Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Nicola Marsh - cover reveal!

I'm thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for my friend Nicola Marsh's new book!

Good girls finish last? Screw that.

Being a small town girl isn’t so bad. Unless Mom’s the town joke and I’ve spent my entire life shying away from her flamboyance. College in Las Vegas should be so much cooler. But it’s not. Bad things happen there. Real bad.

So when my big brother Reid offers me an all-expenses paid vacation to Australia for a month, I am so there. Discounting the deadly snakes on the outback cattle station, I should be safe. Until I meet Jack.

Jack defines bad boy and then some. And the guy can cook. He’s big, buffed, bronzed, and hotter than any guy I’ve ever met. And his sexy Aussie accent makes me melt.

But he’s my brother’s new bestie and he lives on the other side of the world. There’s no future for us.
Is there?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Half term...

Current work: working on M&B #60 (Medical – tropical medicine) and two or three other projects
Listening to: Beethoven
Reading: Sleigh Bells in the Snow, Sarah Morgan (loved it – great characters, great warmth, great dialogue, a puppy to die for and an ice waterfall – can’t wait for the next in the series), The Tycoon’s Secret Daughter and Nanny for the Millionaire’s Twins (enjoyed very much), The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton (liked it so much I bought the rest of her backlist – HOW did I miss this when it came out? Beautifully written)
Gym: cardio – intervals (2m run, 1m walk, for 20mins) on the treadmill, Kilimanjaro on the stepper, and ‘random’ on the cross-trainer

Half term. We survived the big storm yesterday (thankfully it wasn’t as harsh as predicted), and we’ve started birthday celebrations for Youngest with a night out bowling (and breakfast out this morning at Frank’s bar – terribly decadent of us, and the food was excellent. Ditto the coffee, and the staff were lovely). The end of last week turned out to be a bit on the pricey side, with a replacement washing machine, two new tyres and a vet visit on Friday… but at least my old boy seems a bit more comfortable, and I can stop worrying about his heart murmur (at least for a couple of weeks).

This week means birthday celebrations – and I also have a couple of books out this week. More of which later!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Twilight Race for Life

So yesterday was the 5km Twilight Race for Life, raising funds for cancer research in Norwich at the Showground. I’ve never done anything like this in my life before so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s a cause very close to my heart. I lost my mum to cancer, as well as other family and friends, and yesterday was my friend and former agent Dorothy Lumley’s funeral, so the timing of the race was bittersweet. We were SO lucky with the weather because it stayed dry.

My wonderful daughter Chloe agreed to do it with me – despite the fact that she hates sport – and I really appreciated the support. Thank you to everyone who sponsored us.

We ended up walking to the Showground from Sainsbury’s as we had to drop son off for his shift at work first, and the traffic was a bit sticky so we were worried about being late… AND I forgot the glowsticks! Arrgh.

I had a lump in my throat when we walked in at the ‘entrance’ and there were little lanterns in people’s memory – a very simple but effective idea, a bag you can write a message on with sand to weight it down and a glowstick to light it. We did one for my mum and for Dot, my friend and former agent whose funeral was on the RfL day. (They did glow - I had to take this with a flash because the one without a flash didn't work well!)

I wasn’t just running for my mum and Dot, though – this is a global thing, and my friend and fellow author Amy Andrews in Australia lost her mum to the disease (and sponsored me – thanks, Amy!), so I was running for Sandra Baxter as well.

There were nearly a thousand of us last night – some running amazingly fast (especially in the dark – that threw me a bit and slowed me down), some running with dogs in coats covered with flashing lights, some walking with small children, and some pushing wheelchairs. All of us were there because we’d been touched by cancer and we wanted to make a difference. So many, many people commemorated on those sheets on people’s backs. (Again, not the best pic, but it was either slow speed with no flash, or a lot of blobs of light! I hope this gives you an idea of the atmosphere.)

There were glowsticks available to everyone. There was also a stall selling flashy things and, once Chloe had seen how outrageously a lot of people were dressed, she agreed to pink fluffy, flashing tiaras to humour me :o) (Well, hey, you can’t let cancer take your sense of humour as well.)

Heart FM were in charge of entertainments, and we became world record holders last night because we were the biggest group ever to make their ‘heart’ sign. And then it was a zumba warm-up (that was great) and time to do the run. The runners went first – we’re not that fast (and hadn’t had time to do the training for running the whole lot), so we joined the next group, the joggers; and then it was the walkers. The course basically went through the whole showground, through the barns, round the back, and then we doubled back on ourselves.

The end was amazing, with people cheering us on and people with those big foam hands giving us high fives. (DH was yelling at us near the finish line but we couldn't see him - all we could focus on was getting to that line.)

And then we were handed a bottle of water and a Race for Life medal.

We finished in 50 minutes, which is an overall pace of 6km an hour. At the gym, I do intervals of 5mph and 3mph (ha – normally just for 15 minutes, so this was a lot longer!), which averages out at 4mph. So I guess an overall speed of 6kmh isn’t too far off, especially given that it was dark. 409 calories. (Well, hey – course I had the Polar on.)

Thank you to everyone who sponsored us. I hope we did you proud. And you’re all stars because together we’ve raised the best part of £1000 (if you include giftaid). That’s pretty amazing and it’s going to make a difference. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support.

Mum, Dot and Sandra – I hope we did you proud, too. And sleep tight. You’ll never be forgotten xxx

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A day at M&B (aka London trip #4)

Current work: working on M&B #60 (Medical – tropical medicine) and two or three other projects
Listening to: All Time Low (borrowed from daughter)
Reading: The Sweetheart Bargain, Shirley Jump (fantastic, with a comic creation to rival Grandma Mazur); The Billionaire’s Matchmaker (anthology – Shirley Jump, Barbara Wallace, Susan Meier and Jackie Braun – loved it); The Disappearance of Emily Marr, Louise Candlish (very well done and I didn’t see the twist coming at all!); partway though The Sweetness of Forgetting by Kristin Harmel (enjoying so far)
Gym: day off to recover from London (six hours of train travel yesterday, and I am middle-aged and need travel recovery time nowadays!)

Yesterday was (ahem) my fourth trip to London in two months. Yesterday was because my editor asked me to go and meet Barbara Vey from Publishers’ Weekly and do an interview.

Going to Richmond means a three-hour train journey each way, so I decided to refill the well rather than work. (Insert rave about how brilliant it is to have an e-reader instead of having to carry at least three decent-sized paperbacks around for said train journey…) So this is my ‘desk’ on the train. (NB first class travel doesn’t cost that much more than second class if you book it in advance, and it’s a lot easier on my hearing.)

And this is Romance HQ, i.e. Eton House on Paradise Road.

Barbara Vey was totally charming and a very kind interviewer (apart from her last question, which caught me a bit on the hop! … but I’m not giving any spoilers, here). It was lovely to meet her, and to catch up with my mates Sarah Morgan and Fiona Harper (albeit very briefly). (LTR Sarah Morgan, Carole Mortimer, Barbara Vey, Fiona Harper, me)

It was also lovely to catch up with the editorial and production team. Especially as I got to meet Carolyn from the production team, whom I’ve worked with for many years (I used to be one of the freelancers for the team, before A Baby of Her Own was accepted), but it’s the first time one of my visits has coincided with her days in the office.

I guess everyone thinks that when a romance novelist goes to see her publisher, champagne is involved. It doesn’t happen every time (!), but it did yesterday. (I might also add that Jo Grant and I had been talking about my weightlifting at the M&B party a couple of weeks ago, so I lifted her up – despite the fact she’s a gazillion miles taller than I am. I’m not sure which of us was more amused by it, though she got to Twitter first, LOL – and there could well be a new sport of editor-lifting ;) )

This is me with the Meds team – ltr Charlotte, Sheila (senior Medicals ed and my editor), me and Laurie.

And then it was lunch with my lovely ed at Jamie’s, and discussion about the next year’s books.

And then back home. I’m having a day off from the gym today as I’m shattered from travelling (haaa – might have to admit I’m middle-aged now) and also still recovering from a bug. It’s the Twilight Race for Life on Friday, and I need to be in a fit state for that, so I’m going a little gently right now. Sadly, my friend and former agent Dot Lumley – one of the people for whom I’m running – passed away last week, and her funeral’s actually on the day of the race. It’s kind of a fitting tribute, but Friday’s going to be a very sad day. (And if you’d like to sponsor me and my daughter – even if it’s £1 or the price of a cup of coffee – the link to our page is - no pressure, especially as there's a recession on, and if you can’t sponsor us then please just wish us speed on the night.)