Wednesday, March 28, 2007


I haven't fallen off the face of the earth but to my parent's house in Florida, poor me! It is wonderful and the jet lag is fading. However writing has been curtailed but I have managed a few hundred words.

The compensation for the lack of writing while on holidays and traveling is reading. I finished Rachel Hore's The Dream House. It was a great read with lots of twists and turns. I really felt for the heroine, Kate in her struggles to find out what she really wanted in life. Definitely one to read and enjoy.

Next book out of the bag is Jessica Raymond's Haunted Hearts so I'll keep you posted. Now its back to the pool :-)

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Nasty Bit

I'm posting at a very early hour this morning because today's the type of day where I might not touch the computer again. I have school run, book club, pick middle child from school for half term, return and collect dd, and finally dh returns from a week in Houston. So as much as I want to jump back in and write today I don't think it will happen. In fact it may not happen for a few days as tomorrow my dd makes her first confession sorry I should say reconciliation but that's a mouth full. Hopefully it will be a quiet Sunday with the whole family together as the kids and I leave on Monday to visit my parents in their new home in Florida. All these things are marvelous but don't seem to allow for much writing time which quite frankly stinks.

It stinks because I am in that mad rush at the end. This week I had written over 12, 500 words which is a hell of a lot. It's been a wild ride because the words and scenes keep tumbling out. I am very close to the end. Last night as I switched the 'puter off Serena had just crushed Madde to bits with a revelation about Mark. It hasn't really even hit Madde yet. She doesn't believe that Mark would do something like that even fifteen years ago. She thinks it's Serena being spiteful because Mark and Madde are now together and therefore being disloyal to Serena's dad. So the shit is hitting and will continue to hit the proverbial fan for the next five thousand words or so then its the pause before things sort themselves out.

It was quite tough writing those words which I knew were going to rip Madde's fragile bubble of happiness apart. I hated doing it to her. Things had finally started pulling her way even Serena seemed to be coming round.......Hopefully I can turn the whole thing back and set them on the route to happiness but I'm not sure until the words are out on the page. Therefore I hate leaving Madde in such pain while I romp off to sort my life out and then go on holiday. I must find time to write this weekend and maybe even on the plane if there is enough space - hah!

Still loving The Dream House and must fess up to fellow book club members that I ditched The Age of Innocence. Once upon a time I would have pushed on but now my reading time is to short!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Women's Fiction

There has been much discussion taking place because of comments made by Muriel Gray, one of the judges for the Orange Prize. I have basically ignored them but then reading Helen's blog,, and the comments, it set the old brain cells thinking.

Back in the days when I had a brain - pre children that is- and I was about to head off to Harvard Divinity School for a Masters in Theological Studies, I had a theory that women's writing about God was mostly emotional and could therefore still be felt as much today even though much of what I was studying was written hundreds of years before. However men's religious writing was not emotional but deeply rational and quite frankly left me cold and could be quite dated. I think women's writing is emotional and speaks to heart where men's writing tends to be colder and deal with issues........these are broad sweeping statements but if one looks at the writings of Hadewijch and Teresa of Avila. Their experience of God is deeply emotional and still speaks to women today where as if you look at the words of Augustine or Aquinas it deals with how we should think about God and not how to feel him. The theological concerns have moved on in many cases but how we love God hasn't.

So to tie these ramblings back to women's writing today, I think most women's fiction still deals with emotions be they domestic in setting or global whereas 'men's' fiction tends to separate the emotion from the actions of saving the world or solving a crime. I know which I would prefer to read and that my dh wouldn't touch most of it.......I also know I am going to take some stick for these comments and before it starts I do read fiction read by men. One of my all time favorite books is Any Human Heart by William Boyd (Restless is on my tbr pile because I want to see how he deals with a woman's point of view) ....but that book also showed me how men's minds work which is very different from women's.........Basically women shine most when they are working with emotions and potentially helping other women in my opinion.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What books Are Your Characters Reading

This whole topic of books we have read and book lists lead to the possibility of classifying your characters by what books they are reading or have read. So I asked myself what books are the characters in A Cornish House reading? The answer is I'm not sure. This clearly means I don't yet know my characters well enough yet.

I'll start with the most straight forward - Serena, the bolshy 15 year old. Now I know what a teenage boy of that age reads but I am clueless as to what a teenage girl of that age is reading. Any help would be gratefully received. At that age I was knee deep in romances but I don't see that as Serena at all.

Next up is Madde my 38 year old widow who is an artist. She would be reading the works of Daphne du Maurier at present to help her feel the landscape so that she finds its essence for painting. Also on her bedside table would be how to parent a teenager possibly the one by Alison Baverstock (Whatever - A down-to-earth Guide to Parenting Teenagers).

Next up is Mark the 36yr old architect. He's into thrillers (as most men I know are) and maybe the biography of Wilfred Thesiger or on of his books.....I'm guessing here as at present I haven't spent anytime in his bedroom!

Next up is best friend Tamsin and she is easy. She has Nigella's Feast and Katie Fforde's Practically Perfect sitting bedside her bed.

Finally Old Tom, the 76 year old retired academic. He has a selection of research books on furniture restoration and a collection of Emily Dickinson's poetry.

I really haven't thought this through enough. Just this quick exercise has made me rethink some of the things the characters have been revealing to me. So what are your characters and you reading at the moment? BTW I have given up on The Age of Innocence and fallen into Rachel Hore's The Dream House which I am loving.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Book List Sorted

Yesterday was a good day for words...4000. I am hopeful for today as well as I am now in that rush to the end. All things are hopefully in place and the characters know where they are taking me - or at least I hope so.

The book list below has highlighted some good discussion again. Jess mentioned that she had read only two on my list. I suddenly realized that the early books were those that many Americans would have read but not necessarily on the reading list of people in the UK. I thought I would look at the age and time of and location for each of the choices......

Childhood in Boston
Make Way For The Ducklings
Tom Sawyer
Johnny Tremain
Uncle Tom's Cabin

High School
The Hobbit
Regency Buck

The Canterbury Tales
Pride and Prejudice

Move to England
Frenchman's Creek
Daughter of Lir

Life Overseas
Leo the African

Back to England
Any Human Heart
The Thirteenth Tale

By high school my reading was reaching out further. I suppose I could blame Georgette Heyer for my passion for English men :-) I spent a summer in studying in Ireland and that whetted my appetite for Irish history and pushed me past the first 200 pages of Trinity so that I could dwell in the rest. The Hobbit was thanks to my wonderful English teacher Miss Walsh.

My degree is in English Literature with an emphasis on Medieval period so a love of the Canterbury Tales is essential and I just love Chaucer's sense of humour and Austen just continues my loves of English men and romance.

After university i think I suffered from reader burnout. I don't really remember the books I read in that period after uni. It wasn't until I moved to the Uk that the books jump out from my memory. The most important of these being Frenchman's Creek. This is where my husband proposed and began my love affair with Cornwall.

When my children were very small I read very little. i was too damn tired and my attention span could only cope with magazines. My mother-in-law tried to keep me going with books of short stories!

Finally emerging from the state of perpetual exhaustion I was living over seas and was led to Leo the African. It showed my a different view of history that I could feel living in the Middle East at the time. The Alchemist was a richer read for me as well because I feel the sand and even taste it.

Then it brings me to the last two which were both read last year. It is the prose in The Thirteenth Tale that speaks to me. Her use of words and how they transported me is why that book is on my list. This reflects my writing life. I think about words all day long now! Any Human Heart open men's minds up for me and also that fact i had noticed in my own life. I may be in my forties and my body is showing it but my mind still thinks it's 28. That book clearly shows that progress through life and how we recognize the outward changes but our heart remains somehow unaware of age.

Now back to my words and the the lives of my characters.......I wonder what their favorite books are and why?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Lists

My book meme of last week has spurred some rather interesting thinking. B.E. Sanderson created her own list of books she felt every adult should read here - Jessica Raymond on her site was prompted to wonder what the top 100 romantic reads are...... you can vote here - Then I thanks to b.e.'s blog I was connected to Therese Fowler who has an interesting discussion going on regarding the list its self here - One of the comments on the blog suggested that certain books should be read at certain times in one's life. I think that is very true. The subject matter and the style certainly play into that concept. This fit in with my book club choice of books for this month - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. At some point in my school career I read Ethan Frome and vaguely remember enjoying it. I am enjoying The Age of Innocence but I am finding it slow. My reading style has changed and so has my attention span. So I am afraid I will waltz into the book club on Friday not having completed the book!

This discussion made also think of how the lists were compiled. Being a yank sitting in the UK my reading history is different that of my husband or my friends here yet there are many overlaps. I also think where I have lived in the world has shaped what I have read and how I understand them. So combining age with the location issue I think the top books vary widely.

So it led me to think what are my top reads. What books have captured me and stayed with me over the years. In no particular order here they are:

Leo the African - Amin Maalouf
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - Mark Twain
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
The Regency Buck - Georgette Heyer
The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
The Daughter of Lir - Diana Norman
Katherine - Anya Seton
Johnny Tremain - Ester Forbes
Any Human Heart - William Boyd
The Canterbury Tales - Chaucer
Trinity - Leon Uris
Frenchman's Creek - Daphne du Maurier
Make Way for the Ducklings - Robert McCloskey
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

Not really a huge list but they are the books that come first to mind. Some I have read several times over and others just once but they have stayed with me a very long time. What are yours?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

This has always been one of my favorite days of the year. You may not be aware of my roots by my current name but my maiden would give it away. So I am wishing you all the luck of the Irish on this glorious day.

An Irish Prayer
May God give you...
For every storm, a rainbow,
For every tear, a smile,
For every care, a promise,
And a blessing in each trial.
For every problem life sends,
A faithful friend to share,
For every sigh, a sweet song,
And an answer for each prayer

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Writers Think Too Much

I know that writers need to think to write but reading through fellow racers posts I realize sometimes we all think too much. We think about why we aren't writing. We think its all crap. We think we're crap. Now I know this is a generalization and some writers don't. They just get on the task of writing and I am going to try and do that today. Don't think - just write. I am going to leave the inner critic sitting in the sun while I get on with the serious task of putting this book onto the 'puter.

Of course I will not think about that lucky sod sitting lapping up the spring time sun shine. I will not. I promise.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lack of Words

Those of you who pop will notice the progress meter hasn't budged. I mean I could have updated it but for a 100 words it didn't seem to be worth it. On Sunday I went to Cornwall and after the long drive I had no energy to write. On Monday I was working with the builders and catching up in the garden and put down the 100 or so words. Yesterday was spent driving back to London and then catching up with family. Today I have child home sick and a hair appointment which means that the counter is in all likelihood not going to see much action. These are all external forces but what has stopped the words really if I am honest is hitting a point where I wasn't sure how to proceed. Madde and Mark were in another clinch and it was good but I didn't want it to cross over and I wasn't sure how to stop them realistically or humorously. So my subconscious hadn't yet caught up with my fingers. I now know how things stopped and where to go from here so maybe tomorrow the words with fly from my fingers....we'll see.

On other news and again from A. Writer's blog, I have been added to Author Blogs, . This is great fun being in such great company :-)

Finally on the reading front, I finished Notes on a Scandal. I can't say I enjoyed the book because the subject wasn't enjoyable but I did appreciate the story. Zoe Heller I felt managed the first person well although at the beginning of the book I found the voice so so strong I could only read it in short bursts. Now I need to see the film. I still haven't finished Night Watch, it eyes me from the coffee table accusingly every time I pass but this month book is Edith Wharton's The Age of Innocence which I am enjoying but again progressing slowly. The style is more more descriptive than what we are used today.

I know there was something else I wanted to blog about but it slips my mind and the sick one is calling!

Monday, March 12, 2007

How Many Books Have You Read?

Just drove back from Cornwall and left my heart there.........

Now I was trying to catch up on seeing how fellow racers were doing when I was caught on A. Writers blog........Book Meme
How Many Have You Read?
*Look at the list of books below.*
Bold the ones you’ve read.
*Italicize the ones you want to read.*
leave same the ones that you aren’t interested in.*

If you are reading this consider yourself tagged if you have time :-).

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)required reading in highschool
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery) high school reading
9. Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling) who are we kidding with 3 kids in the house???
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving) half - does that count?
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) high school reading
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) my 12 yr. old is currently reading it
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie(Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert) 12 yr old read it last year!
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas) the 12 yr. just finished it!
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck) high school reading
50. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. Not Wanted On The Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)84. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce) started it but gave up does that counts???

As I finshed that I wonder who put the list together.....

So Many Things

So much has been going on I'm not sure where to start. At present I am sitting in my favorite place in the world, the study in our home in Cornwall. I have come down to check on some building work and am at peace. Now to focus on writing!

But before that I must tell you about the fantastic Saturday I had. The RNA (Romantic Novelist Association) ran a marketing morning. Yes, I know I don't have a book to market yet but I will one day! The first high point was seeing fellow racers Bernardine Kennedy and Lesley Cookman. The morning began with Alison Baverstock,, speaking about we how we can work with publisher and then work beyond them. She emphasised using the people around us for support and ideas. I am looking forward to using her book How to Market Books when the time comes.

The second part of the morning was run by Kate Allan, historical novelist and marketing professional- spoke to us about marketing our books using the Internet. Again an excellent look at what tools are available to I just need to have a book published.

We had a few hours break before the afternoon I had lunch with the delightful historical romance writer Carol Townend in M&S and the snuck off for some knicker shopping!

While having coffee in the morning I heard wonderful news that Giselle Green the author of the Writers Guide to the Zodiac has just signed a two book deal. She was over the moon and I still get the shivers when I think about her news!

The afternoon was a panel session with writers Rachel Hore and Jessica Hart along with agent Jane Judd and senior editor at Corgi /Black Swan Katie Espiner. The questions thrown at them were wide but what came out quite clearly is what a tough market it is, write the best book you can and the best length was 80,000 to 100,000 for first time writers.

That takes care of Saturday so I leave this post and blog about all the other things later!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Strengthening My Protagonist

Yet again the Jennifer Crusie in the He Wrote She Wrote Workshop,, has hit the nail on the head for me - character development. At nearly 60k I know my characters very well. The story is moving along at a good pace but I am not sure if Madde's story is compelling enough. The antagonist, Serena, well being Serena she gets her space and her time. Madde being of quieter nature is too calm. Her change from beginning to end is not yet strong or compelling enough. No, I am not going to stop at this stage and rewrite. I need to get the bones of the story down and then work really hard on Madde's motivations. It is her story after all and if I'm not careful it will be Serena's.

I was going to talk about the discusision on writing sex scenes in the first person and otherwise over on Julie Cohen's blog, and Phillipa Ashley's, but that will have to wait for another day!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Do You Write Out of Sequence?

Writing in's how I write but I am wondering if this serves me best. Reading the comments on my last post it seems most of you write out of sequence. The thought fills me with great fear.......what if I can't go back in time and have huge gaping holes in my story? What if all I end up with is just a group of unconnected scenes? Could I bare to go back writing the connecting and less griping bits? I can see the nightmare swirling in front of me.

However I know that my pacing is too even in my last work and writing out of sequence may just solve that problem. Do I dare take the plunge or shall I remain in my comfort zone of careful even pacing through to the end of the story????

Monday, March 05, 2007

Progress Meter

I have to confess that while writing today I kept taking sneaky peaks at the progress meter.....and then I would smile and type on some more. Seeing it I now think I can finish this damn thing. It is not impossible. I have already written over half. I am not bad. Even if the writing is crap not everyone can put that many words together. You see I am trying to keep those crows of doubt at bay and the little progress meter reminds me that I have come so far. Thank you progress meter for your services to my sanity.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Past The Half Way Mark

Wow, it's finaly happened. The word counter has ticked past 50k. I am on the down hill race to the finish. The story is telling itself. The characters all have their voices and one of the key feautres I planned - historic letters and diaries of the past working there way through the story has died about 20k words ago. The character seem to want to tell their story without the distant past. I am not convinced this is correct but at the moment I am letting them tell the story. The next draft will be mine!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What I Have Been Doing Wrong

Yesterday was good. I managed almost 2000 words and in between the torrential downpours the sun was glorious. So it was a good day.

It was also good because over on Phillipa Ashley's blog,, she mentioned Maureen Johnson's blog,, which has "How To Be A Writer In Ten Easy Steps". I now know where I am falling down. I could start at the beginning with the photo and work my way through so that I get it right! How could I have failed on so many points? Must pull up my socks!