Monday, 26 July 2010

Some things I would blog about if I had time to blog...

  • Books I’ve read recently
    Particularly Abby Green’s Breaking the Sheikh's Rules, which has gone right into my top ten Modern/Presents books somewhere around the number one slot thanks to a combination of a really sexy hero, the most appealing and adorable heroine and the kind of setting that makes me sigh with nostalgic satisfaction. I’m not usually a huge fan of sheikh books for all sorts of reasons, but this one hooked me in on page one with its lush Irish backdrop and the horses – there was something about it that whizzed me right back to the first Mills & Boon books I ever read as a teenager and reminded me exactly why I fell in love with them. I’ve also just finished Michelle Reid’s Balfour book – Mia’s Scandal, which features another really fabulous, memorable heroine. It was - predictably - gorgeously written, pacy, sexy and satisfying, as well as being really interesting to see bits of the wider Balfour puzzle slotting into place, and find characters I’d got to know pretty well pop up in a different setting. Made me want to go back and re-visit my Balfour book, so it’s pretty convenient that…

  • My author copies finally arrived!
    Emily and Luis are in the building. I, however, will not be for much longer as we are about to go on holiday, making it extremely bad timing to blog in detail about the book and do a contest. Gah! Will get to it when we get home again, but in the meantime, talking of contests…

  • Mills & Boon’s New Voices Contest has just been launched.
    If you have ever harboured any ambition to write for the world’s biggest and best-loved romance publisher this is a fab chance to give it a go. My take on it is that it’s not so much about winning an i-pad or an editor – though one lucky, talented person is going to wake up with an almighty champagne hangover at the end of it all – but about being given that crucial little push to start putting your dreams in motion. I often wonder how long it would have taken me to stop faffing around and finding excuses if Penny Jordan hadn’t told me to go away and write a chapter and send it to her within two weeks, so if you’re an uber-procrastinator like me you can look on this as your call to action. Start writing over the summer, ready to put something up on the website in September (under a pseudonym if you’re shy) and take advantage of a whole lot of free and honest critiquing. (Which might hurt, but will be a taste of things to come if you get accepted!) And tied into the contest is...

  • The event I’m doing at Nantwich Library on September 9th.
    I’m doing away with the workshop thing and am going for a much more relaxed, informal discussion on Everything You Need to Know About Writing a Mills & Boon Romance (And Possibly Several Things That You Don’t) so Nantwich Library is the place to be if you have burning questions about lines, love scenes, layering conflict, or anything else – even if it doesn’t begin with ‘L’. I'd really love to see you, if you're remotely thinking of coming. (I think you need to phone the library to book places - details are here on the romance is not dead website.) I’m fully intending to max up the girly afternoon tea opportunity, and am really looking forward to doing my first M&B event on home turf, in the library where I used to spend Saturday mornings sitting on the mustard-coloured scratchy carpet reading The Wild Swans (my absolute favourite book for years – I borrowed it so many times I don’t know why my mum didn’t just buy me a copy for Christmas. Sniff.) Anyway, on the subject of home turf, daughters 1 and 2 came with me last week to the launch of…

  • An exhibition in our local (gem of a) museum entitled Nantwich People Past and Present. Penny Jordan and I are both included, along with a surprising amount of interesting and inspiring people for such a tiny rural market town. I am in a corner, nose to nose with Isabella Blow. And not many people can say that.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

So girls, here's the plan...

The summer holidays are upon us. You can tell that because the sun has suddenly disappeared and the sky is all leaden clouds and weird yellow light, and my kitchen is liberally smeared with jam and filled with the sound of CITV warring with Jason Derulo. In spite of all that it feels great to be freed from the tyranny of the school run and the need to iron uniform, although this year the 'end of term' feeling of relief is tempered by the fact that, for the first time, I’m embarking on the summer holidays with an unfinished book all spread out messily in my head. Back in May, in a moment of optimistic delusion after I’d submitted the last book, I pledged to have this one finished by the time the kids broke up from school, to a) make up some lost time, and b) allow me to morph into Doris Day Mummy for the summer. Back in reality, where it takes me an average of 5 months to write a book, I’m a woman in need of a Strategy.

Luckily, thanks to my writing guru Michelle Styles I have one...

Generally I’m an all or nothing person – a ‘shut myself away and turn into a hero-obsessed, sleep-deprived, what-day-is-it?’ type person, or someone who thinks “oh well, only three more hours until I need to make a start on dinner, so there’s no point in switching the computer on today" so writing during the holidays was always going to be tricky. A while ago Michelle blogged about a method she was experimenting with, of writing in word-chunks. She’d found that 750 words at a time worked for her, but suggested I try a smaller number, like 250. And because she is wise and wonderful and I was prepared to give anything a go, I did.

And ladies, so far I have to report that it’s working like a charm. I wake up, write 250 words (which takes about twenty minutes) Go get breakfast, while my mind ticks over the book not the squalor in the kitchen, then go write another 250. Have a shower, while dialogue and details go round in my head, and write another 250, and so on whenever I can through the day. I’m hardly breaking any writing speed records, but I’m not completely neglecting the little darlings either and am keeping the book fresh in my head and moving on the page. Of course, we’re only on Day 4, and I still have the challenge of keeping it up while packing for a week’s camping in France, dealing with the washing when we get back, getting ready for the next trip (which involves both camping and fancy dress costumes) and simultaneously providing amusement (well, providing food and clean clothes anyway) for the children. (Deep yogic breathing and smile of forced serenity....) But I think it might just keep me sane.

Is anyone else juggling the roles of writer and Person I.C.O Junior Entertainment this summer? How are you managing, and do you fancy giving the 250 word challenge a go? Let me know!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

I think we'll call this Irony

Yesterday was Sports Day at both Big and Little schools. Daughters 1&3 were both taking part - at Big school it’s optional and since Daughter #2 shares my deep apathy when it comes to competitive physical exertion she certainly wasn't going to be putting herself forward for the house long jump.

So how come she was the one I ended up sitting with in A&E for FIVE HOURS yesterday? And is she the only person to manage to break her arm watching sports day?

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


...and at long last my website has been updated.

It’s been such a long time coming because my web-slave is a very good friend who has been going through the mill with family issues, so any time we have spent together in the last six or seven months has been more about wine and sympathy than brisk professionalism (always a stretch for me.) Anyway, after a couple of evenings, a Thai takeaway, several tubes of Pringles and several more cans of whatever lager it was that the supermarket were trying to get rid of after England's dismal exit from the World Cup… my husband and he have nailed it. (I think. I'll send chocolate to anyone who spots any mistakes!) Watch out for info on the Balfour book coming soon…

(Although I’m beginning to think I imagined ever writing the Balfour book. Still no sign of author copies yet, and no word on their whereabouts. Will keep sleuthing…)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

And Now... Not Writing

Another reason why I don’t like to post about writing is because the moment I do you can guarantee that something will happen to disrupt it. In this case, it’s been daughter #2 coming down with a really horrible, full-on dose of flu. At least, I’m pretty sure that’s what it is now, though for the first 24 hours I was on high-alert, checking her over for rashes and asking her to put her chin on her chest every five minutes (in the last book I had a child with meningitis and did far too much research into symptoms than is wise for a hypochondriac, over-anxious mother.) Anyway, she seems a little bit better this morning and is sitting up and watching In the Night Garden, half with a cynical, almost-teenage eye and half with the eye of a poorly girl who just needs comfort.

So, some of the things that occured to me as I lay on the fold-out bed in daughter #2’s room and didn't sleep last night were…

1. That I really should clean the children's rooms more often. Particularly the skirting board behind the dressing table.

2. That my hero probably should discover the truth about his father earlier in the book. I originally assumed he would find this out at the end, but maybe it might be better if he knew all along?

3. That I need to make a vet's appointment for Muffin the rabbit and the guinea pigs to have their nails clipped. Because I am NOT doing it myself with the nail clippers, ever again. (Who would have thought such a tiny foot would bleed so much?)

3. That there are only eight more writing days until the summer holidays. And that's not including Sports Day, Leaver's Assembly, daughter #3's End-of-Term Play, Sick-Child days or Small Animal Care appointments.

4. That my Balfour book (see gorgeous cover, below) is out in a couple of weeks and I haven't had any author copies yet. Which is a shame because I haven’t done a contest and giveaways for ages and I'm definitely going to with this one.

So, all in all not a wasted night then. I just wish I had the energy to put any of the above into action...