Saturday, February 28, 2009

Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature

Quick post. Off for day three and first session is on censorship. Lots to report on. It was been absolutely fabulous. Here's me chatting to the lovely Kate Mosse.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emirates Airlines International Festival of Literature

I can't help it. I am so excited about this despite all the controversy that has raged around it. I have very strong views about this but I will keep them to myself. Discretion being the better part of valour. I love living here but I have found Dubai to be a literary desert (yes, pun intended). I am sure there are other writers around but I haven't found them. Hopefully this will pull them out of the sand!

Today I will be attending a discussion on literary prizes and their impact, Peter James talking about Crime and Penny Vincenzi in conversation. I hate the fact that many of the ones I would like see overlap the others! I need Hermione's times twisting thing from Harry Potter.

Needless to say I will report back fully.

I am hoping that on Saturday they will have the promised discussion on censorship with Margaret Atwood attending by video link - of course this means I will miss part of Philippa Greggory but.....

p.s. the radio 2 interview went well. dd actually overcame her nerves and spoke :-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

For the Curious

For some reason I have become something of a media tart of late. Last night I was on Dubai Eye Nightline with James Piecowye , Sue and Sarah of Sue Anderson consultants. The discussion was about boarding schools again. The curious can hear it here. Tomorrow morning dd and I are on Radio 2 again discussing schools.

Last night we lay in the dark interviewing each other so we wouldn't be scared. The dh is off in OZ on business so he thankfully wasn't around to witness to radio technique - lucky him!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I Love Dubai

These photos were taken with my phone so the quality isn't what it could be! For the past few days I have been helping out on the committee boat for a regatta. There is something magic and revitalizing about spending the day on the water away from the cares of the world.
Today is the last day and I am bringing a proper camera with me. Hope to do a better job!
Will be back with posts about writing tomorrow. Other news is that I'm being interviewed on local radio tomorrow night (biting nails!).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well, I made one of the local papers this morning! Find it here. Unfortunately the article is not about my best selling books (one can but dream) but about the schooling in Dubai and choices one makes. My ds's were on the panel of kids at boarding schools. The eldest went away to school when we lived here the last time when he was ten. It was the hardest thing I have done which includes child birth and the best things I have done. Ds1 is dyslexic and when here the support (outside of the classroom) was good it was not enough. We were given the option of holding him back a year or looking at another local school. I was told by his then headmaster and that he clearly didn't have it and wouldn't go far. If the school wasn't behind him and with the bullying he experienced then I had little choice.

So with the help of the wonderfully wise Sue Anderson we decided to send him back to the UK. Any mother who has done this knows what that is like. The tears over the phone when you are miles away. The matches you never see, the small triumphs that are missed... I had to think of the boy and not me. If he continued here in education with me he would continue to believe he was stupid- the other kids said it and so did his headmaster.

He didn't look back. In small classes he could ask all the questions in his head and finally learn. He was properly assessed and told there is nothing to stop you from getting his PhD in Physics from Cambridge. So at first in small steps watched by teachers who nurtured the growing confidence Ds1 flourished. He moved onto his next school. Last week in the UK I met with his teachers who applauded his goals. He intends to do his A levels in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and Art with the plan to study engineering at Imperial continuing through their masters programme. They looked at me and said he can do it. He can receive the A*s required and nothing lower than a B in the other GCSE subjects (meaning English and RE).

I only told him his headmaster's comment from all those years ago before Christmas. He was quite rightly angry (this man is still in education here in Dubai). I told DS1 the best revenge is success.

So ds1 had a convincing need to be away. Why did I send ds2? Well, he has no learning difficulties at all unless you count laziness. However I was warned that ds2 was the 'perfect' student. He sat comfortably at the top of his class here. He was joy and never a problem. A wise PE teacher said to me quietly and off the record - if you want to pull the best out of him you will need to find teachers who have time to challenge him. In boarding school they have time to know the kids and pull the best out of them. They have done so with ds2.

I am now sitting with the same dilemma with dd. The schools here are not challenging her. She is happy to do only what is asked and nothing more...It is such a waste of a clever and curious mind. I have no faith in the education provided here. Profit as with many things in Dubai is the key motivator at schools. Teachers are not supported properly and don't often stick around long. Education here could be fabulous. The multi cultural aspect of the community is wonderful. The facilities are great but the schools seem to lack the desire to reach higher and pull the best out of the their students.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts. I believe I have made the right choices for my kids thus far. Interestingly enough both boys said the same when they were on the panel yesterday.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Black Boxes released in Paperback and the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Award

One of the best things as a writer, aside from seeing your own work in print (yes, I have but in non-fiction), is seeing friends' books out in the wide world. So after the lovely writerly day I had had before I was browsing in Smith's in Heathrow's terminal 3 looking for Trisha Ashley's book A Winter's Tale (which I found). I continued to roam the titles and then I made a little spectacle of myself when I squeaked upon finding Caroline Smailes' Black Boxes. I was so excited I whipped out my phone and took this dodgy photo! It turns out she's running a competition here for the best photo. Now, I know I won't win any prizes, but I can say I received more just by the flow of happy excitement that ran throw me!
Sorry for the post yesterday. I really wasn't on this planet, but did want to get the photos up as it was such a wonderful day and so many had seen me snapping away. But yesterday I existed in my own little jetlagged bubble trying to comprehend how I had been in both snow and sand storms in less than thirty-six hours..........
However CS Harris did ask how was the state of UK publishing...well, things are being cut like lunches to say the least and there had been a report in the press about the demise of the launch party unless the poor author paid. Also of concern is the huge discounting demanded by the supermarkets.
I did ask one agent about the market and she said new writers were still being sought (this surprised me) but it was a risky time for the midlist. Publishers were looking at ways to cut costs and this seemed to be their target. Sobering news to say the least.
Finally to the blogs that contained far better reports on the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Lunch:

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

RNA Romantic Novel of Year Awards Lunch

What happens when you place a large group of romantic novelists together? There is a queue at the bar and buzz of conversation that is amazing. The publishing industry gathered to celebrated the joys of romance and did so with style and more than a touch of glamour! The event began with a reception where most of these photos were snapped. Please forgive for I have forgotten some name (pls don't be shy if it's you or someone you know - let me know).

Blogger is playing up so I will just list the pictures in order.

Roger Sanderson (aka Gill Sanderson) and Anne Ashurst (aka Sara Craven)

Louise Allenand Evelyn Ryle

Jenny Haddon, Catherine King and Trisha Ashley

Carol Townend and Kate Hardy (who has a great write of the lunch on her blog)

Julie Cohen(who also has a wonderful write on her blog) and another author

Judy Astley

Susie Vereker, Brigid Coady and Carol

Biddy and moi!

Jane Wenham-Jones and you know who

Mary Zacaroli, Carol Sheldon (agent) and Elizabeth Harris

Emma Beswetherick (editor Piatkus) with Paola Ehrlich (Piatkus) and Cath Burke (editor MIRA)

Jane Wenham-Jones and Katie Fforde

Julia Gregson receiving the Romantic Novel of the Year Award for East of the Sun

Julia celebrating.

Judy Piatkus shortly after she received the Life Time achievement award

Jan Jone Jan Jonesand Catherine JonesCatherine Jones (aka Kate Lace)

Victoria Connelly and Jean Fullerton

The winner of the Romance Prize, India Grey

The pub afterwards!

Fellow Novel Racer Cally Taylor and I - amazingly still standing!

Katie Fforde, Susannah Kearsley (short listed author for the main award) and Janet Gover

I have run out of steam I'm afraid................ will post links to other blogs with more detail.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Snow, Snow and more Snow

Well, surprise surprise I'm still in Oxfordshire! The upsides are many - staying with wonderful friends, saw ds2 (for Capt. B that dear son 2) yesterday, and due to limited internet access (hate taking other people's puters) and rising ahead of everyone else (4:30 - thanks to jet lag) I'm making good progress on the rewrite - just over half way!

Tomorrow is the RNA Romantic Novel of Year Awards lunch and I will be there!!!! I leave here this morning to visit ds1's school and discuss A level choices then off to London! Can''t wait.

Have loads of pictures to post but will have to wait until I have a connection for my laptops! Ta for now.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Romantic Novelist Vote Richard Armitage Sexiest Thing on Two Legs

"British actor Richard Armitage has leapt from last year’s 4th place to this year topping the ratings in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2009 Valentine’s poll, to take the title of Sexiest Thing on Two Legs, beating top Hollywood stars to the number one spot. Johnny Depp, who topped last year’s poll, was pushed firmly into second place, with Hugh Jackman and George Clooney mere also-rans.

“Richard Armitage took 20% of the vote, more than double the count of any other male on the list,” said the RNA pollster. “He was a clear winner from the off.”

The RNA is not alone in admiration of the actor, as numerous online Richard Armitage fan sites will testify. The ardency began with North and South, grew by leaps and bounds with his appearance as the leather-clad baddie in Robin Hood, and shows no sign of diminishing as Spooks takes to the airwaves. ‘It’s a coup for Britain,’ said one starstruck writer, ‘not just for sexy Richard.’

According to romantic novelists, the sexiest male celebrities of 2009 are:
1 Richard Armitage
2 Johnny Depp
3 Hugh Jackman
4 George Clooney
5 Daniel Craig
6 Sean Bean
7 Alan Rickman
8 David Tennant
9 Pierce Brosnan
10 Gerard Butler

The winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2009 will be announced on Tuesday 10th February. "

And I'll be there - Now wouldn't it be a wonderful thing is Richard happened to be free on Tuesday!

Currently am snowbound in Oxfordshire - no Cornwall for me. However it is glorious here and weather permitting I may just get to ds1 and ds2!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

On the Road Again

Sitting in airport. Looking forward I think to the cold and frosty weather in the Uk but definitely looking forward to the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year lunch!!!!