Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Posted and Dubai Bound

This has been one amazing week and much of it I couldn't post about until now. First August Rock has been sent guaranteed post (because of the strike on Friday) to the Daily Mail First Novel Competition. I am pleased that I met my target. I know in my heart that it's not the standard of a winner because I didn't have the time to do the fine tuning but I did rewrite it in time so I'm pleased especially when you read what I have to say below.

If you remember my dd made her first Communion just over two weeks ago. Her God mother came. Her husband used to be my dh's boss a number of years ago. Well he left the company my dh works for four years ago. He has just been appointed Chairman of the Board of a new start up company based in Dubai. You can see where this is leading I'm sure........sleepless nights, huge heart wrenching decisions...........

Yesterday dh handed in his resignation. He has been with his current company for almost 27 years. It was a decision that was not taken lightly. It will affect so much in our lives. Yes, mine too for I was the global coordinator for their Spouses Association and feel so tied to the organization. My friends will remain but that sense of belonging to something will be lost. So there is much sadness in the joy and excitement.

The kids are thrilled as Dubai is still close in their minds. I'm happy as I still have friends their. I'm sad that the kids will not rediscover their American halves. That will have to wait for another time. My Dh is happy to have an exciting new opportunity but this time unlike past moves he too will be the new kid on the block!

So now to redirect the movers and everything else as we head east instead of west.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Brain Dead

If you look at the side bar August Rock has rolled past the 100,000 word mark. Rewrite 5 is done. Tomorrow I need to do the edit typo edit my reader has found, print out, rework the synopsis and pop into a Jiffy bag and forget while I move.

August Rock is definitely better for the rewrite. I know it's not a prize winner......yet. When I have some energy again I need to Sol Stein and then do some more breakout work with it. However I have enjoyed the rewriting process. I have seen my work grow to a better level and I will have met my goal under difficult circumstances. That makes me feel better even though my head is pounding and my eyes ache from looking at the 'puter!

As they say you never finish you just stop writing.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Head Down

Apologies for lack of posts lately. I have been working on August Rock and am so close to the end I can smell it. With everything that is going on around me I may not have the focus to get to THE END, but I'm giving it my all.

So my posting will be intermittent this week and my visit to other blogs sporadic.......please forgive and I promise to be back on form soon!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Normal Life Returns

At 7:30 in the morning Venice is a buzz of activity. I love that all things in Venice arrive by water. I also love it's contrasts.

But enough of Venice and it's contrast. Yesterday I returned to revision which mainly consisted of new writing. Many new scenes had to be added to keep the twists turning. This is much slower work as I have to keep thinking about how much my characters have changed since the beginning. When I am writing a whole draft straight through their changes evolve and it's not something I am fully conscious of ....... now I need to be. I keep asking myself things like - is this how Judith would react now?

The work now totals 96,500 words of which 78,000 is reworked. I will hit the 100,000 words with all the new scenes that have to be added. On another note, over on Judy Merrill Larsen's blog she is talking about the control of writing - the control we have over the story and the lives of its characters. She also mentions letting go of that control and letting the characters lead in part of her revision process. I definitely let them have their way in draft one. I think what has focused me on this fifth rewrite is that I have more control which with the move and all the chaos is the only thing I have control over at present.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Little Bit Of Venice

Things are a bit chaotic here. I shouldn't be blogging at all. My lists of things to do grows hourly and I still want to enter the Daily Mail competition. However I just had to say what a wonderful time we had in Venice. We arrived stressed beyond words and left blissfully happy. I should probably be ashamed to say that we did not visit a single museum but the Dh said I dragged him into more churches than he's been to in all his life!

So we wandered the city with cameras in hand trying to become lost. Lost to the reality of the move and all the other stresses of life. It worked and we ended up in quiet locations sitting by canals drinking cold white wine and feasting on fresh fish.

The atmosphere of Venice's quiet locations should be bottled. The magic of water lapping gently and crumbling building tinged in colour eased away all our cares.........

So I leave you with two photos. One is one of my classic leanings towards flowers or more precisely window boxes. This lead to a new obsession which I will share with you latter in the summer when I have time to post at a more leisurely pace.

Finally, I told my DH that I took this picture for Kate Walker. Well, I did and for me too. All things in Venice were quite exquisite :-)
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Yesterday among all the chaos a lovely thing happened......a huge pile of wonderful books arrived! My prize for the Novel Racers not quite the winner! Thank you Kate Harrision and Lucy Diamond for dreaming this up back in January. The support and friendship of the group has made the writing process much more fun and less lonely....extra thanks to Lucy Diamond and her wonderful publisher for my stack of books
Posted by Picasa

Monday, June 18, 2007

Novel Racer - Maht of The Moon Topples

Here is Novel Racer Maht of The Moon Topples in his own words (including mine ;-) :

My blurby thing for the novel racers
Liz Fenwick asked me for a blurb about myself and my current novel as a part of the novel racers experience. I am criminally overdue in completing it. Not being good at blurbs, I decided to do it as an interview instead...Moon Topples: Let's play "Questions."Liz Fenwick: How do we play?MT: Like tennis, but we can only converse with questions.LF: (slowly) Okay...I'm not sure you've explained it all that well.MT: But you think you understand enough to give it a whirl?LF: I suppose.MT: I win!LF: Well, we hadn't started yet.MT: Hadn't we?LF: (sighs) Would you like to tell me about your book?MT: The one for novel racers?LF: Are you working on more than one?MT: Is that bad?LF: Is that why you're progressing so slowly?MT: Is that a dig about my word count?LF: Are you a little self-conscious about that?MT: Should I be?LF: Did you know that some of us have already completed our first drafts?MT: So I've lost already?LF: What are you writing about?MT: Are you asking for a plot summary?LF: Is that how you've interpreted my question?MT: During a game of questions?LF: Would it hurt to try?MT: It might.LF: Ha!MT: Dammit.LF: I've won. Now go update your links section and admit that you are a culpa.MT: Me? A culpa?LF: I accept your apology.


Will post more tomorrow but just trying to catch up after the weekend!
Posted by Picasa

Friday, June 15, 2007

In Haste

I am sooooo excited. I am off to Venice for the weekend with DH. We so need this time. I have even promised to leave my lap top behind!!! I must love him.

Revision is cracking on....72k and I think the total will be around 96 so I am within striking distance!

Stress: low, excitement: high, writing: good, schools: 1 definite and 1 possible, move: nothing in writing yet!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My poor little chick is exhausted and is still tucked up in bed at 9:50 this morning as I write. When I went to wake her at 7:00, this little voice said to me, 'Mummy I am so tired.' I made a quick decision and told her to go back to sleep. Don't you wish someone else would give you a day off and permission to sleep as long as you like? I know I do.

Well, its just 14 days left to kick August Rock into shape and send it off. Am I going to do it? Yes. I am at 64k and I feel that this rewrite will end up at 95k. That's just over 30k which as I am not writing all the words from scratch just might be least I am telling myself so. I do know that this will not be the best the book can be but I will have fulfilled a promise to myself amidst the chaos. It will also make the next rewrite easier. Thus far I have dealt with the ghost aspect and his story by changing the structure of the work and reducing his 'real time' appearances. I have beefed up my secondary characters. Given Judith a bit of a temper, made the other woman likable and given Judith a viable choice between three men. I still don't know yet which one she will go for???? Risky strategy? Probably but hopefully it will keep the suspense doing until the end.

What is not being accomplished is the fine tuning in the Sol Stein method. I will not have time to go page by page and tweak words - I have added lots. Nor will I have time to check to make sure everything is as active as it should and carries its weigh and moves the story forward. These and others will wait for the next rewrite. I am just hoping I am giving one dear friend enough time to read through and clear up all my many dyslexic mistakes!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Thanks to all of you who stopped by yesterday and helped to stop me spinning. Being a whirling dervish is not my favorite thing.

Several good things happened yesterday along with all your good wishes. I remembered to check out the Samhain First Line contest and the first line of August Rock made it through. I was rather chuffed! Especially as I decided that I would throw myself into the revision again to try and forget the chaos and the people trailing through the house. I made great progress. The time off clearly let my brain store things up and then bang. I am suddenly at the half way mark. I still may not make the deadline but if I can continue I will be close. Now, this may not be the final rewrite by any means. Currently I am working of structural and big plot twists. Once these are complete it is then down to the detail.......

Next good thing is I have found one school that can take my dd. Today I will try another. It would be great to have a choice.

On the down side we still have nothing in writing and the packers are here in three and a half weeks!!

So stress levels : moderately high, writing: good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Life is on full spin at the moment. On Friday night we heard to we are to be moved to Houston, but of course nothing is in writing. So once woken at 2:30 am I couldn't find sleep again for by four I was on the computer researching schools and houses. Trying to find schools that have vacancies that you want your child to go to at this stage is beyond difficult. One likes to make a decision able education with care and thought not just shove her into any old school that will have her. However I have found myself in this position more times than I would like to count. This is one of the reasons why the boys board. However my little chick is far too young to flee the nest and by 10 am on Saturday morning I was standing in the kitchen in floods of tears. I felt I just couldn't do it. We were do at ds2's sports day and I felt I couldn't leave him. Melt down had hit. DD didn't know what to do with mum sobbing in the kitchen over the picnic lunch. DH had enough sense to stay clear and pack the car. Finally I stemmed the flow and we set off for sports day which was lovely.

However in the middle of this ds1 announces he is on the early train back from school and will hit London as we are returning. Lovely? No, as dd has rehearsal for her First Communion on Sunday and DH has appointment. Advise him to take black taxi as he is still unsure of taking the tube on his own..........

Finally my parents arrive and we must return Dad's hire car. Arrive to at 2:30 Hertz to discover they closed at 1:00.

Sunday brings sunshine and the big day but DH and Dad need to return rental car to Victoria before the day can truly get underway. It was a lovely service and DD was thrilled. We had a fabulous lunch back at the house with friends. Exhausted.

Monday return boys to school. Send parents back to Cornwall. Want to collapse but the search for school begins. So far three strike outs..........

Absolutely no writing. In fact I thinks I may have to give up my plan to submit August Rock for the Daily Mail Novel of the Year :-(

Friday, June 08, 2007

Melissa Nathan Award Comedy Romance Master Class

I was so pleased I made the effort to go Borders Oxford St. last night for the Melissa Nathan Award Comedy Romance Master Class. I don't write comedy romance but I do read it and I feel the humour is so important in even the most serious of books.

The panel consisted of Sophie Kinsella, Matt Dunn, Gemma Fox, Kate Elton and Maggie Philips. Melissa's husband Andrew Saffron and his son opened the evening with and introduction of the panel of three best selling authors, Melissa's editor from Kate Elton who is publishing director at Arrow and Melissa's agent Maggie Philips of Ed Victor Literary Agency. He spoke a bit about the upcoming Melissa Nathan Comedy Romance Award. To keep things exact I've copy the report of the award from the Society of Authors . (photo above l-r Gemma Fox, Maggie Philips, and Sophie Kinsella)

"The Meilssa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance

Melissa Nathan's novels are both heart-warmingly romantic and very, very funny. The Nanny and The Waitress were also in the Top Ten bestseller lists. So, it's appropriate that following her death from cancer at the age of just 37 in April 2006, a new literary award is being established in her memory.

The Melissa Nathan Award For Comedy Romance has been set up by Melissa's husband, Andrew Saffron, honouring the criteria that Melissa drew up herself very shortly before she died. She wanted to encourage and reward writers who can combine in a novel the magical, life-enhancing elements of humour and love.

The Award Committee is delighted that the following have agreed to be judges of the very first award: comedian Jo Brand, author Joanna Trollope, actress Jessica Stevenson, author Sophie Kinsella and Gaynor Allen, Head Book Buyer for Tesco.

The winner will be announced at an Awards Ceremony in London on 13th June - Melissa's birthday. The winner will receive a trophy and a cheque for £5,000. "

Two of the authors on the panels are shortlisted for the award - Matt Dunn for the Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook and Gemma Fox for the Cinderella Moment. The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook was also short listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year.

The panel opened with Sophie Kinsella, one of this year's judges. She began by saying the comedy romance must be funny, true and sexy. One must be entertained and when well done it seems effortless which is why she was so pleased that award would acknowledge the hard work that goes into the making it seem effortless. With comedy you are putting yourself on the line because others may not find your humour funny. She is still learning.

The most important things to her were:

1. finding a voice: it doesn't have to be likable but interesting or charming or fun - a voice that readers want to stay with.

2. hook the readers in
3. it needs a story to keep it all together

4. needs humour

5. an exciting initial idea because you need to be excited about it the whole way through from the initial spark to the many rewrites. It must be HUGE to carry you through the writing process.

6. don't second guess the market; write from your heart

She had us all laughing with her health warning! When writing romance you could damage your own relationship! You spend hours writing the perfect witty flawless hero and its sets the bar quite high - warn the hero at home!

Next up was Kate Elton. She spoke of the excellent relationship she had with Melissa Nathan and part of that was because she was a writer who loved to be edited. She went onto add that an editor can fix, plot, the odd off character but THE Voice couldn't be fixed. Books need strong narrative pace, life like characters which engage the readers. She ended with a lovely quote from another one of her authors the wonderful Katie Fforde who she had lunch with yesterday:

Romantic comedy won't save someone's life but it will make it more enjoyable!

Matt Dunn began with a wonderful excerpt from The Ex-Boyfriend's Handbook (which has been sitting in my TBR pile since March) which had us laughing out loud. He knows he is unusual in the market as he writes from the male perspective. He takes an idea and twists it. His book due out in September, From Here to Paternity, which twist the idea of women looking for a mate to have child to a man as most men just don't think about it. He asks the question 'what if?' If its cringe worthy then he knows he's onto something. He calls it the 'you've been framed theory' in which its a great laugh and no one really gets hurt. The most important advise he gave was to build your story around one clear and simple premise (a one sentence idea). Be precise about what you are trying to say. Don't try to be too clever but be true. The reader must give a sh-t. They must want to go on the journey. Finally he advised to read, read, read. (photo above l-r Matt Dunn and Kate Elton)

Maggie Philips opened with get an agent first. When an editor sees a script through an agent they know it has been through part of the process already. They she said write a one page letter, a one page synopsis, and finally two or three continuous chapters. Do not call an agency but if you must do it after six and you might just reach an agent and not the receptionist! Finally if possible when the day comes push for the two book deal as the publish will be more motivated to help that second book if you are struggling.

Gemma Fox told us you must:

1. genuinely care about people and have an avid curiosity in them.

2. always have a note book to hand to draw verbal sketches.

3. it's normally an exciting little things that drives the book

4. plan meticulously: what if this? what if that?
5. write from the heart

6. the last thing you should do is write; think, plan and plot

7. love what you do
(photo above l-r Matt Dunn, Kate Elton, Gemma Fox and Maggie Philips)

She wonderfully described her books as cellulite lit as it deals with the post 30 group. She said you don't need to get it write first time just get it written! She uses film techniques with her work and constantly asks 'how does this move the story forward?' and 'What if?'. She warps reality until is grows bigger and bigger. She pointed out that when you write your first draft you may not know what is the center or theme of your novel and that's fine. In each rewrite you can develop it further.

Matt Dunn chimed in that he writes organically and it grows. He said as he read the extract aloud he saw just then how he could have made it better. He then quoted:
You never finish writing a novel you stop writing.

It was a wonderful evening and I took away so much from the light hearted advice. If I have misquoted or have a point wrong I send my apologies - it is not meant to be verbatim. All of the above was regurgitated from my hastily written notes. I am deeply grateful for all the advice and insights they shared.
The award is present on 13th June which was Melissa's birthday. For the rest of the short list go to
Quick move update : nothing. Writing update: nothing. Stress update: high.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

News Flash - Comedy Romance Master Class

I'm going to a Comedy Romance Master Class at Borders Oxford Street tonight. It's the inaugural Melissa Nathan Award Comedy Romance Masterclass today at 7pm at Borders, Oxford Street. Sophie Kinsella, Matt Dunn, Gemma Fox, Kate Elton and Maggie Philips will be in conversation and I'm so excited. For more details check it out here

Why not come and join if you are in the London area! With a little luck I'll give a full report tomorrow:-)

Didn't do anything on August Rock yesterday. In fact I don't know where yesterday went except in panic. The whole move thing is closing and I felt everything tense up. Must regain my focus as there is too much to do!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Back to Reality

Reality hit with a bang today. In a few minutes the first showing of the house takes place! It's a tip but I've been away. At the same time one of the moving companies is coming to give a quote! However we still haven't a clue where we are going?????? Reality........

I have promised myself to return to my revision. Last night I printed off all the changes so far. There have been many changes - content and structure in the first 100 pages. I lost the prologue and lost much of the flashbacks by making chapter one open with the prologue and direct into the crisis after the failed wedding. I hope this makes the story stronger. I may yet put a prologue in but if I do it will probably be Toby watching the wreckers' boat going down at August Rock when he was seven. There is time yet to sort that out.

I am now doubt that I will have this thing knocked into shape for the 2nd of July but I will continue trying.

One last photo from the wedding. Despite my fears one of the best bits was catching up with long lost friends. So here's a picture of me with one of them.

Now off to tidy the house a bit!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

In Search Of Adam

My special signed copy of In Search of Adam arrived in the post today! Dancing around the room!

Feeling seriously jet lagged but I'm back.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Girls Road Trip

Yet again I am sitting in an airport and today for a lot longer than I'd like to be. They cancelled my mid-day flight and I was lucky to get on the morning flight to Newark. My flight to London is not until seven!

Enough about flying which I despise! Onto a girls road trip........I mentioned that my best friend, Doz, lives in the wilds of Vermont but she was getting married in New Hampshire beside the lake near her parents holiday cottage. This created the need for the road trip. Her now husband wanted her take his brand new (only 76 miles on the clock) Ford 150 pick up truck. Now this wasn't your average every day run of the mill pick up - even I who am clueless about this sort thing new that this vanilla coloured leather seated pick up was kinda special! Doz didn't want to take it! I insisted. Her man loved her, I didn't fancy her old cluttered Saab, and these were the waning hours of her single life. It had to be the pick up with country music serenading us the whole way through the mountains to the lake.

As I may have mentioned in the past Doz and I are as different as best friend come. I am a city girl at heart (except for Cornwall) and she is country. Doz runs marathons and I walk. But despite all this and this week in particular I have learned we are very alike. We care about other people deeply and many times put their needs well above our own. So we are alike where it counts.
Now another big difference is that Doz doesn't know how to be still. I do. Setting off on this trip she is wired totally but we slide into the big cab and the country tunes surround us. The cloud is lifting off the mountain and she smiles. Once over the mountain we are in search of a manicure. She isn't fussed but I point out that tomorrow she is a bride and her hand will be on display. She relents. Now you can imagine that manicure salons could be a bit sparse in the mountain villages of Vermont but we find one in Middlebury next to the gas station. There is only one girl and she starts on Doz first. Slow doesn't begin to describe her but it is forcing Doz to sit still. Finally after forty minutes she gets to the stage where she was Doz to sit and let her nails dry before the final coat!

Doz is sent to the waxing chair and the girl begins on me. I notice Doz nodding off so I ask the girl's life story. I know there is a book in there some where but I can't shake the bit out of my head about the dog eating the cat! Doz slept for nearly an hour.

Next stop is the home of Ben and Jerry's Ice cream for the wedding cake. Yes, this isn't to be your ordinary run of the mill wedding. Ice cream cake and a service beside the lake somehow suit Doz.

We are still an hour an a bit from her parents cottage. One last pit stop and low an behold there is an LLBean outlet. Do we have time? Always. So I manage to find a present for the groom as I was Doz's present!

Finally at eight pm we arrive. We left Vermont at 1:30. The journey normally takes two and a half hours. I squeezed the best out of the last hours of single life for her and made her rest! Miracles never cease! It was better than any hen night could have been.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

New England Memories

They say smell is the strongest memory and that has proved true this week. Although a zombie by the time I reached Burlington Vermont on Wednesday night I was instantly transported back to childhood with smell of freshly cut grass and pine. I hadn't ever really thought about grass smelling different but it does. Two other smells have transported over the past few days...the smell of cool air drifting in from damp dark woods refreshing the soul from the heavy summer heat and finally lilacs. I know we have lilacs in England but this year I wasn't able to stick my nose in one and then the season was gone. Here they are in there peak and the smell is childhood spring for me. Growing up there wasn't much in our backyard but there was a massive lilac bush. This morning while the sun was still low and dew still fresh I stuck my nose into the lilacs and boom I was ten and cutting them in the back yard to bring to school for the statue of the Blessed Mother. Time just disappeared.

It is strange being 'home' again. I haven't been in New England in seven years and not to Vermont and New Hampshire in twenty. It hasn't changed. Despite being early June, summer has hit and the heavy humid air of August fills mid day while the mornings and evenings are fresh. Mosquitoes abound and all I am missing is the smell of Coppertone to be wafted away....

Memories long buried are surfacing and I find myself fascinated by the trembling leaves on the white birch as the air stirs just before a thunder storm. I feel a bit like that. There are all these stirrings inside. The architecture fills some place inside of me and then cause an ache of loss. We are in Robert Frost territory here and I can't but help thinking of his poem :

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

That poem has stayed with me all my life as I took a very different road from the one everyone (including me) expected. As I come back now I have no regrets but a I do feel twinges of loss. I am surrounded by people from my past and my life now is so alien to them yet theirs is so familiar to me.

I was finally able to say thank you to a woman who was so important in my life. She was unaware of her role it turns out. Kathy lived around the corner and I used to babysit for her children. I would just stop by her house to talk about anything. She was different from my mother but yet shared many things. I chose her to be the sponsor for my confirmation and on Friday I was able to tell her that she has been an inspiration to me. I call on her style of mothering and on the way she lived her faith as example on how to live mine. When I told her this we both wept. I hadn't seen her since I left the US in 1989. It is good to be able to say thank you for mentoring me through my teenage years and leading by example.

Today is the big bash. A cookout Vermont style. At the moment the sun is shinning and thunder clouds gathering over the mountains. Hopefully they will visit else where as they did on Friday but as then nothing will dampen the celebration!

Quick Wedding Update

Feel like my hands have been cut off with no connection! Quick wonderful.

Big bash tomorrow .........full story of girls road tip in BIG pickup later..........