Friday, May 28, 2010

A Bonus

Life is manic but it has it moments when all the effort is worthwhile. I drove to Cornwall on Wednesday - detoured to see dd which was worth it for the huge hug alone. Once in Cornwall I collected a desk for London (nabbed two neighbours to help me shift into the car) then drove back to London yesterday via DS1's school to collect him as he had completed all the exams he had scheduled before half term. Madness - I know.

However as a bank holiday weekend and half term are upon us we know the weather will go downhill and I saw my garden in its full May glory - such a bonus!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The London Launch of Like Bees to Honey

Last night I ventured into North London for the London launch of Caroline Smailes's third book LIKE BEES TO HONEY and what a wonderful night it was. The Big Green Bookshop was packed and buzzing when I arrived with Bridid Coady. My quickly snapped photos don't even begin to capture the atmosphere -I have to say it was a bit like old home week in a very weird way. Why you ask? Well, yes, I knew a few of the people from elsewhere (Julia Williams and Brigid from the RNA for example and a wonderful group of Novel Racers past and present - Cathy W, Helen, Kev, Tali....) but I knew so many people from Twitter. There were a few squeals and oh my God going around all over the place as in flesh connections were made - it was brilliant. The only time silence descended on the room was when Caroline read beautifully from the book. (I have to say I always hear her voice when I read her words - the rhythm and tone of her voice is perfect for her words).

Below where possible I have identified people in the photos. (If I haven't named and shamed you and you'd like to be please let me know or if I have and I have missed you up or misspelled your name again please let me know!). It was simply a brilliant night...thank you Caroline and The Big Green Book Shop

The venue

A glimpse at the packed room

Julia Williams in conversation (she's in black and red)

Scott Pack, Julia Lampam and Brigid Coady

Caroline signing books

The hush during the reading

Caroline back signing again

Caroline and DJ Kirby

Moi and Caroline

Note the Maltese beer

Jen @ SpiralSkies

A group shot but in the centre Tamsyn Murray enjoying the beer with Josa Young beside her
Kev aka Captain Black

A group shot - man in hat, Lacy Tiger, MissCellany, Ben Johncock, pretty blond lady and the back of Nina Douglas

Caorline, Brigid Coady and Tamsyn Murray (who also have a luanch for her book this week - note the Stunt Bunny stickers :-) )

p.s. i have a feeling the tags will not match the photos when I press publish so apologies for that - they do right now!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Today is so exciting, I was going to blog about buying old books from a great bookshop, but that can wait - Caroline Smailes's book LIKE BEES TO HONEY is out and I get to host chapter 23. I have been waiting for this book since Caroline first mentioned it's subject matter and now it's here and I'm part of it's launch (and thanks to BA and Ash Cloud - I won't have attend her London launch with suitcases and jet lag in tow!).

To start at the beginning go to Caroline's blog

Or if you have been there already then go visit JJ for chapter 24. Most of all enjoy. I am.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Link

Agent Nathan Bransford is doing wonderful things on Mondays...a one page critique. Here's this week's . Last week's was just as good.

I don' t know about you but this type of criticism is so useful because it helps me to train my eye and to see where my instincts match his or violently disagree (this hasn't happened yet). I am planning to take a page a day of my own work and do the same type of crit while I am in research mode. If I'm brave I may show you the results of one of my efforts.

Do you think this type of work is good or would it work against you? I know I certainly couldn't and wouldn't do it during a first draft but as an exercise I think it might improve my writing - time will tell.

Right now back to my women gardeners....oh and I will blog on Thursday about my trip to Slightly Foxed and a surprise.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Where I Am...Plot Holes and Travel Plans

Literally - I am sitting at the table watching the morning sun. I am in a happy place here thinking about PENDEROWN and also a thousand other things.

First just to say all my photos of the Summer Party are up over at the RNA Blog. I am tempted to put up a few out takes here but that might not be fair.... It was a wonderful party as always but down on numbers due to two other parties in the publishing world that evening. This was actually good because I did have the chance for a few proper catch ups and hello how good to finally meet you in person chats. Everyone is eagerly anticipating this year's conference which now doesn't seem too far away.

So on the flight I read through the synopsis for PENDEROWN - it is an awful one, but it is workable and as it is, at this point for my eyes only, that is okay. I hated doing every minute of it but boy can I see how it will help. As I wrote it out in long hand (yes, doing much more of that lately) I could see plot holes as I worked through the story. These holes were visible to me in the synopsis but interestingly not as I read the script. What does this tell me? One I am a crap reader of my own work (might be true)? Or I had pulled off something else in the script that hid the plot holes? I think it's the later and I think this is really important for those of us who haven't cracked the publication bit yet.

Why? Here I am going to call upon the rejections I have received and the work I recently did on the synopsis for A CORNISH HOUSE. Each rejection bar the computer generated one for the M&B has mentioned how well I write - early on I thought so what's the problem then? As my rejection letters or emails or chats became longer and more of open conversations I wondered what was up...these people were still willing to talk to me and see my work, the comments were almost all praise so what the hell am I doing wrong. When you get theses snipets of feedback and encouragement you flounder - I don't mean it isn't wonderful but no one tells you how to understand what the comments mean let alone how to fix or improve. I am finding now several books and innumerable rewrites down the line I keep having these moments that is what so so meant when she said this...

It may well just be that I'm thick or could be just that I have to learn each skill one at a time. So when I read Penderown after such a long break I saw problems from useless scenes, repetition, etc but I was also carried away with the story (good). The characterization except for Demi worked. Because of all that is not crap in my writing the plot holes were hidden which the synopsis made very apparent. Having done a synopsis after draft one - painful though it was hopefully will have saved me a rewrite or two. I now also understand some of the comments in said rejections - boy were they right and their practised eyes saw so much while they acknowledged the good. They could immediately picked up the problems which until now I couldn't see and to be honest there are probably more things yet that I don't see....

So I have work to do before I begin writing again however when on the plane the other day I did write and again in long hand (because I was too lazy to get the netbook out). As i began I thought I was writing the the penultimate scene - emotional and final. I wrote as fast as my pen would take me and eight packed pages later I looked up and smiled. Job done except for polishing and connecting.

Wrong. I was doing my blog check and stumbled over to Julie Cohen's blog and then today here. The scene I wrote needs to come much sooner. It will make things worse and hopefully the ending better and stronger - well at least I hope so.

So now I am going to take my research list which i made up during the read through and begin that - I am itching to begin the rewrite but I think it's best if i fill in the holes now and who knows what other twists may come out of the research.

BEAR UPDATE: They are having cinnamon rolls for breakfast

Today DD and I are off to the Victoria and Albert to see the Grace Kelly exhibition. Confession - when young she was the person I wanted and tried to look like most. I failed miserable but hopefully was just that little bit more elegant than I might have been otherwise...

TRAVEL UPDATE: It looked like BA's Cabin crew strike had scuppered my plans to go to my uni reunion but plans are under way to get there by other means (and no not swimming the Atlantic or rowing either!)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Books, Bears and Chocolate (or Like Mother Like Daughter)

Spent the most wonderful morning with DD at the Kensington Dollshouse Festival. It was a delight for the eyes and a continuous lesson in saying no - for me as much as DD. We kept pulling each other this way and that trying not miss the miniature things. We both lusted after a beautiful Art Deco house that was for sale and a beautiful chandelier that worked...but these items were far more than our meagre budget but we could dream.

I must confess we didn't escape without succumbing...both DD and I have a passion for her dolls' house now has garden furniture and a collection of bears and of course they couldn't sit in the garden without food and entertainment....chocolate cake, some beverage and a few books to read - the complete Twilight series (now I might have chosen different books for them to read, but they are her bears so the ten year old won that one and I might have selected the beautiful Bristol blue glasses, but we were down to our last pennies so the thought was there. I of course would have filled them with wine, but I think heard they to have hot chocolate to go with there cake).

We then went out to lunch and of course the bears had to come out and have lunch too... (the waitress was delighted)

Then we went home and they needed more refreshment (bears are very hungry creatures) here they will live until we go to Cornwall and they can join the dolls' house but then maybe they will want to come back to London or Dubai and play with me...

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Lost Pages Found and Character Arc

St. Anthony and Jane Jones to my rescue and the lost pages of PENDEROWN have now been printed off, duly read and the little scene cards made up. So now no excuse not to write the synopsis....yesterday I began to look at Victoria's story or journey, which ever you wish to call it. I like it and at the moment it works. As I expected I stumbled when I looked at Demi's. When I sketched out the bare bones of what happens with her it's just okay - only just.

So before I begin weaving these two stories together(and that's already worked out) I need to fix Demi. In preparation, I went back to Julie Cohen's brilliant posts on Character arc here.

Today I will focus on Demi and where my inner voice is screaming - not just quietly speaking. Before I can put the synopsis together I need to figure her out and get to know here better - because right now many interesting things happen to and around her, she has her odd moments of glory but basically she is a piece of limp lettuce and this just won't do.

Is this exercise just another way to procrastinate writing the synopsis? Maybe but I just think it might be good procrastination if that is possible.

Have you had a a limp lettuce character you had to throw in the tub of ice water to perk up? If so how did you do it?

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Planes, Panic and Penderown

I'm back in Dubai again and I had a very productive flight which went rapidly pear shaped and hasn't improved since my arrival....

What you ask could be causing me such greif???? I have lost the last fifty pages of PENDEROWN. I have gone through my back-up drives and various computers. I have checked my email accounts.........

All is not lost since I know what happens in these pages and they were very rough but sh*t. I can't complete my scene by-scene-cards and writing the synopsis which is this week's task will be a bit more tricky....

Moral of story.....double check your back up....

As I expected Victoria rules the story but things for Demi are not as dire as I imagined in my head over these intervening months. I think with the help of the synopsis and a bit of Donald Maass FIRE IN FICTION thrown into boot I should be able to balance the story between the two women. I have also made a list of all the items in the story that require more research - long but fun.

Do you research first or fill the gaps after?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Lilacs and Links

Posted by Picasa Surprise, surprise...I'm still in London and I'm enjoying my little bit of garden. I was delighted beyond words to discover this lilac in bloom last weekend. Each time I step outside I am greeted with a scent that transports me to my childhood. Growing up just outside of Boston, May was the month for our small garden to be rampant with lilacs. In fact they were so profuse that once a week I would take a bunch into school for the display of flowers in front of the statue of the Blessed Mother (May being Mary's special month and in a Catholic school that's a big deal). I can't begin to describe for you how this scent fills me with hope and happiness. I am twelve and I can feel the warmth of sun on my face and the promise of the coming summer.

It never ceases to amaze me how powerful the sense of smell is. Lilly of the Valley means my Great Aunt Agnes who lived across the street. Her little garden didn't have any lilacs, but boy did she had a bumper crop of Lilly of Valley every year. What smell for you brings back your favourite memory or dare I ask your worst? Do you use this powerful tool in your writing? I do sometimes but I think not often enough.

I haven't posted any links in a while and as always there are some terribly useful ones out there. So in no particular order :-

For the Twitters among you two links - BubbleCow The Bookseller

David Hewson's sound advice on when is a book really done

Another brilliant post by Anita Burgh on being organizing which is truly helping me at the moment

That's all for now. Back to decorating (yesterday coming back from Ikea in rush hour traffic I looked like I had just savaged the nearest botanical garden - I didn't I promise) and reading Penderown....