Friday, July 24, 2009

angels and AWOL

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Einaudi, Divenire
Reading: really looking forward to a readfest next week (and I’m talking about it tomorrow at the PHS)

Errand-running day yesterday. Paid for my stained glass course and visited the museum – it was LOVELY to see inside St Peter Hungate again after all these years of it being closed. I was very impressed with this angel (exactly the kind of costumes they would’ve used in the mystery plays - including the feathery trousers).

And I’d forgotten that the angels in the roof were gilded. Very impressive. (This church was rebuilt by John and Margaret Paston, of the 'letters' fame.)

Here's a closeup: utterly beautiful.

Also picked up tickets for Victoria Connelly’s book launch for Molly’s Millions; nipped into M&S to buy lunch and dinner for tonight and tomorrow (yes, am being grossly lazy – but I want the fridge empty on Saturday morning); and the kids chilled out in the afternoon while I worked.
Will admit I was a teensy bit naughty and did a couple of online puzzles – had forgotten how much I enjoyed the Puzzler website. Resdicovered it last week and I know it’s deeply sad of me but I was rather chuffed to be top of the league for Codeword - managed it this week, too. This is work-related as I use puzzles as a kind of mental barometer. I know how long it takes me to do a logic problem - so if I can't do it within that time, I know I'm not on top form mentally (usually means I'm going down with something and/or need time off) and it'd pay to do admin-type stuff rather than something that needs a lot of creativity.

Plans for today: packing, making CD compilations for the car, taking Kleptodog to kennels (it’s too far for him to come with us – his holiday home is excellent and he will have a good time... once he stops sulking), and making sure that we have bottles of water and reasonably healthy munchies for the car.

Was hilarious last night when daughter sat DH down and explained that, as it’s a four-hour trip to Sussex, she thinks we should have four different CDs in the car on the way. One should be her choice, one her brother’s, one my choice and one his. ‘Because there are four of us and that’s fair. And because it’s your car and there are six CD slots, you can have the two extra ones. Except not Terry Emms because that’s terrible and I can’t believe you made Mum buy it for you.’ (I had to leave the room at that point.)

This was all her own idea (and she was terribly proud of it) but DH collared me afterwards. ‘Why is it that I can hear you talking when she speaks?’ Becau-au-ause her mind works exactly like mine. Haven’t you noticed that she’s always got her nose in a book or a pen in her hand? (Cue seriously evil grin from me.) Just imagine what it’ll be like when we both have PMT at the same time, during her teens… (Cue mutters from DH: ‘I’m going to live in the shed. And how many CDs have you bought this week?’ Hmm. Clearly having an untidy desk is not the way to mask the fact that I had a teensy CD bender this week.)

Am going completely AWOL now and keeping fingers crossed that there are no emergency calls. (One week off. Is it that much to ask?)

Back next week with pics and stories, after exploring bits of West Sussex. Have a lovely week – I certainly intend to!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Current work: Medical (and counting down to holiday – not feeling quite as rubbish as yesterday)
Listening to: Def Leppard, Slang
Reading: really looking forward to a readfest next week (and I’m talking about it on Saturday at the PHS)

Yesterday, woke up with a really bad headache (thank you, DH, for shutting our bedroom window so the room was stuffy… and so was my head) and my tried-and-tested coffee-and-paracetamol combo failed to shift it. Felt rubbish all day, but I’d promised to take the kids ten-pin bowling so I made myself do it.

And it was great fun. Son was delighted to get a strike. Daughter decided she was going to bowl without the help of the frame and did pretty well, getting a couple of spares. Me… well, I did manage a strike on my very last ball, but basically I’m rubbish at sports. If we're messing about, having fun, that's fine. I'll play, if you ask me to - but if you’re competitive and it's important to you that your team wins, then you’d be much better off putting me in charge of refreshments and leaving me to read in a shady corner. (Hmm: I’m having a bit of a lightbulb moment here… Oh, man, not now, when I have a screaming deadline and two days left!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

snoopy dancing (if I had the energy to do it)

Current work: Medical (and counting down to holiday – deeply, deeply tired)
Listening to: Various 70s/80s rock – scary to think I was son’s age when some of it came out (and he loves it – dat’s ma boy)
Reading: really looking forward to a readfest next week

Have to admit, I’m more than ready for a break next week. Getting out of bed this morning was a definite struggle. However, my working time during summer holidays is limited to the very beginning of the day, before the kids get up (well, before littlest gets up – son is a lark, too, so the deal is if I’m allowed to work in peace then I won’t nag about the use of the X-box) and to the end of the day, after DH gets home, so I can’t give in and just sleep. I’m struggling with the deadline as it is. Yes, I could ask for an extension – but then I’d be fretting about it all next week and it would negate the benefits of going away. (Am taking the lappie anyway, but I want a doable amount left to handle each day, not a screaming amount. DH is off the week after we get back and I want to be able to play, not go straight back to work.)

OK day yesterday – not the best visit to Dad, but then again we’ve had worse. Took the kids out to lunch (son decided to be fussy so there were lots of swaps between plates – not so much overindulgence as choosing my battles wisely and knowing when to be firm and when to be kind), then to see DH’s mum; then came home and played games with the kids until DH came home.

Was flagging (not quite enough caffeine in the system) when I took a break to check my email. Discovered a lovely note from my colleague on eHarlequin (waves to Amy) to tell me that I had TWO books (including one that’s more than 6 months old - blimey) on the eHarl top 10 ebooks bestsellers. (Actually, if we’re being precise, two in the top five. That’s going some!) Excellent news and it really cheered me up. I would have done a Snoopy dance, if I’d had the energy. Reserves are a tad depleted, right now.

Spent the entire evening on the proofs from hell instead of writing. (Growl, growl.) I normally have a dozen corrections, max, but this one had an enormous list (not my errors, either), and I was really grumpy by the end of it. One good thing came out of it, though: I’m using the London Victoria again and I’d forgotten that I’d already named one of the neurologists. This jogged my memory so I could get it right in the current book.

Plan for today: have promised to take kids ten-pin bowling. Also need to do the library and doctor visits that I didn’t get round to doing yesterday. And sort out the parcels I’ve promised and need to post to people (anyone reading this who’s expecting one – I will get it done this week, promise). And in between… I need to get words down. (Made myself cry as I was typing yesterday, so the book’s definitely working. Just please, please, let me have some time...)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

cinema and bo(a)r(e)d games

Current work: Medical (and counting down to holiday)
Listening to: Still Def Leppard
Reading: next on TBR (am saving them for holiday, actually, as all reading time has been transferred to work time during school hols)

Went to see Ice Age 3 (3D version) yesterday. Animation was very good and I have a soft spot for Ray Romano anyway. I really enjoyed the character of Buck: Simon Pegg did an excellent job of the voiceover.

Spent the afternoon playing cards and board games with littlest while eldest did his ‘I am almost a teenager, I am bored and antisocial’ act and played the X-box, claiming that board games leave him bored. (Tres droll. Not.)

Work? Cue hollow laugh. Must try harder today.

Had a bit of a CD binge yesterday. An 80s rock compilation (if only the Supernatural producers would do a soundtrack – I would definitely buy it); Def Leppard’s Slang (listened to it on YouTube and it’s very different – feels quite fresh, and I can see why DL fans loathe it but I find it musically interesting); and Einaudi’s Divenire, real chillout stuff (might see if I can beg that one for the car on hols, though DH will probably complain that it’s dull).

Plan for today: take the kids to see Dad, then take the kids to see MIL, possibly lunch out somewhere, library to return books and pick up a research book, pick up prescription from doctor’s surgery (ha ha, the joys of an underactive thyroid – and this was my last repeat, so that means I’m due a blood pressure check and blood test, lucky me)… and then more board games until DH comes home and I can go back to work.

Monday, July 20, 2009

new cover – and MEN (growl)

Current work: Medical (and counting down to holiday)
Listening to: Def Leppard (haven’t played them for ages – have forgotten how much I always liked them)
Reading: next on TBR

Was delighted to discover two new things this weekend. Firstly, the cover for the Northern Lights book, Temporary Boss, Permanent Mistress.

I had hoped for the Northern Lights on the cover; however, this has lots of glass in it and to me it has the ‘feel’ of Nordic design. Amazon has changed the format of its book covers, so unfortunately this is the only size I can use until I get hold of a physical copy and scan it in, because the larger Amazon cover is now a zoomable image rather than a jpg. (If you want to see it, click here…)

Secondly, DH ignored my ‘do not disturb’ notice on Saturday and walked in waving the EDP. Was about to growl at him (not seeing any evidence of chocolate to make up for said interruption) when he informed me, ‘You’re number one in the charts again, with Norfolk Miscellany.’ So that was lovely, too. Especially as I’d ripped out a big chunk of the new book on Saturday morning and was feeling a bit panicky about my wordcount, hence in need of a bit of anti-crow stuff.

However, DH lost all brownie points on Sunday morning. Let’s just say that if you decide to take the pipes under the sink apart to clean the traps, and said pipework is on the complicated side, you need to make notes of what you do and in which order, so you can put it back together again…

I’ll probably be able to laugh about this after my deadline, but yesterday I was pretty cross because it was such a time-waste.

Why do men have this obsession with being good at DIY? It really doesn’t matter if you’re not good at it. Everyone has different strengths, so why not play to them and work round your weaknesses – i.e. pay other people to do the things you can’t? But men… no. Male pride (usually completely misplaced) gets in the way and common sense disappears. (Hmm. This is book fodder, isn’t it?) Anyway, after a brief fight over male stupidity and pride (!), I did the sensible thing and rang our lovely builder, who sorted it out for us.

Plan for today: into town with the kids, to pick up bits for the holiday; see Ice Age 3 (3D version); have lunch; and then be Bad Mummy and let them play on the X-box while I work.

Oh, and I’ve found the book’s ‘conflict song’. Here’s a link to the acoustic version at YouTube from way back in 1995. Actually, there are a lot of songs from this particular set on YouTube and they’re wonderful. Great sound. I would’ve LOVED to be at that gig. (I’ve had a thing about Joe Elliott since I was in my early teens - and he looks particularly gorgeous in this set. Sigh. Definitely a potential Kate Hardy hero, except my ed would give him a haircut in revisions. Hmm. Won't work in the duo as the next two heroes are lawyers, but he will work in another book...)

Friday, July 17, 2009

End of term and lovely review

Current work: Medical (and ohhh, I need a holiday)
Listening to: Corelli (yup, stress puppy)
Reading: next on TBR

Today’s the end of term. Start of the summer holidays. I’m looking forward to them as I enjoy my children’s company. And I am soooo looking forward to a week away and a week pottering (aka doing pics for a book, but I haven’t told DH that, yet…). Need to work smart, though, as I want this book off my desk before we go away. (Otherwise I will be fretting and it will spoil my break. Working on our family holiday is forbidden. Might have to stretch a point, this year.)

Son decided to have a completely new haircut yesterday. Suddenly my little boy looks like a teenager. (OK, OK. Not so little. He’s an inch taller than I am, now, so I have to admit it. I’m taking great pleasure in watching him do to his father what he used to do to me – stands beside him and then silently rises onto tiptoe. Cue ‘OMG’ look on parental face on sudden realisation of just how tall son is.)

Had a lovely review from Pink Heart Society Reviews for Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh:

From the talented pen of Kate Hardy comes an exciting new novel for Harlequin Presents that will just leave you breathless! Written with her trademark warmth and assurance, Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh is one book you just have to read in a single sitting!

Lily Finch stopped believing in happy-ever-after after her husband betrayed her and shattered her heart into tiny little pieces. She doesn't want a relationship and she certainly has got no plans to put her heart on the line and let another man walk all over her. Instead, she has chosen to put all of her energies and time into making her culinary business, Amazing Tastes, a huge success. But little does Lily know that Sheikh Karim al-Hassan wants more from Lily than just her food - he's determined to get her into bed and what the desert king wants, he always gets!

Karim's reputation has always been that of a vacuous playboy who enjoys dating a wide selection of leggy blondes and partying hard. Yet Karim's priorities changed drastically after the death of his brother Tariq. Karim knows that he should stay away from Lily and instead pay court to an Arab princess and not a divorced English woman. But how can he resist Lily when he's fallen head over heels in love with her?

You can never go wrong with a Kate Hardy novel and Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh is certainly one of her best! Realistic characters, heartwarming drama, passionate emotion, tender love scenes and wonderful romance combine to make Kate Hardy's first Sheikh novel a book that will fly straight to your keeper shelves!

Thank you, Julie Bonello, for making my day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Current work: Medical (and trying not to stress about some real life hassles - it was this time last year that life went very dark indeed, and I would rather like a nice, quiet, peaceful summer without any worrying or having to sort out crises, please)
Listening to: Nirvana unplugged
Reading: next on TBR

I’ve been thinking about perfume, this week. (Yup, is book-related: another idea.) Thinking about it has made me realise I’m in a bit of a rut, perfume-wise.

But finding the right one is proving tricky. I know that your skin changes with age and your perfume needs to change with it; and that most people ‘suit’ one particular perfume group (the one that works for me is oriental – floral oriental, if we’re being really precise about subgroups). I also know that what suits one person doesn’t necessarily smell nice on another; Anais Anais smelled lovely on my mum but awful on me, and Rive Gauche was lovely on her but vanished on me within about 10 minutes.

In the 80s, I wore Poison (amber and honey) and Lou Lou (vanilla and bergamot); early 90s it was Opium (rose and clove); late 90s it was Gio (jasmine and rose). For the last four or five years it’s been Dior’s Addict (base note is vanilla and heart is Jamaican ‘Queen of the Night’ - I would've said rose, so that's something interesting for me to look up... when I have finished this book. Note to self, NO DISTRACTIONS until deadline done) but it’s probably about time for a change.

The question is, to what?

I did try Bulgari’s Amethyste this week (my birth stone is amethyst and the back of the bottle says it’s based on my favourite flower, iris, plus Bulgarian rosebuds). Liked it but it wasn’t quite right: I think it’s aimed at the early 20s market, so that’s probably why.

Suggestions welcome…

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

research (aka visit to the beach)

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Sheryl Crow
Reading: next on TBR

Over at Love is the Best Medicine, I’m talking about fantasy houses for characters in books. (There’s a chance to win a free book, so do go over and comment.)

One of the reasons why I write realistic romance is that I’m inspired by the here and now – things around me spark off ideas. And every so often I have a yen for the beach. Particularly now, as my current Medical Romance is set on the Norfolk coast.

Went to Felbrigg, first, after a piteous plea from me to visit the church. I was after something in particular for my church book (still waiting to hear if that's resurrected or still on hold), and also to see the brasses. I particularly liked this brass.
And the 13th-century coffin lids.

After Felbrigg, we headed for Cromer. The sea was calm and the tide was out, so we ate ice cream while looking out at the pier. (I walked more than 10k steps, that day. I earned that ice cream.)
Then we did some poking about in the rock pools. (Yup, that's my lot. Disorderly and in their own little worlds until they spot something, and then whoever spots the interesting thing rounds up the others to take a look. Daughter was first to remove shoes. I was second. Son, third. DH went all lofty and sensible on us, reminding us we'd forgotten to bring a beach towel. Ha.)

I was also rather taken with this seagull - in the full-sized pic, I was pleased to see that the camera had frozen the waves without blurring it. The sea looked like glass. (But that's reminded me that I had intended to experiment with a longer shutter speed... hmm, but would need to do that on a tripod to get the effect I want.)

These are just snapshots. But in my head they go with sounds (the waves and the gulls), scents (sea air), tastes (no, not just the ice cream, though that was very nice. The salty tang of the air, I mean), and the feel of my feet against cool wet sand. And that will help me add just a little more depth to the current book. (Looks as if I was skiving off, I know: but it was absolutely, definitely work...)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

exciting stuff II

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Take That
Reading: next on TBR

The book after the one I’m writing now is my Venice book, aka my glass book. Now, I was being a bit naughty on Friday – remember, it was a bad crow day and I’d convinced myself I’d lost it completely. (This was before my ed emailed me to say #40 was accepted.)

On crow days, I have two choices: potter about and be miserable about the fact that I’ve done absolutely nothing, or switch to a nonfic project until the crows shut up. The latter suits me better because it makes me feel productive. So I was working on my new project, which sort of involves the churches in Norwich – including St Peter Hungate. The church is used nowadays as a medieval art interpretation centre, so there are displays of stained glass.

When I started planning the Venice book, I had plans to visit St Peter’s and talk to the stained glass restorers – until I decided to make the book a duo and wrote the fairground book first. But school holidays start next week, which means I get to take the kids to lots of different places. I nipped on to their website to check the opening times and discovered that they’re running courses for adults on stained glass for beginners in the middle of August.

Given that my next heroine is a stained glass restorer and I’m going to start said book in August, this means hands-on experience, which will be VERY useful for the book. It will also be useful for my church book (which I think is about to be resurrected – has been on hold since Feb. Sadly, in the current economic climate, a contract does not necessarily mean a definite publication date). And it will be useful for the new project, which is what made me look at the website in the first place.

I make that a triple whammy. Given that, and the fact that I have a thing about glass anyway and the course will let me make a panel I can take home... Quick phone call to DH to check the date was OK for him: yes. And I was in luck because they still had places.

I’m so excited about this: it's something I've wanted to do for years and years and years. (Can't draw a straight line with a ruler, but who cares?) As I need to pay for it beforehand, this means visiting the museum during the first week of the summer hols. And while we’re there…

I am so lucky that my kids enjoy museums.

Plan for today: work like mad in morning, and visit Dad this afternoon. I had planned to take him his favourite coconut cakes from M&S, but they were out of stock; I bought him some English cherries to tide him over, and hopefully Sainsbury's will have something naughty that he'll enjoy too.

Monday, July 13, 2009

elsewhere again - and overexcited!

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Nick Drake
Reading: Bernardine Kennedy, Old Scores – finished over the weekend and enjoyed; also Jim Lynch, The Highest Tide, which was fabulous. Sort of a coming-of-age story; I also learned tons about the sea, the characterisation was superb, the dialogue was spot on, and I will be watching out for his future books.

I’m blogging in two other places again today. Firstly I’m at Love is the Best Medicine, talking about fantasy houses for characters in books. (There’s a chance to win a free book, so do go over and comment.) And secondly I’m at I Heart Presents (that’ll be later today US time), talking about how I became a writer.

And why am I overexcited? Three reasons. Firstly, I discovered that Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion was at #1 yesterday in the Harlequin chart (thank you very much to the readers who put me there). Number two, I’ll tell you about tomorrow. And number three, the really big one, is that my ed liked the revisions to my 40th M&B (my 12th Modern Heat), so ‘Good Girl or Gold Digger?’– aka the fairground book – will be out in the UK in March 2010.

The title’s quite different – not a hooky one, but I hope it gives a fun, flirty, tense feel. My working title was ‘Something About You’, which I guess wasn’t quite catchy enough (and kind of reminds me of ‘Something About Mary’, which has slapstick connotations – not my style). I did suggest something to do with steam (to tie in with the setting), but maybe not. Anyway, it feels wonderful to get to another milestone. Especially after a bad crow day on Friday, when I’d managed to convince myself that my creativity was in permanent hibernation.

Weekend – well, I have a deadline, so I was nose to grindstone for most of it. But I did skive off on Saturday to go to the beach (more about this later in the week, because it was research-related) and spent Saturday evening watching ‘August Rush’ with DH and the kids – thoroughly enjoyable film, and there were quite a few bits that resonated with me. Reckon that might have sorted my next Friday PHS slot…

Have a nice day!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Current work: Medical (and trying not to play with other stuff – note to head, PLEASE behave and focus on what you’re supposed to be doing)
Listening to: Haydn (string quartets)
Reading: Bernardine Kennedy, Old Scores – enjoying this very much. Yes, it’s dark. But it’s a redemption story and you can see the characters growing and changing, so it works for me (read until very late last night because I couldn't put it down). There is kindness and love to counterpoint the heroine’s home life. Rattling good pace, too.

I’m blogging elsewhere today – e-Harlequin. Firstly on the medical authors’ blog there, talking about pomegranates; and then (later today because the hosties are posting it for me and they’re on US time rather than UK) on the e-Harlequin my favourite hero’ blog, which is written by the hero of Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh. Do go over and explore!

My head is also elsewhere today. Almost two centuries away. Sigh. This is not good. I know I’m using some of it in the current book (if my lovely ed is reading: VERY VERY gentle brushstrokes, so you won’t have to make me strip it out), but my head’s taken it as licence to play. The WIP is falling apart before my very eyes. Arrgh! Methinks this is going to be a kitchen timer kind of day, i.e. make myself write in 15-minute bursts (which can be edited later: I need to get the words down instead of avoiding it and working on something with a much longer deadline).

Am very glad I didn’t buy any biscuits this week – except Oreos, which the kids love and I loathe. I could comfort eat rather too much today. (It's a crow day.)

Righty. Coffee and work.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

ideas that won’t go away

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: a book I’m not sure if I can finish. It’s a first novel so I’m not going to be snarky about it or name it (writing a publishable book isn’t easy, and I’m certainly not going to stamp on someone’s dreams – I don’t tend to read pieces where the reviewer shreds the author because I find them mean-spirited). This book was billed as a redemption story, but is just too dark for me: the message that’s coming through to me is that there’s no escape from misery, that love doesn’t exist, and if you show any form of affection you will meet a horrible death. I like light as well as shade in my books, and I prefer an ending with hope (I did read the end when I was halfway through, to check, but it felt as if the feeling of hope was tacked on – nothing in the hero’s journey made me believe it, and neither did any browsing between the middle and the end).

Right now, I have several books in my head. I have a tight deadline for the Med so I can’t afford the time to stop and play. But. There’s a particular idea that just won’t go away. It’s not an M&B (I did try turning it into one, but my ed said it would be a step too far for my readers) and the first scene is stamping round my head. Ditto a couple of other things. Hopefully they’ll be happy to go into a back room in my head and party away while I concentrate on the Med.

Breedon has asked me to do a different book for them next. It’s going to be huge fun as well as a good way to get fit (we’re sorting out the format at the moment). The junior members of my research team are going to groan at the idea of my clipboard resurfacing (they still remember this from Norwich Street by Street), but we need to mark things on maps and a clipboard makes it easier. And it does mean plenty of café stops, which will please them.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

how many books would you take on holiday?

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Bach (still in stress puppy mode)
Reading: Jill Shalvis, Just Try Me - there's a reason why she was my favourite author in the Temptation line: her books are great. Enjoyed this one: very spiky heroine, and a hero that melted me.

The RNA blog has a great poll at the moment. How many books would you take on a two-week beach/poolside holiday? (Go and vote. You know you want to.)

It got me thinking. A beach or poolside holiday is my idea of hell; a day I could do, but more than that would leave me fidgety. I’m happiest exploring – so any holiday I take will involve pottering around castles, churches, museums, stately homes and the like. And I still need quite a few books with me, for chilling-out time.

Last time I packed books in our main suitcase, DH patiently explained that it was ridiculously heavy and I needed to repack the books in a different bag; so nowadays I take a separate book bag. Working is banned on holiday (yeah, right, as if a writer ever stops), so when we’re chilling out in the evenings (i.e. DH and the kids are watching a film that I can take or leave) I tend to read. And also in the mornings, before anyone else is up. Just me in a chair looking out into the garden, with a good book, birdsong and a cup of Earl Grey tea. Bliss.

The year before last, the final Harry Potter volume was released mid-holiday, so that ended up in the food shopping (thanks to lovely, lovely Waitrose). Son was quite shocked that I read it in an evening, so I shocked him a bit more by explaining that actually it was my third book that day. If I were ever forced to do a beach holiday, I’d need an e-reader charged with an awful lot of books, and even then there would be mutterings of discontent. I’m not the kind of person who sits still, unless chained to my desk.

I have a wonderful stockpile for this holiday. Usually I have the new Lindsey Davis and Judith Lennox paperbacks, but they're making me wait until next year (sniff). But I do have the new ones by Susanna Kearsley, Rachel Hore, Katie Fforde, CJ Samson and Arianna Franklin… and, although I *was* going to be good and wait for Victoria Connolly’s local book signing, I don’t think I can resist ‘Molly’s Millions’. Then there are a couple of titles that caught my eye and sounded intriguing (plus books that have been recommended to me, such as Tess Gerritsen’s ‘The Bone Garden’), and there are also some in my daughter’s TBR pile: if we run out, we can swap.

Actually, this reminds me of my mum and I swapping books all the time and then talking about them, from when I was Madam’s age. She’s currently reading Amanda Ashby’s ‘You Had Me At Halo’ and loving it. I’ve missed that swapping-and-talking hugely and having that back is such a joy. (And I can tell I’m stressed because right now I’m all tearful thinking about it, and how I used to read my mum’s Mazo de la Roche books by torchlight under the covers because she said they were too adult for me – hmm, and I’ve said the same thing to Madam about my M&Bs.)

At the end of this month, I’m really looking forward to my readfest. What are you looking forward to as holiday reads this year?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

blast from the past

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Corelli (am a bit of a stress puppy today)
Reading: Next on TBR

Just discovered that my very first medical romance – A Baby of Her Own – was released (? maybe that's re-released) last month in France.

I have very fond memories of that book. The excitement of my very first book launch at Ottakar’s, in November 2002, in the middle of a howling gale, just after my daughter's second birthday. The fact that I’d been so excited about the launch that I’d forgotten to do the weekly shop (ohh, the dark days before online grocery shopping – am exceptionally glad that Sainsbury’s takes that particular chore away now), so when lovely Sophie Weston (who’d come down from London to support me and was stuck because of the trains) came to stay for the night, I had to feed her fish and chips because there was nothing in the cupboards. (For someone who likes cooking and is good at it, that’s seriously shameful!)

Those were the days. And now I’m writing my 29th medical romance. My 41st M&B. Seven years later. That’s scary.

My radio inteview yesterday took place here, in one of my favourite buildings in Norwich.

This is the inside of the Forum; on the ground floor there's an excellent coffee bar, a shop that sells lots of my local history books and some gorgeous glass, and the entrance to the BBC. They often have exhibitions and farmers' markets/sales here - currently there's an art exhibition. Next floor up (top of the steps) is the actual BBC studios and the main area of the library, plus one of the best pizza places in Norwich. Next floor up (looks like louvred glass panels) is the area where I spend quite a lot of time: the local studies department.

Anyway, it was a bit of a disaster beforehand. The copy of my book hadn't turned up at BBC Suffolk, they tried to get a copy in the local bookshops but they'd all sold out (hmm - that's sort of good - and it was also in the Jarrolds bestseller chart this week) and when I went to the room we'd booked to do the interview (via ISDN line) I saw this above the door.

Yup, double-booked. But the lovely team at BBC Norfolk came to the rescue and set it up for me in one of the studios. Had a lovely chat with Lesley Dolphin and shared some of my favourite stories from the Suffolk Ghosts and Legends (the dragons at Wormingford and Orford, trial by combat for cowardice linked with Haughley Castle, and Maude Carew, murder and ghosts in Bury St Edmunds).

Plan for today: have cancelled guitar and also am not seeing Dad today (yes, it’s mean of me, but I did give up Friday for him and I need some of that time back now). Head down and working.

Am feeling a bit mournful this week (partly because of tomorrow - when I see my local best friend for the last time before she moves a good two hours away; and partly because I'm not going to the RNA conference this weekend and I'll miss seeing friends; and partly because I haven't had a good night's sleep for a week, thanks to the intense stickiness). No biscuits in the huose, which is just as well. Time to stop being a slacker, sort the kids out for school and then BICHOK.

Monday, July 06, 2009

heat, gelati and VERY proud Mummy moment

Current work: last readthrough of Modern Heat, then Medical
Listening to: Corelli (am a bit of a stress puppy today)
Reading: Louise Allen, The Notorious Mr Hurst - part of her wonderful Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series. Eden was a wonderful hero (I really loved his hair) and Maude was a great heroine: she knew exactly what she wanted. Great background, too, on theatres and gaslight – Louise always delivers a rollicking good story in a properly researched background, and I’m not just saying that because she’s a mate of mine.

Hospital was fairly stuffy on Friday but we were done by lunchtime in the end, and I got to the bottom of what happened. (Not happy about it, but not blogging more about the situation out of respect for his privacy.) The important thing is that Dad seems to be recovering well. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Managed to get a bit of work done in the afternoon, though the combo of lack of sleep and intense stickiness (we didn’t get the promised storms to clear the air) slowed my productivity. DH was a star and did the school run for me, which helped a bit.

Then daughter bounced in and handed me her school report. Was very pleased with son’s report, the week before; he’s worked hard and he’s had a good year, made new friends, progressed well and his organisation is improving. He shines at maths, science and IT. But Madam’s report was absolutely outstanding. I knew she was good all round academically, but her results were even better than I expected.

The bit that put a lump in my throat was in her English report. ‘Where she really shines is fiction. Her vocabulary choices are exciting, her sentence structure is varied and she has wonderful imagination and humour.’ I’m immensely proud of her. Not just for her academic abilities, but because she’s a nice kid, too – she’s kind, thoughtful and caring (as is her brother, in his teenager-in-training way).

And I guess that’s more notebooks I’ll be buying for her: though at the moment she appears to have annexed my laptop. (And she has discovered Spider. Which she says is good for thinking. Hmm, wonder where she heard that? I spy an author in the early stages…)

Weekend was spent working, though I admit I skived off to watch the last set of the Wimbledon men’s singles. What a nail-biter: and some fantastic playing. Could barely believe the number of aces I saw. It was great to watch history in the making – congrats to Federer – but I was particularly impressed by Roddick’s speech. He seems like a really nice guy and I could’ve hugged him. They both played well and worked so hard; such a shame that only one person can win because they both deserved it. I really hope Roddick wins next year.

Am very relieved I’ve finally finished the revisions (and a bit scared that half of the book is now completely new stuff. Hope my ed likes it). Last readthrough this morning, then it's going to be head down for the next two and a bit weeks, too, to sort the medical romance – if I don’t catch up with things I’ll be mega stressed about going on holiday. (Hmm. Maybe that’s the one positive thing about not going to the RNA conference this coming weekend. I am in deep, deep deadline doo-doo and just couldn't afford the time, not to mention the 7-hour drive each way and the need of a couple of days to recover my energy afterwards.) Am in need of gelati (see my post over at the RNA blog for details) to cool me down and cheer me up.

Plan for today: work this morning, then heading swiftly into the city for an interview with Lesley Dolphin on BBC Radio Suffolk at around 2.10 (103.9 and 104.6 FM). And at some point between 9am and 6pm (UK time) I’ll be dropping in to Nina Harrington’s virtual launch party – and also Sharon Archer's debut medical launch party at Love is the Best Medicine - see you there!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Woo-hoo – in the charts! – and lappie love

Current work: I wish...
Listening to: Diana Krall (am on a jazz/blues piano kick at the moment)
Reading: next on TBR pile but NOT until I’ve finished the book

My current US release – Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh – is in the Waldies top ten series romance bestseller list this week! Thank you very much to the lovely people who put it there, and I hope you enjoy Karim and Lily’s story.

Thank you also to the wonderful Harlequin readers – when I dropped by the eHarl pages on Wednesday to pick up the code for the widgets in my sidebar, I noticed that Playboy Boss, Pregnancy of Passion was at #3 in their bestseller chart. Colour me very happy, and I hope you enjoy Luke and Sara’s story.

And thank you to Marilyn Shoemaker, who’s written a very interesting post on Sheikh lit and included my latest in there.

Bought the laptop yesterday – which will NOT be connected to the internet and will, I hope, improve my productivity because it means that if I work on it I can’t be tempted to flick into email/get sidetracked by research. Also means DH and the kids can use my desktop so they won’t keep moaning that I hog the computer when I’m on a screaming deadline, as I am at the moment. And it has a webcam so son can use it for animation. (When he can get it to work. Daughter says she’s going to write on it. Ha. Bet that doesn’t stop her fleecing me for pretty notebooks.)

The thing is, though, a laptop needs storage. As in a lappie bag. The one in the John Lewis tecchie department was a Samsonite: nice enough, but a little boring/blokey for my taste.

(You know what’s coming next, don’t you?)

Radley do lovely workbags (beautifully made and they last for ever) and I’ve been coveting my friend Nell Dixon’s workbag for ages. Sadly, neither John Lewis nor House of Fraser in Norwich had the one I wanted in stock. But I came home to discover a very timely email from Hudson’s Leather Shop giving me 20% off their clearance prices (note, I have been immensely restrained and not bought anything Radley-oriented for myself for almost a year). And guess what was in the sale? Yup, the exact workbag I wanted. Black with a lavender trim. Sale price plus discount meant that it was only a tenner or so dearer than the Samsonite bag. Result: one lovely lappie bag ordered, with no guilt whatsoever. And it seems I got the last one: I feel very, very lucky.

I was dreading having to tackle Vista, having heard nightmare stories, but so far (touch wood) have managed to load Microsoft Office, set up the users, and help everyone to change their settings. Have also copied latest WIPs across. So I’m all set for use, now. As for printing: rather than faff about trying to find the Vista driver online for my elderly printer, am going to copy the file to memory stick and print from the desktop PC.

Plan for today: originally, the idea was to do lots of work and wait in for the delivery of the laptop bag.


It seems Dad’s cataract op yesterday was more complicated than expected (haven't quite got to the bottom of that yet) and there isn’t ANY hospital transport available to take him back for an urgent check-up this morning (which might not be a check-up - might be the other half of the op. As I said, not got to the bottom of this yet), so I’m taking him and one of the carers is coming with me to help get him in and out of the car. The hospital said be there from 8.30 - but I need to do the school run first and can't be in two places at once. Which means he’ll be anxious (the joys of Parkinson's); depending on traffic and how long it takes to get him into the car it's more likely to be 9.30. Without a definite time, we may end up with a long wait in a hot, sticky environment; I foresee lots of trips to the vending machine for cool drinks. Must remember to take pack of straws for Dad.

Very hot and sticky here right now, which is why I'm posting at 5am - woke with a nightmare and it's too humid to go back to sleep. And yes, I know what triggerered the nightmare: worry about Dad's eye. Dreams can useful to me as a writer, but sometimes they go a bit far, and this one was pretty upsetting. Not fair to wake DH and sob all over him, so going to do some work instead: kind of useful, as I've lost three out of five working days this week, so having the revisions done and the next book off my desk before the summer holidays is looking pretty remote.

But, glass half full, Hudson’s sent me the tracking number for my parcel, so I rang the courier yesterday to ask if they could please leave it next door if I’m not back from hospital when they deliver; they were lovely and agreed, so at least I won’t have to drive halfway across the city to pick it up when I get home.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

busted – and happy publication day to Nina and Olivia

Current work: revisions on MH fairground book
Listening to: Norah Jones
Reading: Kelly Hunter, ‘Exposed: Misbehaving with the Magnate’ – I know I was saving this for a treat, but it was HOT last night and I was grumpy and deserved said treat. Great read – though, sigh, this was a setting I’d planned to use. (On ice for a couple of years, then… ) Really looking forward to the second in the duo.

Busted? DH doesn’t read my blog but he knows me rather too well. Gave me a grilling yesterday morning (while I was making his packed lunch, pah). ‘So what did you buy our daughter in town, then?’ A book and some pens. (Knowing smile from DH.) ‘Anything else?’ Oh, yeah, chocolate. Sorry. That was inhaled before you got home. ‘Anything else?’ (Uh-oh: he knows.) Went for innocence: What else would I buy? ‘How about a tortoise from Sonkai?’

Ah, yes. That. Not sure whether he spotted the receipt on my desk or whether he noticed daughter’s bracelet was a tiny bit fuller (do men REALLY notice these things? I think not), or both. So I confessed I’d bought one myself, too. But hey, it’s my money and I earned it. (This is why we have a joint account for bills and separate accounts for everything else. Saves rows over money.) And it’s the first one I’ve bought for months. Teal green glass, and it’s lovely.

Son has an inset day today. It’s also meant to be the hottest day of the year (and storms are forecast for Friday). We’re going into town this morning and buying a laptop, if John Lewis has the one I want in stock (if not, will order online), and then I am going to be Bad Mummy and let him play Peggle for a couple of hours while I work.

Righty, on to the really good stuff. Publication day.

Happy debut publication day to my mate Nina Harrington, with her Harlequin Romance ‘Always a Bridesmaid’ (it’s a lovely story and I really enjoyed it). Do go over to her blog and congratulate her.

And happy publication day to my friend (and fellow Essex girl) Olivia Ryan – do go over to her blog and wish her luck with the publication of Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel.

Both of them are showcased on the new Romantic Novelists' Assocation's blog where you can see this month's new releases by members. (I'm so proud to be part of such a talented bunch!)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

happy July

Current work: revisions on MH fairground book
Listening to: Norah Jones
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, Anything for You (superb – I have a very soft spot for friends-to-lovers books and this was a particularly good one)
Happy July – and here’s this month’s calendar pic.

Actually, it reminds me very much of my part of the world: a lighthouse and the wide, wide skies of Norfolk. Though our skies currently don’t have any clouds at all, much less clouds that spell my name…

Lovely skivy day off with daughter yesterday. Basically we shopped and flopped. Oh, wait – I mean, we did admin and flopped.

En route to town, daughter insisted that we should play the Grease soundtrack really loudly and sing along to it. Great fun. Bought books: yessie, yessie, a new Louise Allen, a new Jill Shalvis AND a new Kelly Hunter as carrots for finishing my work this week – colour me happy – as well as a book for daughter that I might borrow when she’s finished as it’s a timeslip and looks good. Highly amused when she did the ‘I just can’t choose between these three books’ and gave me a pleading look – I would’ve been nice and bought all three BUT she’d already fleeced me for something in the shop opposite. (Sonkai. Saying no more on the grounds of not wanting to incriminate myself.) Also bought copies of Suffolk book so can dish out to family. (Sadly, no, authors do not get tons of free copies.)

Had lunch in the M&S café (Dad likes the mini coconut tarts from M&S, so the aforementioned lunch was actually part of errand-running) and an enforced trip to Hotel Chocolat. I was VERY good as I bought myself some gorgeous bright pink gerberas instead of a caloriefest; chocolate purchase was for son and daughter.

But then I had to face the car park machine. Which decided it didn’t like me. Not only did it refuse to take my money, it informed me that my ticket was blocked. The car park staff were nice and told me to go up to the kiosk at the exit and stick my hazard lights on, and they’d sort me out a new ticket. I hated blocking all the cars behind me, because I’m not selfish and antisocial – unlike the woman in front of me, who parked smack in the middle of BOTH the M&S ‘collect by car’ spaces because she couldn’t be bothered to park properly.

Nice visit to Dad; then picked up son from school and flopped a bit more in front of a fan to cool me down before hitting the revisions again. Too hot to work, though.

Plan for today: work. And enormous consumption of iced water with a slice of lime to stop me melting.