Friday, December 28, 2007

Sale on

Ever since she opened her parcels La, my youngest belle, has been planning her shopping day. She likes 'flat' presents and was soon busy drawing up a list of things she planned to get. Every year I take the belles out one at a time to the sales, where they get one to one Mom time and they choose what they want to buy with their vouchers and money.
This year it was La's turn to go first. So at bang on nine this morning we were in the Bear Factory, followed by Disney store, Partners, Asda, Next, Pumpkin Patch, WH Smith, Waterstones and M&S. She's very happy and my hip is very achey. She bought a lovely fluffy Eyeore dressing gown, an e pet, more gel pens and Crayola colour explosion stuff, a pink velour tracksuit, two new books, bear outfits and a note pad plus her big sister's birthday present.
Now I need to rest up before the next one's turn to shop.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

Well, Santa came, the turkey and pork was delicious, the crackers were pulled and everyone got what they wanted for Christmas. The Belles have been trying to guess for a week what their surprise present was from me and Mr Nell. They'd squeezed and rattled the package, played twenty questions and hazarded a million wild guesses. Happily they were thrilled to find Panto tickets to see John Barryman playing Aladdin. There's supposed to be a three d magical genie and a Dalek on stage too. We're going on Jan 2nd so it should be a good way to start the New Year.
Snata bought me Amazon gift vouchers, some gorgeous jewellery, socks (my faves) and money which will pay my RNA fees.
I also got a book I'd been dying to read, Clarissa Dickson-Wright's Spilling the Beans. This is a lady who has had a life with a capital L. She came to fame as one of the two fat ladies. I'd heard her talking about the book on the radio and it sounded fascinating.
What was your best pressie?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my blog visitors a Merry Christmas. May Santa bring you everything on your list, your dinner be delicious and your tree retain it's needles until the new year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Run, run, Rudolph

I just made another trip to the post office - not Christmas presents but contest prizes from the Moonlit Romance reader party the other night. I'll be drawing my subscriber newsletter prize winners on Christmas eve and making my next post office trip after Christmas. I just have two more cards to write and deliver but both of those are local. If you sent me a card - thank you. When my computer threw a wobbly earlier this year I lost several addresses from my files so if I've missed you out that may be why.
My best friend is coming today and I can't wait to see her to catch up on the gossip. Then Christmas eve will bring our traditional visit to the Christingle service at my mother's chapel. The belles look forward to this every year and Christmas wouldn't feel right without it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Friday Fun 22

The Black Country is renowned for it's ales. The largest and most famous is Banks's Brewery but there are many small brewery's making beers. Another renowned one is Ma Pardoe's otherwise known as The Old Swan in Netherton.

Ma Pardoe was a former landlady and locals always refer to the pub by this name. They still brew beer on the pemises and it's worth visiting to see the vitrous enamalling on the ceiling - see photo. This was the traditional style of fitting a pub interior. They also have a very good reputation for food.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Yesterday was the last of the funerals. I'm so glad that's over now - it's been a very difficult time over the last few weeks. I got my X ray results on my hip and my leg is officially going to fall off - okay, not exactly but there is osteo arthritis in there as well as the bursitis. Now to await the consultant appointment.
I still have a load of cards and gifts to deliver and tomorrow one of my longest standing work colleagues is retiring and I want to go to her party.
Bridie - if you're reading this, we'll miss you so much.
Boo and la have gone off to school all dressed up in their party finery for their Christmas party - yesterday their school did a cinema trip to see Stardust. When I was at school all we had was a cine film of Laurel and Hardy classics in the dining room before making party hats and eating rubbery jelly. Shaggy took the first part of her french GCSE yesterday too - apparantly she's been told that she passed it but doesn't know her grade. This too is all new to me, taking exams in bits and pieces - I must be getting old, no wonder my legs dropping off.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas is getting closer

Yesterday was Mr Nell's birthday. His cards get to stay up on their own for one more day and then all the Christmas cards get put up too. I'm off to church again this morning for Boo and La's school carol service and then they are doing a violin concert back at school. I still have a million things to do around home and I want to finish c7 of Animal Instincts. C6 has joined the chapters with Jess. My Moonlit editor will also be sending the edits through anytime for Dangerous to know which is due for release next month.
Tomorrow it's an all day party over at the Moonlit reader group. Please join up and come and chat, there'll be loads of excerpts, and lots of prizes.
Join up here

Saturday, December 15, 2007

X factor final

All I can say is that anyone who voted for Leon to win should go and buy his record because he's going to need all the help he can get. What a complete travesty. Same Difference were superb as usual and for overall talent they were streets ahead all the way through. Rhydian can sing light opera and his version of the song for the single was a million miles better than Leon's off key effort. Leon had extra vote time too - he sang first and the lines opened, then there was a break and the lines closed as soon as Rhydian had finished singing. They should have been frozen till both of them had sung to make it completely fair.
It was nice to see Kylie looking well and carrying some extra weight but she shouldn't have sung with Leon. It sent out a signal that he was the preferred candidate. Kathryn Jenkin's voice overpowered Rhydian which was a shame.
All in all I don't feel the voting reflected the talent which was disappointing. It'll be interesting to see if the single gets to number one.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday Fun 21

Another culinary delight of the Black Country is the chain of local sweet shops called Teddy Grays. Teddy Gray is famous for it's herbal tablets. These are sweets made to a secret recipe - rumoured to be known to only three living souls. Very popular they taste lovely and are thought to ward off coughs, colds and sore throats. They are also addictive lol.
I took some to a RNA conference a while back and I know a certain M&B editor who is very fond of these.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mystic pizza

My Christmas tree is not exactly designer. I think I may have mentioned before that it's covered in things we've collected and that the belles have made. I had a visitor yesterday who was fascinated by all the different things hanging on the branches. Hummel balls from Austria, Three Russian dolls from the Ukraine, Clay gingerbread men that weigh a ton and bow down the branches, an angel made from pipecleaners that we call Britney Spears (she has a bald patch)a set of Cinderella ornaments, knitted toys that the belles used to play with when they were tiny - made by their much loved great grandmother.
Then my visitor found a multi-coloured flat blob of an ornament.
'What's this one?'
I had to explain that when Boo was in preschool when they got out the saltdough for the children to make a decoration for the tree, while the others mades angels and baubles and candy canes, Boo made a pizza. So I have pizza on my Christmas tree - and very nice it looks too next to a snowman and a glass angel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Heads up

If you like M&B romances I was in Asda today and you can get three for £6.50. I think it's selected lines but what a bargain! Ideal for some pressies.
I'm feeling a bit blue today - not sure why - lots of things I suppose. The never ending wait to hear something on Charlie Darling - it's been 12 months now since they asked for the full ms and almost nine weeks since I was told it had been passed higher and the revisions had been accepted.
I've another funeral to go to next week for a much loved relative and still haven't heard when I'm to see the consultant or what the X rays showed.
On the bright side our two baby fish, Fishface and Babycakes, are doing well, they're almost half the size of the neon's now and we've spotted two more teeny babies in the tank. The two new ones are called Bart and Lisa.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh those golden slippers

Miss La has gone to school today in glittery gold shoes. It's complicated but basically her friend stayed over on Friday for a sleepover. Both Miss La and the friend have the same shoes, in the same size and both have foot problems that mean they have adaptions on their shoes.
Last night La couldn't find her school shoes but she found her friends shoes. So, she rang her friend who assumed she had gone home in the wrong shoes. Are you with me so far?
They decide to swap shoes at school, except La can't wear the friends shoes so she wears her party gold glitzy ones.
Cue a phone call from La at school this morning, 'Mom, she hasn't got my shoes.'
Now I have to go and search all over the house for where the missing shoes might possibly be, because it would be far to simple to have ut them where they are supposed to be kept, wouldn't it?
I guess it will make a change from 'the dog ate my homework' type of excuse - sigh

Sunday, December 09, 2007

X factor again!

Once again I think the right choice was made. To be honest either Leon or Niki could have gone. Neither of them were very good last night. Niki is no Whitney Houston, singing louder doesn't hide that she couldn't make a key change because her range is limited.
Leon was all over the shop, his second song was awful, maybe his leather trousers were distracting him. The boy can't dance and he especially can't dance and sing at the same time.
Rhydian was okay. Yes, he has a voice but the song choices were lazy and he moves around the stage like someone on castors. I've an office chair with more flexibility then him and the chair is broken.
Same Difference's second song was great, sung with real emotion and they do better when they are presented as an act that can do grown up stuff as well as appealing to a younger audience. I'm pleased they've made the final - they deserve it.
Can't wait to see next weeks final.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Suddenly looks a lot like Christmas

Well, it does at the Nell household. Tree is up and decorated, outside lights and signs are up. Six million singing and dancing animatronic pieces of Christmasobilila are arranged around the lounge ready to startle unwary guests into spilling their Port when they burst into life without warning.
The cards don't go up till after Mr Nell's birthday on the 16th, then the walls and doors will be smothered in cards.
The advents stables are out. The large one is in the hall awaiting the arrival of the Christ child on Christmas day.
The small one is on the hearth. This set is a tiny one we bought in Spain pre children. When the belles were small they loved to play with the figures. I have fond memories of my eldest belle hopping Jesus along the fireplace on his head saying 'Hide baby Jesus the snowman is coming to get you.' while the middle belle waggled a giant knitted toy behind the stable.
This afternoon is the Christmas fayre at the littler belles school. La has had a friend sleeping over so there has been an extra pair of hands to hang the baubles and eat the chocolate decorations.
To add to my joy I just had an email from one of my writer friends. Mary belongs to Wombourne writers and is incredibly talented - Loose ID have agreed and she's sold her first book!!!!!! Yay!!! I love sales stories don't you?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Friday Fun 20

The Tipton Slasher.
Born William Perry in 1819 - died 1881
The Tipton Slasher was a canal boatman who left the boats for a time to become the champion boxer of England. This was in the era of bare knuckle boxing and the Slasher earned his nickname from a brutal right hook. He held the championship for some time, finally being defeated by Tom Sayers in 1857. The Slasher then returned to his work on the barges.
He was so famous he lives on in poetry and song.
1 Bill Perry lived the life God gave,
He's gone to his long rest.
We'll write these words upon his grave
'He fought and beat the best.'

2 A King he was within the ring,
A songster in Spon Lane;
No more again we'll hear him sing
'My pretty, pretty Jane.'

3 Ben Caunde 'as gone (of doubtful worth)
And dodging Bendigo.
And Freeman Bold, of giant girth,
And fouling Paddock, too.

4 Tom Sayers, bravest of the brave,
Has long ago passed on;
Their bodies lie within the grave,
Their fighting souls box on.

5 That Death! Grim Victor of us all,
He found the Slasher tough!
For never did the Slasher call
' 'Old on, I've had enough.'

6 'Enough, enough!' he never cried,
But battled toe to toe.
Unflinchingly his fists he plied,
And countered blow with blow.

7 And, if you have a tear to shed,
Friend, let it be a splasher!
And let it fall for him now dead,
The gallant Tipton Slasher.
(Unknown author)

The Slasher is buried in St John's churchyard on Kates Hill, which is the church where I married Mr Nell and where Shaggy was christened. The church is in dire need of repair and there is an action group to save it.HERE

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting a life

I went out to supper last night with one of my former colleagues. A real grown up dinner in a restaurant. It was so nice to catch up on each others news and to talk about stuff. Grown up stuff like X factor - she's a big addict like me, books, current affairs, education, politics.
Tonight the middle and youngest belles are singing in the choir at church with the Salvation army band. It's a carol service so I'm really looking forward to it. The new songs are nice but I like the old ones because I know the words and can sing along.
Tomorrow Miss La has a friend coming for a sleepover and Saturday is the primary school Christmas fayre.
Still no news from M&B - eight weeks now since I last heard anything.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Medical matters

I went to see my GP again this morning. No news on the X rays but the physio report wasn't good. I'm signed off for another eight weeks while they all figure out how to fix me.
The good side to this is that I get Christmas off. Last time I had more than two days off at Christmas was when Boo was born. Considering I then had a tiny prem baby, had had her by caesarian and my blood count was eight, I don't remember a great deal about it.
The girls are so enjoying that I can be a Mom, even if I do hobble everywhere I go and have to keep sitting down.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dear Disney Channel

Enough with the repeats, oh, and while you're at it can you get some new script writers? It's lazy to keep using the same lines and jokes in every series.
The 'dirty ape' gag has been in Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zac and Cody, Lizzie McGuire and Thats so Raven.
I've seen these things so many times I could act a part in them, I know all the words. Oh, and Please, please, please stop with the product plugging or at least vary it a little. You have a huge backlist why not use it to shake up the programming. A Mickey cartoon or a bit of Donald Duck in between the staple stuff would go down a storm.
This Sundays Hannahthon hot on the heels of Hannahween is enough to drive me to Boomerang - (They have Scooby Doo)
Yours sincerely, Glazed, deafened and stressed Mom of three.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

X factor again

Hopeless went last night. Their second song was better than their first but they were the weakest act.
Leon has improved but they have to stop the boy from trying to dance. He looks like a cross between crazy legs crane and Max Wall. I don't understand a word he says either. I feel like I'm trapped in a Rab C Nesbitt episode when Dermott interviews him.
Niki reminds me of Jayne McDonald. I see a career on the cruise ships in her future. I think it might be me or my mother-in-law's TV but I could swear she's getting wider each week.
Same Difference were fab as usual. They sing well - the only people to actually be harmonising last night. They dance well and cope with the strange and wonderful sets Simon Cowell comes up with. Bring back cheese I say.
Rhydian was okay. He's no rock singer and I felt the Queen number was a bad choice. I would have loved him to have done a Tom Jones Number. He'd be great doing The Green Green Grass of home, don't you think?
Can't wait for next week.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday Fun 19

Vote Here!
The National Lottery is giving £50 million pounds to a project. The Black Country needs your vote to develop the singing caverns and a host of other stuff. Please visit and vote. I think you have to register first - but it would be so fantastic if we won.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Middle Name meme

Liz tagged me to do this.
1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.
2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, just make one up...or use the one you would have liked to have had.
3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.
I don't have a middle name. I always wanted one and for years I used Louise so that's what I'm going with.
1. L Life is for living has been the motto I live by. I can honestly say that I have always tried to be open to new experiences and to have as many adventures as I can.
2. O Open My life is an open book. My memory is too poor to have secrets and I am a bad liar so I don't have secrets.
3. U Universe, God and everything. My faith is the bedrock of my life. I don't talk abou it much but people that know me well know how important it is to me.
4. I Intuition, as many of you know I'm prone to premonition dreams and I'm very intuitive when it comes to my friends and family.
5. S Shopping, I hate shopping for myself but I adore shopping for other people. I would love to be a personal shopper.
6. E Everyone, I like people, there are very, very few people who I really dislike and even those I'm trying hard to forgive. I've always lived by the creed, Christ first, myself last and others inbetween so I have trouble sometimes in putting things that I need to do to the front of a list.

I tag Jess, Lis and Sally L

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hippy feeling

I went to orthopoedic triage yesterday. The physio turned out to be a former colleague so that helped a lot. Impossible to say if it's just bursitis or if I have degeneration of my hip joints - so - today I went for X rays which will be sent back to the physio and she's referred me urgently to the orthopoedic surgeons. Based on that they'll decide if I need an MRI scan.
Hopefully it will be bursitis and they will be able to go ahead with the cortisone injections into the joints, the downside is obviously more needles but because of my many allergies they aren't certain how best to do the jabs.
But I'm a step closer to being mended! Got to stay positive!
Writing wise, c5 of Animal Instincts is with Jess and I'm really getting into the story now. I just finished reading Wish You Were Here by Phillipa Ashley and it's a really good read. If you want a book for someone for Christmas who likes something light, sexy and fun then treat them, and yourself to a copy.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

X factor again

I'm gutted that Beverley is out and Hopeless are still in. I think Beverley has so much potential and really just needs a good voice coach to help her make the most of her voice.
Hopeless sang a really dire song and once again Phoebe did all the work. Niki struggled to hit the notes and hadn't enough oomph to take the song up a notch. Leon was better this week and thankfully didn't attempt to dance. Same Difference were really good as usual. I hope the rumours about Disney being interested in them are true as I think they could be huge in that market. Rhydian played safe this week after last weeks amazing debacle.
But was it me or did anyone else think that when Mrs O split the judges decision so the public vote was counted, did you think that she thought Hopeless would go? She looked pretty stunned when the vote was revealed.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Yesterday was a really nice day. I got to spend time with Allison, Pip and Liz (Liz has a book being published by Hale in April called The Paradise Will. If you like regencies look out for it as it sounds great) As usual the time went too quickly but at least I now have a signed copy of Wish you were here to read! Yay
Today I took Boo to Merry Hill or Merry Hell as it's known at this time of year. She had a Build a Bear card for her birthday and wanted to choose her bear and make it. We went early as traffic is chaos and the belles have dance classes today plus Miss Boo had a friends birthday party to attend.
We parked and went to walk into the centre, it had been raining on the way in but I hadn't noticed the floor wasn't just wet - it was icy.
Ouch. I have a bruise on my good hip and I jarred all my wrist. To add to my hmiliation a very nice kind man saw me fall and came over to help me up. Then after Boo had chosen her bear (Pink, fluffy, called Popcorn) the assistant had problems with the till. Finally we made it into M&S to buy a Dr Who present for Boo's friends birthday and their scanner wasn't working.
I think someone was trying to tell me to stay home today.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday Fun 18

Hopefully my Friday fun posts are whetting your appetites for a visit to the Black Country. Today I thought I'd spotlight a place where you can really get a flavour for why this place is so special.
So visit
HERE and browse around. It's lots of fun and if you ever get chance to visit in person it's a must see.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Birthday Boo

Today is my middle belles birthday. Miss Boo is eleven today and tonight my house is being invaded by lots of other eleven year old girls for a High School Musical Themed party. This means HSM music, games, food, prizes etc. We're having pizza so they can all put their own toppings on, popcorn, fudge brownies, hotdogs and chips and dips. They're going to get their goodie bags emptyish at the start of the party then as we play the games they'll add their loot to the bags. I've lots of loot. Hair stuff in pass the parcel, pencils for musical statues, silver coloured rings and sweets in the party pulina, chocolate in HSM mini lockers for kiss Troy Bolton (This is blindmans buff - they put lipshaped kisses on his poster - closest to the lips wins)HSM chocolate lollies for best dancer, singer, outfit, hair etc.
First however I have to clean and tidy the house, put up the decorations etc. It's snowing here too, the same as it did the day she was born, a little premmie 5lb 20z baby in a snowbound hospital eleven years ago.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

X factor

I know, I know but I lurve reality TV. I thought the right person went home last night. Alisha has a great voice but I always thought she'd be a wonderful jazz/blues singer.
Little Leon still reminds me of Leo Sayer but I wish they would stop him from dancing. The top half of his body stays static and his legs do this weird Max Wall, Irish jig. Niki wafted around in a lurex nightie and groped dancers. Beverley sang up a storm. Hope were hopeless, poor Phoebe ends up doing all the singing while the rest just jig around her. Same Difference were fab as usual, they are so professional with everything, I really hope they do well. Rhydian, well, what can you say? Twenty male dancers, he's dressed as a sailor and singing Go West with hair modelled on the villain in Lazytown - carcrash telly at it's best.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


Update on the fishy babies. We have two, one is grey and speckly and the other is orange. They are both a centimetre long and are getting braver, swimming in and out of the weed and playing more. The grey one (Babycakes) is shyer, while the orange one (Fishface) is bolder and stays out longer. We have no clue as to the proud parents so they could be Platys or possibly Mollies.
I finished c4 of Animal Instincts, yay! I don't know how much I'll do this week with everything thats going on but I'm hoping I'll get some words down.
In other news I've lots of baby congratulations for my friends.
Angie - on the safe arrival of Isabella.
Sheila - on the safe arrival of Jefferson.
Carol - on the safe arrival just today of Nathan.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday Fun 18

Everyone knows that the best pork scratchings in the world are made in the Black Country. Tipton and Walsall are the main centres for this regional delicacy. Best eaten accompanied with a pint of Banks's bitter, this bar snack is extremely popular. A good scratching is fairly hard with just a small amount of puffy fat and a sliver of meat.
There has been controversy locally just recently when certain upscale establishments said they weren't stocking the humble scratching anymore on their bar snacks menu. There has been rumblings of boycotts and dark threats in the press.
If you google Pork Scratchings you'll even find entire websites devoted to them and I'm informed that you can get T shirts.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


La is feeling better and is back at school. Everything else is just mad at the moment. It's Boo's birthday on Monday - she'll be 11. In a moment of madness I agreed to her having a party at home with High School Musical as the theme. Wednesday I have a funeral, Thursday I've an unexpected prospect of a new job, a variation of my present one but less physical, Friday I have a much nicer task of meeting Allison and Phillipa and Liz for coffee. The following week is D day for my treatment on my hips and back.
I've been trying to focus on getting Christmas and birthday things sorted out. I have a lot of birthdays before Christmas, My niece, My daughter, my godson, my best friend, my husband, my brother, my mother in law and so it takes a lot of planning. Mr Nell has just started his new job so his shifts are chaotic too.
My writing has been thrown a bit of a curve at the moment by everything thats happening. I also have another family member seriously ill at the moment too. Still, no doubt everything will sort itself out.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poorly baby

My youngest daughter is home sick. This is such an unusual occurance that it shocks everyone who knows her. La is one of those tall, skinny children who look frail but in reality she eats like a horse and is as tough as old boots.
She hates missing school and is really miserable at not feeling well poor girl. We've been passing the time reading, tidying her toys, playing therapists and talking.
Here's one of our conversations.
La - Some people in my class don't believe in Santa Claus.
Me - Don't they?
La - No, they say it's just your Mom and Dad.
Me - Well, you know me and Daddy buy lots of your presents.
La - But you would tell me wouldn't you, if there wasn't a Santa? (fixes me with big blue puppy dog stare) After all I'l have children of my own one day and I'll need to know.

Oh boy, I hope she's better soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day

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.

(C) Nell Dixon 2004

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Suddenly feels like winter

The weather has turned more wintery and suddenly I can believe that Christmas is just a few weeks away. At least this year I know what I need to buy for people. The belles have been drawing up a list for Santa. I think he may struggle a bit this year. Boo wants all of Hannah Montana's clothes, a pink chocolate fountain and a cash machine. Shaggy would settle for David Tennant with a bow on and La would like money, gel pens, bindeez (this is the toy they've just done a recall on for poisoning kids) and anything High School Musical.
What would be on your wish list for Santa?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday Fun 17

I thought we'd have a few more sayings and phrases this week just to keep your 'ear' in so to speak.

More Black Country sayings -
In a Tiswas - In a state of confusion.
This has a historic explanation. A way to prevent an attack by mounted soldiers was to scatter special nails called Caltraps, Crows foot or Tiswas in the road.
This was a four-legged nail device made in such a way that however they were thrown down, one spike was always pointing upwards. The idea was to lame the approaching horses. A bit like the stinger device the police use today to stop cars.
I suppose the saying originated from this time with the horses and riders not knowing which way to turn to get away from the spikes.
Now you'll hear people say 'I was all of a tiswas.'

I culd ave drapped cork-legged - I could have dropped down dead with surprise.

A blind mon on a gallopin' oss culd a sid it - How could you not notice that you fool?

He's about as gain as a glass eye - He looks good but he's useless.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

By George I think she's got it...

Sometimes I can be stunningly slow. I've had an idea for a bigger book tumbling around in my head for weeks. I had the main character, all sorts of things but something just didn't quite click. I started a file, part wrote a synopsis but still not feeling the lurve.
Then this morning - ting! Totally different story pops into my head, four characters all named with their issues and a title. I now have a new file and the synopsis is unfolding in my head like magic at the moment.
Phew, I was beginning to wonder if I could ever get it to work but now I feel surprisingly optimistic.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


We had a barbecue last night and fireworks. It was fun. I love having people round and just hanging out and I don't get to do it nearly enough. In fact, it's a sign that I'm not at work that I'm doing it at all. I am paying for my fun today though with a very sore back and hip from standing and going 'ooh!' with the kids everytime we lit a new firework.
Today, I have a writing day planned. I have a lot of stuff in my head that I need to get onto paper both for Animal Instincts and for my half done medical. I must come up with a better title for that, don't you think?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

X factor

I love reality trash TV. So as usual I've been glued to X factor. Then last night - well - what happened? I can't believe the two groups were in the bottom two. Admittedly the girls had a stinky Madonna song and were drowned out by the band but even so.
It's quite funny to watch the blatant touting for the sections of population that they think they can get votes from. The Scots lad and the Welsh lad - the two who should have been in the bottom two - get their nationality votes, Beverley, who by the way I think is great, is for the Mum vote, Same Difference get the young vote, The girls and boys get their admirers, Niki gets the older vote but the funniest sight of the night had to be Rhydian.
He arrived in a silver suit and fur coat and sang I'm coming out. Guess which section he was after - camper than a row of tents!!!

Saturday, November 03, 2007


Eating toast with honey at the computer is not a good idea.
In other news we think we may have a baby fish in the tank. At least Mr Nell and I have seen a baby fish - we haven't told the belles in case it doesn't make it and luckily because it likes hiding under a log they haven't spotted it.
Mr Nell is very excited about being a fish daddy so I hope it survives.
Still no news on Charlie Darling - sigh.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday Fun 16

Please to remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot
I see no reason why gunpowder treason
should ever be forgot.

The picture is Holbeche House which lies just down the road from me and which I pass frequently. Here is the story.
After the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, the flight of the plotters ended at Holbeche House, near Kingswinford, in Staffordshire. This property belonged to Stephen Littleton, a descendant of the Littletons of Frankley, Worcestershire, who had joined them at the proposed hunting party at Dunchurch. The plotters were being closely followed by the sheriff of Warwick, Sir Richard Walsh, and his men, who were seeking to apprehend them for the raid on the stables at Warwick Castle. Sir Richard did not actually learn of their involvement in the Gunpowder Plot until his arrival at Holbeche as the government forces converged with their orders from Robert Cecil.

At Holbeche, the conspirators did their best to prepare the house for a siege, and told those not willing to make a stand that they should escape as best they could. During the flight from Warwick Castle via Hewell Grange (the home of Lord Windsor, who was kin to Sir John Talbot of Grafton and the Wintour brothers) where they were reported to have stolen arms and munitions, their store of gunpowder had become wet from the pouring rain, and it was laid out in front of the fireplace to dry. A stray spark landing in the gunpowder caused a sudden explosion that blinded John Grant, and slightly injured Robert Catesby, Ambrose Rookwood and Henry Morgan, a friend of John Grant's. This was the final demoralizing blow: when Thomas Wintour asked the party what they intended to do, he was told "We mean here to die".

Stephen Littleton and Thomas Wintour left temporarily for 'Pepperhill', the Shropshire residence of Sir John Talbot, which lay 10 miles away, where they hoped to rally further support. Sir John dismissed them in anger saying that it was more than his life was worth to assist them, only confirming the thoughts of Robert Wintour who had refused the task of visiting Sir John.

By approximately 11.00 am the following morning, Walsh's men had surrounded the house. Thomas Wintour, Jack Wright, Kit Wright and Ambrose Rookwood were soon shot in the courtyard, perhaps attempting to quell a fire that Walsh and his men had started in an attempt to drive the conspirators from the house. The two Wrights were moribund, but Thomas Wintour managed to make it back to the house, where Robert Catesby and Thomas Percy were the only defenders left who were not incapacitated by their injuries.

"Stand by me, Mr. Tom," said Catesby, "and we will die together."

The three men stood close inside the door of the house, and went outside to face their death. Catesby and Percy, standing side by side, were supposedly felled by a single shot. According to the account by Father Oswald Tesimond, Robert Catesby managed to crawl back inside the house, and finding a picture of the Virgin Mary, clutched it in his arms until he died. The soldiers rushed into the house, realising Wintour's fears of being captured. Many of those present at the siege declared later that the actions of the soldiers, hungry for trophies, had perhaps not been conducive to the survival of those who were dying, and that with swift medical aid, one or more of them may have lived.

The last door that many of the conspirators ever went through is still in existence today at Holbeche House. Although many additions have been made to the back, the front rooms and facade of the house are still the same as they were in 1605. You can still see the musket holes in the wall from this siege, which adds further intrigue to the story of the last stand of the conspirators. The location of the musket holes offers strong evidence that those inside the house were utilising the upstairs windows, probably to gain the advantage of height over their pursuers, and would thus have almost certainly been using firearms.

Holbeche House today is a private nursing home. Although a great deal of construction has recently taken place, which has resulted in the destruction of the remnants of the old water-mill, you can still see traces of the original wall that surrounded the property. Even more interesting is the existence of a tunnel in the dining room that, according to legend, led to another property. It was a surprising find, as none of the Plot literature has ever mentioned this tunnel, although it was certainly in existence in 1605. Perhaps this was the method that many used to escape, leading one to conclude that the final defenders must have chosen to die.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Gunpowder Plot Society

Thursday, November 01, 2007

All Saints

The belles had a lovely time last night. I acquired two extra children for the evening so I had lots of excitement painting faces, tying capes, faking gory injuries with stage make-up etc. They came back after an hour clutching huge carriers full of sweets and so thrilled with the whole thing.
We then bobbed for apples and played stick the leg on the spider and pass the bat. Very silly and lots of fun. One of my extra children told her dad when he collected her that she'd had the best Halloween ever.
Today is All Saints and tomorrow All souls day. Bonfire night is coming up fast and then it'll be my middle belle's birthday. Where is the year going?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Tonight is trick or treating. La is going to be a witch and Boo wants to be a werewolf. Shaggy has decided she is too 'grown up' to dress up this year. I wear a witchs hat, one of my old nursing capes and carry a lantern. I'm not too grown up to play.
In case anyone missed From Darkness when it was released last year here's a snippet of Cue Me In.
“There’s the castle.”
Fae braked at Flash’s words. They stared into the darkness at the building before them. Half of the castle was clearly uninhabitable. Fragmented stones stood like jagged broken teeth along the broken battlement. Mist twisted around the surviving tower and range of buildings. A couple of the windows cast yellow light in to the blackness and Fae breathed a sigh of relief. There was someone home.
“Right, let’s get this show on the road.” Fae eased the car into the courtyard of the castle. As she cut the engine, an eerie baying sound echoed around the stone walls.
“Wow, a welcome committee.” Flash leaned forward into the gap between the front seats, his dark head next to Fae’s.
“I expect living alone up here, miles from anywhere, they keep dogs,” Izzy snapped as she picked up her bag from the footwell.
Fae swallowed hard. She hoped Rhodri Morgan would be the kind of man who was susceptible to feminine charm. In her mind she’d pictured a stooped, elderly antiquarian who, on meeting her, would instantly change his mind and grant her free access to film the castle and its secrets.
The baying grew louder when Fae opened the car door. The next thing she knew, she was pinned to the side of the Mini by the biggest dog she’d ever seen in her life. A large paw was planted on each side of her shoulders as the dog breathed stale meat-breath in her face.
She twisted her head to the side and saw an archway of light appear on the far side of the courtyard.
Izzy and Flash remained in the car, round-eyed and open-mouthed with shock.
“Nice doggy.”
The hound responded with a lick down her face, covering her with drool. She heard the sound of footsteps crunching across the yard in the darkness.
“Down, Fang.” A firm male voice with a hint of accent came out of the mist. A shape loomed out of the darkness illuminated by a storm lantern. A large man’s shape.
© Copyright Nell Dixon 2006 From Darkness anthology
available from

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Almost Halloween

I love Halloween. It signals the start of winter, dark nights, frosts and ancient magic. The belles have decorated the house ready and have planned their costumes to go trick or treating. We live on a small estate and it's good fun to visit friends and neighbours.
Mr Nell is not so keen, although he never objects to helping eat the sweet haul. His thing is Christmas and in a few weeks from now my house will look as if a mad elf has attempted to recreate Santa's grotto.
I have to go into work this week to discuss my sick leave, that'll be something to look forward too as I haven't any answers. My appointment is on the seventh to see the back and lower limb person so until then I don't know what all the treatment options will be. My hip is very painful at the moment so I'm not getting much sleep. The vacant posts have finally been advertised but only internally as yet so it'll still be getting toward Christmas if then, before they're filled. The sad thing is I've lost the capacity to care about it - I think I've worked so hard for so long that I'm still just numb from the whole experience.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Yesterday I did something I almost never do. I re read Charlie Darling. I usually don't reread books that are under submission until I've heard back from an editor. This is for two reasons 1) I invariably want to start tinkering with them, a word here, something different there etc etc and 2) I'm always a bit frightened that they might be complete pants and I must have had some sort of brainstorm in ever imaging that anyone would ever want to publish them.
The reason I reread Charlie was because I wanted to look at the half-done medical that I have on my file so I wanted to see how it shaped up compared to Charlie. It's a very different type of book but I knew that some of the points that the editor had given me for the revisions on Charlie would apply to the new story so I needed to refresh my memory.
Rereading Charlie wasn't as bad as I'd feared, I fought the urge to meddle and stuffed the crows of doubt in the cupboard while I forced myself to look for the technical aspects that I'd wanted to research.
Then I opened the file on my half done story. This was the bit I dreaded - when I started this one I was doubtful about it but Jessica kept assuring me that it worked (thanks Jess)I went through tweaking and adjusting and using what I'd learned from writing Charlie and by the end of the day I'd added 1k and I think it's a much better story for the additions. Hopefully now I can push on with it and with Animal Instincts while I wait for a verdict on Charlie.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Write on...

I finished c2 of Animal Instincts and fiddled some more with C1. It's coming together more in my head now and I feel as if I'm more under the skin of my characters. I need to tinker with my fairy story some more and then I can send that off. I also need to read over my half done medical and do some work on that just in case M&B come back to me.
I heard just over a week ago that my editor there liked the revisions and Charlie Darling had been passed up a bit higher for consideration. So I've spent the last week feeling quite sick and jumping a mile everytime my email has pinged or the phone has rung. Since the belles are home the phone rings a lot - and never for me.
I'm also still mulling over my big book idea - it's still bubbling away but isn't quite ready to come out onto paper yet.
I've also managed to somehow lose all my emails - the ones I had saved into folders are still there but all the others have vanished into cyber space. I'm gutted and I can't figure out what happened so please if you emailed me recently with something and I haven't replied please resend it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Friday Fun 15

The Black Country as you've gathered is famous for it's ghosts. As it's almost Halloween here's an article on The Station Hotel which is situated at the foot of Castle Hill in Dudley.

Thanks to John Blythe for the following piece.
Featured on television by ‘Most Haunted’ the Station Hotel Dudley in the UK, holds many dark secrets, particularly in the cellars. The story tells of a hotel manager who enticed a servant girl into the cellar. Spurning his advances and threatening to tell his wife, the girl was murdered by him.

When ‘Most Haunted’s’ resident psychic Derek Acorah went to the hotel, he reported the name of a male spirit George Williams/Williamson who was having an affair with a female by the name of Elizabeth Hitchen. George Williams allegedly murdered Elizabeth by strangling and stabbing her. Acorah then revealed that Williams disposed of Elizabeth’s body by means of a chute within the hotel, which would have been used, at the time, for the delivery of bottles and barrels. Williams was then reported to have buried the body near the front of the hotel. According to Derek Acorah, Elizabeth Hitchen’s body remains there.

Originally built in 1910, the Station was demolished in 1936 in order to build a larger Hotel. This became particularly popular with theatrical artists playing the Hippodrome Theatre, once situated opposite. Laurel & Hardy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and George Formby are amongst the famous names that have stayed at the Hotel.

It is still a nice comfortable hotel with a good restaurant decorated to reflect its former glory. Ask to be seated at ‘Georges’ table.

I have held a number of public paranormal investigations at the Station Hotel and have never been disappointed with the level of paranormal activity. If you visit make sure it’s on a cellar tour night, we have had people touched, pushed, slapped and in the case of one unlucky customer; thrown back off a chair just as the Planchette was about to start, all in the cellar, and don’t forget your camera, ‘orbs’ a plenty at the Station Hotel, currently rated as my number one hotel for paranormal activity.

The ‘Thing’ we photographed in the cellar; at the bottom of the barrel chute, is probably the murderer George but it will take further investigation before we are sure of its identity. If you do decide to stay one night ask for a room on the haunted landing, 214 is the one in which the bed and chair moved when ‘Most Haunted’ filmed there. Nice!

John Blythe is Senior Executive Manager for Haunted Weekend who organizes public paranormal investigations in haunted hotels and castles throughout the UK. He has appeared on television with Haunted Weekend clearing a haunted house and has featured in and written for many paranormal magazines. He is also a featured expert on the paranormal for World Reviewer, a website that specialises in unique experiences; http://www

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Have shoes

We stayed an extra day as the weather was so lovely. Crisp, chilly evenings with gorgeous sunsets and mist rising off the flat common land surrounding the site. During the day the sun was out and the sky was bright periwinkle blue. We got a lot of the things we'd gone for. Boo has new boots and conversers. La ended up with trainers that flash when she walks, gold totally impractical party shoes and conversers and Shaggy also got some conversers. Brilliant bargains, we saved the cost of the holiday and then some with what we bought. If I tell you I got the girls pyjamas from the M&S outlet store for £1.98 a pair you can see how good the shopping is. The girls got their friends presents too.
It wasn't all shopping, we had a lovely day out at Wookey Holes which La insists on calling Wonky Holes, where we explored the caves, visited the dinosaur park, fairyland and made paper. We also saw a superb show which was done entirely by children from the circus school. The sun shone and people were walking around in tee shirts eating icecreams, absolutely gorgeous.
My hips and back are now glad to be home.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


I've managed to sort out my medical appointments. The choose and book system as I've mentioned before is a farce. It allows the illusion of choice but in reality it simply creates another bureaucratic maze to negotiate. My appointment to see the orthopoedic team has taken two car journeys and five phone calls to arrange. At least I finally have a date now on the 7th of Nov so hopefully my treatment can start. The rest has helped a lot but only while I continue to rest. Any activity, driving, walking etc starts it all off again and unfortunately my back is sore again too. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg - which came first? Does my back make my hips bad or is it my hip problem that throws my back into spasm?
We're heading to the sea again on Saturday - just for a few days - back to Burnham where we went in May. The plan is to do some Christmas shopping and get the girls new trainers and boots from the Clarks shopping village at Street. I must admit I'm looking forward to the break - I'm still recovering from all the problems with the day job and it'll be good to be in a different place.
Writing wise I'm moving on with chapter two of Animal Instincts and also a short story for another little project that I have in mind. (Yes, Allison, this is the story with Muriel the fairy)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I've finished editing or rather aditing Blue Remembered heels. I need to do another read through and then send it off once more to my editor for her opinion. As you all know I've mentioned before my propensity to underwrite and I adit rather than edit because the book has grown almost another 3K during this process.
I think the story is stronger because of the changes - most of which are really very minor, but lots of minor additions soon grow into larger ones.
I'm looking forward to getting back into Animal Instincts too, the plot has been fermenting while I've been away from it so it will be nice to leave Abbey and Mike to return to Clodagh and Jack.
On a more personal front it seems my medical appointments have been messed up so I need to call at my doctors tomorrow to get my hip appointments sorted out.

Monday, October 15, 2007

You didn't see me

I'm not here. I'm busy editing Blue Remembered Heels. My contracts have come so I need to do a post run at some point too. There are nice pictures at Phillipa Ashley and Ray-Anne's blogs today - see my side bar for links. Yes, I know I could put them up but I'm not here remember lol.
To join in the fun here's my pic of the new hero I found for Animal Instincts. What do you think? This is Jack Thatcher.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

When it's good

Yesterday was one of those really nice days that happen every now and again. I got two lovely notes of thanks from people I'd done crits for. I love feeling that I've helped someone, so many people have helped and continued to help me that it's nice to feel that I've given something back.
I googled myself - as one does - that always sounds a bit rude doesn't it? and found a note from a reader on a message board talking about Marrying Max and how much they'd loved it.
I had an email from my agent to say my contracts should arrive on Monday and my edits arrived for Blue Remembered Heels.
So lots to keep me busy but all nice things to help counterbalance the less nice things that are happening in my life at the moment.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Friday Fun 14

The Black Country is renowned for the inhabitants sense of humour and love of 'saftness' in the form of practical jokes. Many of the jokes are told in the names of two Black Country characters Aynuk and Ayli.
Here's a typical joke from The Book of the Black Country by Jon Raven

Ayli was late for work and the gaffer asked him where he had been.

Ayli said : "I've been to 'av me 'air cut."

Gaffer : "In the firm's time ?"

Ayli : "Well it grows in the firm's time, doh it ?"

Gaffer : "It doh all grow in the firm's time !"

Ayli : "I day 'av it all cut off !"

and another

Aynuk was walking along the canal one day when he heard a cry for help coming from the water. Aynuk looked down and spotted a bloke drowning. Instead of helping him out Aynuk ran along the canal bank, up a road and through a factory gate. He rushed up to the foreman and said :
"I've just seen Jack Edwards drownin' in the cut. Can I 'ave 'is job ?"
"Sorry Aynuk," said the foreman, "I've just gid it the bloke wot pushed 'im in."

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Catching up on reading

While I've been off I've been catching up on my reading pile. I've just finished some lovely medicals, Olivia Gates and Lynne Marshall. Then I read 'Is anybody out there?' by Marian Keyes.
Now I'm ploughing my way through Margaret Thatcher's 'The path to power' which is a fascinating read by a woman I have a huge admiration for. I've been revisiting the miners strike, the cold war, the fall of the Shah of Iran and it's meaty stuff. I love economics and politics and the Keynesian vs Monetarist approach to the economy and inflation whilst it might drive some people nuts, I find it gripping. I found a lot of things I'd almost forgotten, the referendum for joining the EU, the 'snake' and a host of other things.
It's very interesting to look at what's happening today and to contrast events with what happened then. I'd forgotten how much I love the intellectual arguments and philosphies of economics.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The waiting game

Still waiting for news from M&B. I heard from my lovely new editor yesterday and Blue Remembered Heels is being dispatched to me today marked up with some points for revision and edits. So, I'm waiting to see what's needed to make the story even better. (I felt very authorly when she said she would send it by carrier - I expect the glamour will evaporate when I get down to work)
The postal strike should be over soon so I'm waiting to see what's stuck in the mail - including hopefully my contracts.
I'm also hoping my medical appointments are in the mail or if not I need to get back on the phone to hurry them along. Rest and heat packs can only help so much.
The first chapter of Animal Instincts is done and with Jessica for her invaluable opinion. Then onto chapter two which is already buzzing in my head.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


At the moment the weather matches my mood. Enforced idleness doesn't suit me but I'm limited as to how much physically I can do. I've applied for some jobs as I feel that maybe now would be a good time to consider a change of direction. This is exciting and scary at the same time as I'm the main wage earner.
The belles seem to like having me home and love that they can bring friends round instead of having to arrange everything around my work, so every cloud has a silver lining I suppose.
I've almost finished the first chapter of Animal Instincts, I'm still fiddling with it as for me the first chapter is vital and if I don't get it exactly right then I struggle with the rest of the book.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


My hip is sore today as I did quite a bit of driving yesterday. I'm still waiting for treatment, something else I need to chase up next week.
My new editor got in touch on Friday so I should be recieving edits for Blue Remembered Heels soon - eek! The good news is that she loves the story. I had been a bit concerned as I'd sold it unfinished and worried that they might not have liked the ending.
Still no news from M&B.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Fun 13

The Black Country is famous for it's canals or 'cuts' as they are known. As in'weer ave yow bin?'
'I've bin fishin fer Jack Bannocks in the cut.'
Translated as 'Where have you been?'
'I've been fishing for small fish in the canal.'
Canals were a vital transport system when the Black Country got it's name. They were used for shifting coal, iron, clay, bricks and any other number of goods around the area. Birmingham has more canals than Venice.
The Black Country is very hilly and many great engineering projects were built so that the narrowboats (barges) with their cargoes could move around.
This involved the building of the locks. Locks are used almost like rooms to adjust the levels of the water so the boat can move from one part of the canal to another. The picture is of the Nine locks, which isn't far from me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Coffee and caves

I had a lovely morning yesterday with my very good writing friend, Allison Littlehales. We were just catching up on projects and nattering but it was so good just to talk about writing.
Animal Instincts is shaping up, it always takes me a while to get the first chapter exactly how I want and it's important as the character traits you see there are the ones that show throughout the book. Clodagh, my new heroine is very different from Abbey, my heroine in Blue Remembered Heels.
Clodagh is a slob, loves animals and isn't terribly good with people. Her step-sister Immi is self absorbed, vain and doesn't like animals. They both are going to have quite a journey. Clodagh's hero, Jack is just about to make his first appearance so it's going to get interesting lol.
By now you're probably wondering about the cave bit of the post title. Well, as you know the Friday fun post included a link to the live webcam in the haunted Singing Cavern.
This piece was in the paper yesterday :-
'There have been 500 hits an hour with people logging on from Canada, Australia and the USA.'
So if you visited from here, thank you! Remember if you see anything spooky if you press the button on the site the trust gets a copy of the image and will analyse it.
heres the link again if you missed it first time around.
Spooky cave

Monday, October 01, 2007

Shameless boasting!

Phillipa alerted me to this!
Blue Remembered Heels now has a blurb up on Amazon - here it is!

A devilishly good debut for LBD from our fantastic new author, RNA Romance Prize Winner 2007, Nell Dixon! Life is sweet for con-woman Abbey Gifford until, one ordinary Wednesday afternoon, she's struck by lightning. They told her she might have some bizarre side effects, but nothing could have prepared Abbey for the fact that, since that fateful day, she can never tell lies again! Truthfulness is a big drawback for a con-woman, especially when suddenly she's being followed by the suspiciously gorgeous detective Mike Flynn. If only Abbey could stop blurting out secrets every time he asks her a question! And if only Mike knew the real reason Abbey spends her life tricking other people out of their money!

I am so excited and it sums the story up so well - ok so I love being called fantastic too - a girl has to get something in stock ready for the next attack of the crows.

Cleaning is bad for you.

Yes, I'm still cleaning and clearing. I found a drawer full of my diaries last night, one for every year going back to 1983. Wow! It was like a journey back in time - sadly some years were much to painful to look at and I wondered why I kept them. I still can't bring myself to throw them away which seems crazy.
The other sad part was looking back I realise my weight is unaltered since 2003 - put some on, lost a little - sigh. Guess I'd better keep up with weightwatchers in the hope that this might be the one that works. I'm also three and a half stones heavier now than I was back in 1983.
The overall effect of this is very depressing. I know now why I don't have these mass clearouts very often. 1} I don't usually have time and 2} It makes me miserable. Why do I never find good stuff - like money?
In better news though I've started writing Animal Instincts. I know I'll chop and change the opening a bit but I quite like what I have so far. My aim is to finish the first chapter this week and I might write a short story too.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Losing what's left of my mind

I've been attempting to clear out my office this week. I had some stupid idea that seeing as I had this really nice office I should actually clear the crap out of it and start using it. In the course of my clearing I found two full manuscripts, both completed - in longhand - in my writing. I don't remember writing either of them!! I have no clue when I wrote them except I'm assuming they must have been done sometime after the eldest belle was born, before I had computer access.
They are both very 'Presents' in tone but I really cannot recall doing either of them. Does this mean I've gone completely bonkers?
Sadly, I don't think either of them are usable - the passage of time hasn't been kind to them and I hope my writing has improved since then. I'd love to find my first epic - a sci-fi sensual romance - which I think owed much to the fabulous Andre Norton.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Blue Remembered Heels

I was on Amazon UK earlier today and almost fell out of my seat in surprise - Blue Remembered Heels is listed for preorder with a release date of June 12th 2008! OMG it's real! I am so so thrilled and excited.
Unfortunately I had to keep my squeals of excitement down as Mr Nell is on nights but the fish looked suitably impressed as I shimmied past their tank.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Friday Fun 12

There is a lot of interest it seems in the spookier aspects of the Black Country so here is a Friday Fun with a difference. Dudley is famous for many things but one of them is the Singing Cavern, a vast limestone cave which you reach by Narrow boat. It is reputed to be haunted.
Why not take a peep for yourself?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Reading for Pleasure

I'm looking forward to hearing the radio four programme on Mills and Boon this morning. It'll be interesting to see if they drag out the old tired cliches or if they actually talk about what the books mean to the people that read them.
M&B books cop for a lot of flack, usually from people who haven't read one or from the pseudo-intellectuals who find it somehow demeaning to read romance.
I make no apologies for my love of M&B. I read for PLEASURE - hello? does any one remember that? I'm reading them because I love a happy ever after, because I want a well-crafted story that makes me smile, makes me cry, transports me from whatever grey spot my day holds to somewhere sunnier and happier.
I don't read M&B to improve my mind - although I've learned a huge amount about other cultures, places, languages, history and of course, about relationships, from them.
I read them because when I lost my first five pregnancies, went through hours of painful medical treatment, years of fertility treatments, and the trauma of numerous surgeries they were my rock. They made me feel better, happier, they took my mind away from my worries.
If you haven't read a M&B then pick one out today. There's something for everyone, from the steamier Blazes, medical romances, alpha heroed Presents and true to life romances. Surprise yourself - read for pleasure.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Moving on up

My middle belle goes to the eldest belle's high school tonight for the official look around. She's very excited about that. Youngest is also coming as she is only a year behind so her turn will roll around faster than I like to think. Although Boo will probably end up at the same school as her big sister we wanted her to have the same opportunity to compare that our eldest had.
La has already informed us that she wants to go somewhere else - sigh. Maybe she'll change her mind, she may have to.
I just hope they won't be disappointed - High School Musical has a lot to answer for.

Writing wise I now have a very rough synopsis for Animal Instincts and a growing file for another project. Thursday, I'm meeting Allison for coffee - yay!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Summer's end

I packed up the younger belle's gingham school dresses and they've gone off today in pinafores and ties. It's a bit sad as my middle belle is looking around senior schools ready for her move up to high school in September. Then my youngest will only have one year left at the small village school where we've spent so many years treking back and forth.
The leaves here are beginning to turn, especially on my wisteria, and the squirrel is playing hide and seek in the corkscrew hazel tree on my front lawn.
I'm still waiting for my orthopoedic appointment but the rest is helping my hip, especially not driving much.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Yesterday I took the train to London. I swapped my normal attire of sweats or jeans for something more presentable and went for lunch with friends. The internet is an amazing thing. I first met Biddy, Julie Cohen, Fiona Harper, Anna Louise Lucia, Carol and Donna Alward on line. Some of us met via eharlequin where the Britpack hang out in a virtual pub called the mouse and pen. We then met in real time at RNA conferences and the summer party.
Donna is Canadian and although we've chatted in various forums, swapped emails, celebrated and commiserated with the highs and lows of publishing life, until yesterday we hadn't met.
Biddy, who is a superb organiser, had booked us into a lovely Turkish restaurant where we all probably ate too much judging by our sleepy faces when we finally rolled out of there.
We had a wonderful afternoon and the time went far too quickly. Donna is even lovelier in real life than on line if that's possible, we all played with and were entertained by Julie's gorgeous baby boy who'd joined us for lunch. The funny part - and I know some of you will find this hard to believe - but not a drop of alcohol was consumed by any of us. We all stuck to water and turkish lemonade.
(I suspect the M&B writers amongst us may have consumed their quota the day before at the annual M&B bash)
It was a lovely and memorable day, for the good company, excellent food and Reggie Perrin chairs which made embarressing noises whenever anyone moved. I suspect some of the pictures may make it onto people's blogs.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Fun 11

Photo courtesy of Carl Higgs

This is a view of Askew bridge, not far from my home. The bridge itself is not as a skew as it used to be. In the olde coaching days this was the turnpike road and you can just see the toll house in the photograph (now a private home) This section of the road is reputed to be haunted and many motorists have reported seeing a dark figure in a black cloak running across in front of them. Mr Nell and my eldest belle have also seen this.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Writerly stuff

Last night I had the enormous pleasure of seeing my good friend, Phillipa Ashley at a party for the launch of her new book for Little Black Dress. My eldest daughter came with me as Mr Nell was working and we both had a wonderful time. It was lovely to meet so many people whose names I'd seen on the net, but of course didn't know in person.
Wish you were here looks like a wonderful read so grab your copy as soon as you can. I think some shops may be experiencing delays in getting their supplies as I've had problems finding it in the shops, so go and order a copy so you don't miss out.

The other cool thing I did yesterday, again accompanied by my eldest dd, was to attend a writers workshop. My local writing group had invited the Lethal Ladies, two published crime writers to give a talk at our local library.
It was very interesting to see how similar and how different crime writing and romance writing can be.
I don't think I want to be a crime writer even though some of my books have an element of crime or suspense in them. Crime writers are very dark and serious and listen to serious music while they work.
I listen to Disney Channel and Scooby Doo.
The authors gave a very good talk and eldest and I had a good time.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Fun 10

Today I thought I'd give you a recipe. Bread Pudding also known as Poor Man's pudding is a dish that dates back to the Middle ages. It can be eaten hot with custard or cold on it's own.

225g (8oz) Stale Bread (White works best)
110g (4oz) Currants, Raisins or Sultanas
50g (2oz) Brown Sugar
50g (2oz) Butter
½ tsp Mixed Spice
1 Egg

Pre-heat oven to 170°C: 325°F: Gas 3
Break bread into small pieces; soak in cold water at least 1 hour
Strain and squeeze out as dry as possible.
Place into a basin and mash with a fork.
Add the dried fruit, sugar, mixed peel and mixed spice, mixing well.
Add the egg and enough milk to enable the mixture to drop easily from a spoon.
Place into a greased baking tin.
Bake for about an hour or until slightly firm to the touch.
When done turn out on to a hot dish.
Turn out dredge with white sugar and serve hot, or allow to cool.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My day

Since a few people have left me nice comments and I've been asked before about my schedule, I thought I'd tell you about my day. Trust me, I really am not some kind of wonderwoman but I am the queen of multi-tasking lol
I get up half an hour or so before the kids, make breakfasts, pack lunches, find uniforms, sign homework books etc. I have my laptop on and read emails, check in my groups and often write this blog while I eat my cereal.
Then, by quarter past eight, I get the kids to school, if it's my turn to do the drop offs. Older one to the high school then the two littles to primary school. If I stop at the primary school I invariably see clients. (I work 9-5ish 5 days a week, some evenings and some Saturday mornings if I have a lot on.)
My typical workday would be doing development checks with under fours in the morning - usually I schedule 8 of those or I'll be out visiting new babies or clients with other problems. Lunch is usually eaten at my computer in the office, ten minutes while I check emails, then afternoon is clinic, followed by more developments or paperwork.
I get home just after five and supervise homework, make tea, do a load of washing, tidy the house. In between all this once I'm home I check my email, groups, etc and gradually switch my brain over to writing. About seven I start to write - my target is anything from 500 words to 2000 words depending what I'm working on. Blue Remembered Heels was a 2k per day target. I also need to get the girls supper and into bed, talk with my teenager about her latest angsts.
So, my day is pretty much like any other working Mom's. I am very disciplined in that when I'm working on a project I set strict but realistic goals and writing is my second job. To me, I treat it the same way I treat my day job - as a professional.
I read, but don't watch much TV, and my family come first but writing is up there with my day job in my priorities. I think the key is I write every day, I set goals, and I plan ahead.
So, blog about your writing day - I'm curious - is yours different to mine?

Monday, September 10, 2007


You ever have a day when someone thinks they're doing you a favour but really they aren't? Sigh, My colleague is moving caseloads on Oct 1st, so guess who will be doing double duty on the caseloads again?
I'm happy for her because the travelling is awful for her but I think I'd better not put down here how I feel about TPTB and the short notice. I shot my mouth off enough this morning.
Then tonight my laptop managed to somehow disconnect the internet - argh!!!!
But, on the bright side, Blue Remembered Heels is done, polished, up to the wordcount and winging it's way through the ether to my new editor at Little Black Dress. I hope she likes it.
Next job is to polish up my non fiction chapter for the Christian Women's Devotional book and send that off to my other editor.
I have a new file open for Animal Instincts and I plan to spend this week working out the plot. I have a pretty good idea what I want to put but I need to clarify it in my mind and write a synopsis.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


While we were at Chirk earlier this summer we lost our fish. Somehow in the five days we were away they went from being happy healthy goldfish to swimming with angels. We were all really upset. So, we decided we'd get some more once we had finished holidaying and could sort out the tank, check the filters etc etc.
Well, this seems to have morphed into rearranging all my furniture and looking at a bigger tank and buying tropical fish - sigh.
It also means La has set her heart on Sponge Bob square pants pineapple house and all the figures for the new tank. Shaggy wants a turtle ornament with glowing neon eyes and Boo wants luminous green gravel.
Yeah, we're going to have classy fish.
Altogether now - sing along 'he lives in a pineapple under the sea...'

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Being Boo

We were having a discussion over dinner. The topic was the new quilt I'd bought for mine and Mr Nell's bed. He insisted our old one was a 4.5 tog and I said it was a 8 tog. The new one is 10.5 which Mr Nell insists will be too hot.
Mr Nell '4.5 is plenty.'
Me 'the old one is higher than that.'
Mr Nell '10.5 is too warm.'
Boo 'I'm 4 foot 6'

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday Fun 9

I thought I'd tell you about a local Black Country legend who became famous for something that we today would consider quite strange. His name was Joseph Darby and he was born in Netherton. His nickname was Jumping Joe and he was famous for jumping. Yes, jumping. He would jump things from a standing start. He was especially renowned for his ability to jump over a canal. He would do this in two bounds, just letting his feet skim the surface of the water on his second leap. It was a distance of over fifteen feet. An amazing feat for a Victorian man with no athletic training. It's said he made his living from the bets he took regarding his abilities.
He was also someimes referred to as Springheeled Jack.
There is now a statue of him in the centre of Netherton. Unfortunately for poor Joe it shows him in his starting pose, crouched down low with an expression of concentration on his face as he prepares to leap.
So it came as no surprise when the locals discovered some wag had added a toilet for Joe. It was hastily removed but even now Joesy the jumper often gets dressed up. The last time I drove by he was sporting orange waterwings and a swimming cap.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Strange day

Today was always going to be difficult. My mom went back to liverpool to see her consultant for her one year follow up from the treatment for her retinal cancer. If the tumor hadn't stabilised and become sterile then we knew there would be very little that the Professor would be able to offer in the way of treatment.
Fortunately, the treatment has worked and the tumor has been halted.
Unfortunately, the local hospital which was supposed to provide interim care have stuffed up. Mom has glaucoma and they haven't treated the pressures in her eyes which are now really high. This explains the deterioration in her vision. Her consultant is not happy and has made her an urgent appointment and given her temporary treatment to last unti they see her.
But glaucoma doesn't kill you - so while it's not all good, thank God it wasn't all bad.
I had a long chat with my agent tonight too. I wasn't aware that my deal with Little Black Dress had been reported in the trade papers. Eek!
I'm still polishing, almost at my target word count now and I expect by the time it's been through all the processes and edits it will easily sit in the required range.
I told my agent about my dyscalculia. It's very odd, I've blogged about it and all my family and friends know and understand how it affects my life but it's still very hard when you have to explain to someone who you are working with as a fellow professional that you can't do the things that many people take for granted.
It's not that I'm stupid. Although when I was a child, especially at primary school I often thought I was. I have eleven O levels, I have A levels, and a string of professional qualifications but I can't tie a bow or read a digital clock easily. I struggle to operate a calculator, I can't text, I forget my phone number, I don't know my car registration plate and I lock myself out of my office as it has a number code lock on the door.
So, I can't deal with contracts or accounts on my own. I try, but no matter how hard I try I have to accept that it's something I cannot do. One of my teachers once said, 'Helen can do anything if she puts her mind to it' and for the most part, I can, but not numbers.
So, I swallowed my pride and admitted my difficulty. I'm very lucky to have someone so understanding.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Exeter Cathedral

I wanted to use my photo's but I can't find the camera lead so I've borrowed these from the cathedral website. This one is simply stunning. The cathedral was founded by the Normans on or near the site of an earlier anglo saxon church. However the majority of the building is in the early decorated period. Hence the fantastic stone work.
It boasts a huge nave with high gothic arches all of which are decorated with highly ornate bosses. You can view them using little trolleys with mirrored tops to save the strain on your neck.
This one was recoloured in 1975 and depicts the murder of Thomas a Beckett. We had a wonderful afternoon looking around the cathedral. I loved the spectacular Elizabethan tombs complete with sixteenth century graffitti. The guides were friendly and helpful and the building is just superb.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Normal service is resumed.

I'm home, with a mountain of washing to do. We've had such a wonderful break, lots of sun, swimming and just lazing around. Well, I say lazing, we did spend one day walking the nature trails around Becky Falls on Dartmoor. Climbing and boulder scrambling so I guess that wasn't very lazy.
Jess has been brilliant and critiqued all my chapters and I'm busy editing and rewriting to make my story stronger. I'm now just 4k short of my original target with seven chapters to polish so looking good to finish in the next few days.
I appologise to anyone who emailed me while I was away. I promise I'll reply. I had some net access while I was gone but it was limited when it came to responding to anyone. The only place I could access the net was the bar - mmm, maybe that wasn't such a disadvantage - but I had to work using the battery and it kept booting me.
I'll be back later with some pictures and details of where we went.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I had a day off!

Shocking, I know especially as I'm on holiday. I've been thinking of what I need to do to Blue Remembered Heels and I need a bit of distance before I start polishing. Jessica is brilliant as usual at seeing things that I miss completely. I have a rough plot now for my next one and a working title - Animal Instincts. So, I'll be roughing out a synopsis soon.
The weather here is sill gorgeous so lots more pool time. Today we went to Buckfastleigh to see otters and butterflies. Tomorrow we plan to go to Exeter, I'm hoping we can go to the cathedral but the girls want to hit the shops.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ta dah!!!

The first draft of Blue remembered Heels is done! I'm aprox 7k short but as I underwrite, that's what I expected. Next step is polishing and aditing. It's so lovely just to be on holiday and writing without the stress of the day job. It's when i can do something like this that i realise how much my other job saps my creativity and simply tires me out.
The weather here is gorgeous, so we are eating, swimming and pottering around in the sunshine admiring the lovely views and having a great time.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Holiday postcard

Here i am in very sunny Devon and the site we stay at has just got some wifi access! Yay! It's lovely and warm here with bright sunshine. The belles are in the pool and I'm writing up a storm - just one and a half chapters to go before the big adit! I'm hoping to see the firework display on the dart tonight after our barbecue. hope you all have a good weekend.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


After all the recent excitement perhaps it's as well that we're off to Devon tomorrow for ten days. I have three chapters left to go on Blue Remembered Heels so I shall finish it and start the polish while I'm away. My net access may be limited while I'm gone but if I get chance to post then I will.

Again a huge thank you to everyone who sent flowers (you know who you are!) cards, messages, phone calls. Special things are only special if you can share them with friends and I'm very blessed in my friends.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I have an agent!

As you all know I have dyscalculia and am just a real ditz when it comes legalese type stuff. I get complete brain freeze. Over the last few days I've been doing some hard thinking about my writing and what I should be doing.
As some of you know when I was at the Savoy back in April I was approached by Darley Anderson. Well, I'm delighted and relieved to say that as of tonight I am now represented by the Darley Anderson agency.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Details

Thanks to everyone who's left comments, emailed me, phoned me and sent notes this weekend. I appreciate each and every one of you. Now I'm slightly more together I'll fill you in on the details.
I've been blogging about Blue Remembered Heels for a while and I think I mentioned I thought it might suit Little Black Dress. At the RNA conference in Leicester, five weeks ago I had the opportunity to pitch to Cat Cobain, the editor for the line. I was the last person in that day and we mainly chatted about books and BRH. Again, I think I blogged about how much I liked her. She took a copy Of my Samhain book, Things To Do and gave me a couple of LBD's to read (one's I hadn't already got)
She also gave me her card and asked me to email her the first three chapters of BRH and the synopsis. She knew the book wasn't finished but liked the premise enough to ask to see the first part.
I sent it off on the Tuesday after the conference and got on with writing. While I was away just over a fortnight ago she got in touch. I came home to two emails asking if she could see more. I wasn't sure what to do as the book still isn't finished. I had my schedule planned for it to be completed by mid to end September.
So, I emailed her back and asked if she wanted to wait til then or if she wanted what I had in a semi-polished rough draft, which was the first ten chapters, just under half of the book.
She asked to see the rough draft if I was okay with it. So I pressed send just over a week ago and kept on writing.
I opened my email at work on Friday as I expected a patient to send me some information and saw Cat's email. At best I'd hoped she might like it enough to say that I could send her the rest when it was done or that if she rejected it she might offer me some direction.
Instead she made the offer for BRH and another book.
Hence my state of total incoherence for the remainder of Friday and much of yesterday. I rang my husband, Mr Nell, from the office and my cp Jessica Raymond, My Mum was out! My colleague said tell Cat yes, you need to reply to the email!
I emailed back, one of the fastest acceptances I think she said she'd ever had. lol

I'm now almost at the end of Chapter 16 with saprox another 4 to write so I'm well on target to finish on schedule. I'm so excited and thrilled that Blue Remembered Heels will be a Little Black Dress book. I have no idea yet when it's likely to appear or if it will keep it's working title. I promise I'll keep you all posted. As for the next book? Well, I have an ideas file with a very rough outline but first it's back to work on BRH.

Friday, August 17, 2007


I'm stunned and delighted to say I've sold to Little Black Dress.

Friday Fun 8

This is a picture of the world famous Dudley Bug. It's a Trilobite, which lived 417 million years ago when Dudley was a seaside. The Wrens Nest, known locally as The Wrenner, is a famous fossil hunting site where you can see a prehistoric seashore and pick up fossils of long ago corals and shells. (Hammers are banned) so you may not find a bug but you can find loads of other things.

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's oh so quiet

Work has been incredibly quiet today. Very wierd - it usually means I can expect to be snowed under within a few days. It's made a pleasant change though as I actually caught up on a few things I'd been meaning to do for a while.
Writing is still going well. Just six and a half chapters left to go and a big read through and tidy up. That's when I take out my repetions, add in my descriptions, alter the pacing and make the whole thing run more smoothly.
I really love this story and it's great fun to write - if a little complicated.

One of my loops has a huge discussion on marketing going on. Apart from asking a couple of questions I've kind of stayed out of it as it's become a little heated. I've learned a few things to bear in mind for the future though and that's been helpful. I've had a marketing plan for a while ever since Jessica made me get more organised when I was having a major dither this time last year about where I was going and what I was doing.
I must say it's been quite reassuring to find out I was doing what I was supposed to be doing but still disheartening in other aspects.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunny Saturday

Time for a progress update. Two more chapters completed. Two others tidied and edited (thanks Jess) and a third started. Phew! That's on top of the day job, critting for a contest as a favour for a friend and the promo talks I was already committed to.
I did some writing at work on my lunch break. I have a wrist rest I use when I'm there that I got as a freebie sometime ago from one of the medical companies. Well I dutifully typed away for twenty minutes or so and realised my wrists were really itchy. When I looked I had a line of little blisters on the inside of each wrist.
The office was so hot, the glue that held the top to the backing of the rest had oozed and I'm allergic to adhesives so I'd got a reaction.
I've heard of suffering for your art but that was taking it a step too far.