Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Toby's Story Continued

Yesterday again provided brilliant walking weather. Hoping to sneek another stroll in today before a lunch out.............must make room somehow! Here's the next installment of Toby's tale and a few another few photos of inspiration.......

Trevenen House, 27th March 1846
Toby paused outside the drawing room, only his father’s displeasure could cause everyone to be in such turmoil. Somehow Toby knew he was the cause. Mrs. Williams was almost tearful in her temper. Who were these distant relations? Why were they coming to Trevenen House? Why had they never come before?
Toby took a step and placed his hand on the door. He could almost see his father standing by the window closest to the fire even though the door was still shut. Whenever he was in a foul mood that was were he stood. Toby knew that it would be awful. He knocked.
“Tobias?” The voice was low.
“Yes, Father.” Toby pushed the door open and held his breath.
“Come in. Do not stand around.”
Toby walked in with his head bowed.
“Stand up straight, Tobias. Where have you been?” The clipped sound of his father’s voice caused Toby to flinch.
“The Nare.”
“Why the devil? No, never mind. There’s no time for that. Your mother’s cousin,” Toby watched his father pause then clasp his hands behind his back as he moved away from the window to the warmth of the large fire. Even with its great warmth Toby felt cold and damp.
“Your cousin Meredith Wittershaw-Smythe and her husband will arrive any moment.” Talan Trevenen walked back to the window.
Toby longed to ask who this Meredith Wittershaw-Smythe was but shut his mouth looking at his father’s rigid back. The wind and rain lashed the tall windows. Normally the view was breathtaking, but he could not see past the end of the cannons on the lawn. He loved those cannons. His Great Uncle Howel had brought two of them back from the Battle of Waterloo to match the two old ones already there. They were French, small and neat next to the large solid ones that Toby thought were from the Civil War, but no one remembered how they came to be on the lawn. When he was small he would play about them for hours while his mother would watch and laugh at him. Now his father always shouted at him if he ever attempted to play near them. Seven years ago he was a pirate, a general, and admiral, but now all he could be was Tobias Trevenen son of Talan but that was enough.
“Yes, Father.” Toby winced. He longed for the father he remembered not the one standing before him. Back then his father laughed then, but now he was always stern. Only when he talked of the estate and its people did he lose his solemn look. Toby knew his father loved the land and it was in his blood and it spoke to him. Toby liked to think it spoke to his father the way the sea spoke to him, but it wasn’t just the sea speaking, it was his mother.
“Go and tell Mrs. Williams I wish to speak to her then go and work on your Latin until they arrive.”
Toby turned and walked out carefully. He knew things were worse than he thought. His father hadn’t scolded him; he had just sent him to his verbs. He was none the wiser on who these relatives were and why everyone was upset. Latin verbs were not going to explain anything. His tutor hammered on and on about Latin, but Toby could see no use for it except for plant names and one did not need to know Latin grammar to learn plant names.
He had heard mutterings about his going up to Oxford, as his father had before him, but Toby did not see the point. He was going to run the estate like his father and Toby did not need to leave to learn how to do that. He knew that by being here on the land he would learn all he needed to know. He did not want to leave the sea, but he knew that all his family left Cornwall before coming back.
“Mrs. Williams.”
“Yes, my duck.”
Toby smiled. “Father would like to see you.”
Mrs. William’s mouth straightened and she put her cloth down. Toby watched her quick step to the drawing room as he went up the main staircase. All the family faces looked down on him and some seemed to like him, but many were glaring from their place on the wall. Let them study Latin verbs he thought as he swept up the last flight of stairs to his domain.
It was a great blessing that his tutor had gone to visit his sick mother for Easter. He had the whole floor to himself; peace and Latin verbs. He looked out the window to the mouth of the river. but could not see it. The weather was closing fast and with a bit of help from the heavens his cousins would not make it this far. They would be stuck until the weather cleared. Toby said a prayer for a storm of gigantic proportions that would keep then away forever, or at least until the day after his birthday.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

August Rock - Inspiration

I can't believe I can't use word on this machine. I have so much buzzing in my head and can't do anything with it. But that is off the point for the moment because I have managed to put August Rock into a form where at least I could cut and paste. AR has been on my mind a great deal this holiday. First because one of the agents who said no to ACH, but was so flattering about writing wanted to see some chapters of AR. Brilliant I thought then on the flight I read a bit of AR and cringed. I have known in the back of my head that AR needed more work, but I hadn't realized how much. Its dire state leapt out at me. However I must complete the dirty draft of current book before a rewrite of AR can begin. Yet as we were walking off the Christmas lunch and other excesses I couldn't leave AR out of my head. So I thought it would be fun to post some photos (courtesy of DH and both ds's) of the scenery that inspired AR and a little of Toby's story which I still feel is the strongest part of the book. So below is the opening of Tobias Trevenen, a thirteen year old boy's, story:

The Nare, The Lizard, Cornwall, 27th March 1846
Tobias stood on Nare Head looking at the waves crashing onto the rocks below. The wind tossed his hair side to side obscuring his vision of the sea. In the distance, he watched the four mast barque fight its way toward Falmouth in the heaving water. The sky was increasingly grey as the weather closed in. Toby came here most days to watch the sea as that is where his mother was.

Time was short. He knew he must be back at the house as visitors were due from London and he must be there when they arrived. Father was in a dither about them and everyone in the house was out of sorts. The approaching storm was peaceful compared with the tension that enclosed the house. Mrs. Williams, the house keeper, nearly hit Toby with a cloth as he snuck out and her anger with him was rarer than the treasure he found on his outings on the river. Mind you he found some, but not enough for anyone to take him seriously about the treasure by August Rock. Soon it would be time to look again but not yet.

He turned and walked slowly to his horse, Mabel. She was sheltering from the wind under a low tree. The ground was spongy where the frost had recently departed. By the time he had reached her, his boots and legs were covered in mud. If Mrs. Williams was still in a state, she would become worse. He was sure there was something more to the unease of everyone in the house. It wasn’t the approaching storm. It must be these visitors. They were distant relations and lucky Toby was going to celebrate his thirteenth birthday with them. This seemed to be making everyone grumpy including him.

Mabel nuzzled his pocket looking for the apple he always had for her when he took her this far from home. Even though the house had a good view of the sea it was too sheltered to feel the power of the ocean and to hear the call of the voices. The Helford was far too gentle unless there was an easterly blowing and then she would become a little passionate about living. Out on the Nare you could hear things and feel things as the wind tore at your clothes and water bashed up from the sea.

The heavy clouds began emptying as he sat on Mabel. He could feel the damp and soon he would be soaked. The jacket he wore offered no protection and it was too small as his arms were showing from the sleeves of the jacket which was new at Christmas. Mrs. Williams had told him this what boys did. They get big and messy. She would hug and smother the life out of him before she would push him out of the kitchen into the garden. If he stood with shoulders back he was almost as tall as she. Toby hoped he would be taller than his father, but he doubted it. His mother had been very petite and he resembled her more than his father. Well that was what Mrs. Williams said to him.

“Toby, my duck, you’re your mother’s son. More like her every day.” She would pause and study him again then finish. “Yes, you’ve the look of her alright.”

He wished he could tell, but all he could go on was a small sketch which he had been given when he went to London six years ago with his father. They visited an artist’s studio and he could still see the big windows in the studio and hear the shouting. The artist had given him the sketch before pushing him out into the garden so he couldn’t hear the words, just the noise. He had spied a portrait of his mother not yet complete and he often wondered why his father hadn’t received the painting. Toby wanted to be able to see his mother, but his father did not. At least Toby could hear her in the sea. He knew she was there.

At the top of the hill stood large granite gates and Mabel slowed. He loved them and the tree-covered drive that led to the house. Moving slowly protected from the worst of the storm by the canopy of branches above, he caught a glimpse of the grey stone vastness of the house nestled and protected from the wind in the hollow yet still proud above the river. It sat looking toward the mouth of the Helford and Falmouth Bay.

Rain ran down his face as he urged Mabel forward as they turned into the stable yard. Trees bent with the force of the storm. He hoped the visitors would not venture forth in such weather and the house would be quiet and peaceful. Toby knew, as he thought these things that staying outside in the storm would be better than the atmosphere he would face inside.

The yard was empty. No coaches in sight or the flurry of the grooms working to settle horses. At least he had returned before they had arrived and he would not be told off for that, but somehow he knew he was in trouble. He dragged his feet as he left Mabel with the groom who was missing his usual smile as he silently took the horse. Why was everyone so glum?

As he rounded the stable block, grey and solid, Trevenen House sat untroubled by the gale. Even the Helford was angry now. White horses came charging into the mouth of the river and rain swept at him horizontally. He couldn’t see Mawnan Sheer.

“Master Tobias.” From the tone of Mrs. Williams voice Toby knew things were bad.

“You are soaked through and the guests are due any minute.” Toby side-stepped her. He knew that the smallest thing would set the cannon loose. Her anger reminded him of the largest of the four cannons that sat on the lawn over looking the river. When she let rip nothing was left standing in her path.

“Get the wet off and go to your father in the drawing room. He’s been waiting for you for the past hour.”

Toby knew then that the dread he had been feeling all day was not imagined but real. His feet dragged as he left the kitchen and headed to his room.

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Well, I dropped my parents to the airport at 6 am this morning and drove home in the dark. Christmas was fabulous and the past two days here in Cornwall have been clear, bright and blowy as hell - in other words brilliant for long walks to work off of the indulgences of Christmas dinner and the all the others in the lead up and them that followed. If I can make it work-tomorrow i want to post an excerpt or two from August Rock with some photos of the area. However the glitch might be that on my little lappy the trial version of office has expired and my copy of office 2003 is sitting in Dubai. So I can see my words but I can't do anything with them. Is someone trying to tell me something i wonder?
Hope everyone had a wonderful and blessed Christmas. Ours certainly was.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 05, 2008

A Day OUt

I was volonteering for a dingy regatta today and the end ended with a bonus - racing dhows as the sunset!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Can it be that time of year again when thoughts turn to thighs.....not. I mean rugby. The madness has retuned to Dubai and in the new stadium. Thus far my take on it is that is it's fine if a bit far out so that joviality at least on our account is dimished - too far too take a taxi so sobriety reigns. However having said that there are other compensations..........
The US teams is playing well this year and although I was the lone voice of support when they played England in the afternoon - I could hold my head head as they played well.

It's always good to see a camel from the distance - they smell up close.
Then of course there is the view to be taken into account. The players stand was looking good this year I thought!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It's not what you think, no, it's not. I have actually been working away on the wip albeit slowly. No, this is much more serious. This is something that will be read by at least a hundred people - the Christmas Letter. For years it was the sole piece of writing that I accomplished. People read it - or so they tell me. These same people encouraged me to get back to my first love of writing fiction. Well, today is the day before Thanksgiving and I haven't written a word let alone a first draft. It's not as if nothing happen in the year. Regular readers of this blog will know I have seen a fair bit of the world this year - even clocked up enough miles to go gold on the old frequent flyer card. Yet I can't seem to put fingers to keyboard to write.

As the seasoned expat that I am, I know how important it is to keep in touch - even if its just once a year. Yet I'm feeling all quiet and instead of the handmade cards and a four page letter -I just want a signature stamp and a bog standard card. This I know is not good enough. So somehow I will have to write the letter and make the cards...........

Have put the Carols on and maybe I should start baking something Christmasy????

Does anyone put themselves through the torture of summing up a year?

P.S. Update - 1000 words of crappy rough draft written - it's amazing what the egg timer trick will do

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party

More photos at last!
Melinda hammond, lovely lady from Midas PR and Kate Allen

Mary DeLazilo and Freda Lightfoot

Editor Maddie Rowe with Melanie Hilton (aka Louise Allen) .

Here is Jean Fullerton with Elizabeth Hawksley.

This group is Philippa Ashley, Janet Gover, Judy Astley and Katie Fforde.

Catherine Jones (aka Kate Lace) our chairman address the party in the Library of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers.

Jan Jones and moi.

Debbie Holt with her agent Teresa Chris.

Suzie Vereker and Pia Tapper Fenton

Jenny Haddon and Emma Dunsford

l to r Jane Gordon Cummings, Teresa Chris and seated Allie Spencer

Editor at Sphere (Little Brown) Caroline Hogg and Catherine King

Moi and Biddy Coady

Kate Harrison

Liz Baily, Evelyn Ryle, Anne Ashurst and Katie Fforde

Fighting internet connection at the moment - have great photos but can only seem to post one. Here's Giselle Green and I. What can I say except that it was another wonderful party and I behaved! I caught up with many friends and unfortunately only had a chance to just wave across the crowded room at others. As usual the room was filled with fantastic writers, agents and editors.......well worth the flight.

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

To London to Party

I fly tomorrow to Lond for the RNA Winter Party where I get to feel like a writer and even better I can chat to writers!!! (Gulp - editors and agents too!) Will strive to take photos and report on the do for all.

The best bit though is both boys are on exeat so after tomorrow I get to be mini mum enjoying London with them - except when DH whisks them away to the International Rugby game at Twickenham on Saturday - then I can shop in peace (with millions of others in London but still in peace!)

Sooty and Snowy have reached a quiet accord for the moment.

I have loads to post about but no time for the minute..............has everyone else got their Christmas shopping done yet?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great Opportunity for a Free Book Edit

This a fantastic opportunity for a chance at a for a free book edit from BubbleCow.

Here's the details:

On December 01 2008, one entry will be selected and a full edit of a manuscript (up to 100,000 words) (worth £500) will be completed before Christmas.
If any of you would like to enter the draw for a free edit:

1. Simply email by midnight GMT November 30 2008.
2. To avoid being spam, the subject line of your email should read ‘I love Christmas'.
3. Within the email, confirm your name, your manuscript’s final word count and title.
4. The winner will be announced on December 01 2008 and informed by email.
5. The winner then has five days to email the manuscript.
6. The in-depth edit and report will be completed before Christmas.
7. The rules and details can be found HERE

This is already appealing to a number of writers who are currently tackling NaNoWriMo, so please do spread the word amongst your writer friends.

Now to a few links - over on The Writer and The White Cat (yes, I know it looks like Snowy is leading a double life), Rick makes some excellent points about creativity and how its needs to push a few limits. Billy popped by my blog the other day on the prologue issue. His blog is a wealth of information. Too much to link to one item as I am still exploring. It's well worth a browse.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Addition

Well Snowy is none to pleased by the new arrival in our house - Miss Sooty............however I am pleased to same she is settling in nicely and always on the lookout for the resident evil, ooops I mean great white beast.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 07, 2008

To Prologue or Not to Prologue

Personally I like a prologue as it jumps starts me into the story, but I gather the general feeling is no. The reason I raise this is because for my submissions (yes, I did do as I said I would and subbed) I ditched mine. Why you ask? Was it badly written? No, in fact it contained some of the tightest prose in the novel. Was it needed? Now there is the question. What was contained in the two pages of the prologue is central to the main conflict for the heroine so it is definately needed. But is it needed on page one? I thought long and hard about this. I thought about the comments by from the crits. What type of story was I writing? What type of market am I aiming for? My MWS reader asked me to put myself along side another writer in my chosen genre to help an agent place me. She gave me a few suggestions, but I hadn't read most of them or not in many years anyway. Needless to said their books are now on my tbr. I don't yet know where to place myself as my writing is changing and evolving. This is a problem, I know.

So where am I going with this? Well, while in Cape Town I thought about ACH. I thought about where it had come from and how on this last rewrite I turned the book around and balanced it out. It became Maddie's story and not Serena's. In order to do this the stakes rose dramatically. The issues became heavier. It was no longer a book of team angst and light romance. It had pain on the type of pain alot of people don't want to look at or talk about. I stopped and thought about where I found this as I am a glass half full person. Life is good even when it stinks because that's life. Yet the words of one of my first readers spoke to me - 'I was disappointed because I wanted to see you deal with more because it's in you.' (This was about August Rock) So I did with ACH. ACH is a book about letting love and forgiveness back in your life when you can't forgive yourself. It's about hating what you've done so much that you shut down part of what you are. It's about faith and it's about redemption. So I had a choice. Do I do another rewrite and make it lighter? Just focus on the relationship between the two women with a romance thrown in or do I let the book stand as I want it? Do I want to get published or let this sit in the drawer?

I want to find a publisher, but in my heart I knew that ACH must stay pretty much as it stands which more than likely means in these depressed times it will be rejected again and again, but you know what that's okay. Odd to say that, but ACH's message is important and one day it will find a way out.

Having said the above ACH won't get any where if I don't send it out. Which I confess I had thought of doing. I debated leaving it for another year to see if my writing or the world had changed. But then I thought no. I really like the book and my characters and lets put them to the test. So they are out in the big bad world as I write and in someways it is a freeing experience.

Now back to the prologue - so when looking at the script I realized that the prologue was there for me. It was there to keep me focused on what caused all the things that subsequently happened in the novel. I needed the reminder right in my face so that I couldn't back off from the issues, but the reader doesn't. So the two pages of prolugue will now appear 3/4's of the way through the book and I think it will be much stronger for the reader there. I hope it will be the point where the reader think okay, I see where she's coming from now.

I am also hoping that by pulling the prologue out I won't be confronting my reader on the first page. I want them drawn into the world of these to women. To laugh with them and to cry as them stumble and fall along their way to a happy ending because, of course, with me writing there will always be a happy ending - I just may have dragged the reader through hell to get there though.

Where do you stand on prologues? Have you written them? Have you kept them? The ones you've read did they add or detract from the story?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Catch Up

The boys have gone back to school and the laundry from Cape Town is done. Now to catch up on all that I didn't do in the past two and half weeks. I did write though so I will update the word counter shortly.

While in Cape Town it gave me time to think about the reports I have had back on ACH. At first, as always, I wanted to retreat even though they hadn't told me it was crap. In fact, if I look at both, it was much more positive than negative, but as with things I was too close. So clear air and blue seas gave me some much needed perspective. Today I slashed the synopsis from three pages to one. I hate doing this, but this time I found it really helped me to focus on what I needed to change and what I don't. It left me feeling that the story as it stands is the one I want to tell and it may take some more editing, but it will find its way.

So I will be subbing it at the end of this week to one of my open doors. If nothing else it will provide me with more feedback - good or bad. It might open dialogue which would be wonderful.

Now head down to catch up with edits, blogs and life...........

Friday, October 31, 2008

Farewell Cape Town

I fell in love with Cape Town but it's hard not to. The weather was perfect, the people friendly, and scenery spectacular. I had no idea what to expect to be honest. One sees photos of Table Mountain but it doesn't prepare you for the experience of this mass dominating the city. One reads about the Cape of Good Hope and yet I was overcome standing on ground I had only ever imagined I would read about and watch in tv documentaries. Even in this shrinking world I had never really believed I would make it to the end of Africa.

I had thought it might be spoiled like so many places I have dreamt about but what I found was a place almost too beautiful and colourful. The landscape pulled bits of memory from me. The architecture here and there was reminiscane of Martha's Vineyard and Maine. On Cape Point I saw glimpse of the bleakness of Goonhilly in Cornwall and the Majesty of the Rockies in Canada.

I had to fight back tears by the end of the Robben Island tour. I knew it would be emotive but I hadn't expected the sight of Nelson Mandela's cell to hit me so hard. I was also struck by the fact that my children knew nothing of Aparthied. At first I was shocked at their lack of knowledge then I realized that they are global kids who have no concept of this sort of racsim. I walked away lifted knowing that at least part of the world had changed for the better.

I hated leaving yesterday but I know we will return to explore with more leisure. This flying visit was a taster and I certainly want more. Plus I didn't make it to the vineyards although I sampled many a good bottle of wine with the fabulous seafood.

P.S. JJ the penguins were adorable and just the right size to slip into your handbag but they are rather too fragrent to do so :-)