Saturday, October 23, 2010

à bientôt

I have finished the book and emailed it to my editor. (Sadly, this did involve a 5am start. I never sleep properly when I'm on deadline. Wide awake at stupid o'clock. I could do with a nap, but don't have time - I have a million and one things to do that were neglected this week for my deadline.)

Half term starts NOW, so je suis en vacances and I am SO NOT WORKING this week. (Well. Notes. Snippets. Don't really count, do they?) But am touching computer as I have photos to scan in and sort out a certain person's "these were your first 10 years" birthday album. (Quite scary to think she's about to hit double figures.)

Going to be v v v busy, but should also refill the well a bit. Research is involved... of which more next month (because half term ends on the last day of October) and I am spending this week with ma famille.

Have a nice week - à plus!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sometimes people are lovely...

OK. So you're on the last chapter of your book (the one with the screaming deadline). You've just phoned the customer care people at the electrical store to come and fix a problem with your fridge. You're thinking about the social events you're organising for next week (daughter's birthday parties - 2 of 3) and mentally organising the shopping lists and remembering which cake she wants for which party and doing the cooking plan.
You're also really trying to resist the bar of chocolate that your evil husband put in the fridge because the diet is going well and you don't want to backslide (and you know you've been glued to your desk all week and been a total failure on the exercise front, so you can't risk the chocolate - not to mention the fact that you have a dentist appointment after school).

And then the doorbell goes, and the dog barks, and you think, nooo, it's a Person from Porlock and I have to do the school run in 45 minutes...

... and this is what the delivery lady brings you.

(Thanks from my publisher for work on a project I did for them last month. And they remembered my favourite colour flowers from the last time they sent me some - winning the RNA Romance Prize.)
Just... lovely, and stress levels are right back down again :)
Thank you to the lovely editor who organised this. (And of course I’ve sent a personal note!)


Three Ds today - deadline, dentist and Dad. So I'm a bit short on time (major litotes there) and I have a pile of admin things that have to be done before tomorrow or I am toast... so here are some interesting facts for you.
  • February 1865 is the only month in recorded history not to have a full moon.
  • Rubber bands last longer when refrigerated.
  • The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
  • The winter of 1932 was so cold that Niagara Falls froze completely solid.
  • TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
Enjoy - and I will be back at the end of half term, if things slow down enough! Have a good week :)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

something lovely

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Anita Brookner, Strangers

Am busy busy busy as this book HAS to be off my desk on Friday - I am taking next week off to recharge, come hell or high water (which also means I won’t be blogging next week until at least Friday, because there’s simply too much going on in half term).

So today I’m going to leave you with something lovely. Y’see, my daughter makes me watch the X Factor with her. I have been grumbling a bit… but there was this fantastic song on Saturday. I loved the lyrics (absolutely one for a romance novelist), and I really like the guy’s voice (yes, this is the one I’d like to win – if he doesn’t, I do hope he makes a record. I’d definitely buy it). Not 100% perfect, but it’s live, so you don’t expect it to be the same standard as a multi-take recording. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Oh, and if you’d rather read – here’s an interview with Jacqueline Wilson, my daughter’s favourite author. She sounds a thoroughly nice and sensible woman. (Cough cough cough on kids wanting to be writers because they think it will make them ‘rich and famous’ – rich authors are news because there aren’t many of them! And also, how sad that they’re missing out on the best bit of being an author: telling stories to people, and putting a bit of sparkle into their lives. You can’t buy that feeling.) I think I would enjoy having coffee and eating cake (no, bad Kate, cake is a Banned Substance) with her and talking books.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Refilling the well (part 2)

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Anita Brookner, Strangers

Refilling the well, for me, involves... um... history. And particularly churches. So apologies in advance, because this is going to be one of my nerdy posts. (I needed a dose of nerdiness. I'm at THAT stage of the book.)

I admit that I’m horribly biased towards my home city's cathedral. I’ve visited other cathedrals (including York and Canterbury) and this one is still my favourite. And here are some of the reasons why:

The vaulting (you can’t see it properly in this pic, but there’s also some rather nice medieval painting here).
The bosses (this one’s from the cloisters, the Green Man).

The bosses (again - there are about 1,000 of them, telling the Biblical stories right from the creation – if you want to see more of them, there’s an excellent book called ‘Stories in Stone’ which has fabulous close-up pics. One of my faves is Noah's Ark).

The Norman architecture (this huge Norman pillar – son is about 5 ft 9, to give you some idea of scale – and its companion mark the position of the original altar).

The East Window (speaks for itself - and yes, it's Victorian).

The font (there can’t be many places that have a copper vat, formerly used by the city’s chocolate factory, as a font).

The memento mori (this one is Thomas Gooding, and the inscription says “All you that do this place pass bye/Remember death for you must dye/As you are now then so was I/And as I am so that you be/Thomas Gooding here do staye/Waiting for God’s judgement daye.” Allegedly, he was buried standing up. Could be true as the top of the skeleton's head is pretty near my height).

James Goldwell’s chantry chapel.

James Goldwell was the Bishop of Norwich in 1472 – having formerly been Henry VI’s secretary – and gave the cathedral its spire (the wooden one burned down in 1463 after being struck by lightning). He was also one of the first Englishmen known to have owned a printed book; and his chantry chapel is the only monument of its kind that survived the Reformation. According to Bishop Hall, the Puritan soldiers practised shooting muskets in the cathedral in 1643 – and one of the balls is still lodged in Goldwell’s tomb (look at the central gold decoration, slightly to the left, just below the horizonal gold line).

I’m also rather fond of the little dog at Goldwell’s feet. (OK, will shut up about medieval wooden effigies. Have dragged the family off to see enough of them. But this dog has character.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Refilling the well (part 1)

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Anita Brookner, Strangers

Busy weekend, head down on book. On Sunday, I needed a break, so went for a walk in one of my favourite places. (We’ll skate over Madam’s huge tantrum first, sigh.) We had a wander by the river. This is the last remaining swan pit in England, behind the Great Hospital (where swans were indeed fattened for eating).
I was also rather taken by the reflections and the beginning of autumnal colour.
From there to Cow Tower (not part of the city walls, but was part of the city's defences on the bend in the river - and it was damaged during Kett's Rebellion in 1549.)

From there to Bishop's Bridge, which is the last remaining medieval bridge in the city, and was the only entrance on the eastern side of the city until the 19th century.

Just past the bridge, you get a great view of the cathedral across the playing fields of Norwich School.

And then round the corner you reach Pull's Ferry – named after John Pull, who kept the ferry until 1841. This was also the site of the Water Gate (i.e. the fouth 'gate' to the cathedral) and until the later 1700s a canal ran through here. The canal was used to transport the stone from Caen to build both the cathedral and the castle).

And from there we went to the cathedral - of which more tomorrow.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fabulous at Fifty

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Daughtry
Reading: Anita Brookner, Strangers (very Prufrockian - very sad and lonely characters)

Fabulous day in London. Good journey down (and made progress with the book); and then it was a matter of going across London to the RAF club in Piccadilly.

Lovely to catch up with lots of friends, old and new (some I knew through email/blog/FB but hadn't actually met in person until today). OK, namedropping time: including Sara Craven (whose wonderful books inspired me to start writing a Mills and Boon when I was 13), Joanna Maitland, Louise Allen, Jenny Haddon, Jan Jones, Lizzie Lamb, Roger Sanderson, Kate Harrison, Mary Nichols, Cara Cooper, Catherine Jones, Margaret Barker (the first M&B Medical author I ever met), Eileen Ramsay. Plus my former editor, Tessa Shapcott - lovely to see her again, too.

(Louise Allen and Mary Nichols)

(Kate Hardy and Jan Jones)

(Lizzie Lamb and Kate Hardy)

(Phillipa Ashley and Kate Hardy)

Being met with a glass of champagne was very glamorous. I had a bit of a surprise when we went in to lunch (in a very, very glam dining room). There was a display of award-winning books from the last few years... And then I looked closer at the middle…
and ended up squeaking, 'Oh, my God, that's MY book!' Such a thrill to realise that actually, yes, I am a part of the RNA history over the last 50 years, because Breakfast at Giovanni's won the RNA Romance Prize in 2008. (And it lifted my mood tremendously - the last month has been a struggle, and this helped me get a bit of my mojo back, precisely because I wasn't expecting it.)

When I got to my table, I discovered that there was a wrapped copy of 'Fabulous at Fifty' on my chair (because I was one of the contributors - though of course I bought a copy as well, and if you want one you can get it from the RNA website).

And I had lovely company over lunch (Lyn McCulloch and Cathy Mansell, who looks a good 15 years younger than the age she admitted to).

Katie Fforde, our chair, made a fab speech talking about the work that went in to making the 'Fabulous at Fifty' memoirs, paying tribute to the generosity of Elizabeth Harrison. Diane Pearson, our president, also made a speech that had us all smiling for the right reasons.

Oh, lunch? Smoked salmon, roast beef and trimmings (note, this all works with the diet - no potatoes or Yorkshires for me), and then chocolate gâteau (which I didn't have, AND I didn't have any chocolates with my coffee - still had fun, still enjoyed my lunch, but no 'bad carbs' to take me off track - AND people noticed that my face looked thinner, which pleased me immensely. Not being vain, just want to be a healthy weight for my height instead of being like Garfield, and losing weight is very hard work).

And then it was a dash back across London to get my train home. Lovely day and, even though part of me felt guilty about being away from my desk, as one of my friends said, 'Coming here and having a good natter with your mates and getting a hug in person is going to do you a lot more good than being chained to your desk.' Absolutely right, and we all need to refill the well from time to time.

Congrats to the RNA and its lovely warm-spirited members. May you remain just this fabulous for the next 50 years.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Off to London today for the launch of the RNA's 'Fabulous at Fifty' memoirs. I'll be working on the train, but it'll be so nice to see writing friends in person and I think it'll be the pick-me-up I need.

I am wearing a skirt. Those who know me in real life are probably sniggering now: I wear skirts for weddings and posh lunches only, and I've been a bit rebellious and worn trousers for the last two posh lunches. But I really am wearing a skirt today. My personal style guru (aka daughter) has approved it, son said I looked nice, and DH had a twinkle in his eye before he did the school run for me (so I guess that's approval from him, too).

Back tomorrow, possibly with pics. Have a nice day!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Dowland
Reading: Anita Brookner, Strangers (very Prufrockian - very sad and lonely characters)

Up to my eyes in stuff, so keeping this short. I’m learning a new piece on the guitar - Tarleton’s Resurrection by John Dowland. (This version is on the lute.) It’s tricky because the chords are four-noters and it’s all over the place position-wise, so I had to think about it. Loved my lesson yesterday: once I’d worked my way through it, Jim got me to do variations with twiddly bits (ha, channelling my inner Ritchie Blackmore). So at three a.m. this morning I was wide awake, fretting a bit; and instead of a book opening up in my head, what do I get? Yup, late 17th-century music. Wouldn’t have been fair to everyone if I’d sneaked downstairs and played it into my phone or what have you… and sadly, after I finally got back to sleep, it had gone when I woke.

Am pleased to report that Paris tickets are in (I was starting to worry), tumble dryer working for now, and electrics in utility room no longer fried. And I have the RNA ‘Fabulous at Fifty’ lunch to look forward to. (And nice scales again this morning.) So the rest of this month is going to be nice… right?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

top tens

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Muse
Reading: next on TBR

I’m channelling Bob Geldof at the moment, i.e. I don’t like Mondays. (At least, not this month.) Last Monday I’m not talking about. Yesterday: missing Paris tickets and broken tumble dryer (with insult added to injury by the way it was dealt with – I have to PROVE it’s less than 10 months old by flashing my receipt, because the serial number isn’t enough, and I might have to pay a whacking great callout charge. Er, not at the price I paid for that dryer…).

I could go into a huge strop here, but instead I’m going to pinch something from my mate Nicola Cornick’s blog. It’s a ‘top ten’ list – but the catch is that there are ten categories and you have to choose my absolute favourites. Song was tricky (because there are others vying for that spot, and do you make a distinction between songs and classical music?), but some of them were absolute ‘oh, yes’ moments. So here are the categories and my answers. (And yes, we ALL know who my favourite actor is. I nearly put Mr Olivier, just to shock everyone, but we know who it is really.) Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me your top ten (either in the comments here or on your blog, but do give me a link so I can come and be nosey).

Book – The Mill on the Floss, George Eliot
Film – It’s a Wonderful Life
TV programme – Life on Mars
Actor – Antonio Banderas
Song – Since I’ve Been Loving You, Led Zeppelin
Quote – “Life’s like a marmalade sandwich. You only get out of it what you put in.” (Paddington Bear)
Holiday destination – Venice
Animal – dog (if we’re being specific, Springer spaniel)
Dessert – crème brûlée
Pastime – reading

Monday, October 11, 2010

getting back on track

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Muse
Reading: next on TBR

Friday’s talk was great fun. The kids all seemed really interested and had a huge range of questions. (Plus they were so QUIET when they walked in and sat down – that was really impressive.) They were a bit bemused by one of the writer’s desks I showed them (if you haven't seen it already, Google Will Self’s desk – it’s that plotting wall with all the Post-it notes) but they loved it when I showed them Infinote on the iPad as my, ahem, equivalent. Ha. If I had Post-its on my door or a wall, Kleptodog would mosey past, swishing his tail, and my book would be all over the place!

Am pleased to report that one thing in my life is working as planned at the moment: a week of the South Beach diet has produced definite results (as in one whole point off my BMI and a huge increase in my motivation). I’m still not wildly keen on the veggie juice, but I can live with it. And I’m looking forward to the slow reintroduction of starchy carbs, starting next week. (Porridge and cinnamon for breakfast. Oh, yessie.) I think the reasons why it’s working are (a) it’s new to me so I have to look things up, and that makes me think twice before scoffing starchy carbs (aka toast); and (b) I’m writing down what I eat (online, in a journal that also calculates the nutrition, including vitamins and minerals – and it analyses by meal as well as overall day, which really soothes my nerdy side). Exercise will be added in properly next week.

As for the book… well, on Saturday I woke up with the wrong book in my head (i.e. the next one) and ended up putting down scenes for that instead of the Capri book, but I guess that still counts as progress. It’s getting there.

But if you need a bit of inspiration this morning – go over to YouTube to see Matt and Aliona’s foxtrot from Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday :o)

Friday, October 08, 2010

a day in the life of an author

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Def Leppard, X
Reading: next on TBR

That’s what I’m talking about at school this afternoon. Ha. It’s meant to be about how you create a book (fiction and non-fiction), how books are produced, the kind of publicity you do to promote it, and that sort of thing.

My morning, so far:

  • discover that DH was clearly distracted (aka reading cycle reviews on his iPod) when letting the dog out, because one of my shoes was in the back garden this morning. Wet, after being there all night. And I only have one pair of shoes I can drive in… which means I have the joy of one wet foot this morning
  • daughter has huge tantrum because her hair doesn’t look like Tracy Beaker’s and she was dressing up as Tracy Beaker for book day. Bearing in mind that I spent AGES plaiting it (tiny plaits) last night, and I had a great scene in my head – gone, gone, gone, thanks to her tantrum
  • discover that DH (and no, the D doesn't stand for 'dear' this morning) unplugged my iPad while it was charging last night. Now, I have explained to him about the memory effect, i.e. you run the battery down as low as possible and then charge it fully, otherwise the battery doesn’t charge fully and the battery life shortens dramatically. Hissy fit from me, and I put it back on charge. Came home from school run to discover… yes, he’d taken the plug out. Argh! About the only one who hasn’t caused me grief this morning is son.

Sigh. Going to hit the coffee, try to ignore the fact that monster daughter hasn't eaten the chocolate she asked me to buy yesterday and I said it was on condition it was NOT IN THE HOUSE WITH ME ON MY OWN, try to wheedle that scene back, and hopefully write it this morning before I have to change into less scruffy clothes and go out and be Smart Author Person. (Yeah, the acronym works for me, too.)

Meanwhile, I’m over at the Pink Heart Society talking about one of my fave films of the summer. (My two absolute favourites were Inception and Toy Story 3, but my mate Heidi Rice has already covered those – she has excellent taste…) I was going to talk about hero characteristics over here today, but with the Tantrum Queen, Mr ‘I-think-I-know-best-even-when-I-don’t’ and Kleptodog driving me crazy… that’ll have to wait!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Season of mists...

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Def Leppard, X
Reading: next on TBR

Gorgeous school run this morning – mist floating everywhere. Didn’t have my camera in my handbag (shame, as I missed taking a sundog) but couldn’t resist snapping these clouds this morning before the school run.

Busy morning: seeing my accountant, then my GP so we can sort out the follow-up scan (nothing scary – something many women in my age group get). Talked to her about the diet, and she approves; I think she approves a bit more of phase 2 than phase 1, but phase 1 is important for me psychologically as I'm seeing the numbers on the scales go DOWN. Phew.

Plans for rest of today: finalise my Powerpoint presentation for tomorrow’s talk, and keep on with the book.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the last post or emailed me. Much appreciated. And I’m glad to report that I’m doing OK. Deep breath and onward – with determination, if not quite with my usual brio :o)

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR

Having a bit of a rocky patch right now (not talking about it yet, but I might do next month when I’ve bounced back a bit) and I have to say I’m really blessed with my family and friends. Daughter made me play “Just Dance” on the Wii with her for half an hour (which was fun – bit hard to be in the doldrums when you’re pretending to be a surfer to the Beach Boys or a boxer to “Eye of the Tiger”), son gave me a big hug (note, he picked up on my mood, and that’s pretty damn good for an Aspie – actually, that in itself nearly set me bawling), and DH made me sit with him in the evening to watch some comedy. (And he didn’t snack in front of me – possibly because I threatened to make him drink the vegetable juice if he did!) And my mates were just brilliant. I will share some wisdom in a few weeks’ time, when this book is off my desk and I’m in a better place than I am right now.

Anyway, thank you, the lot of you. You’re really appreciated.

Monday, October 04, 2010

elsewhere today

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Take That
Reading: Sarah Morgan, Dr Zinetti’s Snowkissed Bride (Sarah’s Christmas books are always a lovely read – as usual, this one’s heartwarming, sparkly, very funny, and leaves you with a smile on your face)

Where did the weekend go? Most of it was a blur, though one hilarious moment was when our neighbours confessed that they thought DH was the spendthrift and I was the ‘careful’ one. Talk about completely the wrong way round! The kids were in hysterics, and I think we’re going to get a lot of mileage out of that. Anyway, I think it prodded DH’s conscience a little bit, because on Sunday he bought me something nice for my bracelet to commemorate the fact we’ve been together 25 years this year. (Somewhat late, but better than never. And he did let me choose it.)

Anyway, I’m elsewhere today. Talking about the D-word over at the e-Harlequin Medical Authors’ blog. And no, that isn’t ‘deadline’ – try two syllables, four letters! ;o) Come over and say hello and share a recipe or two.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Minxed again :o)

Current work: Capri medical romance
Listening to: Daughtry (first album - though was also tortured with Lady Gaga)
Reading: next on TBR

I’m over at the Minxes of Romance today, talking about the joys of research and telling more about the research I did for my latest release, Champagne with a Celebrity. (Thank you very much, Lorraine, for having me.) Do come over and say hello.

Other than that, daughter has new earrings (today is the first day she’s allowed to change them) and I had the not-so-lovely task of removing the ones from the initial piercing – ick, and I think I might’ve pinched her ear a bit (long nails on strumming hand), but she’s happy.

I’m also trying to resist the lure known as our fridge (and no, I’m not talking about the chocolate drawer, which is deliberately populated with chocolate I don’t like. And yes, you did read that correctly. There is some chocolate I don't like. Mainly Nestlé, owing to the texture).

At the moment, I have a real yen for toast with proper butter and posh raspberry jam. I think this is because I’m planning to go back on the straight and narrow on Monday. Still low-carb, but because I’ve been very half-hearted on the current diet for the whole of this year (probably because I know it too well and therefore can ignore it), I’m trying something a little different. Something new to me, so I’ll have to look things up; in theory, that should make me stop and think before falling off the diet.

The tough phase is for two weeks (during which time I have a posh author lunch in London, but I can work round that), and by that time I should have broken the bad habits and lost enough weight to motivate me to continue. Two weeks without porridge for breakfast is going to be horrible (says middle-aged woman in severe breakfast rut, wondering if cinnamon would be nice in an omelette and then remembering it's meant to be a vegetable omelette), but it’s only two weeks, and the way this year is whizzing by it’ll pass in the blink of an eye.

Righty. Back to work for me. I want to hit half today’s quota before lunch, and then I need to book various things (aka the Book of the Dead exhibition, Christmas party for DH’s work, and ten-pin bowling for daughter’s birthday). And caffeine’s allowed on my new diet. I think I might have to nip into town tomorrow to buy some French Vanilla…