Thursday, April 22, 2010

quick catchup and London

Current work: second revisions (I really *am* going to nail them)
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Sarah Addison Allen (just finished Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen – both interesting ideas; also read Marina Fiorata’s ‘The Glassblowers of Murano’ while I was in Venice, and it was lovely spotting the book locations in real life – enjoyed the book thoroughly)

Life has been immensely busy since returning from Venice (of which still more to come – there are three more posts, all with lots of pics – and yes, I probably am really boring on the subject now). Really, it was a question of catching up on sleep (Milan, not Venice – see, I told you there was more to come) and then obviously it was school holidays. And I came home to second revisions (weep). Actually, I do understand why I’m getting them. It’s not because I’ve suddenly become a crap writer (my agent would’ve told me if that were the case) but the market out there is very, very, VERY tough, so books need to be extra-good now in order to persuade readers to buy them. Which is how come I have to add more ‘Kate Hardy magic’ to the jousting book (my ed’s words, not mine!) and, um, why I’ve been struggling with them for the last week.

I’ve been busy, but not actually achieved a lot; and I’ve also been distracting myself on the question of a netbook. (I might say here that Yvonne Lindsay, Trish Morey and Liz Fielding are Very Bad Influences - and I just know I’m going to crack as soon as these revisions are off my desk. Shortlist of four: so I need a chat with the tecchy people in John Lewis on Saturday, methinks.)

Anyway. I went to London yesterday for a meeting with my agent and editor, and had a very, very nice time. Nice journey in - booking a seat in the quiet coach was a v good idea and I will do that in future. My booked seat was backward-facing (despite the fact I asked for a forward-facing one), but luckily the train was quiet and I managed to find a forward-facing seat: joy of joys, it also had a table, and I was able to spread out the proofs of the Essex book and sort all that out on the way in. (Well, hey. Multi-tasking is good.)

Met my friend and fellow Modern Heat author Heidi Rice for a coffee and a catch-up (and BOTH of us had a camera and forgot to take a pic! How bad is that?), then headed to Kensington. I was a little early and it was a glorious day, so wandered round - the architecture in this part of London is gorgeous.
OK, so I was house-hunting for characters. But look at these. Aren’t they lovely?

There was hardly any traffic; very peaceful and pretty. (And is that a magnolia tree I spotted? I liked this. A lot.)

Then to Chez Patrick to meet my lovely editor Sheila Hodgson and equally lovely agent Dot Lumley.
Lunch was scrumptious: Dot and I both went for the 'Chevre brick' as a starter (the salad had a lovely pesto dressing), while Sheila had the salmon.
Main course was guinea fowl with cream sauce, served with spinach and celeriac (v scrum, lots of nutmeg).
And then the most gorgeous framboise mousse. Dot's ice cream was prune and armagnac - very interesting combination and none of us guessed it!
The food’s good, the staff are charming and attentive without being intrusive, and I’d recommend the restaurant highly.

Obviously I’m not going into details of what we discussed, but broadly these lunch meetings tend to be about how an author’s books are doing in terms of monitor scores (i.e. the reader panel ranks each month’s books and your position tells you whether you’re getting it right or not) and sales, what you’re planning to do for the next year, and a very frank discussion about where your career is going (strengths, weaknesses etc). Some authors hate seeing their figures; I like to see mine because I’m a planner and it helps me to focus. It’s the first set I’ve seen for a while, so it was interesting reading and it’s boosted my confidence a bit – especially after the revisions issue. (I’m still going to moan about it because – well, hey, I’m an author and we’re a paranoid bunch. But I know why they’re happening and that makes a difference.) I feel a lot more focused now, and that’s always a good thing.

After that, had a quick wander round (was going to buy the kids something nice in Gap, but then remembered that my mini fashionista has better taste than I do – she picked the top I bought for yesterday’s meeting). Had just enough time to meet my bestest cousin for a drink - she's a City chick, and is utterly glamorous. (Proof: her amazing shoes.)
Lovely to catch up (we have many shared tastes... including Chablis *g*. Rats, forgot to tell her about the Robbie Williams lookalike in Milan). And actually, that was work (wait for it), because a wine bar scene is in a future book; it’s years since my PR/media buying meetings in London, so it was useful to refresh my memory. (Terri was having a guilt trip about the bar bill until I explained that two glasses of Chablis in London = 2 coffees in Florian's.)

Then caught the train home. When I booked, weirdly, it turned out that first class was actually cheaper. Was nice because I had a forward-facing seat and quiet people near me, but there were some braying businessmen at the end of the carriage. (I realised why as I left the train – rather a lot of gin consumed there…) Still think Italian trains are nicer, but see future Venezia posts for details!


Terri said...

Was truly lovely to catch up. I am interested to hear about the Robbie Williams look alike(???) do tell me more!! Great to see you xx (ps Chablis was divine!)

Kimberly Lang said...

See, when I met Heidi for coffee while she was in the US a couple of weeks ago, *we* forgot to take any pictures either!

It's something about Heidi, I guess ~g~

susanwilson44 said...

Kate really interesting about the monitor scores, sales and reader panels, it sounds fascinating and I would love all that statistics stuff!

Heidi said...

Kate, it was lovely to see you too.. And isn't Kensington beautiful with all the cherry blossoms and white stucco? Very Presents too I think given it's so pricey. But can I just say it was mean to show us those pictures of your lunch... I'm salivating now, missus.

And yeah, what is it with me and cameras it's like I always have one with me and I never take a photo Far too much nattering I suspect. LOL

sheandeen said...

How shallow am I? Instead of commenting on the amazing content of your blog all I popped in here to say, "LOVE those purple shoes. And I suspect that at least one of my daughter's would adore those shoes!"

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Love your "house hunting pics". I loved Venice and Ron and I celebrated an anniversary romantic. Coming home from Spain via NYC, I had a Murano vase and a pasta bowl from Sorrento. Long flight to say the least and the flight attendants just laughed.

Lacey Devlin said...

Oh my gosh I think I've fallen in love with Kensington. It's just gorgeous! I suppose they frown on digging the cherry blossoms up....

Kate Hardy said...

Terri - will ring you ;o) (And yes, the Chablis was excellent!)

Kate Hardy said...

Kim - "Something about Heidi" - why am I suddenly getting "book title"? *g*

We were too busy talking... ;)

Kate Hardy said...

Susan - it's really interesting and also useful because you get very honest feedback re what they liked and didn't like. But the statistics stuff is what makes me feel really comfortable - although I'm creative, I like figures as well :)

Kate Hardy said...

Heidi - Kensington is just LOVELY. Definitely Presents location with those prices, though! (I just looked up the Mountgrange Heritage website. Gorgeous properties but absolute fantasyland when it comes to prices...)

As for lunch - LOL.

Kate Hardy said...

Nancy - I'm grinning. They're amazing shoes, which is why I had to take a picture. I also forgot to say that my cousin has *really* expensive taste in shoes.

Oh, lightbulb, have just worked out where my daughter got her style gene: Auntie Terri. I foresee shopping trips to London...

Kate Hardy said...

Marilyn - what a LOVELY place to spend an anniversary! (Mind you, DH and I are spending ours in Sorrento this year... so I hope we have as nice a time as you did, and thanks for the tip on the pasta bowl *g*)

Wow, must've been a really long flight for you - am lucky that Venice is only two hours from here. (Well, unless you go via Milan...!)

Kate Hardy said...

Lacey - it's just gorgeous! (So is Notting Hill. I did my location research there last year and have an amazing house for my heroine in the Venice book.)

Shirley Wells said...

Love the house-hunting pics. Gorgeous places. And those shoes - wow. I would kill to be able to walk in a pair of those.
As for the food ... I'm starving now. :o(