Thursday, June 30, 2011


Current work: Rome-set Riva
Listening to: Mozart
Reading: next on TBR

Well, this is really turning out to be a nice week. Originally we weren’t going away this summer, but DH has suddenly decided we are. So we have a very nice research trip lined up for Vienna. (Might be my chocolatier book – there just so happens to be a chocolate museum in Vienna – but Vienna also has links to another book I’ve wanted to write for a while on a different subject. And yes, I know I'm being a tease. It's still at the bubble stage.)

I’m all excited now. As there’s an inset day tomorrow (i.e. teacher training day - no school), will see if I can persuade daughter to come book shopping with me. We need to get the Rough Guide, the AA Citypack and a German phrasebook to jog my memory. It’s almost dreißig jahre since I did German at school. LOL, I can remember the important things, such as how to order Kaffee und Kuchen. Und die Praline, natürlich – as it’s my chocolatier book, we need to visit several Konditorei, nein? Um, we are going to have to do SO much walking, because I could be seriously bad on the carb front…

Did have a teensy panic moment when our normal boarding kennels couldn’t fit Emodog in, but luckily the kennels where he was born has a space for him and they’re looking forward to seeing him. (He, however, won't be looking forward to seeing them because it means we will be deserting him for almost a week. He will probably sulk for the rest of the summer now, sigh.)

As for me – well, I’ve been too distracted and overexcited to work. Must settle down and get nose back to grindstone now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

thunderbolts and lightning…

Current work: my 50th M&B (aka Rome-set Riva)
Listening to: Beethoven piano sonatas
Reading: Sarra Manning, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (wish I’d written this – can very much identify with a nerdy, bookish, overweight heroine; plus some of the scenes have had me laughing out loud for the right reasons. Very witty, very warm, and I’m going to buy her backlist now)

Rather glad I sort of planned this week off as it’s been too sticky to work. Two mega-humid nights here were followed yesterday afternoon by some spectacular lightning and downpours – very grateful as it made the air a little more bearable. Had a very tearful child who was too hot and sticky to sleep on Monday night; DH was called out to work to sort out a heat-related problem; and then my car started flashing the ‘there’s an electronics problem, take me to the garage NOW’ light on the dashboard. Temporary fix of a pipe to keep it driveable, and it’s going in next week for a really long diagnostics check as they couldn’t get to the bottom of it yesterday.

Also had a meeting about son’s trip to Ypres and I’m highly envious – would like to go too. Had a brief look on the commonwealth graves website to see if any of our family is buried there, and it seems that my third cousin twice removed was buried there (he was 10 years older than my grandmother). So I guess son will be paying his respects at Tyne Cot. Actually, as it’s on Dad’s side of the family, I did have a lump in my throat. It’s something he would’ve liked to share. But the one that really upset me was the third cousin twice removed who’s buried at Heuvall – he was killed in action only a week after he was sent to France. Such a waste.

Today is daughter’s film premiere (all three Y5 classes made a film). Tomorrow is the Norfolk Show. Friday is an inset (teacher-training) day. Saturday is a friend’s book launch. Sunday, I’m sleeping all day…

Monday, June 27, 2011

a very English Sunday afternoon

Current work: my 50th M&B (aka Rome-set Riva)

Listening to: Mozart

Reading: lots this weekend: Mary Contini, Dear Olivia (very interesting true account of Italians emigrating to Scotland between the wars – brought me to tears in places, and thank you to Michelle Styles for suggesting it); Natalie Anderson, Dating and Other Dangers (fabulous concept and really enjoyed it); Heidi Rice, Cupcakes and Killer Hells (nice fast read); Nicola Cornick, Whisper of Scandal (fabulous – really, really enjoyed the setting)

I was going to sort of take this week off; however, my wonderful ed came back to me very swiftly on the outline for my 50th (especially nice of her as she was about to jet off to the RWA conf in NY and was up to her eyes). And, as the characters are talking to me, I might as well get on with it, yes? (I know I’m banging on about this one being #50, but I can’t quite believe it, and seeing it in black and white makes it feel a bit more real. Not quite 10 years since #1 was accepted.)

On Sunday, one of the nearby villages had an ‘open garden’ event – which meant we spent a very English Sunday afternoon, wandering round a mixture of cottage gardens and formal gardens (DH has definite garden envy and wants an orchard). Like several others, we had a cream tea on the lawn of the Old Rectory, surrounded by roses.

(And, as it’s this part of the world and some of the gardens were a very long way apart, we also sat on some haybales on a trailer attached to a tractor - which went a lot faster than the one I often get stuck behind on the school run!)

I could be really boring and post lots of garden pictures, but I will be restrained and stick to the things that I really loved:

Sundial (especially the way it seems to encompass the topiary here).

The spandrel on the porch of St Margaret’s church, showing St Margaret slaying the dragon.

The faded St Christopher wall painting inside the church.

Frilly poppies (these are so going on my list of things I want in my garden next summer, along with the rain daisies I’ve wanted for years and some night-scented stocks. And maybe some delphiniums, as I don't think Byron will do what Ben used to do and dig them up and bring them in to me with a waggy tail - he's more likely to see them as a stolen shoe dropping-off point).

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yay! Finished!

Current work: very last readthrough of Medical
Listening to: Katie Melua
Reading: next on TBR

Finally the book came together and started to flow – it’s so lovely when it does that.

And I finished it last night. I need to do a final readthrough today, to pick up any plot holes and typos, but it goes to my ed today, before she goes off to the RWA conf in New York. And it’s going in a week before deadline, which makes me a very happy bunny: it means I’m back to being a professional author who meets her deadlines. (We’ll gloss over what I’ve been for the past couple of years, while life was a bit tricky, but I have been very grateful for my editor’s patience.)

The rest of today is going to be spent plotting my 50th M&B (yes, I did say 50th, and I would just love to get that one through before my 10-year anniversary in November) while I mess about on the piano and play with the dog. And then I have a week where I have school stuff or something on every single day and I’m up to my eyes, so I’m (whispers) taking a week off. In practice, it means I’m probably going to be messing about with the Nerdy Side Project. But it’s going to be nice to refill the well :o)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

still on deadline (and very nice review)

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR

Deadline looming (though the book is going better now and I wrote a mammoth amount yesterday; lovely when it flows like that. Touching wood frantically now so I don’t jinx it!). So instead of writing here I’ll post a lovely review I came across for Champagne with a Celebrity – nicer still, Chris Redding’s husband is a parfumier (that’s the French term, btw, and is also valid in England :o) ) and my hard work on research paid off. Thank you, Chris, for such a nice review. Glad you enjoyed it.

I picked up Champagne with a Celebrity by Kate Hardy because the hero is a perfumer. My husband is a perfumer and he always bugs me to write one into one of my novels… Ms. Hardy gave her characters a lot of depth. They were three-dimensional and, frankly, I wanted to meet them in real life. I was rooting for these two to get together and I forgot that it was inevitable they would.

(You can read the whole thing here.)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

still on deadline

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR

Am under deadline cosh this week. But I will direct you to a post I read in my lunchbreak yesterday and really enjoyed, by an author who’s on my autobuy list (and also happens to be a friend of mine; the two can be mutually exclusive, but not in this case). Look out for the cartoon because it’s superb and made me smile for all the right reasons.

(Normal service from me will be resumed shortly, promise!)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Current work: Medical
Listening to: John Martyn
Reading: next on TBR

Book due this week. Lots of school activities. Something’s gotta give – sorry, it’s the blog! Am fine, just snowed under (and in need of an unbroken night, cough).

Friday, June 17, 2011


Current work: Medical
Listening to: Beethoven, Symphony 7 (love the second movement – better still if it’s played with a slightly slower tempo – very nice version conducted by Charles Latshaw here on YouTube) and Mozart, Requiem
Reading: Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Keep (finished – nice cliffhanger and set-up ready for the next book)

I’m keeping myself deliberately busy this weekend – it’s Father’s Day, and it’ll be my first one without my dad. This is probably why I haven’t been sleeping properly all week and have been playing Boggle on the iPad or listening to Mozart at 3am. (Obviously downstairs and on headphones, so I don’t wake DH.) Not sure if I’m feeling tearful this morning because of the scene I’m writing, or because of lack of sleep/missing my parents.

At the same time, Father’s Day is DH’s special day with the kids, so I can’t be miserable and grumpy, for their sake. Have bought some nice flowers to put on his grave tomorrow – and bought myself some gorgeous scented stocks. And I happen to be out for lunch today with some nice friends to celebrate a birthday, so hopefully that will cheer me up a bit.

Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the nice thing about Facebook…

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Keep (enjoying)

… is when someone tags you in a post, and they start talking about enjoying your book, and other people chip in and say they enjoyed that particular book too.

It’s just lovely to know that when I’m slaving away on the keyboard here, especially when it’s THIS stage of the book, that the finished product does actually work. And that I can give the same enjoyment to my readers that I get from reading my own favourite authors.

Some days, this is just the best job in the world. (Though, as this book is still at the heap of junk stage, then roll on next week!)

(and the pants thing about FB is when you set it up to include your blog as notes, and it refuses to do so!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

memories and ghosts

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Keep (enjoying)

Still up to eyes. Have been reminiscing about school, and my kids can’t get their heads round the fact that my school buildings used to be part of a military hospital, i.e. they were Nissen huts and freezing cold in the winter. They’re also freaked by the fact I had school on Saturday mornings. And that when there was too much snow on the hockey/rugby pitches, you were sent for a cross-country run round the whole school grounds in said snow and you weren’t allowed to wear tracksuit bottoms: it had to be PE kilts for girls and shorts for boys.

Ghosts? Ah, yes. It was allegedly haunted.

So all this was quite good fodder for a novelist in training. (I did eventually use the school pond and the ban on ice-skating on said pond in my last Medical, The Firefighter and Nurse Loveday.)

Oh, and just in case you think I’m joking about the Nissen huts – there’s a nice aerial shot here at the Wymondham College Remembered website from my first year at the school. Definitely character-forming :o) (And kudos to Bill Atkins for putting all that material together. Fascinating stuff!)

Righty. Back to the typeface. Must put in more effort today and not let get self distracted because the book is at THAT stage, i.e. I think it’s a pile of poo and hate it. Next week, it will be better, but this is the sucky writing week. Just as well I know my process or I’d be hitting the chocolate!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

new cover

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Suzanne Vega
Reading: Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Keep (enjoying)

Up to eyes with deadline (plus Tuesday isn’t much of a work day as I have a guitar lesson in the morning – and I haven’t practised, so I need to do something now!). So instead here’s the new cover for my next release, ‘Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached’, out in the UK in September.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the lure of greasepaint

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Nickelback
Reading: Rachel Vincent, My Soul to Save (enjoyed)

Jekyll and Hyde was excellent – the staging was superb, and I especially enjoyed the “confrontation” scene; am trying to work out if it was a Pepper’s Ghost with Hyde in the mirror, or whether it was done by film, as it was when it went to the large window. Great cast (especially the actress playing Lucy – couldn’t believe how long she held the notes in some of the songs!) and son really enjoyed it. The finale was beautiful, too, as they did a requiem. Oh, and if you want to see bits from it, there’s an official trailer here on YouTube. (About 1:26 is part of the confrontation scene, and a longer bit at 1:57 – the staging here is very clever.)

It felt a bit strange going with just one child; it reminded me very much of going to Wednesday matinees in half term with my mum. I do hope my children end up with similar lovely memories of going with me. (My dad wasn’t into the theatre at all – the only times he came with me were to see Jacques Louissier and Sky. But I remember both of those and really enjoyed the performances.)

Have discovered that daughter’s fave musical is playing here in her birthday month; DH and son loathe it and say they don’t want to go, so it’s going to be a girly treat for her :o)

Righty. Head down and time to work – deadline ahoy…

Friday, June 10, 2011

...and a really big treat

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Shirley Wells, Presumed Dead (finished this morning. Excellent; the characterisation is brilliant, and I can't wait for the next two in the series)

Busy day today – sports day for littlest this morning, and although I have a ton to do, I can’t let her down by not watching her.

Then I have a really big treat - am off to the theatre tonight with son (who was very chuffed yesterday to learn that he’s got all his GCSE first choices, and as one of them is Drama we can justify the theatre trips I’ve already booked, and add to them – yay!).

This is what we’re going to see:

(I should add, I did offer tickets to DH and daughter as well, but they said no. So Theatre Buddy and I are going to eat lots of ice cream enjoy the show, then be picked up by our chauffeurs and annoy them by talking about what a good show they missed.)

One thing I will be missing is the last part of a drama serial I’ve been watching all week, so if anyone wants to fill me in later re what happens in ‘Injustice’ tonight, I’m all ears :o)

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

bit of a treat

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Shirley Wells, Presumed Dead (excellent)

I saw this great video on Jill Shalvis’s blog yesterday – I liked the music, and the background stuff was hilarious. Anyway – I needed a slight procrastination moment while I thought about how to fix the current chapter (duh, obvious, switch the viewpoint), and I looked up the rest of their stuff on YouTube.

So if you want a treat – click here for a cover of Michael Buble’s “Everything”. And here for a medley I really, really liked. Oh, and here for Justin on his own singing my all-time fave Buble song.

Enjoy, while I'm back at the typeface :o)

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

birthday boy (aka excuse to post puppy pics)

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Boston
Reading: Shirley Wells, Presumed Dead (excellent – I do like her new character, and it’s nicely paced so I’m intrigued and can’t wait to see what happens next (mainly because I haven’t worked out the end yet!))

The three males in this house all have a birthday within the space of three weeks. Son first, DH in the middle, and today it's the dog's turn.

Just over nine years ago, we went to our local Springer breeder to meet the mum and dad and their brand-new litter. (I could've dognapped the dad. He was GORGEOUS. Lovely temperament.)

And this is the tiny pup we couldn’t resist.

When he came home with us, a certain person insisted on sharing his bed. (She'll kill me later for posting this, but she did look cute! And nowadays he’s more likely to try and share hers.)

Can’t believe he’s nine today. Happy birthday, Byron. (Note the waggy tail. He knows he's not meant to be on that chair, but he also thinks I won't turf him off because I'm a sucker for those big brown eyes. Sigh. Busted.)

Monday, June 06, 2011

blogging elsewhere today

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Daughtry
Reading: Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter from Your Lover (enjoyed)

I’m blogging in two other places today – the eHarlequin Medical Authors’ blog about my summertime desk (hmm, perhaps this is the way to get rain in future), and the Pink Heart Society in their Male on Monday slot (want to guess who I chose? … and it’s not who you think!). Do go over and say hello :o)

Half term is now over, and I have a deadline looming, so it’s back to work for me. At a tidy (ish) desk. Hopefully the caffeine will kick in soon, and hopefully my muse will pick a more sociable hour to visit in future. 3am is not the best! (And I really hope I can make sense of my notes...)

Friday, June 03, 2011

good things come in threes

Current work: Medical
Listening to: Jessie J (courtesy of daughter)
Reading: Jojo Moyes, The Last Letter from Your Lover

It’s been quite a week, and yesterday was a definite red letter day. Firstly there was the delivery of some foreign editions, including a Dutch three-in-one in which ALL the books are mine (making it one of those ‘by request’ reprints), so I was quite chuffed. It was also royalty day (well, to my agent – I’ll get them next week). And then, best of all, an email from my ed saying she loved the revisions – so I’ve just sold my 48th M&B. Title and release date tbc, but I am SO pleased (and relieved, and delighted; the waiting doesn't get any better, however many books you've sold or awards you've been shortlisted for, and I think you always worry about whether you're still good enough. Which is a good thing as it means you try your best for your readers rather than take them for granted).

Sale of book = a new Pandora bead for my bracelet. It’s one I saw in Rome and thought would be perfect, but I didn’t dare tempt fate and buy it at the time (did that with the Venice book and came a huge cropper). Anyway. Am now the possessor of a very pretty enamel and silver bead.

We had steak and Chablis last night to celebrate, and tonight we’re out to dinner – though that’s to celebrate DH’s birthday. (Happy birthday, honey, if you’re reading this.) More celebrations due over the weekend; Chlo and I are making a birthday cake and strawberry tiramisu on Sunday morning.

And I’m late posting today because I’m taking a break from doing the thing I’ve put off for months and months and months – tidying the bearpit. I’ve done the floor (I did say it was bad) and half my desk; other half of desk and the pile on my reading chair to go. And then definitely time to flop in the garden with a book and a cold drink.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Current work: Medical
Listening to: Peter Green (and if you’re in a romantic mood, here’s the YouTube link to ‘our song’ when I married DH – still my fave cover (and much prefer it to the original), though I do have a soft spot for the late Gary Moore’s cover)
Reading: next on TBR

Working in school holidays is tricky, to put it mildly. The kids get bored and squabble; and I feel guilty for leaving them to their own devices (aka iPod, X-box and TV) too much. I do try putting in some work first thing in the morning and then put my ‘nice mummy’ hat on (especially as I’ve promised jam sessions on the guitar to daughter, who has been trying out my guitar for size and I think prefers it to hers – methinks we’ll be going guitar-shopping in the summer hols).

Today, I am most definitely not working, because son is having his mates round for a Nerf war, some games on the X-box, a barbecue (ha – considering it ALWAYS rains when we plan a barbecue and his best friend comes round) and cake. One of his friends is allergic to wheat, dairy and nuts; I was going to order a ‘freefrom’ birthday cake, but it’s only free from wheat and nuts, not dairy, so it’s not suitable. Solution: daughter and I are having a baking session, adapting some of our recipes (the boys put in a very sweet request for cookies, and luckily you can buy dairy-free chocolate buttons) and also trying some new ones (for brownies and a chocolate birthday cake – although they’re the wheat-free Dove Farm recipes, we’re also switching butter to soya margarine and milk to soya milk so they work for what we need). We’ve learned that you need slightly more liquid when using gluten-free flour, and the texture isn’t quite the same, but I don’t think the boys mind too much. (Cake, cookies, chocolate – actually, no, teenage boys will just eat the entire contents of your fridge and larder, LOL.)

Quick reminder that the Make for Macmillan book auction is still on until Sunday. There are some cracking books in it – go and take a look! :o) (And I really want the ones I haven’t already read or are on my TBR pile…)