Saturday, February 28, 2009

Counting down!

To the big day and the release of Animal Instincts! I'm starting to get really nervous now, hoping people will like it.
Here's a little snippet just so you can meet Clodagh and Immi.

Clodagh Martin is fond of her celebrity sister Imogen, but in small doses. So when she turns up drunk at Rainbow's End, Clodagh's animal sanctuary, announcing she's in trouble and staying for a long visit, Clodagh's not exactly delighted. She has enough problems right now. The business is broke, and there's been a worrying wave of vandalism. Is someone really trying to ruin her? A big property magnate, bad-lad Jack Thatcher, has been showing a rather strong interest in Clodagh lately. But is it her or her assets he's after?

The light from the hall spilled out into the night illuminating the two figures on my front doorstep.
“Surprise!” Immi wobbled on her heels and blinked owlishly at me, “I’ve got a present for you.” She waved an unopened bottle of champagne in my face.
“That’ll be sixty quid, Miss.” The taxi driver supporting my sozzled step-sister leaned her against the doorframe, a look of relief on his florid features. He must have driven her quite a distance to want sixty pounds and it was typical of Immi not to have any money with her.
“Pay the man, Clo,” Immi ordered and staggered sideways, flinging her arm around the driver’s neck to steady herself.
“Whoops!” She giggled.
The only money I had in the house – the only cash I had at all¬ – was hidden in the greedy pig cookie barrel in the kitchen. I left Immi and her new friend on the doorstep and scurried off to fetch the cash, mentally cursing her as I went.
As soon as the cabbie had been paid I yanked her inside and closed the door.
She peered at me in the dim yellow light of the hallway. “Wassup Clo? Were you in bed?”
Well, duh, it was two o’clock in the morning and my pyjamas would be a big clue. I steered her into the kitchen and put the kettle on. One - or both of us - needed coffee.
Immi flopped on to one of the mismatched wooden chairs next to the Aga and plunked the champagne bottle down on the table. Her long blonde hair was tousled and her usually immaculate make-up was smudged. She was dressed in a silvery mini dress and matching cardi, as if she’d been out clubbing.
“God, I need a drink.” She leaned forward on to the table, scattering a pile of bills and final demands as she buried her head in her arms.
“I think you’ve had enough to drink.”
Having my half-cut step-sister turn up out of the blue at such an odd hour wasn’t strange in itself. Normally, however, she would arrive with a full set of matched pink luggage, her mobile phone glued to her ear as she ranted on about whichever boyfriend of the moment had broken her heart. She would then stay for less than a day until the errant male in question arrived with his arms full of roses to beg her forgiveness.
She lifted her head. “You don’t understand, Clodagh. My life is over. Ruined.” The dramatic effect of her statement was slightly marred by the slurring. I wondered where she’d been to arrive on my doorstep at this hour of the night.
“I’m sure it can’t be that bad.”
“S’worse than bad.” She nodded her head drunkenly.
Her mood had changed from happy drunk to depths of despair during the short stagger from the hall to the kitchen. Oh boy, at this rate I would be the one needing a drink; her current man trouble must be worse than usual. It had to be a boyfriend problem. Immi was the only person in the world with worse judgement than me when it came to men. I moved my book-keeping paperwork to one side and slid a mug of black coffee in front of her. “Drink this.”
Immi fixed big, tear-filled blue eyes on me. “I’m serious. I’m in big trouble.”
I wasn’t unduly shocked by her declaration. My stepsister always thought her emotional crises were the end of the world. I’d been holding her hand and passing her tissues ever since she’d hit her teens. She always fell in love too hard and too fast.
I took the chair opposite hers. “Who is it this time?” I’d been racking my brains while I’d made the coffee to try and recall the name of her current squeeze.
She sniffed and wiped away a tear with the side of her finger. “It’s not a man. It’s a TV show.”
There was a roll of kitchen towel on the counter, so I passed it over. Career issues were also nothing new. Immi’s an actress. Not A list, more like C list but with higher aspirations. She’d had some good supporting roles, is the face of Blitzclean mouthwash and has a part in a daytime soap. Her lifestyle is a million miles away from mine, hers is glamour and glitter, my life is denim and doggy. I don’t know much about Immi’s world– I don’t even own a TV any more.
© Nell Dixon 2009 to read more
Available from Book Depositary and all good bookstores.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Train travel

Tomorrow I'm off to Lancashire for the day job. Tim and I are visiting the lovely people at the wildlife trust who visited with us a few weeks ago. We've decided to go by train as I'm not keen on the bit of motorway between Manchester and Liverpool, plus as you all know I'm not the world's greatest driver.
I've booked next week off work - I'd got to use up my annual leave before April and as Animal Instincts is due to make it's debut on Wednesday - squee! I thought I'd enjoy feeling less pressured.
Miss La is due home tomorrow from her week away so no doubt we'll be regaled with lots of stories and I'll be presented with much muddy washing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sofa, so good

Okay, so it's a bad pun but the old suite is gone and I have a new unbroken sofa to sit on - yay! It seems to be new book mania at the moment with lots of new releases coming up. If you stop by the Samhain site check out my romance diva friend - R F Long and her book, The Scroll Thief. I've an interview on my My Space blog with her this week. Also releasing soon, I think it's the same day as Animal Instincts is my good friend Amanda Ashby's Zombie Queen of Newbury High. The link to Amanda's blog is in the sidebar - go on over she's having an amazing ten day blog party with lots of great authors stopping by.
Then of course it's Phillipa Ashley with It Should Have Been Me and if you haven't read the excerpt yet on the Little Black Dress site then check it out. She's also giving away a copy of her book on her blog.
I'm planning some partying of my own but my webman tells me my newly revamped site will be up at the end of the week so I'll wait for that to make my announcements.
By the way don't forget that Phillipa and I will be at Waterstones, Merry Hill on Sat Mar 7th 12 till 2.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Minus one

Miss La has gone off on her residential holiday. To prepare for her momentous trip she packed Pudding - (her dog from the bear factory)a bag of biscuits (In case the food is lacking) and painted her fingernails black. Luckily I packed the rest of the things while she agonised over whether she should take leg warmers and did I think Pudding needed a case of his own?
For the record my answer was no and no. Hopefully they'll have some dry weather to explore the wilds of not very sunny Albrighton before she returns on Friday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Household Law

An offshoot from the rather better known Murphy's law, household law dictates that whenever you order something for the home or have work done in the home there shall be a problem. Nothing ever arrives as it should, gets done when they say it will or goes ahead without a hitch.
Yesterday the new furniture arrived. In order to get the sofa into the house (it's large) the movers had to undo the shades from the hall light. Once in the lounge they zipped on all the cushions and headed back to the ranch. At this point me and Mr Nell went to turn the sofa around so it faced the right way. Household law struck with the discovery that the frame appeared to be strangely bendy. We suspect it's actually fractured. Cue phone calls to the furniture people - a new replacement sofa is scheduled to be delivered now on Tuesday. In the meantime I have no ceiling light in the hall - there seems little point in putting it all back up if it's got to come off again - and all the pleasure of getting something new and nice is gone. Not to mention that having spent all of yesterday waiting in as they couldn't be bothered to call and give me a rough delivery time, I now have to spend all of Tuesday hanging around too.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Okay, so it probably means I sold one copy but a friend just emailed to say did I know I was at number five on's coming soon bestseller list for romantic fiction.
I know, these things are pretty meaningless but even so it's a bit exciting. Okay, so it's a lot exciting - it's been a long day - much cleaning, nuff said


Well, we hired the Rug doctor cleaner from Focus and have now cleaned the dining room carpert and all the chairs, the lounge carpet, the hall carpet and five rugs. I think Mr Nell has now run out of flat oblects to clean and has taken the cleaner back. I think if the belles had stood still long enough he may have tried to clean them too. Actually, Miss La may have benefitted from it - she always reminds us of 'Pigpen' the Peanuts character by Charles Schultz.
Tomorrow the new furniture is due to arrive and I have to put everything back - cue more cleaning. Did I mention cleaning is not number one on my list of things to do?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Green shoots

No, not the ones the govt keeps claiming it can see in the economy but the the ones in my garden. The Snowdrops are open, buds are forming on the Magnolia and the bulbs are poking their heads above the soil. The birds are reappearing on the bird stand and I'm hoping my Wisteria is going to be okay this year.
The new three piece suite is arriving on Saturday so we have to lug the old one out and store it until the council come to collect it on Tuesday. Very exciting - can't wait to see what it looks like in the lounge. I'm toying with hiring a carpet cleaner and cleaning the carpets while the room is empty - haven't decided on that one yet.
Then I have to wait for the carpet people to call and tell me the bedroom carpet is here. So far we've drawn a blank on the door. I know exactly what I want - I've even seen the door but the company's are either too lazy, too inept or - in the case of one firm where I saw my dream door - the salesman was aggressive, rude and stank of stale cigarette smoke, plus he was talking rubbish, for me to give them an order.
I think I'll get my furniture and carpet done first and then try again for my new door. There has to be someone out there who can keep a promise to call back and do what I ask.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Holding your baby

My first advance copy arrived on Saturday of Animal Instincts. I finally read it from cover to cover last night. It's so strange reading your own work when it's finally out there as a book, for all the world to read - or not - as the case might be. Writing Animal Instincts was strange, it felt like the book that would never end as I was writing it. I think it has a different feel to my other books - I don't know, I never could judge my own work. I know that I still love poor vulnerable Clodagh and the bolder but ultimately flawed Immi and Jack, hotheaded and totally delicious - sigh. I just hope other people will love them too and the animal cast of charcters who surround them.
I've finished another chapter of Crystal Clear and so far I'm still on target for this month. The plot is coming together now for Azure and Marla and I'm looking forward to writing the next few chapters especially as Drew is now very firmly in the frame lol.

Monday, February 16, 2009


As it's half term I took Miss La shopping this morning for items she needs for her residential holiday next week. New trainers, pyjamas, a track suit and shorts. More money, I wouldn't mind but this holiday is so ridiculously expensive already and they don't go till next Monday afternoon and return on Friday lunchtime. It's costing more than we spend on a fortnights holiday in the tourer for all five of us and they're only going to Staffordshire!
Next stop was the dentists for all three of them. I may have mentioned this before but our dentist is very nice - he looks like Vin Diesel. Fortunately they all got a clean bill of health so that's done for another six months.
I'm hoping I might squeeze in some writing time at some point today but next stop is Miss La's guitar lesson.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


My angel fish - Angie - is very unpopular as she's eaten two of the neon's. We've also lost a couple of Platys and one of the red gourami with various problems. Hence our trip to the aquatics place today for more fish. Two pretty pale blue dwarf gourami to keep our lone blue male company, two kissing gourami and two yellow rainbow fish. Next weekend we're going to get some more Molly's. I want some more Platys but they were out of stock. The belle's are all very happy now even though Angie is already giving the powder blues the evil eye from her corner of the tank.
The library talk went okay yesterday, thanks so much to everyone who came and to Christina and the staff of Kings Norton library for making it such a lovely pleasant afternoon.
Writing wise I'm on target for this month with two chapters done of Crystal Clear and one done of A Scattering of Leaves. I need to do two more chapters of Crystal Clear to meet my schedule for this month and anything extra is a bonus. However as it's halfterm week I may not get so much done. I've also got a ton of work to do for this wretched course - quite how I'm going to achieve that I've no idea especially when I've nothing to use as a marker to tell me how high to pitch the work. I think it would be easier if my heart was in it but it's not.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day

Some people get flowers for Valentine's or chocolates or jewellery. I got breakfast in bed in the form of a bacon and sausage sandwich. Mr Nell knows the way to a Black Country girl's heart.
If anybody is near Kings Norton Library this afternoon 2.30 till 3.30 drop in - I'm chatting about writing and Little Black Dress and my latest books. (There are goodie bags and hot chocolate)
Have a great day!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Yesterday was not a good day - somehow in the course of my day I managed to travel through Birmingham in the traffic from Hell, break two sets of automatic doors, trapping myself behind the one set for just long enough to get a parking ticket. To complete my misery I got a crashing migraine.
I think it must have been lets get Aquarians day yesterday as my lovely job share partner endured a five hour journey to get into the office and she ended up with a migraine too.
I think we've decided to just draw a line under that one and forget that Wednesday ever happened so this week is officially a six day week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Things I'm doing today

I'm on a course today, I think it lasts for three days - one day per month for the next three months. I'm sure it'll be very useful and I'll probably enjoy it once I'm there but the programme doesn't make your heart sing with joy and excitement.
It also means I'm missing the RNA annual awards dinner in London where they'll be announcing the winners of this years Romance Prize and the Romance Novel of the Year award.
mmm, let me think about this - sitting in a classroom in Wolverhampton or hobbing and nobbing with my agent and editor in a posh London hotel.
Sigh - better not think about it too much.
(Actually I've never managed to hob and nob with anyone really other than my RNA friends - I just like to think that someday I actually might)

Monday, February 09, 2009

Ladies who lunch

Today was lovely as I met up with Phillipa Ashley and Elizabeth Hanbury for one of our irregular writerly lunches. We spent a happy couple of hours at the vineyard eating yummy food and talking. We also did lots of laughing and I think we all came out feeling energised and ready to write again. There's something great about being with other writers that always perks you right up and makes you think about your work in a new light. Writing can be a very solitary life so making contact with kindred spirits is even more important. That's my excuse for dipping around the net chatting with friends on messenger and catching up on blogs.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Today is my birthday and I've been lucky enough to get lots of bunches of these - daffodils, my favourite flower. I've had lots of lovely flowers, money, perfume, book vouchers, socks and some wonderful cards and messages. I'm very lucky to have such great friends and family.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

It's up!

Squee, Read an extract here Animal Instincts is up on the Little Black Dress website so you can read. I'm so excited - less than one month to go!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Suite shop

In a break between the snow while the roads are clear and the belles are back in school, Mr Nell and I are going shopping for a three piece suite. We also need a new front door and should we have any money left in the piggy bank after that a bedroom carpet. It's all a bit of a novelty as the biggest and most exciting thing the house has had in ages was the new kitchen taps and the light in my office. We've found a suite we love and even better still it's in the sale - got to be something good in a recession right? I like to think we're doing our bit to boost the economy.
While we've agreed on the suite, the door may be a different matter. I found one I adore but Mr Nell hates it. It's white oak and art deco style. He favours painted steel traditional thirties type style. Hence we're off to look at doors today once we've ordered the furniture.
I also need to clean the house and I'm desperate to write the next chapter of A Scattering of Leaves as I have it all laid out in my head and have to get it onto paper before it vanishes into the mists.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snowed under

Well we got more snow during the night, schools are all closed again and more snow is forecast. It's melting at the moment but forecast to freeze and the sideroads are nasty - water pooled on top of compacted snow. I've decided to work from home as there was no way I could safely make it to work and home again. Luckily I've plenty of work to do that I can get on with here. (I'm typing this on my coffee break while I wait for an email) I'm so glad I'd already planned tomorrow as an annual leave day. It all looks very pretty from my office window with the fields and trees coated in white but the sky is still grey and heavy.
After last years fall on the ice I'm not risking my hip again, it's taken two years to get to the point where I've reasonable mobility and co-ordination so I'll stay indoors till the ice clears.
Okay, break over - back to work! Time and the PCT wait for no woman.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Snow going

The snow is melting - hooray, so tomorrow the belles can return to school and I can hopefully get to work. I've been busy all weekend though, two more chapters done on Crystal Clear and one finished on A Scattering of Leaves, lots of critiquing, emails flying back and forth between my cp for Leaves as I worked with her stuff and she made comments on mine.
Phillipa Ashley and I are looking forward to our book launch at Waterstones on March 7th, there have been so many great responses we're both feeling really excited. My webman is busy revamping my website too so there'll be a few changes appearing soon - don't worry if you have trouble getting on over the next week or so it probably means we're working on stuff.
Even better this week I have a days holiday to take so I have Friday off, more writing time unless Mr Nell makes me leave my desk to go looking for a new front door.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Anyone for a snowball fight?

Well, the snow fell and is still falling. The belle's schools are closed and I expect them to be shut tomorrow too. At the moment the side roads are bad but the main roads are clear. I made a quick trek to the shops during a break in the snowfall this afternoon so we have provisions. Does anyone think this will all miraculously have melted by Wednesday when I have to get to work?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Waiting for snow

We're supposed to get snow in the next couple of days. The sky is surly and leaden while the trees seem to be waiting. It's certainly cold enough outside. The wind is building and every now and again I see the remains of the long dead dry brown leaves of the Hawthorns swirl past my window. It's the kind of weather to make you want to stay in, curl up by the fire with a good book or an old film and a mug of hot chocolate.
Last night was movie night for me and the Shagster aka eldest belle. When Mr Nell is on nights we get to watch chick flicks in our jammies. Last night was Pretty in Pink - such a fun film with all the Eighties stuff going on in there and such great lines 'Blaine? His name is Blaine? That's not a name, it's a major appliance.' And who doesn't get a lump in their throat for the unrequited love of the Duckman.
I also got to read a good book. Janet Gover's The Farmer Needs A Wife - lovely stuff - seriously - go buy a copy, you won't be sorry.
For the next treat on our wintry weekend tonight is Dancing on Ice and the leg-end that is the fabulously unco-ordinated Todd Carty.