Thursday 29 May 2008

Beach, Book & Being Baffled

My sister phoned this morning asking if Grumps and I would like to join her and The Smalls (J, 3 yrs and G, 2 yrs) on the beach for a walk. It was beautifully sunny this morning (unlike now) and we spent nearly an hour paddling in the sea, whilst the children and dog got as wet as possible in all the rock pools. I then came back home and into the shed.

I'm nearly half way through editing RP now and I just worry that even though I may be enjoying it, how do I know that anyone else will? My brain was so busy plotting last night that I didn't get to sleep until 3am this morning and look as tired as I feel. It's still preferrable to being at work though.

Thanks to the changeable weather, I've managed to spend at least four hours each day working on RP and have still been out for the occasional meal with the others. Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who has no problem entertaining five teenagers and managing to get them home at the end of the day without too much bickering.

I've started reading Jill Mansell's, An Offer You Can't Refuse and as with all of her books, I'm loving it.

Monday 26 May 2008

Flying Lessons, Races & Shed Life

Occasionally when the boys are over we put together several hampers of food, load up R's car and go for a splendid afternoon of fun at Les Landes Racecourse. The spectacular view as you watch the magnificence of the horses thundering along the final straight as they gallop passed the ruins of Grosnez Castle with the picturesque background of France, Sark, Herm, Jethou and then Guernsey is a sight unsurpassable on a summer evening.

Unfortunately today we didn't go for several reasons. Firstly S-S No2 was to have a flying lesson at 2pm (race meeting starts at 2.30) but unfortunately although the weather here was glorious, the flight would have taken 2 hours and taken him to the coast of France and the weather there was not conducive to giving someone their first flying lesson.

Secondly, I was dumb enough to believe the weather forecast and although Les Landes is fabulous on a warm sunny day, it is so high and exposed, hence the beautiful views, that on a blustery rainy day it really isnt much fun to be stuck in a car with five teenagers, a miserable man and grumpy dog. So we missed out on a fun afternoon. Well, J didn't because he went anyway and met up with his friends because when you're sixteen and having fun, I don't think it matters what the weather's like.

I still enjoyed myself though and took the dog and S for a walk on the beach then spent the afternoon in the shed and forged ahead with the rewrite. I'm moving a little faster with it now and about time too. I'm desperate to move on to something new and my brain is working away on a plot that's falling into place, but I have to finish this first.

Sunday 25 May 2008

The Mole Man Cometh

Here's Grumpy proudly showing off his handiwork in the fight against the mole invasion. The hole doesn't look that big in the photo but it was about a foot deep and almost as big as him and despite his valiant efforts he caught absolutely nothing at all.

Later that day, I noticed the moles had changed tactics and were now on manouvers straight up the middle of the back garden, so whilst R was out I took matters in to my own hands and phoned the mole man who has now been given the responsibility of making my garden mole free. He's been coming since Friday, it's now Sunday and although I can see he's been again this morning, we still have the little critters doing their utmost to turn my once loved lawn into something resembling the Somme after battle.

R keeps wandering into the garden to inspect the mole man's progress and announcing that he's (so far) fairing no better than Grumpy, but I think R's simply miffed that someone else is now in charge of his garden, well the mole fighting part that is.

I've submitted a short story and am working on the rewrite and although I'm loving my characters, I'm battling with the plot right now and not sure whether I'm happy enough with it, so much more work is needed there still.

Happy Spring Bank Holiday to everyone, here's hoping we manage to get a little sunshine some time during the day.

Thursday 22 May 2008

Dark Chocolate, Oscar Puffin & Breaking up

R doesn't eat chocolate often but when he does it's always dark, so imagine his delight at receiving three bars of the new Galaxy from our friend A. He happily stashed it away and opened one bar a couple of days later stupidly leaving about a third of it on the kitchen worktop and assuming that as no-one else in the house likes dark chocolate that it would be waiting for him on his return. This is where I come in. I just happened to be passing on my way to the kettle when I spied this new bar and sampled the tiniest of bits. It was glorious and I don't like darker chocolate. So that was the end of his bar, not all at once you understand, but bit by scrumptious bit until all that was left was the torn wrapper. Don't feel sorry for him, he has two more to eat, which strangely enough I can't find.

For those of you that have connections with Jersey, you will know of Oscar Puffin. He is a large puffin who presents birthday announcements every day on Channel Television with a young chap. One of my colleagues recently took part in a driving scavengar hunt down to Monaco and another participant (the young chap who teams up Oscar Puffin) took the bird along for the journey. My colleague kidnapped the bird and brought it into work and has spent two lunchtimes taking photos of people with Oscar for a £1 a photo with all money going to Jersey Hospice. As lovely as this idea is, the thought of a) having my photo taken with the thing, b) having my photo taken at all, c) having to endure the entire company looking at my picture when they were emailed to everyone was just a little to much for me, so I ended up paying £1 not to have my photo taken. Yes, I know, I'm a coward.

I've broken up from work today for ten blissful days. Yay. R's three younger boys are coming on Saturday for a week but as teenagers they don't surface until lunchtime (the younger one actually does come to think of it). I fully intend making the most of the peaceful mornings and spending as much time in the shed as possible knocking this darn rewrite into some sort of acceptable shape. I'm now going to act as referree between J & S who are bickering and causing the dog to bark incessantly and when I've done that I'm going to hide in the shed - again.

Tuesday 20 May 2008

Race for Life, bumped bumper and phobic dog

I gather that our company has arranged for us all to wear matching pink t-shirts for Race for Life. I wouldn't mind if they were the same ones that we were given for another charity thing (can't remember for the life of me what it was but it was September-ish last year) however, I'm reliably informed (by a slight colleague) that the t-shirts are great and ... wait for it... slimfit ones. WHAT!!!! Do I look like someone who would chose to wear a slimfit t-shirt? For those of you who haven't had the pleasure(!) of seeing me in the flesh, I can honestly tell you right here and now that no, I am not. Well, I was once, but certainly not now.

I had every intention of losing a stone through all the training I was going to do for Race for Life but I wonder if you'll be surprised to hear that I've done only the teensiest bit. Well, my new office is further to walk from my parking space so I consider that extra exercise.

Talking of my parking space, I sauntered to my car yesterday when a man leaped out in front of me and told me that a woman had reversed into my car. I said an expletive and he recoiled in surprise, I obviously don't look like I use them, I suppose. Anyway, he also said that she was about to drive off until he told her that he thought she should at least leave me a note with her phone number. I checked the piece of paper under the windscreen wiper and she had in fact left her number. Insurance broker contacted, woman duly tracked down. Unfortunately, I have to go back to her tomorrow for her full details as she isn't english speaking, well, she can say sorry but didnt understand what I was saying when I asked for her details.

I shall give her another chance to figure out what I meant by her surname, address and policy number etc but if I have any further problems I shall cart along a workmate who also speaks Portuguese and sort the matter out. I am not easily deterred especially when it's my car that needs fixing.

Update on spider: The coast seems to be clear and I think I killed the swine stone dead with my bug spray. Annieye suggested letting Grumpy deal with the spider, which is a perfectly good idea. Unfortunately about two years ago I happened to see a spider race across the lounge floor quickly followed by Grumpy who had a wonderful second and a half play with it before I managed to find my vocal cords and scream like Jamie Lee Curtis in the original Halloween movie. The poor dog nearly had a heart attack and has since then been as terrified of the eight-legged monsters as I am. I know, I know. Poor little thing (the dog not the spider).

Sunday 18 May 2008

Pirates & Procrastination

R and I went to an eighteenth birthday party last night. No, we weren't trying to reclaim our youth but were invited as friend's of the birthday girl's parents. As there wasn't much parking near to their home they suggested that guests park in a public carpark about five minutes walk away. No problem, thought I until R and I had to walk past a hotel filled with guests enjoying their supper. By the sounds of the laughter, I think we were the evening's entertainment as they watched the pair of aging pirates stroll passed trying to look inconspicuous. Johnny Depp and Keira Knightly don't have any worries where we're concerned.

It was great fun even though I had a drop more rose than I should have and feel rather queasy today. Serves me right. It's not big and it's certainly not clever to drink more than you should. Oh well.

The other day I spied a monstrous spider sprinting along my window sill and nearly gassed myself by spraying bug spray in the shed before racing out and firmly locking the door behind me. I think and most definately hope that I've managed to kill off the hideous creature and any others lurking in the corners, eugh. I've been fairly productive yesterday and spent a happy couple of hours working on my rewrite in the shed but today is a time of lethargy and procrastination, I'm afraid. Tomorrow I shall give myself a mental talking to and get back to the shed and on with the job of sorting out this book.

Friday 16 May 2008


For some reason I'm in a bad mood today and the expression on my face looks even more miserable than the dog's and that takes some doing. I know that I'll be my usual chirpy self by this afternoon but right now I'm having one of those 'is my writing ever going to be good enough' kind of days.

I have cheered myself up a tad by entering this competition with Waterstones that I found on Calistro's blog and also at Denise's blog. It was great fun to do although as you can only submit once, I had to get my thinking cap on.

Right, I'm fed up of being so po-faced, so I'm going to totter down the pathway between a flowerbed that's in desperate need of weeding (but not today) and the vegetable patch that's sporting half dug rows of potatoes, just visible tops of carrots and some rather impressive looking onions.

Happy Friday, and here's hoping the sun comes back in time for the weekend.

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Size Does Matter & Punctuation Marks

Horror of horrors, our television is on the blink and has had to be taken away and naturally the man couldnt give us any idea when we can expect this back again. So we now have our bedroom tv in the lounge and watching it feels like I'm looking down a pair of binoculars the wrong way. R is somewhat amused at my despair as I was the one who argued against having a 42" tv in the first place. How fickle and easily swayed am I? I'm now longing to have the damn thing back again at some unknown point in the future.

I didn't realize that I hadn't blogged since Saturday. I have been visiting other blogs but had forgotten to post on mine. My excuse is that I've had some sort of bug (headaches and feeling sick) and been madly busy at work, then racing round after J (who is doing his Alevels at the moment) and S who seems to join in every activity that she is allowed to. The garden is still resembling a surreal cheeseplant at the moment. The dog is feigning exhaustion and I'm not surprised given that he's spent most of the past week digging for victory/the earth's inner core/moles?

To make this remotely writerly as I have nothing to report regarding progress on the rewrite (agonisingly slow), writing of short stories (even slower) etc, here is a little Blogquiz. Apparently I am a comma. I actually wanted to be a question mark but didn't manage to get my answers to get me one (if you get my drift), and it wasn't through lack of trying/cheating. In the end, I gave up and answered honestly, so I am a comma! Not madly exciting, is it? What are you?

You Are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.

You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.

You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.

(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark

Saturday 10 May 2008

Perfect Potatoes & Best Laid Plans

Yesterday morning (at the crack of dawn) R dug us some perfectly delicious new potatoes from our vegetable patch before going to work for a couple of hours. Some time later, I dragged myself out of my bed to let Grumpy outside to carry out whatever ablutions he felt necessary.

This is the sight that appeared behind me in the kitchen about ten minutes later. You can tell by his ears that he's fully aware that I will instantly know what he's been up to.

Never mind, thought I, this is something that I can sort out in no time at all. So, I traipsed out onto the overgrown lawn that was only cut two weeks ago and assumed that the heavy dew would wash Grumpy's short fluffy legs clean as he followed behind me.

Hell no! What actually happened was that I was distracted - unfortunately this happens only too easily to me - and he decided to go mole hunting, again!

This is the result of my bright idea to take a mole obsessed miniature schnauzer out for a walk in the garden.

Not one to be beaten, I then took him firmly by the lead and reached for my trusty watering can and tipped water over his legs and washed his face with handfulls of water.

He had a lovely time though and STILL hasn't succeeded in catching any moles, which secretly I'm pleased about as I couldn't bear the carnage. R on the other hand has taken to bellowing, "Your dog has dug another bloody hole again," several times a day. That mole has a lot to answer for and I wish it would find somewhere else to burrow.

Thursday 8 May 2008

Happy Liberation Day (9th May)

The weekend starts here as tomorrow is Liberation Day and therefore a bank holiday in Jersey. So Happy Liberation Day to all of you with connections here, especially Dan, Ma, Andrea, Gerry, Chris, Rob and Jen at Spiral skies. I've already had a phone call from R asking me to get his box of flags. We'll have the Jersey flag on the flagpole (he loves that thing) and a Union Jack (which R informs me is called something else, but I can't remember what) and another Jersey flag on the gate.

I'm not considered strictly local as my family, on my father's side, didn't come to the island until 1855. My mother was born in England. R was born here but his parents weren't so he isn't either. I don't care, I shall enjoy the day as a true local regardless of my foreign status. We usually take the dog for a walk somewhere and last year went and looked in a few bunkers, which were surprisingly interesting and eerie as they are so well preserved. To be honest, I groaned at first but as the rest of the family wanted to have a look I eventually gave in and followed suit.

Hopefully I shall also be able to get some writing done. If you haven't tried, it's worth having a look. I posted the first three chapters of BS and for every review you carry out for someone else, you also have a review of your own work, which is then rated. It's rather nervewracking when you receive an email telling you that you have a review as then you have to see what people think. You can edit your work at any time, if necessary. I've always found the criticism to be constructive and useful.

Have a great day.

Monday 5 May 2008

Meme, Margo & Rewrite

I was tagged by the lovely dj kirby to reveal 6 random facts about myself. I've done something similar to this before and had to think what to write.

Fact number one: When I was in my teens I spotted David Essex arriving at The Grand Hotel and raced up to him with my disposable camera and pretending to be a journalist, I asked for his autograph. Being a kind-hearted chap he signed the piece of paper I thrust in front of his nose and smiled at my plastic camera.

Fact number two: As an animal lover I have owned five horses, three dogs three cats and two rabbits and every time one has been sold (horses) or died (dogs, cats, rabbits) I have been so heart-broken that I've sworn never to have another pet again.

Fact number three: I was asked to leave the convent where I was a pupil from four till twelve years old. My father still refuses to say that I was expelled and insists that 'I was asked to leave'. Apparently, I was utterly charming but if I didn't want to do something nothing could make me do it. I have since met up many times with my ex-headmistress, a wonderful woman and pretty much a legend in her own life time, who unfortunately remembers me very well.

Fact number four: I can't ride a bicycle. Well, I can but very badly. When I was about six, I rode straight into a neighbour's wall and it hurt rather more than I had expected it to. I then had another go when I was about eighteen on my brother's racer and squeezed the front brake without bothering about the rear one and went straight over the handlebars. Nope, cycling is definately not for me.

Fact number five: I'm pretty good at DIY, mainly because we've spent several years doing up this house and so I can wield a paint brush, remove tiles (though not that brilliant and putting them back on again), work a compressor (yes the kangohammer things that they use in the road). Unfortunately with the compressor, I am not strong enough to lift it up but if it is stood up for me, I can then start it and work through layers of concrete with the best of them.

Fact number six: When doing the garden, DIY etc my husband's nick-name for me is Margo (a la The Good Life) because by the time I've put on gloves, boots, sun peak to keep out the sun, sun glasses and lipsalve, he thinks I look most amusing. Cheek!

I'd like to tag anyone who wants to have a go at this meme. You never know, you might remember some incident that will lead you to a plot or short story theme.

Thank you for all your good wishes for Grumpy. He still looks miserable but that's his natural expression and is feeling a little better now.

I'm working on a short story at the moment and trying to remember everything that I've read on plot structure, characters and I'm slowly getting there. The rewrite is moving along at snail pace and I'm up to the chapter on Plots in my Donald Maas book. Yes, I know I'm taking an age working through this book but hopefully most of his advice is finding a place in my brain where it will reside and I can remember it when necessary. I'm nothing if not a wishful thinker.

Friday 2 May 2008

Poor Him, Awards & Loglines

Look at poor Grumpy lying in his bed surrounded by his toys that S kindly placed there for him. I had booked him an appointment at the vet for his annual booster this morning and the vet ended up giving him a full medical.

Orange dye in a sore eye to check that it wasn't scratched. It wasn't but he does need cream administered to it three times a day for the next five days. A painful back causing him to shake (this happened sometime yesterday) and so he has to have a muscle relaxant for the next five days and a worming tablet because I haven't wormed him in the past six months (I thought it was annually). I couldn't pay at the surgery because the computers were down so no doubt I shall be getting a nasty shock in the post within the next few days.

Thanks to dj kirby for my gorgeous orange award for being this weeks Wordless Wednesday Caption Winner. I love the award and thoroughly enjoy this fun and beautiful blog.

Now I don't know about you but I don't often tell people that I write but when someone does unearth what exactly it is that I spend all those hours doing in the shed, I find that they invariably ask one of the following questions, 'Is it published?' and 'What's it about?'

So today, inspired by ray-anne's post a couple of weeks ago about Loglines, I decided it was about time I worked on mine for Bea Stings, Truth & Other Lies and Reading Paige because if I can't already tell you what my books are about in two sentences then I need to work out how I'm going to. Let's face it, I can hardly whip out a synopsis and quote from it whenever I'm asked these questions now can I? I'm fine-tuning them at the moment but producing loglines, like writing a synopsis, is far harder than it looks.

Here's to a relaxing and sunny bank holiday weekend.

Thursday 1 May 2008

More Books, Ideas & the Weekend

I have had an email from Amazon telling me that The Outcast by Sadie Jones is winging its way to me as I type. According to an interview with Amazon, the author says that The Outcast is about a boy called Lewis - his childhood and adolescence – as he grows up in the stultifying world of the home counties in the late forties and fifties. It is an everyday tale of drunkenness, violence and a fair amount of sex, set amongst the well-brought-up professional classes. It is also a love story. I can't wait to get reading.

Mind you, who am I trying to kid? You only have to go to the hall on the way to my room to see two towering piles of books waiting for my avid attention, along with three bookcases. I shall be honest here and admit that there is another rather large bookcase on the landing that you will have passed to get to the hall. In my room there are two piles on a chest and several by my bed. I have family coming for lunch on Sunday and am simply going to have to try and find more hiding places for all these books. It's getting embarrassing now and it's not as if I'm managing to read as many of these books as I would like to but I am still working through 'How to Write a Breakout Novel' and at least my rewrite is coming along well.

Early this morning at 1am, I was bemoaning the fact that however much I think of plots and characters, my brain is having some sort of shut down at the moment. I said to R, 'You don't think this is writer's block, do you?' He just snored in answer to my angst. I've always thought I don't believe in writer's block. What do you think? Does it exist or is it a myth?

All is not lost though because I think I've been saved by the funniest email I've ever read from Andrea who told me a hilarious story. Unfortunately, I was reading this email at work and guffawed just a little too loudly for it to have been work-related. Nevermind, I think it's done the trick and triggered a story in my head. Phew. Oh yes, I've got tomorrow off work so my weekend starts here. Yay.