Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clarification and Help request

The picture from two days ago was taken while I was trying to capture a shot like this one taken six years ago. This particular shot began the news letter and the card shot was one of the kids on the beach in front of the Burj Al Arab. In this one you can see the ubiquitous Santa hat that we don't have this year as it's still in the container. With the help of God, we shall be in our villa this time next week but with out Internet so you may not here from me for a few days - on the other hand I may resort to an Internet cafe!!!! Also I sounded very virtuous with my Christmas letter but It is an essential of life if you have moved around as much as we have.......friends all over the place.
Thank you those you have popped by to read the chapter of August Rock. The feedback has been super and very kind. I do have a question to through out there though. AS I have gone for Opening sentence one, the wedding departure scene has to be told in flashback which leads to a tremendous number of hads. Is there any way of eliminating some of them or getting around it in anyway it. Here's the second paragraph:
Hours ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church; all she had been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons had adorned every pew, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ dresses. They had spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.
That's only the second paragraph. The flashback scene goes on for a page an a half. Any thought would be helpful.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Christmas card and Other Bits

That time of year has arrived again when I bully my lovely children to smile for the camera for the annual Christmas card. Now we do try and be creative with this endeavour which pisses the kids off no end. However this year we don't even have the Santa hat to brighten the photo.
Having lived here before we have explored all sorts of options for the photo but this year the time frame was short and more tricky by the littlest being in school and my middle ds leaves tomorrow.
Desperation kicked in and we did a sunset shot on the beach. It is boring but it will have to do.
For the curious I have update the first chapter link for August Rock to reflect the latest revision here.
Now Leigh dropped by and posted a few questions which rather than reply to the comments I thought I would post here:
1. How many times do you rewrite your work? This time, ten but there will be at least one more that I know of for August Rock - am hoping to cut this number down on current and future works as I have learned so much from the whole writing progress of AR
And how do you know when it reaches its finished state? Good question - when I can't stand the sight of it any more? I'm not sure, maybe when it has been accepted by someone or I just can't see how I can make it any better...
2. How long do you leave your work before revisiting to make changes? This depends on the type of rewrite. A Cornish House has been sitting months before I picked it up so that I could look at it with new eyes. However some of my rewrites of AR have been close together - days apart. AR is resting now and I will read it through fresh next week. I think one of the good things of being pre-published is that I have time - no deadlines racing me through the process expect the ones I set.
3. How long since you submitted your work to the agent? I sent an email submission on the 8th of this month. Not long ago, I know but I was told that email subs are looked at quite quickly so I have no qualms sending off a postal one to a different agent when I am in the UK in two weeks. I have have personally met the next three agents I will be sending to and plan to give those each six weeks between submissions........
So, the next piece of writing for me will be the Christmas letter.......I somewhat dread this and yet love putting it together. Hence any temptation I may have had about NaNoMo is dead before it begins.......
Oh, did I mention that I am now a full Dubai expat as I am now driving a huge 4x4 (better safe than sorry).......but still living in a hotel.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust

Rewrite 10 of August Rock is complete, including a many times rewritten first page. I will now let it rest a few days before I read through it again. I hope to submit to another agent when I'm back in the UK in two weeks - no I haven't heard from the one I emailed a submission to......

Saturday, October 27, 2007


I couldn't hold back any longer......I wrote the first 144 words of the new novel. I just couldn't stop myself. I was editing August Rock and my eyes were tired so I closed them for twenty minutes and realized in light sleep that I was thinking about the new story. Boom woke up and had the beginning just had to put it onto paper. I am a lost soul aren't I?

Friday, October 26, 2007

STOMP - Dubai

I had heard that Stomp was good so I booked tickets as treat for the boys during half term and took a few of their friends. It was delight times two. I was amazed and enchanted by the sheer joy of it but most of my pleasure came from the five young teenagers. They loved every second of it. All had been a bit sceptical about what I was carting them off to but they wouldn't leave until the stage was clear of the last man....... A great night :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Another Meme

Alyssa tagged for a meme and I'm happy to oblige but will confess that I'm having a tough time trying to think up new things about me....... probably because I am plain ordinary.

Here goes. So eight quirky, unusual, completely random things about me:

1. I'm an only child so I many times don't understand the politics of my three kids
2. I have always wanted to drive a Mercedes 450slk -I guess there is still time yet
3. I never expected to be a stay at home mum - no complaints here (in fact deeply thankful) but it was just never in the vision of how I saw myself
4. My best friend and I are like chalk and cheese (she's sporty and I'm bookish) yet we have been friends for over 40 years
5. I have always been a sucker for English men (hence I married one :-) )
6. I have a passion for Redbush tea
7. I love embarrassing my children and especially with my honesty when they ask questions
8. I am blessed with a life strengthening belief in God and the belief that there is something good in all people

I won't tag anyone but if you pick up the gauntlet let me know.

I have to point you in the direction of Steve Malley again. He has the first part of a great post on action scenes (this one the fade to the fireplace) and it enlightened me on the Bridget Jones film. Maybe I should have added to the list that I am still far too innocent at 44!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I was over on CS Harris' s blog and she lead me to a fantastic post here by Steve Malley about bad and lazy words in writing. Go read it and then examine your wip!

Monday, October 22, 2007

First Pages

As one does in Dubai, I was killing time while the boys were having a snow boarding lesson. So I wondered into Virgin and did an exercise........I looked at books. I stroked covers and admired titles. I debated what made me pick up a book and what made me put it down then I read first pages as I have been thinking about mine. As an 'pre-published' writer I know that quite possibly my first page may have to 'better' (here read - a real grabber) than someone who has a following already. I know that because on authors I love I just pick up their books - at most I will read the blurb on the back. I don't read the first page in the shop. I also know I am not alone on this.
However yesterday I read loads of first pages of 'my' type of books - women's fiction. Yesterday's exercise wasn't about improving my mind or challenging it. It was about pleasure as a book buyer. It was also about trying to learn what would make me continue to read my own book - for I am after all writing for me or my type of reader - if that makes sense.

So I stroked and perused my way through maybe fifty books. I am sure the staff thought I was some sort of a pervert. The first book that grabbed me on the first page was Maggie O'Farrells The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. I was intrigued and I would have read more but yesterday I was not in a historical mood and it struck as historical - dance cards yous see. Did I mention that I didn't read the blurb on the back of the books. I chose purely by title, cover and first page. So I put Maggie back for another day. Then I hit upon a section of Erica James' A Breath of Fresh Air. I will confess it wasn't the title or the cover but the fact I knew her name as she won the RNA Romantic Novel of Year award in 2006 with Gardens of Delight. So therefore my research was skewed. However the first two sentence had me:

"Charlotte had never seen a man cry before, so she wasn't sure how to react to her husband's unexpected display of emotion. Not once had she ever imagined Peter capable of crying; It went against all she had ever known about him."

I read on and I am now the owner of the book. I caressed a few more and the next book that ended in my basket was Christina Jones' Love Potions.

"Okay, so finding so finding a naked man in her bed wasn't unusual. There had been one or two in her past - not at the same time, of course."

There was another one that I loved but sadly left behind.....and I can't remember the authors name of the title. May have to return and add it to my list........

So what did I learn in this ... Covers are third on the list of importance to me, titles are first if I don't know the author at all, and the first page put the book into my basket so to speak. Now The cover and title told me it was 'my' type of fiction so maybe I should put them first because when you are looking through tables of mixed fiction I really don't see the covers of Andy McNab and Clive Cussler so packaging works.

You may be wondering how I read out of my 'box' because I do. I love reading the reviews in the weekend section although they never review 'my' type of fiction. Of course there are book club selections, friends books and personal recommendations that round out my trb pile.

When I came home I looked at the various opening lines of August Rock and wondered based on the above research which would make me put it in my basket.

1. Judith sat watching the incoming tide lap over her red toenails and wet the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown. Tears caused it all to blur to pink.

2. The cloying scent of oriental lilies permeated the heavy air. June was not supposed to be this hot on Cape Cod and certainly not on her wedding day.

3. The leaves in the birch trees hung limp as Judith looked at the grey sky. Even the birds were not moving in the heavy air but little girls in rose coloured dresses spun about her with stinking pink lilies clutched in their fists.

Interesting......I know which I would choose based on the first lines but which one would you?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Vicarious Pleasure

Yesterday while swimming in the pool at the beach club (which sounds very pompous - I know) i had the extreme pleasure of seeing a woman reading Phillipa Ashley's book Wish You Were Here in the pool. As i swam closer to make sure that was what she was reading my excitement grew. I thought how bl**dy fantastic. DD asked why I was smiling and I told her. The I thought what the hell and swam up to the woman and saw she was almost at the end. Boldly because I am a shy person by nature i said, "Excuse me."
She looked up puzzled.

"Sorry to interrupt but are you enjoying the book?"

"Yes." She pause. "Why are you the author?"

"No. Not so lucky. Just curious and if I was the writer I would never have the courage to ask." Sh smiled and I wasn't going to own up to knowing Phillipa.

"Is it good?" I asked. I haven't got my hands on this one yet.

"Yes, chit lit, great beach read." She smiled and stuck her nose back in and I swam off.

I get such a buzz seeing my friends books being read!! I also get a buzz seeing there books on the shelves of stores........Maybe one day I'll get the same buzz from seeing mine (well I can dream can't I?).

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hung Over and First Pages

Gosh, I am a fool. Let me out one night and whoops.....thumping head. By my age I should know better, I really should but it must be age because I keep forgetting or I don't get out much!

As I said yesterday there are so many things rolling around in my head and again I am sharing some with you.

1. last night before too much wine was consumed I 'found' a missing twist for the novel floating in my head and it fits to perfectly it makes me want to dance!

2. I am a believer in things happen for a reason - good and bad. This fits into a book a friend handed me to read when I arrived here in Dubai - The Monk who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. Now I go hot and cold on these type of books but I do believe in the person who said I should read it. Then lo and behold to give me and extra push Robin Sharma will be giving a talk to the parents of dd's school so I guess I was meant to read this book.

3. I have started reading Julia Cameron's The Artist Way and I have been doing my morning pages ( not yet today - naughty me). This book was recommended it me at the RNA Savoy Lunch last year by a wonderful writer whose name I can't remember. So who ever you are thank you. Reading these two books in tandem makes for some interesting self insight.

4. Last night something completely unexpected happened. I was offered a job! I wasn't looking for one. I can't say any more about it other than it is in the art world and I don't yet know what I am going to do.

Finally Fiona of the Novel Racers has taken up Julie Cohen First Page Challenge. I have done this several times now and have learned so much - from my own and other people's pages. So I thought I would post again the previous first page of August Rock and the new first page. Which reminds me I need to update the first chapter link on the side bar.........

Centerville, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 4th June 2005 (Version 9)
Judith sat watching the incoming tide lap over her red toenails and wet the brilliant white lace of her wedding gown. Tears caused it all to blur to pink. She didn’t like pink. Not that anyone cared that she didn’t like the colour. The church was filled with pink flowers. Hundreds of lilies to be precise and their scent still filled her nostrils despite the brisk breeze coming in with the tide.
An hour ago when she had stood in the doorway of the church; all she had been able to see were various shades of pink. Flowers and ribbons had adorned every pew, the altar barely visible for all the massed blooms in every shade of the wretched colour; particularly pale pink. Her fiancé, John, had stood among the flowers; tall, blond, perfect yet even he had not escaped the colour with a waistcoat matching the flower girls’ pink dresses. Theyhad spun around her knees with pink stinking lilies clutched in their fists.
The heat of the early June afternoon had intensified the cloying scent of the flowers to overwhelming levels, as the soprano in the choir loft hit the high notes on some hymn Judith couldn’t remember. In her hands, she had held a decadent bunch of lilies, carnations, roses and other pink flowers which reached the floor in their cascade. She had watched her hands tremble and sweat so much that she dropped the candyfloss mess on the floor.
The salty water of the Gulf Stream took the stiffness out of the lace so that it collapsed on her legs. Now she felt at peace with the damn dress; wet and shapeless. A seagull dive-bombed in front of her forcing her to wipe her eyes so that she could see if he was successful. He was and she smiled. At least someone got what they wanted.

Centerville, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, 4th June 2005 (Version 10)
The cloying scent of oriental lilies permeated the heavy air. June was not supposed to be this hot on Cape Cod and certainly not on her wedding day. Something resembling excitement grabbed at Judith’s stomach as she leaned forward to catch a glimpse of her fiancé John. It took her eyes a while to pick him out among the masses of pink flowers that smothered the altar but there he stood with his best man. He showed no signs of nerves with the most heart melting smile on his face. He was happy.
Little girls in their pink dresses twirled about her while a soprano in the choir loft hit the high notes on some hymn Judith didn’t recognize. Her stomach fluttered again and sweat trickled down the back of her neck. She was sure that all brides were nervous and this unsettled feeling was normal.
A vision of raging seas, icy water, and terrified screaming flashed in her mind. She shivered and swayed then grabbed a pillar. She didn’t need this today of all days. She sought out John’s smiling face and tried to focus on today and not the terrifying things in her mind. Someone was fussing with the back of her dress and it couldn’t be her mother as she was safely ensconced in her pew and thankfully nowhere near Judith.
“That’s better.” Mary, her maid of honour, let go of the train and stood up. “This heat is unbearable and who would think it would happen in June. More like August really.”

Now, although I still prefer the opening line of the version 9 I think version 10 sets up the story better. What do you think?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Now there are loads of things I want to blog about and everything is rushing about in my head so I will try and make some order of it. First a huge thank you to Phillipa Ashley who kindly posted a photo for me of my beloved Cornwall here.

I am sadly behind in my blog reading having been enjoy the Eid holiday here. When we were away for a few days i was without Internet access which the DH thought was a very good thing but now I have so much to catch up on..........So here's a wonderful link over at Ray-Anne's blog on beats. I couldn't begin to explain it but she does the most amazing job. I don't think I could write this way but I do think as she points of a fantastic tool for writing if a scene isn't working.

I have been tagged by the fabulous Lisa at It is a fabulous book meme which I look forward to doing but I realize that without my books with me I can't really do this properly so I will have to wait a month until I am in the villa and the boxes of books are I must post a reminder in the my diary as my brain is not too good at remembering these days.

Now for a bit of a rant. I have spoken about the refresh problem and the wonderful J came to my rescue. I have discovered that doesn't always work ( a 75% success rate) so I am doomed while living here to be behind. I will learn to live with it. I have also found that on Facebook I can't update my virtual bookshelf as that is a banned site. I am also finding that I can't google certain people. The wonderful author Rachel Hore is one. I hope she will find this amusing but I wanted to check to see if she listed who her agent was on her new website( which is beautiful btw) and couldn't remember her web address so I googled it - hah. Big red sign saying banned. Fortunately I remembered that it's was linked from Hilary Johnson's web page and I made it there in the end. This morning it won't let me go to Lisa's blog??? Or visit one of the people who commented on my post below. Arghhhhhhhhhhhh.

Having said all the above living in Dubai is great......I just want to get into my own home!!!! Enough rant. I must catch up on blogs........BTW dd is on half term this week and ds2 arrive Thursday and dds1 arrives on Sunday so posting and visiting may well be erratic at best.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Feeling much better.......spent happy hours with this view and this one....... Eid Mubarak.....

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sand Storm

Having lived here before I thought I knew it all but I didn't know that sand storms go by two names - the Shamal (which I knew) and the Gibly (which I didn't). Yesterday we experienced a Gibly which is one that comes from the south which meant that it was 'foggy' all day yesterday and the temperature rose back up into the 40s. Its strange when the wind is hot and tactile.....

Maybe it was the coming storm that brought my mood down but all the support from my blog friends brought it up. Thank you all. I followed your advice and treated myself to something that Dubai is good for - jewelry......just something small. Nothing like a bit of shopping to raise the spirits and then a long swim in the pool with dd. I thought about the bubble bath.......but then realized that for me Dubai isn't a 'bath' place........I know I'm weird but Cornwall I soak in the tub but here??? I could count on one hand the baths I've had in Dubai. Don't worry, I shower daily!

Your comments yesterday had me thinking about culture shock. Yes, I had dismissed it because , hell, I am an experienced expat and I had lived here before. This time unlike others I also had friends on the ground and varied friends and all of them in the 'best' category. Each fills some part of me and I am blessed. Yet landed here just before Ramadan threw me into the midst of a different life again even if I do understand and respect it.

So I will be a bit kinder to myself. We are off to a hotel on the beach for two days. Looking at the sea will be a welcoming break from the building sight out the window now. DD is on her half term break and it won't be long until my boys are here :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Feeling Low

I have no right to be down but I am. I am living in one of the top holiday destinations and the sun shines everyday. I do not have to do much cleaning as nice people appear every two days to do it for me. We have been living in this hotel apartment for just over a month now and I have another month to go before we can move into our villa. All my things were backed up back on the 11th of July. I am missing them.

My baby turned fifteen this week. I say baby but my eldest last time I saw him stood at five foot ten and towered over me. I want to know where the time went. Here is a picture of him when he was my baby and we were living in Calgary.

I want to start writing the book in my head but I need to practice discipline and finish at least one rewrite of A Cornish House.

Ramadan is almost over and I am sooooooo ready for the coffee shops to be open in the day. My dd goes on half term today and finished just as the boys arrive for theirs - great timing!

On a positive note I have book my tickets for my November trip when my middle turns 13! I am taking him to Dublin for the weekend and as a bonus I can go to the Romantic Novelist Christmas party!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sorry for the Silence and Links

Sorry I haven't been posting....there are several reasons for it. First I was focused on bashing August Rock into shape and zapping it off to the Amazon contest. But then I thought do I really want to do this? The answer came back not really because I know that shortly I will not meet the entry requirements of being resident in the UK ( the UAE was not one of the allowed countries) and the other reasons was that i must bite the bullet and sub agents.

So for a few days I was in a frenzy of editing - good stuff and then into deep reflection. Neither of these promoted blog writing moods. Oh and did I mention that we had car to choose and thinking about beach clubs - tough I know but someone has to it :-)

Yesterday I spent my writing time trying to squash my synopsis down to one page double spaced and yet still retain the essence of the story. I went back to my notes for the Romantic Novelist Conference from Emma Dunford's session. She was emphatic about one page double spaced! In the end I got there but I will reread with a clear head today to see if it really worked. After a while I was just cutting wildly! I am hoping it's like a blurb but reveals all yet it could be an unintelligible disaster.

In my Sunday blog search I came onto C.S. Harris blog discussing Plotter vs Pansters. It's well worth a look as it makes plotting seem less onerous to me (being a panster). Finally caught with Ray-Anne's blog this week which I enjoy for her feature of English Cheese as she calls them ( absolutely gorgeous English leading men - this week Jason Isaacs) and wise words. Two of her posts this week hit home - How to eat and Elephant tackling rewriting and some seriously good writing tips.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


There's a great post on plotting over at Lisa's blog. It started me thinking as these things do but it was the comment from Shauna Roberts Shauna Roberts who said:

"One technique I use for both my fiction and nonfiction is the List of Twenty. You set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes and then jot down as fast as you can at least 20 things that could happen next (or 20 titles or 20 mishaps that could befall someone on a pilgrimage or whatever your sticking point is). The time limit forces you to write, not think.

The first few items on the List of Twenty are always predictable and boring. Then you get desperate and start putting down surprising things. Most are junk, as you'd expect, but usually your subconscious dredges up something interesting."

Now this an idea I think I could get on with and it might just end up there with my set a timer for twenty minutes and just write.......

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Just in case my fellow aspiring writers haven't seen what Amazon with Penguin and HP are up to here's the link The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award -interesting. Are you up for it or with the Daily Mail, Miss Write ect. comps have you had enough?

I am in two minds as I think sending another work delays the process of submitting to agents etc but it seems less threatening in a away. It's out there and chances are no will really read it and yet you have sent it into the big bad world....... don't know but better make up my mind soon as they are only taking 5000 entries.......