Monday, 23 February 2009

For Everything There is a Season...

...And a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to knock back champagne with fellow authors, and a time to drink tea at the keyboard. A time to spend all day on the phone chatting to journalists about sexy rugby players, and a time to take the phone off the hook and think about sexy Italian film directors. A time put on high heels and trip off to London for awards lunches, and a time to drag your ass up to your desk and force it to stay there until you’ve written three thousand words a day.

That time has come.

*Sigh*. I may not be here much for the next little while.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

And it's not even April 1st!

I am TOTALLY supporting Mills & Boon’s protest against a ban on kissing, which Virgin trains are trying to impose at a railway station in my region. This is not just sour grapes because Virgin Trains did their very best to make me miss the RNA Awards lunch last week (when the train I was on stopped inexplicably outside Tring for an hour and a half, making a bit of a mockery of them rushing everyone onto their new high speed service without allowing a moment to say goodbye), but because kissing is one of the few things I adore that isn’t bad for you. Smoking? Yep, ban it and its 40 different kinds of cancer-causing chemicals and take the tough love on the chin. But kissing.....?

Just reading this article makes me want to go down to Crewe station right now (and that’s not a sentence I find myself saying very often) and snog in a leisurely, unhurried manner, however Sarah Ritherdon, who's Mills & Boon's uber-fabulous Director of Publishing, has a more intelligent response... “Romantic embraces and passionate kisses are a vital part of life and should never be discouraged. We believe that attempting to restrict passion to certain times or areas is a denial of the human right to express love. ”

Amen. And plenty of people out there agree, if the growing group on facebook is anything to go by. Go and add your support! (or your face, or whatever you do on facebook...)
(That warm little hollow beneath the earlobe is my area of choice though...)

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Why I love the internet

OK, so it plays havoc with my word count and offers more tempting avenues for distraction than my butterfly mind can easily cope with, but here are my top three reasons to embrace the addiction. Add yours below!

1. Online shopping. Thankfully now also practised by Him, and the reason why this Valentines Day I got these, instead of a bunch of garage carnations and a creme egg.

2. Oh yes! Discovered via my Male on Monday post at the PHS. Group therapy.

3. Half term cyber-babysitting. My brother showed the daughters this clip at the weekend and they're deeply, weepily smitten. I've told them a lion cub is not a pet-option, so they're now thinking of releasing Ruby the (airhead) cat into the wild and holding out for a tearful reunion a year from now.

So what's your preferred way to waste time online at the moment?

Thursday, 12 February 2009

And now, in the best 'Awards Season' tradition...

I'd really like to say thank you. To...

1. The RNA ladies who worked so hard to plan, organise, publicise and host a mammoth and memorable event. Total respect and huge thanks (from someone who's struggling to arrange a birthday treat involving 4 girls for daughter #1 this weekend...)

2. Fellow shortlisted authors Fiona Harper, Kate Hardy, Jessica Hart and Beth Elliot-- brilliant authors of some really stonking, emotional, lump-in-the-throat books who, even though we were all nervous, made Tuesday such fun. (The other shortlister, Lucy Broadbent, apparently lives in California so although it was a really fabulous occasion, I absolutely do not blame her for staying away from the sleet and snow that made getting there such a nightmare. But it would have been cooool to meet her because her book is great!)

3. Everyone who left congratulations comments here and emailed privately. I knew that the award winner got the lovely silver rose bowl, but I never expected to get the astonishing flood of generosity and downright loveliness too. Yes, I’m talking to you Michelle, Meljean, The Lizs Fielding and Fenwick, Margaret, Anne, Trenda, Karen, Katie, Kate H and Kate W, Rachel, Ray-Anne, Julie B and Julie C, Donna, Barbara, Fiona, Debs, Marilyn, Helen P and Helen R, Sarah, Sue Rix, Phillippa, Jane, Nina, Annie, Ania and all the forum gang. If I could, I’d give you all a hug whether you wanted one or not and I’d let you share my Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (Of course they had to figure in the celebrations...)

4. Lucy, my M&B editor, who is as clever and incisive as she is gorgeous and funny.

5. Julia Gregson, author of East of the Sun and winner of The Romantic Novel of the Year. Warm, friendly, down-to-earth and with the most beautiful taste in clothes, during the flurry of photos after the awards she made it feel like we were co-conspirators on an exciting adventure. I'm an instant fan.

6. James D’Arcy, obviously, for being so damned inspiring.

7. Abby Green, for being so damned great.

8. All the Presents authors, because writing for this line is like having lots and lots of lovely sisters looking out for you and giving you support. And that's in the bad times as well as the good ones.

9. My stylist, my astrologer, my personal trainer, my publicist, my feng shui consultant...

(Oh dear, I think perhaps I'd better better stop there, put on another lumpy old jumper and scuttle back up to my ice-cold office in the attic before the delusions take over...But really-- thanks to everyone.)

(I'll shut up now.)


Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Guess What I’m Doing Now...

I am having a delicious, illicit, probably-clearly-indicative-of-alcohol-problems, glass of celebratory champagne whilst all alone in the house on a weekday lunchtime. And I am looking at the shiny (polished and cherished by lovely Kate Hardy) Betty Neels rosebowl on my bookcase. And I am feeling a bit weepy.

And when I am finished doing all of these things I’m going to come back and say a proper thank you to you all.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Some serious post-match analysis

The Six Nations rugby tournament started on Saturday, which means that I don't have to look very far for entertainment or romantic inspiration for the next few weekends. It also means that He and I are for once in happy agreement about what makes for a great afternoon, although obviously for rather different reasons: this Saturday He was thrilled because England won, and I was thrilled because they were playing Italy. I started watching convinced that Italy boasted the best looking team in the tournament by far, but having also watched France (against Ireland) and then Wales (playing Scotland) I'm actually pretty impressed by the competition. I'm clearly going to need to conduct an more in-depth study over the coming weeks.

One major disappointment was that the new French coach has inexplicably dropped last year's Number 10 from the 2009 line up. David Skrela gave France a massive boost in the sexiness stakes, and was also the player I used for inspiration when I was writing Alejandro from At the Argentinean Billionaire's Bidding (surely both good, solid reasons for keeping him in the First XV?) Argentine polo player Nacho Figueras was the face of Alejandro, but Skrela provided the raw rugby passion, and specifically the sexy-as-sin bleeding lip which Alejandro suffers in the opening chapter of the book-- a look modelled by Skrela in the France-Wales game of last year's Six Nations. I can't find a picture of the actual incident (although I've really enjoyed looking) but here's one for you to enjoy without the cut lip.

Anyway, back in the real world last week's snow has now dissolved into khaki-coloured slush, but the three very oddly shaped snowmen made by the daughters remain bizarrely unmelted. Very sinister, and with their black, staring eyes and gaping mouths definitely more Stephen King than Raymond Briggs. Annoyingly, more snow is forecast for later on today and tonight, so I'm going to be spending the next 24 hours looking anxiously out of the window and wondering whether I'm going to make it to the RNA Awards Lunch tomorrow. It's all in the lap of God, the Met Office and Virgin trains, but believe me, I won't miss out on a lipstick-and-heels occasion for anything less than Arctic armageddon.

Talking of which, I'm blogging later on today at iheartpresents about the underrated romance of ice and snow. Please come over and visit!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


The only thing, aside from thousands of pounds and a weekend with Alan Titchmarsh, that could possibly make our scruffy garden look elegant and designer.

Can I have some more, please?