Friday, July 29, 2011


Current work: (I wish)
Listening to: various stuff on the iPod (thank you, lovely husband)
Reading: next on TBR

Today has been a fairly frustrating day, spent on the phone sorting things out. (OK, so I’m good at sorting things out. But I really don’t enjoy doing it for someone who then behaves abusively when I’ve been nice AND given up work time and family time. However, am doing it to support DH.)

But then I had some great news from my editor. She liked the revisions and #49 will be published in March 2012 – Dr Cinderella’s Midnight Fling, which was originally my IVF book but it turned more into genetics, which fascinates me. (And my working title was Dr Cinderella, so I am very happy,) Actually, #48 will also be out in March next year – ‘The Ex Who Hired Her’, aka the department store story (in Modern, rather than Riva). So it’s good news all round and some quality time spent with DH and the kids, with any luck.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

wpw, my books are on iTunes!

Current work: Rome Riva
Listening to: various stuff on the iPod (thank you, lovely husband)
Reading: next on TBR

So, there I was, browsing various things on iTunes (oh, all right, playing with the iPod and buying a bit of music on DH’s account – but believe you me he buys an awful lot more on my Amazon account), and I remembered one of my writer mates had told me that Harlequin/Mills & Boon are now on iTunes.

So I checked it out just to see which of mine were available. (Felt a bit narcissistic, typing my name into the search box, but I guess that's the only was you're going to find it...)

Wow! There are loads. Not just English titles, either – French and German, too (at least on the UK iTunes – might be different in the States). These are ebooks rather than audio. But how exciting :o)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

some gorgeous music

Current work: Rome Riva
Listening to: various stuff on the iPod (thank you, lovely husband)
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, Her Best Friend (enjoying this)

I’m trying very, very hard to be good with email and what have you during the school holidaysm when work time is so limited. But I couldn’t resist emailing my mate India Grey yesterday to squeak about being in an anthology with her.

India and I normally end up talking music (she was the one who introduced me to Muse, with ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’), and yesterday was no exception: she introduced me to Scala. And y’know, music is so useful for evoking a mood when working. So I did a little bit of research on YouTube, and I came across a song that I’ve used before as a Black Moment Song and this is a gorgeous version. Love the piano as well.

So today I’m sharing Damien Rice’s The Blower’s Daughter, as sung by Scala. Beautiful. (Am v tempted to ask lovely ed if I can do a choir book. Though I think she’ll give me the ‘lose the reindeer’ look…)

Click and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

a nice surprise

Current work: Rome Riva
Listening to: classical guitar pieces on the iPod (thank you, lovely husband)
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, Her Best Friend (enjoying this)

Doorbell goes this afternoon – and the UPS man is standing there with TWO big boxes. One I was expecting (author copies of Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached). The other I wasn’t, so I was very pleased to learn that I’m in an anthology called Latin Lovers, with my friends Melanie Milburne and India Grey. (Mine is The Italian GP's Bride.) And what a lovely cover!

Other than that, today has been a matter of dropping my car insurance certificate in to the dealer (yeehah), a jam session with youngest (luckily they’re not mega complex pieces as it was a matter of ‘Well, you can read music, so let’s play it together. One, two, three…’ - um, this might be because she loathes almost everything on my iPod) and a mountain of laundry.

Work? (Hmm. Must Try Harder!)

Monday, July 25, 2011

first week of the school hols...

Current work: Rome Riva
Listening to: various
Reading: next on TBR pile

First week of the school hols, and my routine is totally changed for the next six weeks. Means being up first thing, getting my wordcount done (i.e. being very, very strict with myself and not allowing myself to play so much online), and then spending quality time with the kids (aka cinema, theatre and museum trips, possibly the beach, ten-pin bowling, and a few flop days). Plus we have a research trip in the offing, so I have a fair bit of admin to do this week. Starting with making a list, this morning; top of which will be dropping in my car log book to the dealer.

Car log book? Yes, indeedy. I really, really liked the car I test-drove on Thursday. And my car was due to be changed this year anyway – it’s just been brought forward due to rampant paranoia on my part (aka it’s unlucky now it’s had a scrape-and-scarper episode AND a warranty repair in the same week – #3 in the sequence could be very bad indeed).

I also have to remove all the CDs from my car. DH has been complaining that my car is a tip. It isn’t. Just that all the side pockets, the hideaway tray and the glove box happen to be filled with CDs because I am a music junkie. He’s been nagging me for ages to get an iPod (which I have resisted on the grounds that I have an iPad and therefore do not need an iPod Touch). He continued nagging. So I threw him a challenge: I’ll do it if you buy me a graphite Nano. I really wasn’t expecting him to agree… but lovely husband took me to the Apple shop on Sunday and purchased one.

So I’ve been busy making playlists and thoroughly enjoying it. I underestimated how much space I needed, but then again it’s mainly for use in the car (our iTunes is on my PC, and all my music is on the iPad for when I’m working in the kitchen/dining room/garden/slothing on the sofa/in bed) and I can’t drive to Beethoven or Rachmaninov because it makes me cry, so a bit of judicious trimming should sort out the space issue.

… except, this morning, it doesn’t work. Battery gone. Now, I knew that I couldn’t charge it on my PC because I don’t have a USB2 port, so I specifically mentioned this and asked if I could use the wall charger for my iPad instead to charge it. ‘Yes, you can.’ This morning, I checked Apple support. Oh, no, you can’t. I can’t charge it on my laptop, either. So there is going to be an interesting conversation this morning…

Today’s going to be a bit manic. Son’s mates are coming over so they can script a film and do the voice-overs. (Mind you, would much rather have a houseful of teenage boys eating constantly than having son hanging around the streets, being bored and getting into trouble.) Think daughter and I are going to be baking this afternoon. :o)

Have a nice day!

Edit: Apple Shop in Chapelfield was utterly lovely when I rang them. Went in and they REALLY looked after me. That sort of customer service definitely deserves to be celebrated, so thank you Ian for being so kind and helpful.

Friday, July 22, 2011

a special celebration (and a book giveaway)

Current work: Rome Riva
Listening to: Jackson Browne
Reading: next on TBR pile

I’m thrilled to be elsewhere today – I’m celebrating at Liz Fielding’s blog as she’s reached a fantastic milestone: twenty years of M&B and 60 books. This is where I admit to being a major fangirl – I’ve read all of them and she’s written my top three favourite category romances. (Gentlemen Prefer… Brunettes, The Sheik’s Guarded Heart and The Marriage Miracle, if you want to know which ones. And there are others that really stick in my mind, too. I love her Maybridge books.)

She’s one of my favourite people in real life as well as being a fantastic writer, and I’m so pleased to be celebrating with her. There is a chance to win my brand-new September release, Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached (I confess that isn’t actually in my hands yet – distribution warehouse is running a little late and today's admin job is to chase that up), so do go over to the party and help her celebrate.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Current work: finished revisions (ha, awaiting second revs) so it’s back to the Rome Riva
Listening to: Mozart
Reading: next on TBR pile Finally finished revisions yesterday and sent them to my ed. I have a feeling I’m going to get second revs, but we’ll see.

Moved my guitar lesson from Tuesday to today (thanks to lovely Jim for being accommodating) so I could get the revs done; so this morning has been spent playing Mozart (Vienna!! I am getting excited now). I did squeak a bit about doing a piece in E (yet another sharp to remember), but once I started it was fine, and the stretches weren’t quite so tough as I remember. Clearly Spanish Ballad has been doing its job on my hands, LOL.

Went to see Dad’s headstone last night and it looks lovely. I put flowers on both parents’ graves (it’s getting easier, though December is going to be hard), then went to see my stepmum, also with flowers – was nice to see her and have a chat.

Tomorrow is the end of term; and today after school I’m test-driving a car. Not the Alfa Giulietta (which DH has been eyeing up as a potential company car, and which has replaced a Golf as my fantasy car – I am so middle-aged) as it’s out of my budget. However, my lovely garage (the one that really looks after me) rang me this week to let me know an Astra with the specs I want has just come in. It looks nice, it’s comfortable to sit in (yes, of course I’ve already gone to see it), but the proof of the pudding will be in the driving. If it doesn’t suit me, then I’ll hang on for a newer version of what I have now; but I’d quite like something nice to happen this week. (Has been quite stressy this week, and not because of revisions!)

There is definitely something nice happening tomorrow… of which more later. Watch this space :o)

Monday, July 18, 2011


Current work: Revisions on #49 (hmm - why do I want to break into a chorus of 'Darling Clementine'?)
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Maggie Stiefvater, Forever (enjoyed this and thought it was a really good end to the trilogy – was stronger than book 2 so am glad I persevered! Plus I’m a sucker for Rilke’s poetry)

Still doing revisions – the slash-and-burn bit ended up being a real slashfest :o) I know where I’m going and how I’ve changed the structure, so it’s a matter of sitting down and writing new stuff straight to computer.

Busy weekend (not helped by the Family Crisis flareup, sigh) but managed to get some family time in. Had to replace son’s trainers as his were totally waterlogged from the camping trip/kayaking and what have you. (Yes, he had a great time, and yes, I know I was worrying over nothing. Comes with being a mum.) Daughter has wanted a pair of those pretty plimsolls/pumps for ages, and managed to find a pair that were comfy. And I bought new trainers too, as mine were wearing out. Not sure they'll be supportive enough for major walking in Vienna, but DH has helpfully already thrown the box away so I can’t take them back. (I could buy a proper pair of walking shoes, though… WHEN the book is finished. Carrot.)

Watched ‘The Adjustment Bureau’ with DH on Saturday night and really enjoyed the concept behind it. Not sure that the Inception comparison worked, as it had a much simpler structure. It did remind me very strongly of that line in King Lear: ‘As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; they kill us for their sport.’

Righty. I am shutting up now and getting on with the revisions (four and a half work days left until end of term at Friday lunchtime, eep). And if you want to do something fun in the meantime, go over to Liz Fielding’s blog. She’s having a party to celebrate twenty years at M&B, and there are guests and giveaways. (I will be there later in the week with a brand-new book for grabs!)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Current work: Revisions on #49
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: next on TBR

I have to admit to a bit of a skivy day yesterday – I went out to lunch. Well, it wasn’t totally skivy, as I was with a fellow writer and we talked about writing (plotting, contracts, future directions and that sort of thing). However, it wasn’t quite the same as being at my desk, hands on keyboard and words down on my file. But sometimes you need to refill the well.

I was a bit twitchy on the way home. You know when you get a bad feeling and you don’t know what’s up, but you know that something isn’t right? All the way to school. I assumed it was a bit of empty nest syndrome (eldest is on a school camping trip, so I’m a bit clucky - especially as this morning it's really pouring), but then I got home after the school run and saw my inbox… Yup, revisions had hit. At exactly the time I started getting the bad feeling, so hopefully that's what it was. Nothing unexpected, but it does mean quite an overhaul of the book.

So today – after I’ve taken the car in to the approved repairer for an overview and then booked it in for the repair – I will be sitting at the dining room table, with one manuscript, one set of notes, and one red pen. Slash-and-burn time. I’ve found it works better for me at the moment with pen and paper rather than the way I used to do it (“track changes” in Word); it seems to flow better in longhand (unlike writing the first draft and tinkering with it), and it also means I’m less likely to be distracted by email and the internet because the desktop is switched off and the iPad is purposely not in the same room.

Ha. And now I’m touching wood in case I just jinxed my process :o)

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

celebrating (and doing a million and one things in the background)

Current work: Rome-set Riva
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Sarah Mayberry, Amorous Liaisons (really enjoyed this – loved the Paris setting, too)
Am in an extremely grouchy mood after seeing the body shop yesterday about the person who scraped my car and finding out that it’s going to cost a LOT to fix. The insurance company, however, has been excellent and I should hear from their approved repairer later this morning. (Or on the answering machine because I am off to my guitar lesson, then dashing home to get work done, then picking up son early as it’s sports day, dropping him home, dashing back to pick up daughter, making sure son has got everything he needs for the “enhanced curriculum” camping trip tomorrow. Not to mention work and the usual stuff to keep the house running. And only eight more school days until the end of term. Yikes!)

So, rather than whining, I want to celebrate. I think I’ve said before that I have a definite favourite when it comes to category romance. There is one writer in particular whose books I reach for when I’m having a bad day, because reading her books is like having a hug from a good friend who tells a cracking story and makes me laugh for the right reason. She’s written my all-time favourite top three category romances. (She’s also a really lovely person as well as a fabulous writer.) She’s having a blog party next week to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of signing her contract… and I’m thrilled to be one of her guests.

Take a bow, lovely Liz Fielding.

Monday, July 11, 2011

zooming down to the end of term

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

Been a busy weekend. Friday was daughter’s concert at the church, and she played beautifully. (Yes, I know I’m biased, but I am talking note-perfect. She worked hard and made sure she wouldn’t let the other two in her guitar group down.)

Saturday, picked up the tickets for Vienna (I am SO looking forward to this, and lovely Jo Brown gave me a lightbulb moment when she told me a legend of the Danube), met up with DH’s best friend and his wife for a coffee (bad me, was the second one that morning as daughter and I had already, ahem, nipped into the cafĂ© because M&S didn’t have the shoes I wanted or the top she wanted and we didn’t want to drag along with the boys in the videogame shops), and then popped into one of the music shops on the way home… and found the perfect guitar for daughter. It has a really nice tone, is a bit easier to play than mine (which she has been borrowing as she needs a full-size one now), and more to the point there weren’t any buzzes on any of the frets. It’s a nice, solid instrument, and she’s very pleased with it.

Sunday, fairly lazy day.

This week, I am glad that we have a slightly quieter week on the rundown to the end of term. Son has enhanced curriculum week, and is doing the camping trip (involves kayaking and stuff, so he is going to get wet and icky). Am also meeting a good friend for lunch on Wednesday and am really looking forward to hearing all her news from the RNA conference.

And I think revisions are going to hit shortly…

Thursday, July 07, 2011

a proud Mummy moment

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

Last night was the school concert, and the highlight for me was when my daughter’s guitar teacher said that his group was doing a tribute to Jimi Hendrix. Now, I’ve seen her play ‘Yankee Doodle’ with her guitar behind her head, but to see the three of them doing it perfectly in time… great fun! (Had to smile when the Head pointed out that some of the parents wouldn’t know who Hendrix was…) They also did a lovely version of ‘Every Breath You Take’ and Bach’s Minuet in G. Her best friend played a violin solo beautifully, too, and there were whole orchestra and choir pieces as well as solos.

All the children had clearly worked so hard at the concert; considering that some of them are only 7, it’s fantastic to see them all working together like that and trying their very hardest to get it right for the whole team. (This is why I believe that music has an important place in the primary school curriculum.)

It was also report day at junior school, and daughter’s was stellar. Not just the academic side, but also in the way she behaves towards others. She’s mature, kind and thoughtful - a really nice girl, and I’m really proud of her. (Son’s report last month was similar, and I’m equally as proud of him.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

a real inspiration

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

I wasn’t at the RWA conference, but my friend Michelle Styles emailed me from the conference to say that Sherrilyn Kenyon’s keynote speech was utterly inspirational, and she recommended that I read it online.

She was absolutely right. It’s inspirational and it put a real lump in my throat. I would so like to give Sherrilyn Kenyon a hug and buy her dinner. She sounds utterly lovely, and hats off to her for getting through a much, much harder time than most of us will ever know.

So, for anyone reading this post who’s ever thought about giving up on your dreams, just go and read Sherrilyn’s speech, which she’s posted here on Facebook. It might just make the difference you’ve been waiting for.

(And, in the spirit of my friend India Grey’s gratitude journal: I’m grateful for the people in my life who’ve always believed in me, and for those who listened during the tough times (actually, they’re the same people). I’m grateful for having a mum who supported my dreams and a husband who bought me a computer when we couldn’t actually afford one. I'm grateful for having an editor who understands me and who doesn't edit by numbers. Yes, I work hard and none of it was handed to me on a plate; but, without those people to bolster me in the times when I stop believing in myself, I wouldn’t be doing what I do right now.)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

the lure of the past

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

My family history research is ticking along. I’m looking into my mum’s family at the moment. On my grandmother’s side, I’ve just managed to work back to my great-great-great-grandfather, who was born in Lymington in 1798. William was a labourer; his wife Jane, born in 1802, was a charwoman. Have to admit, it was really exciting to find I’d got all the way back to the 1841 census… and then a bit disappointing to realise that I might be stuck now, as the church records for the parishes I need aren’t online, and at this point I’m also pre the 1837 registrations.

On my grandfather’s side, I need to check certain things out to confirm them, but James my engineer great-great-grandfather from London may originally have been a printer (which means that I do indeed have a publishing connection… except it’s not the side I thought it was, and it’s typography rather than writing).

The sea captain and the midwife (and the Danish connection) are still hiding. Usually there is a kernel of truth in family stories, albeit maybe distorted by time; my theory is that the ‘sea captain’ was an ordinary mariner, and his wife came from Jersey rather than from Denmark. Not sure where the nursing bit fits in, so there’s some more digging to be done.

In other news, sigh, someone scraped my car in the car park. DH managed to get most of it out, but there’s a deep score and a dent, so I guess I’ll have to take it to the repair shop once the warranty work on the cooling system has been sorted out. I would rather have spent that money on taking my kids out during the summer holidays, but there you go: we live in a selfish society where people are quick to blame others but don’t like accepting responsibility for their actions. (Take rant as read – and LOL, if one of those ‘accident’ solicitors approaches me today, he/she will get the full rant!)

Monday, July 04, 2011

where did the weekend go? (and happy 4 July)

Current work: Rome-set Riva
Listening to: Mozart
Reading: Louise Candlish, Since I Don’t Have You (very good but it made me bawl my eyes out and grab daughter for a hug – that’s as much of a spoiler as I’ll give, but if you have kids you will find this tough in places – it’s BEAUTIFULLY written and the characterisation is spot on)

Weekend. Um. Was there one? What day is it?

What threw me out was two teacher-training days last week. Daughter thoroughly enjoyed the Norfolk Show; and I was up at 4 am the next morning (just the time to shoehorn a teenager out of bed, not) to sort out son’s packed lunch and then drop him off at school. He went to the battlefields and cemeteries at Ypres, and had a fantastic day. My third cousin 3x removed (i.e. he and my grandmother had a grandfather in common) was killed in action and buried in Tyne Cot; son took a pic of his name on the wall. (Another third cousin lasted all of five days in WW1, poor boy – if you don’t know the Wilfred Owen poem ‘Dulce et decorum est’, go and look it up.) Son said it was really, really moving. Although DH was doing the pick-up, I couldn’t sleep until my boy was home safely. Not helped by the first thing I heard on the news that morning, of a school coach trip in a serious (fatal) accident…

Anyway, daughter and I had a girly day on Friday. We went into town to pick up a guide book (hmm – how come I ended up buying her a pile of novels?), then spent the afternoon playing ‘Grease’ on the Wii and then watching ‘The Sound of Music’.

Saturday – um, catching up with sleep, then my friend Paul’s book launch (his dad’s WW2 war memoirs). Was lovely to see him and his partner and we mustn’t leave it so long next time.

Sunday, DH was at the Superbike racing at Snetterton. The kids and I pottered about and played games all day.

So I’m a wee bit behind schedule – not helped today by spending the morning in town while my car was being sorted out. (Not quite fixed yet, as it turns out to be a warranty repair, but the garage’s service was exceptional – for anyone local, I’d highly recommend Richard Nash in Rouen Road. They really do look after you.) I did have a successful morning in the library, though, and have managed to work the family tree back another generation. Not sure I’ll be able to get back much further, however, as the church records aren’t online. But I’ll buy another couple of certificates this month to help me work back another step.

And while I remember what day it actually is, happy July 4 to my American friends and readers (the latter being short for ‘friends I might not have met yet’) :o)