Tuesday, September 30, 2008

it’s really official, now…

Current work: revisions
Listening to: Manic Street Preachers
Reading: next on TBR pile – need to finish my book, first

Lots happening here at the moment.

  • East Anglian Book Awards – the shortlist is here, including Heroes, Villains and Victims of Norwich. And my lovely published emailed me to say my tickets are in the post. Colour me overexcited. This will be the third awards do I’ve ever attended (and also the third one where I’ve been shortlisted – am still pinching myself a bit about that). But the nice thing is that DH’s best friends are babysitting for us, so for once I actually get to go to an awards dinner with my other half. Without whom I couldn’t write – especially the nonfics, as he’s my driver on the more awkward field trips (i.e. ones which are further afield or need a seriously good map-reader – the kids do try but son drifts off, panics and ends up in Wales). And without DH being chief parent in the evenings/at weekends, I wouldn’t have time to work.
  • Work - I’ve sorted my revisions in my head and know where it’s going, so the second draft of the manuscript now has big chunks removed and little notes all over the place. Now to go through it and fill in the gaps (i.e. follow my instructions in the notes and flesh out the conversations I’ve sketched in).
  • National Year of Reading – am doing a talk at a local school tomorrow, and am doing a whole morning at my daughter’s school next week. She’s gutted that it’s only to the top year and not her class (I think she was planning to do that ‘That’s my mummy!’ bit, bless her). But they’ll have more of an idea of how authors work and it's going to be fun.
  • The floor problem – my charm offensive clearly worked as the insurance guy was nicer, this week. However… the readings weren’t good. One of the floor areas was reasonable, one was just about there, and one is still almost saturated. So the dehumidifiers are still in place, and the restoration guys may need to do some scavelling (i.e. taking the top layer off the floor – this was a new word to me. Well, hey, you have to get something positive out of it).
  • Guitar – picked my way through the rest of the Dowland; Jim helped me work out the lovely opening to ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ (on the playlist for the current book), though will have to borrow DH’s Fender to do it properly – my guitar has nylon strings, being classical, so you can’t bend it effectively); and this week I’m doing the first line of a Bach prelude (very difficult stretches – I find barre work really tough, and because I haven’t been playing much this year my fingertips are a bit sore). It’s one line because it’s not in first position and I have to think about it; and if I do one line a week, I’ll achieve more than weeks of just not having time to practise a whole piece and ending up doing nothing.

I'm busy, yes. But it's nice busy (well, apart from the dehumidifier). As today is the last day of September, am hoping that October will be an even keel.

Monday, September 29, 2008

a weekend off

Current work: revisions
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Fall From Grace, Kristi Gold – enjoyed this hugely. Very warm, very realistic, great characterisation. Recommended to anyone who enjoys Medical romances (it isn’t a Med – it’s longer than that, but it has a similar tone and feel).

Had a weekend off. Sort of. It was actually thinking time for me to absorb my editor’s thoughts on the second Modern Heat duo – some of which I agree with, and some I clearly didn’t get my point across strongly enough so I’m going to tweak rather than change completely.

Saturday, the weather was fabulous, so we had some family time – aka a field trip for pics for the Suffolk ruins book. At half the sites, my lot were quizzing me. ‘I thought you said there was a castle here?’ Yup. There was. Operative word being ‘was’. ‘Er, where?’ Go look behind the church tower, but BE CAREFUL because there’s a huge ditch and I don’ t want to have to fish you out. ‘That’s the castle?’ The earthworks. ‘And why are you taking pictures of the village pond?’ It used to be the moat. There’s a wet ditch on the church boundary, and this is where it ends up.

They could, however, see ruins at Bury. This is the 14th-century gatehouse, built just after the citizens kidnapped the abbot (if you want to know more about that, buy the book next year *g*).

These are the abbey ruins with a view of the cathedral. The park was lovely - full of flowers and people really enjoying themselves - the site was probably as busy as it would have been in medieval times. This was the richest abbey of the kingdom, at one point.

Now, I don’t work on just one book at a time on location visits, because I try to minimise travelling; it's pointless going somewhere this week, then to the next village a couple of weeks later. I group places together, where I can - Lidgate is on the way to Bury, and Haughley, Woolpit and Ixworth are all close by. (However, although Clare is near, I need to do a lot at Clare and more at Sudbury, so they're grouped together for the next trip. It's also a matter of not putting in too many locations to one trip, or I end up with pics in poor light and have to revisit anyway.) I also found something that would do nicely for the churches book - this is graffiti of a windmill at Lidgate church (the one which has a huge ditch behind the tower).

Suffolk churches are pretty... but I think in Norfolk we’re really spoiled. Not that surprising, as we had a thousand churches, at one point. Anyway, I wanted to go to Breckles on the way home to check out something for the Little Book of Norfolk; there's an unusual ledger stone by the altar because Ursula Hewytt was buried standing up. I'd forgotten that there were two other things I wanted to see there, as my Norfolk notes were at home: one was some Anglo-Saxon carving... and one is this utterly stunning Norman font. It's enormous. And just look at the fabulous carving.

So in all it was a lovely, nerdy day. Finished up with dinner at the Elsing Mermaid with DH's best friend and his wife, so it was an excellent end to the day, too.

Yesterday was mainly thinking time. And I also messed about a bit with family tree stuff. On DH's paternal side, I've managed to get back to a marriage in 1791 - DH's great-great-great-great-grandfather. Interestingly, his name is the same as my son's. Most of the parish records I need to check now aren't online, so this means library time... so it'll have to wait until this book is done.

Plan for today: more damp readings (fingers crossed for improvements there); sort out the pics for my school talk on Wednesday; work on my revisions. And I'd better spend ten minutes on the Dowland, too...

Oh, and almost forgot! Winner of the book from the caption comp is Lori. (Please email me with your snailmail addy - kate dot hardy at btinternet dot com - and I'll get it in the post this week.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A bright spot

... in an otherwise sticky day.

I wasn't going to blog at all today because today is difficult (related to the first crisis of the summer holidays) and it's hard to concentrate, but I was loafing with the local paper ten minutes ago, while I was waiting for the kettle to boil, and came across the headline BOOK AWARD FINALISTS.

Uh-huh. Sounds interesting, I thought, so I read a bit further. The story was about the shortlist for the inaugural East Anglian Book Awards. (Sponsored by the EDP - and Jarrolds, at whose store I'm doing a booksigning in November.)

Then I remembered that my eds at Breedon and Halsgrove both said something about entering me for the awards.

So I skimmed down the book jackets.


Looked again.

And I saw...

I'm so very pleased and honoured to be shortlisted. I own some of the others on the shortlist and have thoroughly enjoyed them (and one of my mates has been shortlisted, so I'm very chuffed for her). And this is extra-special for me because it's close to home - actually, no, it IS home. And it's wonderful to have some good news to share on what otherwise is a rather difficult day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

noise, noise and more noise

Current work: Little Book of Norfolk (aka comfort writing)
Listening to: Bach
Reading: The Shocking Lord Standon, Louise Allen (great characterisation – lovely to get the heroines from her last two in there, too – and Gareth is a gorgeous hero. Had me laughing out loud for the right reasons – great fun)

I think you can replace the word ‘noise’ with another word, aka my summer holiday song. Sigh.

Meeting with the insurance company wasn’t good. Holes drilled in my floor, admonishment about the dehumidifier (er – I’m no expert on damp management, so I left it where the previous expert put it), and the new regime means we have to keep all the doors closed except the one between the kitchen and the downstairs hall, and the one leading to the downstairs loo. Noise, noise and more noise. Thinking, with industrial fans on the go, is… a little tricky.

Honeymoon period at school is now officially over. Not blogging about it, but I do hope I don’t have to go in again tomorrow. I have two mantras this week: ‘Patience, Grasshopper’ and ‘Be Nice’ (more is achieved by charm and calmness than by ranting and shouting). Having said that, I’m not going to stand by and watch my child close to tears for something that is NOT his fault. (There is SO much ignorance about ADHD. It is NOT an excuse. It’s something you need to know about so you can work round it.)

Guitar yesterday – went well, and am doing some tricky Dowland.

Son’s homework last night was all on family history, so he wanted to know all about the research I’ve been doing. Sat down with him and talked him through it; showed him the census returns (he was fascinated), printed off a pic of his great-great-great-grandfather, and I think he enjoyed doing that particular bit of homework.

Plan for today: well, I’ve squeezed in a teensy bit of work. Need to fill the car and run errands for Dad before I take him out (might need to remind him that I don’t run on time nowadays). And I might squeeze some more work in afterwards. Am messing about with the closest deadline – today I’m finding nonfic more soothing than fiction. And I’m learning a lot about flora, fauna and… what’s bird life? Avi-something-or-other? Feathers, anyway. (Grey cells are sluggish, this morning.)

My talk at Borders on 29 October (right near Hallowe’en, so you can guess which book it’s about) is on the Norwich store’s event page here. (It’s in date order, so I’m right at the end.)

Monday, September 22, 2008

one foot in front of the other

Current work: outlines, articles and tinkering with stuff
Listening to: Radiohead
Reading: Liz Fielding, Wedded in a Whirlwind (loved this – apart from the fact that I have a soft spot for archaeologists, Nick was a great character, and Manda… oh, my heart broke for her. For both of them, really. Have the tissues ready. And it’s a great read)

Saturday, nipped into town to pick up some things for son, and while I was there I stopped off in Border’s. I’m doing a talk on 29 October at 6pm (tickets are available from Borders in Chapelfield, Norwich) and I wanted to check a couple of details. Turned out that the organiser is none other than the lovely woman who organised the launch party for my very first M&B, A Baby of Her Own, at Ottakar’s back in November 2002. That’s great. (I was also very pleased to hear that my nonfic is doing well at Border’s.) Dropped in to see Dad in the afternoon, as I’d missed Wednesday due to his hospital appointment and was feeling awful about neglecting him (even though I sent him a postcard from London - last week was another where I only had one 'free' day).

Bit the bullet and stepped on the scales this morning. Given this summer’s hassles, I’ve avoided the scales: there have been more than enough pressures on me lately without the added one of weight management. For the last couple of months it’s been hard enough to put one foot in front of the other; writing has been a struggle because it’s been difficult to get time and headspace. I’ve been chain-eating chocolate and doing no exercise, so I was expecting to discover that I’d put on at least half a stone. Was very relieved (albeit surprised) that I’d managed to stay pretty much as I was. Hopefully if I can go cold turkey on chocolate and do some more exercise, I might be able to make some progress on that front.

This might not be the week to do it, though. (Oh, for a quiet life. A couple of nights’ sleep where I don’t wake up worrying at 2am about various things would help – Madam woke on Saturday night with a bad dream and was going to come in and see us for a cuddle, until she noticed the light on downstairs. ‘Mummy, why are you up at this time of night?’ Because I’m fidgety and it isn’t fair to Daddy to keep him awake... She got her cuddle and reassurance, but it was a while until I managed to get back to sleep.)

More damp meter readings due today, and there are some sticky patches due later this week (related to this summer so I’m not blogging about it). I do however have some bright spots – am taking Dad out to lunch on Wednesday, and I’m meeting friends on Friday for lunch – so will focus on them.

Plan for today: take out the reindeer and finish my outline; sort out the rest of my location pics for the nonfic; write three articles; sort my car tax.

Oh, and I’m keeping the competition open for a couple more days – realised I posted it Friday, after saying that I wasn’t going to update the blog until Monday. And, with global time differences, that’s unfair: so I’ll draw it Wednesday evening (UK time).

Friday, September 19, 2008


Thursday at the crack of dawn (oh, all right, 7.15), I took a taxi to the station, and (very decadently) had breakfast on the train - a latte and a still-warm almond croissant.

Then to St Martin's Street, where I met up with Michelle Styles outside Brown's: the venue for the authors' lunch.

Met lots of others in the bar - this is really going to sound like namedropping, but these people are my colleagues as well as my friends... Sara Craven, Sophie Weston, Trish Morey, Jennie Lucas (who has the most stunning hair and had sadly lost her voice), Fiona Harper, Joanna Maitland, Liz Bailey, Sharon Kendrick, Sarah Morgan, Nicola Cornick, Louise Allen, Heidi Rice, Natalie Anderson, brand-new author Nina Harrington, India Grey, Abby Green, Michelle Reid, Kate Walker... And lots more!

Some of the pics before lunch: me with Michelle Styles

Me with Trish Morey (who writes fabulous Moderns - and yep, she's another lovely person who's exchanged chocolate with me across the world. Caramello Koalas are fabulous). In the background you can see Abby Green (possibly hungover, in which case you can blame India Grey).

With Fiona Harper (don't worry, Fiona, THAT pic is coming later *g*), my fellow Radley aficionado. (Actually, Fiona has gorgeous hair, too. I'm nicking that for my heroine.)

Sophie Weston and Jennie Lucas (see what I mean about her gorgeous hair? And I love Sophie's lipstick, too).

Lovely food - warm goat's cheese and this gorgeous chutney for starters, followed by chicken and a very nice tomato sauce, and then a choc pudding (a little rich for me - yeah, yeah, Kate Chocoholic actually refusing chocolate - oddly enough, for someone who loves puddings and loves ice cream, I'm not so keen on chocolate puddings and I loathe chocolate ice cream. Just call me weird).

Didn't have time for the planned ice cream parlour trip to talk about sexy men, so we had a long cool drink in the bar instead (and you can guess what we talked about). I thought I had more pics than this (Nina Harrington, how did you escape when you were sitting RIGHT NEXT TO ME?).

Here we have some of the Modern Heat girls: Julie Cohen (and yes, Julie, I did know you were doing the bunny ears - and Julie was wearing these amazing silver shoes), Natalie Anderson, me, and Heidi Rice.

As for the conversation... When Fiona saw this pic on my camera, she said, 'Oh, no, you're going to run a caption competition, aren't you?'

Great idea. (Fiona, I might add, is a lovely, lovely woman with a great sense of humour. As well as being an utter star whose book is preloaded on the posh new Sony e-book readers: now that's cool.)

So, to be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded (aka my sexy archaeologist book), caption this pic:

(I'll pick the winner on Monday evening UK time.)

After much laughter in the bar, it was time to go back upstairs for the champagne toast. As part of it, Karin Stoecker read out the huge list of M&B award nominees and winners this year - we've all done so well. The RNA award, Rita nominations, the Booksellers' Best (yay for Donna Alward), the Aussie Romantic Book of the Year (yay for Anne Oliver), the National Readers Choice (yay for Janice Lynn).

Then we celebrated milestones. Because of the low lighting (and I had the camera on the wrong flash setting), unfortunately my pictures here didn't come out. But Nicola Cornick and Louise Allen celebrated their 25th books; lovely Liz Fielding and Jessica Hart weren't there but we celebrated their 50th; and Caroline Anderson celebrated her 75th! (You can't see it in this pic, but she was wearing a lovely red top beneath her posh black cardi. And fabulous shoes, which I am going to have to borrow for one of my heroines.)

And then it just got really noisy. Forty-odd authors and lots of editors in a small room equals... a lot of talking. (Also quite hard for me to hear in the hubbub - had to resort to lipreading.) Was lovely to see my ed, Sheila, and head of Modern Heat, Jo Carr: and it was great to get the chance to talk over my new idea. Couple of modifications (keep it glamorous and lose the reindeer, and it's fine, so I'm pleased. (NB, anyone pitching to Modern Heat - you do NOT need unusual occupations: this is purely a Kate Hardy thing!)

Afterwards, went to meet my oldest friends for dinner (blimey, they've known me since I was a teenager); lovely Natasha Oakley walked to the station with me. We had to wait for ages at Leicester Square, as there had been a problem on the Piccadilly Line and the trains were absolutely crammed. I'd hate to have to do the rush hour every day. We said goodbye at Russell Square, and I headed off to meet Fi and Liz.

The food at Strada was excellent - salmon with lentils, green beans and pancetta, and the most wonderful warm lemon tart. (I resisted the panna cotta. Just.) And then it was home with Fi for a natter. Also had the chance to check one little thing which probably does impact on certain book scenes for me - there was a hunter's moon, which was really visible, but I could see very few stars.

Friday, had a leisurely trip home. OK, so I worked on the train and fine-tuned my new outline. But it's so nice to have my enthusiasm back.

Fabulous time away; and fabulous to be home again, as I'd really missed DH and the kids.

computer problems

Michelle Styles is having hassles with her computer so will be offline for a few days - will keep you updated. I have much sympathy as I remember mine going bang and how horrible it is to be cut off.

Mine is being a bit temperamental, so I'm definitely going to invest in an external hard drive this weekend.

Computers. They're meant to make life easier. But they're so stressy, aren't they?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

organised again

Current work: tidying office and doing outlines
Listening to: Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon (and my condolences to Rick Wright’s family)
Reading: Jessica Hart, Last-Minute Proposal (I enjoyed this. I especially liked the heroine. And her job. And the challenge she gave the hero. And it was so, so, SO nice to kick back and read, last night.)

Well, I’m tidy again. Ish. As much as I get, anyway. I have a file full of church guidebooks (this is research for three different nonfics), a pile of newspapers which I must go through to remove the articles and file them in my PR file, and a smaller pile of Things To Do (but none of them has a screaming deadline, so they can wait until Monday).

This means I can go away tomorrow with a clear conscience. Am looking forward to London. Meeting friends, chilling out, and thinking time on the train. And a chance to see my lovely editor. And staying overnight with my best friend.

Best of all, I get time in which I need to work on my new outlines. My work schedule has changed slightly on the fiction front (can’t talk about it yet – that’s not the thing I was teasing about last week, either), and I woke up with a new book in my head this morning. It’s a bit dark, and the setting might be a problem. (I’d love to research it personally, but this is the wrong time of year. Now there’s a clue *g*) As the saying goes, ‘it’s all in the execution’ – and I really, really want to write this book. So hopefully I can do some persuasion tomorrow…

Have also been doing a bit on the geneaology stuff. DH has a great-uncle with a really unusual name – Zaccheus. Now, if I have this right, isn’t he one of the evil tax collectors in the Bible? Which makes it a very unusual name for a boy whose job was (according to the 1901 census) feeding the stock on a dairy farm.

Righty. Back on Friday (or maybe Monday) with pics and a full report on London.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

and about time, too

Current work: need to tidy most office, after FINISHING THE BOOK!
Listening to: OneRepublic (second half of the album, i.e. the ones without the clappy machine)
Reading: Oh bliss, I get to read again tonight…

At last. The book is done and on my editor’s desk.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to get revisions, but as I’m too close to this book to see the problems/solutions (the heroine’s conflict needs beefing up, though I can’t see how, right now) I will really appreciate my editor’s input.

Library day worked out well yesterday – I really enjoyed having the space. Couldn’t write in the library (I hate people looking over my shoulder when I’m working) so I did some research. Interesting stuff.

Guitar this morning; Jim made me work hard on something I find difficult: working out rhythm, and the intervals between notes (i.e. writing out the Green Day tune that’s been in my head for the whole of this book, but doing it without a) music and b) using my guitar to double-check said intervals).

Tomorrow, I was planning to take Dad out, but he forgot he has a hospital appointment so we’re putting lunch back to next week. This is, however, a good thing because it means I do have a whole day at home this week – I can sort out my desk, get my thoughts together before I start on the Med, and sort out some other stuff I owe people (e.g. a PHS post and a couple of articles for the RNA). Ha, have probably just jinxed myself by saying that. But hopefully I will get peace and quiet. Not too much to ask for, is it?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Busybusy and fabulous review

Am working like a maniac to finish the current book. (Sigh, overdue yet AGAIN - will I ever get back to being professional?) Not helped by lots of interruptions last week - meetings, phone calls, needing to do family stuff, etc.
The idea was that I'd have the book finished last week and have the weekend to tidy my office, chill out and maybe do location pics with DH and the kids. Um. I did a lot at the weekend, but it's not quite there and I want a final readthrough. Especially as I'm busy tomorrow, and Thursday and Friday I'm in London. Argh.

Today my car's being serviced, so I'm at the library - where I may finish the book (ha, no, there'll be a power cut or a fire drill or something) and/or do some research.

I'm a bit grumpy. So, to add a note of calm, I will leave you with a lovely, lovely review of Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded from wonderful Julie at Cataromance (you can read the whole thing here):

Award-winning author Kate Hardy sure knows how to pen an engaging romantic story that sparkles with blazing sensuality, powerful emotional development, realistic characters and heart-tugging emotion. Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded is a smart, sexy, poignant, funny and totally absorbing romantic novel written by a supermely talented writer who never fails to deliver spellbinding and enthralling romantic stories that touch the heart and leave readers engrossed from start to finish!

Thank you, Julie. You've really made my day.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Exciting times…

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Green Day
Reading: (I will pick up another book soon… need to finish mine first)

The shopping trip was mostly successful – Madam has her guitar book, I have new strings, we have a new electric steamer (DH broke ours – but he was doing me a favour and washing up at the time, so I couldn’t exactly moan)… but the most important bit (the school uniform) is going to take a month. I just hope son manages not to lose his remaining polo shirts before the ones I’ve ordered arrive…

Anyway, while I was in John Lewis, I was forced to go and look at the Radley sunglasses. Sun said the ones I had originally liked look utterly stupid. But he did think another pair looked fabulous. He was all set to tell his dad to buy them for me... and then he spotted the price tag. ‘You REALLY think Dad will pay that?’ Possibly not. ‘Mum, you’re not really going to spend that much money on a pair of sunglasses, are you?’ Well, the Raybans are more expensive. These are a barrrrgain. (His expression was identical to the one on DH’s whenever I go anywhere near anything Radley-oriented. Definitely like father, like son.)

However, as my soundcard has gone on my PC and I have a nasty feeling my PC is about to go splat and need replacing, maybe discretion has to be the better part of valour this week.

Came home to a really exciting email. You know when authors say, ‘I had some fantastic news from my publisher but I can’t breathe a word’ and it’s really, REALLY irritating? Well, it’s my turn to make one of those pronouncements. And oh, I’m excited. But I can’t breathe a word. (Those who know me well and think they can press the right buttons to get it out of me – no, this is a completely different project and I really am sworn to secrecy.)

So instead, I’ll leave you a pic with the sunset from last night. Pretty stunning.

Plan for today: visiting Dad this morning and topping up various supplies for him, bless him. We had the good news that the panel has ratified the decision, so all is well on that front. Am hoping the other icky stuff due to hit later this month can be averted… but if not, I have several books to work on to keep me sane. And my next one’s a Christmas one: I love writing Christmas books.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And a happy special birthday...

to my friend and fellow M&B author Jessica Hart.

Please go over to her blog and wish her a special day!

Food for thought (and a winner)

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Manic Street Preachers
Reading: (I will pick up another book soon… need to finish mine first)

Not a good start to the day: son couldn’t find his school polo shirt (er, what happened to getting his stuff ready, the night before?). And as there are two shirts in the wash, that means there should be one in his wardrobe… but no. It’s vanished. We have to go buy some more tonight – and they’re the ones with the school logo on, sigh, so there’s only one supplier - better hope they have stock. (Also need to get a guitar book for Madam.)

Then it was the school run, and my central locking decided not to work. By the time DH could get home with the spare car key, the kids would both be late for school. Ouch.

I rang DH to see if he had any ideas why it wasn’t working. He told me to use the key to get in manually. Er… there isn’t a lock. ‘Yes, there is. Go round the passenger side.’ (What a STUPID place to put the door lock – why not on the passenger side?) ‘Don’t lock the car at all. Meet me at work, I’ll swap keys with you, and I’ll replace the batteries in yours.’

So far, so good. And it wasn’t raining so it didn’t matter that neither child would have a coat.

Then Kate Dopey locks the car at school without thinking about it…

...and the central locking decided to work again. Could be the battery. DH also has a theory that sometimes the signal is faulty. (His did it yesterday, apparently.) But he’s going to get me a new battery anyway. I am perfectly capable of doing it myself, but am in deadline and have a lot of other stuff that needs sorting out, including a meeting with the claims guy this afternoon. Hopefully this means things will start moving again. (It would be so nice to get my flooring back. Poor dog is thoroughly fed up with the dehumidifier and refuses to go in the kitchen when it’s on.)

I did however come back to a really nice email from one of my friends, who sent me these hilarious Maxine cartoons. They’re incredibly witty; hats off to John Wagner, the creator.

There was some food for thought at the end that I’d like to share here:

  • Be kinder than necessary: for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
  • The truest greatness lies in being kind, the truest wisdom in a happy mind.
  • The secret to happiness is a good sense of humour and a bad memory.

Very wise words. I am a great believer in kindness.

Righty. Prize winner. Lisa, please can you email me with your surname and snailmail addy? kate(.)hardy(@)btinternet(.)com (obviously lose the brackets - am trying to avoid spam!)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Big bang

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Green Day, American Idiot
Reading: (I will pick up another book soon… need to finish mine first)

Today’s the day for the big switch-on: the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), which has a circumference of 17 miles and lies 100 metres beneath the Franco-Swiss border. The results could mean a complete rewrite of physics, as we know it – and I hope for more advances along the lines of PET scans. Yes, there is the ‘we’re doomed: they’re creating a black hole’ theory… but I think that’s sensationalism rather than realism. If you want to see the arguments, take a look at the CERN safety page here.

Some of the figures are stunning – the protons will be travelling at 99.99 per cent of the speed of light, and when two collide they’ll generate heat 100,000 times greater than the sun (in a super-cooled system). There will be 600 million collisions per second and the data will fill 100,000 dual-layer DVDs each year.

All fascinating stuff. (Sorry. Better get out of Kate Nerdy mode or it’ll show up in the book and drive my poor editor crackers.)

Guitar yesterday – I forgot my footstool AND my music. Jim had the bright idea that I could write a song about this summer, and my response that I didn’t think a song that starts ‘crap, crap, crap, crap’ (that’s four staccato crotchets, if you’re wondering) was quite the best way forward set him off on an idea… so we did The Teddy Bear’s Picnic (which was great fun, and I learned about jazz quavers). Homework is to work out the rhythm pattern of ‘Wonderwall’ without cheating and taking it from one of my piano books. (It’s syncopated and the whole thing starts with a quaver rest, which means I have to think about it. This is something I find difficult.) He also mentioned a book I’d like to get hold of – Oliver Sacks on the relationship between music and the mind.

The PHS 2nd birthday book draw is still open, by the way – commenters on yesterday’s post will be in the draw, which my daughter will do at 7pm UK time, and I’ll announce the winner tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Happy 2nd birthday, PHS!

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Seahorses, Do It Yourself
Reading: next on TBR pile

This month sees the Pink Heart Society’s second birthday - wow, that’s gone quickly!

Today is my turn to give a pressie to the little dancing guy. Now, I was thinking about giving him the brand new Radley signature handbag (which is decidedly pink - and what do you mean, guys can't have bags?), but lovely Donna Alward has beaten me to it with a bag. (Interesting, her comments about not sharing with me and Fiona Harper… mind you, I’m still the only one out of the three of us who managed to sneak in the Radley surname, with my Posh Docs trilogy. As DH put it: you named your hero after your favourite handbags? Course he wouldn’t understand. It’s a girly thing.)

So. No bag.

I should do something to do with archaeology, seeing as it’s this month that my sexy archaeologist hits the shelves in the UK (Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded). Except I can’t think of anything pink to do with archaeology.

Or maybe gorgeous Spaniards, as this month my Spanish Doctor’s Love Child is in Australia and the US. (Ah. Lightbulb. That can be the question.)

Today is a Tuesday, and for me it’s the first guitar lesson of term. I know I gave the little pink guy a guitar last year, but that was a classical guitar - and musicians do like to mess about with different styles. So this year I’m giving an electric guitar to go with last year's classical… and it’s one that my daughter (who starts her own guitar lessons tomorrow) would put at the top of her birthday list.

Happy birthday, PHS!

To go in the draw to win a copy of both Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded AND The Spanish Doctor's Love Child, just answer the following question in the comments: which Spanish actor do I really, really adore? (Hint: if you're stuck, scroll down a bit...)

Monday, September 08, 2008

Northern lights and marriage.

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: One Republic, Dreaming Out Loud
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoyed it – especially the fabulous hero – a man who knows history and bakes fantastic bread would do me very nicely…were I not already married to the love of my life, of course)

Right now, I am on a screaming deadline. So it’s very unwise to put a foot into my office: you’ll be growled at, unless you’re bearing chocolate or a cup of tea. (Deadline weeks are the ones where I put on weight.)

DH was brave last night. ‘Turn the computer off NOW. There’s this programme on and it’s right up your street.’ (Cue general growling from the direction of my desk.) DH sighs. ‘Northern Lights. Tromso.’ Three words guaranteed to get me moving...

It was Joanna Lumley’s trip to the Arctic circle. Fascinating. Utterly fascinating. Stirred me up a bit, too, as I share her dream: to go and see the Northern Lights. (They do plane trips from Norwich, but that’s not enough for me. I need to be outside. See it horizon to horizon. This is about the only time I will ever say snow is wonderful.)

I also had a major lightbulb during said TV programme. I took lots of notes. And I think on January 1 I’m going to start the Big Save. I am going to see the Northern Lights on my 45th birthday (this will give me time to save and stay for a week somewhere decent with DH and kids – gulp, son will be a teenager then and daughter will have hit double figures).

Now, the marriage thing. I’m currently researching my family tree (is on hold until after deadline, when am going to have a day in the library) and have joined the Sole Society (it’s a one-name study society – involves my family, the Sewells – and no, I’m not related to Anna of Black Beauty fame).

My surname co-ordinator sent me the info he had about my great-grandparents, and there seemed to be a marriage for my grandmother. DH read it over my shoulder. ‘Nah, she would’ve been 15. Too young. Must be someone else with the same name.’ Being still mainly in book world, I agreed with him.

Then I happened to be looking up something else when I discovered something. Now, I knew under the Marriage Act 1753 (Hardwicke’s Act) that you had to have your parent’s consent if you got married under the age of 21. I also knew that males could be married at 14 and females at 12 with parental consent. What I didn’t realise is that this minimum age stood until the Marriage Act of 1949 changed it to 16 for both. So, actually, that marriage in 1922 COULD be my grandmother’s… in which case I’ve just uncovered a huge family secret.

(I do however know that there was another woman with exactly the same name born in Poplar 8 years before my grandmother, and it would make more sense for her to be married in West Ham rather than my grandmother to travel from deepest rural Essex to the outskirts of London.)

But how interesting.

And that’s another lightbulb to be stored away...

I’m gone. I have a deadline.

(PS Come back tomorrow for a chance to win a book. PHS birthday prize.)

Friday, September 05, 2008

so what is it about gorgeous men?

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Seahorses
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoying so far but haven’t had much time to read this week, as am in screaming deadline mode)

Given the fairly grim economic state of the UK right now – rising inflation, rising unemployment, and the FTSE dropping like a stone – not to mention the persistent rain, I think it’s time for some frivolity. As in talk of gorgeous men.

(Like this one. OK, so it’s a gratuitous pic. But hey.)

So there I was yesterday, wrestling with the book and working out what it was that made my heroine give my hero a second glance.

On a purely shallow level, it’s looks. For me, it’s the eyes. I have a real thing about gorgeous blue eyes. (Reader, I married him. Actually, he loathes me mentioning his eyes in newspaper interviews, because then he gets teased unmercifully at work. But the wedding photo on our wall… the man has seriously stunning cornflower-blue eyes. Apologies for the adjective and adverb overload.)

Actors with stunning eyes that have made me stop and think ‘ooh, potential hero casting’ include Richard Armitage, Pierce Brosnan, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Hugh Laurie and Rufus Sewell.

It’s also the voice. Add the above plus Antonio Banderas, Jeremy Irons and Alan Rickman.

Hmm. Interesting that all of them (bar one) are Brits. I do like American actors, too. Jensen Ackles (the hot guy in Supernatural – at least, the pic on my totty gallery is hot), David Duchovny (in his Mulder days; my fave episode is probably ‘3’, aka season 2 ep 7), Matthew McConaughy, and Bruce Willis (possibly because he looks like my DH, but I have been banned from posting the pic of my DH holding the cover of a magazine with Bruce on the front – he says it’s not dignified. Rats, rats, rats.).

Interesting also that all of them are over 40 (bar three – two of whom are very nearly there). Clearly I should just admit to being middle aged.

This is all Julie Cohen’s fault. Julie Cohen and her posse of men barely old enough to shave. (She has made me feel o-l-d.)

So what does it for you? What makes you give someone that second glance?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

music and ghosts

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Karine Polwart
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoying so far)

Today’s good news – sorry, trumpet-blowing by me. Or maybe I should say celebrating. Scandals, Sieges and Spooks: Norfolk Ghosts and Legends is still #1 in the Jarrolds list; and I’ve just discovered that Heroes, Victims and Villains of Norwich is #1 in WH Smith’s ‘Norfolk Bestsellers’. That’s rather nice.

Music – sorted out Madam’s guitar lessons. She thought she’d been missed off the list and came home with a wobbly bottom lip last night; I did try encouraging her to talk to her teacher, but she really wanted me to go into the school office and ask for her. Turned out that the guitar timetable was being announced this morning, so she was delighted to find that her lessons start next week.

Had a call from one of the local coordinators re the National Year of Reading – may be doing something with a local school, but we think it’s going to work more on the nonfiction than the fiction side. Actually, this could be a lot of fun, and it could tie in nicely with the one I’m doing for Madam’s school next month. So we'll see.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

storms and rainbows

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Karine Polwart
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoying so far)

Yesterday, I had too many Anxious Mummy Moments to settle to work. However, today will be different, becayse both children thoroughly enjoyed their first day at their new schools and came home bubbling. Son’s timetable is quite complex – it’s a fortnightly one – but there’s a good mix of subjects. His first question to me was, ‘Can I have a copy of your books for the library?’ As he's going to spend a lot of time in there after school (i.e. until I've collected his sister) methinks the answer is yes, so I'm going to send him in with one every couple of days.

Was going to do tons of work last night, but DH pointed out that there was a storm on the way. The clouds were pretty spectacular at the back of the house.

(Rather like my mood after spending 20 minutes on the phone to the insurance company this morning, repeating information that they already have, for the third time - and having another of their promises of 'oh, they'll phone you the day before to confirm the time of the appointment'. Oh, like they were supposed to ring yesterday? ... I did apologise to the claims girl for being grumpy, but I want my house back the way it's supposed to be. If this drags out and we continue to have wet weather and lots of mud, bearing in mind we have a dog, the concrete is going to get disgusting very quickly.)

Anyway. During the storm, the sun came out at the back. So I knew exactly what we’d find at the front if the house: this. (It's a low-res pic so you can't see it, but there is a second rainbow above this one. I love rainbows.)
Funnily enough, the day we moved in it was sunny at the back of the house and rainy at the front, and we had a gorgeous rainbow like this. It felt like a good omen for being happy here - and as we've been here for 14 years now... QED.

Oh, and on the good news front: hurrah for Nicolette, who has her first e-book out this week. (Keep the good news coming, everyone!)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Some excellent news

This month is definitely getting off to a fine start.

I am so pleased for my friend Ray-Anne, who's worked incredibly hard... and... oh, just click on the link to go over to her blog, read her story for yourself and say congrats - and happy birthday!

Excellent news. Definitely worth celebrating, so I'm raising a mug of coffee right now. Cheers!

peacocks, squirrels and sunglasses

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Manic Street Preachers
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoying so far)

Yesterday was a really nice day. Went to see Dad, who was pretty chirpy. The road to the nursing home is single track, so I’m getting quite used to having to stop for tractors and horses. But yesterday was a little different. In the village just before I turned off down said single-track road, I had to stop to let a peacock cross the road.

Yes, a peacock. I have no idea what it was doing in the middle of a little village. But we waited for it to strut across the road.

On the way back, we had to stop for a squirrel. And then I noticed how many berries are in the hedgerows, and the fact that some of the leaves are already starting to turn. Bearing in mind that yesterday morning was one of those ‘seasons of mist’ moments, I think autumn’s definitely here. There’s that scent in the air I always associate with the new term. Autumn’s my favourite season. Walks with the dog, crunching through the leaves and picking up the occasional shiny conker, when the air’s crisp and you can see your breath...

Came home to a very nice letter from the vice-chancellor of my old university about the RNA Romance Prize. And to some excellent news from a friend that I’m keeping to myself for the moment, but the second she announces it publicly there will be a link here so you can go and say congratulations. I’m so pleased for her. (If anyone else has good news, please come and tell me here and I’ll raise a cheer for you. I want September to be Good News Month, to make up for the August From Hell.)

Managed to sneak in some more work. Then into town – Madam and I went shopping for birthday cards while DH and son were at their respective osteo appointments. That’s another crisis in progress of being sorted… and I am much relieved there. One more worry off my shoulders. So that’s two being sorted (patience, Grasshopper), one sorted and hopefully not resurrecting at least until my dentist is back from maternity leave, one waiting on a panel decision (more patience, Grasshopper), and one that isn’t fixable so it’s a matter of moving on and trying to avoid the, um, difficult bits. It does rather dovetail with my current hero’s views...

I had intended to be a bit naughty – but I checked online first, and surprisingly I’m not tempted by the new Radley signature bag. Thing is, it doesn’t make me drool, the way the racing car one did. (And the hot air balloon one. And the teatime one with the little dinky cups. Oh, all right - and the lovely, lovely, ‘could be a Norfolk beach’ one I’m currently using.)

I haven’t talked myself into the très expensive ice cream maker, either. Given that my car service is due next week, I really need to behave; and DH also made me do a cost-benefit analysis and admit that it would take between two and three years for it to start saving us money, so it’s probably not worth it.

And then I discovered that Radley has a new range of sunglasses. Something I’ve been wishing for them to produce, ever since they started doing scarves last year. OK, so they’re… well, Radley-priced. But they’re marginally cheaper than replacing the RayBans that Kleptodog chewed… and oh, they’re pretty. If you want to look, they’re here – I like the black ones. Even more than I like these ones, which are the same as the ones Kleptodog chomped a year or so back. DH just sighed and said he’d sub me for the Radley ones for Christmas. However, a) I don’t want to wait that long (asking someone with ADHD to wait is pretty pointless; we can’t do it), and b) I have other ideas for my Christmas pressie. I’d like a linkabord kit with a book on growing my own veg, and some packets of seeds. And maybe a strawberry barrel. DH is not going to give in on the greenhouse issue, but I’m fairly sure he agreed to a raised bed, earlier in the summer. (Though that was before the sticky brown stuff hit the fan. He may need re-persuasion.)

Plans for today: both children start their new schools, so I need to take pics as promised for grandparents, godparents and aunties. Am sure the kids will be fine and will be all bubbly when I pick them up, but I’m also pretty sure that I’m going to spend most of the day having anxious Mummy moments and hoping they’ve settled.

I also have a lot of work to do on the book, so have arranged to skip guitar this week. Hoping that my characters behave and do what I ask... But in the meantime am trying a new way of working. Writing it in note form, then going back to format it properly, fill in the gaps and polish. So far, I quite like it.

Monday, September 01, 2008

new month and a change… I hope!

Current work: nonfic; MH duo book 2
Listening to: Nick Drake
Reading: The Bride Hunter, Amy Appleton (enjoying so far)

Am very glad it’s September. Not because I want the kids back at school tomorrow – we haven’t had time to do half the things we’d planned to do – but because life in August was utter, utter pants.

Today it’s a new month. And hopefully a new beginning.

Actually, it’s started in a very surreal fashion. I was taking a break from the current book yesterday (which, thank God, has started to flow) and thought I’d see if there were any new reviews of my current releases. (Yes, I know. This is a STUPID thing to do because I admit that, like many authors, I do take it personally if the review’s a bit meh.)

And I discovered this fanfiction stuff.

It was written in Portuguese and the ‘shipper’ chose Harry Potter as the hero and Hermione as the heroine. OK, so far – not my characters. BUT… the credits also state that the original story is adapted from Strictly Legal (aka Atração ardente - or in the US Mistress on Trial) by Kate Hardy. I had a quick look through, and although I don’t speak Portuguese I could make out the gist of it. Yep, my book.

I think I’m flattered. (They’ve certainly said nice things about me in the reviews… I did go to Babelfish to translate ‘Eu li o romance da Kate Hardy, é ótimo’ – and it came out as ‘I read the romance of Kate Hardy. It is excellent.’) But there is the question of legality. Fanfic, where someone makes up a new story using someone else’s characters, I can understand. There is creativity involved. But simply doing a search and replace on names, using someone else’s story? Hmm. Not so sure about that one. Even though it does say 'not for profit'...

The new Radley signature bag comes out today. Unfortunately, DH saw the email from my favourite supplier. I have husbandly instructions to behave. Even more unfortunately, my daughter is a complete and utter grass, so if I do manage to see it and I like it... the chances of sneaking it into the house and pretending I've had it for ages are pretty slim. Mutter, mutter. Might go bookshopping instead.