Saturday, 27 March 2010

Bathing Divadog & Other To Do Jobs

Sometimes you just have to do things that make you unpopular. Last night I bathed the divadog. As you can see from the grumpier-than-usual expression, he was not remotely impressed with my efforts. Someone has to be the baddie though, and strangely enough when it comes to bathing, I'm reminded that 'he's your dog', whereas when he's being all cute and cuddly, he's the family pet.

So, after spending two hours on my Wip - I've now reached 10,000 words and really getting in the swing of things - then having to spend another two hours studying for my exam. Groan, the less said about that the better. I thought, as I'd been promising to bath Himself that I should jolly well get on and do it.

As you can tell from this last picture, which was taken after he'd been blow-dried, he's still seriously put out by the entire experience. You'd think he'd be used to being bathed by now. Obviously not.

Now, at least, he's clean and I can get on with my WiP; a couple of reviews I need to do; preparing a short story; more studying (sigh) and spending some quality time with my family.

Have a great weekend, oh and don't forget to put your clocks forward one hour tonight.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

It's Little Black Dress Day at Novelicious

Today it's Little Black Dress day over at Novelicious where you'll find my reviews on these two books:

Blue Remembered Heels by Nell Dixon, who recently won the RNA Love Story of the Year at the Romantic Novelists Association's 50th Anniversary Awards Lunch last week with her book Animal Instincts.

and Trick Or Treat by Sally Anne Morris.

Both thoroughly enjoyable books.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

It's The Weekend

I'm so excited. My boy (well, he's not exactly a boy any more) is arriving home from uni this afternoon. Grumps will be escstatic to see him and after screeching - I think he thinks he's barking - and bouncing around the hall to show J how delighted he is to have him back home, he'll then start showing off by rolling on the floor.

Thankfully the time should pass fairly quickly before J arrives home as I have a busy day ahead. This morning I'm going to a friend's for tea/coffee and the lightest, tastiest cupcakes ever made. She is a cupcake genius and occasionally will bring in a baker's tray with 100 of them to the office. She's invited a group of us who work together to her house to catch up with two friends who left our company a couple of months ago, so it should be a fun few hours.

Then I'll do the usual food shopping, before working on my WIP. I'm taking Julie Cohen's advice from the interview she kindly gave me for Novelicious, and allowing myself to 'write crap'. It's definately helping, and although I'd like to sit down and write the perfect first draft, I can safely relax in the knowledge that it isn't going to happen. So, I'm going to concentrate on getting the story down on my laptop and will take it from there. I'm loving it though and have a hard time shifting my characters from my brain when I go to bed, so that I can sleep.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

St Patrick's Day & Pure Passion Awards

Happy St Patrick's Day. All my grandparents were born in Ireland, apart from my paternal grandmother who was born in India as her father was stationed there with the 17th Lancers. However, despite having so much Irish blood coursing through my veins, I've never actually visited there, but fully intend doing so, at some point. Naturally, the fact that I've never visited my ancestral roots doesn't stop me from celebrating today.

Yesterday was the Romantic Novelist Association's 50th Anniversary Pure Passion Awards Lunch hosted by Barry Norman, where Maeve Binchy and Joanna Trollope were both awarded Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The Romantic Novel of the Year was won by Lucy Dillon's Lost Dogs & Lonely Hearts. The Love Story of the Year was won by Nell Dixon’s Animal Instincts, published by Little Black Dress. To find out more about the awards please go here.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to go as I had a client arriving yesterday afternoon for meetings this morning, and as much as I would have gone to London for the Lunch, I couldn't risk not being back for dinner last night at Longueville Manor, which I have to admit was fabulous. Each course was presented like a work of art on the plate and tasted heavenly. I have to admit that the meal did go a little way to compensate me for missing out on such a great day in London, but only a very little way.

The RNA events are always well organized and great fun. I'll just have to look forward to the Conference in July, which is the weekend before I take an exam for work. The exam is, wait for it, Trust Creation: Law & Practice Exam, and yes, it's as interesting as it sounds...

Monday, 15 March 2010

School Lunches & My So-Called Afterlife

Faye at Summit Musings is hosting the Fun Monday and the topic is School Lunch Memories. I went to a convent from the age of four until I was twelve and to be honest, the worst part of school for me was the school lunches with each meal consisting of a piece of grey, tasteless meat - shiver - and well, yes, grey, tasteless vegetables.

It was such a relief when I was allowed to take my own sandwiches, which were generally a cheese slice between two pieces of white bread. That was it, no fruit, yoghurt, no salad, or health bar like my daughter always takes. In fact, I always wanted to have an Aero sandwich like one of my classmates, but my mother wouldn't hear of it. I can't say I blame her.

Helen at Bookersatz has posted my review of Tamsyn Murray's excellent book, My So-Called Afterlife. If you haven't read it, please go and have a look, it's a great book and well worth reading.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

An Education & My To Do List

For Mothers' Day, Sas kindly bought me the DVD of An Education and as she's with her father all weekend (this is a once a month event so I won't see her until Sunday evening) she gave it to me yesterday and said to watch the it when I wanted. So last night, I did and it was excellent. Carey Mulligan is such a talented actress and was so good in the film, as was Peter Sarsgaard and Dominic Cooper. Rosamund Pike looked so beautiful and the clothes she wore in the film were fabulous. I'll definately watch this again.

Thanks for all the comments both here and at Shedblog regarding my shed. I looked at the photos again and can't believe how much more I now have in the shed. In fact, dare I say it, in those photos the shed looks positively bare inside. I've now replaced the white plastic chair in the photos with a gorgeous pink Lloyd Loom chair; my laptop has been replaced by a smaller, Samsung NC10; there's more driftwood (though I'm not sure how that's supposed to help any writing efforts); more pictures and notes on the walls; and definately more paperwork on that back table.

This weekend I'm determined to do the following:
- Finish & send off next assignment
- Continue with my WIP
- Finish reading Luxury by Jessica Ruston - I'll be reviewing this book for Novelicious
- Plant 30 Primroses that Rob bought me last week in the garden - the shed and conservatory can have a couple too.

I submitted a short story to a magazine yesterday, which was vastly improved thanks to my on-line writing group and their helpful comments. Thank you ladies.

So what plans do you have for this weekend?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

It's Me!

This week it's International Women's Week and are posting guest posts from lady sheddies.

Guess who the guest blogger is today? Yes, it's me!

Please go here to have a look and do leave a comment if you feel like it. Thanks.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Lazing On A Sunday

Having felt a little downcast at the distinct lack of colour in my garden, I asked my husband to buy some Primroses so that I could plant them today in an effort to make the place look a little more Spring-like. He happily obliged, returning from his shopping spree with 30 plants - rather more than I had anticipated - and looking very pleased with my intention to do a little unexpected gardening.

Today, however, having opened the front door - yes, that was as far as I managed to get - and feeling how damn cold it was out there, despite the sun, I decided that the garden's loss would be my gain, and have spent a relaxing day reading in the conservatory, recovering from spending far too many £££s whilst clothes shopping for my daughter yesterday.

She has a sore throat, which I noticed didn't seem to hinder the amount of carrier bags she managed to carry to my car yesterday, before going to meet her friends for the afternoon. Mind you, she doesn't look or sound very well at all, so I'm not sure whether it's a good or bad thing that she starts three weeks work experience working in a pharmacy for Project Trident tomorrow morning.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Novelicious - LBD Day - Reviews & Interview

It's Thursday yet again, so that means it's Little Black Dress Day over at Novelicious, where, as well as other exciting things, you'll be able to read my interview with the lovely and talented, Julie Cohen, author of Nina Jones & The Temple of Gloom.

You'll also find a review of Tug of Love by Allie Spencer

Also, there's a review of The Love Boat by Kate Lace.

Happy reading.x

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Award & Being a Bad First Aider

Thank you to DJ Kirkby for passing this lovely, Prolific Blogger Award on to me. There are a few rules that come attached to it:
1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Not so sure how I'm going to get this down to only seven.
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

So, without further ado I'm going to pass it on to the following seven bloggers who regularly comment on my blog:
Chris Stovell
Melissa Marsh
Suzanne Jones
Shirley Wells
Kaye Manro

Having spent all day yesterday at a First Aid Refresher course, I stepped out of the office today, with my daughter, and saw that an old lady had fallen over and was sitting on the pavement.

"Quick, Mum," said Sas. "We have to help her."

We crossed the road and I have to admit - horrible person that I am - that I was relieved someone was already helping her and holding a hanky to the poor lady's bloodied head. I asked if she needed any help, but was assured that an ambulance had been called already.

Walking on towards the car park I said to Sas. "I suppose I should have put her in the recovery position, she did look rather unwell."

"Mum," said Sas pulling a face. "I think the poor old lady had more than enough to deal with without you wrestling her to the ground."


Monday, 1 March 2010

Blog Splash - Fiona Robyn, Thaw

I'm delighted to be taking part in the blogsplash for Ruth's diary, the new novel by Fiona Robyn, called Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Ruth's first entry is below, and you can continue reading tomorrow here.


These hands are ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the world.

I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave, reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me? I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact, I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours, concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.

I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it through. No-one can say; ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful girl, had everything to live for’, before adding that I did keep myself to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun.

Continue reading tomorrow here...