Sunday, January 31, 2010

One more

I'm on the last chapter of Just Look at Me Now. I plan to finish the first draft this week then let it rest for a couple of weeks before I start going through redrafting, fixing the plot holes, perking up the pace and getting my emotional and descriptive layers in place. Then, when I'm happy with that I go through and look for my repitions, my favourite words and kick all those into touch. Finally, I do my backwards read - this is the real tightener as I catch things I've skimmed over on the forward read. I make sure every paragraph adds something to the story, that I'm not repeating myself and that the emotional heart at the end of the story is as strong as it can possibly be. Only when I'm happy do I then send it off to my agent and my editor. My deadline is April so I have a month to adit and then a few weeks for my agent to check it out before it lands on my lovely editors desk.
But first I have to write the big finish and tie up the loose ends of my plot.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Crystal Clear review

The lovely Julie at has reviewed Crystal Clear! She always writes lovely, thoughtful and honest reviews so I always hold my breath a little to see what she thinks. READ IT HERE I got a beautiful review which made me feel a bit teary and 4.5 stars!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The end is nigh

Two and a half chapters to go on first draft of Just Look at Me Now. I would have been done but my day job is really busy right now so I'm exhausted when I get home and my brain is too fried to work properly on fiction so I'll have to bide my time till the weekend and then really try to nail the last part down.
At least now the nights are drawing out so I'm coming home in almost daylight. It makes such a difference to feel as if Spring might be on the way. The snowdrops are just beginning to poke out of the ground and open and the squirrel was in the garden again the other day. Makes everyone feel better I think when we get more daylight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting organised

Today is my one day off from the day job so I need to tackle my to be done list that's next to my computer. Why is it that as fast as I cross one job off another two get added on? I also have to go visit gorgeous George - my dentist.
Still two and three quarter chapters to go on Just Look at Me Now and I'm heading into the black moment. My poor heroine, everything is coming crashing down around her right now.And if I don't hurry up and finish this first draft everything piled around and on my desk will come crashing down on me too!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I'm rubbish on the phone. My dearest and closest friends and family know this - they don't call me and I don't call them. I write/email/drop in but phone? no. I possess an ancient mobile that is never turned on and the belles call it the dinophone as it's so old. I spend less than £10 a year on my mobile - mostly when I'm away at the RNA conference or ringing from a train to arrange for my lift from the station. I can't text as my dyscalculia makes it nigh on impossible. At work I have to brace myself to make calls because I know I will ramble, stutter and make a fool of myself.
So when I arrived home on Thursday to be greeted by Mr Nell with the news that my editor had rung and could I call her back...
Dear Ed, I appologise if I sounded not quite the full ticket. I'm sure you had a much more coherent conversation with Mr Nell.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear Radio 2

I've tried, really I have. I've made allowances - he's new I thought, he'll get better. Maybe he'll calm down when the excitement wanes. I tried to be positive, I'm a big fan of Moira Stuart. But I can't take it - I've switched my early morning allegance to another channel. It was bad enough losing Sir Terry, but I also lost my ten minutes of calm with the delightfully dippy Sarah Kennedy. So to be exposed to Chris Evans still in full manic drivetime mode at 7.20 am is just more than I can stand. I hate the posh little kids talking about their first fencing lesson or having a fwend to tea, I miss the Terry's calm voice of reason and worst of all the music is crap. I mean seriously crap. I loved Chris in the Drivetime slot - I liked hearing him as I drove home but undercaffinated, in the dark and the fog stuck in the traffic at the buttcrack of dawn he makes me want to kill someone.
Please save me, bring in Johnny Walker or at least improve the playlist before I succomb to the darkside and stick with commercial radio and fail to turn back for Steve Wright in the afternoon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Four chapters to go! I think if I knew how this story ended that would be helpful right now. I wish I was more of a plotter but I've tried and failed dismally. I have several scenarios playing out in my head but I need to find the right one. The finish line is looming into sight though now. I don't know how much I'll get done in the next two days as my day job has picked up pace and I'm shattered when I get home which makes writing hard. I've also got two busy day job weeks coming up where I'm working extra shifts - as my bank manager and gas company need the money I can't afford to turn the work down. Sigh - the writers dilemna!
Crystal Clear is out of stock again on Amazon - this is good and bad. Good for all you lovely people who are buying it and bad because it'll take a day or two longer to reach you. Remember if you spot it anywhere or if you have a copy send me a pic of you holding it, or on the shelf in a shop and I'll send you one of my shiny new purple Nell Dixon pens. (Disclaimer - They aren't actually shiny but they are purple)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Writing up a storm

My fingers ache. I am not a quick typist - nor am I a touch typist. My word count is however creeping higher. I've four and a quarter chapters left to go now roughly to complete my first draft of Just Look at Me Now. It will as usual be about 10k short of the finished book, but by the time it's sat and I've edited, polished, rewritten and made it good with my aditing process it'll be fine. At least I hope it will be fine. Sigh, I can never judge my own work and I haven't written a book this length in third person before - so that's pretty scary.
Thank you to everyone who is buying Crystal Clear. Amazon got some stock in and then it went again but they should get some more very quickly and there is always book depository, etc. If anyone spots it in a book shop anywhere on a shelf please let me know! Better still send me a pic - I might even give prizes of my fabby new purple Nell Dixon pens.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Counting down

I've six chapters left to go now on the first draft of Just Look at Me Now - well, I think it's six chapters - my books have a habit of growing. I'd really like to finish by my birthday on Feb 8th as I'm planning to have a party here that day for Crystal Clear! It'll also give it time to sit for a week or so before I rip it to bits to get rid of the plot holes and anomalies and make it shiny, polished and pretty ready for my agent and editor to read. Where is January going to so fast?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Top 100 baby!

OMG, you can probably hear me sqeeking with delight no matter where you are in the world. Crystal Clear is temporarily sold out on Amazon and it's at 88 in the top bestselling romance 100. The one with Nora Roberts, Stephanie Meyer and Jane Austen in - that chart. Yes, really, I know, I'm pinching myself. You can still order and I'm sure they'll have stock sorted quickly or try book depository or WH Smiths/Waterstones. Okay, deep breath, calming down now.
Okay no I'm not really - squeeeeeee!!!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Crystal Clear in Brixham!

It finally occured to me last weekend that I should get organised and actually tell people that Crystal Clear had been released. I mean, I know I told you but I should make an effort to be more authorly. I'm rubbish really at that kind of thing but anyway, the lovely reporter from the Torbay Herald Express has done a fabulous article! READ HERE on Crystal Clear and the places I went to when I was researching the book. I do so hope the people in Brixham approve of the story. It's such a gorgeous place and I can't wait to go back there. Here's one of my research pics so you can see where I was. This is the view from Drew's flat aka The Lemon Tree cafe in real life!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Everything is froggy

When my eldest belle was little we woke one morning to find fog outside and she rushed to tell me that everything in the world had gone dusty. This is probably a reflection on my housekeeping abilities - or lack of. My middle belle always used to say it was froggy. Today it's very froggy outside my window. I'm just glad that when I drove back from the day job that it wasn't freezing and froggy.
At least the snow seems to be moving and the belles are back at school.Hopefully my brain will thaw out along with the snow. I stalled on Just Look at Me Now so I really need to crack the whip and get it finished. I always hate wrapping stories up so it's no surprise that I'm procrastinating - curse you bejewelled blitz and midas mahjong! I promise I'll be back on track by the weekend.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

His Darling Nurse

is on Fictionwise! Yay!!!HERE
BTW Did you know that you can get e book and kindle versions of Little Black Dress titles?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Eldest Belle

My eldest daughter is 16 today. To celebrate we sent her sisters to school and then I went with her to her first interview for a sixth form college place for September. The lovely head of the form said at the end of the interview that he intended to offer her a place so she skipped off back to school a very happy bunny. This college is more distance to travel but would offer her far more opportunities than many places. She has another interview later this month at a nearer college that she also really likes but at least with one under her belt provided she gets the grades she's predicted then she'll have a place in the Autumn.
It's still freezing cold here and a lot of the roads are icy. Tonight we're taking the belles and a few of eldest's friends out for a meal and then bowling. This means I have to drive as we won't all fit in Mr Nell's car. I hate driving at night even without the ice - good job we aren't going very far.
For her birthday - and I know Kate Hardy will approve - we bought her a Pandora bracelet and three charms to start her off, one with her birthstone, one with a sixteen charm, and a breast cancer one as she collects all the pins and it's a cause close to us as her godmother's mum died from breast cancer.
This week is looking hectic as I'm at the day job for four days and I have a family funeral to attend on Wednesday afternoon too. We've also got something on Saturday so by Sunday I suspect I'll be pretty exhausted.
I've roughly six and a half chapters to go now for the first draft of Just Look at Me Now but at least I can see a way to the ending now where a few chapters back I was in the depths of despair, convinced I'd written my way into a corner.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

All white mate?

It's still snowing here even though rather oddly the sun is shining too. The main roads are okay at the moment - you just need to look out for ice patches and people who can't drive in bad weather. I made it into the day job yesterday - did as much as I could but since a lot of what I would have liked to have done depended on others and those others weren't available I was a bit stymied. Still, it was good to get some stuff out of the way.
Despite the weather I've started this year in a really positive mood. I'm determined to make the most of this decade and I'm feeling pleasantly bouncy and optimisitic even if my healthy eating plan hasn't got started yet, due to a surplus of Christmas goodies still inhabiting my house and an overwhelming desire to eat fresh crusty bread with pies and casseroles because it's so cold out.
I've 7.5 chapters of Just Look at Me Know to go before the first draft is finished and the real work starts and it's driving me nuts as I know what I need to do to change it and shape it and make it shiny and pretty.
Thank you to everyone who's contacted me about Crystal Clear! I do hope you enjoy it. At least as it's set in a beautiful Devon seaside town in the height of summer it might help chase those cold, wintery blues away!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Publication Day

It's now officially out! In a bookstore near you (hopefully!) and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Book Depository, WH Smiths and others on line.
I'm planning a party with chances to win stuff in early February - I thought I'd combine it with my birthday! You can read the unedited first chapter on my website (see sidebar for link) and especially for you all here's a little snippet!

“It’s your mother.”
Three simple words that chilled me to the core as I accepted the phone from Joyce, the school receptionist. Point one, my mother never ever called me at work, and point two, she’d never say she was my mother. She was always Marla – even as a child I had never been allowed to call her Mum.
“Hello, this is Zee.” That was something else that was annoying – my name. My given name is Azure Dawn Millichip, but everyone calls me Zee. Who in their right mind would call their child Azure Dawn? Marla, that’s who – and no, I’m not sure she’s ever been in her right mind.
“Darling, your mobile was switched off.”
“I was teaching in class. I always check my mobile for messages at lunchtime.” Marla has always struggled with the concept of time. As a child I’d frequently been either too early or too late for everything until I was old enough to request my own watch. Then I’d taken over the task of getting us to wherever we were supposed to be at the right time.
“Oh, isn’t it lunchtime now? I hate bothering you, sweetie, I know you have a very important job, but I really need you to pop home this weekend. If you catch the traffic at the right time you could be here for supper.”
I ignored the implied criticism in her tone, since something was definitely very wrong. Marla never asked me to visit. She knew I would come down to stay anyway in a couple of week’s time during the school holidays. “What’s the matter?”
“I’m sure Simon would run you here if you asked him. It might be good for both of you, a weekend at the seaside,” she chirped on, ignoring my question. Now I knew for certain that something was wrong. Marla disliked my fiancĂ©, Simon, even more than she disapproved of my choice of career.
“Mum – I mean, Marla, what’s going on?” I dropped my voice when Joyce gave me a curious look. “It’s the last day of term and I’ve tons of things to get done. Can’t I come after that, once we’ve broken up for summer?”
“Zee?” A male voice came on the line. Rich and sexy with a low throaty growl to his tone.
The speaker sounded familiar. “Who’s this?”
“It’s Drew.”
A weird prickly feeling ran down my spine. “Drew?”

Oh, and I'm guest blogging at my lovely friend Phillipa Ashleys blog later today so you can find out some of the story behind the book over there - link in sidebar

Wednesday, January 06, 2010


I love libraries, librarians and readers - that is all :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

snow woe is me

It's snowing. Lots of big white fluffy flakes whirling down from the sky and sticking to the ground. The belles are now off school till Thursday - apparantly over the hols a water main burst and the school has no water - or heat! Joy.
The Christmas decs are now down except for the Santa signs outside the front door which are frozen into the ground so will probably be there till the Spring. I'm hoping that the roads will stay clear for tomorrow as I'm back at the day job then and I've several meetings booked. My jobshare partner lives near Oxford so if this weather hangs on there is no way she can make it in. The eldest belle was very happy to get a call yesterday from one of the sixth form colleges that she's applied to offering her an interview next Monday. Coincidentally, thats also her 16th birthday - hope the snow is gone by then.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Outside today everything looks like a scene from Narnia. The trees are all bare and pinched white against a sky which shades from bright blue at the top to a pearlescent white at the bottom. The grass is covered in dry silvery powder and everything has that dusting of frost so beloved of film set designers.
It's an inset day and my work at home writing day so I'm happy not to have to go anywhere in particular especially if like yesterday my council don't bother to grit the roads. The black ice yesterday on the main Himley Road was shocking and not a trace of grit.
I'm hoping to get my decorations down later so I can return the house to it's usual chaos and remove the indoor dust which is giving the inside of the house the same wintry effect as the outside. Why does that happen over Christmas? You spend ages cleaning before everything gets put out and the house is worse still when you take it all down?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ring in the New!

A new decade, fingers crossed for good things for everyone. This year will see the official release of Crystal Clear in a few days time although Amazon have it already! The Cinderellla Substitute will come out as an audio book in April, Just look at Me Now - when I finish it - will be out in August. I'm working on Me, You and Him, my single title project which I'm very excited about and I have a few other things in the pipeline which hopefully will come to fruition this year too.
I plan to continue focusing on my healthy living plan this year - I went down two sizes last year and if I could do the same again in this next twelve months that would be terrific. Plus, it can only help my mobility. It's a big year for my eldest belle as she's in her GCSE year and hoping to move to a college place in September - results and applications permitting. She's also due to have surgery on her toes in the summer. My middle belle will be going into year nine in September and will have to look at her option choices then. It's also Mr Nell and Mines 25th wedding anniversary in May. We're one of those couples that met at school, engaged at 18, married at 21 and everyone said it wouldn't last. Well, so far I haven't killed him and he hasn't killed me and we plan to go to Jersey to celebrate for a few days in May.
So, lots of excitement for this year.
For the decade itself - who knows? The last decade saw me achieve my dream of being published, I was the winner of a major award with my second book and met my lovely agents. I signed for Little Black Dress and learned so much about myself, my writing, my strengths and weaknesses. Fingers crossed that this incredible journey continues and grows over the next ten years.