Monday, October 29, 2012

half term, and the joys of cake

Current work: new Cherish
Listening to: nothing because the troops are home
Reading: Lilian Darcy, Daddy on Her Doorstep (enjoyed)

Half term. And it’s a manic one, filled with birthday celebrations, school trips abroad, Hallowe’en, and somehow shoe-horning in all the other things that need doing (including, for the fourth month running, trying to sort out the wretched endowment policy – it’s so annoying that ‘the system can’t cope’ – and it’s even more annoying having to do it with a croaky voice). Hopefully I can shake off this virus and will be back at the gym later this week, but at the moment I’m really missing my sessions.

Anyway. Have a nice Monday, and here’s a cake picture to bring a bit of sparkle – literally!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

lurigifed AGAIN - and new hair

Current work: outline
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: Christina Courtenay, The Silent Touch of Shadows (enjoying)

Stupid o’clock last night saw me coughing with a sore throat, so no gym for me this morning (sigh). Given that I’m eating properly, I’m exercising and I’m taking vitamins, I’m a bit put out that I’ve caught a second cold so quickly after the last one. Still.

New hair last night. I’m very pleased with the colour (Louise always does a great job).

Plan for today: work, and get rid of this incredibly annoying cough.

Monday, October 22, 2012

seaside, sunset, and do I bite the bullet?

Current work: outline
Listening to: Beethoven

Reading: Always the Best Man, Fiona Harper (loved it – as always, great characterisation and witty dialogue)

Sort of busy and sort of lazy weekend. Beautiful skies on Saturday.

Sunday, I had a yen for the sea. The tide was right in, so we didn’t actually get to walk on the beach itself, but the sea air and the sound of the waves was enough to clear my head.

And then we picked up a few bags of gravel on the way home – yay, my exhaust doesn’t scrape on the pavement any more :o) DH has been talking for a while now about getting some decent running shoes, so as the shoe shop is in the garden centre complex, we went in to have a look and I bought the shoes he liked as part of his Christmas present. (He always gets one big present early. Birthday or Christmas, he always decides about 6 weeks before and he does the Shrek eye thing. Same when he wanted an iPod, same with the satnav. Or maybe I’m just over-indulgent.)

As for biting the bullet, I’m about to cave on the e-reader front. My original argument for buying the iPad was that I could use it as an e-reader, but I just don’t – I end up checking email or working instead. And it’s too heavy really to be comfortable as a reader. The iPod is too small for my middle-aged eyes (!). And although I do prefer the feel of a paper book, I am getting a bit short of shelf space (partly my own fault for not sorting out my foreign editions and just stacking them up on the shelves regardless – this will be a project for the Christmas hols, I think). I know it’s going to make me stuck to one retailer (and it’s never good for the consumer when one retailer has such huge dominance – fine for now while they’re still building said dominance, but not once it’s achieved) but at the moment, it’s looking like the Kindle Paperwhite.

Plan for today was to work on the new book, but there was a burst pipe at school, so the kids are home. Cough, bad parent didn’t have her phone switched on – but having said that I was in the building next door, so all they had to do was walk into reception and wait for me, or alternatively ring the gym and ask to speak to me and I would’ve told them to walk next door and meet me. (Eyeroll.)

I did suggest taking them swimming. No. Am a bit tempted to skive off and go to the cinema... but it's misty and murky outside, so I think their plans might involve the X-box and hot chocolate.

Friday, October 19, 2012

perfect day

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

So I did it. Just to prove that I did it, here is the pic of my desk after I tidied it yesterday. (Several bits of paper, a set of guitar strings, a notepad and a book have crept onto it since then.) I've also updated my project list, so everything feels calm and ordered and organised again.

And today is pretty much a perfect day. I had a REALLY good session at the gym this morning – the manager trained me today (first time I’d worked with him), and I learned quite a lot from him. Firstly, that the stability ball works better than millions of sit-ups for core work (and I enjoyed it – it wasn’t complicated, but it was challenging and I’d like to do more work on that). Secondly, that when I do interval training I need to make the slow bits MUCH slower, to get that big change in heart rate (which is more effective than elevating it all the time). He might be the first person in history to get me to slow down :o)

I’m working on a new outline today (and tinkering with another). As I’m a planner, this is one of my favourite parts of writing a book – the beginning, where all things are possible.

And I have Shakespeare tonight. (RSC, at the Theatre Royal in Norwich – with son.)

So even though it’s drizzly and unpleasant outside, today is just a lovely, lovely day (and I hope I haven’t just jinxed myself and made the stressors in my life flare up!).

Have a nice weekend :o)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

busy week

Current work: tidying desk – then on to M&B 55 (Cherish/Romance) and outline for the other book I'm working on
Listening to: Daughtry
Reading: Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus (very good – really enjoyed the world-building, and the descriptions of the circus were fantastic in all senses of the word)

Tuesday was London. Not the best journey there as we had a replacement train, which meant no comfy seat and table to work at, so I read all the way there instead of working on an outline. (That was a treat, but also meant I was out of reading material for the journey home!) Also used a different way to get across London – instead of taking the District line and changing at Earl’s Court, I went to Bank, took the Waterloo and City line to Waterloo, then went by overground. Much quicker and easier.

Had a very good meeting with my editor and know what I’m doing now for the next few months – it’s good to be focused. Lovely lunch, too – warm beetroot and goats’ cheese salad followed by chargrilled salmon and ratatouille, and a glass of Chablis. (Notice, no pudding. I was SO good.) Headed for the Barbican, but sadly didn’t get to see the Rain Room as the queue was two hours (even at 4pm, when I expected it to be a bit flat) and I would’ve missed my train home. Still. Had coffee with bestest cousin, then toddled back to Liverpool Street to discover that the two trains before mine had been cancelled due to a tree on the line. Eep. Had a chat with the staff at the station (who were lovely, helpful, and could teach the grumpy lot at Cambridge last month a great deal about how to treat customers properly) and I was in luck – my train was still scheduled.

London always tires me out – I think it’s the travelling. (I walked more than 15k steps on Tuesday.) But I dragged myself into the gym on Wednesday morning - first time for a week and a half, thanks to the lurgy - and felt a lot better for it. I was supposed to be tidying my desk yesterday, but in the couple of days after finishing a book my head’s always a bit busy – lots of ideas dancing round and I find it a bit difficult to settle to anything. (And my hero is back to writing songs in my sleep. Didn’t think anyone would appreciate me working it out on the piano at 5am yesterday morning or this morning, though. Dear Muse, we need a chat about your working hours.) I did however book most of the things I'm meant to be sorting out (Christmas meals, birthday treats, etc) so it wasn't a totally skivy day.

Dance class last night was great; first half was the waltz, and then in the second we did a new step for the cha cha cha (i.e. our absolutely favourite dance).

Plan for today: tidy desk. Not my favourite occupation, but it needs doing before I can really sit down and get going on the new book(s). And I have Shakespeare to look forward to tomorrow – the RSC is touring Julius Caesar and I have tickets for Grumpy Teen and me. (Daughter is too young. But give it a year and if there's a traditional Twelfth Night or Much Ado, I'm tempted to take her.)

Monday, October 15, 2012

finished - and a lesson learned

Current work: just sent Medical (aka M&B 54) to editor
Listening to: Corelli
Reading: Robyn Carr, Shelter Mountain

Some books really are like pulling teeth. This one’s been difficult, to say the least. My hero and heroine both went stubborn and difficult on me, and everything went like treacle. I learned something from it: if it isn’t working, think about whose point of view you’re using. Sometimes rewriting it from the other’s POV works; or sometimes it crystallises your thoughts and sorts out the problem in the original POV. (Note – don’t delete anything. Cut and paste, and save it in a separate file.)

Can’t remember much of the weekend, as I was still suffering from the lurgy. Apart from watching Felix Baumgartner’s jump (we were all transfixed – loved the colour of the sky that high up) and Downton Abbey (no spoilers here, but if you’ve seen it you’ll guess that, from the books I write, I spotted what was going to happen. I’ve used that as a hero conflict in the past). Maggie Smith’s acting was SUPERB and it made me cry.

Righty. I ought to tidy my desk, now. But I need to print out directions for London tomorrow (not for going to my publisher’s in Richmond, though I probably do need to look that up to remind me because it’s been ages since I went to the office, but for the Barbican, because I think I have time between seeing my ed and seeing bestest cousin to drop in to a certain art installation. And hope the queues have died down a bit!). And I need to paint my nails. And charge my phone and iPad, and dig out the right handbag (the one that fits the iPad, a book and my reading glasses, now I am middle-aged and need them). I have however booked my taxi, so that’s one thing to tick off the list…

Friday, October 12, 2012


Current work: Medical (aka M&B 54)
Listening to: Vivaldi cello concerti
Reading: Robyn Carr, Shelter Mountain

Still lurgified and missing the gym. And it’s a dull, damp day here today. But there is something nice to cheer me up: the orchid that Michelle Styles sent me for my birthday last year is blooming again :o) The colours are lovely, so I thought I’d share to brighten up the day of anyone else stuck in this damp, miserable weather.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Current work: Medical (aka M&B 54)
Listening to: Lucy Rose, Like I Used To
Reading: Robyn Carr, Shelter Mountain

Lurgy is still winning, but I am getting there. Managed dance class last night, and lovely teacher Donna emailed me beforehand to let me know that my shoes had arrived.

Proper dance shoes do make a difference. The bottoms are suede, so it helps you move on a dance floor. And the buckles are easy-release (they look impressive, when on, but you can take them off in two seconds flat).

Note, I am the romance author who lets the side down because I don’t have many pairs of shoes – the ones I scuff around in every day, a pair of good running shoes, two posh (ish) pairs that do duty for author dos/lecturing, and a pair of spotty wellies. But I also have dancing shoes, now :o) And they are incredibly comfortable. It feels as if you're dancing on air.

These ones also remind me a bit of my wedding shoes, because they’re satin and the heel is identical. (Wedding shoes were obviously not this colour - they matched my dress - and were a plain court shoe.) And they have arrived at a serendipitous moment in the current book, as I've just moved a scene or two around. And yes, I have managed to get ballroom dancing into a Med :o)  (Dear ed, look away.)

So what are your favourite shoes?

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

lurgy city

Current work: Medical (aka M&B #54)
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Robyn Carr, Shelter Mountain

Lurgy city here – unfortunately the cold has decided to go to my chest, so I’m coughing. Icky stuff. Am a bit disappointed because I’ve really been looking after myself properly, been eating superfoods (which are supposed to help prevent it), and am drinking manuka honey and lemon, so I was hoping that it would go swiftly and not hang around. I don’t have time for this right now and I have a business meeting in London next week, so I need to be feeling better. (Hmm. How come I always end up getting the lurgy the week before a meeting with my editor?)

No gym for me until the cough goes (on their instructions) – and I am SO fed up because I enjoy my workouts. But it would be stupid to push myself and make this thing drag on even more.

And then I managed to knock a nearly-full bottle of olive oil off the shelf, which smashed all over the kitchen floor. (How does broken glass manage to cover such a huge area?) My mop broke at the weekend so it was a clean-up on hands and knees with lots of kitchen roll. (I am now sporting plasters. Luckily I managed to keep the dog away from the mess, so we have no cut paws or noses to deal with.) And of course the Dyson was full (floors are not normally my job, but obviously I wasn’t going to leave this one for DH).

Gah. I give up. Stewing in self-pity is pointless, so it's back to work for me. (Or maybe... can we start Tuesday again, please?)

Monday, October 08, 2012

The party's over...

Current work: Medical (aka M&B #54)
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Robyn Carr, Shelter Mountain

After two months or so of celebrations, the party’s finally over!

I’d like to say thank you very much to all my writer friends who’ve been so generous with their time (despite having deadlines of their own) and wrote blog posts and offered giveaways to help me celebrate the publication of my 50th M&B – that’s made it so special. And thank you also to all the readers who came here to say hello (including the ones who lurked, too shy to say anything – honestly, there’s no need to be afraid here because I’m a great believer in kindness and friendship rather than snarkiness).

And also a quick apology – sorry, I’ve been a bit tardy on sorting out the prizes, but I will sort it out later today! (Deadline, school stuff, London, lurgy… real life sometimes does get in the way. Best intentions and all that.)

Normal service will be resumed tomorrow…

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Winner - Lesley Cookman, Murder in Steeple Martin

First name drawn from the hat for ‘Murder in Steeple Martin’ – Mary Preston. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!

Friday, October 05, 2012

50th party blog guest - Carol Hedges

Carol Hedges is a new friend, and I met her a few months ago on Facebook when I was asking for recommendations for books for my daughter. Actually, my daughter really enjoyed Carol's Spy Girl series, and Carol and I are discovering more things in common as we talk on social media/email. (This is what I really, really like about social media – at its best, it does bring people together.)

Over to Carol:

How Social Media Changed My Life.

Thank you, Kate. Recently I went to a meeting of the RNA London Chapter. I sat next to a not-yet-published writer, and in the course of a drink or three, got chatting about the inexorable rise of Social Media.

'Not for me,' she said, pulling a face. 'I can't imagine why anybody would want to go on Twitter or Facebook. As for having a blog - who on earth would read it?'

Now I'm a very polite person (yes, really) so I didn't bend her ear, or call her out, but I think her attitude is waay wrong. As a writer, you must embrace Social Media, or you will sink without trace, and without sales.

This is what I use:

1. My Blog: Set up in May this year. This is my personal area, where I waffle on happily about life, the universe and daft stuff that happens to me. People get to know me as a person. They read my bio. All my books are here, with links to Amazon. If you like someone, chances are you'll want to read their novels. Also, I regularly invite other writers to guest on the digital Pink Sofa, especially if they have a new book out. My blog is my shared and sharing space.

2. Twitter: Joined six weeks ago. It's a great way to meet new people - though funny things do happen: I use my e-book cover as my avatar, and am currently being followed by a couple of male writers who clearly think I am young, pretty and blonde. LOL, as they say. People you follow will retweet links to your books/blogs to their followers. Some tweeters have 1,000s of followers. Do the maths. I tweet three sessions a day, make sure I return all favours, and I chat far more than I promote.

3. Facebook: I've had a Facebook page for several years. Here I post links to interesting articles on writing, reviews of my books, and bits and pieces about how the new novel is going. Or not. People add their comments. I comment on what they're up to. Also, if a friend needs advice, or just a digital hug, I'm there for them.

I used to think social media wasn’t for me. How wrong I was. If you are still debating whether to launch yourself into cyberspace, I'd say: go for it.

You will sell books - a lot more books. But most of all, you will meet some of the nicest, funniest, most supportive people on the planet, and they will help you, 'friend you, and stand by you when the going gets tough - and I know Kate will agree totally on this.

Carol Hedges is the author of 11 published novels for teenagers and YA. Her writing has received much acclaim. Her latest novel Jigsaw Pieces has just been published on Amazon Kindle.

Carol lives in Hertfordshire. She has one grown up daughter, one husband, two cats, and an awful lot of fish. She drives a customized pink 1988 Citroen 2CV called Annie-Rose.

You can find out more about Carol at her website
or on her blog at
Or talk to her on Facebook at
Or follow her on Twitter @carolJhedges

Winner - Sue MacKay, Every Boy's Dream Dad

First name drawn from the hat for ‘Every Boy’s Dream Dad’ – Mia. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

50th party blog guest - Lesley Cookman

I’ve known Lesley Cookman through the RNA for years and years, and I adore her Libby Serjeant series. (There was much cheering in this house when she got the call!) Lesley also writes pantomimes (how awesome is that?), and I love it when she sends me links on YouTube to bits of her shows.

Over to Lesley:

I’ve known Kate since she first got “the call” from HMB, when we were both members of the same online group, so I’m delighted to be able to celebrate her 50th with her, and very flattered to be asked.

Although we are still both members of the same organisation, the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I don’t write romance. I write very light mystery novels, called in the US “cosy crime”, a term which is gradually being adopted in the UK. They are books where the crime happens “off-stage” and there is almost more focus on the characters than the crime, easy in my case as I write a series with a whole village full of regular characters. Think Rebecca Shaw with murder!

My series character, Libby Sarjeant, is a former actor in her mid-fifties who paints touristy pictures for a local gallery and helps run the local community theatre. Libby has remained in her mid-fifties for a long time now, which occasionally throws the reader trying to make sense of the past, but I claim authorial privilege. There are series characters of all ages, genders and sexual orientation, so something for everybody, I hope.

However, for all the lightness, murder is a serious subject, and I have tackled some fairly grim themes, such as violent homophobia and illegal immigration. My poor police force are probably the most unrealistic element in the books, as Libby rides roughshod over them, so I have taken to apologising to all police forces in the front of every book.

If any of Kate’s readers would like to see what Libby’s books are like, there will be a paperback copy of the first in the series on offer, in the all new rejacketed B format. Welcome to Steeple Martin!

You can find out more about Lesley at her website or her blog at
Or talk to her on Facebook at
Follow her on Twitter @LesleyCookman

Winner - Louisa George, Waking Up with his Runaway Bride

First name drawn from the hat for ‘Waking Up with his Runaway Bride’ – Eli Yanti. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

50th party blog guest - Sue MacKay

Sue Mackay is a relatively new friend – I met her on the M&B author loop when she sold her first Medical Romance, which came out last year. Like Louisa, she’s in New Zealand, so I haven’t met her in person yet. But I was having a rough day last week when she emailed me a picture for her that really made me smile, for all the right reasons. (You'll see it below. By the way – his name is Wilson. From the Tom Hanks movie.)

Over to Sue:

I love to travel and recently have been lucky enough to indulge this passion quite a bit. For Kiwis just getting out of our country is a bit of a haul, but well worth the effort.

Two years ago I, along with my husband, visited Rarotonga, Cook Islands, for the wedding of our close friends’ son. Nearly forty of us made the trip and we rented houses in Muri. We shared a house with six others, including the groom’s parents so our house became the party house. Barbecues were a regular feature, for the groom and his mates, for the wedding party, and for an after wedding function.

We had a lot of fun. I learnt to ride a motor scooter. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I rode one but my parking skills were horrendous and the gardens suffered greatly. Hibiscus bushes don’t look quite so attractive with a scooter and me slammed into the middle of them.

The wedding was beautiful, taking place right on the edge of the beach. The backdrop was the lagoon while further out breakers crashed against the reef. The reception was held in a restaurant hanging out over the beach. The Bride was stunning while the men in the wedding party wore open necked shirts, fitting trousers and jandals. Very island-ish. [Edit from Kate - that isn't a typo - before I made an idiot of myself and asked Sue, I looked them up! Jandal = short for Japanese Sandal. It's a Kiwi thing :o)]

Quite a few Kiwis go to this fabulous island for their wedding, which, as a romance writer had my head tossing up stories non stop. One night, at a restaurant, my girlfriend asked every young woman in the dining there what her name was because I was looking to name my heroine.

Wilson :o)

We loved Rarotonga so much we visited again a year later, taking our adult family with us. On this trip I visited the hospital and various other locations for my story, and finally Every Boy’s Dream Dad was written. I loved writing this book. The words flew off my fingertips. The wedding at the end of the book has many elements of the wedding we attended. And there’s no going past the magical setting.

So who knows where my next story will be set, but one thing’s for sure, I’ll enjoy the research.

Do you like to travel? Where’s your dream destination?

I have a copy of Every Boy’s Dream Dad to give away to someone with a great place to visit.

Sue MacKay
HM&B Medical
You can find out more about Sue at her website

Winner - Susan Carlisle, The Nurse he Shouldn’t Notice

First name drawn from the hat for ‘The Nurse he Shouldn’t Notice’ – Jo Lambert. Please contact me kate(dot)hardy(at)btinternet(dot)com with your details, and I'll get everything sorted :o) Thanks for taking part!