Tuesday 29 December 2009

Resolutions & Builders' Tea

I received a text from my sister yesterday asking what resolutions I was going to make for 2010. I didn't have to give it much (any) thought, because they will be the same next year as they were this year and all to do with writing. I may add in the odd one about eating less chocolate, but know I won't keep it, so what's the point. (See how I quickly discounted that one?)

I do know that I'll be spending my time (when not with the family, or walking his Grumpiness) in the shed with a cup of tea by my side as I tap away at my shiny laptop in an effort to be as creative as my brain and determination can possibly make me.

Rob is a coffee drinker, but I drink copious cups of tea daily, and was thrilled to find out that I'd won six months supply of Builders' Tea. I can't wait to try it out.

There's a strange scratching/tapping sound coming from behind me. I'm going to have to go and investigate, but if I find something small and furry - that isn't the dog, or next-door's cat on a suicide mission (Grumps hates him) - you'll probably hear me scream from where you are.

PS, it was a mouse caught in a humane trap that Rob put there when he recently suspected we were being visited, but because it's behind boarding (like a false cupboard around the boiler) I didn't know anything about it. Panic calls have been made to Rob and wonderful step-son has now taken the poor mouse out to the field and let it go.

Tuesday 22 December 2009

Merry Christmas

Christmas is nearly here and apart from the last few bits I need to wrap - I'm sure I've forgotten someone, I usually do - I'm almost there.

Every other year I cook lunch for approximately 17 people, this year though is my quiet year when my two youngsters enjoy Christmas lunch with their father and Rob's boys spend Christmas with their mum.

On Boxing Day mine will be back, Rob's youngest arrives (weather permitting) on 27th and his oldest soon after, so it will be back to a pretty full house once more with Divadog yapping at their heels, chasing them up the stairs and generally getting on their nerves.
Talking of the grump, here's a picture of him watching the Strictly Finale last Saturday. You see, he's just as addicted to it as I am, well almost.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Saturday 19 December 2009

Nearly Christmas

Here's a picture of the wreath on my front door. It's actually made up from two old ones, but looks rather fetching I think.

We've had snow showers on and off for the past three days (coming up from France I think) and it looks lovely, though more green than white now that the sun has been shining today.

Yesterday driving to the hairdressers was nervewracking (one snowflake and everyone goes in to panic mode over here), people were phoning and cancelling every few minutes, but nothing can hold me back from my regular 'blonding' appointments. Even the dog was clipped, but we shan't focus on that as every time he sees me glancing at him he immediately starts shivering. I would worry, but he stops when he thinks I'm not looking. Such a diva.

The children are at their fathers this weekend and the husband (so wonderful) has just phoned asking me what I want for supper. He's a great cook and so I know that whilst I'm sitting in front of the fire with a glass of something cool in my hand, gazing trancelike at Strictly Come Dancing Finals, he'll be cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Bliss.

Right, I suppose I should go and finish working on my damn synopsis because much as I may wish it, the words won't magic themselves on to the page and write itself for me.

Monday 14 December 2009

RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010

The Romantic Novelist's Association have announced their longlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2010 with the winner being awarded this beautiful trophy.

The complete longlist are as follows:

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison - Alma Books
Passion by Louise Bagshawe - Headline Review
Beachcombing by Maggie Dana - Pan Macmillan
Fairytale of New York by Miranda Dickinson - Avon (Harper Collins)
Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon - Hodder & Stoughton
A Single to Rome by Sarah Duncan - Headline Review
A Mother's Hope by Katie Flynn - Arrow (Random Hse)
A Glimpse at Happiness by Jean Fullerton - Orion
10 Reasons Not to Fall in Love by Linda Green - Headline Review
Marriage and Other Games by Veronica Henry - Orion
The Glass Painter's Daughter by Rachel Hore - Simon & Schuster
It's the Little Things by Erica James - Orion
I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk - Harper
The Heart of the Night by Judith Lennox - Headline Review
The Italian Matchmaker by Santa Montefiore - Hodder & Stoughton
The Summer House by Mary Nichols - Allison & Busby
One Thing Led to Another by Katy Regan - Harper
The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks - Little Brown (Sphere)
Last Christmas by Julia Williams - Avon (Harper Collins)
The Hidden Dance by Susan Wooldridge - Allison & Busby

The shortlist of six novels will be announced on 11 February 2010 with the winner being announced at the Award Luncheon at the Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington on Tuesday, March 16th 2010.

So, if you're trying to think of a good book to add to your TBR pile, how about one or more of the above. I know I've added a few to my wish list.

Friday 11 December 2009

Coming Home, More Shopping & Pukka Pads

I'm so excited, the happy wanderer - aka J - returns tonight from his first term at uni and I can't wait to see him. He hasn't been home for 12 weeks and although I'm used to my two travelling without me with their father, the longest I haven't seen him until now was five weeks and that was bad enough. So, his bed is made up, favourite food being prepared and I'm about to go shopping (well, after I've walked his grumpiness on the beach) and fill up the fridge and cupboards with all the things he loves to eat.

Yesterday I fought through the hoards of Christmas shoppers to WHSmith and bought a new Pukka Pad, which means that I'm about to start my next book. Now, I know that it's all well and good writing these damn novels - this will be #6 - but surely the point of writing books is to submit them in an attempt at getting published. I have promised myself that I will do this, but when do you know if your work is good enough to submit? It's scary stuff. I think for Christmas I should be asking Santa to bring me a hefty dose of self-confidence.

Saturday 5 December 2009

Parties, Decorating & Loft Stairs

Cally Taylor is having a book launch party today for her brilliant book, Heaven Can Wait, and unfortunately much as I had hoped to be there, I won't be able to go (flights/hotel bookings) so will miss all the fun (sulk). I will, however, be attending a friend's 50th birthday party tonight, Happy Birthday Abbey, and hope that by then I'll feel and look rather more acceptable than I do now.

Ours is not a festive house at the moment, with S full of cold and having been kept awake last night with her constant coughing - this is not the happiest of teenagers. R is upstairs in bed - having already been to work - as I think I've generously (!) passed on to him what I've been suffering from for the past week.

I still need to get the Christmas decorations down from the loft though, but remembering Heaven Can Wait's fiestly heroine, Lucy Brown and what happened to her when attempting to retrieve something from the loft, I'm going to take it easy.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday 1 December 2009

December Already?

Oh no, it's nearly that time again. I can't believe it's only 24 days until Christmas Day and 20 shopping days left. Groan.

I haven't started shopping, in fact I've only got a vague idea (an understatement if ever there was one) what I'm going to buy people.

As far as my writing is concerned I have detailed lists of what I'm hoping to achieve including writing/editing a few short stories for submission to magazines and a few competitions (well, one can only give it a try), sending out HH&S into the big scary world out there, and plotting and researching for the book I'm going to start writing on 1st January, as well as piles of books I want to read in the next few weeks.

Now, if only I can muster up the same sort of enthusiasm for Christmas, I'd soon be sorted.

Thursday 26 November 2009

50,092 words in 26 Days

I can barely speak I'm so tired, but I've done it. I've finished my NaNo novel, all 50,092 words of it.

It was fun, it was tiring, and I even quite like the novel I wrote for NaNo.

Now I'm going to have a drink something cool and watch The Book Show whilst I recover.

Sunday 22 November 2009

NaNo - 19,000 Words Needed

I can't believe after all the typing I've been doing this month that I still have 19,000 words to find in the next nine days. Scary stuff.

However, as I hadn't blogged at all this week, I thought I'd quickly tell you about an excellent talk I went to yesterday with Rob at the Jersey Archives. It was given by Ian Ronayne, author of the book, 'Ours' about a small group of Jerseyman who left the island to fight in the First World War. You can buy the book here.

As soon as I've crawled to the end of NaNoWriMo on 30th November, I'll grab the book from Rob and read it properly myself as it's full of fascinating information and photos. In fact, sitting in front of us was an elderly lady who's father's photo is included in the book. It was history coming alive and I'm so glad I dragged myself away from my computer long enough to attend.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Lovely Blog Award

Having had an especially unproductive weekend where writing was concerned, I turned on my computer this afternoon to find an email from the very lovely Victoria Connelly letting me know she had awarded me this gorgeous, Lovely Blog Award.

Victoria has published several books, one of which has been made into a film, and her fabulous, Molly's Millions was published earlier this year. Please go here to Bookersatz to read my review. If you haven't read it yet, then you're missing a treat.

The rules say that you should:
1) Accept the award, and don’t forget to post a link back to the awarding person.
2) Pass the award on.
3) Notify the award winners.

Now deciding who to pass this award on to wasn't easy, as I read so many interesting and helpful blogs, but I thought I would like to pass this on to Amanda at her Writing Allsorts blog. In her most recent post she talks about feeling a little deflated, but then goes on to say that despite receiving a few rejections, she is working on stories to submit to magazines and competitions and is determined not to let a few rejections beat her.

As writers it's something we all have to contend with and sometimes keeping going when you don't feel like you're actually getting anywhere (me, not her) is exactly the time when you have to simply keep writing, improving and eventually hope you'll get to where you want to go. Being published.

Thursday 12 November 2009

And The Winner Is.........


Congratulations. I know you'll love the book.

Thanks to S for taking the time out to stir the names - endlessly - when I interrupted her Maths revision for her GCSE tomorrow, and pull a name out of the hat. Thanks also to everyone who left a comment.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Remembrance Day

Lest we forget.

Ordinarily I wouldn't post about a book on Remembrance Day, but then I thought that it's through books that periods in history stay alive. This book by Leah Fleming, called Remembrance Day is about the Great War and for every copy bought a donation will be made to the Royal British Legion, so for that reason I thought I could do it this once.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Heaven Can Wait - Win a Copy

So good, even he wanted to read it.

The night before Lucy Brown’s wedding, she said good-bye to her fiancĂ© Dan thinking life could not be more perfect. The next day, she was dead.

Not ready to leave Dan, she chooses to become a ghost rather than go to heaven, however she soon learns that to become a ghost she first has to complete a task; an almost impossible task and only twenty-one days in which to fulfil it. Lucy is sent to Limbo, which turns out to be a grubby flat shared with two other wannabe ghosts who have their own problems to sort out. She discovers her friend Anna has an agenda of her own and despite Lucy’s recent demise is making a move on heartbroken Dan wanting him for herself.

I was in the middle of reading another book when my exhausted postman delivered my copy of Heaven Can Wait, and knowing I had a few days off to look forward to, decided I would keep it until then. Intentions are one thing, but having gazed at the gorgeous cover, I decided to take a sneaky peek and read the first couple of lines. Two days later I finished, the other book long forgotten.

If you haven’t already bought your copy and read it – why not – you’re missing a treat. I loved Cally’s book and laughed out loud within moments of starting to read it. It’s funny, clever and thought provoking, and the ending is quite perfect.

So, for those of you who haven’t yet bought your copy, or want another one for a friend as a present. Please leave a ‘pick me’ comment by Wednesday, 11th November, and I’ll ask my daughter to pull a name out of a hat (or bowl, or something) and send the lucky winner their copy as soon as I know who it is.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Spooks, NaNo & M&S Knickers

Well, it's that time of year again. The time when I start sighing, the husband groans and rolls his eyes heavenward, and the children say things like, "Oh, no. Not him again." To whom do they refer? I hear you ask. Why, says I, only the divine Richard Armitage *sigh*

I've been doing slightly better than I'd hoped with my NaNo novel and managed 8,514 in the first three days. Haven't done any writing yet today, but need to get a move on and stop checking out Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Yesterday, as I walked to the car after work, water from puddles seeped through my boots, so I put them to dry overnight. This morning, I'd only been out of the car 30 seconds when the same thing happened again. Past their sell-by date obviously. So, at lunchtime I ventured into town - about ten footsteps away from my office - and bought new boots, a new pair of trousers for work, and some M&S knickers. Can't beat them.

Funny how the prospect of buying clothes for work doesn't inspire me, and I wait until my feet are literally soaking, whereas if I wanted a book, I'd be hitting those shops without a moments hesitation.

Saturday 31 October 2009

Happy Birthday Andrea & Happy Halloween

Happy Birthday to my great pal, Andrea. We've enjoyed so many fantastic times together, always filled with hysterical laughter, and she tells a story better than most writers do. I wish she'd take up writing, but she insists she couldn't think of anything worse, and far prefers persuing other interests.

I was just reading a post at Kaye Manro's fab blog about a psychic experience she recently had with her cat, and as today is the time for spooky tales, I thought I'd mention this one.

Years ago I was going to a party and needed to wear my best jewellery, however I couldn't find the earrings and bracelet anywhere. I searched the entire house, without success. My mother phoned and during the conversation I mentioned it to her. She suggested we put down our phones, go and sit quietly, and let our minds clear, then try to see if we could picture where the jewellery was. We did this - my mother lives in South Africa, so it's not as if I could pop round to her house to do it - 10 minutes later she called me back and asked me what I'd seen. I told her I'd pictured a handbag. She agreed and said to go and look through my bags. I did, and there was the jewellery wrapped in a tissue. I can't remember putting it in there, but I must have done at the end of a party or something.

There's a thick fog today, which means we won't get the newspapers to the island, such a pain, as I like the saturday magazines. Tonight I'm dropping S off at a Halloween Party, and I gather my son is going to one too. Somehow I think hers will be far tamer than his... I'll be staying at home with R and the grumpy dog who is now wearing white socks, as opposed to the pale blue ones of yesterday. I'm looking forward to him stopping this paw chewing business, as neither of us like the socks on him. Happy Halloween.

Sunday 25 October 2009

Bubbles, Love Films & Jam Pots

I usually only receive books in the post, and although I'm not one to complain about that - rejoice more like - when I received this in a package the other day, I was delighted. My mother kindly sent it to me, and when I went to put it with the other jam pots I've collected over the years, it dawned on me that although I've lived in this house eight years, I must have a box I haven't unpacked. So, I'll be clambering through the loft at some point this week.

Had a boozy night in on Friday when a couple of girl-friends came round for a meal. It was a great evening with much hilarity, endless gossip, and far too much quaffing of the bubbly kind of alcohol. Naturally, there was the obligitary hangover the following day. So, apart from enjoying, Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, thanks to another friend, Andrea, introducing me to LoveFilm.com I did very little and today have to catch up with this never-ending editing, that I'm determined to finish at some point this week. Have to really, as NaNo starts next Sunday.

I've put the clocks back in the house, but the one in my car is a bit of a pain. I was going to sleep for longer this morning and make the most of the extra hour, but Grumpy had other ideas and pestered me until I gave in and let him out into the garden.

Looking forward to the last episode of Emma tonight. Having whinged about it originally, I've now become caught up in the story, and have enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. Love Jonny Lee Miller though, so that probably helped a bit.

Sunday 18 October 2009

2nd Blog Anniversary - How Time Flies

This is where I'll be spending my second blog anniversary, pressing on until I finish my editing. The shed is a dreadful mess, so I really must make a note to give it a tidy up, but strange as it may seem, I do know where everything is - no, really.

I can't believe it's already been two years since I started my blog. I wasn't too sure what blogging was all about, or if anyone would ever visit mine, but thought it looked like fun.

Now, however, I've met and 'met' in the cyber-sense, so many supportive, fun and genuinely talented people; I'm a member of writing groups, and it doesn't matter what advice I'm trying to find, there's always someone able to provide it.

Right, I'd better get on. R is - noisily - cutting the hedge, though I can't moan as he's also put on what promises to be a tasty roast beef lunch for me, and all I need to do is prepare an apple crumble with the last apples from the garden, then I'm back in the shed with Grumps, to continue with my never-ending editing.

Have a great day.

Thursday 15 October 2009

Heaven Can Wait by Cally Taylor

The lovely Cally Taylor's - I know, I've met her - debut novel, Heaven Can Wait is published today by Orion, and having read an extract I can tell you it's going to be a fab book.

My copy is winging it's merry way to me as we speak - we alway have to wait a little longer living in sunny Jersey - and I can't wait to start reading. I'm hoping it arrives in time for the weekend.

To celebrate the publication you can enter up to three competitions, each with great prizes - please visit Cally's website here to find out more.

I'm off to quaff a couple of glasses and drink a toast to Cally.

Friday 9 October 2009

Shedblogging and a Watersplash

I'm tempted to light another fire, although R insists it isn't cold enough, and said he couldn't see the point if I'm in the shed typing. So, not wishing to mess up my beautifully manicured nails (Biogelled this morning) I'm taking my trusty netbook and going to sit in the lounge and work in front of the fire - he also says that I don't recognize the word 'No', and I can't disagree with him on that point.

Uncle Wilco of Shedblog kindly sent me this fab badge. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in Shed of the Year 2009 competition, and if there are any of you sheddies that fancy entering for Shed of the Year 2010, why not go here and have a look. *whispers* I'm thinking Fia of the Shed and Kat

Sarah Beeny will be one of the judges again this year. You can have a look at the 2009 finalists here

Fiona Robyn is going to blog her next novel, Thaw, starting on the 1st of March next year. The novel follows 32 year old Ruth’s diary over three months as she decides whether or not to carry on living.

To help spread the word she’s organising a Blogsplash, where blogs will publish the first page of Ruth’s diary simultaneously (and a link to the blog).

She’s aiming to get 1000 blogs involved – if you’d be interested in joining in, email her at fiona@fionarobyn.com or find out more information here.

Monday 5 October 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009

After much (well a little) contemplation, I've signed up to take part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. I've been debating whether or not to as I was about to start writing a book I've been researching for a while, however, a few weeks ago, I came up with an idea for a Young Adult novel and am going to write that for NaNoWriMo, as I seem to work better against a deadline.

I'll give myself November to get the story from my head on to the paper/laptop and then once that's done, I'll get on with the mammoth task of writing the book I was originally going to work on, as I anticipate it taking rather a long time to complete.

That said, I still have to finish my editing, but have have been caught up with weeks of form-filling and generally sorting J out with regards to university. Now that's done, I can press on with my editing and start making headway with my writing once more.

The other day I wrote a list of dates in October, when I have things to remember to do (obviously not including the usual house/work/writing stuff, these are birthdays, appointments, etc): 5th, 9th (two appointments), 13th, 14th (two again), 16th (two again), 18th, 19th, 23rd, 30th and 31st. I just hope I don't forget anything.

Friday 2 October 2009

The Weekend Cometh - Thankfully

Another Friday, and it couldn't come quick enough. Up until yesterday it still felt warm and summery, but somehow today there's a distinct chill in the air. Although that could be psychological because it was so much darker when I crawled out of my bed this morning, and to be honest, I'm dying for an excuse to start lighting fires in the lounge once more.

The house seems emptier without my noisy son - whom I notice is having a ball at uni and appears to be spending all his time partying (lucky devil) - but it makes me think back to when he was little. How did that naughty (I'm not kidding, he was horrendous) little boy, grow up to be a man?

I love the things children do and say, and am looking forward to this new tv series, Tarrant Lets The Kids Loose, (Sunday, 6pm on Watch). In it, they secretly film children as they carry out different challenges, then show the children the films in front of a live audience. I've seen a preview and it looks great fun.

You can see Chris Tarrant being interviewed here, here, here, and here

Right, I'm off to finish reading I Do, I Do, I Do by Samantha Scott-Jeffries for Little Black Dress. You'll soon be able to read my review on Novelicious.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday 29 September 2009

Fabulous Blog Award

Many thanks to DJ Kirkby for this gorgeous (and definately fabulous) award.

The "Your Blog is Fabulous!" Award stands for: Integrity. Commitment to Excellence. Stubbornly Optimistic.

List five current obsessions:

1. My fun, busy and entertaining family consisting of a husband who never fails to make me laugh, and two children who are great characters, even though I can't believe they're now taller than me and seem to know more than I do about everything - or at least think they do.

2. My mad dog, who keeps me company all the time he possibly can manage to and spends hours dozing in his chair next to me in my shed.

3. My shed - where I do my writing; think; dream; make notes; gaze at photos, drawings and posters; and generally pontificate for far more hours than I probably should.

4. My writing - which is what keeps me (and probably the rest of the family) sane, and gives my imagination the arena to let lose those characters in my head who want to get out on to the page.

5. St Ouen's Beach - where I walk the grumpy one, chat to husband and teens, think (yes, more thinking), plot and plan (stories, rather than crimes), and generally breath in the salty air whilst pushing my feet through the pale, fine sand as I look out to the other islands.

I have to nominate five other bloggers, and have of course blogged eight. Well, I've never been good at numbers. I nominate the following:

Chris - Bucolic Frolics
Chris - Home Thoughts Weekly
Tom Foolery

Friday 25 September 2009

Friday - At Last

The 'small one' seen here paddling in a rock pool at St Ouens is driving me crazy. I think it's all the coming and going that's been happening in our house recently. S-S#4 came for four weeks - the dog loves him - and then returned home, S-S#1 then came for a week - loves him too - then he went; J took cases out of the loft (Grumps hates cases) and these have been waiting to be filled ready for going to uni in a few days. He can obviously sense me trying to look calm, whilst not feeling remotely that way.

Helen has let me know that my review of Victoria Connelly's great book, Molly's Millions has been posted on Bookersatz. Please go and have a look and leave a comment letting me know what you think.

I've been tagged by the lovely Bluestocking Mum who I met recently at Caerleon. In fact we were on the same course as the fab and very talented Annieye. I have to give my five favourite film characters. So, here goes:

1. Phantom of the Opera - Gerry Butler version, of course. Can't imagine ever bawling my eyes out for the 1925 version starring Lon Chaney somehow. Call me shallow, I don't care. I thought GB was beautiful in this, and can watch it time and again. If nothing else, it ensures peace and quiet from the rest of the family, who never fail to groan in unison when they see me reach for the DVD.

2. Maxim De Winter from Rebecca - I love the Laurence Olivier version. All that angst, wonderful, especially on a grim winter evening when there's nothing else on, although I have to wonder how he could actually be attracted to such a simpering female is a little beyond me. I suppose it was because she was the anthesis of Rebecca.

3. Mr Darcy - I loved Matthew MacFadyen in Spooks and Enigma, but couldn't see him as taking over from Colin Firth when it came to playing Mr Darcy. So it served me right that I didn't bother going to the cinema to see the film, and ended up watching the DVD at home on our 42 inch screen, which, although fairly big, doesn't compare to how it must have appeared on the big screen. Again, loved all that angst and awkwardness, as well as those beautiful manners. Ahhh.

4. Mark Darcy - yes, of course Colin Firth had to come into this list somewhere. I loved Bridge Jones, and do hope they make another one, whether she's slim, fat, or green, I couldn't care less, I just love the prospect of a night out at the cinema watching a film with Colin Firth doing his thing.

4. Edward Cullin - played by the ethereal Robert Pattinson. This movie (and character) was a surprise for me. I'd heard all the hype and seen the photos, promos, etc, but didn't feel the need to see the movie, until finally giving in to my daughter's relentless nagging, sat down and put on the DVD. Well! Say no more, I am now a convert. My son thinks I've finally lost the plot, but I don't care.

Please feel tagged if you'd like to try this, I'd love to see other answers. Although I think I can make a calculated guess at one of the names on Claire's list, if she did one.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

Thanks to the lovely DJ Kirkby for my, 'I made DJ Kirkby laugh' Award. Isn't it gorgeous?

This week has been frantically busy. Shopping, form-filling, and generally exhausting myself trying to get J to finalize all that he needs to do before going to uni next Sunday. He, on the other hand, is more interested in what party is being held where. I'm sure we'll sort everything out, but this week we also have my oldest step-son over as he's staying with us before going to stay at his mum's for his 21st birthday, so we've wanted to spend time with him whilst he's here and go out for meals etc, which has been fun.

This week I have Happy Birthday wishes for Dan, Tanya, Amanda, Chris, Jas, AmandaK, and I forgot my cousin's last week, so had to send belated wishes. Today I've had my nails done, whilst S was having her hair cut, been shopping, out to lunch and now I really should get on with some editing.

My editing difficulties have stemmed from changing one major factor about a third of the way through the novel, without realizing (such a dope) how much it effects the rest of the book. So various scenes now can't happen, but I think I'm pretty much there with how to make the changes. It's a pain though as I really was aiming to finish and send the damn thing out a couple of weeks ago. Never mind. As my grand-father always used to say, 'It can be done' and of course it shall be.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Twilight & The Boat That Rocked

It's been an exhausting few weeks for one reason or another, but one consistant has been my daughter's nagging for me to sit and watch Twilight with her. So, having been completely worn down, I finally gave in and sat down to watch the film.

I loved it. I can see now what all the fuss is about, and have to admit that I immediately snuck in to her room and pinched her copy of the book. To be honest, I also started to read it, but will hold back until I've finished Veronica Henry's, Marriage and Other Games, as it's a damn fine book and I can't enjoy them both properly if I'm going from one to the other.

I'm relieved that I left it so late to watch the film, as now I don't have to wait so long until New Moon comes out. I've even been checking about pre-booking cinema tickets. Sad? Moi?

Step-Son #1 arrived today, and this evening we sat down with J and R and watched, The Boat That Rocked. Brilliant. Can't wait to see it again.

We laughed all the way through, and as well as having a great cast (Nick Frost, Bill Nighy, Kenneth Branagh, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, etc) the music was pretty damn good too.

Now, if only I'd put as much time and emotion into my writing, I might also be telling you that I'd finished my editing. Nope! 'Fraid not.

Thursday 10 September 2009

Rear Gunner & Furze Fire at L'Etacq

Today is the Jersey Air Display and I was lucky enough to finish work at noon, R, S and self loaded 'the rear gunner' - as my father calls Grumpy - into the car and took him to St Ouen's beach for a walk. Also a good vantage point to see the planes/helicopters flying across the bay before coming into land at the airport.

We then decided to have lunch at El Tico - very tasty it was too - when S pointed over my shoulder and said, "Mum, look, there's a fire." The smoke was blowing across the bay and the fire grew rapidly, especially as it's warm and very windy today.

It doesn't look too bad from my photos - ancient, useless camera - but we can see the smoke from our house now, and live in the opposite direction from where the wind is going. It started somewhere at the top of L'Etacq and dipped down the headland. So much going on in one day. Shame it didn't happen next week as S-S#1 and would love to photograph it.

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Sea Mists & Call Yourself A Writer?

It was such a glorious day today - 28.5 degrees & blue sky - that I couldn't wait to get home from work and put on my costume and a sarong. I raced upstairs to change and spotted fog - turned out to be a sea mist - over the coast of France.

Not wanting to waste a second, I went outside and sat reading Moonshine in the sun, bliss. S came to join me - telling me all about boring science, boring french and boring assembly. After a bit, I went into watch Land Girls, then noticed the house was completely surrounded by mist - as you can see from the photo - it's so thick I can't even see the field next door. I suppose that was summer?

The lovely DJ Kirkby tagged me for this CALL YOURSELF A WRITER? meme.

1. Which words do you use too much in your writing?
I have to concentrate on not using, ‘that’ too much.
2. Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
None I can think of.
3. What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
The first book I completed; it means a lot to me.
4. Which blog post do you wish you had written?
All the funny, intelligent ones.
5. Regrets. Do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?I don’t regret anything I’ve written. I think to regret things is to waste emotions and time.
6. How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?
My writing helps me to express myself. I think my most important piece of writing was my first novel - again - because it proved to me that I can write a complete ms.
7. Name three favourite words
It, can, be, done (okay, so that’s four, but I’ve always been useless with figures).
8. ....And three words you're not so keen on
Not, good, enough.
9. Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
My writing mentors are my writing friends and groups I belong to. They're so supportive and an endless source of help and wisdom; my role model is my husband; and my inspiration usually comes from my family, or desperation when trying to find something to write about.
10.What's your writing ambition?
To support myself with my writing.

I am passing this on to anyone who fancies having a go at doing it.

Saturday 5 September 2009

Brighton Rock & Jersey Live

I had planned to continue with the never-ending editing, but had such a headache that I decided to sit and chill in front of the tv and watch Brighton Rock. I love the book and the film, althought the endings are slightly different. The one in the book made me think, and the one in the film was a great twist.

Still have to do a few bits for J to prepare for uni, but flights are booked, so that's the main thing for R & self. S is back at school and now she's in Year 10 seems to have so much more homework. Thankfully, she just gets on with it - moaning about it, of course, she's my daughter after all -

It's Jersey Live Festival of Music here this weekend. The organizers are excellent, and they were so good that a couple of years ago, the vicar of Trinity (no, I said Trinity, not Dibley) asked them to stop the music for an hour (or so) whilst he conducted a wedding, and they did. How good is that? The last music festival I went to was Reading, many moons ago (in 1980) when Iron Maiden, Whitesnake, and Def Leppard played. I had a ball, though can't think it would be my sort of thing now, not unless I had en-suite facilities.

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Thanks, Back to Work & Christmas

Thanks to the lovely DJ Kirkby for my fab Wordless Wednesday Award (from last week, sorry for the delay in posting it). It brightened up my week in edit hell. Still not finished. Getting there, but veeerrrrryyyy slowly.

Received more forms to fill in with J for uni, and as he was at his dad's all weekend, asked him to be home at lunchtime yesterday to fill them in and get them sent out. "Yeah, yeah, no worries," came the reply. Yesterday arrived, J appears at lunchtime. "Great," I said. "Let's get this lot out of the way." "Sorry, mum, I promised to meet some friends at the beach." Needless to say, he had a great day at at St Brelades Bay on the beach (30 degrees, or so our temperature thingy said), and the forms are still sitting on the sideboard. Tomorrow maybe.

Back to work today. Right, enough said about that.

Rob made a delicious rhubarb crumble and an apple pie yesterday with fruit from our garden. Very tasty, and not so good when you're counting calories (and have no self control).

Sas phoned when I was at work to tell me she's found the perfect present for me this Christmas. Bless her. I said, "It's too early to start thinking about Christmas, surely." "No," she said, "It's only 16 and a half weeks away."

Saturday 29 August 2009

Heros, RNLI & Awards

When writing a romance novel you need a hero who's strong and despite everything that happens during the story, ends up being a worthwhile and larger than life character.

Real life heros, in my opinion, are volunteers who risk their lives for complete strangers in difficulty, who are on call despite being at family celebrations, and who train to keep fit to enable them to be as physically capable of being the best they can be for when the time comes.

St Catherines Lifeboat celebrates 40 years of saving lives and are holding an Open Day tomorrow - 30 August from 12 - 5pm. The station is manned by 12 sea-going crew, 1 launcher/mechanic, 1 launcher and 1 shore helper. They live close to the station and are on standby 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

My uncle (although to be honest he's only a few years older than I am) is one of these men. He's been called away from many family celebrations, and received awards for rescues and his service to the station. Definately heros in my opinion.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

Moonshine by Christina Jones

Look what I received in the post today. Don't you just love that cover?

There are certain occasions that I look forward to each year, Christmas (family getting together); my birthday (for presents, not because of my age increasing); Easter (chocolate); holidays (of course); but in the book calendar, one that I most look forward to is Christina Jones's next book being published, and I know that, without fail, I'll be absorbed into the pages of a fabulous novel.

So, once I've finished reading Sarah Duncan's, Another Woman's Husband (very good it is too), I'll settle down, without chocolate as I'm on another diet (Day 2 today), and read. I can't wait.

Monday 24 August 2009

Fun Monday

Faye at Summit Musings is holding a Fun Monday, about Back to School and asks "Do you also have that "Back to School" feeling even though you're all grown up? Do you still think of yourself as a student? A lifelong learner?"

She also asks, "How do you enjoy learning? Taking a class? Online study? "How to" books or DVDs? Tutorials on computer or TV? One on one with instructor or coach? Practice on your own?"

I'm constantly trying to learn as much as I can about the craft that interests me most, writing. It's all very well writing books, rewriting and editing them, but it's vital, for me at least, to have help or at least an indication of how best to do this.

So, my way of improving as much as I can has been to do several things.

1. Reading 'How To' Books
My favourites are: Stephen King's, On Writing - so cleverly written that it doesn't feel like a How To book at all; Wannabe A Writer, by Jane Wenham-Jones is an amusing, but informative book; Carol Blake's, From Pitch To Publication, telling you everything you need to know to get published. I also have a well-thumbed copy of Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass, but there are many more excellent books, such as, Writing Romantic Fiction by Marina Oliver.

2. Attending Courses/Conferences
I was lucky to be able to attend the Writers' Holiday at Caerleon this year, as you can see from this post it was invaluable, and I'm still trying to soak in all the information and advice I received from my excellent tutors.

Romantic Novelists Association - For the past three years I've been attending the well organized and informative, yet fun, conferences. These last from Friday to Sunday and are in a different location each year. Next year it will be from 9th to 11th July at the University of Greenwich. The RNA also have a New Writers' Scheme, which allows unpublished members of the association to send in a manuscript, either full or partial, once a year (by 31st August) receiving a detailed report in return.

3. Online Forums/Blogs
I've picked up many writing tips from online friends, and endless support from writers forums I'm lucky enough to belong to, such as Novel Racers, and several private forums, where work is posted and critiques and advice recieved back. These help me focus as well as develop my writing.

4. Somewhere Peaceful To Write
I have the shed, which is where I prefer to write, but to be honest, I can write anywhere, as long as I have either a pen and notepad or my laptop. The main thing for me, is simply to get it down, then (try to) get it right.

Friday 21 August 2009

Friday Already

Thank you to Melissa who tipped me off about this book, War on the Margins by Libby Cone about the horror of the Nazi regime in Jersey and the bravery of the people here during the Occupation.

I've had a quick peek and it looks great, but am in the middle of Isabel Wolff's, A Vintage Affair (fabulous), so will have to wait before I can get into it.

Another thanks to DJ Kirkby for my fab Wordless Wednesday Award, love it. I love sunflowers too, but haven't any in the garden this year, which is a bit of a shame.

I can't believe I'm already nearly half way through my holidays and although I've managed some editing, I've not done nearly as much as I would have liked. Wanting to make the most of the holidays, especially whilst R's youngest son is staying, and then waiting for and receiving J's A Level results, means the editing has come in a sad second place.

So, I'm going to take them surfing, while I walk the Grumps and later intend spending a couple of hours in the shed before settling down to watch The Tudors and True Blood. Can't wait.

Thursday 20 August 2009

Congratulations to J

Congratulations to my son James for his A2 results.
A - History, B - ICT & C - RE. Huge sighs of relief (mainly from him) when he opened his confirmation letter for his place at his first choice university, and to his cousin Amanda who also did well.

So tonight, I'll be having a glass (or three) of this, with R, whilst J is out celebrating/commiserating with his friends, one of whom will be going to the same place as he is, which is fun.

I feel quite exhausted after all this and haven't got as far as doing any editing today, although I have been checking flights for him (and me) to go over in September to settle him. It's going to be a lot quieter around here without him.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

What Kind Of Book Are You - Quick Quiz

You Are Humor

You love to laugh at life, and if possible, get others to laugh along with you.

You believe there's always a humorous side to everything. And your sense of humor ranges from upbeat to very dark.

You are outrageous and very honest. You're often the only one willing to say what everyone else is thinking.

You are witty and verbally talented. You like to play with words and say things in interesting ways.

Monday 17 August 2009

Taking It Easy (When Not Editing)

My gorgeous daughter gave me these beautiful Sweetpeas yesterday knowing how much I love them. In the past I've always grown them, but for some reason they haven't wanted to appear in my garden for the past couple of years despite me sowing them as I always have done.

This morning I've been editing HH&S as now that I've spent some time away from my m/s, I can now see what the NWS Reader meant in her report, and thanks to my course with Marina Oliver at Caerleon, and my aunt (head mistress and avid reader) I think I've finally figured out where I was going wrong. Well, at least I think I have.

I finally stepped away from the keyboard and went with the rest of my crew to walk the dog along St Ouen's beach before stopping at Big Verns for a tasty lunch of tuna & pasta bake, yum. This also comes with a salad - ignored by me (tut tut) - and a baguette cut into smaller pieces with melted garlic butter spread on each piece - devoured by R and boys.

Have just discovered this fab new blog by the talented Kate Harrison, Read Like A Writer, which I've added to my blog list. Very helpful for a wannabe like me.

Now, it's back to the editing, as I have two weeks to do my best with this before prizing it away from my paws and sending it out into the big wide world. (No doubt to be sent hastily back to me with a big fat rejection letter strapped to it, but you have to give it your best shot).

Saturday 15 August 2009

A Good Day

Yesterday was our fifth wedding anniversary and as well as buying me a beautiful card and long-stemmed red roses, R also bought me this. As you can see it's sheds (well, beach huts, but I love them and originally wanted to paint my shed like one) on a piece of driftwood. I have pieces of driftwood of varying sizes in the shed, all collected from St Ouens beach over the years. Lovely, isn't it?

J took and passed his driving test, so that was another cause for celebration and then R, self, my two and his fab youngest son went to La Pulente Pub to sit overlooking the bay (St Ouen's of course) and enjoyed a tasty lunch. Then it was back home, where I continued reading, Rumour Has It, by Jill Mansell for several hours (loving it), whilst lying in the sun, and the two boys went off for a two hour drive.

Thankfully, today it's sunny and warm once more, so I intend to make the most of it and get back out there. Have a great weekend.

Thursday 13 August 2009

Left-Handers' Day & Being On Holiday

Being a Left-Hander, and having two left-handed children and two step-sons, and an aunt who are the same, I thought it only right that I wish any others of you out there in blogland, a very Happy Left-Handers' Day. To read more about being left-handed, quizes, and other interesting info go here

After an intense two weeks back at work I now have the next two weeks off (well, 18 days to be exact). I can't wait. I have a lengthy list of short stories I should be writing, competitions I want to enter, putting into practice all that I learnt at Caerleon, oh yes, and spending time with the three teenagers in the house. When they're here that is.

At one side of our house is a wall and behind it grows an Elderberry hedge which before being hacked down (on Saturday, sob) was over twenty feet tall. I loved it, but R didn't and even made coffees for the chap with the chainsaw. Anyway, as if that wasn't bad enough, I noticed that all the branches have been dragged into a heap and someone attempted to set it alight. It didn't do too well, but no doubt they will have another go and burning it tomorrow.

The thing I don't understand (okay, so you're wondering how I can actually pinpoint only one thing that confuses me) is that when there is an enormous field, why would someone choose to make a bonfire 12 feet away from a (my) shed, and my house. R came to the rescue - or could it be that he couldn't stand me whining any longer - and phoned the farmer asking him if they could move it away from the house. Thankfully, the kindly farmer agreed. I'm hoping that at some point I will be able to look at a bonfire from a comfortable distance, and not feel the heat of the darn thing as I type.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Home, Tired But Inspired

This is the view from the bedroom window of my flatlet in the flat where the lovely Annie and her photographer friend, Heather shared with my mother and me. It was such fun finally meeting up with Annie after all this time, and also Kev (aka Captain Black), although I didn't end up spending nearly as much time chatting to them as I would have liked.

The Writers' Holiday at Caerleon was everything I'd hoped and a whole lot more. Nothing was too much trouble for the tireless Anne and Gerry Hobbs who organize everything. This year was their twenty-fifth anniversary at Caerleon, and having now been, I can fully understand why so many of the people I met there return year after year. If you wish to book for next year have a look at the site here.

Everything from the courses, to the accommodation and the endless supply of food was excellent.

My two main courses were with Marina Oliver - Advanced Novel Writing - writer of over 50 novels, past chairman of the Romantic Novelists Association, StorytrackS and very lovely lady. I've faffed about with my manuscripts not quite knowing how to better them, but now, having learnt so much from Marina, I'm now armed (not dangerous, though my ex might beg to differ) with the knowledge to take them to a far higher standard, which can only be a good thing.

The other course I took was with another lovely lady, Della Galton - How to Write & Sell Short Stories. As with Marina's course, I've now come away with a far deeper understanding of (where the hell I was going so badly wrong) what I should be thinking and working on, if I want to write saleable short stories.

Both ladies were inspirational, as were the After Tea speakers, including Sue Moorcroft who held a fun workshop - I slunk down several inches when she asked for a brave volunteer, who was given a character and then we all fired questions at her asking about the character's life, etc. I thought this a little strange, until my mother and I did the same thing to each other in the pub (yes, there's an excellent pub there too) and found it far more useful than either of us had anticipated. In fact, it helped me to realize that I need to swap two female characters in the book I'm about to start writing.

Katie Carr My mother was amused when I wrote down the name and asked, "What are you doing?" I replied, "I don't want to forget her name and miss the talk." "But," said Ma, a confused expression on her face, "She has the same surname as you, and you have a sister called Katie. How hard can it be to remember?" She gave a talk about skeletons in your closet, and how your family history can help inspire you to think of different plots for your story, if you only ask, "What if?"

The evening lectures included talks by Teresa Chris, agent to so many excellent authors who basically told us that we wouldn't expect to exhibit at the Royal Academy without years of learning to paint, so why should we expect to be published and be successful without serving our apprenticeship with our writing. Also, never submit work to an agent if you haven't finished the novel first, and polished it to make it the best it can be.

Katie Fforde, who very kindly answered my garbled question, "What is your starting point for a book? Do you think if the character, or the plot first?" Basically, Katie starts with a spider graph, including all that she wants to include in a book and then works out how she can put it all together (I'm sure she answered that in a far more intelligent way, but my brain is still frazzled from all the concentration).

I was exhausted by Wednesday evening, not helped by the journey to and from Hay On Wye, when we met up with my friend Andrea, who laughed hysterically at the sight of me wearing my mother's ghastly hat. Hell, it was raining, and I didn't have an umbrella! Actually, I forgot I had the damned thing on. However, I was determined not to miss the truly unmissable Jane Wenham-Jones. She is one entertaining lady, and, having just finished reading her book, "One Glass Is Never Enough" a damned good writer to boot. I came straight home and re-read my copy of her how to book, "Wannabe a Writer?".

Zoe Sharp, author of the Charlie Fox series, who was fascinating to listen to, as well as amusing, and very friendly later as she signed her books.

On the final night we were treated to a "Welsh Night Concert" with the excellent Cwmbach Male Voice Choir, who have to be heard to be believed. Then Kate Walker (author of 57? books) made a presentation to Anne and Gerry, together with crime writer, Stephen Wade and a few others, who had arranged a collection and presented Anne and Gerry with a huge bouquet, a padded album in which we'd all been invited to write something (photos, cards, etc also inside), and Kate Walker's most recent book dedicated to them. It was a perfect ending to a fabulous week.

I can't wait to go again!

Friday 24 July 2009

Off to the Writers' Holiday

I'm off to the Writers' Holiday in Caerleon, and I can't wait.

I shall be leaving R with three noisy teenagers and an extremely grumpy dog. Even more grumpier than usual as he's being clipped today, and is always in a foul mood for days after.

R has a couple of weeks off and it's even his birthday whilst I'm away. So Happy Birthday R (x).

I'm excited, but also nervous and feel sure that I'll definately return knowing far more than I do now. So, have a great week, and I'll catch up with everyone when I get back.

Monday 20 July 2009

Always The Bridesmaid and a Bookersatz Review

Just when I thought today was going to be a typically grim Monday, I decided to take a break from going round in circles and have a peek at my emails, whilst munching on my cheese and lettuce sandwich. I was delighted to see that I'd won a signed copy of Nina Harrington's new book, Always The Bridesmaid, together with a signed cover flat of the US cover.

Since last year's RNA Conference Nina has sold two books, Always The Bridesmaid being her first, and had a new contract for two more. Now, that's success. I'm so thrilled for her, because, apart from having great taste in shoes (very important), she's also a lovely person, and it's always heart-warming to see good people do well.

Before I go and bellow at my fighting teenagers (they've only just broken up, and already they're at each others throats), you may remember that recently I read a wonderful book by Sarah Harrison, called 'A Spell Of Swallows', and if you'd like to read more about it, please go to Bookersatz where they've just posted my review.

Right. That's it. Time to break them up and restore a little peace around here.

Friday 17 July 2009

Shed Gets A Makeover

The shed has had a makeover and instead of Fushias in the three blue pots alongside, I have a different coloured rose bush. There's a yellow, white and a pink one, and the blooms are beautiful.

Still reading West Coast and would definately recommend it. I would have finished it sooner, but have had so much going on that I haven't been able to spend too much time reading.

I'm slowly catching up with all the blog posts connected to the RNA Conference, thanks to Liz and the RNA blog, and am also getting organized for my trip to Caerleon. Can't wait to go and spend five days with nothing to think about apart from writing. Sheer bliss.