Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New year

to all my friends. I hope this coming year will give you good health and happiness. I suspect my own new year will take me on new adventures, some sought and others which are totally unexpected. I always feel at this point in the calendar that old shades of the past seem closer than during the rest of the year but beyond the ghosts and the whispers there is the promise and sparkle of future magic yet to come that lies ahead.
I wish for all of you some of that magic in the coming year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my friends, readers and fellow writers a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year. I'm pleased to say I am feeling a bit better now so hopefully will be up to cooking Christmas dinner. However you celebrate the season, I hope yours is great.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Uncle Bulgaria?

I had two early prezzies this week in the form of my publisher telling me that Just Look at Me Now was going to be in large print, then today I heard that it's going to be translated into Bulgarian. Wow! how cool is that? Look out Bulgaria in Spring next year when it goes out with copies of Cosmopolitan magazine. So exciting - and a little tinsy bit strange but in a good way.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dear Simon Cowell,

Whilst not doubting your knowledge of the music industry, TV and light entertainment I am however concerned re your rather hazy grasp on geography. I would like to point out that Cher is from Malvern - not Birmingham. You, and One Direction did a gig in Wolverhampton - not Birmingham. Oh, and Merry Hill is not in - guess where? - Birmingham.
I realise it is difficult to keep track of ones location whilst jetting across the Atlantic and you probably share the view of many people from the South of the UK that anything past Oxford is occupied by Wolves, Bears and Mancunians. However it is rude and disrespectful to the people who turned out in the freezing temperatures, who made you welcome and supported you and your act to keep getting the name of the place you visited WRONG.
In fact, whilst I'm here I would like to point out to Best buys - who are American so could be forgiven for not checking a map, and to Heart radio, to the BBC news team and indeed to anyone else who might wish to know - The Merry Hill shopping Centre is not in Birmingham.
It is in Dudley - in the Black Country. Birmingham is the city about twelve miles away.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Time to put up the tree

The belle's are clearing up their stuff from the lounge so we can put up our Christmas tree. This is a pic from last year and as you can see it's so very stylish, colour coordinated and small - not!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Friday, December 03, 2010

Early pressie!

Which book do you think this might be in German?? Isn't it totally fab?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Getting home from the day job yesterday took almost two hours so I played safe today and came home at lunchtime armed with a huge stack of work that I could manage at home. So glad I did. I returned to find we had a problem with the plumbing in the drain on the drive which needed urgent attention and then the snow just kept on falling! Wombourne Writers is cancelled for tonight - our guest speaker Dr Bob Bibby has rescheduled for February and Miss Boo's theatre reheasal has been cancelled too and rearranged for a longer session on Sunday. At least that means I don't have to go out again.
Can't quite believe it's the first day of December today! I've so much to do and no time to do it both in my day job, my writing and in my Christmas preparations. Where is that cloning machine when you need it?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No snow show

Well, there was a tiny dusting of snow overnight, but only enough to resemble a very heavy frost. The forecast predictions seem to show it passing all around us but not on us. I guess we'll have to wait and see if it moves further into the midlands. It's flipping cold here though. The fluffy socks are out and the belles have ransacked the coat cupboard to dig out scarves and gloves. Everything suddenly feels very wintery and Christmassy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crystal Clear in large print

I have the most gorgeous new cover for the large print edition of Crystal Clear!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What happened in London - part 2!

We made to the party fashionably late thanks to the cab crisis so by then it was jammed with people. I mean literally jammed. It took us five minutes to locate the lovely Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson so we could sign in and collect our name tags and a rosette. This party was the final one for the clebration of fifty years of the Romantic Novelists Assoc. All those of us who had joined the association as unpublished writers, and had gone on through the wonderful NWS scheme to achieve publication become eligible for the Joan Hessayon award. In my year I think there were about 12 of us and the fabulous Fiona Harper was the winner. Winners of the award had very sparkly rosettes so Phillipa looked very glittery. We posed for pictures on the stairs which you can see over atJan Jones blog I'm at the back on the big group one and waving my hands around talking to my friend, Brigid Coady on another one. The evening whizzed past far too quickly and I missed talking to lots of people. People I did get to chat with included Cat Cobain, she bought my first LBD book, Blue Remembered Heels and I always enjoy talking with her as she is great fun and very wise. My fabby LBD editor, Claire, so excited to see her, Broo - who is Phillipa's agent, looking lovely as always. I met up with Sandra Forder, my good friend who I informally critique for and the ever glamerous Liz Fenwick, Cara Cooper, Catherine King, Diane Pearson, Lorelei Matthews, Lizzie Lamb and a whole host of other people.
The volume as ever was deafening so I struggled a bit to hear what people were saying and I was glad I'd left my walking stick at home as I probably would have legged someone over with it in the crowd. The drink flowed and the canapes were delicious especially after I accidently discovered the best spot in the room to stand to get offered them first - yum!
It was a fabulous party and Vik, Phillipa and I were buzzing as we left, like good little Cinderella's, a bit early to taxi across to the station and our ride home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What happened in London

Vik, a friend from Wombourne writers, and I set off for Euston in time to meet my cp, Kimberley for lunch. Kim is an American, living in Italy and although we've been working together for a while now we'd never met. This is a special week though as her wonderful debut novel, Ask Me If I'm Happy was released from Diiarts press and she was over for the launch.
We met up at Euston and set off in a cab for John Lewis where we'd arranged to meet Phillipa Ashley, one of the coffee crew authors. Lunch lasted three hours that just zipped by in a flash. Kim is every bit a beautiful in real life as she is in her emails and we had a blast.
Once Kim had left to dash off to a literary event at Oxford, Vik, Phillipa and I went girly window shopping around the beauty department. Somehow we ended up in House of Fraser where the wonderful Laura, who was brilliant, gave us all a make-over with her gorgeous mineral make-up. (That is so going on my Christmas wish list).
Smelling delicious and immaculately made-up, Phillipa sprinted off for a meeting with her agent whilst Vik and I went in search of a cab to take us to Waterstones in Piccadily where we had been invited to a Tweet-up with Jane Holland, Talli Roland, Kate Nash, Jenny Bardon and Barbara Alderton. We were at the taxi rank when one of the cycle rickshaw cabs pulled in. So, we took our life in our hands and were pedalled away down Oxford Streets dodging in between the buses and admiring the posh shops and Christmas lights all the way to Piccadily.
We met up with the rest in time to celebrate Jane Holland's birthday which was made even better by a phone call from her agent telling her she had just landed a three book deal for her historical novels!
By the time we'd celebrated we were running late for the RNA winter party. We managed to grab one cab and half our party set off in that. Vik, Talli and I tried to find another cab. With time ticking on and no luck, Talli suggested we walk down to the Ritz as there were sure to be cabs there. Using her charm Talli then persuaded the wonderfully helpful doorman complete with his frock coat and top hat to stand out in the traffic and flag us down a taxi, so we were escorted into our vehicle in style.
After that came the RNA party and I'll blog about that tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RNA Winter Party

I'm off to London with fellow writer Vik Moriarty and we're meeting Kimberley Menozzi, my cp and author of Ask Me If I'm Happy (out this week, Diiarts Press) and Phillipa Ashley, author of Dating Mr December (out now with Source books) for lunch. Then after a spot of shopping we're off to the RNA winter party and I know loads of my friends are going to be there so it'll be fab to catch up.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ch ch changes...

Channelling a bit of Bowie. I'm being a busy bee at the moment making all kinds of changes to all kinds of things writing and non writing wise. You'll be seeing some new things hopefully on my website over the next few months and I'll be blogging about some of the things I have planned soon. I know, I'm such a tease!
First up though is to remind those of you who like large print that Crystal Clear will be released in LP format on December 1st. As soon as I see the cover i'll post it here for you!

Friday, November 12, 2010


The weather yesterday was really wild and I'm surprised there wasn't more damage when I drove eldest belle to catch her train to college this morning. I must admit I quite like lying in bed late at night and listening to the wind howling around the chimney. I always feel very snug especially if i have a good book to read.
Next weeks calendar is mad. I seem to be horrendously busy for the whole week including a trip to London on Wednesday to meet my cp, Kimberley Mennozi as her fabulous book, Ask Me If I'm Happy, releases this week from Diiart press. I'm travelling down with a friend from Wombourne writers and we're meeting Kim for lunch. Then later it's the RNA winter party. Very glam and exciting - well, the party will be, I'll probably be windswept and achey from schlepping around London all day but I'm so excited! It'll make a change from my usual outings which tend to be just to drop the belles off at various places.
Friday is my middle belle's birthday - she'll be 14. How did that happen? What happened to my cute little baby girl who cut her baby sisters hair when she was playing hairdressers? She used to say she wanted to be a ballerina hairdresser when she was small. Then her dream job was to work for Disney as Cinderella in the Disney parades, singing and dancing down Main Street. Maybe she hasn't changed too much after all.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Proud Mama moment

Congratulations to my lovely and talented middle daughter on being cast in her first stage play with Wolverhampton City Youth Theatre as the Envy Snake in their upcoming production of The Ashgirl in December!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Catching my breath

I'm sorry, I know I've not posted for a while. I had one day between getting home from holiday before I had to sprint off to Oxford for a course for two days. We had a fab week away, we did some Christmas shopping at Clacton shopping village and at the designer outlet village near Stansted. We went metal detecting on the beach at Walton-on-the-Naze. We played bingo on Clacton pier with the caller dressed as a monk. We climbed to the top of the tower at Orford and walked around the walls of Framlingham Castle. We went swimming in the pool at the caravan site (indoor). We visited Frinton and went bird watching from the sea walls at Point Clear. We played scrabble, did jigsaws and laughed a lot.
In short we had a great time. What do you like doing best on holiday, and where is your ideal spot?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Off we go

This will be my accomodation for the next week, our lovely caravan. Planning all kinds of nice things whilst we're away. The house/fish sitters will be taking care of things whilst were gone. When I get back it will all go a bit mad again. I have a two day course at Oxford UNI on evaluating qualitative research, the belles have dance exams, sports tournaments and a play to rehearse. Most importantly though I'm going to be meeting Kim, my cp for the first time on November 17th in London! Squee. Her wonderful book, Ask me If I'm Happy is releasing from Diiarts press that week and I'm going to the RNA winter party - extra squee!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sunny Sunday

One week to go to my holiday - I'm looking forward to it so much. This October we're going back to one of our fave places that we haven't visited for a few years - St Osyth on the Essex coast. We plan to get our Christmas shopping organised at the shopping village and in Colchester. To visit Frinton on sea and walk along the sea front at Clacton, go on the pier, eat lots of sea food (well I do) and generally chill out for a week before we come back to the hurly burly of dance exams, show rehearsals, school events, tons of work stuff and just life generally. I'm hoping this lovely sunny weather keeps up while we're away

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Feeling silly

I'm not sure where this came from but it seemed to sum up my day.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I took yesterday as a writing day - I'm on chapter six now and loving my new story. That means today is errand day - sigh. Visit to the bank which I hate with a passion was much improved by the discovery of one of my fab former Asda colleagues working there. Then to get a few ingredients for tonights casserole. Bought my new little purse diary for next year so I need to fill that out. These are fab - I've been buying them ever since I was a student nurse - they cost 50p from Clinton cards, open out to a month on view at a time with a box for each day just big enough to make a note and are small enough and flat enough to slip in the side of a purse, or when I was on the wards, into my uniform pocket.
Now to renew my RAC subscription - I'm supposed to get this free with my bank account but I'd hate to put it to the test. Finally I'm back doing my Flylady routines which I'd let slip this year and have missed so much. If you don't know about Flylady check out her website - great for busy people - her Christmas planner is ace.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pleasant Valley Sunday

I appologise for the lack of blogging lately. Life has been even more hectic than usual so I've been a bit remiss in my efforts to bore you all rigid with the mundane trivia of my daily life.
This weekend I've barely been in the house, by the time I'd dropped the middle belle at dance class, scooted round and done the grocery shop, picked her back up, dropped her and the shopping off at home, collected the other two belles for a dentist visit - eldest for a tiny filling, youngest to have three milk teeth removed, dropped eldest off at cinema to meet her friends, gone home, helped a friend of mine complete a mountain of dss forms for her daughter, then gone and collected eldest belle, Saturday had vanished.
Then today, I needed to get the laundry on, visit my parents, come back to hang out laundry, take middle belle to theatre group, come home and grab coffee, then go back to collect middle belle then cook Sunday dinner, my Sunday will have disappeared too.
Somewhere in the midst of all this I really want to finish the chapter I'm working on, and I suppose I opught to attempt to clean the house.
How was your weekend?

Monday, October 04, 2010

X Factor?

I don't watch much TV but as you know I do love me a crappy reality show. Well, watching X Factor last night I certainly got the crappy part. Cheryl Cole was clearly much iller with her malaria than we were led to believe. The poor girl was still so affected by it she managed to take through the only two singers in her category who couldn't sing. Katie 'I think I'm Madonna's love child' and half girl, half old lady, Cher.
Gamu who most of the population of the UK had marked as their winner of the series didn't go through. Simon picked his made up groups on the grounds that they looked better than the groups who had bothered to work hard, rehearse and could actually sing. Dani chose an italian bloke with an ego to rival Katie whats her face and poor Louie has Tesco Mary, a bloke in a hat and Storm Drain. The best thing all weekend was the return of Sharon Osbourne.However there are now rumours of a judges wild card pick next week. Pah! I won't be bothering to watch.
The one bright spot on the horizon is that next week Harry Hill is back!!!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Writing into the mist

It's been ages since I wrote a post purely about my writing. I've recently started a new ms. At the moment it's called allotment wars but I have a sneaking suspicion that may turn out to be another book entirely. This is very much an into the mists book. I have no plan - I never have much of a plan, but for this one I haven't even done a rough blurb or outline. So far I have three chapters which I really like - they are still lacking the details to make them sharp but as regular readers here know that's something I do in my edit stages. Chloe, my heroine, is a radio reporter - she gets to go out and record interviews at the local baby show, meet the grower of the biggest leek and at the start of the ms she's about to abseil down the walls of a castle. Except, Chloe hates heights and has misguidely taken too many of her friend Shelly's tranquillisers in a bid to calm her fears.
So, that's what I'm working on - for the writers amongst you, what scene have you just written? And, for the readers, what scene have you recently read that's stayed in your memory?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday moaning

Either it's the damp miserable weather or I really am turning into a grumpy old woman. Random irritations on a wet morning:
False eyelashes - I mean really, why do you think anyone would glue something that looks like two spidery toupees for a bald man to their face to go and work in a bank? Most disconcerting for the customer on the other side of the counter especially when coupled with orange fake tan and the false nails.
Queues - everytime - Dear Halifax - you need more staff and why do the machines never, ever work?
Drivers with no lights - You are in a black car, it's dark, it's raining, please put your lights on.
TV in the bank - Dear Lloyds, I don't want to watch the Labour party conference whilst in your queue. I shouldn't be there long enough to watch TV. And I don't care who won the leadership contest - the ship is sinking I don't care who is on deck. (Disclaimer, in the interests of equality there are other political parties, and no, I don't want to watch them either)
Heart radio - For the love of Mike please change the playlist - I can only stand so much Lady Gaga, Michael Buble and Alicia 'New York' Keyes before I lose the will to live.
What minor stuff is irritating you at the moment?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Peaceful Sundays

I hope everyone is having a peaceful day. Mine is rather noisy. My neighbours have some people in to relay their patio. Unfortunately my office is at the back of the house so inevitably I have the merry sound of the grinder, the slab cutter, tuneless whistling and football commentary coming from their radio.
I really hope they finish it today. I can't concentrate when there's extraneous outside noise. I've been trying to drown them out by compiling my playlist for the new ms in progress. So far I've got:
Sweet about me - Gabriella Cilimi
Radio Nowhere - Bruce springsteen
It must be Love - Madness
Viva La Vida - Coldplay
Upside Down - Paloma Faith
Gotta be somebody - Nickelback
Only the good die young - Billy Joel
What about Love - Heart

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Whatya reading?

I've been on a bit of a reading spree lately, some nice M&B's by Penny Jordan and Roger Sanderson. The Beach hut by Veronica Henry, A selection of short stories by Maeve Binchy, a nice group of historical short stories by Elizabeth Hanbury. Next up is a debbie Macomber followed by a real treasure - I managed to get one of the forerunner series by Andre Norton for my collection - and it was one I haven't read before! I'm also waiting for Amazon to bring me the new Jenny Crusie book.
How about you? What are you reading? Any good recomends?
Ps I like happy endings, no horror or misery lit, don't care for vampires werewolves or stuff like thet.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just Look at Me Now

This afternoon I turned on the computer and found a review which actually made me cry. Happy tears, not upset ones. I always value the reviews from as Julie is a thoughtful and experienced reviewer. I'd been worried about this book as it was in third person rather than first person and is probably the most chick-litty and tongue in cheek of all my books.
Julie gave it 5 stars and said: 'I polished off Nell Dixon’s irresistible new novel in a single sitting! Fabulously readable, highly engaging and immensely enjoyable, I was hooked from the very first page and didn’t stop reading until I reached the satisfying conclusion!'
Then she added the bit that made me cry:
'With a wonderful heroine, a drop dead gorgeous hero, an enchanting cast of supporting characters, laugh out loud comedy, moving pathos and non-stop action, Just Look at Me Now is another winner from an outstanding storyteller who always leaves her readers with big smiles on their faces, eagerly awaiting the next rip-roaring romantic comedy from her very talented pen!'
I owe a huge debt on this book to Charlotte Maclain from Romance Diva's who gave me a wonderful insight into the world of magazines and also an even huger one to my CP, Kimberley Menozzi who has her own fabulous women's fiction book, 'Ask Me If I'm Happy', coming out in November from Diiarts books.
You can read the rest of Julie's review HERE

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Autumn is definitely in the air, the mornings are cooler, the evenings darker and the spiders invading my house are larger and hairier. My greenhouse is full of lovely little cherry tomatoes and the patio pots of large tomatoes and peppers need harvesting. Our birdtable looks like Heathrow for Bluetits and the squirrel is back in the corkscrew hazel helping himself to the cobnuts.
Looking towards the barrow from my office window there are subtle changes in the leaves on the trees. I love this time of year, especially ondays like today when the sky is blue and the sun is shining with just a hint of crisper, cooler air.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

And breathe out...

Life finally seems to be settling down a little here in the Nell household. My Mum was given the all clear after her recent cancer surgery, my eldest dd is loving her new college and the other belles are back at school. Mr Nell's job is secure again for the moment and, fingers firmly crossed, no more major appliances or vehicles are about to die on me.
My job is still uncertain as we are dependeant on our funders so just keep thinking good thoughts for our projects and, should you know of anyone who would like to help sponsor a really worthwhile project with a terrific track record for helping people then give me a shout.
I'm slowly settling back down to working on my new writing project. I've one and a half chapters down so far and hopefully now life is steadying up a bit I might get some more chapters down before halfterm and the start of the preChristmas chaos. I've seen my calendar pages for November and December and they are scary now even without any extras being added in.
So, how about you? How is your new term going?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


The book signing, silent auction, raffle, sale etc to raise funds for Malthouse and Salop Drive therapeutic gardens is tonight - 6-8.30pm
Hope some of you can make it!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Book signing and auction

If any of you are in the Midlands on Tuesday 14th September then you're very welcome to come along to Malthouse Garden, next to the Independent Living Centre, 100 Oldbury Road Smethwick B66 1JE between 6 and 8.30pm. I'll be signing copies of Just Look at Me Now and reading excerpts and you can ask me all kinds of questions.
In addition you can bid in our silent auction to win one of the following signed by the author books!
1. Honey Trap by Julie Cohen – Paperback RRP £5.99 – Julie is a Holt medal award winner, this is a smart funny tale involving rock bands and honey traps.
2. A Most Lamentable Comedy - Janet Mullaney – Paperback RRP £5.99 – Janet is famous for her regency romps and this is chick lit with a difference.
3. Girl Racers – Janet Gover – Paperback RRP £6.99 – Janet writes fast paced stories set in her homeland of Australia.
4. A Wedding at Leopard tree lodge – Liz Fielding – hardback RRP £13.99 – Liz is one of the most famous and best loved of the Mills and Boon romance authors and this lovely story won’t disappoint.
5. Dangerous Waters – Jane Jackson – Hardback RRP £18.99 – Privateers and slave revolts in regency times.
6. Devil’s Prize – Jane Jackson – Hardback RRP £18.99 – Cornish smugglers in the 18th century, love and danger.
7. It Should Have Been Me – Phillipa Ashley – Paperback RRP £5.99 – Phillipa’s book Decent Exposure is now filmed as the Twelve Men of Christmas and this story for the Joan Hessayon award winning writer is guaranteed to brighten up your reading.
8. The Wise Woman’s Tale – Phillipa Bowers – Paperback RRP £6.99 – Young adult magic and realism combine in an enchanting historical novel.
9. Rainbow’s End – Eileen Ramsay – Hardback RRP £18.99 – Well loved best selling novelist Eileen delivers a tragic and beautiful romantic tale.
10. Another Woman’s Husband – Sarah Duncan – Hardback RRP £19.99 – Another cracking story by one of today’s best selling contemporary writers.
11. Stage by Stage – Jan Jones – Paperback RRP £7.99 – A warm and witty tale of life in a theatrical boarding house.
12. A Old-fashioned Arrangement – Susie Vereker – Paperback RRP £7.99 – Set in Geneva an ordinary woman faces an extraordinary dilemma.
13. Hardback by Elizabeth Hanbury – details coming soon
Huge Thanks to all of the authors who have generously donated their work. There'll be a raffle, lovely handcrafted cards for sale, some second hand books and of course some plants.
Monies raised are going to Ideal For All's Growing Opportunities programme which is a project for disabled people. It promotes health through horticulture and we need new tools, benches and to replace some of our older shrubs within the gardens.
If you didn't see it, there is a fab review of Just Look at Me Now and an interview with me over at Trashionista.Here
The reviewer said,'Just Look at Me Now is a fantastic read... ...This is yet another wonderful gem from Little Black Dress with a great plot and great characters.' 5/5!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Summer's end

The eldest belle is off to college for her first full week. The other two belles go back to school on Wednesday and I go back to the day job tomorrow. At least I feel better this week and I'm itching to get stuck into the mega pile of work that I know will be on my desk.
Yesterday was my Dad's birthday so despite the drizzle we had a nice barbeque at home. Today already feels as if the season is changing, the Magnolia at the end of the garden is swooshing and swaying in the breeze, the Magpies are chacking at each other from the gutter above my office window and the sky is that pale grey blue which tells you there is a chill in the air.
I have half a chapter done on my new project - hopefully I'll get that done and maybe a synopsis later this week once the day job days are out of the way - have a feeling I'll be too tired to think straight when I get home from work.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Random stuff

Having three teenage girls home for six weeks certainly makes life interesting - here's a few random comments overheard over the past few weeks with no attribution in order to protect the guilty.
'I have two baguettes and I plan to eat them both just because I can'
'OMG if you lick my arm one more time'
'I smelt your hair and touched your feet, there is no way I plan to sniff your socks'
'Stratford upon Avon is near Cornwall, isn't it?'

Friday, September 03, 2010

A question of Faith

Regular readers know that I don't often discuss politics or religion here. This last week however there have been two things which have disturbed me deeply on a personal level. The first was during Ultimate Big Brother - yeah I know - and John Mc's diatribe to Makosi dismissing the existence of God. Then, today, This article appeared on my screen.
There has always been a clash between those who have to have scientific proof, hard facts and the evidence of their own ears and eyes before they can believe in something. Yet, the ground of religious belief is Faith. A faith that can withstand doubt and which places trust in that, clever as man may be, we are not all that is within the the universe. Not just this universe but others which may be far beyond our sight, comprehension or imagination. How arrogant are we that we can say this is all coincidence? Chance? A fluke?
We are but little specks in something huge, infinite and timeless. Everyday, all around if we care to look there are miracles, things which can never be explained or dismissed by science, medicine or rationality.
Every day when I look into the faces of my children I see evidence of God's grace.
This post is not to start a discussion or to provide a platform for those people who have different beliefs to mine. You are welcome to your beliefs, I do not seek to convert anyone to my way of thinking. This is simply something I felt strongly that I had to say, to redress the balance maybe. A question of Faith.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Down by the station...

Eldest dd has gone to catch her train for her induction day. She starts full time at sixth form on Monday. The other two belles don't return to school till Wednesday morning. Youngest belle is still in France. I feel better today than I've done in ages despite the stopped up sinuses and the deafness. I know I feel better because I'm itching to get back to work - or maybe that means I'm not better and it's the fever talking lol.
This virus has been very odd but I can feel my energy coming back. Hopefully the chaos that's been my life for the first part of this year will settle down too and I can have a few months of calm before Christmas and all that madness hits.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Feeling crappy

I thought holidays were meant to make you feel better. I'd been feeling tired since we got home but thought it was just from travelling, then today it hit me. Cottonwool head, drippy nose, hot and cold temps and an irritating cough whenever I try to talk. I guess this is my immune systems way of making me slow up for a week. Since I don't want to spread this around I called in sick, something I hate doing, but since I've only had one day off sick in 2 and a half years then I guess I haven't done so badly. Better a few days now than giving it everyone else and spending more time off.
It doesn't help that workmen have arrived just down the lane and started to Jackhammer the tarmac up on the road. Don't know if it's my head pounding or the generator.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

While I was gone

Well, the eldest belle managed to get 9 GCSE's A* to C grade and is enrolling in college this Tuesday. She's going to a local sixth form college and is really excited about starting her A level courses. The youngest belle is in France with her friend and is entertaining us with her daily texts. I'm busy ploughing through the laundry mountain. I had a lovely email from a reader telling me how much she loved Just look at me Know which made my day for me.
I also met some lovely people while I was away - a big Hi to Brix Books on the harbourside at Brixham and to Jill at Waterstones in Exeter. If you're quick both shops have a small amount of signed stock of my books but you need to be quick as they are going fast.
We had mixed weather while we were away but on the whole it was pretty good. All of us were sad to leave Devon, fingers crossed we'll be able to be back there again soon.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


posting this from the lovely Shoreline cafe in Paignton while we wait with eldest dd for her grandparents to call with her GCSE results.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Five go off to Devon

Hopefully this afternoon we're collecting the new to us towcar - a lovely Volvo XC90 in shiny metallic black - then we're finishing loading up the caravan and we're off tomorrow morning. Notes have been written for the house and fish sitters, Miss La's case is ready for when she comes back early to go to France with her friend's family. I still have my taxes to do but all the bits of paper are now in one pile in my office ready for me to check they've been entered in my notebook so I can fill out the forms.
I must remember to collect my holiday reading books from the boot of my car where I'd locked them to stop me reading them before I left. I've Veronica Henry's the beach hut and a collection of short stories from Maeve Binchy to look forward to. Should last me at least a day.
My Mum has her surgery this afternoon so all good thoughts for her are much appreciated

Monday, August 16, 2010


I seem to be swamped by paper at the moment. I'm getting euro's, sorting out all the stuff the youngest Belle needs for her French holiday with her friend. I'm gathering all the bits I need so I can do my tax return - shudder. We're changing our tow car so I'm chasing down all the documents for that as we'd like the new to us car before we go away on Thursday. I'm writing instructions for the house/fish sitters, supervising packing, finishing up my critiquing work and filling out my returns for Irish PLR which has to be in before the end of this month.
I thought this was supposed to be my holiday?
Still, on Thursday we're off to Devon to one of my favourite places, just outside Stoke Gabriel and I'll be surrounded by lovely rolling green hills and best of all I'll be by the sea. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fat fridges

Most of the appliances in my house are rather like me, a bit elderly, a little eccentric and inclined to work at their own pace. This week two of thenm decided to die. My microwave went first. It looked as if was cooking, the turntable went round, it made the right noises, the light was on but alas no cooking. Fortunately Sainsburys is having a sale so we picked up a lovely shiny silvery one for £50.
Next to go was the fridge freezer. I'd noticed for a while that the fridge was only slightly warmer than the freezer section and the light hasn't worked in it since 2004 but the final straw came when Mr Nell fetched his bottle of flavoured water out and discovered an iceberg the size of the one that sank the Titanic inside the bottle.
So, for the last few days we've been attempting to eat the contents of the freezer so we can get it all emptied out ready for the new one which is coming tomorrow.
It took quite a while to find a new fridge freezer because sometime in the last twenty years fridges have become fatter and of course we have fitted cupboards so fatter fridge freezer = not fitting in fridgefreezer sized gap. Luckily we managed to track one down that seemed like a good make.
I'm now eyeing the other kitchen appliances wondering which will be the third to go - or do you think the fridgefreezer counts as 2?

Monday, August 09, 2010

To tweet or not to tweet?

In a fit of madness last week I joined Twitter. As you know I went to Liz and Kate's very helpful workshop while I was at the RNA conference and then after so many people there kept telling me how wonderful it was I thought I ought to give it a go.
I am not very technical as you know and I can only access Twitter from my desktop since I bought my mobile phone in 2003, it doesn't even have a camera on it and no, I don't want to change it. I use it to make phone calls and that's it - bear in mind that due to my dyscalculia I can't text.
Twitter was always going to be a leap of faith. Well, at the moment I seem to be following 95 people and 60 people are following me - some of them are people who don't know me and will probably stop following me when they discover how boring I really am. It's a weird place the twitterverse. The only way i can describe it is that it's like going to a party and being in a room full of people, some you know and others you don't. Everyone is chatting, some in groups and some one to one. Clutching your glass of wine you look around for a friendly face and every now and then you catch someones eye and can answer a question or join in. The rest of the time you eavesdrop or talk to yourself, a bit like Shirley Valentine talking to the kitchen wall.
Hopefully I'll get better at it and feel a bit less wallflowerish. I downloaded tweetdeck and frankly am not impressed so far. I'll press on though and let you know how it goes when I've had a bit more practice - maybe I need to be less shy and retiring - and yes, I heard you all snigger when I said that!
Oh, and if you're there and I haven't found you then come and find me - I promise to say hello and show you where the peanuts are.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

What a week

Well, actually it's been a pretty crap fortnight. Major stress in the day job, the company that employs Mr Nell went into administration - hopefully that's now been resolved and his job is ok, eldest belle still hobbling around on crutches, fridge freezer is on the blink and my Mom has now had a malignant cancer confirmed again, this time on her nose.
On the upside, Just Look at Me Now is out and selling well, His Darling Nurse is on kindle in the UK now and at least Mom's tumour isn't connected to the retinal cancer she had a few years ago and it sounds as if it's fixable. Mr Nell is still gainfully employed and, provided I don't have a nervous breakdown from all the stuff I need to do this week, I'll be off on holiday soon to Devon.
I might even write something while I wait for the verdict on Me, You and Him. I may even get the pictures from Jess's wedding downloaded sometime this century - sigh.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

It's out!

Just Look at Me Now is out today!
And in other news go HERE and congratulate my lovely and talented friend Judy Jarvie on her sale to Embrace Publishing! Judy, like me, is a former Moonlit author - there were some talented people writing for Moonlit and Judy is one of them!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Home again

I'm home from our short trip to Denham. We had a nice day out in London on Thursday - this was Miss La's reward for working hard at school so we spent the morning at Covent Garden browsing the shops, watching the street entertainers etc. Then in the afternoon we went to Hamley's. This was a curious mix of wow! and umm. The store is badly in need of a major refurbishment but the staff were nice and there is quite a good range although it wasn't as big or as varied as I'd expected. Didn't see any bikes, scooters, skateboards, very few board games although I could have missed them. Lots of TV themed stuff but disappointing range of Sylvanian family things and none of the bigger Barbie themed stuff. Didn't see very much in model trains or airfix either.
Friday we went to Henley on Thames where they were readying the town for today's regatta. It was interesting playing spot the yummy mummy.
Friday night was the big event - Jessica (my former cp) and Simon's wedding reception. Jess looked gorgeous in a white strapless classically styled dress with her three adult bridesmaids in an eau de nil shade of green. Very simple but very lovely. Little Charlie isn't so little any more - why do kids have to grow up so quickly? and we had a fabulous time. Once I can get hold of the camera cables I'll download some of the pictures.
The last week hasn't been great here for all kinds of reasons so it was nice to get away for a few days doing things that really matter, being with family and seeing friends. Here's hoping this next week gets even better.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Re- entry

It's always weird when you finish a book. I've been so immersed in Kate and steve's life at Myrtle cottage that I've kind of lost touch with what's happening in the wider world. Today though, I cleaned my desk - hey, there was wood under all that paper - who knew?
I'm attempting to fill out passport applications for the belles. This is a challenge - they have the 'wrong' sort of birth certificates, and were entered on my old passport when they were babies something which appears to throw HM passports into a bit of a tizz over which bits of paper I need to submit. It's all very complicated and very expensive.
The eldest belle is still recouperating after her toe surgery - she has to go back on Wednesday to have the dressings changed and see if she can be a bit more mobile.
My former cp, the talented and lovely Jessica is getting married on Friday to Simon and we're heading off to the wedding! So excited and thrilled for them both.
I'm so looking forward to my holiday at the end of August - I really need to be by the sea now and to have a break - it's been a very busy year. Plus we have the eldest belle's GCSE results yet to come.
My advance copies of Just Look at Me Now are here and Amazon are shipping already! Plus, it's £2 cheaper on there than the shops!I hope people will like this one :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Just pressed send

It's finished. Me, You and him is now in my lovely agents in-box to wait for her verdict. Now the nail-biting begins.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I've finally finished my first round of aditing on You, Me and Him. In the process I removed the epilogue and added over 7k to the main book. I changed around the order of events in the last two chapters so they made more sense and strengthened the ending. I layered in more emotion and upped the stakes in some key scenes. I smoothed some transitions and enlarged on the dialogue sequences.
My next round now is to seek and destroy the words I love a little too much and make sure the story is hanging together well. This bit is like sanding the whole thing down to get rid of any splinters or snags that might snare an unwary reader.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Does anyone like synopsis writing?

I suspect there is a resounding no echoing back towards me. I've come to regard them as a kind of necessary evil. I'm lucky in that most of the books I've sold I've sold on a blurb rather than having had to produce a proper grown up synopsis. Every now and then though marketing, or my editor needs me to be a bit more definite about what I intend to write. Then it's tricky. I started off writing synopsis after the book was done but that clearly is no good when you are hoping to sell on proposal. The problem I had was that once I'd written the outline or synopsis I felt like I'd told the story and the book was done. Then I tried writing just the first three chapters and then the synopsis. That worked better although I often find the finished book isn't quite the same as my original plan.
I struggled a lot with the format of synopsis writing. I went to lots of workshops including a wonderful one by Sarah Duncan, a few years ago at an RNA conference. Now I've evolved my own set of rules. I never write one thats longer than two pages - more than that is a novella and really - who needs that? I don't describe every little incident or character - I stick with the hero and heroine and any secondary character who is key to a turning point in the plot. I make sure the growth in the character arcs is clearly shown through the plot turning points. I make sure the resolution is clear and the conflicts are clear.
Here is my original synopsis for Animal Instincts - you'll see the ending is different in the book, but hopefully this shows what I mean:
Down-to-earth Clodagh Martin is quite fond of her glamorous actress step-sister Imogen, providing Imogen isn’t actually around her for very long. So when Imogen shows up drunk on her doorstep at two in the morning with a bottle of champagne announcing that she’s come to visit for a while, Clodagh isn’t very pleased.
Staying at the Rainbow’s End animal sanctuary with a disapproving Clodagh isn’t Imogen’s idea of fun either. She would have preferred somewhere less smelly and infinitely trendier to hide. Unfortunately, a combination of debt, a humiliating public scandal involving a live TV show and too much alcohol has left Imogen with very little choice but to throw herself on Clodagh’s mercy until everything blows over.
Clodagh has enough problems of her own to worry about. The sanctuary she loves is broke and the animals she has, a foul-mouthed parrot, two gay donkeys and a goat called Mr Sheen, aren’t enough to draw in visitors. Former bad-lad-made-good property magnate Jack Thatcher seems very keen to acquire the land. He also appears very keen to date Clodagh, but she’s not sure if he wants to get his hands on her or her property. A worrying string of arson attacks and vandalism have left the sanctuary in a perilous state and she’s not certain that Jack is as reformed a character as he’d have her believe. A disastrous relationship some years before had made Clodagh very wary of getting involved with anyone again.
Co-ordinator of the volunteer helpers, Susie, is another thorn in Clodagh’s side. While her help with the animals is invaluable, her fetish for all things ‘green’ and apparently irrational disapproval of Jack are driving Clodagh mad. Jade, her colleague is more amenable and friendly.
Imogen, however, is convinced she can turn around both her own and the sanctuary’s fortunes. She decides she can resurrect her acting career and save the sanctuary by proving to the public that she’s a reformed character. Much to Clodagh’s despair Imogen sets up a series of events designed to convince the world that she’s now a dedicated and sober animal activist.
Journalist Marcus Keyes is certain there’s a story behind the new Imogen and much to Clodagh’s dismay he begins to turn up like a bad penny every time something happens at the sanctuary, either planned or unplanned.
Imogen secures a television appearance for herself and Clodagh where she announces an open day at the sanctuary. Immi also begins to date Marcus. The ensuing publicity from the television appearance brings in more money but also more press attention and not all of it is positive.
Jack finally persuades Clodagh to trust him and she tells him about her past, including her previous abusive relationship with her university tutor. In turn he tells her the truth about his father and how he came to inherit his property business.
Things take a more serious turn back at the sanctuary when the entrance kiosk is targeted for the next arson attack. Clodagh and Jack discover the blaze as they return from an evening together. Clodagh becomes convinced that the attacks are linked to a bid to force her to sell the sanctuary’s lands. The prime suspect is a building company who have bought up the neighbouring ground and secured permission to develop it for housing.
Marcus does some investigating as Immi suspects that one of the volunteers may be the saboteur. Suspicion initially falls on Susie but it is her colleague, Jade, who turns out to be the prime suspect. Marcus discovers Jade’s father is a councillor with financial interests in the firm of house builders who acquired the fields.
With autumn approaching and the peak of the tourist season almost over, Clodagh and Imogen need a last push if they are to keep the sanctuary running through the winter.
Together with Marcus and Jack the girls press on with the last event, a barbeque, car-boot sale and open day at the sanctuary. At the same time they set a trap for Jade, knowing she will be unable to resist trying to sabotage the event.
When a firework goes off inside the donkey’s pen, setting fire to the stable, Imogen, for once, puts aside all thoughts of her appearance and helps Clodagh rescue the frightened animals. Marcus and Jack catch Susie red-handed as she leaves the scene.
The press coverage of the fire helps Imogen resurrect her career and offers of work for her flood in. With the both Immi’s career and the sanctuary both safe Clodagh is finally able to see her future with Jack.
So you can see - it's sort of the same but different. How do you find synopsis writing?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My writing Process

Since I've had a few people asking me about my writing process I thought I'd talk about how I write. There is no right or wrong way to write, everyone develops their own way of working. I always find it interesting to hear how other writers work myself, and often I'll pick up a few tips or think 'yes, I do that'.
I think all of my stories come to me from the central character. I'll often have read something or watched a TV news programme or overheard something that sparks the idea but the important thing to recognise is those are often the triggers for the external aspects of the plot.
For instance, in Animal Instincts one of the catalysts was knowing about a local animal sanctuary that was always struggling for funds, did great work but needed a lot of help to keep going. Clodagh, in the story is faced with just that dilemna - she needs to raise money or she loses everything.
But although that features in my plot - the crux of her financial woes is that she has trust issues (internal conflict) So when Jack offers to help, is it because he has an ulterior motive? Will he try to take advantage of her weakness (as she sees it)?
The external plot alone wouldn't provide enough interest to drive the story and make it an engrossing read. The emotional journey between Jack and Clodagh around the issues of trust do make it sustainable over the course of the book.
The theme song for the book was the Sugababes - Because I know how I feel about you now.
So, I get the external aspect of the plot idea - then I usually hear the heroine's voice in my head and I'know' who she is and what her issues are - this tells me the course of the emotional journey she needs to make during the book.
At this point I usually write a blurb - this is a back of the book type paragraph that sums up the story - what will make it interesting - the hook for the book. I also do a lot of thinking at this point about the shape of the story and the elements I need to include.
My agent or my editor might ask me for a synopsis at this point and I'll talk about those tomorrow. For now I'm interested in your process? I write funny - how do you write?

Monday, July 19, 2010

More aditing

This part of my writing process is always for me the most intensive part. I enjoy seeing the characters really round out and start to live rather than exist on the pages. I'm currently at chapter twenty-two and I've added 3.5k so far. This has been as tiny nuggets of backstory, extra lines of dialogue, small pieces of description to set the scene better, rephrasing of clumsy words and making sure I'm showing and not telling the story so that the pace continues to move on. When I reach the final part of the process - my backwards edit I'll ensure that each scene has moved the plot forward and that the end of the book is as strong - if not stronger than the beginning. It takes a long time and it's painstaking work but the results are very satisfying. I'm really excited about this story - it's a bit different and out there but still within the expectations I think from readers of the kind of story that I write. On to the next chapter!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Sigh, so I axed the ending of the book. It wasn't the true ending, at least not for me and subconciously I think it was colouring the whole story. I chopped the last 1.5K and popped it into a separate file for now and I'll look at it again when I reach that point. I then started over with my revisions process at the beginning and now it's all flying again. The story is making sense and I think Kate and Steve's relationship is better, stronger and more believable. Even with losing 1.5k I'm still almost 1k up on where I started and I'm only on chapter seven. I should easily hit my target word count. I always adit rather than edit my work as I write really quite sparingly when I do the first draft. All the colour and emotion gets added later as I gradually layer in what I want. For me the process is like making a watercolour - you make a sketch then add softer colours and hues washing them in until you build a picture.For other writers I know it's more like working in oils where they build the first draft with a palette knife and then take off the layers of paint to reveal the details. Both ways work but I'm an aditer, a water colourist. Which one are you?

Friday, July 16, 2010

One home

Miss Boo is now back from Germany, complete with dirty washing, what looks like a whole new wardrobe and a new pair of shoes. The eldest belle is enjoying her tour of Scotland with Mr Nell. We get daily phonecalls plus we also got a video and a postcard. Miss La enjoyed being a lonely only but secretly I think she's glad to have her sister back.
I'm working my way through my adits. I'm undecided about the ending of the book but I think my thoughts are getting clearer the more I progress. I'm halfway through my first round of changes and I know I need to tinker with the first third a little tiny bit more once I've gone through once. Then will come my grammar and tightening edit where I lose all those words I love too much. Right now I've decided they spend far too much time drinking tea so I'm losing a few of those scenes so I can rework them and make them more interesting. A good few days should have the story where I want it and then I'll have to see what my agents verdict is - gulp!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What the postman delivered!

Yes, I have a copy of Just Look at Me Now in my hot little hands. It's a real book - all pink and girly and pretty. Sometimes pink, girly and pretty is good.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I did in Greenwich - part Two

Workshops! The conference was opened by Katie Fforde and she was followed by the lovely Jan Jones with a celebration of members achievements. I love this part of the conference. As a unpublished writer I absolutely loved to hear who had made sales, got an agent, won a contest. It gave me hope that my name might be one of those read out one year. We then had a panel of members with one author representing each decade of membership from the sixties onwards. This was fun as we noted what had changed and what had remained the same.
On Saturday the first workshop I attened was Jay Dixon's Adding Colour to your novel. As someone who writes a rather sparse first draft I found this interesting especially when she discussed colour in the Middle Ages and the symbolism of colour.
Then I gave my own workshop on secondary characters.
Then it was the fabulous Kate Walker talking about conflict - a useful reminder to me on internal conflict and upping the stakes.
After lunch I played hooky for an hour and went for a wander around Greenwich so missing one of the workshops I'd planned to attend. I returned in time for Imogen Howson's talk on What Samhain are looking for. As a Samhain author I was interested to know if they were going to be interested in taking more romances at the heat level that I write at. A big factor in why I haven't sent them anything new for a long time. Immi is always a mine of information and I love working with Samhain so that was good.
Then I went to Liz Fenwick and Kate Johnson's Social Media workshop. I am very undecided about Twitter and I'm still undecided about it but at least now I know more information.
Sunday was a fab day - Two brilliant workshops.
Sarah Duncan - Mind the Gap crossing the publishing divide. Very useful tips and good practical advice as always from Sarah.
This was followed by HW Fisher Money Matters - financial advice for writers - very useful!
I wish I could have stayed longer but maybe next year...

Monday, July 12, 2010

Phew - or what I did in Greenwich part one

I'm back from Greenwich. It was a very hot weekend. I was totally convinced in the small hours of our first night there that I was going to die. Our rooms were so unbearably hot and sticky. I had so many showers I'm sure I've shed at least five layers of skin. The setting was stunning, totally fab and there is a real buzz about Greenwich itself, loved the market. This year the gala dinner was at the Trafalgar tavern on the Friday night. Gorgeous inn - olde worlde, very lovely views across the river. Unfortunately Olde Worlde meant no air con or even fans so we were as cooked as the chicken we got for the main course. What bit of food there was was quite nice but it took forever to be served. We sat down at 7.30 and it took till 10.30 before pudding reached us, in the heat. Alcohol however flowed freely so we all felt very merry but starving. So starving that our table went to Mc Donalds on the way home to sit in the air conditioning and scarf french fries. (There seemed to be a potato famine at the Trafalgar - never had a main course that was just chicken and peas before. I did however have a bean on my plate so the rest of the table were jealous)A few of us went on to the Comedy club which turned out to be an olde school type disco where several M&B authors who shall remain nameless to protect the innocent danced around there handbags till the small hours. The rest of us collapsed in the upstairs room where it was cool and there were comfy sofas.
Thankfully my workshop seemed to go okay the next day and we had some lively discussions as we dissected the character arcs of secondary and minor characters in Pride and Prejudice and looked at how they worked within the main story.
After lunch a few of us went for a wander around Greenwich market and along the river cooling down, acquiring cute dresses and tops and generally recovering from the day before. Dinner that evening was a barbecue in the courtyard. There was a lovely breeze and the barbecued food was quite pleasant but was hopeless for some of my friends who had dietary restrictions. Sadly also for me the jugs of Pimms had been contaminated with apple so after my first sip when my tongue started to swell up I decided to pass on the drinks. By now with the walking involved around the campus which was very spread out my hip had begun to rebel so a group of us retired to the stickiness of our kitchen for tea, coffee, biscuits and cake. There wasn't any pudding at the barbeque although there was a rumour that some people had found profiteroles.
We had a lovely and lively discussion on all kinds of things before finally getting some sleep.
Sunday arrived all too soon and after two fab workshops (which I'll tell you all about tomorrow)we were graced by an address by Joanna Trollope (Who was scarily and painfully thin to the point of looking seriously ill)She gave a thoughtful and intelligent speech with some provocative statements. We then had the best meal of the conference before returning home via a complicated route involving many escalators, and trains.
Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson do a fantastic job organising the conferences and this was a wonderful setting which I'm sure we'll all remember for a long time. Their hard work was much appreciated by all of us and we're looking forward to Wales in 2011

Friday, July 09, 2010

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I now have lists everywhere. Shopping lists, to do lists, packing lists, timetables argh! I'm packing for tomorrow's RNA conference at Greenwich. I'm travelling with a fellow Wombourne Writer and new to the RNA friend, Vik. My eldest and hubby are packing the caravan with stuff for their trip to Scotland - they also leave tomorrow. Middle belle is heading off to Germany on Saturday so I have to pack all her stuff and get everything ready for her grandparents to take her to meet the coach. Youngest belle is staying with the house/fish sitters so I have to get her some treats so she doesn't feel left out until I get home on Sunday.
I must remember to charge my phone, put Boo's euro's ready, check my powerpoint and load it on a stick, take my notes, make sure Mr nell and eldest have their cycle helmets as they intend cycling a lot while they are away.
I also need to decide what stuff I'm taking and get my nails done (very important)I'm so looking forward to seeing all my writing friends again and catching up on the gossip and news.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Hump day already!

Time seems to be accelerating again. Last night my middle belle took part in her schools talent show, modelled after Britains Got talent. She'd passed the first audition and was one of the ten acts in the final. She sang all on her own on the stage in front of 200 people - pretty good for a very shy person. Today was the eldest belle's pre-op check appointment ready for her toe surgery in two weeks time and tonight it's my local writers group. Somehow I fitted in the day job too.
Once i get home from the RNA conference I plan to start my read through and adits of Me, You and Him ready for my agent to see. I've thought of loads of things I need to work on and I'm itching now to read through and get cracking but this resting time is really important in my writing process. It gives me time to look objectively at what I've written and can see more clearly what i need to work on to make it better. I have got another story though now niggling at the back of my mind so I gave way yesterday and opened a file for the first paragraph. I think Allotment Wars will be my next wip.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The mysteries of life

Such as where is all the youngest belle's washing? What happens to all the odd socks? Who used all the milk? And why do you always know where something is until you actually want it?
It's all too much for a Monday morning. I need to go and have my hair cut so that I look human in time for the RNA conference on Friday. Oh, and I need to buy more milk.

Friday, July 02, 2010

That Friday Feeling!

The lull between finishing a first draft and tacking the first read through and adits is always a strange period of readjustment. Add in how crazy busy my life is and it's no surprise that I feel a bit like an underwater swimmer who's suddlenly popped out onto the surface of the pool.
Today is a day off from the day job and I need to get various bits and pieces ready for the middle belle's German trip and eldest belle and Mr Nell's Scottish tour. I also need to finish my preparations for my workshop at the conference and plan my hair and nail appointments. Those are my treat to myself after the past few weeks of mayhem. My aditing of Me, You and Him will start as soon as i get back from conference and my aim is to get it completed by the end of July. During this time I also have eldest belle having her toe surgery and a trip to my lovely friend and long standing former cp's wedding - can't wait! Hope I don't cry - weddings make me go all mushy. We're combining that with a trip to take youngest belle for a day out in London - sightseeing tips and ideas very welcome!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


No, this isn't about the world cup. Blue Remembered Heels - the German translation is now released and already I have a lovely review on the Amazon Deutsch site. My middle belle, Miss boo, is also off to Germany in just over a weeks time. She's going to be staying in the area where I stayed when i went with my school when i was her age. She's really looking forward to it and i know she'll have a fabulous time.
Thanks to those of you who emailed to tell me things you especially wanted to know about using secondary characters. It was good to know I'd covered the pointers in my preparations. I'm really looking forward to the conference now and seeing everyone. There are some great workshops listed and I always come back feeling really inspired.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The first draft of Me, You and Him is done. The ending is pants and I know I need to add lots of bits and juggle some stuff around but it's done - finally - and on schedule. Now to let it sit for a week or so before I do the first read through from start to finish and the aditing begins.
Next job is to make a lovely powerpoint thingy to go with my workshop at the RNA conference on writing believable secondary characters. Apparantly there are over 40 people booked to listen to me wittering on so i want to make a good job of it. I suppose I'd better decide what I'm saying.
What would you all like to know about secondary characters?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Prom Pictures!

The Nails

The Hair

With my Mom and Dad

The Prom party - Josh, Steph in blue, Rachel in Black, eldest belle in wine

In the Limo

Eldest belle

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Big Day

Today is eldest Belle's prom day. Her nails are all done and looking shiny and this afternoon I've got to take her and her tiara for her hair appointment. In my day we had a leavers disco and if you were lucky you bought new jeans and a top from Etams or Dotty P's. Personally I think we probably had more fun. Lets face it, you can't really sit on the floor and do 'Oops upside your head' in an evening frock.
The upside is that they all get to feel posh for a night - I have several teenagers and their assorted families arriving later today to take pictures of them with the limo and once we've waved them all off I'm laying on drinks and nibbles for the adults. So, in between cleaning - more cleaning (teenagers - mine - are untidy) I need to shop, get her to the hairdressers, do her make-up and lace her into her frock.Then get the shopping and put on the food. Wish me luck!
PS Did I mention Me, You and Him is still expanding - argh - must finish the book!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Almost there

Me, You and Him is almost done - well the first draft anyway. This book is turning out to be a bit like Animal Instincts in that it keeps growing and I think I might need one or two more chapters than I originally planned. I'm determined to get it finished by the end of June but with the eldest belle's prom, her pre op appointments (she's having surgery next month on her wonky toe) and middle belle's upcoming trip to Germany, life is just a tad hectic. The day job is frantically busy too as our funding for next year, as with most of the third sectors funding, looks a shade wobbly. This means that if I'm to remain in gainful employment we have to send out huge numbers of applications for bids and grants, try to find sponsors and generally fundraise like crazy.
Eldest belle has finished her exams and is busy cleaning the house for me, so it's looking much better and I think I've found all my paperwork and put it in one file ready for the dreaded tax return which I usually tackle in July/August time.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Fathers Day

My Dad with Miss Boo
Wishing a wonderful day to all the men who love and care for a child in their life.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First eviction

It's the first eviction tonight from the Big Brother house. What? Did you think I was going to talk about the football?
Sunshine - the least sunshiney person in the whole world. Even Marvin the paranoid android was more sunny than she is after veruccagate. Scabby,the posh squatter, who looks like a cross between Worzel Gummidge and Boy George and Racheal, Miss I love Me, I'm so beautiful and don't you think I look like Beyonce?
Interesting watching the house start to divide into the little groups and camps so early on. My favourite so far is Josie - she reminds me of 'I love blinking I do,' Helen from one of the earlier series. She has such a wonderful Bristolian accent. I suppose Davina 'shouty' McCall will be wearing another of her binbag outfits and gurning at the camera.
The big dilemna is do we barbeque or not? It's a bit mizzling here and can't seem to decide if it plans to turn into proper rain or just give up and go home. Oh well, there's always the grill I suppose.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ghost hunting

Those of you who know me well are aware that I'm what the Celts call fey. I have predictive dreams and I have the ability (sometimes, on a good day with the wind in the right direction) to tune into things as an empath. For me this means being able to feel vibrations from buildings and sense things that others don't always find.
Last night afriend kindly allowed me to accompany him and two mediums to a privately owned cottage where the owner had been experiencing some strange events which are very much like the ones in my story Me, You and Him. I was very keen to talk to the house owner to ensure that my details were correct and also to see what happened when psychics did this kind of visit. I wanted to see how they picked things up and what they did.
Wow, the house was built in the seventeen eighties and as soon as you walked in there was something, the feeling got worse when we went through to the kitchen and for me it felt bad on the stairs. The owner had experienced strange noises, her daughter felt as if she was being watched, she'd had mist materialise in her lounge and all of her electrical equipment would behave oddly. The house had had frequent tenants with noone wanting to stay.
I was very interested to watch the two mediums go through their stuff. They shared some of their thoughts with the house owner and did some cleansing activities and reiki. My friend told them about my empathic abilities so they invited me to see if I could get anything.
Double wow - I felt the vibrations in the bad place on the stairs and while the house owner was outside in the gardentold the two mediums that I had heard/seen the phrase 'there should be a door on there to keep them in there place'. I assumed this referred to the foot of the stairs which was open from the kitchen and which probably had been closed off before the house had been extended and altered.
An hour or so later when the house owner came in and we were chatting generally about all kinds of things and not even about the house she mentioned her daughters temper.
She laughed and described how her daughter would fly at her from the foot of the stairs when she was having a tantrum and joked 'I think she'd hurdle a barrier if there was one there'.
The others just looked at me and told her what I'd said - spooky!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Just running around

Eldest belle has just one more exam to go and then she's done. Today though I have to run her to her make-up lesson for her prom make-up, go to my annual eye check, take her to see the foot specialist who may be operating on her toes later this summer and tonight I'm hopefully going on a ghost hunt.
The ghost hunt is at a private house where the occupants have been bothered by weird stuff - a lot like Me, You and Him. There are alleged to be three separate spirits there so it'll be interesting to see what happens and to talk to the owner about her experiences.
I've just over three chapters probably (don't tell anyone but it may be more) to wrap the story up and the ghostbusters scene is my next chapter so I'm looking forward to learning more.
I must fit in a trip to the post office and pick up more grocery and do laundry today too so it looks like being another running around day

Sunday, June 13, 2010

This n that

Just under five chapters to go before I finish the first draft of Me, You and Him. Hopefully on Wednesday night I'm going on a real proper ghost hunt. It's at a private house and invitation only so should be brilliant for my research ready to write the ghostbusters scene.
Eldest dd is on her final week of her GCSE exams - geography and French left to go and then it's preparation for the Prom.
House is still a tip - it looks worse now than it did before I started the annual clean out because of all the displaced stuff while we're sorting and cleaning. Never mind, it'll get done eventually.
I feel a little better - hip and back is still fragile and I still feel tired but not quite as bad as I felt last week. I promise I'm slowing down - really, truly I am.
New series of Big Brother has started and yes, you guessed it, I'm watching. I love Big Brother in every cringeworthy moment. Loving the mole. Not keen on Scabby, Beyonce and Corin.
And finally my other big news - Be My Hero is going to be available from Audiolark as a audiobook. I am so pleased about this as this is the book closest to my heart. It was a very personal book that tackled a difficult subject. Nathalie the heroine, doesn't get the convienient standard solution to her problems but she does get a man who really is worthy of her. I can't wait to hear it.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Magician's Book

This is a meme from Michelle Styles and since I love any opportunity to talk about books especially books which captured me when I was young then how could I resist?

Name at least one book that you read as a child (ie 11 or under) that still exists in your memory as a perfect story. You can say why if you wish, or simply give a list -- your choice. It can be a story that you are now uncomfortable about having loved or were uncomfortable at some point and have now come back to or alternatively just one that you have always loved:

1. Catseye - Andre Norton. This opened up a whole world to me. The story of a boy with the telepathic ability to communicate with animals and his strange world triggered my imagination and led me to The Witch World series. Books I still love reading even today.
2. Little Women - This is still one of my comfort reads - even now it still makes me cry when I read about Beth and oh how I longed to be Jo.
3. Enid Blyton - I read all of them but the ones I loved best were the Adventure series about four children and a parrot.
4.Drina Ballerina - Jean Estoril - I loved ballet books and the story of this girls battle to become a prima ballerina spanned over eleven titles and gripped my imagination.
5. Just William - Richmal Crompton - wonderful hilarious books that I absolutely adored. The forerunner of Horrid Henry. Who can forget Violet Elizabeth Bott? 'I'll scream and scream until I'm sick, and I can you know.'
I could go on and on, my list would cover The Chalet school series, Ruby Ferguson's Jill the Pony books, Jean Plaidy, Agatha Christie, Folklore, Myths and Magic and tons more.

I'm tagging Julie Day and Phillipa Ashley to do this too. I'd love to see what books you loved.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


I'm still exhausted from the last few weeks. Yesterday was another full on day although the kids were great fun. Their faces when we informed them that they would be tasting cooked nettles was absolutely priceless. As tonight is another late night with the day job I'm going in later. Hopefully the being flattened by a steamroller feeling will wear off later and I'll get my bounce back.
I'm taking it easier though for the rest of this week as I think my joints are going into rebellion and I don't want to end up in the same place I was a couple of years ago, unable to work, sit, lie or do anything for months on end.

Monday, June 07, 2010


My hip and back are just about recovering from Saturday. I can sit now without feeling like someone has stuck several sharp blades in my lower spine and my limp has almost gone too. My mind keeps whirring about on the ending for me, You and him and although the words aren't flowing onto the page yet at the right speed I'm starting to get a feel for the right framework so hopefully if I can carve out the space to just sit and write then I can get on and finish the draft.
The mammoth annual house declutter and clean is still underway and I'm busy trying to get bits and pieces of that done as I go along. If you came in my lounge though you wouldn't think I'd even started. Every corner is piled high with textbooks, shoes, and general teenage bits and bobs that can't go upstairs until the belle's bedrooms are decluttered and tidied. It has to be done by June 24th however as that's the prom day and several teenagers and their families are coming over to get dressed and ready and to start the party from here. So, I need to write a book, clean the house, fulfil my critting commitments and do all the day job stuff as well as prepare a workshop and help eldest belle revise for GCSE's. Easy-peasy.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Open Day

Well the open day went pretty well, about 350 people came. We made lots of cups of tea and coffee, hundreds of cups of squash and sold lots of cake and strawberries and cream. Everyone seemed to enjoy the day. Today though I'm feeling distinctly achey - where I compensated for my hip, my back is now in two halves. Hopefully with some rest and high doses of painrelief it'll go away again.
Tuesday however my jobshare partner and I are dressing up as landgirls to teach Dig for Victory to a class of ten year olds. Life is never dull!
The belles are back, complete with washing, suntans and lots of stuff to clutter my nice clean house up. Already the place rings with the sounds of Disney channel and sisterly quarrelling followed by MTV.
I haven't done much on the book but I'm constantly thinking of the shape the end needs to be so hopefully I'll be able to get back into it soon. My target is to have finished the first draft by the end of this month to give it time to rest before I adit it next month ready for my agent to read.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Working weekend

Lots of running around to do this weekend. My day job is holding an open day with face painters, the Animal Man, bug hunting, pond dipping and a tombola plus of course refreshments. This means my jobshare partner and me have been racing around like mad women organising everything. Today means more running around, collecting cakes, the floats for the stalls, the last bits and pieces, finding where some of the stuff has been stashed.
I'm also trying to get the house straighter too before the belles get home tomorrow. So my washer is still going and I'm still picking up and clearing out.
I've just under seven chapters to go now on Me, You and Him, the last section so I'm having to think carefully about tying up the ends and building up to the finish. I know I won't be happy with the first version of this and this will be part of the book that gets massively polished up in my aditing process but I have to have a framework to start from. Although finding the time to write at the moment is proving a little tricky.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Back from the Peaks

The belles are still on the Isle of Wight and we get regular texts from one or other of them complaining about one of their sisters. We had a nice time visiting Castleton (lots of rocks and holes), Buxton (lots of water), Leek (lots of bacon sandwiches). We also visited Trentham which was nice, and the Emma Bridgewater pottery - this was a huge disappointment - terrible parking - no signs. Bad layout for the shops and tour arrangements. The staff were very nice but the prices were dearer than i've seen in some of the shops so not worth the bother.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bank hol, and where's the sun?

The Belles are in the Isle of Wight with their grandparents for the week. I have the joyful task of cleaning out their rooms before they come home and preparing for this open day party at the day job on Saturday. Did I mention I have this book to write too? Plus, Mr Nell is making me go to Derbyshire for a few days in the tourer. Something about me needing time off.
I've now cleared a path so I can walk into the eldest and middle belles rooms. I haven't even attempted Miss La's room yet. So far I've retrieved 14 glasses and 4 mugs. Their bathroom is now all scrubbed and shiny and the mats washed and toothpaste and makeup splatters gone from the mirror. I've done three loads of washing and filled one and a half bin bags with rubbish. The joy of teenagers!

Friday, May 28, 2010

School end

My eldest DD left school yesterday, sniff, where did the time go to? She's back in again this morning though for her physics GCSE exam. Last night I was at the school until after nine with Miss La for her parents evening. It's always an interesting experience hearing teachers describing a child you don't recognise - I think there are implants in the school gateposts that transform their personalities as they pass in and out. I have a summer cold that's driving me crazy as my ears are stopped up which makes my jaw ache.
I took my Mum to listen to Anna Jacobs talking at one of our local libraries - we had a great time. Dudley Library staff are fab and really try hard to put on great events with a virtually non existant budget. Their hard work is much appreciated.
The day job is crazy - I've given up trying to take any time back or even keep to my hours. I had three different staff members ask me yesterday if I'd gone full time! Oh well, it'll settle down in a couple of weeks and they've said I can be paid for some of the time so thats all good.
I need to pack the girls things for their holiday with their grandparents then I have to go order enough cake to feed 200 people, buy 150 tombola prizes and 70 lucky dip prizes. Then I need to write another one and a half chapters if I'm to stay on my schedule to finish this first draft of Me, You and Him by the end of June.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunny Monday

Spent yesterday baking on a cricket field in Worcester watching Miss La in her first cricket tournament. I seem to have missed a patch of skin on my ankle with the sun cream so have a bright purpley red square there now.
I did manage to get another chapter finished of Me, You and Him so aprox nine chapters and twenty K'ish of this first draft to go. My plan is to finish it by end of June and then have July to edit/adit it into shape. I already know some bits that need a tweak - that will probably add another ten to fifteen K.
Finished doing the proofs for Just look at Me Now and those are winging their way back to LBD.
Today is errand day so off to the post office, then to get grocery, more laundry to do,must return a shirt to M&S - so sad about it - it was a lovely tunic top which would have been perfect for the conference but while the top bit fits beautifully, it's the same width all the way down so I look like a sausage. Ah well.
This week am taking my Mum to see Anna Jacobs at her library talk on Wednesday at Halesowen. Mum is a huge fan so she's very excited. Thursday it's Miss La's parents evening and then Friday I have to pack for the belles as they're off to the Isle of Wight for a week with their grandparents. Hopefully then I can deep clean the house and write tons on Me, You and Him. I can tell I'm nearing the end of this story - I have another one nibbling at my brain.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Any Spanish readers?

I have several very beautiful copies of Blue Remembered Heels in Spanish. It's the most gorgeous softback book and looks fantastic. If anyone out there would like a copy please give me a shout and I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Authorly pics

My new author pic done by Jacqueline Williams photography. Hopefully my web man will get my old one replaced on my website soon. I've lots more lovely pics that she's taken but I thought I'd go for serious.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday already?

I seem to be losing days. I blame the Hadron collider or the new Dr Who, well, someone has to be responsible. Tomorrow is a very important day. At least this is what Miss La keeps telling me, something about it being her birthday and she'll be twelve. She's now taller than both her sisters, much to my eldest dd's disgust. Her birthday present request list is almost as tall as she is so I fear she's doomed to disappointment no matter what she gets.
The day job is still crazy busy and the uncertainty over funding is an ongoing issue. Still we'll keep plugging away and hope for the best. Me, You and Him is coming along nicely and I'm expecting the proofs to land for Just Look at Me Now any time soon. I love seeing proofs and seeing the book set out as it's going to be. Welcome to all my new Indonesian and Spanish visitors who've been popping by here lately. I'm looking forward to the German release of Blue Remembered Heels in a month or so.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Blue Remembered Heels - in Spanish!


Monday catch up

The writing workshop was great fun. We had a really good turn out and there's no nicer way to spend a few hours than in the company of other writers. After all the hectic excitement of the last few days it's back to the book. I'm moving into the last third of the story now and have just lobbed a lovely sexy emotional handgrenade at my heroine. Did I mention I love this story? I keep having to pause and research stuff though as I'm one of those writers who has to have everything straight in my head before I can move on. A lot of what I need to know, the reader will never see but without it being there and being right the story won't ring true.
This book is a lovely mash-up of boybands, ghosts, conmen, The Osmonds, the english civil war and house renovation. This part is were it gets tricky as I have a lot of balls in the air and I now need to gradually catch each one and make sure I've put it away safely.
In other news, it's my youngest belle's birthday on Thursday - she'll be 12 and is playing her first proper cicket tournament on Sunday against Worcester so I'll be taking a picnic and her sisters along to cheer her on. I'll also need to take a book for sneaky reading - I really, really don't do sport. Miss La won't mind, Mr Nell will be cheering loudly enough for all of us.