Friday, May 29, 2009


Current work: picking up my new car and it’s school hols. How much work am I really going to do today?
Listening to: Bon Jovi (son has decided he likes 80s hair bands. Ha ha ha. I have lots of CDs. DH is horrified)
Reading: Crazy for You, Jennifer Crusie (enjoying so far)

Had a great trip to Colchester. Got all the pics I wanted for the book; and I will admit that the satnav was useful once we got into Colchester. Hilarious that DH ignores it just the same as he ignores his old navigator: get to a roundabout and it’s ‘which exit was that?’

Visited the monastic ruins in the town, and then the castle. It's the largest Norman keep in England (strange, doesn't feel as big as Norwich inside, but that's possibly because Norwich is more open).
I loved the herringbone work. These are narrow Roman bricks and tiles, re-used. I noticed a lot of these in the fabric of the church exteriors, too, so it's obvious that most of the Roman structures were well and truly robbed out in the Norman period.

Was also very impressed by the mosaics. How much work would go into designing one of these? (I should add that this was about 2 metres by 2 metres.)
Saw some amber beads, and thought of Jan Jones:
Also visited the natural history museum (converted church, and I was very taken by the unicorn in the spandrel).
I rather liked the town hall, too. Very grand and Victorian. Interesting choice of figures, though - I understand why they'd choose Eudo (built the castle and the monastery) and Audley (town clerk and politically important in Tudor times). But Boudicca? The woman who burned the town to the ground? Wow.

DH suggested dinner out when we returned home. Went to Frankie & Benny's and had a lovely time... Except I managed to lose our car park ticket. Guy on the desk was really the jobsworth type (and he didn’t look old enough to be at work – or maybe I’m getting middle-aged). ‘I’ll have to charge you for all day.’ Actually, I’ve been in Colchester all day. You’re welcome to see my car park receipt from there to prove it. We came here two hours ago to Frankie and Benny’s. Please can I pay for the time I’ve been here and will you please let me out? ‘You'll have to check your car and the restaurant.’ Not in the car. Went back to F&B and they’d cleared the table. The lovely manager there said, ‘I’ll sort the car park for you,’ and came back with me. She explained they’d cleared the tables and my ticket was no longer there. ‘Well, how likely is THAT?' asked the guy, dripping with scorn. Wow. Talk about rude. This is the restaurant manager. Doesn't the fact she's come to the car park with a customer tell you something? 'Nope, it's a full day’s charge, then.’ And she was great, stared him down. ‘I’m not asking you to do it for free. This lady’s a regular customer and I can tell you she’s been here for two hours. You’re going to do the RIGHT thing, aren’t you?’ He made a face, but he backed down. (He charged me for three hours but hey, I’m not going to argue a point – still considerably less than a full day.)
And this is yet another reason why we’re loyal to F&B. We like the food, the waiting staff are all lovely, and they look after you. Three cheers for them. And especially for the lovely manager who really did go above and beyond.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Craft post: writing nonfiction, part 3

Current work: research trip to Colchester (looking forward to this)
Listening to: DH’s car… so it’ll be John Martyn
Reading: Crazy for You, Jennifer Crusie (enjoying so far)

I’m off to Colchester today with DH and the kids on a research trip. Castles and abbeys - that kinda stuff. Yippee. I’m also blogging about soundtracks over at the Pink Heart Society today, so do go over and tell me about your favourite musical.

And here's one craft post on writing nonfiction, as promised.

With nonfic, you’re dealing with facts. What kind of facts do you need? (Yup, that’s the question you ask before you start the research…)

Rudyard Kipling had a rhyme about it:

I have six honest serving men
They told me all I know
Their names are what and why and when
And how and where and who.

In schools, nowadays, this is often taught as the five Ws and an H. It works for all kinds of nonfic: journalism, press releases, books… your reader wants to know what happened, to whom, where, when, how and why.

So I review my research material and check that I have answers to the questions – and, if I don’t, I go away and do more research to fill in the gaps:
  • What happened in the location?
  • Why did it happen?
  • When did it happen?
  • How did it happen?
  • Where did it happen? (Considering what I’m writing about, that one’s a given)
  • Who did it happen to? (Yes, the structure should be ‘To whom did it happen?’, to avoid the preposition at the end of the sentence, but I’m making the point stylistically by putting the question word first.)

If I can answer those six questions, I have my story. Because it’s history, things can be open to interpretation (especially the ‘why’ question), so the important thing there is to look at the evidence and make sure that I have information to back up my interpretation. And look at the evidence which suggests the opposite: why am I rejecting one particular view in favour of another?

Obviously these questions can be used to develop points further – particularly ‘why’. Why did an event happen at that particular location, rather than elsewhere? Why at that particular time? Why were particular characters involved?

Once you have the answers and enough of a background (because events don’t take place in a vacuum – there are factors which lead up to the event, and consequences afterwards), then you’re ready to tell the tale.

That's how I do my Halsgrove books. This also holds true for my Breedon books. With Norwich: Street by Street I looked at every street (including the ‘lost’ ones) within the old city walls. How did it get its name, who lived there, what events happened and when, where/what are the significant buildings on the street… and of course ‘why’ to fill out all the details. To find out the answers, I pored over old maps and trade directories, and I was able to pin down former names of roads as well as when the little yards and courts on the main streets were ‘lost’. I also walked every inch of every street, to check I had the physical details right. This involved a considerable amount of research and I think people will find it useful for decades to come (and it probably shows that I’m very proud of that one!).

The Norfolk Almanac of Disasters is basically stories of big events (fire, floods, shipwrecks, extreme weather), formatted as a calendar. What happened, when did it happen (I formatted that day by day, and within that year by year), where did it happen, who was involved, how did it happen, why did it happen?

As for crafting the book itself: each chapter or section is similar to writing an article. You need an intro (giving your thesis for that section, i.e. ‘tell them what you’re going to tell them’), the main body (usually told chronologically, i.e. tell them the story and show the evidence for your thesis), and a conclusion (i.e. ‘tell them what you’ve told them’ – a brief summary, preferably including one very telling piece of evidence you’ve kept back from the body of the story that will support your argument).

Always remember your audience when you’re writing. What are they expecting from your book? (This will be in your original pitch to the editor – what can you give your reader? What makes your book different from books that are already published on the same or similar topics?) Deliver on your promises, keep it simple and edit out the frills (aka introspection and waffling, and cut the jargon unless it’s extremely well known to your audience.

I’d also suggest reading Gordon Wells’ book ‘How to Write Non-Fiction Books’ – I think it’s out of print now, but if you can find it in your library or a second-hand bookshop, it’s very good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

yeehah moment

Current work: Modern Heat (need to get some done today)
Listening to: Corelli (yup, not in good mood)
Reading: Crazy for You, Jennifer Crusie (enjoying so far)

Kids really enjoyed Night at the Museum 2 yesterday. Good SFX and Hank Azariah was hilarious as Kahmunrah – Mr Evil who’s camp and has a lisp. Steve Coogan was excellent, too. Sure, the plot’s a bit thin, but suspend the disbelief and it’s good entertainment.

Also had lunch out; signed a few books as we happened to be near Jarrold’s; and opened son’s first current account (he’s currently feeling VERY grown up).

Spent the evening watching BGT with daughter. Not the best show (some of it was plain awful) but she wanted to see it and have a cuddle, bless.

This morning, I toddled over to Romantic Times to see if the July reviews were up. (Yes, I know. Never, ever read reviews when you’re not feeling at the top of your bounce, because it’s harder to ignore less-than-positive comments. Stupid, stupid. But I’m not a subscriber, so I can only see the rating. And mine said 4.5. Just out of curiosity – not out of expectation, because I haven’t had one yet – I did a search on top picks… and my name came up. Once I find out for sure that I’m not deluding myself, I will be doing a happy dance about it.)

(Hmm. That came across as a bit whiny. Sorry. Crows in evidence this morning, probably because I haven’t done as much as I would’ve liked so far this week.)

Edit: have removed the word 'potential'. (Thanks to my lovely fellow Modern Heat author Heidi Rice for filling me in.)

The key phrase: "Every aspect is spot-on, from thesmoking-hot pair to the sensual step-by-step buildup as attraction turns to love."

Colour me happy.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rainy half term

Current work: Modern Heat (well, might get some done today)
Listening to: not right now as am the only one up
Reading: next on TBA

Didn't do much yesterday, other than nag DH to fit a blackout blind to our room, because the sun blazes through the (lined) curtains at 5am. I'm a lark so normally that would be fine (yay, the prospect of two extra hours' work at my best time of day), but when you live with an owl who refuses to turn the TV/light off before 11.30 (and even that takes much nagging from the lark), it means sleep deprivation and grumpiness. The blind helped a lot this morning - though he'd sneakily closed the window, and it was really muggy overnight. This morning, as the saying goes, Mummy has a a headache. Fresh air would deal with it but, as it's pouring, dog and kids would protest at the idea of walkies. So today is paracetamol for breakfast.

As it's so damp, I'm planning to take the children to the cinema today. They were torn between Coralline 3D (which I think will give daughter nightmares) or Night at the Museum 2. Then lunch out. Might visit the Castle Museum afterwards.

Apols if I sound a bit flat. The situation with my dad isn't so good right now - not saying more out of respect to his privacy, but let's say my eyes have really been opened on the subject of dementia, and my hat goes off to people who care 24/7. (A good friend has sat me down and given me a stern talking-to - thank you to her for that - and I'm going to start call-screening and dealing with his calls after I've done whatever needs to be done that day. Harsh? I might have said so a year ago, but now I know it's the sensible way to deal with a difficult and upsetting situation.)

Glass half-full: I do have things to look forward to, this week. A whole week with the kids (and I like my children as well as love them); a trip to Colchester for book purposes (I have a list of locations to photograph there); and picking up my new car at the end of the week (DH and the kids are running a book on whether I'll drive it home or wuss out of it). Plus I'm seeing my bestest friend and bestest family on Sunday, so that'll be just lovely.

I did two craft posts on research, last week. Does anyone want to know how I tie it all together and write the book? If so, let me know and I'll do a craft post later in the week.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Let it shine...

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: John Martyn (DH's car has, um, limited choice - he's currently on a John Martyn fest, so John Martyn it is!)
Reading: next on TBA

We’ve been really lucky with the weather, this bank holiday weekend. I’ve been working (and the book’s flowing nicely at the moment – hope I haven’t jinxed it by saying that!) but also going out and about with the family.

Admittedly some of that’s been work, too – research trips. One was to Hethel, to visit the old thorn (which is also one of the smallest nature reserves in the country); as it was just behind the church, we did a teensy bit of churchcrawling. In this part of the world, a square 11th-century tower is a bit unusual (they’re usually round).

There was also a stunning 17th-century alabaster monument I couldn’t resist. (He's wearing lawyer's robes.)

Sunday was a lazyish day. And I knew the azaleas would be out at one of my favourite places (which happens to be in one of the new nonfics as well, and I really needed a new updated pic).

This is Blickling Hall, the finest Jacobean house in the country. Actually, we didn’t wander through the house yesterday, just the garden. I wanted to go last week, when the bluebells were out, but it was rainy and DH wasn’t in the mood. This week, it was just lovely. The wisteria looked stunning (and oh for a corner of a garden like this, for writing purposes).

The azaleas were out. This is my youngest flower - dreadful pun intended. Eldest had his eyes shut, or he'd be there too.

The sky was so blue that the lake looked fantastic.
(My RNA-shortlisted book, Sold to the Highest Bidder, features a lake that looks remarkably like this.)
Both kids like Blickling as much as DH and I do. Madam summed it up as 'a place that makes you feel all warm inside'. And I have to admit that there’s something magical about the place. Lying on the grass in front of the lake (well, a bit further back, where it’s cleaner and the geese haven’t, um, marked their territory) with DH as a pillow, drowsing in the sun… Now that’s a perfect afternoon.

In the evening, DH insisted on a barbecue. Daughter was desperate to watch Britain's Got Talent afterwards, and as it’s half term we’re allowing her to stay up late and enjoy it. It was good entertainment (well, I had to walk out during Nick Hell's spot - a bit too much for me), until the very end. when I think most parents watching that probably had the same ‘arrgh’ moment as I did.
Poor little Natalie really needed someone with her on stage when the judges cast the final vote. The moment when the presenter asked her how she felt and the camera trained on her as she burst into tears – that was NOT good television, in my view. Just mean. Why on earth didn’t one of them just give her a cuddle and quietly help her off stage without the cameras? For pity’s sake, there were two of them, and she was ten years old, on a huge stage, with millions of people viewing at home, just as her dreams had been burst. A little kindness would’ve gone a long way. She did so well to get that far (and if she'd performed a song that showcased her voice better, she probably would’ve gone in to the semis, which made the result even sadder). I could imagine my own child in that position and it was just heartbreaking.

The three I’d most like to see in the final are singers Susan Boyle and Jamie Pugh, and saxophonist Julian Smith. It'd be so wonderful if the judges could break the rules and give all three of them their moment in front of the Queen. I hope they all get wonderful recording deals. (Sorry, dancers. I know you work incredibly hard and an awful lot goes into choreography; but dance doesn't move me the way music does.)
I certainly wouldn’t have the nerve to get up and sing or play in front of all those people, so hats off to all of them for giving it a go.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Craft post: writing nonfiction, part 2

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Ocean Colour Scene, Moseley Shoals
Reading: next on TBA

So what do I use as my sources? Quite a lot, actually, and I tend to layer them – some give me the bare bones, others give me finer detail.

  • Pevsner is brilliant for architectural info – who built it and when – and might flag up something I want to look at further (person or event)
  • The English Heritage website again gives me bare bones and flags up things I’ll want to research further
  • The Victoria County History (depending on who wrote it – some are better than others) will give me some information about the religious foundations – who founded it and when, for which order, and a note of bishops’ visitations (the bishop visited once every seven years and talked to every person in the house to see that all was well – his list of injunctions or orders flags up problems faced by the inmates. Helps if you can read Latin or at least do a rough translation. The Camden Society has also published some records of visitations, but note they are in Latin and there are no parallel translations)
  • The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – Capgrave’s chronicle, Matthew Paris, Roger of Wendover and some of the others can be useful, too
  • Domesday book (useful for pre-Norman buildings)
  • Wikipedia (and yes, I know it’s not always accurate – but as long as you doublecheck your facts it’s useful for a quick overview)
  • The website of the attraction itself – might give me the bare bones of the history
  • Maps – not just present day, but historical ones. You can see the impact of your particular building on the landscape (see local studies/records office, but there are some online)
  • Recent monographs (Phillimore has a wonderful series of town and county histories) - again these might flag up things I want to research further
  • Modern tourist guides – better still if they have pictures so I can double-check against my list what I’m looking for.
  • 19th-century tourist guides – back in the nineteenth century, when improvements to roads/the beginning of the railways made it easier for people to travel and play tourist, a new market for writers developed: tourist guides. Some of my favourites are by Thomas Kitson Cromwell: ‘An Excursion through the County of Norfolk’ is utterly fab. He also did a Suffolk version, and an Essex one. Word of warning. These are NOT CHEAP. We are talking three figures, and DH had a hissy fit when he saw the receipt for my Norfolk copy. (‘You spent more on one book than you did on that expensive Radley handbag?’ Answer: ‘Two volumes, actually, but it’s a research expense – and you can only touch them if you put cotton gloves on or you’ll damage the paper.’) (Yeah. Kate prissy. I'm serious. You touch my special books only if you have clean, dry hands, and I would prefer you to use gloves and/or acid free paper.) There are some 18th-century ones and they’re even more interesting. Where do you find them? Local studies library – or ABE if you’re feeling rich. Note also plagiarism was very common in those days, so you may find the same information repeated in antiquarian monographs. (Plagiarism is illegal nowadays. See note on copyright below.)
  • William Andrews’s ‘Bygone’ series (these are from the late 19th century; miscellany-type books and fascinating)
  • For the spooky stuff, books written by folklore experts – in East Anglia, I’ve been using Enid Porter; there’s also Westwood and Simpson’s ‘Lore of the Land’, which covers the whole of the UK and is utterly fascinating. Again, it's a springboard to research further: I do NOT copy things down wholesale because it's wrong. wrong. wrong to do that
  • Pamphlets and broadsides (found in local studies centres)
  • Guidebooks (modern)
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Historical directories may tell you more about buildings or people/events (I like White’s 1845 edition – you can view some online at the University of Leicester’s project, here)
  • Newspapers (you can see digitised copies of The Times from 1785-1985 online, and also some local newspapers from the 19th century – check with your county library service to see if they have a subscription to the database)
  • Other sources include diaries, letters, scrapbooks and trial records (the latter are often printed verbatim in 19th-century newspapers), and antiquarian monographs (on people, places etc – usually 19th century). There can all be found at your local records office/local heritage centre

And this is just desk research. I also visit the places I write about. It gives you a different perspective.

Note that not all places will have sources with detailed information. My Halsgrove books are not comprehensive gazetteers for this reason: I’ve simply included the places with the most interesting stories.

But anyway… that’s where I start. And that is why I have to be fished out of the library if I sneak in research time while DH and the kids are shopping (or, oh bliss, when he took them to the Spongebob movie – I was very happy to pay for tickets and popcorn because I loathe cartoons where they yell ‘arrrrgh’ every two seconds). ‘Just an hour’ tends to slip into rather more than that. And then I’ll come across something else that sparks off another idea or goes into my ‘not relevant to this but it will definitely be useful in future’ file.


This is really important. Be aware of the law of copyright. There’s no copyright in facts (eg William I reigned from 1066 to 9 Sept 1067), but there is copyright in the way that facts are presented. If you quote someone, make sure that it’s fair usage or that you have written permission to use it and make sure you credit your source properly. (Society of Authors has a good publication on copyright.) Basically, if in doubt, CHECK.

Ditto photographs – and you may need to pay repro fees.

Note that costs of permission/repro fees are tax-deductible. Sometimes, your library will do a deal where your publisher gives them a number of copies of your books instead of paying repro fees (this is a win-win situation, especially if your library is part of the PLR sample - sadly, my libary isn't).

And that's it. Hope this gives you an idea of how I do it, but do ask if you have questions!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What makes a great series romance?

You might already have seen this - but if you haven't, here are some wise words from Randall Toye, Director Global Series at Harlequin.

"The key focus is a good story, well told. The basic building blocks? Character, Structure, Pacing, Payoff. Easy to list. Not so easy to deliver. As one author beautifully articulated: "Just because they're easy to read doesn't mean they're easy to write!" Quite the opposite. The series romance, like a sonnet, is a beautiful, disciplined, elegant, and demanding creative form."

So there you go. The full article is here on Isabel Swift's blog - and there are a lot of other interesting posts there, too. Lots of food for thought...

Craft post: writing nonfiction, part 1

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Julian Lloyd Webber, Unexpected Songs (mainly for Hushabye Mountain – love the chord sequence but I couldn’t work it out. Genius guitar teacher helped me out. Except now I have to deliver and it’s in position three – and I h-a-t-e barre chords)
Reading: next on TBA

Diane asked me to do this ages back: apologies for the loooong delay. Deadlines and stuff.

Anyway. How do I go about writing one of my nonfics?

First of all, I need to decide on my topic and its scope (and then do the proper outline/synopsis for the publisher... take that bit as read).

My current one for Halsgrove is the third in my ‘Scandals, Sieges and Spooks’ series; last year my Norfolk one was published, this year the Suffolk one comes out, and the one I’m working on now (to be published in 2010) is Essex. The book tells the stories behind the ruined castles and abbeys/priories in the county: when each was built, who lived there, any scandals (which could be anything from embezzlement through to murder), sieges (obviously this mainly involves castles), and spooks (ghost stories, but I’ve stretched this to include fairies, alleged witchcraft and supernatural elements).

So I know the topic and the scope. Next step is finding the locations of the castles, abbeys and priories. The obvious thing here is to look on a reasonably detailed map of the county and list them. I’ll check this list against

  • the English Heritage website;
  • a list in the Victoria County History (which lists all the religious foundations and castles, as they were in about 1902-10); and
  • Pevsner.

As well as checking the location, I’ll also check what’s still physically there (Pevsner and the EH website will give me the best idea there). I know that some will be just earthworks (for example, Haughley castle in Suffolk); others will have remains that are in the structure of churches or private homes (which may or may not be visible from the road; and the private homes or may not have open days); and other will be ruins or tourist attractions that are open to the public. Some might have no visible remains but the village sign will have a carving of what the building once looked like (as in Lidgate castle – course, if the sign’s been taken down for restoration, as it was when I visited Lidgate, you’re a bit stuck *g*). Others might be connected to something interesting in the church (e.g. the stained glass window at Wormingford telling the story of the dragon, or pew carvings of St Edmund’s head guarded by a wolf).

Next, I plot them on a map. This means photocopying a map and marking the sites on the photocopy with a highlighter pen so I can see what’s where. The idea is to maximise the use of my time by visiting several places that are close together – for example, when I did the Norfolk book, it would have been insane to visit Castle Rising in the far west of the county on the same day as visiting Burgh Castle in the far east of the county. But to take photographs at Castle Acre and West Acre on the same trip (when they’re about 4 miles apart) was much more sensible, and I stopped off at Dereham on the way because it was convenient.

How do I know what to photograph? Quick check on the English Heritage website (they sometimes have pics), and also search Google Pictures (often people take photographs for Geograph; and it also flags up if there’s a website which will give me more detail for background information). I’ll also check websites of the nearest church and the villages themselves (which tells me about stained glass and village signs).

So far, so good. But if you rush in to taking the pics without checking you have all the info, you could miss something. For example, I know I want a photograph of Colchester Castle. But I also know that there was a siege which means I also need a pic of Siege House in East Street, and a pic of the obelisk for Lucas and Lisle. If I’d just gone off to Colchester the day after I did my location list, I’d have had to revisit Colchester to take the other two pictures. Given that it takes me two hours to get to Essex and the trip has to be made at weekends (and/or school hols if DH has time off) so I can share the driving, it makes sense to do as much research as possible before we go, so I can make the most of photographic opportunities.

So how do I find out my information?

I could be mean here and just say go and buy my book How to Research Local History (which, btw, has had stellar reviews – there’s lots of info in bite-size chunks and it’s sensibly organised. If you want to get started quickly, that’s your kind of book. If you want something more ponderous, then it isn’t).

But I’ll be nice and tell you more tomorrow...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy birthday to my not-so-little boy

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Fleetwood Mac, Rumours
Reading: next on TBA

Today is the day Son has been waiting for. The day when he turns 12 and I agree to measure his height and admit that yes, he is taller than I am.

Strange to think that twelve years and one day ago, DH was driving me to hospital, ready to be induced. He nearly crashed the car when I informed him that, actually, I was in labour already, because I’d just worked out why I’d woken up with a stomach ache in the middle of the night - and I was having contractions about ten minutes apart...

Note I don’t say twelve years ago today. Oh, no. Son was quite happy where he was and refused to come out. So, 42 hours and 11 epidural top-ups after my labour started (yes, REALLY - from stupid o'clock Monday morning to Tuesday evening), I had a caesarean section.

I remember that first night, when DH had finally gone home. I couldn’t get out of bed at that point, so the very kind midwife tucked my baby beside me for a cuddle. I remember how quiet it was, and how amazed I felt that we’d produced this little life. And how I kept looking at him to check he was really there and I wasn’t dreaming the whole thing. (I also remember DH putting the TENS machine on my back. Never, EVER, let a man with a remote-control habit anywhere near the controls for a TENS machine. 'What does this do? Oops, sorry!' Arrgh.)

Son has brought a lot of joy into my life. He’s given me grey hairs and a bit of worry, too, but I guess that’s what kids are meant to do. And he’s growing into a lovely young man – very kind, very bright, and a bit eccentric (he gets that one from both parents). Not to mention a cheeky grin. (Ten years later... it hasn't changed much from this.)

I’m incredibly proud to be his mum.

Happy birthday to my eldest.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

RNA New Writers’ Award Winner

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: John Butler Trio
Reading: next on TBA

Busy today (guitar lesson plus parents’ evening plus sorting out stuff with Dad’s current and somewhat prolonged blip – ah, the joys of Parkinsonian dementia) so instead of inane ramblings from moi here’s a press release from the RNA.

I love being able to report good news like this – when someone’s chased a dream and caught it. (All right, so I want to be a fairy godmother when I grow up. Just having trouble sourcing that magic wand right now.)

Anyway, big congrats to Allie Spencer.

Ex-Barrister Wins New Writers’ Award with Romantic Novel set in Chambers

The winner of the Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon New Writer’s Award has clearly taken the adage “write what you know” to heart. With Tug of Love, published by Little Black Dress, Allie Spencer plumbed her career as a specialist in matrimonial law.

Her heroine is divorce lawyer Lucy. When Lucy meets Mark, it is love at first sight and would be the perfect match if his scary ex-wife, the PM’s divorce and an old flame don’t all get in the way.

Announcing the winner, judge and Chairman of the RNA, Catherine Jones, commented: “Laugh-out-loud funny, clever, and set in chambers by someone who obviously knows what she is talking about, this novel is sassy and believable with a wonderfully flawed heroine and a great supporting cast. It was a joy from first to last.”

The award was presented by bestselling author Katie Fforde at the RNA’s summer party on 13th May.

Allie felt “completely overwhelmed” and said she first got the idea for Tug of Love when she was a pupil barrister sitting outside a court in London in a very cramped waiting area. At the time, Allie had no idea she would abandon law for marriage and a career as a romantic novelist. Nor did she imagine her second full-length book would be snapped up by a publisher and go on to win an award.

Allie lives in Salisbury with her husband and two young sons. Her idols are authors PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams and she nurtures a secret desire to be a stand-up comedian.

Meanwhile, Allie is thrilled to have won her award. “The RNA has been supremely supportive and nurturing of me, so this is extra special. Also the judges are both very experienced and successful writers so their vote of confidence counts for a lot.”

The RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, which is generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon in memory of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member, gives unpublished authors of romantic fiction the opportunity to join the Association and submit a full-length manuscript for appraisal. Promising manuscripts, if deemed ready, are passed to a suitable professional. The Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Scheme Award is given to the best of the novels accepted and published that year.

Monday, May 18, 2009

radio is SUCH fun

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Julian Lloyd Webber, Unexpected Songs
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, All Over You (excellent – can’t wait for the last in the trilogy)

Friday was great fun. I was on the ‘Ladies at Lunch’ spot on Graham and Karen’s morning show with two lovely women – Tessa Shepperson and Sara Lock. We had a great time talking about current issues (including MPs’ expenses – I’ve had a thought there. Wouldn’t it make life easier if there was a dedicated block of flats near the H of P where MPs could stay during Session? True, they need a home in their constituency, because unless they live there they won’t really have a proper handle on local concerns; if the state provided London accommodation – a bit like student halls of residence albeit grown up – surely it would save all the angst? Why do people go into politics, anyway: to change the world and make things right, or for the money? OK. Na├»ve. Off my soapbox). It was great fun; Tessa’s a lawyer and Sara’s been on Cash in the Attic, and they’re both lovely women. We could’ve talked all afternoon…

Tessa was kind enough to send me her pic to use here – left to right, we have presenter Graham Barnard, Sara Lock, Tessa Shepperson, me, and presenter Karan Buchanan. (Tessa’s account of our spot is here at her blog.)

It coincided rather nicely with my bit in the paper, and lovely Graham kept mentioning that. It was a good pic, too, so many thanks to Steve the genius photographer for minimising the chins :o) and to Angi Kennedy for writing such a nice piece.

Saturday, into town to buy son’s main birthday pressie: a mobile phone. He’s very happy with it. (And yes, we did let him have it early. He has to wait for everything else until Wednesday. And then I will let his dad measure him on the height chart and admit that he’s taller than I am. You know the ‘are you smarter than a 10-year-old’ thing? In this house, it’s ‘are you shorter than an 11-year-old’… no. Not admitting it until he’s 12. Give it five years and daughter will be taller than I am, too. Just all me Garfield.)

Sunday, back on the radio - and just as I walked into the Forum, I saw Rick Wakeman. So I was feeling a bit starstruck as I went into the Beeb. This time I was on Maggie’s Brew to talk about Norfolk Miscellany. Maggie was very kind about the book, describing it as brilliant because it’s one of these ones with lots of bitesize facts and you learn a lot in a short space of time. I loved working on it and I’m very proud of my home county, so I’m pleased that she enjoyed it so much. Angi Kennedy from the EDP said similar things in her piece in the paper, and I’ve had various emails and calls since from family and friends who spotted it and said it was a good piece.

So it’s been a lovely weekend.

Today, I was meant to be meeting my friend Kate (who writes children’s nonfic – her husband is a rather famous children’s writer but I will be good and not namedrop) and we were going to have a walk on the beach and then lunch out. I was so looking forward to it. However, son staggered out of bed this morning, complaining of a headache and feeling sick. Paracetamol hasn’t shifted it, so I’m home today being Mummy and ministering to his fevered brow (i.e. all console games are banned and I’ll keep him supplied with cool drinks/keep an eye on the clock for paracetamol doses). Beach and lunch to be rescheduled – I hate calling off at the last minute, but Kate also has children and is as aware as I am that nothing is written in stone when you have kids. If they’re ill, they come first.

Friday, May 15, 2009

finished and radio interview

Current work: Modern Heat
Listening to: Joe Lynn Turner
Reading: next on TBR

Finished the revisions. Finally. This was a reunion story; and I’d sorted everything out in the last chapter - which was really leaving it a bit late. My ed asked me to get them confronting the problems earlier instead of settling into a safe relationship, and she was absolutely right. She also asked me to take out the one bit of external conflict so that the marriage breakup was firmly laid at the feet of the hero and heroine. (Note to anyone reading this in hope of garnering tips: internal conflict is much more important.)

And then she said two little words: ‘Dig deeper.’

So this one needed a lot of thought. I've been tinkering here and there for days. Doesn't help that I'm not a linear writer - if I make a change that impacts earlier chapters, I go back to the beginning and fix it rather than ploughing on to finish that draft, then fixing the whole thing in the next. This is another reason why I could never do an 'online read'. My creativity doesn't work that way. It's fluid right up until I type the last word.

I think I’ve cracked it, though I won’t be surprised if I get second revisions. Some books are just like that. But there’s a little voice in my head that’s saying, ‘See? You’ve been found out as an impostor. You are not an award-winning novelist – that was an error in your favour. You’re a fake.’

Authorial paranoia strikes again. (All right. That was started by a French review where I was slapped for using a hook that lots of people use, i.e. the unexpected pregnancy. The reviewer clearly doesn’t like that particular hook and lambasted me because as ‘an experienced author she should know better’. I’m trying to do the ‘water off a duck’s back’ thing, but I have yet to develop the thick skin necessary for an author. And I guess that one stung more because she went on to be highly critical of the follow-up book – and I’m afraid that I do take that personally because there’s so much of me in Katrina.)

Ah well. Nice day planned. Need to pick up copies of the local paper this morning (I’m dying to see which pics they used from last Friday), might nip into the library for a teensy bit of research, and I’m on BBC Radio Norfolk this morning talking to Graham and Karen (FM - 95.1, 95.6, 104.4 – or you can listen on the internet here).

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lovely review

Current work: revisions for Med (am struggling with this one!)
Listening to: Beethoven piano sonatas
Reading: next on TBR

Lovely review for Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion from Cataromance.

Millionaire playboy Luke Holloway finds himself getting up close and personal with his new PA in Kate Hardy’s latest enjoyable Modern Heat: Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion!

Luke Holloway doesn’t like clutter. He likes his office to be clean, slick and professional, but when his personal assistant goes on maternity leave, Luke suddenly finds himself faced with a barrage of unsuitable replacements who seem unable to do anything right! Luke cannot go on like this. He’s reached the end of his tether and if he doesn’t find a suitable replacement for his old secretary, he knows that his reputation could be on the line. Luckily, for him, his best friend’s wife, Lily, hands Luke a business card that changes his life forever…

Sara Fleet is not strictly a PA. She’s renowned for her organizational skills, and when she hears of Luke’s quandary, she accepts the challenge fully aware that she’ll soon transform Luke’s office and turn it around. Sara’s organizational prowess impresses Luke – but he’s even more impressed by her gorgeous figure, sharp wit and sexy eyes.

Luke doesn’t do relationships. A messed up childhood has made him wary of both families and commitment. However, the one thing Luke isn’t wary of is sex, and working side by side with his efficient new PA, he cannot help but wish that he and Sara would move away from the boardroom and straight into the bedroom. But Sara has issues of her own. An old boyfriend had treated her abysmally and she had sworn never to get involved with another man ever again. Yet, she cannot help but be bowled over by Luke’s charisma and gorgeous body!

A steamy affair soon ensues and Sara realizes that she’s done the unthinkable and fallen in love with her boss. Luke has made it quite clear that relationships are not – nor ever will be – part of his agenda. However, a future without Sara is one which he cannot bear to think about.

Then Sara discovers she’s pregnant with his baby…

As addictive as ever, Kate Hardy’s latest Modern Heat, Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion, is a spellbinding tale that sizzles with wonderful sexual tension, palpable emotion and tender romance. Featuring a sexy hero and a resourceful heroine, Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion is another keeper by the fantastic award-winning author Kate Hardy!

Thank you, Julie Bonello, for making my day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

if dogs could text…

Current work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Bach
Reading: next on TBR

Am screamingly busy at the mo (revisions and guitar lesson today – I might do a craft post later in the week about depth, as well as the one I promised on nonfic) so am leaving you with something I discovered while procrastinating last week, as it amused me greatly:

funny pictures of dogs with captions

Have a nice day!

Monday, May 11, 2009

glamorous author (x2) and slobby weekends

Current work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Crowded House
Reading: Jenny Crusie, Bet Me (fantastic – good structure, well-drawn characters, witty and sparkling dialogue I would LOVE to be able to write myself – could see this as a film. Brilliant)

Friday saw me wearing make-up and looking slightly less scruffy than usual. This is because of the photo shoot. And I had a great time; Steve, the photographer, was very quick-witted and a real laugh, which always helps. The plan was to do the shoot outside the castle, except it was pouring. We stood in the doorway of the castle and Steve kept saying, ‘Look, it’s getting brighter over there…’ And then there would be an immediate gust of wind and more driving rain. ‘No, it’s getting worse.’ In the end, we did the shoot inside the castle. People kept coming out of the lift and looking at us, and we started hamming it up a bit. OK, a lot. It’s very obvious I’m not a model – I’m about six inches too short and way too many pounds too heavy. Just to give the onlookers a clue as to why I was there with a professional photographer, I waved the book around a lot. (Rats, missed a trick – should’ve checked the gift shop and offered to sign copies.)

The only bit that worried me was that most of them were full-length shots. I try to avoid these where possible because, like Garfield, I’m undertall. ‘I should’ve written a bigger book so it would’ve hidden the spare tyres. Can I open it up so you get the whole of the cover hiding me?’ I asked. Steve cracked up and made a brilliant joke about the definition of vanity publishing being writing a book big enough to hide behind (though please note that WAS a joke – my publisher pays me, not vice versa!).

So then he asked me to drape myself along a rail. ‘You DO know you’re going to get the cleavage shot if I do that? Oh, well, hubby will like it and it might get me some sales.’ (Actually, the EDP is a family paper, so we used the book to hide the cleavage and prop up the chins.) I have no idea which picture they’ll use in the feature, but I will definitely be laughing and looking happy because the whole shoot was enormous fun.

Saturday, was a very bad puppy and spent the morning curled up in bed with an excellent book (see above - recommended to me by Liz Fielding and Nina Harrington, and the rec was much appreciated). Worked in the afternoon (dog deserted me because Madam let him sneak onto the sofa and cuddle up with her), then did the salads and roast veg while DH did the blokey thing and sorted the barbecue.

Sunday, tried to persuade DH to go out for a walk as it was a reasonable day; the idea was that when he said yes, I could choose one of my pic locations for one of the new books (and I had plans to drag him to Blickling and take pics of the rhododendrons to post here). However, he was in slug mode and wanted to watch motor racing, so I worked on revisions and the kids had the neighbour’s children round to play.

And then it was glam author moment #2 when my lovely friend and colleague Liz Fielding sent me an email telling me that she’d heard me on Radio Four’s ‘Broadcasting House’ programme, talking about blogging. More emails followed from other colleagues (nice emails – so I didn’t make a complete idiot of myself, then). The Beeb has a ‘listen again’ feature, so if you want to hear it just click here – the intro to my bit is at about 26:40 and I talk for a couple of minutes. This is condensed from 30 minutes or so of interview – but even so, I talk too quickly and say the word ‘actually’ far too frequently! And a big thank you to Chris Vallance, for indulging me with a bit of music at the end and also for not saying how disgustingly untidy my office is. (Mind you, I’ve yet to meet a writer who does have a pristine office…)

Righty. Plan for today: lick revisions into shape and then crack on with new book. I’ve been ignoring the hero and heroine, and they’re lobbing things at me – such as the fact that my heroine has been adopted by an enormous ginger cat called Titan. Now, this was Not In The Plan. But when my book starts to take on a life of its own, it’s always a huge relief.

Friday, May 08, 2009

a plea to doglovers

Please go over and give Michelle a hug.

Seven years ago this Sunday, I was in a similar position, as we'd just lost Ben, our first dog together as a couple (and the first dog our children ever knew); so I know exactly how she's feeling right now.

RIP Joss and big hugs to Michelle and her family.

just wild…

Current work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Susanna Gregory, A Conspiracy of Violence (enjoyed this – I’m a big fan of her Matthew Bartholomew series, and I think she’s caught the Restoration period well, too).

Another wildlife encounter on the school run yesterday morning: this time, it was a deer. Which are fairly common around these parts… except it was in the middle of the suburbs rather than the fields. Same place as yesterday’s swan. We spent the rest of the school run discussing out what would be next, growing progressively more outrageous with our suggestions. And then Madam decided it was time to be sensible, and suggested a chicken. Unfortunately, son and I were already in silly mode, so we started on the ‘why did the chicken cross the road’ type jokes.

So I have one for you, courtesy of son. Why did the chicken cross the road, roll in the mud and go back to the other side? Because he was a dirty double-crosser.

(Sorry. I love jokes like this. Witty without being mean. I also adore puns. Do feel free to leave one in the comments.)

Plan for today: school run, photo shoot with local paper, couple of errands in town, then home to work. (And, joy joy joy, M&S crayfish and mango salad for lunch.)

... and I will do a nonfic craft post for next week!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

dangle, leap and curl…

Current work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Bach
Reading: various research stuff

Squirrel has worked out how to get to the nuts. Dangle off the top of the bird-feeder station, leap onto the peanut-holder, then curl round it…

(Mind you, he knocked it off half an hour or so later. I think he was hoping the top would come off. Ha. It didn’t. Serves him right for being greedy.)

We also had an unusual wildlife encounter on the school run, yesterday morning. Something enormous and white flew over our heads – and suddenly the traffic ground to a halt. Annoyingly, I didn’t have my camera with me – because what was stalking up and down the road, making everyone wait for him? The most gorgeous swan. (Lightbulb. I could do a Children of Lir type book… oh, wait. Not going to work as a Medical romance, is it? The Swan Doctor… Dear, lovely ed. How about it? Doctor changes into swan, heroine changes him back? No, didn’t think you’d go for it, somehow…)

Lovely interview with Angi from the EDP yesterday morning. We’re doing a photoshoot tomorrow morning; note to self, remember to take book to photoshoot. (I have forgotten before – duuuh.)

The talk at school yesterday was great fun. The children in both sessions were really responsive and came up with some thoughtful questions (including some I couldn’t answer!). And I was so impressed by how they came in quietly, not chatting, and sat down nicely, and paid attention, and put their hands up rather than yelling out. They were a real pleasure to work with. AND the teacher gave me some roses to say thanks. I was so touched.

Plan for today: work. It’s actually my day to visit Dad, but he’s having a blip and (on my stepmum’s advice) I rang the home to see if he was able to have visitors. They’ve suggested leaving it a few days until he’s less confused. Mean of me? Actually, no. Dad’s in an excellent place where he’s getting the care he needs, when he needs it. And Parkinson’s is a nasty disease – it isn’t just tremors and a bit of slow movement. Dementia and mood changes are involved. Let’s just say I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes it’s better to skip a visit. Sure, you take the rough with the smooth, but that doesn’t mean being a martyr. It’s using time wisely so we both get the best out of the visit. (How much guilt did I go through before I achieved that bit of wisdom?)

So today is a day for concentrating on the good bits of life. I also have something exciting I can’t talk about yet, but will be bubbling about as soon as I can!

Oh, and do go over to Kate Walker and wish her a happy birthday.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

a tidy desk…

Current work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Bach
Reading: various research stuff

My table arrived yesterday and oh, it’s nice to have a non-rickety surface to work on again. DH built it for me after tea and moved the new bookcase in, put my pics up and moved my clock. (Yup, he’s a star. Completely wonderful. And completely appreciated.)

Last month, I said I would never, ever post a pic of my workspace because it’s messy. Well, today, it’s tidy. (Temporarily!) So this is where I work.

Left to right: fax machine (needs dusting) on top of filing cabinet (also needs dusting)– behind the fax is my stereo, and on the wall above it is my mate Steve Denby’s gorgeous print ‘Beachcombers’ (you can just about see the far right edge of the frame). On the cabinet are some magnets, including one from my lovely mate Jan Jones saying that 'Chocolate is proof that God wants us to be happy'.

Next to desk: cupboard with printer on top. (Is a printer/scanner/copier - quite old, but it's excellent and when it gives up the ghost I will definitely get another HP.) In front of that: tower fan (very, VERY necessary because I feel the heat and I think better in lower temperatures).

On desk: screen; speakers; desk lamp (yay, I can plug it in now because I no longer have a problem with the stupid bar at the back of rickety ex-desk blocking access to the plugs) with coal frog and tuning fork sitting on the base (holiday souvenir from Ironbridge and tuning fork lives there otherwise the other guitarists in the house borrow it, forget where they left it, and I get stroppy); desk tidy thingy containing sellotape, post-it notes, business cards and bits and bobs; pen pot with elastic bands stretched round it to keep them tidy; coaster for coffee mug; headphones with mic for use with Dragon; keyboard and mouse; case for glasses (used only for screen work, to stop me getting headaches).

Above desk: print of ‘October Mist’ by Steve Denby, clock, calendar. (Hmm. My to-do list had better go back up as well. Daughter has asked where totty gallery has gone: currently awaiting new home. Possibly on side of filing cabinet.)

I admit, this pic was taken last night and it doesn’t look quite like that now. I’ve put the pile of papers and two research books back in that space to the right of the headphones (hmm - maybe I need some filing trays with risers?), plus my handbag, a photo of the kids, kitchen timer (to limit my loafing time on YouTube/online word games) and scruffy mouse mat (needs replacing: must add to list). And there is still a pile of stuff on my comfy chair that needs sorting. (I will do that later – but I have deadlines to sort first.)

But anyway. It's a very calm space; it's where the kids do some of their homework, where I practise my guitar (that's immediately behind my desk, so I can just spin round on the swivel chair and pick it up), and doubles as a spare room if we have more than one person staying.

Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on what readers want from an author’s ‘books’ page. I’ve revised mine accordingly, so do go and take a look at it here – any suggestions for improvements welcome! I am thinking about creating a page with hero/heroine name and setting for ease of reference, but I need to work out some tecchy stuff first (i.e. how to build a table in CSS – I know how to do it in HTML but CSS is a little different).

Also finished my proofs for Scandals, Sieges and Spooks: Suffolk Ghosts and Legends. Lovely publisher sent me three different covers; I asked DH and the kids what they thought (all separately so they wouldn’t influence each other) and they picked the same one as I did, so fingers crossed that’s the one.

Guitar lesson yesterday was good – tricky bit of Bach, and we unpicked it so I could work out the harmony and why it modulates as it does. I really do like Bach’s harmonies.

Busy day today – this morning I have an interview about the new book, and this afternoon I’m talking at daughter’s school on their new Humanities topic, i.e. Norwich. This meant doing my first ever Powerpoint presentation: I was impressed at how easy the programme is to use.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

busy weekend – and test drives…

Add ImageCurrent work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Melody Gardot, My One and Only Thrill (thanks to lovely Donna Alward for suggesting this one to me)
Reading: various research stuff

Wonderful bank holiday weekend. As DH was off, did a bit of skiving, i.e. spent time with the family rather than working. (Bad me. Lots to catch up on. But it was nice to spend time with them.)

Saturday, moseyed into town as Madam needed new shoes. I finally cracked after much nagging and bought DH’s birthday pressie early, so he’s happy. (Satnav. Sigh. Think kid with new toy.)

And then we looked at cars. Even though I hadn’t intended to change mine until next year, I’ve been muttering since the spark plug issue reared its head again. I’d promised DH that I would look at other cars as well as Clios this time round, so we went to several dealerships. Did NOT like the new Fiesta (feels cramped, and I don’t like the dash – bright red LED). Looked at the Merc A-class (DH’s idea) but it didn’t feel right. Neither did the Polo (and DH said that wouldn't be a good buy anyway as a new version is coming out soon, so the about-to-be-old-shape one would depreciate mega-quickly).

However, I did like the new Corsa: it’s roomy, with a comfortable driving position.

My benchmark car was my Clio (despite more mutters from DH about Renault, because his Megane was a nightmare car). Renault had sent me a leaflet telling me that they’d love me to change my car as they want quality used cars, and they’d give me an extra-good price for it as I’m a valued customer.

Yeah, right. The salesman offered me quite a bit less than the Glass’s guide price and then tried to sell me the next spec up. It was nowhere near as good a deal as the pre-reg Corsa. And even less of a good deal than a 6-month-old Corsa from a dealer we’ve used before – which had low mileage and a much higher spec. And the dealer offered me what I wanted for mine. Said we’d think about it over the weekend.

Sunday, went to Thursford for research trip. Saw the fairground organs playing (this is a Marenghi)

and also rode the ‘scenic railway’ (aka Venetian gondola/switchback - NB this wasn't taken with a fisheye lens: there are valleys and hills). You really do feel as if you're going to fall out as you go up the hill (if you're sitting backwards, as I was - arrgh!).

It was perfect for research purposes, especially as I could see the man feeding the cards into the organ so I understood exactly how it worked. However, that was the only ride working (and it only had three rides scheduled for the whole day) and there was no steam; we had expected to see a little more. Apparently some of the collection had gone off to Strumpshaw for the steam rally – pity we didn’t realise that at the time or we would’ve gone there instead. But at least my book is taking shape. (Hero is Felix. Thanks again to those who helped crystallise my thoughts earlier.)

Next stop, the beach. From the cliffs at Hunstanton, we could see loads of kites – looked very pretty.
When we were right next to the sea, we realised why there were so many – this is what they were doing.
Looked like hard work but great fun, especially when they jumped out of the water and glided through the air.

Monday – typical Bank Holiday weather, cold and cloudy, so we stayed fairly close to home. DH had been reading reviews and said that if we decided on a Corsa, a 1.2 was underpowered – which was one of the problems with his Megane, so he offered to pony up the difference in cost for a 1.4 (bless him). Went back to the dealer’s for a test-drive.

And yes, I did wuss out of driving it myself. As did all the other women there buying a car – and they had the same reason as me, i.e. test-driving feels like doing a driving test and you just know you’re going to crunch gears and make an idiot of yourself over parking it. (All the dealers said the same thing on Saturday: in their experience, women always get their husband to do the test-drive.)
Am sure there are people out there who would lambast me for this; so, to avoid them wasting their time typing (nice hint, hmm?), I'd like to point out that this was MY choice to ask him to do the testing for me. Not because either of us think I'm incapable, but I hate doing test-drives and DH enjoys them. He knows exactly what I want/expect from a car and I trust his judgement. Besides, I can’t hear engine noises (even with sound on), so I need someone with decent hearing to check that side of things for me. And he does drive mine occasionally, so it'd be stupid to get a car that had a really uncomfortable driving position for him. QED. Made sense for him to do it.

Drive was good; kids were happy with the amount of passenger space; there was a choice of colours, and all four of us liked the same colour (Star Silver – it’s the colour of new matte silver jewellery and really suits the car). The dealer is sorting out the registration plate transfer, too, so I don’t have to spend ages sitting in the DVLA office (I am aware of approaching deadlines and could do without the hassle!).
And I pick it up in three weeks’ time, yippee.

Friday, May 01, 2009

May Day

Current work: outlines and plotting; and revisions for Med
Listening to: Madeleine Peyroux
Reading: next on TBR pile

Today is May Day – and, as it's my first post of the month, it's also calendar day.

Bright, sticky heart-shaped candies. My daughter loves these, though I have to admit I prefer Parma Violets. (Hmm. Am I the only person in the world who liked them?)

Had a really good day yesterday.

Firstly, I got a very special book in the post. A copy of my all-time favourite category romance novel, signed by the author (who is also one of my favourite people - she's incredibly talented AND she's a thoroughly nice woman as well, great company, witty and kind). So colour me very, very, VERY happy.

Secondly, I ordered a proper table for my office to replace my desk. Why? Because my desk is really rickety, part of the veneer is peeling (OK, so it serves me right for ordering a cheapie desk from Argos in the first place), plus the design means I have to be a contortionist if I want to reach the plug behind my desk. I much prefer working at a normal table (and I can have access to my plug again and put my lamp on). I was going to ask for my old table back, but son has been using it to paint his Warhammer stuff and it’s not in a good state. John Lewis had a reasonably priced table that’s the same size as my desk, and they’re delivering it next Tuesday afternoon. Yay.

Am also having a bit of a meejafest. Lovely Angi from the Eastern Daily Press rang to ask if she can interview me about the new book. Am also going to be on BBC Radio Norfolk in the middle of the month, on Karen and Graham’s “Ladies who Lunch” slot.

Oh yes, and it’s May, which means I have new books out this month! Um, quite a few of them, it seems...

First up, fiction: Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion is the second in my To Tame a Playboy duo, out in the UK right now. If you like Greek settings, you'll love where Luke takes Sara as a surprise. Oh, yes - and you might need tissues towards the end. And there's this sweet-natured spaniel who is a complete and utter shoe thief. (Yeah. The same one who steals one shoe from everyone in this house and piles them up in his bed. I think he would be a bit cross if he found out I'd nicknamed him Imelda. Byron, I mean, not my hero.) I'm VERY pleased with my cover: this is one cute man.

Then, in the US, we have The Millionaire Boss's Reluctant Mistress. This is actually a reprint - it was actually the first in my Posh Docs series, Her Celebrity Surgeon. And yes, the family surname is Radley. And yes, you all know exactly where I got the name. I will confess this over on I Heart Presents later in the month, among other little secrets...

And I also have new nonfiction on the shelves: Norfolk Miscellany is what it says on the cover. Whether you've lived in Norfolk for many years or just moved to the county, you'll find new and entertaining information about Norfolk within the pages.

Happy May Day - and may the sun shine on you for the holiday weekend.