Thursday, January 31, 2008


My son hates me as it appears many of my blog friends do and quite frankly I would hate me between the clicking palms fronds in the ocean breeze, the nights filled with shooting stars, jumping fish in crystal clear waters. So to complete the cycle of hate here a few more photos of paradise.........

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


What can I say? I have clearly died and gone to paradise. I am not only on a coral atoll in the middle of Indian Ocean but I have has just devoured the first of my reads....... C.S. Harris'sWhat Angels Fear. Absolutely gripping.......It kept me glued during the flight and even on the beach today when I could have been well looking at other things........If you love Regency like I do and you like a bit of mystery with a bit love thrown in.....well 10 out of 10. I could rave on about how it was brilliant to look at the period from different eyes but well the sunset on my beach is calling.................
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Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I have a confession to make and I feel very guilty - I'm going on holiday - not just on any holiday but to the Maldives! With DH on gardening leave we are taking advantage of the time and indulging in some serious R&R! We are taking the dd with us so the two ds's will not speak to us when they realize that their sister is being spoiled..........

So I will be taking three books with me to read......C.S. Harris's What Angels Fear, Lucie Whitehouse's The House At Midnight, and Rowan Coleman's The Baby Club. Plus I will be taking my own revision work with me not too mention having to write the next chapter of Explosive dreams. I have no idea where the heck this is going. It is utter cr.p but I am treating it like a cw assignment. So the next chapter of my chit lit meets thriller will be written while I sit and look at this view.
It's tough but someone gotta do it!

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams - Chapter One

Chapter One

My stomach hit the floor then the ceiling. The eye mask slipped down my nose and I slowly glanced around the back of the plane as the fasten seatbelts message sounded. Shit, turbulence.
I watched as two petite Indonesian women scurried back to their seats. I noted their sweet smiles and covered heads and thought of Julia’s housemaid who had beamed at me only a few hours ago when I handed her some money for looking after me while I visited. These two women, or more like girls, had that same smile. It lit up their faces but hid their true feelings.

I pushed the eye mask back into place as the plane hit another dip. I hate flying. Every change in the engine sound has me saying prayers and waiting for what I imagine is the free falling feeling one must have as you plummet into the angry sea or ragged mountains below. I must look at the map thing to see where the scattered remains of the plane would be found. As you can see there is absolutely nothing wrong with my imagination. In fact it works too well.

I stopped my thoughts and tried to focus on sleep. I wondered if the tablet I had taken hours ago with a glass of red wine was still prevalent enough in the system to lull me back into dream-world so I wouldn’t keep visualizing the scattered remains of the plane below like something that had been torn apart by vultures. See I told you that my imagination was a problem.
Had enough time passed that I could risk another pill? I peaked below my mask and registered the hands of my watch. One thirty AM Jakarta time and that made it three hours earlier in Dubai and only three hours ago that I had taken the damn tablet. There still should be enough of that stuff in the system to knock me out. Maybe I should find another glass of wine to numb my brain.

Mind you the combination was giving me the weirdest dreams. Just before the seat belt notice came on I was listening to sweet voices whispering about bombs. At least I think it was bombs. My Bahasa Indonesian is dubious at best mostly being related to cleaning and cooking vocabulary but that is what my brain translated out of the soft syllables that I heard. What did I just think? I didn’t hear them I must have dreamt them surely.

I tried to pull the remnants of the dream together. It was something about a planned bomb to blow up the president with snow bombs. No that didn’t make sense either…

“Shit.” I pushed up my mask as sleep disappeared quickly when we hit heavy turbulence. I felt the plane shudder and watched the overhead lockers sway.

“Oh God, am I going to make it out of this one?” I whispered turning to the empty seat beside me. A large man snored loudly in the seat beyond. How I could have fallen asleep with his snoring in the first place?

“Snow bombs.” I muttered under my breath. What the hell had I been watching on before I fell asleep? Snow Dogs meets Airforce One? A little voice at the back of my head kept telling me that I hadn’t dreamt it. It said loudly YOU HEARD IT.

I glanced forward and looked for those two little women. No surely they wouldn’t be talking about blowing up the president with snow bombs or if they were, they were on some sort of drugs. Maybe they were talking about balloons with the president’s face on them? Well that made more sense than snow bombs.

A stewardess whizzed past and the plane heaved sharply to the left as she banged on the toilet door. Hell, was someone in there? Were those poor girls waiting for the loo? Maybe they were talking about bladders and the old Indonesian president who was very ill? That made more sense.

“Come out of there immediately.” She stopped her hammering on the door long enough to speak. There was no response.

I gripped the arms of the seat. The plane bounced around and my knuckles were translucent as the blood totally left my fingers. I released one long enough to tighten my seat belt to corset tightness around my hips. The large man’s head was swinging wildly from side to side and up and down but he slept on as his snores filled the air between us.

“I will open the door.” I heard the cabin attendant shout over the roar of the engines.
I craned my neck to see her struggle to hold on as the plane’s movements threatened to take her off her feet. She pounded again on the door with her free hand.

I looked forward to catch one of the innocent faces peering back like me. She turned quickly away.

A huge cracking noise hit the plane. The audio speaker crackled.

“Sorry to interrupt your rest folks but we are experiencing severe turbulence as we move through this storm. That sound you heard a moment ago was the plane being hit by lightening. We have tried to climb above the storm and to drop below it but no joy so far. So folks please remain seated with your seat belts firmly fastened. All crew please return to seats immediately.”

I turned again to watch the woman kick the door in her efforts to get the person out then she shrugged and turned on her heals before she flung herself down the aisle to her seat.

I began to pray in earnest. Right now I need a Valium or maybe even something stronger. Sweat was making my grip on the arms of the chairs weaken. I glanced back at the toilet door that remained firmly closed. Maybe the poor soul in there was so terrified they couldn’t move. I know I would be if I was stuck in the loo and the plane was being thrown about in the wind like a leaf in a gale. Just as I thought this I heard a noise coming from the behind the door as the plane dropped.

I gulped and prepared to meet my maker. My stomach and heart must have been twenty thousand feet above me but unfortunately my brain had remained with me telling me were dropping out of the sky. I was never going to see my child or husband again all because I went off for a jolly with an old friend. God, forgive my selfishness. This is clearly your retribution for having too much fun, drinking too much wine, and for being an adult again without responsibilities.

The plane fell again and engines roared.

“Oh, God, at least, please make this quick.” The plane lurched to the side and I grabbed the seat in front catching my fingers in woman's hair.

“Sorry.” I shouted glancing down my row at the still sleeping man. He was at right angles and I really wondered if he had died as I couldn’t hear his snoring any more but that might be because the teen across the aisle was vomiting.

The plane seem to be climbing again or at least the nose felt as if it was pointing upward but I couldn’t be sure. The door behind me swung open and out crept not one but two people…

Friday, January 25, 2008

Plot vs Character

A little while ago B.E. posed a question - could a story be both plot and character driven???? My answer was probably yes.......well today over on Julie Cohen's blog she talking a bit about her writing process which is character driven and very interesting.

I think I may start with a plot idea but then characters take over the story quite quickly. All this does no doubt makes my story confused!

Now for a fantastic look at the topic of branding you must read C.S. Harris posts on it here. There are three so far and she promised more this week. They have given me food for thought - particulary in the presenting myself to agents at the moment. Yes, Augsut Rock is about to be shoved out into the world again to take another bashing!!!

Finally, although I can't name names a fellow memeber of the New Writers Scheme of the Romantic Novelist Association had landed a deal with Little Black Dresss. I just can't contain my excitement!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

First Tag of the New Year

I was tagged by the lovely Nell so here goes:

Link to the person that tagged you
Post the rules on your blogShare six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself
Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
Let each random person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website

These tags are tough because it is to find things I haven't said before so I repeat myself forgive me.

1. I am obcessed with Reeces Cups and they sell them here (not good for the waist line)

2. I have a passion about bringing items back to decorate my house from my travels (from New Orleans a wall plaque and a tool box made out of iron wood, from Cyprus a big earthenware jug, from Hong Kong two large lamps....)- intially this wasn't a problem but I have now traveled so much that I really don't room for any more 'things'. Maybe it's time to collect charms???

3. I used to have a 24 hadicap in golf but now haven't played in ten years

4. I love reading recipes but I can't follow one exactly as it it is written

5. I used to be very elegent and never leave the house with a hair out of place and now I am a total slummy mummy

6. I continually make up and sing silly songs to my kids - strangely enough my teanage boys don't find them funny anymore

So I get to tag six people....Lane, JJ, B.E. , Jen, Leigh, A. Writer

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Word Play

On the way home from dd's Irish dance class night we played a new game. I gave her five or six words and she had to create a story from this. DD is a great story teller - far better than her mother so I wasn't actually trying to work on her story telling ability but on her vocabulary. So in those five or six words I would through in a few that she would have heard before but not necessarily known their meaning - tricky aren't. So before the story could begin we would dicuss these words. For example:

Subscribe, top-hat, gremlin, advertise, and idiot ( I was driving in Dubai and that last word is never far from my lips)

So I had to define subscribe totally and advertise partially before she created and interesting tale of the of the top hatted gremlin who subscribed to the Gulf News because he likes the ads or something like that. Heck it killed a boring journey quite effectively.

I found this word game a bit like the creative process for me - although it's not words but random ideas that are pulled together and bounce around in my chaotic mind until 'ping' the connections start happening. Some times the process is quick (as this summer at the RNA Conference during Sue Moorcroft's character workshop) and other times it's month or longer before these very separate threads knit together.

Over on Steve Malley's blog he has a good post on this but he calls it groping for fishhooks (warning on of his illustrations - picture variety) gave me the willies but he describes the process very well.

Progress report - I made slow progress on revision - just five new pages. Why so slow you ask? Because I spent a long time in my room reading aloud the work and boy did that throw up a bunch more revisions on the first few chapters. I hate reading my own work aloud - very self concious am I - but I found it easier in my own space. Funny that.......

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Good Laugh

This made me laugh out loud. I pinched it from Biddy Coady's blog and I thought hers was spot on! However, all elegance left me with the first child and I have not seen it since and we won't discuss what happen to the genius after three kids!

The Recipe For Elizabeth Fenwick
3 parts Vitality
2 parts Genius
1 part Elegance

Splash of Craftiness

Shake vigorously
Writing progress? Well, reworked the first 20 pages of A Cornish House again and found more stuff to alter and fix. Do I ever learn? Me thinks not.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Oh the joy of it......I wrote yesterday. I wrote 1400 words for the Dickens Challenge. They are utter crap but it was FUN!!!! I wrote in first person which I haven't done since university. My offering for the Dickens Challenge is called Explosive Dreams and it's a thriller. So it is total utter freedom. I write women's fiction with a very heavy romantic leaning so Explosive Dreams has nothing to do with my 'normal' writing. It was bliss. Long may it last.

All things being equal I will post the first chapter on Friday or Monday. We'll see. I began to read through the other challengers' offerings and I was overwhelmed by the quality so I may lose my nerve before publication day but I must remember that I decided to take on the challenge to push me out of a rut and stretch my writing muscles. This exercise is purely for the fun of it. Just remind me of that when I start stressing!

I also edited 22 pages of A Cornish House. Working heavily on my tendency to repeat myself - to be sure, to be sure. I seem to want to make sure that I said what i wanted to say so I say it again. (see!) Awful habit but now that I am aware of it I can correct it. The other thing I'm doing at this stage is writing post-it notes for each chapter and view point so I can visually see the balance. You may remember that this is supposed to be the story of two women letting love back into their lives after the death of husband/father. However my stroppy 15 year old tends to dominate. What I can already see is that she dominates not because of the space and time I have devoted to her but it is just her voice is soooooooooo strong. I need to find a way to balance with out losing this. Madde's story needs to be more compeling........just how the hell I do that I'm not sure but no doubt it will come to me (PLEASE)!!!

Finally on the writing front I did the first mind map for the book that has been brewing since RNA conference last summer.

All in all a pretty damn good writing day and most of it in my room. The downside to my room is no internet connection. This is good because I can't get lost in research or blog searching but bad as quick research is unavailable so I have list of notes to check this morning for Explosive Dreams...........Of course the other thing I kept doing was texting the dh to ask him the questions. He reads thriller so he is much more aware of these sorts of things. Also, I will probably run amouk soon - if I start googling all sorts of technically explosive things from where I'm sitting I may find I have a knock on the door - so i may have to gloss over all technical points for some later time and place.........

BTW is anyone else have problems with spell check on blogger........this is a crisis and a half for me with my dyslexia........

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Today It Begins

Today dd is back at school. It feels like she hasn't been at school since the new year began and I wouldn't be far wrong in saying that. Since the 6th of January start there has been the Islamic New Year, The George Bush holiday and two rain days. Nuff said. Time for a routine - hers and mine - to appear. Of course the only glich is that the DH is home.............

So today THE ROOM will be properly christened with actual writing not just tweaking the books on the shelves and testing out the bed for lying down and reading said books in peace!

I have also decided to take the plunge into the Dickens Challenge thanks to Lisa here. Through her enthusiam I went to have a look to see what this is all about and then thought what the hell. I need to start writing again before I explode. So for the Dickens challenge I will writing something different from my 'normal' work. I will be writing in first person which is definitely not how I work. I am hoping this way I will spur on my creativity but not conflict with the serious editing that I must begin on A Cornish House.

I have really had too long a break from writing. I know I have had a very valid excuse but my brain doesn't except that so hopefully the challenge will give it an outlet while letting me get on with the import work of bashing ACH into something resembling saleable shape (she says hopefully).

Will report back in tomorrow and how the first day went- fingers crossed!!!!!

Friday, January 18, 2008

As Promised - My Writing Room

It's done and it's pristine! I now need to christen the room with some writing! What a thought - each night I have been falling asleep with ideas tumbling over in my head yet nothing has been put to the page. This has been to to circumstance - yes but now I have no excuse. I have a near perfect space to BE in and ideas queing to come out. I just needd to follow my own advice and just write!!!! (Rebecca, it is very tidy and unused at the moment. Once work commences disaster will pour forth in the form of bits of paper, research books, tea cups..............)

On another note I was persuing the current issue of TimeOut Dubai as one does - looking for the best restaurant deals to be honest and came to the book review section. The lead review is of Lucie Whitehouse's book - The House At Midnight. It was a brilliant review (not yet online) and just might make me move the book closer to the top of the towering TBR pile!!!
The short list for the Romantic Novelist Association Romance Prize is out here. It is a fantastic list (all fabulous writers) but it all the more wonderful because my friends Fiona Harper , who has not only one but two books on the list, and Julie Cohen Julie Cohen are on it. I am so pleased that I will be making it to the lunch!!! It will be worth leaving Dubai at 3 in the morning to arrive at LHR at 7:30 for the lunch at 11:45! Is that dedication for you you or what!!!!!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Sun Shines Again in Dubai

The air is cool and hints at dampness. Sitting outside with Dh this morning was bliss. After all the grey skies I feel I have energy again.

My writing room is taking shape. I am off to Ikea in a few minutes to find a desk. The folding card table I first put in there just didn't work as a desk. Plus I need a lamp of some sort. I can't tell you how excited I am......

My parents finally managed to leave Dubai last night. My father sounded like a child as he rang to say they wouldn't be coming back. That makes it sound awful but they were bored and the weather didn't help. In a few hours time they will be back to their own routine in Sunny FL.

Finally, and I am not sure how this works but I hope they will forgive me if I give them credit....there has been some fabulous photos in the Gulf News and I wanted to share a few with you. The first on is Megan Harris's -

and the next is Atiq-Ur-Rehman's -

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Rain Day

I grew up just outside Boston, MA. So I lived for snow days. Some of my most beloved memories are made of coco, sleds, snow men and best friend next door. Well, my dd is having a rain day. They have had so much rain here in Dubai that the schools have shut because of leaking roofs and flooding roads. I don't think that my daughter will look back longingly on these rain days (they have closed the school tomorrow too) with the fondness I have for snow days. The sky is grey and solid. She does not have magical white crystals falling changing the dull scenery into a winter wonderland but heavy puddles dulled with sand and being trapped inside with only her parents, grandparents and a pissed off cat for company. No fun at all.

I will head out in a minute to convert the 'driver's ' room to my new work place. With DH home on gardening leave I realize that I will need to separate myself from the villa for a few hours a day to achieve any writing at all while he is home. Maybe tomorrow I can post some new photos of 'my space.' In the interim here's a picture of weather here as it normally is........

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Romantic Novelist Association - Romantic Novel of the Year Shortlist Has Arrived

Well, I was sad not so see Rowan Coleman's name one the shortlist but the list is good and very varied. The link is here I have to say the book that appeals to me most is One Last Summer by Catrin Collier (Orion) . The synopsis:-

“Allenstein, East Prussia, 1939 – Charlotte von Datski’s parents hold a glittering ball to celebrate her 18th birthday and to announce her engagement to a Prussian count. Meanwhile, Hitler is ready to plunge the world into war, one that will wipe East Prussia from the face of the map. Charlotte is eventually forced to leave her beloved homeland and by 1946 finds herself in London with her young son, struggling to adapt to a new country and a new way of life. The secret of Charlotte’s life is revealed when a book entitled One Last Summer is smuggled out of a Russian prison camp and tells of an affair between a Russian POW and a Prussian aristocrat. It becomes an instant international bestseller. Years later, Charlotte’s granddaughter Emma comes across material relating to these events and she and her grandmother embark on a journey into Charlotte’s past. Charlotte finally faces the demons that have haunted her for over half a century and recalls the one great love of her life. A moving and turbulent novel unlike anything Catrin Collier has written before, but with her trademark storytelling skill and her ability to portray characters with depth and sympathy.” (The novel is based on the life of Catrin’s mother and grandmother).

The other five are intriguing too but the best best thing is that I will be there to see whoever wins pick up their award. Yes, I am flying back for it. I have promised the DH that is not just a knees up with the girls, it is serious networking. Hell last year I met the most powerful woman in British Publishing, Amanda Ross of course I didn't realize who I was chatting to at the time....

Again, I find myself in the position of apologising for being a bad blogger. Dh is now on gardening leave and my parents seem to be stranded here in rainy Dubai. Yes, very rainy Dubai. My parents are longing to get back to Sunny FL but they are on standby and with George Bush's visit here yesterday it didn't seem a good idea to venture to airport last night. It might have been chaos.

I have been meaning to write about my delight at Heathrow terminal 3 as we left the UK. I wandered through Borders and found Patricia Wood's Lottery smothering the front tables in the store where I also found Lucie Whitehouse's The House at Midnight. It was so exciting as I almost felt as if they were my own books on display. I have followed Patricia's blog regularly and many of you know that back when Lucie was wearing her agent hat she gave me some of the best advice I have received in this writing lark.

I was also able to pick up Rowan Coleman's The Baby Club - so all in all I was well pleased with Borders except that they didn't have Julia Williams' Pastures New. However all is not lost as I will be back briefly in the UK. Did I mention that already?

Now finally on to my won writing........none, zip, zilch but I do plan to start today. I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Another Glimpse of Oman

This is one of DH's photos from the escape to Oman. I just love their take on a scarecrow. I am now down one son who is back in the UK (one still with me), the dd is back at school here, and my parents are still with me. So at little bit of computer time is becoming available. Have I thought about writing? Only in the sense that I am not doing it! Let's hope this fallow time will make me productive when I can establish a routine again. In meantime I'll bore you with images of Arabia!

Monday, January 07, 2008

I Am Alive

Sorry I have been such a bad blogger....Christmas, travel back to Dubai, New Year, my parents over from the States, and my boys here.......all of the above have given me very little computer time. Of course there was also a trip to Fabulous Oman....the Musandan peninsular......I'll let the photos do the talking.