed copy for Sold to the Highest Bidder is Carol. (Please let me know your snailmail addy, Carol – kate dot hardy @ btinternet dot com – sorry for the longwinded way of putting it, but it does help to avoid spam!)

And I have three bits of nice news. Number one is the one I was really hoping for: my stepmum was under threat of redundancy, but she's just texted to say her job is safe. Good. Number two, the utility room should be fixed this week. (Yes. My house completely back to normal. At last.) And number three, I had a lovely review of The Greek Doctor's New Year Baby - but I'll share that tomorrow as my deadline is nagging.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

refilling the well

Current work: Norway book and nonfic
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Next on TBR pile

Am busy on deadline (that, and a guitar lesson this morning) so am being lazy and posting pics instead today.

Nicked this one from my mate Diane’s blog. Given my visitor on Monday, I found this hilarious.

Son also sent me a pic that intrigued me. It was the size of a postage stamp, so I went to Lolcatz to find the original.

funny pictures

While I was there (ohhh – bad distraction place) I came across this pic. Now, isn’t this a lightbulb moment for a romance novelist?

funny pictures of cats with captions

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

good things come in fours

Current work: Norway book and nonfic
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Next on TBR pile

Yes, I know that things are meant to come in threes, but I’m greedy. Yesterday was a super, super day. So, in order of event…

Good thing number one: WE HAVE A FLOOR!

That deserves caps and a screamer. For five and a half months, I’ve been living in a mess. It’s not quite finished (awaiting some work on the units), but the floor is the bit that really drove me bananas. So, hip hip hooray, my kitchen is back to (almost) normal. It’s so wonderful having a proper floor again, rather than scavelled concrete.

Good thing number two: amid ordering books (not for me… well, not originally for me, but I got distracted), I discovered something very exciting: the cover of my new nonfic. (Actually, it’s the draft cover, as the title is now A Norfolk Miscellany. But this is the gist of it.)

Am so pleased that they’ve decided to use my pic of Thurne Mill. I feel vindicated now for dragging DH out there twice! The first time, the light was wrong, so the picture wouldn’t have worked. The second time, it was misty all the way there and I was all for calling it off and going back another time. DH said we were close enough to take a look, and luckily by the time we got there the mist had vanished.

This is the flat part of Norfolk. The salt marshes and Broadlands to the east and the Fens in the far north-west are probably what made Noel Coward come out with his dismissive comment, ‘Very flat, Norfolk.’ Snooty man. And uninformed. Actually, the county has quite a varied geography. The middle bit is all soft dips and hills, and the Cromer-Holt ridge (where the glaciers stopped on their movement south, during the last Ice Age) is definitely not flat. Not to mention eight different soil types, which means lots of rare fauna and flora coexisting. (Oops. The research is showing.)

Good thing number three: my work-life balance is indeed in balance. During my lunch break yesterday [notice, I used the B-word], I happened to check the local theatre’s programme on the internet. Result: we have two treats arranged.

I really enjoy going to the cinema, but the theatre is where my heart lies. I know it’s a bit expensive, but the kids are old enough now to appreciate it, so I don’t mind paying. (And DH can’t argue that I’m wrecking the household budget, because this is my treat. I might be short, round and scruffy, but I’m not stupid. A bit on the profligate side, maybe, but as I work hard I think treats are allowable.)

Son has been asking to see Shakespeare, but I need to pick the performance carefully so his first Shakespeare will be a good experience. Twelfth Night, Much Ado and Macbeth are probably the most accessible, and I think it needs to be a conventional performance rather than an experimental one. Years ago, I took DH to see Troilus and Cressida (a bad choice of play, for starters), set in the 1930s (a selfconsciously clever production), and it put him off to the extent that he refused to come with me to see Derek Jacobi in Macbeth – such a shame, because he would’ve really enjoyed the Jacobi production. (Not to mention Robert Lindsay in Richard III. Talk about stage presence. He had the entire audience eating out of his hand.)

So, until the right production comes along, for the moment I’m sticking with musicals. We’re going to see Joseph in the Easter hols (daughter was so excited when I told her), and in August we’ll see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (with a cast and crew of 100, including 10 dogs – how can you resist that?). I am SO looking forward to this, as are the kids. I used to really love going to the theatre with my mum – Dad was never into the theatre, but she indulged me so we’d get tickets to Wednesday matinees in the school holidays, or maybe to an evening performance in term time if it was something special. (Nigel Havers and Judi Dench in The Importance of Being Earnest – now that was special.) It’s wonderful to be able to share a joy like this with my own children; and DH, despite his grumpy male exterior, enjoys it too. As long as it’s not Shakespeare.

Good thing number four: my mate Steve Denby popped round with my prints, and they are SO FABULOUS. Have promised to tidy my desk in return for DH hanging them in my office. (If you want to know what they look like – go and check out Beachcombers and October Mist. Proper size and mounted, they're even better, and I'm thrilled with them.) Kids and DH are well impressed, too.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

on fictional worlds, plus news of the RNA shortlist

Current work: Norway book and nonfic
Listening to: Sibelius
Reading: Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure: India Grey (great read – loved the ‘fish out of water’ angle, and she handled it really well. Also loved the art background. Great characterisation – and her writing’s gone up a gear.)

In keeping with my new year’s resolution, I did some loafing this weekend. Went to the cinema with DH and the kids on Saturday to see Inkheart, and it was BRILLIANT. I could listen to Brendan Fraser read all day (he has a lovely voice), and I thought that Andy Serkis and Paul Bettany also played their parts really well. And Eliza Bennett did a fantastic job as Meggie. My littlest really identified with her character. Afterwards, in the restaurant, we dissected the film; even DH (who can sometimes be a little hard to please) enjoyed it.

Daughter: ‘The thing about a REALLY good book is that you do go into another world.’ (I think she might’ve worked that out for herself, though she may also have heard me say it.) ‘And the characters do leap off the page.’ (She named her favourite authors as examples.)

Then she looked at me. ‘So when you’re writing… is it like being in a different world?’ Yup. That’s why I get cross when I’m interrupted for something that isn’t urgent. Like sibling squabbles. ‘Hmm.’ Looked at me again. ‘I’d like to do that when I grow up.’ (And actually, she does write stories now. She was writing on the way to school, this morning. But usually she likes hanging round her big brother. That’s the big difference between us: I grew up as an only child, so I wrote stories instead of playing with someone.)

‘So is there a book of the film?’ Actually, we’ve just seen the film of the book. ‘Oh. Well, the book’s going to be even better, then – because they can’t film the world in your head.’ (Hmm. Does she actually pay attention to what I say, or has she worked this out for herself?) Needless to say, I have agreed to buy the book for her. And its sequel. (Both children know I will never, ever say no to buying them books. I think daughter is going to add nice notebooks to that...)

Today is day two of the new flooring. It’s SO NICE to have something other than bare (partially scavelled) concrete on my floor. And by the end of today my kitchen will almost be back to normal. Yeehah.

Today is also the day of the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year shortlist. Full details are here. Sadly, my mate Milly didn’t make it, but three cheers for her for making the longlist.

The shortlisted books are:
  • Before the Storm, Judith Lennox (one of my summer hol reads last year – excellent)
  • East of the Sun, Julia Gregson
  • Sophia’s Secret, Susannah Kearsley (not read this one, but I did read her book ‘The Shadowy Horses’ some years back and enjoyed it hugely)
  • Star Gazing, Linda Gillard
  • Thanks for the Memories, Celia Ahern
  • The Last Concubine, Lesley Downer

Congrats to all the shortlisters. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it goes to Judith Lennox, who writes wonderful books and is a thoroughly nice person to boot.

Monday, January 12, 2009

On being deaf… and an unexpected visitor

Current work: Norway book and nonfic
Listening to: Dire Straits (Sultans of Swing)
Reading: Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife: Michelle Styles (loved this – and not just because of the dedication page ;o) – we have a really damaged, Rochester-like hero; a down to earth yet proud heroine (Phoebe was just brilliantly drawn – and I loved the way she dealt with some of the nasty, gossipy secondaries and the way she forced Simon to see the truth about the nurse); a good plot – and some great stuff about the coal mines. One of the things I like about Michelle’s books is that I always learn something from them)

I’m blogging over at the Medical Romance Authors’ site today about how much of me there is in my current Medical duo. It’s a kind of continuation from my last post, but this time talking more about the difference sound makes to my world. Oh, and there’s a book up for grabs there, too (not the same as the one that’s up for grabs here).

Edit (09.15): got home from school and was making myself a coffee while tidying the kitchen and waiting for the floor people when I noticed a new visitor to the bird feeder.

Rara avis?

Er. No. Sciurus carolinensis.

So much for poles being squirrel-proof. He loped up it and sat there quite happily, even when I knocked on the window. Again, this is a zoom shot through glass, so it’s not good, but I am going to lift my game photograph-wise this year. And one good thing: at least now I know what I saw dropping from the bird-table last month, so my MR Jameseian thoughts can be put to bed…

Friday, January 09, 2009

Having my head back

Current work: Norway book and nonfic
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: The Secret Mistress Arrangement, Kimberly Lang (enjoyable debut for Modern Heat. Loved the wedding scene at the beginning)

Funny how some days you wake up and, even though it’s subzero and grey outside (aka freezing fog), it feels like bright sunshine. Last year, I spent most of my time worrying, and not enough time creating. This week, I feel I’m back to my normal self – brimming with bright ideas and having a smile that goes all the way through me, rather than the public smiley face that doesn’t include my eyes or my heart. And it feels WONDERFUL. So I think I’ve finally managed to draw a line under 2008 and move on.

My poor ed – not only did she get my revisions back yesterday morning, she got a brief outline for the book after next… and the one for two books after that. With a hint of the one that’s two books further on. (In other words, they were all Modern Heat ideas.) And this is in addition to the one that I’m not 100% sure will work as an M&B. (Actually, she wasn’t that horrified at being flooded with ideas. She says it’s nice to have me back as my usual chirpy self. Everyone I spoke to on the phone yesterday said the same thing: that I’m sounding myself again and it’s nice to have me back.)

My work-life balance goal is definitely working at the moment. And guess what? The Wii Fit reckoned I’ve lost 1lb this week. Bonus. 4lbs to lose before Feb 10 is looking very doable. So I celebrated with the purchase of a lovely deep blue glass Pandora bead. (My bracelet needs to match my outfit on Feb 10, doesn’t it?) I’m celebrating having a week that was NORMAL. Makes a wonderful change on last year.

I had a lovely interview with Kelly from Disability Now magazine yesterday, about my deaf doctor book. I also learned something: apparently people subscribe either to the social model of disability (i.e. that people should accommodate someone with a disability) or the medical model of disability (that the person with the disability is a problem that needs fixing). I think I'm between the two: I'm aware that it’s MY problem, and I don't expect special treatment, but I also think that you get an awful lot more done if you work as a team to accommodate it. So in a meeting with me, if you whisper and put your hand in front of your mouth, I'll ask you to speak up and remove your hand, or at least move your hand so I can lipread you; but I won't make a fuss about it if you forget. I’m more likely to ask you to check my notes afterwards, in case I missed something. And if you talk to me when I’m not expecting it (or in a noisy social situation) and I’m not facing you, you’re highly unlikely to get an answer because I won’t have picked it up. (In that case, I’d say it’s your problem rather than mine, because you’re expecting me to do something I can’t physically do! Especially if I’m on Planet Kate, i.e. thinking about a book…)

Remember there’s still a book up for grabs, to celebrate my RNA Romance Prize shortlisting. Simply answer the question to be in with a chance. It’s occurred to me that other people are probably doing the ‘spend less time on the Web’ thing, too, so I’m keeping it open until Wednesday evening (UK time) next week, to give people a chance to enter.

(Oh, and the eleven punnets thing: I should’ve made it clearer. They delivered one but billed me for eleven. All sorted now.)

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The glamorous life of an author

Current work: revisions to Penhally book
Listening to: Crowded House, Together Alone
Reading: Next on TBR pile

Picture the scene yesterday: one short, scruffy, overweight mum-of-two at her desk, dog snoring gently behind her. Have had busy morning already with school run, polishing rosebowl, and putting Sainsbury’s grocery delivery away/asking lovely driver to sort out fact that they’ve accidentally charged me for eleven punnets of raspberries. (Eleven?? We like raspberries, sure, but there are only four of us. Hmm. Might be that greedy with chocolate, but have banned it from the grocery shop.)

Open file to sort out revisions.

Then the emails start coming in. RNA’s lovely PR officer needs a pic of me for the shortlisting stuff. Hmm. I have two: the one my son took three years ago (when I was a bit thinner and my hair was shorter), or the one of me clutching the Betty Neels Rosebowl (which I had to give back yesterday, sniff). Go for the older one (last year’s pic is unsuitable, in the circumstances) and remind self that I need to lose 5 lbs before Feb 10. (Luckily it usually goes off my face first, and I have the Pandora bracelet and Radley bag to distract people from the spare tyres.)

Email from lovely ed: can you do a blog for IHP? Yep, sure. When? ‘After you give me the revisions tomorrow.’ (OK. Hint taken.)

Email from PR agency. When are you free for interviews? Can you do them over the phone? (Yes, have a loud phone and a hearing aid, can cope fine with phone as long as they don’t have handsfree the other end.)

Email from PR agency (again). Local paper wants you to do a feature – up for it? They’ll talk about your new books and the RNA shortlisting. (Yep, let me know wordcount and deadline.)

Email from PR agency (yet again). Interviews set up. Ditto feature.

Email from lovely ed: next year’s books. We’ll firm that up next week. (But in principle it was a yes. I did not mention the florist or the Venetian glass. Dear ed, if you’re reading this, please don’t worry. Is going to be verrry topical. And none of them are going to be bankers!)

Email from agent: excellent news that we can talk about the shortlisting now. How are the revisions going? (!!!)

Blimey. And that doesn’t include lovely emails from nice people saying congrats (and it would be rude of me not to reply). Or the mad emails I’ve been exchanging with some of my M&B author mates. (Especially one of my fellow shortlisters. Who has issued me a challenge. Lightbulbs are already flickering.)

Call from Dad: have I seen my interview in a local magazine? No-o-o. (He’s keeping it for me.)

Sort emails; add in the scene I was thinking about this morning before all the emails started. Decide am allowed ONE cup of coffee. Get carried away with scene and am nearly late for school run.

Do post office run on way home. Lovely Sue from post office grins, beckons kids over and leafs through local paper. ‘Recognise anyone on this page, do you?’ Groans from kids. ‘Mum, you’re in the paper AGAIN. Hang on, what’s this about helicopters?’ Helicopter parenting. ‘Eh?’ Never mind. Does not mean am taking you on helicopter. Is a Contentious Modern Issue.

While waiting for lasagne to cook (home made, ultra low fat), check Harlequin sites in case need to update PLR/ALCS records (know I need to do this from foreign copies received this week). Discover that seem to be doing what looks like world domination:

And add to that, in the post last week I got my first ever Hebrew edition (Breakfast at Giovanni’s). Talk about thrilling.

And then next month M&B’s website will have Modern Heat’s very first Sheikh (i.e. mine) available (and what a fantastic cover – I think that’s probably my all-time fave cover now).

And of course there’s still the fact that am overexcited about being shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize (for the third time in four years).

Blimey. Not bad for a short, scruffy, overweight mum-of-two.

The question is: how, just how, am I going to make myself glam enough to live up to this – even if it’s only for one day, next month?

I dunno. So I’m going to avoid the issue. Instead I’m going to vote for eHarlequin as the best online community in the 2008 Weblog Awards. (If you want to vote, too, hop over to - and remember, you can vote once every 24 hours until 12 Jan.)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

And a giveaway...

Obviously the cold snap has slowed my thought processes.

Last year, when I was celebrating being shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize with Breakfast at Giovanni's, I ran a competition offering a copy of the book. So I'm going to do the same thing this year.

My heroine, Lissy, has a dog. Although Saffy's a yellow Labrador rather than an English Springer Spaniel, she was inspired by something I often see Byron doing (he has a habit of raiding the children's bedrooms and stealing something in particular - which I've mentioned in previous posts when I nicknamed him Kleptodog).

If you want to be in with a chance to win a copy of Sold to the Highest Bidder, simply answer a question: when Jack meets Alicia, what is the dog carrying?

(Give you another clue: this also inspired my heroine's name. Because Alicia sounds very like Aloysius, yes?)

(And if you're really stuck, click on the link and read the excerpt!)

Post your answer in the comments. I'll leave this open until the weekend, to give everyone in various time zones a decent chance, and my daughter will pick the winner's name out of a hat on Sunday evening, UK time.


Current work: revisions to Penhally book
Listening to: John Garth, cello concerti
Reading: Paul Doherty, The Field of Blood (part of his Brother Athelstan series, which I’ve enjoyed over the years and thought he’d stopped, but then discovered the two new ones and my lovely best mate bought them for me for Christmas – thank you, Fi, enjoyed this one)

Currently we’re having one of the coldest snaps in the UK for more than ten years; it’s certainly the coldest winter my children have ever known. Minus six degrees C, yesterday, on the way to school at ten past eight. Stayed at that level all the way home and didn’t get above freezing all day. However, the Met Office has pointed out that back in 1982 it was minus 27.2 degrees C in part of the UK. (Though not Norfolk – our coldest temperature recorded was minus 18.9 degrees C in 1963, before I was born; and I don’t actually remember it being that cold back in 1982. The years I remember being cold were when we had deep snow in 1978/9 and 1986/7 – the latter made worse by BT engineers being on strike, in the years before we had mobile phones, so I had to walk miles in the snow to find a working phone box to check that Dad was OK. I remember that January very well, as that was the winter my mum died.) Madam didn’t have swimming last night as the boiler broke and the pool was too cold for the littlies to go swimming.

Apparently the cold snap is going to last all week, and in London the fountains in Trafalgar Square have frozen. Though this is NOTHING compared to the weather our ancestors faced. In 1827 it was cold enough freeze the mere (lake) at Diss to the point where they actually played a cricket match on the ice. Then we have the winters of 1683-4 and 1739-40, which were the coldest on record. And the Thames frost fairs… I still can’t get my head around the fact that a tidal river would freeze so deeply that people could put up stalls on the ice. (Ooh, lightbulb… No. Bad me. I’m on deadline.)

It’s been a very pretty drive through the back roads to school, with spiky white verges, zebra-striped ridge-and-furrowed fields and a huge primrose-yellow sun; though the roads haven’t been nice. Lots of black ice. Visiting Dad (which I should have done this morning) means driving three miles down ungritted, single-track roads. As I’m still feeling a bit wiped by the virus, I’m not up to facing what would be a vile drive. I feel horrible about disappointing him by not visiting, but he’s been very understanding about it. I’ve sent him a couple of surprises in the post, so hopefully that will cheer him up. (Better ring the home to tell them what I’ve done, so one of the carers can point out the message for him and he doesn’t panic that he’s been sent stuff and doesn’t know why!)

Oh, and some excellent news: my floor is going to be fixed, at last, on Monday and Tuesday. Have shifted guitar to accommodate it – but not cancelled, mind. This year, I want to improve my playing, which took a bit of a backslide last year. Great lesson, yesterday. I suggested that I went back to basics, as I haven’t practised for ages, and while Jim was making me a coffee I started messing about and playing variations on the melody of the simple piece I was supposed to be doing. So then he made me look at the bass and see how and why I’d change that. I really enjoy lessons where we do tecchy stuff, because it helps me lift my game.

Thanks to everyone who’s left me a message here or emailed me privately about the RNA Romance Prize shortlisting. I’m still chuffed to bits about it.

Righty. Time to brave my revisions...

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Exciting news!

Current work: revisions to Penhally book
Listening to: various classical
Reading: Paul Doherty, The Field of Blood

I’ve been teasing everyone for weeks about having a secret. Finally, I can share. In fact, I’ll let the press release do it for me:

Romance Prize celebrates shorter fiction alongside the Romantic Novel Of The Year

The Romantic Novelists’ Association, who will announce the shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year award on 13th January, is also honouring writers of shorter romances such as those published by Harlequin Mills and Boon.

“Although both awards celebrate novels with a high romantic content,” explains Catherine Jones, Chairman of the RNA, “the Romance Prize honours the most memorable stories set around a single theme that concentrates on the developing love affair.”

The Romance Prize will be presented at the RNA’s Awards Lunch on 10th February 2009 at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington. The winner will be selected from the following books:

What's Love Got to Do With It? - Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress, Headline)
The Wild Card - Beth Elliott (Robert Hale)
Mistress: Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure - India Grey (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Sold to the Highest Bidder - Kate Hardy (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Saying Yes to the Millionaire - Fiona Harper (Harlequin Mills & Boon)
Promoted to Wife and Mother - Jessica Hart (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Fiona Harper has been short-listed before, and both Jessica Hart and Kate Hardy are past winners. Kate Hardy, who won in 2008 with Breakfast at Giovanni’s, had this to say: "Winning the Romance Prize has been the highlight of my career to date, and it's certainly opened up opportunities. I'm very proud to have won the award and to be part of the RNA - and have been delighted by messages of support over the year. I even had a personal letter of congratulations from the chancellor of the University of Leicester!"

The shortlist will be judged by Margaret James, creative writing teacher for the London School of Journalism and regular columnist with Writing Magazine; Paul Reizin, writer, producer and journalist; and Linda Leatherbarrow, prize-winning short story writer, reviewer and MA lecturer at Middlesex.


So now, finally, I can say congrats to my fellow shortlistees!

I’m especially pleased about being shortlisted with this book, because Sold to the Highest Bidder is set in my favourite part of the world, i.e. where I live. And now I can confess why the third bead on my Pandora bracelet is a pointsettia that looks like an iris: it’s one of my heroine’s favourite flowers, and Lissy is a horticultural lecturer who wants to restore the lost gardens of her family home. Jack, the hero, buys her some gorgeous jewellery based on an iris, and how he proposes to her… Well. You’ll have to read it. But let’s just say that the heroine shares my taste in flowers, and that particular bead suited the book very well.

I’m not expecting to win. (I mean, two years in a row? That’d be greedy.) But I’m really looking forward to being in London, the day before my birthday, drinking champagne with my agent and my editor and having a lovely lunch at a wonderful hotel. Especially as I’m staying in London the night before; I’m planning a trip to the Hunterian museum and then meeting up with my best friend.

Definitely a nice start to the new year.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The new year starts here…

Current work: revisions to Penhally book
Listening to: Crowded House
Reading: Paul Doherty, The Field of Blood

The new year so far has definitely been, um, different. I’m rarely ill (apart from the odd cough/cold – which for me always ends up with losing my voice for a couple of days); but I spent most of New Year’s Day in bed. Friday, I made myself get up. Well, it was more like being woken up at 10.30 by a small child tapping on my shoulder: ‘Look how I did on the Big Brain Academy test, Mummy!’ Uhhh. Calculated that it was another hour until I could have more paracetamol. Staggered into shower, in the hope that washing my hair might help shift the headache. Littlest one bounced upstairs again. ‘Can we go over the road?’ Lovely, lovely neighbour had invited both kids over to play with her two. Staggered over (post shower) to say thanks and send them back whenever she’d had enough. Bless her, she told me I looked dreadful, told me to go back to bed, and kept them until mid-afternoon. I didn’t have the energy to crawl back upstairs, so I curled up on the sofa instead (with the dog – shh, don’t tell DH, because dog is not allowed on the furniture… though I suspect he also lets dog have a cuddle and does the butter-wouldn’t-melt routine: ‘Dog was sitting by my feet.’ Yeah. Feet that were on the sofa) and watched the whole of North and South.

Yep. As in two DVDs’ worth. Four hours of it. Bliss. Fabulous acting. And it’s probably my favourite of Gaskell’s novels, so I really enjoyed the story, too. Best bit? John Thornton standing in the snow, saying, ‘Look back at me.’ Actually, that’s the second-best bit. OK, I admit, my favourite scene is the kiss at the end – I loved the way Margaret capitulated and kissed him first. The kids were back in time to view that and do all the ‘urrr, GROSS!’ bit, as they’re at that age. (But that scene is unspoilable.) I also really liked Brendan Coyle in his role as Nicholas Higgins. I think he’d make a brilliant Gabriel Oak, Giles Winterborne or Diggory Venn. (Yeah. Nailing my colours to the mast. I much prefer Hardy to Austen; and Eliot is my favourite 19th-century author.)

Slept late on Saturday, too. Very unlike me. Though I was dragged out for some fresh air (i.e. kids wanted to spend their Christmas money, and then DH decreed that we were going to have dinner out to save me cooking). And I spied this on the shelves.

Sunday, begged a quick trip for pics for the book, but both the things I wanted were not where they were supposed to be. As one of them involved the oldest figurative glass in Norfolk, I sincerely hope the window has been removed for restoration or maybe going to the new stained glass museum in Norwich (I am so looking forward to St Peter Hungate reopening in the spring). The alternative – mindless vandalism – is unbearable. However. Glass half full. Nice sunset, last night:
Today, the kids are back to school. So it’s back to routine – or, rather, starting my new routine. The deal was walkies if it’s dry, but as it’s snowing here this morning I opted for Wii fit and will take the dog later if it clears up. I also have to make my first (and hopefully only) ‘please can I have an extension?’ calls of the year, because I’ve lost a big chunk of working time because of the virus, and am still feeling a little fragile. Bearing in mind my new year’s resolution of balance, I want to pace myself rather than rush through and deliver books that I don’t feel are up to standard, and feel physically rough at the end of it. (Patience, Grasshopper. Wisdom. Ha.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Baby names

Current work: (off sick)
Listening to: (not, am sleeping)
Reading: (not, am sleeping, but I have a fab TBR pile including the 25th book of my friend Jane Jackson, about which I will be talking later)

Am still full of lurgy, so doing a lazy post today.

The lists are out for the 100 most popular baby names in the UK for 2008. Top ten girls:

Top ten boys:

Full list for girls here and boys here. Good resource for novelists...

Am going back to bed.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year!

Current work: (day off)
Listening to: (not, am sleeping)
Reading: (not, am sleeping, but I have a fab TBR pile)

Just about managed to see in the new year with DH last night: I was feeling rubbish and he was on call anyway, so we stayed in. (Not that we've done NY parties for years. Would rather have a dinner party with decent music and good company. Clearly am middle-aged.) Cuddled up on the sofa with the kids and saw a couple of films (can't remember the name of the first one - Rhys Witherspoon was v good in it, though - a woman whose spirit haunted her apartment and then of course she fell in love with the new tenant; second was Meet the Fokkers - am not that keen on humiliation-type humour, but Dustin Hoffman was very good); watched the programme about great movie love scenes, and then switched over to hear Big Ben and see the fabulous fireworks.

This morning, I’ve succumbed to the lurgy. Hot forehead + sore throat + thumping headache + ice-cold hands + sleeping all morning = lurgy. (Not hangover. Didn’t even have a sip of wine last night because of sore throat!) Ah well. I’m happy because it’s not 2008 any more and this year is going to be MUCH nicer.

I was given this wonderful personalised calendar for Christmas, so think here is a nice place to post the pic for January:

I’m also happy because I have two books out this month. For Medicals, out in the UK, US and Australia/New Zealand, there is The Greek Doctor’s New Year Baby – the first in my London Victoria duo, about two cousins. (The second is out in the UK in March and the US in Feb – Katrina’s story, i.e. the deaf doctor, so I will have much to say on that subject on release day.)

For Presents, in the US, there’s Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded – and, if you’re into ebooks, you’re in for a treat because this has an enhanced edition. I got mine yesterday and played with it: the links are fantastic, and they’ve even managed to link to the lyrics of the wedding song. Fabulous.

Righty. I’m going back to bed now. But happy new year!