Saturday, February 27, 2010

Caravans and boats

Yesterday, Mr Nell and I went to the NEC to the caravan and boat show. Most of you know we have a touring caravan which we use as much as possible so it was fun to see all the new shiny ones which are on the market. In fact, as hotel prices in London are beyond mine and Mr Nell's budget we're taking the tourer to Denham for the Love Story of the Year awards and commuting in to London by train from there. At £30 for two nights on the lovely caravan club site it was a bit of a no-brainer.
Even better, at the show yesterday I found one of my favourite places has now upgraded it's touring facilities so I've booked to go there for October half-term. Clacton-on-sea here we come. I can't wait. We've had such wonderful holidays there, always in October. The belles are over the moon as we know it so well and we're busy planning trips to our favourite places - the pier, Frinton, Colchester - I love Colchester, the shopping village, the freeport shopping near Stansted. Can you tell I'm excited? The beach there is fab and the belles have always paddled even in the Autumn. We love walking through the gardens along the seafront and visiting the Martello towers. Maybe I'm a secret Essex girl.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Done!

Just Look At Me Now is done - I added almost 10k in total with my editing process and I've just finished tidying up the last little bits. It's now winging it's way through cyberspace to my agent so she can read it before I send it to my lovely editor. Phew! I am so tired of looking at that story right now, it'll be good to have a rest from it for a little while. Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope my agent likes it. It really is very different from my other stories so I hope I've made it work.
Tomorrow I'm going with Mr Nell to the NEC to look at boats and caravans that we can't afford. That'll give me a day out. Then once I've reclaimed the house from the dust monsters I plan to push on with You, Me and Him while I wait for the verdict on Just Look at Me Now.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Almost at an end

Well, the second pass is done and I've gone through eliminating bits of repetition, overly used favourite words and phrases and now I'm on my final edit - the backwards read through. My word count is still climbing as I catch things I hadn't seen before. I've twenty-five more chapters to do and I've added in total now almost 10k from when I started. My ending is much stronger with Tia and Josh finally getting a resolution that they deserve. I've a little pile of post it notes for things I've thought of to add into a few key scenes which I hope will make the story stronger and add impact to the emotional scenes. I've a very, very hot scene in the book too which totally flips Tia's life into a spin and I'm hoping that I've done it justice.
I should be done by the weekend and then I can get this baby off my desk and start to rescue my house from the brink of squalor!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Life with the Belles

Miss La, my youngest belle has finally been cleaning her room out over half-term. Cue the appearance of tons of washing. I peered in the basket and noticed some of it appeared to be from the summer and some didn't seem to have been worn. I asked her if it was all dirty and she said - 'Well, it's hard to tell the clean stuff from the dirty stuff when it's all been shoved under the bed.'
When I just looked at her she gave a big dramatic shudder and said 'besides think - it's all covered in scary dust mites now so it's all dirty.'
I haven't decided if I'll let her live till she's 12 yet.
Highlight of my weekend though had to be a visit to my parents. I suspect My Dad has the same sense of humour as Miss La. For some reason we got onto discussing funerals - as you do - and music. My mother has long had her funeral all picked out and she favours more traditional type music. We were discussing exit songs and I mentioned I wanted Monty Pythons 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.' My Dad said he wanted Johnny Cash. My Mom and I stared at him for a minute as we know what his favourite Johnny Cash track is. Luckily it turned out he didn't want the one we thought he wanted but 'If I were a Highwayman', instead.
Can you guess which Johnny Cash song we thought he meant? Yep - 'Burning Ring of Fire'
With lyrics like:
Love is a burning thing
and it makes a firery ring
bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire...

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down,down,down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns,burns,burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The taste of love is sweet
when hearts like our's meet
I fell for you like a child
oh, but the fire went wild..

I fell in to a burning ring of fire.....[etc]

Yep - that would have raised a few eyebrows at the crem!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

First Pass

Well the first read through and adit is done. The big plotholes are gone, the bulk of discrepencies caught and eliminated and just under 6k added to the word count. I'm still short of my final total but there are more pass throughs to come. The next one is my polyfiller pass - this is where I start to really fill in any tiny imperfections and cracks in the story, I change awkward phrasing and sand off the lumpy bits so the pace is smooth and there are no jarring snaggy bits to yank the reader out of my story. I've got a page of notes - mainly the could do better kind that I made on the first run through. Those are the places where I made some changes already but I wasn't 100% satisfied that I'd done enough. On this run through those are the bits I'll be looking at again in extra detail.
Already this story is much stronger for the work I've put in. Tia's character arc is shaping up now - I need to emphasis the point of change in her thinking and I need to emphasise my gorgeous, sexy hero's strengths. There is a very, very hot scene in this one! Whenever these two meet the attraction is so strong but I need to be sure the reader can feel that heat on the page.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Winters back

Well, we got more snow yesterday so it's nice and chilly here again. Mr Nell had his tooth out yesterday too. Luckily for him our dentist is so nice even my dentist phobic husband had to agree. Progressing well on the first round adit of Just Look at Me Now - 3k added so far with six chapters to go. I've marked a few things to look at when I do the next round. I'm now about 7k short of my target but I know those last few chapters are bad and need quite a bit of work so I anticipate it's going to take me longer to sort the ending out. I think I like this book more now. The heroine is very sweet and the hero is hot. Thank you to everyone who's emailed me and messaged me to say how much they like Crystal Clear and to congratulate me on the shortlisting. It's really helping me battle the crows while I work on Just Look at Me Now.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Pancakes and progress

Mr Nell made some yummy pancakes last night with the eldest belle assisting him. My local paper, the Dudley News has a piece in this week on Crystal Clear and the shortlist! Read HereI'm halfway through the first read now - have added 2k already but I know it's the last part of the book that'll need the most layering. I'm 10k short but that'll soon change. The first half looks stronger already just for a few changes and I'm taking care of some of the humongous plotholes that currently exist. Oh, and I nearly forgot - I'm guest blogging HERE today too!

Monday, February 15, 2010

And so it begins

Yep, I've started my read through and adit of Just Look at Me Now. Since I haven't read the whole thing together from start to finish and it's been so long since I wrote the first chapters it feels fresh. I've decided I actually quite like the first three chapters. Chapter four I've played with a little but I think I'll come back to that on the next pass through. I've already added almost 1k layering in emotions, tiny snippets of description, stronger verbs. I know there will be rewriting coming up soon but for now I need to focus on tightening up as I go through. It's slow work and can't be rushed, it's been a long time since I wrote in third person and I really want it to feel as strong as my first person writing. This means really focusing in on removing those pesky filter words - the she felts etc. I do enjoy this part of writing but it's time consuming and tiring, weighing every word to make sure it's the right one in the right place and it's doing the job that I want it to do. It doesn't help I suppose that I tend to invent words which my spell check really doesn't approve of.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gung hay fat choy

I probably spelt that wrong but Happy New Year - year of the tiger. Very cool that it coincided with Valentines day so those red envelopes will be doing double duty in some houses.
I got Mr Nell four honey red gourami for the fish tank for his present. Me and Miss La also treated ourselves to two new golden mollies. Since they keep swimming in circles and seem very excitable we've called them Dizzy and Rascal.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What a week!

Well, it's been a crazy week! Being shortlisted for the Love Story of The Year was a plus point in an otherwise disasterladen seven days.
The past week has included, my youngest dd having a severe nosebleed which got her sent home from school. Mr Nell chasing a shoplifter out of Co-op. Mr Nell managing to explode a full very large casserole dish of chicken casserole all over my kitchen. Mr Nell getting an abcess under a damaged tooth that's meant him (and me) getting no sleep for two nights and he then had to miss my birthday dinner out last night with my parents. Luckily Miss Boo came with us instead. So all in all a very lively time in the Nell household.
Now though, it's time to knuckle down and read through Just Look at Me Now ready to start the adits - I must admit I can't wait to start pulling it to bits and rewriting. My fingers are twitchy with anticipation!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The secret's out!


I am thrilled to bits to announce that Animal Instincts has been shortlisted for RNA's Love Story of the Year!

The Love Story of the Year is for a shorter romance where there is a strong emphasis on the developing central relationship.

A shortlist of six is again chosen by the reading public, with the winner selected by three judges.

The shortlist is:

The Notorious Mr. Hurst – Louise Allen (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Animal Instincts – Nell Dixon (Little Black Dress)

Always the Bridesmaid – Nina Harrington (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

Fair Deception – Jan Jones (Robert Hale)

The Wedding Party – Sophie King (Hodder)

Claimed for the Italian’s Revenge – Natalie Rivers (Harlequin Mills & Boon)

The award used to be called the Romance Prize which I won in 2007 with Marrying Max. I suppose a little bit of me was always convinced that had been some kind of fluke so to be shortlisted again is just so absolutely brilliant.
There are some terrific books on the shortlist so I feel even more stunned that my book, which my cp, the incredibly talented Jessica Raymond and I, dubbed the two gay donkeys, swearing parrot story has been chosen by readers.
I'm floating around in a little blissful cloud at the moment and hoping I can find a miracle to lose three stones by March in time for the award ceremony. Squee!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Winners

Thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday to share in the fun - it made it so special for me to share with my online friends.
Winners of a signed print copy of Crystal Clear are: (imagine a drumroll)
Julie Hilton-Steele
Mel - L Plate writer
I need you to email me with your addys at helen @ nelldixon . com (without the spaces)
If you already have a copy let me know and I'll find you something else that's lovely!
Hope you'll both enjoy the book.

Last chance!

Last chance to leave a comment and be entered in the draw - I'll be posting the winners when I get home tonight. Thanks to all of you for stopping by and making my birthday and Crystal Clear's cyber launch so wonderful!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Party 3


This was a picture that resonated with my picture of what Zee looked like.
Here's an excerpt to whet your appetite - This is the scene where Zee meets Drew again for the first time.
The wind-chimes overhead sang out as the shop door opened behind me.
“Hi, Zee, I see you made it back.”
Even before Drew spoke, I’d known it was him. Some primitive sense deep in my psyche had recognised he was near me. Hell, five minutes in my mother’s shop and I was already thinking like her.
“Drew.” Annoyingly, his name squeaked out of my mouth as I turned round to face him.
My heart skipped a beat. He hadn’t changed, though his shoulders were broader and the tanned muscles of his arms indicated a life spent working outdoors. He was still unmistakeably Drew, from the faded tan tee-shirt stretched taut across his chest to the well-worn snug-fitting denim jeans. The crinkles at the corners of his eyes were deeper, as were the smile lines around his mouth. My mouth dried at the note of challenge in the dark green depths of his gaze.
“You look good, Zee.”
I fought the urge to toss my hair back in a flirty flick. I’d taken a little extra care with my clothes this morning, choosing fitted navy capri trousers and a pretty blue strappy top. I didn’t want to examine my motives for this, nor for doing my make-up so carefully. “Thanks. You still have your hair.”
Where had that come from? Probably some subconscious wish that he might have gone bald in the last nine years so that I wouldn’t find him attractive any more.
He raked his hand through his dark gold mop of hair, a slightly puzzled frown on his face.
“Yep, it was still there this morning when I showered.” A glint of mischief appeared in his eyes.
My pulse picked up just as I heard a soft and disapproving “tsk” noise from Katya; she probably had a major crush on Drew. That could mean that he spent a lot of time around here, maybe too much for me to feel comfortable.
“Well, you know, people’s appearances change. It’s been a long time.” I tried to ignore the heat creeping into my cheeks.
(C) Nell Dixon 2010

Pahty on

I'll draw the names tomorrow for prizes so please keep commenting and enjoy the fun. Here are some of my research pictures that I took of Brixham that helped jog my memory when I tried to recall certain places in the book.



This is the Sprat and Mackerel pub where there's a scene with Drew, Zee and Katya.

This was one of the atmospheric shots to capture the feel of the place when Zee is out jogging or walking down to the Crystal Palace in Fore Street.

The street where I placed Marla's cottage, high above the town so there's a view of the harbour

Happy Birthday to Me!


And the 'official' launch of Crystal Clear!
I have a lovely day planned today - lunch with some of my favourite people, Phillipa Ashley, Elizabeth Hanbury and the lovely Lizzie Lamb who is coming from miles away!!! Plus of course this cyber party for all my online friends who couldn't have made it to a real life launch.
To kick us off here's the blurb from Crystal Clear:
Crystal Clear by Nell Dixon
Fall in love with this sparkling story of crystals, chaos and re-kindled romance!

For years Zee has tried to ignore her real name (who calls their kid Azure Dawn?) and her mother Marla’s alternative lifestyle. A million miles away from all that new-age nonsense, she’s got a reliable teaching job, a perfect life plan and sensible accountant Simon for a fiancĂ©. But when Marla gets sick, the foundations of Zee’s rock-steady world are seriously shaken. Soon she’s back home, in touch with the boy who broke her heart and even being sucked into one of her mum’s hare-brained schemes. What about Zee’s plans for the future? Could they ever include a free-spirit from her past?

‘A brilliantly fun read that will have you hooked!*****’ (OK! magazine )
When I write my books I create playlists of songs which pick up different parts of the story and help me get the right mood. Over the course of the story one sone more than any other becomes - for me - the one that sums up the feel of the book.
Here's the playlist for Crystal Clear:
Radio Nowhere - Bruce Springsteen
Turn it up - The Feeling
I love it when you call - The Feeling
Waiting on a sunny day - Bruce Springsteen
All Summer Long - Kid Rock
Photograph - Nickelback
What I go To School For - Busted.
No prizes for guessing that last track was for the last part of the story. One song though became the one which for me is Crystal Clear and that track is Bruce Springsteen - Girl's in their summer clothes. Listen Here
Everyone posting throughout today will be entered for door prize draws and I'll be pulling some names out to win signed print copies of Crystal Clear!
So, until I get back from lunch - tell me what music for you sum up which books - obviously Wuthering Heights can only be Kate Bush - Remember I've got goodies waiting!!!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Getting ready

to pahtay! Tomorrow is my birthday so I decided to combine it with an official launch party for Crystal Clear. I'm giving stuff away, sharing some of the scenes behind the book, my playlist that I create for every book I write including the song that for me becomes 'the' song that resonates when I'm writing. So make sure you stop by and say hello for a chance to win and share some fun.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Friday

The eldest belle recieved an offer from her other sixth form college application so she's thrilled, now though she has to wait and see which of them can offer her the subjects she wants in the right blocks. It was never this difficult when Mr Nell and I went to school!
The middle belle went to London yesterday with school to see Terry Pratchett's Nation. She said the acting was good, the effects were good but she didn't really understand the play. She bought the book and said she plans to read that and see if it gets any clearer.
My day job is very, very busy so I've had to switch my core hours round to Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and work a ten hour day on the Tuesday and extra hours most Fridays. Today I'm going to do that from home as the poor quality IT at work drives me crazy! Yesterday we couldn't recieve or send any external e mails - sigh.
I'm thinking about You, Me and Him now though and can't wait to write some more of it while Just Look at Me Now ferments away for a week or so.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Writing Talk

I talked at Brierley Hill library this morning. Lovely to meet the librarians and members of the readers group. Libraries do such a wonderful job and I love going to them to meet other book enthusiasts.
Tonight is my local writers group meeting so I get to talk about writing there too - one of my favourite kind of days!
My lovely cp just sent me back her thoughts on my last two chapters of Just Look at Me Now so i'll make some tweaks and then close the file for a while before I start the rewrites and edits. In the meantime I want to write some more on You, Me and Him as it was getting very interesting!

Monday, February 01, 2010

The end

Done - first draft of Just Look at me Now is with my cp. Time to let it rest for a couple of weeks before I read it from start to finish with fresh eyes and begin to mark up where the changes need to go.
In the meantime I'll work on my speculative story, You, Me and Him. So, back to the research for that one!
A photographer came today from the local paper for a piece they plan to do on Crystal Clear, so that was exciting! Tomorrow I'm working a ten hour day at the day job, providing the weather co-operates. We had snow again overnight and as our lovely council seems to be conserving the grit supplies the local roads were grid-locked for two hours this morning in the rush hour.