Friday, July 30, 2010

adding an extra dimension to a book

Current work: still in vacanza…

One of the things I really enjoy is reading a book while I’m actually in the place where it’s set. Back in April, I read Marina Fiorato’s ‘The Glassblowers of Murano’ in Venice, and I could literally see where the action took place. It added a whole new dimension to the book, and I had great fun location-spotting.

Now, most of the people who come to read my blog are readers and writers. So my question today is: do you do this, too, and what's the most memorable book you've read while visiting its setting?

(I will have more to say about this next week. Robert Harris’s 'Pompeii' was on this week's reading pile. Pics and thoughts on that when normal service is resumed next week...)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Current work: still in vacanza…

Craft tip: Author Elizabeth Bailey (who’s published 18 historical romances with M&B and a mainstream that made the Booker list in 2005, as well as doing critiques for the RNA New Writers’ Scheme for more than 15 years) is offering a new mentoring service. More info from Liz at :o)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Voices and a workshop

Mills & Boon are running an amazing competition in September. To find out all about it, go and have a look on their website.

Caroline Anderson and I will be running a workshop in at the library in Diss on 18 August in the evening (exact time tbc - sorry, I will know this when normal service is resumed next week). It’ll be all about writing for M&B. To book a place, call 01379 642 609.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Current work: in vacanza

Now I finally have copies of my 42nd M&B (yes, really – shocked me too that it’s that many!) in my hot little hands, I thought I’d share the blurb with you. (And – I suppose because authors have to pimp their books – it will be available from the M&B website next week. You can also get it post-free worldwide from The Book Depository.)
Oh, and have I mentioned that I'm really chuffed with the Eiffel Tower on the cover? (It's gone from the US edition. And I'm still trying to persuade Amazon that there is NO WAY they have managed to sell copies of a book that isn't published for another five months, so could they please change the status from 'unavailable' to 'pre-order'...)

Her head says no!
Yes, Xavier Lefèvre was still the most gorgeous guy Allegra had ever met. If it were possible, he’d got even tastier with age! But everything has changed since that long, hot summer affair years ago. This time it’s strictly business – like it or not they both own the vineyard, and she isn’t going to see Xavier her piece of the label!

But her body screams yes!
Now she has two months to prove to him she’ll make a great partner, and to persuade herself she doesn’t need him in her bed. Yet who is she kidding? Even the thought is far too tempting, far too delicious…

Monday, July 26, 2010

The song of the book...

Current work: in vacanza

Amazing how you can get to the end of a book, thinking you know the soundtrack, and then discover a different ‘song of the book’ right at the end. At the beginning, I thought the song was was Athlete’s ‘Chances’. Halfway through, I realised it was Mama Cass (unless my ed makes me cut the scene, this is the song my hero’s listening to at the gym when he realises that he loves the heroine, and almost falls off the treadmill).

And then, for some reason. I had Michael Bublé running through my head. Great song, great video. And (until the hero realises that the heroine is indeed The One) this is what he thinks for most of the book…

Add in Vivaldi (the double cello concerto gets a mention, especially for Nancy), and that’s the music of the book :o)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Current work: not – am taking the next 10 days off to recharge batteries etc

So there I was at 4.30 this morning. (It must be so annoying if you’re an owl and you live with a lark. Just as it’s annoying if you’re a lark whose other half is an owl who shuts bedroom windows very sneakily. Cough.) Toddled down to my desk, and tidied up the manuscript. Last readthrough.

And now it is done. (Well, until I get revisions on it.)

But I’m taking time off to recharge my batteries. (There will still be blog posts over the next week, so am not completely deserting my desk… but it’s the summer holidays, no school, and it’s time to chill.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

lovely review (and is it Wednesday?)

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: (too busy writing but have wonderful TBR pile)

Wednesday – at least, I think it’s Wednesday. Two days until the end of term. Two days until deadline (well, it might be finished Friday night).

So far, this week, I’ve written a big chunk of book; phoned my ISP several times because my broadband was off; paid tax bill and other bills due next week; advised bank that there may be transactions in Italy; oh, and did I mention that I’ve written LOTS?

Also had an email from lovely Julie at Cataromance with a fab review of Neurosurgeon… and Mum!

What she says is:

A poignant tale that will pluck at your heartstrings and have you reaching for the tissues Neurosurgeon…and Mum! is another stellar romance from Kate Hardy’s talented pen. Featuring a heroine women can relate to, a realistic, honorable and admirable hero, a wonderfully rendered setting, authentic medical detail, heart-wrenching pathos and stirring romance, Neurosurgeon…and Mum! is spellbinding tearjerker readers will want to read again and again. Written with plenty of sensitivity, understanding and heart, Neurosurgeon…and Mum! is latest winner by this outstanding storyteller!

And you can read the whole review here.

Thank you, Julie, for making my day.

Plans for rest of day: write lots, visit Dad, buy proper coffee and a large bar of chocolate (depending on how the visit goes) and write lots.

Oh, and write lots. :o)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday July 19 – deadline zombie

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: Jan Morris, Venice (aka research)

Today I am in deadline zombie mode, after a weekend of intense writing and nowhere near enough sleep (thanks to the muggy nights and fact I live with an owl who sneakily closes the window so our bedroom heats up and I end up wide awake at 3.30am and can’t get back to sleep – I foresee a big hissy fit in the very near future). The Venice book has to be off my desk this week because this is the last week of term and I have, ahem, other commitments next week. Also means I have to cancel nice things this week such as my guitar lesson and an afternoon in the Patisserie with a friend - time is not on my side this week.

Those who were at my talk at the RNA conf – yup, hoist by my own petard :o) I planned this to be a tortoise book, but I keep forgetting that I’m middle-aged now, so travelling and lack of sleep take it out of me a tad more than they did when I was 25. Hence this is now a hare book, and I am back on caffeine (albeit proper coffee rather than instant, and only ONE cup first thing after the school run – I will go back to decaf/tea in the second week of the school holidays). And I’ve bought some ‘magic cooling spray’ to help deal with the muggy nights (please, please, let it work).

Because I’m a in deadline zombie mode, posts are going to be a bit intermittent this week, and they will be completely nonexistent next week. Normal service will be resumed next month, along with piccies of some rather interesting subjects :o) Until then, please bear with me. Because I'm a deadline zombie...

Friday, July 16, 2010

who do you write like?

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: Jan Morris, Venice (aka research)

My mate and fellow M&B Maggie Kingsley is a Really Bad Influence. She sent me a link to this site where you can paste in the first few paragraphs of your book and see who you write like. She came out as Margaret Atwood (one of my faves), so I thought I’d see how I did.

French duo book 2 (Champagne with a Celebrity) came out as J D Salinger (cool). French duo book 1 (Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex) came out as William Gibson – not a name I knew, but the Sydney Morning Herald calls him ‘the “noir prophet" of the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction’. Considering that my first ever novel (obviously unpublished and unfortunately thrown out more than 35 years ago – yup, I was indeed in single figures age-wise at the time) was SF, that’s quite nice.

OK. Let’s be really smug and see how the award-winning book did. Breakfast at Giovanni’s came out as… um… Dan Brown. (I’m taking that as meaning that I write popular fiction with lots of dialogue and a fast pace. Something that literary snobs really dislike. Yup, that’d be category romance, then. Brown isn’t my thing, but not through literary snobbery; his style isn’t to my taste because I like a tad more humour and a bit more introspection.)

The French duo both have more introspective beginnings than Gio. As does the Venetian book, which – draft version – comes out as Neil Gaiman. Oh, yesss! Fangirl squee here. I like Gaiman’s writing very much - and have been privileged to copyedit some of it. (I should add it was flawless and the only pen I needed to put on the page was to mark it up for the printer re typography – which I can’t say for many authors I’ve copyedited.) Am really looking forward to his Dr Who episode next year. (And if you want to know more about Neil Gaiman, he has a super essay on where he gets his ideas over on his website – I really enjoyed reading this. He comes across as a really nice bloke as well as a good writer.)

OK. So the site’s telling me I’m an SF writer manqué. Given the dreams I’ve been having this week, that’s probably not far off. What about my Medical Romances? Um… the Penhally book I've just had accepted came out as Arthur C. Clarke. (Are you seeing a pattern, here? Dear ed. How about I write some SF Medical romance? Oh, wait. We’ve already had the Regency Doctor conversation recently.)

My blog came out as James Joyce. (Hmm. So is it telling me that I ramble? I know I overuse parentheses and ellipses. Cough. Note to self, remember what annoys you about Joyce and stop doing it.)

Actually (whispers) I think I write like Kate Hardy…

Ha. It’s fun. And you know you want to do it. The link is Come back and tell me who you write like!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Bach (all right, so I'm messing about with my guitar while I think about hacking the current book to bits and restructuring)
Reading: Jan Morris, Venice (aka research)

I am having a week of planning things. My meeting earlier in the week went really well and I have a review meeting booked for September; my internet connect works again (hooray); and today after school we go to pick up our tickets and I can officially start being excited (as well as panicking how I’m going to fit everything in before then). Oh, and Easyjet are going to pay *some* of our expenses. (Funny, I thought we’d agreed that a fortnight ago, but nothing went into my bank account; apparently you have to go through more emails and eventually use the words ‘county court’ before they tell you they’ve authorised it. As for refusing to pay for tickets because, although they have date and time stamped on them, the price isn't printed and the price list from the internet isn't good enough... Snort. Customer care? Even Ryanair would do better!)

I’m also planning something nice for September: am going to the M&B authors’ lunch and then, as it’s on a Friday, staying with my bestest friend for the weekend and we’re going to the Gielgud Theatre to see ‘Yes, Prime Minister’. It will be a huge treat to see a West End play. I used to be a ‘friend’ of our local theatre and went twice a month – but that was pre-kids, when I had the time and funds to do it. (Worked out the same as if I’d gone pubbing and clubbing twice a month instead, which has never appealed to me in any case - would much rather find a quiet wine bar or restaurant and enjoy good company and conversation that I can actually hear!)

More plans for October half term. Madam and I want to stay in a particular hotel because it’s pretty, it’s old, and it’s in a really nice bit of Paris. I showed DH the pics on the net the other night, and I think he knew I was going to let Madam loose on him (all she has to do is bat her eyes and say, ‘Daddy, I love you,’ and he is utter mush… except on the subject of puppies), so he has agreed to it – hopefully we can book it tonight at the travel agent’s when we pick up our tickets.

Son has mentioned that he’d rather like to see London lit up at night (he really liked my pics of Greenwich in the evening), so I reckon maybe February half term for that - and maybe a boat trip in the evening.

I know, I know, Burns is absolutely right about the best-laid of mice and men. (Hmm – note to self, on that topic: would Son enjoy Steinbeck? Or will it make him rant as much as it made me do about man's inhumanity to man?) I hope things don’t ‘gang agley’ for us. But when I know some tough times lie ahead, planning nice things in between is my way of dealing with it. Dad was very confused yesterday and was talking to non-existent people again rather than to me; and I’m also pretty sure he didn’t know who I was for most of the time I was there. He kept asking why I wasn’t at work. I reminded him that I’m his daughter who writes books and sets her own working hours, but he didn’t look as if he believed me. When I left, he asked me if I was going to pick up the children from school, so clearly he remembers that bit. But the rest of it... It’s a very long, very slow and very painful goodbye. Breaks my heart that he can't even enjoy music any more. Poor Dad.

Now I’d better go and write some stuff to pay for said plans…

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conference, part 3

Current work: Venice book (but today is swapped with Tuesday…)
Listening to: Corelli (and drinking caffeinated coffee because it’s “Tuesday” and I bought nice coffee for Jim to say thanks for sorting me out)
Reading: Soon. Soon. Soon it will stop being so hot that my head is imploding.

Sunday, it was a question of packing and then having breakfast with Nicola and Sarah in Starbucks (did I mention how much I love having breakfast out? That's a rare treat) and chatting to Susan (iPad testing!).

Then it was time for the first session at 9 - Julie Cohen's talk on character. (For me, that was the book after next – which I think has to be a Greenwich book. My dog-in-disguise book. Thanks, Julie.)

A quick break for tea and bacon sandwiches (well, not me, too nervous to eat - thank you, lovely Katie Fforde for putting milk in my tea for me, because otherwise I would have spilled it everywhere) and it was my turn to talk. Jean Fullerton did a sterling job of introducing me. (And Kate Walker did a sterling job of taking pics for me - thanks, Kate.)

Actually, I really enjoyed doing it. "The Planner's Guide to Creativity" was about time management and creative brainstorming, and several people said afterwards that they found it helpful. They might've just been kind but I'm hoping that everyone something home that was useful (either as "this can work for me" or "this can't work AT ALL for me" - in a way that made them think about a different way that would work), then I'd be happy I did my job. [Extra note here to those who wanted the notes, please email me again because lovely BT engineer did the trick yesterday. BT ate 29 out of 36 emails on Sunday night, so if I haven't replied to you, it means that you were eaten...]

Then Katie Fforde introduced our guest speaker.

Joanna Trollope was our keynote speaker and her speech gave me food for thought.

Then it was lunch in the courtyard (and it was lovely to sit in a shady nook and chat with Jenny Haddon, Louise Allen and Natalie Rivers - and most especially with fabulous Lizzie Lamb, who let me grill her for research purposes and really deserves the dedication she's going to get in the dog-in-disguise book – I shared some of it with husband and kids later and they were utterly charmed).

And then it was time for the bit I really hate - saying goodbye. (Thanks to Liz Fenwick for taking a really nice pic of me with Kate Walker - and we BOTH have our eyes open, which is quite unusual!!)

Then it was time for home. Lovely cool breeze on the DLR, then lugged my book-heavy suitcase through Bank and caught the central line to Liverpool Street. A caramel frappucino cooled me down a bit. Made notes on the train but was just too hot and tired to work on the Venezia book. And wonderful DH and kids met me at the station and took me out to dinner. (All gratifyingly pleased to see me, so clearly they missed me as much as I missed them.)

So, how many times did I ring home? Only three times (OK, OK, so that was per day, and there were texts and emails as well... Well, hey, I miss my husband and children terribly when I'm away, even though I think the conference is great for kickstarting creativity and making you think seriously about your writing and I always enjoy going).

I can't wait for the next one. Jan and Roger always organise fantastic sessions and there's something for everyone, regardless what stage you're at in your career.

And here's to the next 50 years of the RNA. Cheers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Conference, part 2

Current work: Venice book and waiting in for engineer
Listening to: Corelli (and drinking caffeinated coffee…)
Reading: once I’ve had some sleep. Going to have to close my eyes and pick at random as I have lots of good books to choose from…

Saturday, had breakfast in Starbucks with Nicola, Sarah and Natalie, then sorted out my Internet connection on the iPad before going to a really inspiring talk on managing your career by Kate Harrison.

Then it was time for tea, bacon sandwiches and fruit. Had a lovely chat with Tracey (and I'm so sorry for spilling tea over you and the iPad, Tracey!).

After that it was a session on 'things that go bump in the night' by Kim, Maddie and Anna from Mira (and I had quite a few lightbulb moments to put in my ideas file - no, this doesn't mean I'm writing YA but it was interesting and my ideas can be played with and work into... ha ha, if my poor editor is reading this, she's going to worry that I'm going to bang on about my Regency Doctor again. Did that on Friday, next pitch for it will probably be Christmas because I know the answer will still be no).

After lunch (a very nice buffet) there was a talk about what constitutes a page-turning book by Tessa, Sally and Carly from M&B - OK, so I've been writing for them for nearly 9 years now, but it's always useful to hear your publisher's views on the future of the genre and what readers want.

By this point I was flagging a bit - it was SO hot that my head had stopped functioning - and my partners in crime were feeling the same (even if Nicola and I are smiling broadly here).

So we agreed to go and have a wander round the painted hall. This is the exterior.

Inside, under the dome:

Inside, the hall itself - this is ALL paint, not sculpture:

After Trafalgar, Nelson's body lay in state there for three days. Of course, as he's a local boy and I have a soft spot for him, I had to seek out the commemorative stone.

Couldn't resist an arty shot. (But I was good. I took only one pic of the wedding that was going on outside, very unobtrusively, because it was a lightbulb moment.)

Trinity College of Music is next to the painted hall, and we heard some Rachmaninov being played beautifully as we walked past (and started walking REALLY slowly so we could enjoy the music). Then went back through Greenwich (via a shoe shop for Sarah, and an ice cream shop for - well, OK, yes, it was for me) and back to our courtyard for a cup of tea with Nicola and Sarah.

In the evening there was a barbecue, with music by Trinity College. Sat with the M&B eds (who are excellent company, if too glamorous for their own good) and had a great conversation about books and gorgeous men. Oh, and wine was consumed... (Thank you, Kim.)

Had a lovely time catching up with friends, including: Liz Fenwick (another one who's incredibly glamorous, and I LOVE the colour of her top)

Nina Harrington (and this time we actually got a pic together)

Roger Sanderson (and please ignore my chins - look at the lovely necklace I'm wearing instead. Murano glass starfish, bought in Venezia. Guess where that's going to turn up?)

Oh yes, food. I was too busy talking to take food of pics, this time round. The barbecued salmon was really nice, as was the chicken. And the salad. And I was a teensy bit naughty and had some noodle salad, but not that much on the carb front. Resisted the profiteroles and brownies, but watermelon is just perfect on a very hot night.

Anyway, walking back, we noticed how beautiful the sky was. Luckily my mates know that I can't resist sky pictures, so here we go - they can speak for themselves. The first is the Water Gate. And it had just started to cool down... and this has to be where one of my characters lives, right?

Found myself awake at 3am (combination of heat and being unused to sleeping without DH, sad middle-aged puppy that I am) so practised my talk in my head. Was dying for a cup of tea but didn't want to wake everyone on our corridor by being noisy in the kitchen. Finally managed to get back to sleep... and woke up four minutes before the alarm was due to go off. And as for Sunday... come back tomorrow :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Conference, part 1

Current work: Venice book (revising opening in accordance with very wise agent’s views)
Listening to: Corelli (I’m stressed about broadband connection and meetings being shifted in a woolly fashion – as a planner, I like to have things sorted, not drifting)
Reading: grins, I have a huge pile to add to my TBR, as DH discovered when he lifted my suitcase last night…

I had a fantastic time at the conference – I really think this was the best year’s ever. It was lovely to meet new friends (Jane, Susan, Lizzie, Tracey, Rachel) as well as old ones, and I came back fizzing.
Sadly, I also came back to an intermittent broadband connection which ATE ALL MY EMAILS when it cut me off in the middle, so if anyone has emailed me about the conference notes and not had a reply, huge apologies but please email me again because I know 29 of my emails didn’t get through. My “secretary” decided to leave it until I got home and let me sort it out, sigh. Which means my guitar lesson has to be moved so I can see the engineer tomorrow (and possibly Dad's visit, too, sigh); and a meeting I was expecting to have today has to be moved but the other party is being a bit dilatory about setting times… and because I haven’t had much sleep for the last three nights I’m really not enjoying this morning!!
Growling apart (apologies for rant – I am really VERY cross, enough to have bought proper caffeinated coffee), here’s what happened on day 1 of the conference (written offline and the pics might not be spaced properly, but my broadband connection is completely unreliable and is likely to eat everything, so please bear with me. It's taken me three goes to post this already.)

Lovely DH gave me a lift to the station - reminded me of when I was a student and he'd give me a lift to the station on Sunday afternoon (especially as I was off to stay in student accommodation in Greenwich).

Easy trip down - Tower Hill, then across the road (past the Roman wall) to the DLR. I was staying in Devonport House, which is next to the Maritime Museum. Natalie Rivers was already there, waiting for the key to the flats, so it was lovely to see a friendly face.

Then Sarah Morgan, Nicola Cornick, Heidi Rice and Abby Green arrived, so we were all set.

This was my room

which overlooked the courtyard and a rather unusual sculpture.
It was literally two minutes' walk from the centre of Greenwich, so it was very convenient. Walked down to the conference rooms, and the buildings were just MAGNIFICENT.

Registered and picked up my goodie bag (lots of books), cup of tea, then off to my first session. Interesting talk on agents from Carole Blake (who reminded me of my lovely Dot) and then the official welcome from Katie Fforde and celebrations from Jan Jones, including Katie presenting the Joan Hessayon award to Lucy King. (Sorry about blurry pic. Note to self: don't use zoom and switch off flash indoors as the pics end up being grainy on a fast film speed.)

Then it was the panel - with a member who'd joined in each decade. Mary Nichol from the 1960s, Marina Oliver from the 1970s, Jan Jones from the 1980s, Julie Cohen from the 1990s and Jean Fullerton from the 2000s. (In the pic, LTR = Jean, Julie, Marina, Jenny Haddon (as chair), Mary and Jan.)

Very glad that particular room had aircon! From there, it was back to change and glam up for the gala dinner.

The food was great (pate, chicken in a really lovely sauce, Eton mess) - but I forgot to take pics of it because I was, um, too busy talking to glamorous fellow authors (lovely to see Cara, Elaine and Kate there - and to meet Lynne, who'd given me such a fab review for my sheikh book - as well as chatting to Natalie, Abby, Sarah and Heidi - who really does look like a film star here with Abby, and if she wasn't so nice you'd have to hate her for it. If you lot didn't already know I'm short and round, I'd hire her to pretend to be me...).

Saw my lovely editor, who gave me the very welcome news that my plans for next year are all fine, including deadline. Diane Pearson, our president, made a very good speech: and then some of us found a nice cool spot on the balcony, overlooking London by night. Stunning views.

Oh, yes, and at one point a certain Ms Cohen pointed out the effect of the lights on a painting. Of Nelson, too. Tut, Ms Cohen. (And you can see the moment a fellow writer gets a lightbulb, even when she doesn't whip out a notepad and start scribbling it down!)

Friday, July 09, 2010

off to the conference (with new shoes…)

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: probably not on the train, but the iPad is loaded with a lot of music.
Reading: there’s a bookshop at the conference, tra la la la (DH, if you’re reading this, don’t panic – as *if* I would buy lots of books while I’m away)

Righty. I’m really off, now. But I will share a moment of naughtiness with you first.

Y’see, in some respects, I’m not a Proper Romantic Novelist because I just don’t get this thing about shoes. (Pandora bracelets and Radley signature handbags, yes. But shoes? Remember, I am the woman who lives in one pair of flats and has three pairs of going-out shoes.)

But I was buying a new top for the conference gala dinner yesterday when I spied a pair of shoes. And they happened to be in my size. They’re the same colour as my nail varnish. And they were immensely cheap. (As in about a third of the price I usually pay for shoes – I don’t do Jimmy Choos etc, but I buy sensible, well-made leather shoes suitable for a middle-aged mum who does the school run and walks the dog rather less often than she should do.) They are also comfortable. (M&S rocks.)

And if I have girly shoes, it means I don’t have to wear a skirt because the shoes say it all. Right? :o)

So, tonight I am going to be a Proper Romantic Novelist and wear girly shoes. They have the approval of my style guru (where she gets her style gene, I don’t know, because her dad doesn’t have one either, but she’s infallible). And they put a twinkle in DH’s eyes (DH, if you’re squirming, honey, that’s your fault for reading my blog). So I guess they do the job.

Oh, yes. The shoes. Here they be…

Have a nice weekend – I certainly will!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

a proud mummy moment and London-bound

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi and Bach
Reading: next on TBR

First, the proud mummy moment: daughter had a really stellar school report yesterday. (It was pretty much what I expected, actually, but it’s still nice to have your knowledge confirmed: she’s a kind, friendly and popular child, as well as being very good academically. And her teacher praised her creative writing.) Son’s report is due next week and I’m expecting his to be similar. (Well, not the writing. He does films.)

I’m off to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference in Greenwich tomorrow – and I’m so looking forward to it! It’s going to be lovely to meet up with old friends, and also meet new friends (particularly blogging and FB ones – waves to Susan and Lizzie) in the flesh. It’s the RNA’s 50th anniversary this year, so it’s going to be especially good..

Did I mention that I’m a tad excited about this?

Apparently I have seventy people booked to hear my ‘planner’s guide to creativity’ talk on Sunday. Eep. It’s a mix of time management and creative brainstorming, so I’m hoping that people will join in and it will be a fun session. It has potential to be fun, as long as people keep an open mind and don’t feel that this is all about ticking boxes.

Planner vs Pantster? My view is, you do what works for you and don't worry about whether it's the "right way". There is no one right way, just the way that suits you. Experiment. If it doesn’t work for you, never mind; try something else in the future. If it does work for you, then great. At the end of the day, writers all have the same aim: to write a book that really delights their reader. They just go about the business of writing it in different ways, and I’m not sure readers are that bothered by whether you write the book in longhand with a fountain pen on A4 plain paper, in shorthand in pencil in a special lined notebook, or you dictate while lolling on a sofa eating bonbons and waving your feather boa (not that any of the writers I know do that last way - that's a lazy hack's cliché and completely untrue to life). The story’s the main thing.

So why am I a planner? Well, our son has ADHD and our paediatrician says I’m the genetic link. Hmm. I think I’m just a busy person (though one of my friends from uni always introduced me as someone who ‘does six impossible things before breakfast, and that’s at six o’clock’). However, if I don’t write things down, they don’t happen: hence the need for planning. Just because I know what’s going to happen before I write the book, it doesn’t mean that I’m bored with the story or that my characters are two-dimensional (because things change); but if I don’t have the plan to start with, nothing happens. So planning works for me. Plus I happen to like nerdy things, like spreadsheets. If you’re a pantster, kudos to you, because I can’t make it work for me; just as planning takes the freshness out for you. Vive la difference, because the story's the thing. (Am I channeling Hamlet today? No, because I'm not trying to catch anyone's conscience. But, on that topic, I would love to invent a "kindness" pill. Daughter says I would have to sprinkle it on people's food because you can't force people to take it. We both then had the same lightbulb - I have a feeling we'll end up collaborating on a story in the future.)

Things to do today:
  • double-check PowerPoint presentation is on memory stick (and borrow son’s for backup)
  • check have printed out presentation and put highlighter pen over notes and then pack notes
  • pack notebook, teabags, iPad charger and conference details as well as clothes, shoes, toiletries etc
  • charge phone
  • charge camera
  • charge iPad
  • go to cashpoint
  • try to persuade head NOT to work on new idea (agent loves it; editor will if I pitch it properly and don’t scare her the way I did with the reindeer in the Norway book – well, hey, if it’s a Kate Hardy book, everyone knows it will contain something quirky, some really interesting factoids, a weepy bit, and a dog, or at least my spaniel disguised as something else. Hmm. Now there’s an idea. Tell her that it’s about a dog in disguise…)

Busy day, then. And I sound a bit overexcited. Oh, dear. This is like the children, the day before a trip, when they refuse to go to bed because they’re too excited to sleep and they DON’T STOP TALKING. I'm doing the same thing, so I will shut up NOW.

Have a nice weekend, and I will be back next week with a report and piccies from the conference.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

a piece of history and a sea rescue

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi and Bach
Reading: next on TBR

A couple of years ago, I wrote ‘Norfolk Ghosts and Legends’, which included a bit about Langley Abbey. At the time, the Abbey was on private property and wasn’t open to the public. But there was a feature in the local paper on Saturday, so I talked DH and the kids into going. (I’m taking a sabbatical from the history books, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost interest in them. Just that I'm taking a break to sort out other projects.)
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So here are the abbey remains.

And after that, we ended up… here.

Actually, there was a bit of drama at the beach. I’d flopped on the sand (too hot to move) and the kids are old enough to be sensible, so they walked down to the sea – and came running back, saying that someone was drowning. DH went back to the sea with them to find out what was going on, ready to call the emergency services, and a minute or so later a policeman came by, and asked me if I’d seen someone doing martial arts on the beach. Er, no, but my children just ran up to say someone’s drowning and my husband’s gone back with them – he might’ve called the emergency services. DH and the kids were on their way back to me at this point, so son told the policeman exactly what he’d seen and where, to help locate the missing man. It turns out that several people had already called the emergency services, and within a couple of minutes we saw the lifeboat speeding over to the spot where the man had last been seen. They left pretty soon after they arrived, so clearly they found him, but we haven’t seen any reports in the local paper. I do hope the poor man was OK.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

new covers (a squee moment)

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi and Bach
Reading: next on TBR

Finally the new covers are up on Amazon! I’m very pleased with the one for Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex; just as I’d hoped, it has the Eiffel Tower, which is a big clue that it’s set in Paris.

But the cover I’m really thrilled with is that of the perfume book, Champagne with a Celebrity, which is out in October (well, it’s out mid-September, but the official publication date is October).

This is the first new-style Modern Heat cover, and I’m so excited about it – I think it’s really evocative. And (at risk of sounding completely narcissistic, but writers will know what I mean about this) it's a huge thrill to have my name larger than the title on a UK edition. Yippee!

Plan for today: guitar lesson, visit Dad, write more of book, ice ankle (did something to it at the weekend and that is NOT good timing, either for the RNA conf this weekend where I will have to wear posh shoes on Saturday night, or for Sorrento, where I am planning to do a fair bit of walking - am hoping that ice and elevation, plus wearing supportive trainers all week instead of scuffing around in flats, will fix it in time)

Monday, July 05, 2010

elsewhere today

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi and Bach
Reading: Sarah Morgan, One Night… Nine Months’ Scandal – enjoyed very much and there are some great levelling moments for the hero…

I’m doing something very English today – talking about the weather. All right, I’m moaning about the sticky heat and asking for good advice about how to keep rooms cool (our portable aircon unit is not as effective as I’d hoped). So if you have thoughts on beating the heat, please go over to the eHarlequin Medical Authors blog and share. I would be MOST grateful!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Publication day

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: next on TBR

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s publication day – I have a new book out in the UK. (US and Aussie readers - it's with you next month.)

‘Neurosurgeon… and Mum!’ is set in one of my favourite parts of the world, i.e. the north Norfolk coast. It’s a fictional town that’s a kind of amalgam of Cromer, Brancaster and Wells-next-the-Sea.

There’s a dog (no surprises, there – this one’s a Labrador, but we all know who said dog really is. I borrowed his name from my neighbour’s mum’s Springer – which reminds me, must give her a copy). There’s also a character who isn’t supposed to be there and is almost hidden – my Regency Doctor. I toned him down hugely for the book, but we know he’s going to get his own story one day. Historical medical romance isn’t an option, sadly – unless I start writing for yet another line, and I don’t have enough hours in the day as it is – but one day…

The neurosurgery bit? Something that fascinates me. When I was researching this, I discovered gamma knife surgery. Oh, yessie. Fascinating stuff. Again, my ed made me tone it down (and quite rightly, too – my research showed far too much).

There’s also some baking. Strawberries are definitely involved. (And home made strawberry ice cream.) All things I like to do with my little girl. But my little girl is much more confident than Perdy. (If you’re into analysis: then, yes, I chose Perdita’s name for a very good reason. It sums up her situation, and that of her father.)

It’s a weepie, but there’s some fun stuff in there, too. And if you go back to Monday’s post, you’ll get to see exactly what my characters see when they take the dog to their beach.

I love publication day. And I might just have to nip into town this morning to see my book on the shelves… (Dear ed. I am working. Time for thought, and then fingers on keyboard. Really…)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

eh? Where did June go?

Current work: Venice book
Listening to: Vivaldi
Reading: Mira Sperl, A Wild Fling or a Wedding Ring? (Lovely debut - gorgeous hero! An author to watch, and I’m not just saying that because she’s one of my writer mates)

It’s July already? What happened to June? Seems as if the month has passed in the blink of an eye.

Yesterday was a wipeout as I was so tired, I could barely string words together. So I skived off, had a bit of a nap to get rid of a sleep-deprivation headache, and read my stablemate Mira’s debut (and enjoyed it very much). I did manage to get some sleep last night, so today is back to work (albeit outside, because it feels a bit fresher there. Do I take my office chair with me, or is that overkill?).

Daughter had a fine time at the UEA yesterday and is desperate to do lots of kitchen science now. (Hilarious, as this is just the kind of stuff I put in the book that was accepted this week – and yup, we’ll be doing the science stuff because it’s fun.) She’s off to the Norfolk Show today (our county’s agricultural show) as her class is playing samba music. She has a packed lunch, water, a sunhat, suncream and money for extra drinks/ice cream, so she should be set for a fun day. (And some of it will fit into topic work, i.e. the agricultural side of it, so it’s not just a jolly.)

Righty. Off to make myself some jasmine tea and stick a slice of lime in some iced water – and to my temporary office while I think myself in Venezia.