Sunday, September 30, 2007

Leap of Faith

My heart was in my mouth at I watched Snowy's latest game. I waited for the glass shelf to come crashing down!
Over the weekend, yours that is and not mine, I was browsing blogs as I do and came across another interesting meme on Absolute Vanilla's blog and I thought at this current point in my own writing it would be good to do as an exercise. So here is a meme about writing strengths ( don't worry I'm not going to tag anyone):
"The instructions were as follows:
Make a list of five strengths that you possess as a writer/artist. It's not really bragging, it's an honest assessment (forced upon you by this darn meme). Please resist the urge to enumerate your weaknesses, or even mention them in contrast to each strong point you list. Tag four other writers or artists whom you'd like to see share their strengths."
So here goes:
Writing dialogue. I love it and it shows through in my writing.
Sexual tension. I love the build up to romance and I try to put as much as possible into the lead up to the 'kiss'.
Sense of location. Cornwall inspires me and I think I capture the landscape and the feel of it very well.
Capturing adolescence. Probably because of having two of them at home but also because I love just talking with teens, my teenage characters are spicy and true to life.
Happy endings. Some may think this is a down side but I have seen too many unhappy endings in my life to not want to give my characters a hopeful start on the life beyond the book.
So what are your writing strengths?
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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Persistence or Listening to Beeny

OK, I have committed myself to this writing lark so that tells the world I have sado masochistic tendencies. You will note that on the sidebar there is yet another progress meter for August Rock. - yes, rewrite 10! Have I lost my mind - absolutely.

As you know AR went into the New Writers' Scheme and came out with some praise but it still had failings - namely my bl..dy dyslexic typos. So I sent it off to Caroline Upcher for another editorial review since she had critiqued it before to see if all the work I had done so far worked. Yesterday I received her report - yes and well no. The book is still too predictable and I am too prone to repetition.

So, I begin again. I have a feeling that AR will never see the light of day however it has taught me so much that that it will be OK. The other day I read Therese Fowler's blog which mentioned that Souvenir was her third novel and that was the one that broke through so if that follows for me A Cornish House will be my break through but I haven't learned enough on AR yet for me to give it up. So I just keep writing and in the words of the lovely Chris, I will listen to Beeny.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday's Friday

The world is so much better since anonymous J taught me how to force the page to refresh. I am no longer stuck looking at yesterday or even last week's blog! Thank you again J.

This photo was of the sunset off the balcony of our hotel/apartment last night. I'm definitely becoming used to the rhythms of the day here now and no longer falling asleep at 8! However no doubt the dh will be as he will be 9 hours adrift after this last trip to Texas.

The editing has been rolling on this week well. I'm enjoying the story which bodes well - at least I hope it does. As I mentioned that this is just an edit for language not plot, not character...... I'm saving those delights once the script is readable! However I did go back to the He Wrote/She Wrote lesson about the conflict box here . I was pleased to see what I have set up works so at least the foundation is there for the next stage.

The lovely Flowerpot had tagged me with this great meme.

Total number of books? This is a good question as I haven't a clue as currently they are split between the container and Cornwall. Plus due to our transient life style I had to let go of beloved books along the way to make room for my children's and husband's book - the things I do for them!

Last Book read? The Bride's Seduction by Louise Allen and I finished this last night and I must say it was a great pleasure (more about this later) I also have on the go The end of the Affair by Graham Greene and Atonement by Ian McEwan

Last Book Bought? The End of the Affair

Five meaningful Books? This is a tough one... what does meaningful mean? Books that have stayed with me? Books that have altered my thoughts? Hmmmmmmm. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (can't remember how times I read this as a child), Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer (began my love affair with historical fiction), Leo the African by Amin Maalouf (showed me a different view on history), Any Human Heart by William Boyd (showed me how differently a man's mind works) and finally Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (for sheer joy)

Now I am supposed to tag five people so I tag:

Rebecca Burgess
Alyssa Goodnight

Rather long post today but I thought I would mention that in the UK today there will a radio program on about Mills and Boon entitled Guilty Pleasures. I will try and listen through the net as I think there is much derision about Mill and Boon that I personally think is cr.p. There are several posts out there ( here and here)that say it better than I will but I think the snobbery is generated by people who haven't looked inside the cover of a Mills and Boon in at least twenty years. From my own reading experience, I have spent many wonderful hours of pleasure but not guilty pleasure - that I reserve for chocolate, with all different varieties of Mills and Boon books. The authors writing these stories are brilliant, skilled and hard working. Before you turn your nose up try picking up any of Julie Cohen's if you can handle heat or Fiona Harper's for a gentler approach.

The book I read last night was from their historical line. It was beautifully and compelling written. Yes, I knew it would work out in the end - hell that's why I read them. Sometimes I need an emotional lift and that's what Mills and Boon provide with beautifully crafted stories (yes the tried and tested formula of boy meet girl and they end up together!). However I will add there is one thing I hate about Mills and Boon and that is their bl--dy titles. It is for their titles alone I will not be seen in public reading them or for that matter in front of my eight year old, or thirteen or fifteen year old. (You try explaining why your reading Virgin bought and Paid For!) As a final thought Ray-Anne here has an interesting post on why the genre is still so successful today.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Rant and Link

First the rant....I check blogs regularly (especially when I am editing and procrastinating) and I have noticed that even with my own I don't get an update for say half a day. So I will post this and it will be after lunch before it appears on my screen as showing up in blogland ( although I know it is out there for the rest of the world as I will get email alerts that someone has commented on the post - go figure). So I thought there was some problem with my beloved, that she was tired and her memory needed help so I cleaned up her cashe and still the same problem.

This morning I stopped by the Novel Racers' Blog and the last post showing up was Monday's....I knew was a load of bull as I have been there yesterday through the dashboard and there had been three more posts. So I clicked through the dashboard and wow there were another two posts.....Why? Could some one tell me why I'm not seeing them? So I went through my usual click through of blogs and came to Lane's , from the past I knew she post regularly but all this week I have been seeing last Thursday's post yet I have seem her commenting on other people's blogs. I thought she must not be in a posting mood......NO, she had written four posts which only showed up on my puter today!!!!

I don't think there is anything I can do about it but all of you who are wondering why I am not there commenting - well its because I have no idea you have posted. I am stuck with yesterday or last week's post.........

Rant finished.

Now on to the important stuff the link! Over on Chris's blog she has posted her list of advice for writers which is honest, heartfelt, hard won and funny (my personal favorite is number 7. listen to Beeny). Read it to learn and read it to laugh :-)

Now I am sending this out into the blogsphere and I myself may see it this afternoon but then it may be tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Light Bulb Moment - Yearning

Thanks to the wonderful Lisa at Eudaemonia and her post on Yearning, I can see where A Cornish House is going! I can see where the conflict is coming from and I can see the resolution.

When I split the manuscript up it became very clear that it was both women's stories. The word count was a bit heavier on Madde's side but that probably balances a bit the strength of Serena character - she comes across without the need for as many words. I had written in the first draft chunks from Mark's point of view but it was small and I think the book will be stronger if the story just comes from these two although Mark's own personal story is important and follows the same yaerning in a way. I don't think it needs to come from his voice if that makes sense.

So thanks to Lisa I am very clear on what these two women yearn for and on the obstacles in front of the them. What I now need to look at closely is the other things I have woven in incompletely (like C.S. Harris said in a comment yesterday - "I particularly hate those spots I skipped for some reason and now have to fill in." - hah what was I thinking at the time ) There are two key parts of the story that I have left incomplete and I need to decide if they are really necessary to the story or a just a distraction from it.

In the interim of course I will continue to chip away at my terrible typos.......

Monday, September 24, 2007

Rewrite Blues

You can see by the side bar that I am making some progress but it is slow - in fact, it is slow and painful. Why you ask, as I have been singing the praises of editing? Well, this edit is almost purely for language - ie sentence structure, unbelievable typos and just plain gobbledygook. These things have never been my strong point and never will be so right now the process is moving like treacle/molasses. I am hopeful that once I have cleaned the script up a bit it will make sense and I can have fun with it again......please

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Things That Surprise You

Today was the dh's birthday. He spent above the atlantic on his way to Texas and in fact is still doing that as I type. I spent the day editing, viewing the villa we will one day have and visiting friends. We I finally came back to the hotel I found this......
I have to say I was surprised and quite touched on his didn't taste too bad either! Shame he wasn't here to enjoy it......

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Link

Friday is now my Sunday which is very weird. I know I have done this before.....yet three years ago my weekend was Thursday (being Saturday) and Friday (being Sunday). I eventually got my head around it. Now the weekend has changed here - Friday is still Sunday as stores open later and things are quiet and we do church yet Saturday is Saturday - novel I know- but the weekend is backwards. It's very bizarre having your Sunday before your Saturday if you know what I mean.

Thanks to writer Susie Vereker I popped over to journalist Danuta Kean's blog where she is talking about how important or not blogging is for novelists. It's an interesting read and what hit me most was the comment about it must be authentic voice and its about building relationships. It made me think about why I blog. I blog to be in a community - a community of writers and readers. Why do you blog?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Snowy in Dubai

First I have to thank Jan Jones for prompting me on the title of today's post. Here Snowy revives himself with a little drink (many Dubai cats prefer water from the tap which was very puzzling when he first deigned to live with us five years ago).
So here's Snowy checking out the accommodation and the view.

My work space is becoming a favorite spot of his.

I think he looks settled in, don't you?

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Subconscious Thoughts

Back yonks ago there was a discussion about writer's block and the whole creative process. Well, I am reading Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. I will now confess I have never read any Greene before. You wonder how a woman with an English Lit degree from Mount Holyoke has not read Greene? The only thing I can say in my defence is that I had a concentration on Medieval Studies. I digress. I am now reading Greene because of Susan Hill's Creative Writing Course. She strongly suggested that we read at least one of his books. So Atonement has been put on hold.

I know you wonder where all this is going.......well we all spoke about block and the need to give the subconscious a chance to catch up. In Greene's Bendrix words:

So much in writing depends on the superficiality of one's days. One may be preoccupied with shopping and income tax returns and chance conversations, but the stream of the unconscious continues to flow undisturbed, solving problems, planning ahead: one sits down sterile and dispirited at the desk, and suddenly the words come as though from the air: the situations that seemed blocked in a hopeless impasse move forward: the work has been done while one slept or shopped or talked with friends.

There it all is explained so beautifully with just the right emphasis on shopping - don't you think?

Snowy is here and has a stinking cold. I think I will see if today it disappears with his jet lag otherwise it's a trip to the vets!

You will note on my side bar that I have started editing A Cornish House. I think I now have enough distance from it to begin the cutting and crafting. yesterday Cally asked me about my editing process when she noticed that August Rock has been through so many revisions. At this point in my writing I can't seem to focus on too many editing tasks - plot, pace, prose. So I do an edit for each one and makes notes for things that jump out at me. For example on the first 15 pages of ACH yesterday it was mostly language, but I can to a passage and I thought why the hell did I include that? What does it tell the reader? Does it serve any useful purpose other than increasing the word count? SO I highlighted it and left it on the hard copy. When it came to inputting my changes later in the day on the 'puter I cut that seen even though I was really focusing on the words that bit stuck out like a sore thumb and it had to go this edit.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Snowy's Arrives

I am sitting here awaiting the arrival of my sure to p--sed off cat. He's been in kennels in Heathrow for ten days and was on the overnight BA flight! He will not be well pleased to see me whenever he is delivered to the hotel today!

Living in a hotel apartment with him I know will be any endless challenge. In London he was a house cat. He hated it but lived with it. He tried to escape when he could. Freedom was his game all summer in Cornwall and it will take a year for the shrew population to recover. I am hoping that ten days in a confined space plus many hours in an even smaller one will make this two bedroom apartment seem palatial but I doubt it.

I know he will make a bid for freedom as soon as the door opens and it opens regularly even when I am not here. Hotel staff pop by to empty bins ect. They prop open the door while they do this! Therefore I have been having nightmares of rescuing Snowy from the atrium and the nice tent like structure they have erected for the Iftar! At least it will break his fall but it might startle the diners below!

Monday, September 17, 2007


By virtue of the fact that I had no Internet this morning I have gone through all the accumulated paperwork that had covered the table in the hotel/apartment. You would think that so few days in a new location there wouldn't be much but no. I brought some with me just make sure it looked like home, the new school provided some, I printed lots off the web, the Dh did more of that with car reviews, and well its been breeding in the night.

So four hours later I can see the table top. I would post a picture but I still haven't located the cable for my camera! It obviously wasn't under the paperwork!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Old Friends

I am finding my way around Dubai again. The roads have changed - in fact seem to change daily, and the traffic is appalling. The new shopping malls are truly amazing and the good thing is that are a few more book shops. Books and book shops were very thin on the ground when I was here last. Now it has improved but still no where to the standard that I would like to see. However I wandered into one in the Mall of the Emirates and started scanning the small fiction section looking for familiar names. I only spotted one Catherine Alliot and one Philippa Greggory in the fiction section. I thought if that is all there is I am going to die and whither. Although I enjoy the 'heavier' end of the fiction market I could not live by this alone and the only thing lightening the shelves were thrillers which will keep the dh happy but leave me cold or maybe clammy is a better description.

Head hung low I was walking aimlessly and stumbled upon the romance section. Here I thankfully found my friends - Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell, Judy Astley, Matt Dunn........I stroked the spines and thought OK I can just survive. I looked through the shelves of category romance and was pleased to see one of my friend Fiona Harper's books. I stepped back. Romance took up two small bookcases and was far away from the front of the shop. It didn't seem right seeing all my friends tucked into the back ground.

So although the book situation has improved I will imposing a book shopping list on all visitors. So be warned anyone planning a visit. One half of your suitcase will be full of books to feed my soul and the other half will be for the 4 bottle duty free allowance...............

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Book Covers

There has been a bit of discussion recently about the importance of book covers. Over on Rebecca Burgess's blog she has a fantastic interview with the designer who did her book cover. I found it enlightening. I know in the world of books writers generally had little input into their covers unless of course you are a best seller then might just listen. However their importance goes without saying.

I found the covers of both Lesley Cookman's books spot on. I have just finished reading Murder at the Laurels. Again I loved and enjoyed being away from my 'normal' book choice. As I mentioned in the past, crime is not my thing but I love Lesley's books. As in the previous books Lesley's style of cosy crime invites you in and her writing is very immediate. In all the travelling I have been doing, I could just dip in and become immersed in a small town in Kent and feel such a part of it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good Stuff

Yesterday's post got lost in the craziness of the day and becoming Dubaified! There are headaches galore with transferring as much as i have done but there a treats as well. Somethings which in UK are so expensive than they are a once in a blue moon treat are a regular ritual here. So I am no longer cloven hoofed, dish-washer handed and I'm blond again. Unfortunately at present it's a bit too hot to top up the tan but that will come!

There is so much wonderful stuff out on the web right now that i want to bring to your attention to. First for a great laugh Lisa linked a great article in the Boston Phoenix by Steve Almond. Lisa was blogging about writing sex scenes and linked here. If you have ever struggled to write a sex scene or read a really appalling one this article will tickle your funny bone.

This leads me back to Julie Cohen's Tightening Your First Page discussion here as she writes fantastic sex scenes and occaisionally teaches workshops on writing them. Yesterday she spoke of getting internal conflict on the first page and another wonderful tip:

"Generally the best path is to start the story as late as you possibly can. Not just the first page--a rule of thumb for all scenes is to begin them as late as you can and end them as early as you can. Get in there, do what's necessary, and get the heck out. "

Finally have you all seen this article in The Book Standard. So how do you feel about Slush Pile's proposed approach and would you try it?

Monday, September 10, 2007

First Page Help

Some of you remember the first page challenge that Julie Cohen posted last year about this time and then I presented to the Novel Racers. Well, Julie, author of Little Black Dress books and Mills and Boon Modern Extra books is hosting a discussion on 'Tightening Your First Page' here. I love the first tip so far:

"the first time, write for you. Then revise it to make it great for the reader. "

Knowing Julie and how well she writes, I know the discussion this week will be filled with much wisdom and laughter :-)

Day one at school for dd went well. I am becoming acclimatized to the heat - I think. Still looking for the connecting cable for my camera so i can post a few photos.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Well, I survived and I'm here! Today was dd first day at school and she was incredibly brave. I was quivering for her inside but steady on the outside as she was. What was great is that a few of her friends from three years ago are still here! Which means some of mine are too.

All things being equal I will post a few photos tomorrow but still trying to sort life here at present!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I'm trying to freeze frame my memory so I thought I share a few of the images. I know I see will new glorious images to inspire await but gosh it's hard to leave these.
This morning I woke to a pink sun rise and valley and field filled with mist blurring all the camera wasn't up to the job so you'll have to imagine it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Golden Light

There is something about the softer light come September. It is gentler on the eyes and ever so slightly cooler on the skin. Yesterday we went to Truro to acquire the last of the school supplies and the boys went to the Bourne Ultimaium (I wanted to go to but dd didn't). I couldn't escape that back to school feeling as dd and I sat in the late afternoon sun waiting for the boys watching the clouds skid past the spires of the Cathedral. I savoured the cool breeze and hint of salt in the air. In a few days time my outlook will be vastly different. If I could just bottle the September shimmer.

Again thanks to all for the support. I feel better and will tackle August Rock with fresh eyes in Dubai.

Monday, September 03, 2007

The Wait Over

Yesterday was a funny sort of day. You don't expect post on a Sunday. Well, I received my NWS report back yesterday thanks to my plumber - yes, my plumber. I took my eldest to the pub for a chat about life and many of our neighbors were there so it was quite jolly. No conversation with eldest but lots of laughs. Then in walks Simon ,our plumber, a really nice chap. In conversation he remarks that he has some post for us. After questioning I ascertain that he in fact has my NWS report and had had it since Thursday! You may ask why he has our post. He lives in a house with the same name as ours but his house is out on a farm about two miles away. So once he finished his drink I left mine on the bar and chased after him the car to retrieve my post.

Hands shaking I returned and raced into the house and tore open the envelope. I thought do I read this now or wait until after I have that glass of wine promised me by the neighbors. I sat and read. My heart fell. The report was lovely and kind but many of the things it picked up on were things that I had changed in the course of several revisions. I put the report down went back to the pub had that waiting large glass of wine and tried to be social.

I rolled back home and sat and reread the report. It was a very thoughtful and kind report but none-the-less I felt the tears pouring down my face. I wondered if I was really cut out to be a writer. You see and many may be aware by the frequent spelling errors - like my son I'm dyslexic too. I can't see spelling errors and many others for love nor money. Yes, I know I have degree in English Lit but ....... So the manuscript had many careless errors in it. I knew they weren't careless as such for I had taken care myself but time constraints meant that it didn't run past anyone else's eyes before it was sent.

So the tears continued. The kids were wonderful and kind which made me cry more. Finally the middle son pushed me into the bath with a book and I lost myself in murder (thank you Lesley). I emerged and reread the report. It was a good report and a kind report. The book wasn't crap but in the state it was in it wasn't worth a second read ( the goal of all NWS submissions). However my lovely reader commented that she would request that if I cleared it up she would ask if the second read would happen.......then the tears hit again. Right now I haven't much time. I sat by the puter feeling bloody sorry for myself and then went through the script and bless her cotton socks she marked up many of the errors on the script plus left lovely little comments. My reader took her job very seriously. I then reread the report and went to bed.

Now the sun is shining this morning and there is much work to do but I realize that everything my reader said is easily addressed - the errors although annoying don't ultimately change the story so maybe I can write and this is just another part of the learning curve. However I am still left that with the feeling that I let my reader down and myself by my mistakes however I have to step and say to myself - since March of this year my life has been upside down. Since March I have rewritten August Rock three times and during that time I didn't know where we were going for much of it. My husband made life altering decisions, we left London and now we are about to embark on the next phase of this journey. So maybe I couldn't have done any better this time ..............

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Looking Forward

The weight of sorting the house is upon me and I am procrastinating like crazy. In fact I shouldn't be blogging but sorting and packing! However this morning I was thinking about Dubai and how much I enjoyed living there three years ago. There many things that made it a special time. I've posted a few photos from my fortieth birthday surprise - two nights at the Al Maha Resort in the desert. I hat camping for my card from dearly beloved said he was treating me to two nights in a tent. Click hereto see the tents!

So I sat this morning thinking about the things aside from writing that I will do. This time I will take Arabic lessons as last time I didn't and I regretted it. I will take up belly dancing again (OK have you stopped laughing now?) - it is brilliant exercise and such fun. I hope we will be able to travel in the region more. When there last time with had to cope with the SARS threat and the war. Having said that we traveled frequently to Oman and once to Jordan and Egypt.

So trying to look forward and focusing on clearing so I can get there!