Argh, I am so not ready, I wrote loads of cards last night, thought I was almost done and then discovered I need to do loads more. I must go to the post office tomorrow to post the bookmarks for a Christmas exchange that I do every year. I have wrapped the grand total of five gifts and two of those are books for the book swap at my writers group on Wednesday. I haven't planned any of my grocery shop or ordered my fruit and veg at the farm shop yet either and I'm working extra days at the day job so have less time, To make matters worse, my cloakroom is still not finished so the house is still upside down and I've realised I need to do a major rewrite on Just Look at Me Now if the book is going to work! I'd go drink some wine but I haven't sorted that out yet either!
Happy Thanksgiving for yesterday to all my American friends and I thinks it's Eid for my Muslim friends today - lots of celebrating. Here it's up and down . Eldest dd has lost her phone - downer - teenagers are umbilically attached to their mobiles so shes devastated at the moment. Found some tiles to match our existing ones in the cloakroom so we don't have to fetch all the tiles off - Yay! My angel fish is very poorly - I swear that fish has fits, most peculiar - so I think I'm going to lose her - downer Middle dd is through to second round of cooking contest - Yay - sort of because guess who has to get all the ingredients, balance her budget and time her while tasting her test cooking? Tomorrow I'm taking her for her 13th birthday treat - to see the Take That musical Never Forget at the Grand - Yay!
During the launch week for His Darling Nurse I popped to London to have lunch with my agent and to attend the launch party for the fabulous Loves Me, Loves Me Not anthology. This all sounds very lovely and authorly doesn't it? and when I used to read things like this on other people's blogs I used to sigh and think how nice. I don't go to London often - I think that was probably only the nineth time I've ever gone there so tootling around the capital on my own was quite an adventure. I think my agent was a bit concerned when she realised I didn't have any clue where anywhere was and just intended to amble my way around. In practice it was fine, I mooched around Covent Garden looking at the overpriced and pretty merchandise. I had coffee and cookies in a nice cafe and ambled along to Neals Yard, Leicester Square and the Strand before flagging down a cab to take me to the launch party at the Guards and Cavalry club in Piccadilly. My knowledge of the Monopoly board wasn't really much good as an aid to navigation but it did make it more fun! The club was very olde colonial with lots of silverware, portraits of moustachioed persons in uniform and stuffed heads of long dead animals. Unfortunately for me it also had lots of stairs and no lift so I was really suffering by this point so probably wasn't as chatty and in the flow of things as usual. The pic is of all the authors on the stairs. I'm tucked in the corner on the left carrying my bag a la Mrs T because I was trying to balance my wine glass.
Congratulations to Janet - you win a download of His Darling Nurse and if by any chance you already have a copy then let me know and I'll work you out something else. (Let me know your email addy) Thanks to everyone who stopped by to join in the fun - it was much appreciated. Now I have to get back to writing Just Look at Me Now, today though I have a poorly child at home, my youngest belle feels ill - most unusual for her. So, I need to get fuel, go to work and collect my stuff then I can work from home today. I've started to get my Christmas stuff organised too - I'm hoping that we don't have to fetch all the tiles off when we redo the downstairs cloakroom - I really don't want this level of upheaval this side of Christmas but what are the odds?
I'll be doing the last draw this evening so today is your last chance to enter and win. Loving the jokes - keep them coming! And one final excerpt! Charlie’s class filed out first after the bell signalling the end of the school day rang. Juliet saw him looking for her amongst the group of parents gathered at the gate and she waved to capture his attention. His teacher smiled as Charlie sprinted across the few yards of tarmac to meet her with a hug. “My teacher’s really nice, and there’s a goldfish in my classroom, and Jamie Smith is my friend, and can he come for tea tomorrow?” Words spilled out of Charlie so fast in his excitement that Juliet struggled to keep up with the thread of all he had to say. “Slow down! Let’s walk to the shop and I’ll get us an ice cream and you can tell me all about school,” Juliet suggested, laughing at the way he danced along beside her, his schoolbag bumping on the pavement. The ground shimmered in the heat of the late afternoon sun when they left the small corner shop with an ice cream each. Having spent the day in the air-conditioned comfort of her treatment room, Juliet longed to get home to take a shower and change out of her uniform. Charlie appeared oblivious to the sun and chattered away, his auburn curls sticking to his forehead beneath the brim of his cap. She came home to find Neil’s car parked at the kerb outside his house. Juliet wondered if he’d managed to contact the fencing contractors. With luck she might manage to catch him and ask about the repairs before he returned for evening surgery. That would be if he was still speaking to her after she’d dropped him in it for the quiz night, of course. They let themselves in through the front door and Scruffy ran to greet them. “I bet you want to go out.” Juliet went for his lead, but before she could slip it onto Scruffy’s collar, Charlie opened the back door. The little dog made a bid for freedom and bolted between Charlie’s legs towards the opening. Juliet could only watch helplessly as he headed straight for the gap in the fence and the remainder of Neil Forrest’s once-perfect garden (C) Nell Dixon 2009 http://www.freyasbower.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=7&products_id=227
I'm back from London - very tired and with a blister on my heel from walking. I'll be drawing a name later for the first of the giveaways so leave a comment to be in with a chance of a prize! A few people have asked where I got the idea for the barbecue scene in the first excerpt. For that I have to thank my neighbour, Chris. Chris loves to barbecue and a few years ago when he first got the bug he had his barbecue too close to my other neighbour, Tracey's fence. I heard a shriek and went outside to see smoke pouring from the fence at the back of Tracey's shed while Chris was frantically attempting to put out the flames with the hose. Luckily the damage wasn't anywhere near as bad as Juliet's conflagration. Tell me about the kind of disasters you've experienced with barbecues?
I'll be out a lot today as I'm going to London to meet my agency and to attend the launch for the wonderful Loves Me, Loves Me Not anthology but the party is still on and tomorrow I'll draw the first door prize from all the comments posted up to now for a free download of His Darling Nurse - if you already have your copy then I'll send you something gorgeous instead! Here's another snippet to entertain you while I'm gone.
Wake up, Mummy. Wake up!” Juliet groaned. Her bed dipped and sagged under Charlie’s weight as he bounced on her quilt. She squinted at the alarm clock, blinking in horror when she realized the time. “Oh no, Charlie, we’re late.” Scruffy barked with excitement as she chivvied Charlie along to get dressed. She put on her uniform and headed to the kitchen. So much for being up early and looking poised and professional. “Charlie, toast’s done!” She poured him a glass of orange juice as he clumped downstairs with his shirt hanging out and his tie under his left ear. Juliet tucked his shirt in and straightened his tie before he took his seat at the table for breakfast. She hurried to prepare his packed lunch for school. A few quick glances out of the kitchen window while she buttered his bread revealed the extent of the damage from yesterday’s fire. She hoped Neil knew of some cheap fencing contractors. Her budget for renovating the house had been small to begin with, and the extra expense of paying for repairs to someone else’s property would blow her budget wide apart. Scruffy yapped from by the back door so Juliet slipped on his lead to let him out into the garden. She didn’t want to add to the damage by allowing Scruffy to rampage across Neil’s bowling-green-like lawn. There were no signs of life at Neil’s house, and Juliet wondered if he’d already left for work. It didn’t look like she would be likely to bump into him in his pyjamas coming out to the dustbin. A peep at her watch told her she needed to speed Charlie along or they would both be late, so she hurried back inside. She had her key ready to lock her front door when Neil emerged from his house. “Good morning, Juliet—Charlie.” “Morning. How’s the hand?” Juliet flushed at his unexpected emergence. His neat suit and crisply ironed shirt contrasted vividly with the image of him in pyjamas that she had conjured up just minutes before. He flexed his hand. “It’s fine. By the way, did Rose mention that we have a practice meeting today?” Juliet blushed deeper and stammered an acknowledgement of the meeting, but he appeared oblivious to the heat in her cheeks. “Then I’ll see you later.” He walked off towards a shiny new estate car. By the time Juliet had dropped Charlie at his new school, spoken to his teacher and watched him file inside with his new classmates, she was ten minutes late. “This is not a good omen,” she muttered. She rushed around the corner to the surgery and buzzed for entry at the staff door. “Way to go, Juliet.” Now she could add poor timekeeping under arson on her list of faults. (c) Nell Dixon 2009 Available from Freya's Bower
“Could we have a barbeque this afternoon, Mum?” Charlie sat on the old bench, swinging his legs and slipping Scruffy a taste of his ice cream whenever he thought Juliet wasn’t looking. “Well….” She felt a little nervous about trying out the barbeque. It had been a leaving present from her last practice. Juliet’s previous home had been a second-floor flat and she and Charlie had never had the luxury of a garden before. Not that Martin would have allowed us to enjoy it even if we had, she thought bitterly. “Please, Mum?” “Okay, I’ve got some burgers and sausages. We’ll finish moving all this stuff we’ve cleared to the bottom of the garden, and then I’ll check to see if we’ve got everything we need.” Charlie whooped with delight, making Scruffy bark excitedly. Juliet smiled. The last few months had been so difficult, her spirits lifted to see her son happy again. She tugged the barbeque from under the kitchen window onto the flattest part of the ground she and Charlie had cleared. Her workmates had thought of everything, for inside the big metal dome she discovered cooking tools, charcoal, lighter fluid and matches. Charlie watched from a safe distance while Juliet read the instructions and set everything up. “Darn.” By the twelfth match, the charcoal had still failed to light. “What’s the matter with it, Mum?” “Nothing, I’ll get it going in a minute. Go inside and wash your hands for tea.” Charlie trotted obediently past her and into the house and Juliet tried yet another match. “More lighter fluid—that must be it,” she muttered. Juliet added extra charcoal and sloshed a generous measure of fluid over the top of the pile. She held her breath as she dropped another match onto the coals, only to step back swiftly with a shriek. The coals had erupted into flames with a loud pop. Juliet froze in horror. The barbeque had turned into a roaring bonfire. Sparks flew into the air and blazing charcoal dropped onto the dry grass. She realized too late that in her efforts to stand the barbeque on a flat piece of ground, she had inadvertently placed it too close to the fence. Before she had time to react, the sparks ignited the dry timber of the ancient garden bench Charlie had been sitting on earlier in the afternoon. Within minutes, the fence panel behind it was ablaze too. Coming to her senses at the sight of the disaster unfolding rapidly before her, Juliet rushed to the tap on the kitchen wall and attached the hose. She attempted to turn on the water but to her dismay, the tap refused to budge. She struggled to turn the rusty metal, cursing and wrenching as the flames climbed higher. By now the fence was well alight, and Charlie stared open-mouthed from the doorstep. A jet of water came from the other side of the fence just as Juliet managed to loosen the tap. “Charlie, go inside!” Her first concern was for her son’s safety. If the fire didn’t die down soon she would have to call the fire brigade. Steam and acrid smoke filled the air. She tackled the blaze with her hose and her neighbour doused the flames from his side of the garden. “What the hell happened?” Juliet couldn’t see the owner of the voice through the smoke, but he sounded furious. The flames were almost out and three panels of fence were gone, leaving a smouldering wreck. The smoke began to drift away, and she could just make out a tall, masculine figure. Her eyes stinging, tears streamed down Juliet’s cheeks. She coughed to clear the toxic fumes from her throat. “I’m so sorry. It was an accident,” she wheezed. Her neighbour switched off his hose and kicked the charred frame of the fence out of the way to step through the newly created opening into Juliet’s garden. “Are you all right?” He took hold of her shoulders and peered into her eyes. Juliet struggled to make the blurry outline of his face snap into focus as she continued to choke from the fumes. “Inhaled a bit of smoke, but I’m fine.” She dashed a hand across her eyes to clear her vision. He let go of her and patted his jacket pockets as if searching for something. Juliet blinked with surprise when he produced a stethoscope and slipped it around his neck. “Smoke inhalation can be serious, you know.” He wrapped his fingers around her wrist and checked her pulse. “Really, I’m fine. I’m a nurse, I know I’m okay.” She forced a weak smile in an attempt to reassure him. Now the flames had subsided and the air had cleared, her breathing pattern settled into something less ragged. Apparently satisfied, her new neighbour released her hand.
Hi, I'm Juliet Darling and Nell has asked me to stop by to welcome you all to the party to celebrate the release of His Darling Nurse. It's a bit of a pun really - the title I mean. Neil, Dr, Forrest, makes a joke about it as my surname is Darling. If you met Neil you wouldn't think he was the sort of man to make jokes. I didn't think he was when we first met, but then again, I had just burned down half his garden. Anyway, Nell asked me to tell you that the celebrations will be on all week to let everyone in the different time zones drop in. She's going to give away some prizes of downloads of His Darling Nurse and also a few other little treats. Some other authors will be stopping by too so there'll be lots of excerpts and fun. All the comments will be put into a hat for prizes and Nell will draw different ones throughout the week, so don't just pass by be sure to say hello! Love Juliet x
Juliet Darling needs a fresh start. With the end to her disastrous marriage, she hopes that moving to the village of Chandler’s Gate—where she landed a job as a practice nurse—will give her and her small son Charlie just such an opportunity. Her ex-husband, however, doesn’t plan on allowing them to escape his clutches quite so easily.
Dr. Neil Forrest finds his quiet and orderly life disrupted both at work, with the arrival of Juliet and her new ideas about what a practice nurse should do, and at home when the accident-prone Juliet and her son move in to the house next door. Neil has deep-rooted insecurities about life and relationships since the premature death of his wife. The loss has left him clinging to his precious routines in an attempt to protect himself from further pain.
It takes a very special little boy, an out of control barbecue and a terrible accident before Neil and Juliet can finally get together and Neil can make Juliet his very own darling nurse.
Is released tomorrow and there'll be a party here to celebrate, so stop by for some excerpts and for some prizes. I'm incredibly nervous about this story - it's been ages since I had an e book release, if you don't count the e book and kindle versions of my Little Black Dress books. It's my first book for Freya's Bower and my first with a medical backdrop. I really love this story though which is why I've fought to get it out there. Juliet and Neil are two very determined characters and Charlie Darling is a real cutie.
I have a small collection of phrases and conversations that I've overheard and which make me smile. Today I added another great one. "That woman is always at the doctors. I think he's so sick of her half the medicine he gives her are those gazebos"
I'm assuming she meant placebos but what a great image.
I was on the WH Smith website looking for books for pressies and stumbled across this: 'Just Look at Me Now' Description
Tia's top beauty tip: apply heavy make-up carefully to prevent any cracks from showing...Life is fabulous for Tia Carpenter. She has it all, money, looks, a great job as the beauty expert at stylish Platinum magazine and, at last, the attention of her unrequited high school love, Josh Banks. But Tia has a secret -- back at school she was Barbara Baker, overweight, crooked teeth, frizzy hair and no fashion sense. Cosmetic dentistry, losing seven stones in weight and a complete makeover later, Tia has successfully erased her past life as Big Barb, tub of lard, until the day Juliet Gold, the bane of her teenage existence, arrives to work at the magazine. Juliet always got everything she ever wanted, and now she wants both Tia's job and Josh. Tia will have to use every makeover trick she's ever learned to stop Juliet from uncovering her past and stealing her man. Out August 2010
I went out in the rain last night to take the eldest belle and her friend to one of the local colleges for their open night. Mr Nell drove thank goodness while we attemped to avoid being swept away by the water torrenting down all around us. We got to the college and thankfully they had a carpark. Mr Nell went to park and I noticed the amount of surface water so he pulled to the edge of the car park where the ground was higher. By the time we got out of the car to walk across to the reception area the car park was a lake. The force of the water had lifted a manhole cover underneath a silver Vectra in the centre of the carpark and water was gushing up under it like a fountain! Quite an experience. Today everywhere is just soggy and debris from the trees is lying in heaps in the gutters. It looks as if we might be in for a wet and wild weekend.
I have an unexpected day off today! Such a lovely treat. It feels a bit naughty somehow, like going to the cinema in the middle of the day or being somewhere you shouldn't be. I might even manage to get some writing done. I'm headed for the sticky middle section of the book and events need to start moving. It's at times like this that I wish I was more of a plotter but I'm not so I'll carry on trying to persude my hero to stop ogling my heroine and try to find out what's really going on between him and his ex.
The eldest belle is sitting her english GCSE early this week and one of her maths papers. I can't get my head around this system of doing stuff in bits at all different times. Keep your fingers crossed for her and for me. We've one more college to see this week too. This is the fall back position - the one the kids tend to put down if they don't get their first choice. It'll be interesting to compare with the other two.
Such a lovely word isn't it, faffing? Sort of sums up my day. This is my one day off this week and I'd planned all sorts of things that I needed to do. I should know better really by now. First my middle dd forgot her homework so instead of a leisurely read of the paper in my PJ's and a nice bath I ended up dressing and dashing up to school. Since I was out that way I dropped down to Sainsburys and did a grocery shop then came back to fiddle with the printer to finally print off a load of stuff that I'd been needing to do for ages. It's a faff to print stuff as my printer has died so I need to use Mr Nell's computer and his printer. Then microsoft has decided my copy of microsoft office isn't a proper version - even though they validated it when it went on the puter and a few times since, so now strangely, after running perfectly ever since I've had it now it plays up. Doesn't fill me with confidence when saving stuff - thankfully I back up constantly. So by the time I'd checked that I could get into all my stuff, wrote a blog post for someone and done some long overdue PR and promo stuff somehow the days gone, I still never got my nice long peaceful bath or my restful read of the paper.
Poppies gleam amongst the gold as glints of scarlet thread. 'It's Rosemary for remembrance,' was all the old man said. The beaches soft of palest sand are cleansed by each new wave. Long, straight rows of chalk white stone, regimented graves. The flowers bow their crimson heads and whisper in the wheat, Petals fall like blood red tears, shimmering in the heat. Seagulls scream out the last post while wheeling overhead. 'It's Rosemary for remembrance,' was all the old man said. Children clamber on a tank still frozen in its track, few pause to read the words written on the plaque. Where the heavy boots once marched now children laugh and play, and the sun is the only casualty at the dying of the day. Outside the cafe by the bridge the old man sipped his tea. 'It's Rosemary for remembrance,' was all he said to me.
Belle's have their first dance performance this afternoon and the second one tomorrow. The house is covered with glitter as costumes, tights, shoes are piled everywhere as the belles hunt for clips, eyeliner and ballet pumps. The sink for the cloakroom has finally turned up - the only snag is that we'd planned to do the cloakroom during halfterm, now by the time Mr Nell's shifts allow him time to do it we're at the start of December. Just what I need as I try to reclaim the house into some semblance of order before the fat guy in the red suit rolls up on December 25th. And what I really want to know is why the book I'm not supposed to be writing is clamouring in my brain, while on my contracted book, everyone appears to have gone off in a mighty sulk?
I've been feeling really down all this week - most unlike me. I'm usually pretty laid back and an onwards and upwards kind of person. There isn't even anything I can really put it down to. Just lots of tiny niggly worries I think and most of them are over things that in the bigger picture don't really matter. I've even had some really nice things happen to me lately too, like I'm planning to meet my lovely agent for lunch and I've a lunch planned with my writing buddies Phillipa and Liz. Maybe it's the onset of darker nights and colder weather. Hopefully it'll pass soon and I'll be back to my normal self.
I just realised that it really, really isn't very long till His Darling Nurse releases and am I prepared? Um, no. Lots of things to do and organise and no time to do it. Today was interesting - we had a discussion in our staff meeting on wether we should be allowed to wear jeans. Our current dress code says appropriate smart casual dress - which for me includes smart jeans - I don't mean the sort with rips etc. I'm sure people are adult enough to choose appropriate clothing - if what they wear really does frighten thehorses or casts us into disrepute then fair enough but really I don't think we need to be told what trousers to wear. I'm sure everything will be agreed amicably.
I ran errands for my eldest dd today - there's something wrong with that picture don't you think? Shouldn't she run errands for me? I was charged with getting a black tee shirt for the dance show and three Christmas presents - all girls, two birthday presents - boy and girl and one boy Christmas gift, plus could I keep it to around £5 per person. I think I did good. I got all the presents and got the birthday ones gift wrapped for under four pounds a head. I discovered on route that Hotel Chocolat has all the Halloween chocolate marked way down and some good offers on the other chocolate and Thorntons has some real bargains, a big box of the festive chocolate mints £5 instead of £10 amongst other bargains. I couldn't get the things I'd gone for tho for my middle dd's upcoming birthday so ended up coming back to order them on line. I got some good ideas for my remaining pressies so hopefully when I can get some money I can finish off my shopping before the real madness kicks in. Writing wise I had a good day yesterday so hopefully I can do the same today in between helping fill out college application forms, errands and going into the day job for a special meeting.
My writing time this year has felt quite fragmented. I finished Crystal Clear - edits etc, made a false start with A Scattering of Leaves, lots of edits on His Darling Nurse, and have a third done on Just Look at me Now and now I've almost 15k done on You, Me and Him. Normally though by now I would have hoped to have been almost to the half way point with Just Look at Me Now and at 20K for You Me and Him. Still, we've one more college to look at and eldest has to get her applications in this week. The cloakroom is still untouched as surprise, surprise the bathroom people can't get the sink! Dance show will be out of the way after Sunday and then just maybe I can get a head of steam going on my writing before the festive capers strike up. Whatever happens I need to get my groove on again!
Hope you all had a good Halloween? I love Halloween, we get the house all decorated with cobwebs and bats and candles. I'm lucky in that we live on a small estate and Halloween is a lovely time for meeting up with neighbours - the kids trick or treat in costumes between 5.30 and 8 and only to the Halloween friendly houses - there are signs up for the ones taking part. Everyone is out and about and it's so cute to see the kids meeting up to compare their costumes and their loot. The Mom's and Dad's all seem to enjoy it as much as the kids. The writers workshop was great - really fun and it was lovely to see so many people there. I got soem great tips from Jeff and I'm looking forward to reading his book, Box of Tricks. This is the start of my crazy fortnight - yes it's the annual dance show for the Belle's on Saturday and Sunday at Netherton Arts Centre. So it's costume labelling, rehearsals, and mayhem. Plus I've still got a college to look at with the eldest belle even though she's decided on her first choice. Fingers crossed she gets the results she needs to go there. She plans to study business studies, Applied ICT, Sociology and Dance - well thats her plan at the moment.
Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo called Teddy and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...