31 October 2008


Is anyone signing up for this or even better, the eHarlequin version? Write a novel in a month? Piece of cake... Umm...

I scribbled down some very sketchy characters yesterday, but at the moment have no plot and only the vaguest of opening scenes. I get the feeling it's going to be a bit like speeding down the motorway having taken only a couple of driving lessons - utter madness!!

28 October 2008

Persephone Books

Two of the novels in my TBR pile are published by Persephone Books, which has been reprinting forgotten classics by twentieth-century (mostly women) writers since 1999.

This is what their website says:

Persephone prints mainly neglected fiction and non-fiction by women, for women and about women. The titles are chosen to appeal to busy women who rarely have time to spend in ever-larger bookshops and who would like to have access to a list of books designed to be neither too literary nor too commercial. The books are guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget.

Our titles include novels, short stories, diaries and cookery books. They are all carefully designed with a clear typeface, a dove-grey jacket, a 'fabric' endpaper and bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper, Adam Gopnik, and Jacqueline Wilson.

The books are gorgeous, and just look at the shop! I haven't yet had a chance to visit, but can so imagine a little bubble of tranquility in north London. Even though the books may be a tad more expensive, I'd far rather buy them from somewhere like here than one of the giant chainstores. What about you?

27 October 2008

Early Christmas present

I have just one word. Spooks.

Ok, one word isn't enough. It's back. Tonight. Rupert Penry Jones AND Richard Armitage... How will we cope? Monday evening TV has never looked so good!

26 October 2008

Chicklit and classics

Madame Bovary arrived in the post yesterday morning. My Amazon deliveries usually contain lovely bubblegum paperbacks with handbags and jaunty heroines on the cover. For years I've lived on a literary diet of chicklit and I've probably acquired enough to open a second-hand bookshop.

But recently I've been craving something else. It started at the RNA conference in July. One of the workshops was on the influence of Shakespeare on romantic fiction and as the floor opened up to comments and questions, I realised that I have a gaping hole where my knowledge of classical literature should be.

While I do love biographies of 19th century adventuresses, Oscar Wilde and inter-war authors like Evelyn Waugh, F Scott Fitzgerald and PG Wodehouse, most of the classic novels have somehow slipped me by. School ruined Hardy and Harper Lee by making us analyse The Mayor of Casterbridge and To Kill a Mockingbird to death. But Balzac, Woolf, Dickens etc? All unchartered territory.

This, I feel, is wrong; it's a blip in my education. Consequently, my to-be-read pile has become a rather eclectic mix. It currently includes:

Good Evening, Mrs Craven by Mollie Panter Downes
Faberge's Eggs by Toby Faber
Madame Bovary by Flaubert

Instead of reading only for enjoyment I'm now going to try and Improve My Mind as well, which may be a struggle given how densely-packed the text is in Cousin Bette.

I'm starting with Madame Bovary. Wish me luck.

What's on your TBR pile?

22 October 2008

Parallel universe

One of the reasons I love writing and reading category romance (apart from the glamorous settings and gorgeous men) is the sheer escapism from the mundanities every day life. Obviously the hero is so fabulously wealthy that he has someone to clean his houses and fill his fridges for him, but have you ever read a romance novel where the heroine stacks the dishwasher, does the laundry or takes the rubbish out? And has any hero ever snored? I wonder...

19 October 2008


Yesterday I wrote a 1000 words of my WIP and drafted a post for the iheartspresents site.

My reward for this burst of wordy activity was going to be admiring Rafael Nadal's forehand and oogling his biceps in the final of the Madrid Masters this afternoon. But, rather unsportingly, he's out. So here's a picture of him and his biceps instead. All in the name of research of course...

[picture deleted]

Pretty impressive, don't you think?

17 October 2008

Itchy fingers

I'm missing my hero and heroine. They've been stuck in a clinch in a torchlit patio since the end of September and they must be getting cold. No news from my editor yet, but it's no good, I can't resist - I'm going to have to get back to the story this weekend.

15 October 2008

Back to the 80s Part 2

While staying with my parents recently, I found my collection of Mills & Boons tucked away in the attic. It's quite a stash. As a teenager I devoured as many as I could. There are hundreds, none of which I have read since I was about 17.

Interested to see how they were written back then, I picked up Dark Betrayal by Patricia Lake which was published in 1986. Initially the book reads like a novel from today: the language is non-jargony, the characters are largely believable - no unpleasantly aggressive hero nor annoyingly passive heroine - and there are even glimpses of the hero's point of view.

But there are differences, and blimey, do they stand out. Firstly, the plot hinges on a Big Misunderstanding, which of course is now a big no no. The heroine finds another woman in the hero's bed, (he's in the shower), storms out and doesn't clap eyes on him until three years later. Nowadays, any self-respecting heroine would charge into the bathroom, demand an explanation and then, on discovering that the hero has no idea what his malicious jealous ward is doing in his bed, would probably hop into the shower with him.

Secondly, all the main characters smoke and knock back scotch, and get this, the heroine finds out she's pregnant, but is still downing champagne a few weeks later at a party. Very 80s and a great read, but I don't think any of this would slip past the editors these days...!

Do you have old favourites and how do they vary from today's M&Bs?

10 October 2008


In my non-writing life, I work for an online language learning company - teaching, training teachers and running marketing and promotional campaigns. The company's based in Switzerland, but the staff are scattered across the globe and we all work remotely via the internet.

It's not only a fab new way to learn a language but also a great excuse for the occasional 'business trip' to get together to discuss 'strategy'.

This afternoon I'm off to see the CEO et al in Berlin. So far the only strategy that's been mentioned is the best way to explore Berlin's nightlife. My kind of strategy.

08 October 2008


I have a lot of IT gadgetry. Among other things, I have an Alphasmart and an eee pc, bought in the foolhardy hope that they would channel the muse, that fully-formed sentences and scenes would flow from my brain to my fingers to the page like the Thames beneath its bridges.

And how many words did I write yesterday? 67.

How many did I delete? About 400. I know that sometimes you have to take a step back in order to go forward, but I'm not entirely sure that a decreasing word count is the way to finish a book. So that's it, I'm going to take Lynn's advice, kick up my heels and wait until I hear from my editor.

07 October 2008

Microphone eyes

Did anyone see this, the headlines from last night's BBC News at Ten?

Fast forward to about 35 seconds in and you'll see Gordon Brown making a speech. It only lasts for around 10 seconds but that was long enough to reduce me to fits of giggles. With hindsight, my amusement at his microphone eyes may have been exacerbated by the couple of glasses of wine I'd drunk.

06 October 2008


What to do?

Having now just about come back down to earth after hearing the wonderful news that I'd won the Modern Heat competition, I'm stuck. I think I should be attacking the rest of the novel, but I'm struggling, and I suspect that this will continue until I receive the critique on my first chapter.

As a complete novice to all this, I'm at a loss. Is this normal? Should I battle on through, or should I admit temporary defeat and clean the fridge in the anticipation that once I do hear from my editor (!) and the creative floodgates (hopefully) open, there won't be another chance?

01 October 2008

'Feel the Heat' Competition

OMIGOD I won!!!

The lovely editor at Harlequin Mills & Boon rang yesterday afternoon and I'm still bouncing off the ceiling. And clinging on to the excitement and delirium before the terrifying reality of having to write the rest of the book sets in.

Is a bottle of pink champagne and a new navy glittery eyeshadow an acceptable way to celebrate? I hope so.

Check out the competition results here.