Sunday, 30 December 2007

Christmas Crackers

Oh, the pain!

Day after day of talking and socialising has taken its toll. If my family were smaller, or had less time off work, or if they didn’t throw themselves so completely into Christmas…

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day were fantastic. But then it went on…

It feels like I’ve toured the whole of Northern England. A car sped through a red light and almost ploughed into the side of my car. I drove through a flood that appeared without warning in the dark on a country road. It continued for quarter of a mile! I’ve taken crowded trains to shopping centres on the outskirts of soulless industrial towns. (That was just one trip, but it felt plural!)

I haven’t read anything (apart from a two chapter sampler of The Hard Way by Lee Child), and that’s now all I want to do. After I’ve watched J.K. Rowling: A Year in the Life, which starts in five minutes, on ITV.

And tomorrow -- is New Year’s Eve! Will I be a party-pooper? Probably not, but it is a nice thought.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas!

I succeeded in Saturday’s Christmas shopping challenge!!!

Trees sell-out more quickly than I thought. I did find one. It’s just a little small -- and artificial. But it’s very cute, and took next to no time to decorate!

I have a few presents still to wrap, and then I’m done. Or should that be… READY! 

Happy Christmas to everyone!


Peace and Joy.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Christmas Countdown

Can you believe it? I still have eight presents, wrapping paper, a tree, wine and food (to take to my sister’s for Christmas lunch) to buy!!!

My brother leaves all his Christmas shopping until Christmas Eve. But he has that skill -- he’s a boy!

This is the first time I’ve been soooo LATE.

Will I succeed…?

I’ve just opened the post. Inside my latest delivery from DVD rental service LOVEFiLM, is a little book: a sampler of The Hard Way by Lee Child. It measures 10 x 14.1cm, and contains 20 pages, the first two chapters. The quality is nice. A smart piece of marketing, indeed!

Tuesday, 18 December 2007


I have a really bad memory. Or, for a more positive spin, I could say my memory is very selective. I don’t forget people’s names. But I do forget what my mind, of its own accord, seems to consider trivial. And I’m not proud of this fact.

I recently walked into my mother’s house and picked up an ornament.
“Oh, that’s nice!” I said.
“Don’t you recognise it?” she asked.
“You gave it to me for my birthday!”

That’s one example of how embarrassing a 'selective' memory can be. Another is that I had absolutely no recollection of organising the graduation ball at the end of my BA course. Years later, a friend brought it up, remembering every detail. I had no idea what she was talking about.

It seems gifts and occasions stand little chance of being filed in my brain. But I thought I was better with the BIG STUFF.

I used to write weekly art reviews for a London listings magazine. Because they aren't recent, and obviously aren’t fiction, I decided not to include these credits in my query/cover letter to agents. If I could have dropped them in elegantly -- then maybe. But there was really no connection.

Until yesterday!

When out of the blue, I suddenly remembered with complete clarity, an event that had inspired the main character in my novel. (She's a teenage journalist.)

I would usually suggest to my editor the exhibitions I wanted to review. But sometimes, she would assign me. On this occasion, and for the first time ever, I had to review both a lavish coffee-table tome, published by Thames & Hudson, and its tie-in exhibition.

Off I went to the press viewing, toting the tome. While the book was glossy, its content was predictable, and the exhibition -- mediocre. I started to feel anxious. The book AND exhibition were the work of a very grand man; highly regarded in his field. How on earth could I write about this when I couldn't praise it? What slant should I take?

Then it got worse.

The very grand man was there, in a side room, and wished to meet the press. Six of us shuffled in, and sat on plastic chairs. He sat before us, a copy of the tome plonked on the table in front of him. A female assistant, who never spoke, hovered nervously behind. The very grand man didn’t smile or chat about the book. He just sat there, looking stern. I started to shake. I felt like a ten-year-old, in the office of an angry Edwardian headmaster.

A couple of brave souls asked a couple of questions, which received condescending replies. One stood up, and began flicking through the tome. We all followed. It was a relief to simply move. The One made small talk while drifting towards the door. Two minutes later, all six of us escaped from the room. The only words I had said to the very grand man: "Thank you."

I did manage to write the review, quaking. Then, somewhere subconscious, it inspired a novel. And once the novel was written, the memory returned. Amazing!

I think my writing credits can now slot in quite nicely. But much more succinctly than this!!!

Thursday, 13 December 2007


I’m recovering from another heavy cold. This is the second within three or four weeks -- so it seems the tone is set for the season.

I sailed through last winter without a sniff. But this year, it looks like I’ll be sneezing right through to spring. Not that this stops me working. No way! It does stop me returning a phone call, if an email will do, and the dust has reprieve from the hoover. And, of course, I’ve had deadlines on design projects, so my allocated sleeping hours have suffered too.

Yet, I feel inspired!

Now my first novel is ‘finished’ and on submission to agents, I had begun to work on its sequel, or, second in the series (I would love to write six). But I also have a rough outline and first chapter of a completely different story. A ghost story, with a fifteen-year-old protagonist named Daisy Pine. Two nights ago, I was so preoccupied with this story that I couldn’t sleep. I saw Daisy standing at the top of a flight of stairs, and she was smaller, younger, eleven-years-old to be precise. Then all sorts of bits and pieces, well, big things actually, like Daisy's circumstances and the ghosts' motivation, fell into place.

The essence of this story has been with me for a while, but I felt uncertain about writing a ghost story. The very first novel I seriously attempted was a psychological thriller. But spending so much time with a dark and frightening story just wasn’t me! There was no way I could stay with it and ditched it halfway through. For this reason, I didn’t want to rush headlong into a novel I couldn’t sustain. Then, a few weeks ago, I wrote a short ghost story (with midget ghosts ;)) and survived! I didn’t frighten myself to death or turn into a totally strange and scary person.

I’m now really excited about this new novel, and want to write it with momentum, without all the stops and starts that have plagued my previous writing. I’ve set a deadline of the end of March for the first draft. It’s doable, so long as fire and flood stay away from my door!

I've just read in the comments section on Patricia Wood's blog, that she wrote the first draft of Lottery between January and March. I take that as a very good sign.

Friday, 7 December 2007

The Golden Compass

Last night I was dragged from my writing, hauled by my coat sleeve for a full half-mile, then pushed through the doors of the cinema.

“I can’t believe I haven’t seen it yet!” said my friend.

“It only opened yesterday,” I said.

“Exactly!” she said.

Luckily, from the very first scene, we both LOVED The Golden Compass.

This gorgeous, high-production-value film is one of the best I have seen this year. It's wonderful!

Mr. Pullman should be very, very pleased.

Monday, 3 December 2007

A Mixed Post

I’ve just had a weekend off.

I honestly can’t remember when I last had a ‘proper’ weekend. And after seeing my writing goals for 2008, alongside many others, in J.A. Konrath’s 300th blog post, I doubt I’ll ever have time for another!!!

Revealing these goals in public makes them seem even more important. I feel compelled to do my absolute best to reach them. Though I felt anxious when I saw them, there, in the blogosphere -- there is something to be said for scaring yourself into action. There's also a lot of inspiration, not to mention a good dollop of wisdom to be found in what others are setting out to achieve.

Thankfully, what might come to be known as The Last Weekend was GREAT! It included a hair appointment, shopping, a trip to the Lake District, more shopping, at small but beautifully formed, Elk Home, and two gorgeous dinners. As a result, I feel refreshed and ready for anything. (Let’s hope something unusual happens to utilise that readiness!)

I’ve replaced the Halloween profile picture with one that was snapped on Saturday. By coincidence, my hair, sweater and curtains tone in a way that makes the photo look golden and Christmassy.

But I’m on a Mac. And if this blog looks off-colour or messy to anyone using a PC, I’d love to know. 

Now, completely changing the subject. Until this photo, I don’t think I had ever seen a rabbit yawn.

It’s adorable!