Sunday, May 31, 2009

Travellers return

We had a lovely time in the Devon sunshine. My appologies for the lack of posts - not only does T Moanbile struggle with me being over eighteen but the web and walk didn't walk very far - it proved to be more of a slow and pathetic crawl that ground to a juddering halt every few seconds. I'd forgotten the reception down around Torbay is so patchy.
Still, the sun shone and we did - well very little actually. We pottered around places during the morning then went back to the van on the afternoons to barbecue and laze around in the sunshine while the girls put on their bikini's and hit the pool.
I still haven't been inside Greenaways - sigh. Partly because it's so tricky to get to. It would be okay if I was on my own but a busride and rivertrip for five plus all the entrance fees is very expensive plus I don't think my hip will allow me to manage the uphill walk from the boat through the gardens to the house. Maybe next time.
We had lovely times in Dartmouth, Torquay, Paignton and Dawlish. We also visited Plymouth to the new Drake's Circus shopping centre during the only showery day. Not impressed at all by the centre - from the outside it looks great but inside it's very poorly planned - not enough lifts, no signs - they rely on electronic booths, not enough toilets and all the refreshment stands together on one floor - the top floor. I don't recomend it. It was also very expensive compared to Exeter, which is a much lovelier place to go.
Now I'm back to a mountain of washing - as per usual but at least the sun is shining so I can dry it and the wait for my editors verdicton Crystal Clear - I sense tweaking.
Also waiting for my agents thoughts on A Scattering of Leaves. In the meantime I'll plough on with Just Look at me now and keep my fingers crossed!

Friday, May 22, 2009


Yes, we're off again. This time to Devon for a week leaving the house with our fish sitters. Fingers crossed my laptop thingy will work and that I can update the blog while I'm away. Maybe T Moanbile will believe I'm over eighteen this time. Have a nice bank hol and if you're visiting from the US - a good memorial weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to school

Tonight was interesting. I accompanied Mr Nell and my eldest belle to her school where we found out more about the maths help available for the GCSE students. For those of you who know me really well and know my challenges with numbers I can already hear you sniggering. All I can say is that I am so happy that I don't have to do my GCSE now. I couldn't do it back then either and if I went to school every day from now till forever I would never, ever fully get it.
Sigh, we looked at the computer programme they use to work through the problems and I fell straight into the same trap I always went into when I was at school.

Question - Jaya spins a coloured spinner 500 times it lands X number on yellow, X on green, Y on red, Y on pink and Q on blue. What is the probability of it landing on Pink?

Already they lost me - I'm thinking Jaya has too much time on her hands and why did she want to make a spinner anyway? Did she convert a cocktail umberella and where is purple? I'd have put glitter on it and oh, what was the question again?
Oh yeah um, 500 right, and what colours? or was it 05?
I don't think I like Jaya, what an odd name to choose, wonder why they didn't just put Jane. Jane sounds like a mathy name or maybe not, what was the name of that girl in the easy reader books at primary? Was she a Jane. No, that was Dick and Dora. Dora could be a mathy name. If Jaya had a brother what would they call him? Is the next question a boy name? Maybe that one will be easier?

So now you know why I'm a writer and not a mathematician. Mr Nell says the inside of my head is a dark and scary place. I think it's more sort of pink and fluffy with little sparkly bits.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Birthday La

My youngest belle, Miss La, is 11 today. In September she starts senior school and I can't quite believe she's that old already. When she was born I already had two children under four years of age, one of whom was a prem baby with health issues. Mr Nell was seriously ill with a longterm medical complaint that was still being stabilised. We had a business to run and I was working as a health visitor in a very demanding post.
Fortunately I managed to carry her to term although she was my third caesarian birth but she was actually quite a good baby. Now she's getting all grown up and ready to take on a whole new set of things that will be very different from the sheltered environment of her tiny village school. One things for sure though, she'll always be my baby.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Post book blues

I always feel a bit flat and kind of lost when I've completed a book. At the moment my agent has two of my projects so I'm waiting for the verdicts before I work any more on those. I hadn't planned to start my next book for Little Black dress till after my holiday but the opening scene has been nagging and nagging at me so yesterday I caved in and wrote 700 words.
Just Look at me Now is already looking to be very different from my other three Little Black Dress books, for a start this story is unrolling in third person wheras Blue Remembered Heels, Animal Instincts and Crystal Clear are all first person. Hmmm, I'll see how that goes as I get a little more into it but I already feel a bit perkier just knowing I've got a project underway.

Monday, May 18, 2009

If it's Monday

It must be Halesowen library reader group. Meeting at 2pm today in Drucker's coffee shop in the Cornbow Centre. I'm looking forward to meeting everyone and talking books.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Last night was one of our family's favourite nights of the year. The musical carcrash that is Eurovision. Naff costumes, ott frocks, mournful dirges and athletic youths leaping about the stage whilst attempting not to set their hair on fire while the wind machine blows a gale. Whats not to love? Sadly, Sir Terry Wogan's commentary was missing last night and we were left with Graham Norton - still he only managed to insinuate three or four gay puns into his commentary so maybe there's hope.
Our entry was Jayde, a girl who would have been booted from the X Factor in the early stages singing a song which had only three lyric lines and featured Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber playing piano. He'd wisely done a runner it seemed when it became apparant that Norway - who had a guy with eyebrows like two wayward caterpillars - was going to storm it.
Our favourites were Turkey - who had lots of belly dancers in red singing what we all though was 'shake your tictacs' and Ukraine who seemed to have raided a fancydress shop and had roman soldiers and discobeat. Azerbaijan were also good fun as was Denmarks imitation Ronan Keating. Best fun of all though was Greece, featuring a guy who looked like Chico's twin who sang and danced on top of a giant stapler.
Marvellous - roll on next year!
Watch Norway Here

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lemmings in lycra

What is it about donning a cycle helmet and skintight lycra that seems to rob cyclists of any kind of road sense? This morning I encountered two of them on my way to work. Bear in mind I work in the inner city on the outskirts of our second city so not exactly your quiet country lanes. It was foggy enough to require headlights.
Lemming number one in requisite lycra and helmet comes cycling out of a bus lane, across a red light and hasn't any lights on.
Lemming number two is on a busy duel carriageway weaving in and out of the temporarily halted traffic, no lights and cuts across the three lanes at the island because he's in the wrong lane.
Sometimes it's like Deathrace 2000

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Talking about books

Nice time at Wordsley library this afternoon and looking forward to Monday with Halesowen readers group. There's nothing nicer than talking about books with other people who love books too. Have already zipped through my TBR pile so I think I'll have to go and treat myself to a few more.
I loved Katie Ffordes Wedding Season - I think it's her best book yet. The Betty Neels were lovely satisfying comfort reads as always. So I need some reccomendations. I like heart warming romances with a splash of comedy, a great plot and a happy ending. I don't mind the heat level if it's important to the plot so the bedroom door can be open but I can do without the mirrored ceiling and handcuffs. I don't really like Vampires and Shapeshifters. I like some historicals but Contemporaries are my favourites.
Tell me what to read...

Monday, May 11, 2009


Yippee!!! Crystal Clear is done. Whew. I intend to take a couple of days break to reclaim the house then press on with A Scattering of Leaves for a few weeks before I start the next Little Black Dress book.
If anyone is in Wordsley tomorrow btw I'm talking at the library there at 2.30 as part of Big Book Fortnight so pop along and say Hi. Next Monday I'm at Halesowen libraries reader group at 2pm - we're going to be at Druckers coffee shop in the shopping centre as the library is being refurbed so I think cream cakes might be on the schedule.
Now to catch up on my reading, two Betty Neels and Katie Ffordes Wedding Season are on my list.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Almost there

Well I've started my backwards edit. Began on C32 and am now on C26 added almost 2k worth of emotional description, dialogue etc and the end of the book is now looking much, much stronger. Hopefully by Tuesday the book will be done, polished and shiny ready for my agent and my editor.
I plan to work on A Scattering of Leaves then for a few weeks to ramp up my word count with that before starting to write my next Little Black Dress book - Just Look at me Now.
The Belle's have received their dance results - highly commended's all round so they're very happy. My youngest belle starts her SATs tests this week and that should then be the last of the exam angst in the house for a little while.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Since Jess and a few other people have been a bit surprised by my back wards method of working I thought I'd try and show you what I mean using a short excerpt from Animal Instincts. Be warned it is quite painstaking as a way of working but It works for me. To show this properly I'm going to reverse the excerpt round to demonstrate how I check from the end

“Pay the man, Clo,” Immi ordered and staggered sideways, flinging her arm around the driver’s neck to steady herself.
“Whoops!” She giggled.

In this bit I wanted to show Immi was drunk but I didn't want to use slurred speech or a long description so I checked to see that her actions revealed her condition. Her dialogue shows her as a happy drunk at odds with her emotional state later on when she reveals the events from earlier in the evening

He must have driven her quite a distance to want sixty pounds and it was typical of Immi not to have any money with her.

This sentence reveals Immi's habitual habit of acting without any regard for the consequences a hint towards the chat show issue

“That’ll be sixty quid, Miss.” The taxi driver supporting my sozzled step-sister leaned her against the doorframe, a look of relief on his florid features.

Again this sentence shows Immi's state and the taxi driver isn't a character that will feature again - I just need to give the reader a word picture of the scene without a huge description and to show she must have come a long way to run up such a big fare - something out of the ordinary and a foil for Clodagh's perilous finances.

“Surprise!” Immi wobbled on her heels and blinked owlishly at me, “I’ve got a present for you.” She waved an unopened bottle of champagne in my face.

This contrasts the two sisters, immi with champagne which Clodagh would probably never drink and it gives an early indication of Immi's generous nature even if she doesn't think things through

The light from the hall spilled out into the night illuminating the two figures on my front doorstep.

This is the opening line of the book. It had to have something of a hook - who were the two figures? and why were they there in the night?

So, after that - in the right order as you would read it.

The light from the hall spilled out into the night illuminating the two figures on my front doorstep.
“Surprise!” Immi wobbled on her heels and blinked owlishly at me, “I’ve got a present for you.” She waved an unopened bottle of champagne in my face.
“That’ll be sixty quid, Miss.” The taxi driver supporting my sozzled step-sister leaned her against the doorframe, a look of relief on his florid features. He must have driven her quite a distance to want sixty pounds and it was typical of Immi not to have any money with her.
“Pay the man, Clo,” Immi ordered and staggered sideways, flinging her arm around the driver’s neck to steady herself.
“Whoops!” She giggled.

All the way through I'm looking to catch any repetition, have I foreshadowed something? Have I repeated a phrase that I overlooked on my forwards edits? Have I got enough emotion or does a phrase seem flat when I look up to the one before it? Is the description clear enough to give the reader a picture in their mind of the scene?

I write quite a sparing, clean first draft so my backwards pass tends to add in odd words here and there. For other people they might need to cut things out. I like dialogue and action tags that show a scene and reveal character. How about you? For the writers out there how do you edit?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Spit and polish

Crystal Clear is shaping up I hope. I've almost finished taking out my hit list words that I love to over use and I've smoothed a few anomalies, just one last one to rewrite so it becomes clearer and helps make more sense of the ending. Then once it's all stripped and clean I start the big adit, where I work through backwards looking at each phrase to see if the emotional impact is there and adding in the final parts that will hopefully make Azure and Drew's story come to life. I'm quite fond of Azure - she makes a big journey during the book. Next comes the nailbiting bit - sending it to my agent and my lovely editor for their verdict.
In other news though I've seen a mock up for the cover of Charlie Darling and it's wow! Completely different from any of my other covers but in a good way! Exciting stuff - no news on the release date yet and I know I have edits etc to come but still exciting.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


While we were at the ginormous car boot one of the stall holders asked Mr Nell if Shaggy was his daughter. When he said she was the man said 'she's got a nice nose. My daughters just paid 4k for a nose job and it looks just like your daughters.'
mr Nell, ever the diplomat replied 'she got hers for free, walking into a metal post at school.'

Monday, May 04, 2009

Here again

We're home. As I haven't got a nice Cotswold pic to show you here's another one from our hols - this time of the view to the sea from Compton Acres.
We had a nice weekend pottering about, we visited Stow-on-the-Wold on Saturday morning and spent the afternoon at Hailes Abbey, where close by was an amazing early church with fantastic medieval wall paintings. The pictures showed a man hunting a hare with dogs on one side of the church and a giant figure of St Christopher on the other side. Above the choir stalls were pictures taken from the Beastary of strange mythical creatures. It was a very magical space.
Yesterday we went to Broadway for the Italian market which was absolutely rubbish - about four stalls, no bread, no icecream, no pizza and precious little of anything else - very disappointing. We also went to Cheltenham for the huge carboot sale which was great fun. The belles found books and neon socks to buy so they were happy. Next stop now is to refill my empty pantry and tackle the laundry monster again before I finish my aditing and polishing of Crystal Clear.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Travelling again

Here's another lovely pic taken by my eldest Belle while we were in Dorset. This weekend we're going to be in the Cotswolds. On Monday it's mine and Mr Nell's twenty-fourth wedding anniversary. Hopefully the weather will be nice and I've bought a gadget for the laptop so as the site is supposed to be WiFi enabled I should be able to get t'internet.