Friday, December 30, 2011

my planned year as a tortoise

2011's been a bit of a turbulent year. There were high spots (Rome and Vienna), and very low spots (the family crisis – guess I'd better not blog about that, but I do still believe that people are nice until proven otherwise. Certain people have been, ahem, proven otherwise in 2011 and I'm staying clear of them until they decide to alter their behaviour).

Last year's goals: well, I'm still rubbish at saying no and I haven't found a form of exercise I like enough to stick to. I have made some progress on the 'working smarter' front. It meant making some painful decisions; however, I know I've made the right ones, so hopefully 2012 is the year I'll get back on track.

I think the way to do it is to make 2012 a tortoise year. Quiet, slow progress. No mad rushing. And keeping it organised so things don't fall between the cracks. It does mean that I'll have to be a bit selfish, and I do have a problem with that – I'm a fixer, so it feels wrong to say no when people ask for help. However, I had a lot of things dumped on me in 2011, and as a consequence I didn't get as much work done as I needed to. I don't intend to repeat that. So I guess that's going to boil down to very clear communication (do I mean "nagging"?), pacing myself better, and going back to using a diary/schedule/to-do list. As for the exercise – I don't enjoy exercise and probably never will, but I need to stop making excuses and just get on with it.

So my resolution this year is to be a tortoise. I know what I want to do workwise, and I know what I need to do for my health; it’s all doable, provided I just get on with it quietly and don't let myself get distracted.

Next step: find a picture of a tortoise and stick it above my desk to keep me focused :o)

What are you going to be this year? I’d love to hear your goals, resolutions and plans!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

new cover

Current work: on holiday (but might sneak in a little something today)

Listening to: various

Reading: next on TBR

I had planned to take the kids to the cinema this morning. But, in keeping with my natural hair colour (!!), I must've had a bit of a dizzy moment when I booked my grocery delivery this week. I rang the supermarket yesterday morning to ask very politely if they knew how late my delivery was going to be. They were very patient with me and explained that actually my delivery was for today…

So we're waiting in. There is a website that shows how many car park spaces are left in each car park, so I'll check that after my shopping arrives to see if it's worth going in. (Yes, we could take the bus. But I get really travel-sick on buses. In my version of "The Wheels on the Bus", the mummies don't go "chatter, chatter, chatter". They go "bleugh, bleugh, bleugh".

In the meantime, I'm distracted with the new cover for 'The Ex Who Hired Her'…

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Current work: on holiday (but might sneak in a little something today)
Listening to: various
Reading: Aimee Carson, How to Win the Dating War (enjoyed)

This time of year always becomes a blur to me. With so many bank holidays and no school, I don't have a clue what any given day is. I think it's Wednesday…

We were planning a walk on the beach on Boxing Day, to see the seals, but there were so many cars parked on the road that it was clearly a bit too crowded. We have plans to reschedule; but next time we're doing it my way and going first thing, not waiting until after lunch!

We've also hit the sales. Daughter has been saving up for a laptop for more than a year now– and there was a seriously good deal in John Lewis yesterday. Her new laptop has a hard disk 3x the size of my current desktop's, as well as a much faster processor and more RAM, and she's very pleased with it. I can't believe how light it is, too. Son got the game he really wanted, and DH is back at work today, so the house is going to be very quiet and I'm going to be superfluous so am going to sneak into my office. Might make a few notes, and then curl up on the sofa with the dog and one of my Christmas books.

Dog is back to his normal self, or he would've been at the vet's today for a check-up. He spent Christmas Day unable to settle anywhere for more than ten seconds, very clingy, and with a hot, dry nose. What worried me even more was that he left a bowl full of turkey. So either he'd eaten something that disagreed with him the day before (he is a typical Springer, totally greedy) or he'd got DH's man-flu. Anyway, he's back to normal now, bright-eyed and waggy-tailed and stockpiling shoes, and I am very, very relieved about it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Current work: on holiday
Listening to: Christmassy stuff
Reading: next on TBR

Wishing everyone all the very best for the holiday season, whatever religion you are (or aren’t). May it be full of family, friends and laughter.

I have a photo shoot this morning for Norfolk Magazine (hence new hair last night); and am also sorting out the updates to my website, ready for the end of the month. I was very slack with it in 2011, so I will improve it for 2012.

Hmm. More questions to add to my list for the Apple team. Am going to need new FTP software, and is there a plain text editor so I can continue to do things the way I do now? Can feel self chickening out of Mac as it will mean a big change to the way I work, and I’m not sure I’m ready to leave my comfort zone...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

another lovely review

Current work: on holiday (out all day yesterday - am enjoying time off!)
Listening to: Christmassy stuff
Reading: Annie Claydon, All SheWants for Christmas – absolutely cracking debut. And yes, I know she’s my friend, but this isn’t biased – it’s a really lovely book. Very warm and sweet (more proof of my theory that authors are like their books, because Annie is just like that), with great characterisation, a good conflict, and it was great to read about a strong heroine who doesn’t let her deafness get in the way. (Speaking as a deaf person, the deafness stuff is absolutely spot on.) You’ll have a lump in your throat in places and you’ll be smiling in others for all the right reasons. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Lynne Connolly over at The Good, The Bad and The Unread for her lovely review of A Moment on the Lips.

Kate Hardy is a great writer. Her style is easy to read but deceptively clever, so you don’t notice it until you think, “Hey, that’s good.” She brings her characters to life, and they’re not cut out of cardboard. They have characteristics and traits that make them determinedly individual. I always know I’m in for a great read when I pick up a Kate Hardy book.

A Moment on the Lips is no different… Once the misunderstandings of the first part of the book are swiftly cleared up, and glory be, they actually sit down and talk about it – Dante agrees to mentor Carenza and they set out on the wild journey that will lead to their happy ending... Read this for a charming love story that hits the spots well.

Thank you, Lynne. You’ve made my day. (And if anyone would like to read the full review, it’s here.)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

some exciting news

Current work: on holiday
Listening to: Christmassy stuff
Reading: next on TBR (been out socialising)

I knew from my royalty statements last year that I had a Manga edition (i.e. Japanese graphic novel) of Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy.

It arrived yesterday, and I’ve been a bit overexcited ever since.

This is the cover – isn’t it gorgeous?

Inside, the book’s mono. It’s amazing to see your story shown in picture format. I was stunned by how much detail is there, including the scene when Karim gives Lily a desert rose. Many thanks to the artist, Fuyuki Rurika, who’s done a fantastic job.

Oh, and the socialising? We were invited to the house of one of daughter's best friends yesterday. Namdri to her parents for such a lovely lunch (and this is one of the reasons I love the internet - I was able to look up a couple of words in Tamil so I could say thank you properly). It was also great to have the chance to learn so much about another culture (and to get an impromptu lesson in Indian cookery - heaven for a foodie).

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

lovely review

Current work: on holiday
Listening to: Christmassy stuff
Reading: Lynn Raye Harris, Captive but Forbidden (enjoyed)

Julie Bonello at Cataromance has really made my day with her review of A Moment on the Lips:

Dante had initially written off Carenza as a self-obsessed party girl who cared more about shoes than her grandparents, but the more time he spends with her, the more he realizes that Carenza has got hidden depth. A steamy affair quickly ensues, however, Dante makes it perfectly clear that although he is deeply attracted to Carenza, a future together is out of the question.
But will Carenza manage to change his mind?

Kate Hardy couldn’t write a bad book if she tried! A Moment on the Lips is a fabulous tale of past secrets, searing emotions and red-hot passion, imbued with all the charm, warmth and sensitivity that readers have come to expect from this award-winning author.

I adored feisty, loyal and fun-loving Carenza and sexy Dante is sure to make readers’ pulses race!

As delicious as the finest Neapolitan ice cream, A Moment on the Lips is another unmissable treat from the talented Kate Hardy!

You can read the complete review here. Thank you, Julie.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas starts here...

Current work: on holiday
Listening to: Christmassy stuff
Reading: Rachel Hore, A Gathering Storm (enjoyed very much–good characterisation, and although I did guess the twist I was fascinated to see how it happened)

Christmas for me actually started on Friday, when the children broke up. The book is in; lovely ed says she’ll get back to me in the new year, so I have Christmas off. (I had last Christmas off, too, but it wasn’t for a nice reason. This Christmas is going to much calmer and happier.) Had ‘early Christmas’ yesterday with bestest family. Not sure any of us is going to eat for the next week (says she, planning to scoff the Wensleydale with cranberries as an omelette filling to go with a salad at lunchtime). Daughter was happy as we played Quelf with her (and we have come to the conclusion that the people who wrote the questions were either on something or asked random stuff to a bunch of very imaginative 10-year-olds). Amyway, it was fun.

There were some really good dramas on TV yesterday (aka some much-needed well-filling). Caught the last half of ‘Lost Christmas’, which put a lump in my throat (and I thought was beautifully structured as well as beautifully acted – I didn’t realise how good Eddie Izzard is), and all of ‘Just Henry’ (again, nicely acted and a real slice of life in 1950; although we’d all pretty much worked out the truth well before it was revealed, it was enjoyable). We were going to watch ‘Young James Herriot’, but it started with animal cruelty (meaning I had to go and make a cup of tea) and after that it didn’t grab us. Joy of joys, DH switched over to a lovely nerdy science programme and stayed there instead of flicking channels. I love the way Brian Cox presents things and could watch him all night – not sure if it’s his enthusiasm or the effortless way he simplifies some very deep concepts that I like most. Although some of the quantum stuff lost me (mainly the more advanced maths notation), I really enjoyed it.

Today is a sad anniversary for me – I lost my mum 25 years ago today. I still miss her terribly and am sad about all the things we didn’t get to share. But I have wonderful memories of her – she was incredibly brave, she was patient and kind, she was great company and open to talk about anything in the universe. I was privileged to have her for nearly 21 years. God bless you, Mum.

I’m over at the PHS today doing what’ll probably be my last ever MOM slot (I get a foodie slot every month next year, yeehah). Have repeated my subject. Yeah, yeah, we all know who I picked. Enjoy, and merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Harlequin's open house

Current work: medical (very near the end now)
Listening to: Joe Bonamassa (mainly ‘Sloe Gin’)
Reading: next on TBR

Harlequin's annual open house is today - do drop in and chat to the authors, because there are a lot of prizes (signed books etc) up for grabs :) Link to the main page is here – I’m on the Presents and Medical parties if you want to come and say hello, and am of course giving away books…

Monday, December 12, 2011

slight overindulgence...

Current work: medical (very near the end now)
Listening to: Joe Bonamassa (mainly ‘Sloe Gin’)
Reading: next on TBR

Lovely weekend. Christmas lunch out on Friday; then my best friends from uni came up on Saturday for the weekend. That meant Christmas dinner with the trimmings and my strawberry tiramisu in lieu of Christmas pud (dog was NOT happy about the crackers and sulked on our bed); much talking, much laughing, DH in charge of the music (he made us listen to Ritchie Blackmore’s Christmas CD, but received many insults for this), much eating of chocolate (DH was by far the worst culprit – and yes, honey, I’m aware you’re reading this), much game-playing (Quelf is very bizarre but very funny), much reminiscing about student days and when the kids were tiny, playing guitar duet with daughter, and have I mentioned much talking and laughing?

Oh, and the cheese.

Note to self: next time, do not sit next to the Brie and the nice water biscuits with black pepper. (The word ‘slight’ in the title is indeed litotes.)

Today: back to real life, and I have a screaming deadline. I’m gone. Have a nice day!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

bit of news...

Current work: medical
Listening to: Joe Bonamassa (specifically ‘Sloe Gin’ – love this track)
Reading: next on TBR

Still on deadline. Trying quite hard not to distract myself with lusting over the iMac. So I asked my ed a slew of questions, and got the answer to one of them: the title for my 50th M&B. ‘The Hidden Heart of Rico Rossi’ will be out as a Modern in the UK in Aug; US and Aus dates still tbc.

Tomorrow is Christmas lunch with my mates (rather happier than last year, when I only made it there halfway through as we’d been talking to the vicar about my dad’s funeral in the morning, and then I got caught in a huge traffic jam).

We also have our ‘early Christmas’ weekend with two of the children’s godmothers, meaning proper Christmas dinner and trimmings and crackers (and strawberry tiramisu in lieu of Christmas pud). Wine, chocolate, reminiscing about our student days and when the kids were tiny, probably some guitar/piano playing, board games, and way too much talking. I have some presents to wrap plus two rooms that look an utter tip and need tidying printo (yup, my office doubles as a guest room – if I had an iMac, my desk would be tidy and there wouldn’t be a million wires looking scruffy, would there?) (and yes, I am talking myself into this).

And I have a deadline. So it’s back to the typeface for me. :o)

Monday, December 05, 2011

screaming deadline

Current work: medical
Listening to: Bach
Reading: next on TBR

… so blogging might be a bit erratic this week. Quiet weekend, as it was the first anniversary of Dad’s death on Saturday. Probably not the best of times to finish off the Christmas shopping (i.e. when I’m out of sorts, I’m a bit of a spendthrift), and especially not the best of times for DH to make me go into the Apple shop. Or to let me have a long conversation with the sales staff.

Royalties were not *quite* as bad as I expected; sadly, they’re not good enough for a research trip next year (about which I am not happy, because I really, really, REALLY want to go back to Paris). But, given that my PC is a bit elderly and reacted rather badly to a mini power cut last week (and would’ve given me grey hair, had I not already dyed it red), a new computer is a necessary business expense to keep me working through 2012. I’d rather make the change BEFORE the stress of this one giving up the ghost while I’m in the middle of a book; the last two times I've ended up with a panic.

I just have to decide whether to get another PC built, or whether to go for a Mac. I want something that’s reliable, robust, quiet and intuitive, and that lets me work with the process that suits me. (Apple will migrate all my data across, just as my lovely PC tecchies always have.) More thought required. (Not to mention emailing my writer mates who have made the switch, to find out if they regretted it or not. Most of them are glad they did it...)

Friday, December 02, 2011

thank you, cover fairies

Current work: medical

Listening to: Bach

Reading: next on TBR

I still don’t know what the UK cover of ‘The Ex Who Hired Her’ looks like, but I’ve see the US one on Amazon and I’m thrilled with it.

The mini-series title is ‘The Ex Files’. As I was a major X-Files fan back in the day (and own the entire box set), that has pleased me too.

My working title for the book was ‘One Night in Venice’. And lovely, lovely Venice is indeed on the cover. With a view of the Grand Canal. (I’ve been poring over my photos of our Venice research trip, trying to spot the view. Hmm. Is that our hotel on the right? Possibly not, because there was a lovely breakfast terrace.) And the hero and heroine are on a balcony, just as I’d written in the book. (OK, so my scene was at night, but…)

Thank you, cover fairies. I love, love, LOVE my cover.

Oh, and the second of my French duo is out in France today. How cool is that? :o)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

December already?

Current work: medical
Listening to: Kate Rusby (not the best idea, because ‘Who Will Sing Me Lullabies’ had me sobbing this morning – this weekend last year was a really, really sad one, and as it’s coming up to the first anniversary of my dad’s death and the twenty-fifth anniversary of my mum’s death, I’m a teensy bit out of sorts right now)
Reading: next on TBR

What is an author’s life really like? Well, this is my current to-do list:

  • Wordcount for today: not yet, but must NOT be slack this afternoon

  • Print out copy of slides as aide-memoir for talk: tick

  • Get coolest prop in the world (aka son’s gas mask) : tick

  • Put on a bit of make-up so won’t embarrass daughter by being in scruffy author mode for today's talk to Year 6 about growing up in the second world war: tick

  • Print out address labels for Christmas cards: tick (no, I’m not showing off - I’ve had this organised since the kids were tiny and it saves SO much time, not having to hand-write every address - is our household normal in that the male of the house never writes any cards and leaves it all to his wife?)

  • Think about wrapping Christmas presents: tick (note it says think about, not do – am trying to work out who I can co-opt into helping with my most hated chore of the festive season, i.e. someone who will help rather than hinder. In other words, not DH)

  • Think about tidying office: tick (note, think about, not actually do – but it has to be done by next Friday)

  • Think about book: tick (see item right above this one)

  • Wake dog because he’s whimpering in his sleep: tick (he’s giving me really reproachful looks)

Righty – that’s me off to school to go strut my funky stuff. And this afternoon I am really going to focus on the book. Even if I have to handwrite the thing and then dictate it on Dragon to get myself kick-started again.