Monday, 30 March 2009

A Shock to the System

I am finally home (later than advertised) but my body is in shock. When we left the south of England  spring had definitely sprung and shorts had even made an appearance (not on me, I hasten to add). 600 miles and 12 hours later and we were driving through thick snow and the car's temperature gauge was reading minus 5 - this on the day the clocks were going forward for British Summer Time. Um hello? Summer? The snow in the garden has melted today but even so...

The dogs are looking round at the bare concrete floors and wishing they hadn't left their winter coats all over the PIL's nice carpets and the part whippet is shivering reproachfully as if to ask why we haven't got any of those nice warm white things on the walls like the PIL.

Good question (I grew rather fond of them myself) and one I intend to ask the husband only he has disappeared to the airport to fly south already, faster than I can say 'So whose idea was it to buy a renovation project again?'

In the mean time I have moved my computer next to the Aga (only source of heat) and am planning on staying in the kitchen until Spring follows me up to the Highlands.

I promise a more writery post once I've acclimatised. 

P.S. Oh but it is nice to be home at last, being cold aside :-) 

Friday, 27 March 2009

Science v. Fairytale

I came across an interesting article about a new book exploring the science of romance. I don't necessarily agree with all of it but there are some interesting snippets such as 'women who wear a spicy floral fragrance are judged to be twelve pounds lighter than they actually are' :-)

Also a link to another article about a scientist who believes a potion that can make you fall in love is not far off! Seriously, it seems that Shakespeare was way ahead of his time with A Midsummer Night's Dream and such a potion could one day be reality. 

I think science might be able to explain how or why we fall in love but I don't see that it has to make the experience of it any less of a fairy-tale. Otherwise we might as well put down our pens/laptops right now...

Imagine the following: Rebel hero meets feisty heroine and both take love potion to resolve all conflict. HEA. 

I don't think so. 

On the other hand it would be a solution to that pesky conflict issue...

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Sappy heroines

Okay, I think my heroine might have misread her brief - I specified "sassy heroine" when I was doing my casting but somehow she's mislaid a couple of consonants and is veering dangerously into sappy territory...

For some reason she's turning out to be far more vulnerable than I intended so I think I might do a quick re-write of the second chapter just to bury her angst a little further under the surface. After all she's going to need her strength for the Black Moment when I reveal that Luke is not who she thought he was (shock horror ;-)

I wonder if my own mood creeps into my writing more often than I realise. Does anyone else have this problem? I am feeling a little vulnerable at the moment, having discovered the fact that my symptoms from my head injury are wider than I first realised. At first when the doctors asked if I had memory problems I said I didn't think so - it turns out that I have, I just couldn't remember them!

It started with a spate of proof that I hadn't actually done things I was convinced I had and had done things I didn't think I had (confused? welcome to the club!). It was compounded by evidence of objects I'd left in very odd places - at first only a few that I noticed but when I probed further it became clear that I've been doing this a lot only people didn't want to mention anything.

All fairly minor so far, inconvenient but nothing that can't be got round by becoming List Woman but then yesterday I went to see a very good friend I've known for years and suddenly realised that I didn't know how old I was. In fact I was absolutely convinced I was an age I wasn't - even when provided with evidence and calculations to explain it it didn't make sense. I checked with my husband last night and got into a bit of a state when I realised that I was in fact wrong but still couldn't compute the sums.
(My mental arithmetic is shot to pieces lately. Not great given my money earning career is with numbers.)

P.S. Before anyone asks yes I am going back to the doctor and this time I am writing down a list of my symptoms so I don't forget to tell him what they are!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I've written something!

Okay, not so astounding given I am a wannabe writer, but to put it in context - before my accident I was writing about 3k words a day but since then I've written only 11k, that's since the 27th of December. 
That means I've gone from an average of 3k a day to 220 words a day! Not great really.
So the fact that I have today been able to write some more of my WIP, albeit in thirty minute on/off chunks is a major achievement :-) 

Yes, my word counter has actually moved!

I'm not going to get too carried away - a slightly better day today has followed three absolutely horrendous health days and my eye is right now starting to complain again. I won't bore you with the details but I can safely say that when I'm better I will never, ever take for granted the ability to read or write. Or think, or concentrate, or remember things.
And thinking about the outcome of Natasha Richardson's head injury I'm just plain glad to be alive.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Something to add to the angst list...

I came across something today that made me instantly paranoid. 
An author who critiques for the RNA's New Writers' Scheme has blogged about doing the critiques. She mentions that she is currently reading a ms that has some problems - purely anonymous you understand. But as I sent my ms in early and nearly everyone I know is planning to send in just before the deadline in August... This instantly made me think 'OMG, she's talking about me' :-()

If you're about to submit to the scheme you might be interested to read what she says here.
Or possibly not.
She says - "I write screeds about how to improve one's technique but what do you do when the problem is the writer's character?"
Gulp. Apparently some would be writers are just plain unlikeable. Or boring. Or both!

Off to cross everything in the hope that it's not my ms that inspired the post :-(

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Things my heroes will never do...

1) Mention the word 'compressor', ever.
2) Require my heroines to give an opinion about a car (apparently 'it's a car' and, if pushed, 'it's a nice car' are not enough :-)
3) Insist on treating my heroine to a detailed inspection of every car that he might ever buy and a few he will never buy.
3) Ask my heroine to wash his socks...

Okay, enough husband bashing, he knows I love him really and he did have the grace to say "Shall I shut up, am I boring you?" a couple of times as we traipsed around the Geneva Motor show.
It was actually more interesting than I'd thought, with a voice responsive robot that disco danced on command and an impressive simulator and games section.
Plus there were some seriously flash cars and I got to sit in an Aston Martin (which I have given my hero in 'Wanted - An Unconventional Wife') - so it was kind of research...
Sadly any flash alpha males were also cordoned off with the really expensive cars or in the VIP areas so there was no research of that kind to be done ;-)

Any suggestions as to what your heroes will never do?

Monday, 9 March 2009

Small Successes

I had an email this morning from a magazine bod saying they want to use a 'filler' I sent them. They won't be publishing it until Christmas but I feel disproportionately thrilled by my first magazine filler success. :-)
Silly really but hey, it's nice to have SOMETHING to counter all the R's I've had recently :-)

A big thanks to Suzanne who steered me in this direction and to Womagwriter who has such useful resources on her blog. I've heard that the UK's weekly magazine market pays out £250,000 each week to contributors so I'd say it's definitely worth having a go at fillers, if you have a spare ten minutes...

Sunday, 8 March 2009


My husband has bought me a ticket for the Geneva Motor Show. Now it's not the Geneva bit I object to, I really love Switzerland and the price of the flight with Easyjet (£30 return) would make it daft not to go along with him. But I was expecting to slip off and find a little cafe somewhere to eat pastries and drink hot chocolate, NOT traipse around looking at cars. 

Is this payback for all the bookshops he's been dragged around over the course of our relationship? I suspect he's only taking me to avoid the huge increase in brownie points I'd have to be awarded if I was left behind with his parents while he was off enjoying himself. (On the subject of brownie points I found a totally pointless gift on the net to record said points! No need to buy it - I keep a perfect tally :-) 

I asked the husband what people went to the motor show to see (hoping that there might be more to it than just cars) and the answer was 'cars and girls'. It seems I am to be treated to many examples like the one in the above photo! Unfortunately I'm not interested in either cars or girls (not in that way, anyway).
So, any bright ideas about how I can turn this from a completely pointless exercise into something more useful?
People watching I suppose, and trying to get some impressions of the kind of cars I'd want to give my heros maybe...
Either that or I'll slip out while he's injecting himself with petrol, or whatever it is that petrol heads do to prolong their sickness :-)

BTW I don't usually gad about so much but I'm taking advantage of free dog sitting at the moment. Pretty soon I'm heading back to my solitary confinement at the renovation wreck/hermit hideaway/writer's retreat (identity changes depending on my mood!) with my dogs and several buckets of pollyfilla!

Friday, 6 March 2009

World Book Day Poll

Leaving aside the annoying headlines like 'Trashy Book Amnesty', an interesting poll for World Book Day has revealed the difference between the books people say they read and the books they actually like to read.

The list  is here for anyone who's interested. Unsurprisingly Mills and Boon make it into the top ten of books people actually read. I can't imagine lying about what I've read. I'm happy to read from every end of the spectrum and have read books on both lists.
In fact I'll come out and say that as well as romance I love to re-read children's books. I am still a great fan of Winnie the Pooh and Paddington :-)

Anyone else got any confessions?

Thursday, 5 March 2009


I have a guilty pleasure - I love the BBC TV series 'Mistresses'. It is a little morally dubious and unfortunately we're not talking M&B type mistresses but actual infidelity. But moral issues aside the new second series has some seriously lovely men to watch. You can check them out here

I was surprised to find that the scrummy surgeon character, Dan Tate, is played by Mark Umbers (left) who was apparently at the same university as me at the same time. I was clearly lurking in all the wrong places because I never met him :-)

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Scotland as a Modern Heat location (and a random fact)

Following Lucy King's trailblazing lead to make Scotland cool enough for a Modern Heat setting :-) and the discussion on Jackie Ashenden's blog about locations I've been thinking about an old  story idea set in the Scottish Highlands that I set aside for not being 'Modern Heat enough'.

Despite its isolation the Highlands does have more than its fair share of roving millionaire alphas. Skibo Castle down the road from me is a private club so exclusive that you have to be famous or a member of the jet set to have a hope of setting foot inside (Madonna married there and Sean Connery, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones have all been guests). Owning a Scottish Estate now seems to be as much a 'must have' as a private jet or a yacht.
MFI heir, Paul Lister (aka The Real Monarch of the Glen), owns an estate close to my home and has been attempting to bring wolves and bears back into the Scottish countryside. Thankfully there has been much opposition from my crofter neighbours (who surprisingly don't want their sheep eaten) and he hasn't succeeded so far but the battle gave me an idea for a story about an estate owning millionaire (hero) clashing with a local female journalist (heroine).
Unfortunately that particular story is so laden with external conflict that it will never see the light of day but I'm thinking I may now be able to use the Highlands one day (even if I do a story that shares a London/Scotland location to hedge my bets!).

Here's a random fact I read this morning - if you were to attempt to read every book Mills and Boon had published in the last ten years (at a rate of two per hour), it would take you a quarter of a million years! This seems a tad incredible but the figure supposedly comes from a York University seminar and is mentioned in an article about reading romance fiction in public Underground Politics: Reading on the Tube (surprisingly sympathetic from a non-fan)
I wonder if she means every printed copy, or is including every translated copy...