Wednesday, 30 April 2008


The cover for my next book is up on Amazon.

This is my August release (out in hardback in June) and is Orlando and Rachel’s story—you know, the one I was so deeply obsessed about last summer, and for which the delicious James D’Arcy provided the hero material.

(Let’s just remind ourselves shall we....

.... Ah yes.... lovely.)

It's my favourite book so far, though I think it should have the subtitle ‘Pleasure has got nothing to do with it...’ as it’s also pretty dark at times. I have to confess, James/Orlando is just a little more lean and beautiful than his cover counterpart (and the colour of Rachel’s hair is all wrong... picky, picky, picky) but I think it does a pretty good job of catching the mood, and Rachel's dress is so much sexier than poor Anna's dinner lady overall on my last book!

(The hulking dark shape in the background is a piano, by the way, and not the open bonnet of the hero's Ford Cortina. )

Friday, 25 April 2008

Teaching an old dog new tricks

I am trying to master the art of self-discipline. After 37 years of loafing, procrastinating, and only getting anything done if there's an iminent danger of something really bad happening if I don't (ie children dying from salmonella poisoning because I haven't cleaned the fridge/Inland Revenue stinging me for £100 because I haven't done my tax return/HMB contract being terminated because I haven't made my deadline etc) I have decided to embrace the concept of a steady, reliable and non-panic-fuelled output.

(Well, that’s this week’s excuse for my appalling blog-presence anyway, and I think you’ll agree it's very clever. So, my non appearance isn’t because I’m a lazy old slacker—oh no. It’s because I'm actually being virtuous and diligent.)

It’s very hard, this self-discipline business. I can see why I haven't got the hang of it before now. Basically, what it means is that I have to take the children to school and not hang around for 45 minutes analysing the issues of the day with the Mum Mafia. I have to come straight home (do not pass Sainsburys. Do not spend £200) where I am allowed to make a cup of tea (but not sit down in the kitchen to drink it and 'just quickly check my horoscope in the paper'), glance at the post and check emails-- once. Blog surfing is forbidden, as is youtube lingering, itunes browsing or continuing the online quest for the perfect pair of shoes to wear to my brother's wedding. Then I have to go upstairs. And write. And keep writing until I've done 3000 words.

On the upside, I don’t have to sweep the Cheerios up from the kitchen floor, clean the toothpaste tidemark out of the basins or go and make beds (does anyone know if there's an age where children legally have to start doing this for themselves?) The dilemma of staring out of the window and thinking 'it's a really nice day... maybe I should get a load of towels in the wash?' has been largely taken away. On the downside I'm going to end up a friendless recluse with a house carpeted in breakfast cereal and terrible shoes. BUT with a book, delivered on schedule and minus a small mental breakdown.

It's got to be worth a try?

Friday, 18 April 2008

It's not fair!!

Last night, while sitting in a PTA meeting at school, I got a text from my lovely cousin. Opening it surreptitiously under the table, I was instantly transported about three hundred miles (and about the same number of years) away from catering arrangements for the summer fair by this picture. It's the view from the beach in Western Scotland where we all spent endless childhood holidays together, and in her message she said she was there for a friends wedding on the beach, and was at that very moment watching the sunset and drinking whisky. I almost expired with envy right then, before we'd even reached Any Other Business. (I wonder if that would have appeared in the minutes? Mrs India Grey turns a funny shade of green and falls off her chair, muttering incoherently about where it all went wrong...)

It was a pretty bad day all round for the Green Eyed Monster, since earlier on the postman had delivered to me a copy of Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife sent by the wonderful Michelle Styles, and featuring just the hottest cover guy in existence. I mean, seriously pulse-quickening, with untidy, bed-tousled hair and a perfect profile. See?

Not a beige polyester shirt or shaving rash in sight. Who do you have to buy chocolate for to get covers like this?

In addition to my acute envy-itis, at the moment I am also suffering from a severe case of Short Attention Span. This is an uncomfortable condition whose symptoms include a pressing need to browse ebay for obscure items, a sudden obsession with filing my nails and applying handcream, and an irresistible compulsion to run downstairs every four and a half minutes to check email and see whether anyone’s added any new clips of Alex from the Apprentice to Youtube (Oh yes! They have!) Its main side effect is painfully slow progress on the book. It’s a comfort to know that Natasha Oakley is similarly afflicted, but if anyone knows of a cure (preferably involving an afternoon nap and a bar of Toblerone, or something nice like that) please let us know. Otherwise I might inadvertently find myself heading up the M6 for Scotland...

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

This is very bad news indeed

Ikea's Dime Bar Cake is now available at Sainsbury's.

This is conclusive proof that God is a man with absolutely no grasp of Impending Big Event/Even Bigger Bottom/Nothing to Wear anguish. Humph. Probably thinks he has more important things to worry about.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Philosophical Friday

I wish I could say I’ve been absent from the blog because I’ve been busy doing glamorous, fascinating things, but unfortunately if I did say that there’s a real risk that my already rather large nose would grow another couple of inches. The truth is actually exactly the opposite, and I haven’t posted precisely because of the lamentable lack of glamorous and fascinating goings-on to relate.

I blame Muffin the rabbit, partly because a large proportion of my day is now given over to peering surreptitiously out of windows to try to catch him actually in the act of snacking on my fledgeling tulips, and this really cuts into the time in which glamorous, fascinating things might otherwise occur. Mostly though I blame him because he’s a convenient thing to blame. It’s his role in life, like mine is to pick up 42 wet towels (or thereabouts) a day from the bathroom floor and forget to buy loo roll. Isn’t it reassuring to know we all have a place in the Great Universal Order? (which sounds like a catalogue shopping spree.) What’s yours?

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest sources

I’ve come to the conclusion that I'm a bit like a goldfish in some respects. Not in the ‘being able to swim really well and hold my breath underwater for long periods’ (like, maybe indefinitely) ones, but certainly in that I completely forget things I really like 15 seconds after they’ve finished. (Except Ikea’s Dime Bar cake. I sooo remember how much I like that.... Anyway, I’m digressing)

Take The Apprentice, for example. Not being a business-minded ball-breaking kind of a girl, it’s not something that automatically flashes up on my viewing radar, but a couple of weeks into every series I tend to find I’m hooked. This time it’s happened more quickly, but I suspect that my instant enslavement has more to do with the candidates themselves than with the programme’s intense focus on cut-throat business practise . Because, is it my imagination (or my hormones) but are a couple of the blokes surprisingly hot?? (You can largely ignore the front row here...)

It's surprising because, unlike The Palace, The Apprentice is a programme I collapse onto the marital sofa alongside my lovely husband to watch. It’s not supposed to be a full-blown fantasy-fest, and yet, I'm finding that I’m strangely inspired. On first glance you might think that super-suave, smooth-talker Raef was going to be the alpha male hero of the piece. Er, hell-o? I think not. Check out world-weary rough diamond Alex, or tall, chisel-cheekboned Lee standing at the back here....

The really great thing is it's on for another ten weeks! Yippee! Let's just hope that Alex stays in (and that one of the tasks involves a beach, surf shorts and oil...) and we'll all be happy!

*(I apologise for the shallow and un-politically correct content of this post. Naturally, here at we would like to offer our best wishes to all the candidates, regardless of their gender or the excellence of their cheekbones....)

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Isn't it time these children were back at school??

How come that, although Easter now seems about a squillion light years ago, the easter holidays are still only halfway through?

One of the things I promised myself I’d do while the kids were home and writing was pushed down the agenda was try to get to grips with the music element on my website. (Slightly hysterical laugh.) However, Project Playlist has clearly identified me as a perennially un-cool suburban housewife who wouldn’t know an MP3 folder if it stood in front of her waving a banner, and is conspicuously refusing to have anything to do with me. (Sigh) I don’t blame it really. I think daughter #1 feels the same.

So, now I need to add 'Drastic Website Re-write' to my list of things to do. In the meantime I have at least worked out how to pop a little bit of youtube on here, so can actually bring you the fabulous Nickelback song that so brilliantly seemed to sum up the relationship between Angelo and Anna in The Italian’s Captive Virgin, and was played-- a lot, loudly-- when I was writing the early stages of the book.

Not much else to report... Yesterday I turned the fact that the children (and I) still hadn’t got dressed by 1.30 to my advantage, and made them throw open their wardrobes in ‘Posh-Outfit Challenge’; an attempt to find something to wear for a family party we’re going to this weekend, and my brother’s wedding in a few weeks time. Within moments they were all parading around in an assortment of half-forgotten items and managing to look irritatingly gorgeous. Daughter #1 unearthed a little chiffon smock top thingy I’d bought last summer (and never wore because it rained for 3 months solid) and put it on with footless tights and a miniature lilac cardigan (aged 4) which looked fashionably cropped, while Daughter #2—whose taste these days wavers between hippy and rock-chick goth—discovered a long Indian print dress which, when teamed with gold shoes, managed to look both laid back and glamorous. Daughter #3, happily stockpiling all items rejected by the other 2 as being too small, was totally spoilt for choice—torn between a raspberry pink velvet skirt (outrageously expensive, and daughter #1’s Christmas present six years ago) and a little silk shift dress.

I, meanwhile, found nothing that didn’t make me look like a farmer’s wife from a storybook or an ageing Russian shotputter.

Where did it all go wrong??

(Ah yes... I remember now. The biscuit tin.)