Monday, March 31, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

I held the cup between my fingers and looked out the patio door to the two blond head bent over their porridge. They were so alike yet one loved me and other didn’t. Tom and I didn’t speak last night after I told him about what I heard on the plane and what I saw at the ski slope. I wasn’t sure if it was my fault or his. He just told me to stop dreaming things up and that my imagination had gone haywire with this one. I just stopped speaking after that. I mean if he couldn’t at listen to my fears then what point was there and having any other conversation. I listened to his hopes and fears yet he wouldn’t bestow me the same courtesy.

“Mum, could I have some more milk?”

“Sure, love.” I walked to the kitchen and noted the cat had wolfed down his food. The dirty stop out had spent the night terrorizing the local gecko population and was no doubt asleep on my former bed as I poured the milk. I wondered if he would move to the guest room or would his loyalties remain with Tom and the four poster bed after all the cat loved luxuries.

I picked out a few words in their conversation – Hamilton, Räikkönen – to know that they were discussing Ollie’s favourite thing F1 racing. I placed the milk down and slipped back into the sitting room. Although I enjoyed watching the odd race I couldn’t deal with continuous discussions of the pros and cons of which car or which tyre.

I looked at my watch. It was ten past seven and Ollie would be late if I didn’t chivvy them along. I was waiting for them to go this morning so that I could speak to a counsellor. I couldn’t keep this anger building up any more.

“Finished, Ollie?” I watched him spoon the last mouthful in and Tom sipped his coffee. My eyes lingered on his lips and I couldn’t stop the yearning to kiss it again. I turned away.

The air went still and then the windows shook. The curtains billowed out vertical. A deep cratering sound filled the air.

“What the hell was that?” Tom was standing and looking to the sky.

“What ever it was it was close.”

“That was so cool. Did you see Pasha jump?” Ollie was on his feet pointing at the cat who was obviously not on my bed but now beside the sofa. “What exploded?”

“I don’t think it was an explosion. Sounded more like a collapse, a big collapse.” Tom was looking over the garden wall. A few more explosions could be heard.

I was standing totally still as a cloud of smoke rose just to the south in the direction of the mall. I walked to the kitchen and turned on the radio to see if there was any news. The morning radio shows picked things up quickly like the latest crash of Sheik Zayed Road. Hopefully they would end the suspence.

“You two had better head off. Traffic will be affected.” I shouted from the kitchen as I checked Ollie’s bag. Did he have PE to day? What day was it?

Reports just in that there is an explosion just off of Sheik Zayed Road near interchange three, drive carefully as traffic is already backing up. We will let you know more when we have details.

“What were they saying?” Tom strode into the room clutching his briefcase.

“An explosion near Sheik Zayed Road, interchange three. No other details at the moment.”

“I just hope it wasn’t a chemical explosion. The smoke is coming this way.” His eyes met mine and then he bent to pick up Ollie’s bag.

“I’m sure they will let us know if it is.”

“True. You’re home today if Ollie needs collecting early because of this?”

I nodded I wasn’t going to say what I was doing. I would have my mobile and wouldn’t be far.

“It wasn’t the ski slope, Sam.”

“I didn’t say it was.”

“You didn’t have to. Your eyes speak when you don’t. What you heard on the plane was what your mind has made it into.”

“I am a linguist.”

“Bahasa wasn’t ever one of your languages.”

“I learnt enough to translate those words easily.”

“You had taken a sleeping pill and not doubt a glass or two of wine so I wouldn’t rely on your language capabilities in those circumstances.”

“You never do under any.” The words were out before I could stop them.

“Sam, that is so bloody untrue.”

“What is bloody untrue?” Ollie walked in with the remnants of toothpaste around his mouth. I quickly wiped them away with my hand enjoying the feel of his smooth skin.

“Nothing, sweetheart.”

I watched the small head swing from his mother and his father.

“Come on mate or you’ll be late.”

“Yeah, Dad.” Ollie grabbed his bags from his dad and followed him through the door. How much did he know? How much had he picked up?

The smoke can be seen as far as Sharjah but we still don’t know what was the cause of the explosion and the smaller explosions but it is in Al Quoz between Sheik zayed and Al Khail Road. A large dark smoke cloud can now be seen from Sharja. Traffic is backing up. Please don’t stop to ogle keep moving. We will let you know when we have more details. There is also a five car pile up at the Trade Centre roundabout.

I watched them pull out of the drive as the smoke slowly covered the bright morning sun. I felt a chill even though I knew it was twenty five degrees.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Friday, March 28, 2008


Something has shifted in me or my writing. I am not sure when I crossed this boundry. It seems to have snuck up soundlessly. I am back deep into editing and rewriting ( and loving it) however this morning I spent twenty minutes trying to find and use the right word for a simple action. No surprise there, you say - well for me there is. I am formost a story teller and I have not dwelt on the words individualy. It was getting the story out that mattered.

So this morning I looked at the action I was trying to convey. It was simple. She was placing something somewhere away from her. I suddenly realized that this was a key thing. She was moving on from the past and all it held. So the did she place it? Did she put it? Did she thrust it down? Did she deposited it? Did she park it? Plunk? Rest? Stick? Settle?

See the problem.......I realized that this was a the first turning point in the novel. What was she thinking? How she handles this bust of her dead husband would tell a great deal.

To many of you - this is something you do all the time but for me this was new. In the past whatever word first came to mind stayed but I am now looking at the sublte nouances of the words...........something tells me that this rewrite could take a long time!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

New Mantras

Some days you get what you need and JA Konrath's post here
provides a bucket load of what I need but two resonated for today and will become my new mantra. Can you find any on his list that work for you?

"Write when you can. Finish what your start. Edit what you finish. Submit what you've edited. Repeat. "

"There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published "

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


I normally write Explosive Dreams just before they are published but I'm afraid the next weeks chapter is done and dusted thanks to events in Dubai this morning......sometimes life hands you writing details that you just can't pass up. So I confess that I am ahead of schedule.

Also this morning I have plunged back into A Cornish House. It's been two weeks since I looked at it with the new delevelopments. I read through the new prologue and right now I do feel it does put the story squarely back in Madde's court and I am suddenly excited about the changes I need to make. So fingers crossed this works.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

Ollie’s small frame exploded into a run as he saw me standing in the shade. Tears welled in my eyes and I knew that life was indeed good if I could mean this much to someone. I waited for the impact as the small body reached me. My arms were wide then suddenly full of eight year old boy.

“Mum.” His blond head pressed into my stomach.

“Hello, handsome. You survived without me.”

“Yeah, just.” His gap tooth grin filled his freckled face. Had he lost another tooth while I was away? Could things happen that fast? He looked like he had grown an inch. “What did you bring me?” Big eyes stared up at me.

“You didn’t miss me!” I ran my fingers through his hair and savoured the feel of the silky threads. “You only want me for my presents.”

“Yeah right, Mum. So what did you get me?”

I pulled out the football tee shirt from my hand bag and enjoyed the squeal of delight from him.. Simple gift - great pleasure. The sun caught the three carat diamond on my finger. Beautiful gift complicated feelings.

“Over here.” I could see Becca waving from the mass of cars outside the school gates. My head still felt muzzy from the wine at lunch. I should know better but I did it anyway. When will I grow up? Supposedly in two days. I gulped.

“Are we going with Becca and Harry?” Ollie pulled gently at my hand as we walked to the car.



I couldn’t help but smile. Ollie was such a happy child as he rolled from school to afterschool activities. How could I ruin his world?

We arrived at the Mall of Emirates and managed to find a parking space. I was continually amazed that here was a ski slope in the desert. Life was stranger than fiction. The boys rushed off to join their two hour class and we settled down for coffee to kill time. I just hoped that we had finished discussing my sex life as I was not sure I could take any more exposure. If anything sex was the one thing that worked in my marriage but dear Dolores wouldn’t let go of her theories. As she put it she had seen many a marriage come and go and those that had survived were those that kept the sex going. She should know she had been happily married for nearly fifty years and she said they were still at it. It boggled the mind really but it was incredibly sweet as was her concern.

I looked into the creamy froth of my cappuccino and then at the blue light that filled the snow park. In their success of building a ski slope they even managed to capture that low light that fills the mountains before it begins to snow. My eye caught a small child in a tube at the snow play park as I searched for Ollie on the slope. I could just make out Ollie’s class. He and Harry were pushing and shoving each other until they were told off. Both then stood so straight I started laughing.

“Do mind if we slip off and do a bit of shopping?” Becca knocked back her espresso.

“Not at all.” I smiled as I saw just how similar they looked.

“Need anything?”

“New life.”

Becca bashed me over the top of my head and left with her mother. I wondered how my mother was. I hadn’t heard from her in months but then she had a busy life and didn’t find it necessary to check with her only daughter. I bet Michael had heard from, though. I had always been told that parents kept in touch with daughters and that sons slipped away. It wasn’t that case in our family. The sun rose and set on Michael. I was the after thought. I wondered if it would have been different if dad was still alive.

I waved to the waiter for another. Lack of sleep and two glasses of wine were having their effect. Last night the sofa had not been the best place to sleep especially as Pasha, the cat, chose to nest in my hair. I had woken with an incredibly stiff neck. I hadn’t planned on sleeping on the sofa but it happened.

While I waited for the next dose of caffeine to kick in, I watched the child in the snow park with his maid. I still had to get used to seeing head scarves and ski suits together. I didn’t notice them any where else but just never pictured them on the slopes. Another maid joined the child and swept down the shute with the him laughing for all they were worth. Life was so free when one was young. People looked after you and made sure that nothing happen and then boom the real world hits about age twenty one. The stabilisers are taken away and you are free to fall as hard as you want.

I viewed the maids as they picked up the small child up and tickled him. His was head thrown back and they had matching smiles. The realization kicked in that they were the two Indonesian women on the plane. I watched them pull the kid around and explore the base of the ski slope slowly. The child seemed to want them to go faster but they didn’t oblige him. This was most unusual. Normally maids were much attuned to the child’s desires. Suddenly one of them pulled out of her ski suit a phone, the brand new one I had seen on the plane with the great camera, and began to take pictures. I watched for a while. She was taking so many. I wondered if she knew how to use it yet the flash kept going off. They walked the base of the slope and through the whole kids snow park taking too many pictures to count then it dawned on me that they were not photographing the child but the construction of the slope. Words rumbled in my brain. Snow…….Bomb……….Ski.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter and Wadi Again

It's been a strange Easter Day here. I am used to tradional ones and this one has been any but.... We went to the children's Easter vigil service last night as dd left this morning for her two day residental away from us :-(

However it wan't the usual church thing......we were not allowed to park near the churches and we were searched going in.......also there was a very nice dish dashed man who stood quietly at the back of the church and sereval about the building. There is a point when one knows in one's bones that all was not right and here I was bringing someone elses child into danger. I am pleased to say that all was fine and I thanked the police at the gate who were quietly doing a great job.

So that left today feeling very empty. DD left at 7:30 and we took the boys to the wadi where we took sil. So they swam, climbed a mountain and ate turkey legs with humous. I must confess I was missing DD and roast lamb but it was a brilliant day.

BTW the Easter Bunny was very obliging and came on Saturday morning for us.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Rant and Links

So it's Easter Saturday and I have laid the table for Easter Sunday and I must say it looks pretty with eggs and jelly beans........ We are celebrating Easter Sunday today. Why you may ask - because dd has school tomorrow and not only does she have school tomorrow she is going away on a residential trip! She is eight.

I know where I am living but she goes to a British curriculum school......had she been going to Choifat she would have Easter Sunday off. Something is not right in this picutre.

So today we will celebrate Easter and thankfully we can attend church this evening as a family (the boys arrived yesterday morning).

Now for something writerly.......links. The first one is to Ray-Anne who has a brilliant post on loglines or what you say when you are asked what the book is about......I needed this post! The next one is to Steve Malley and here. The man has a brilliant insight into the writing process.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

An almost silent whisper spread about the shops and an instant electric energy crackled about me. I heard a briefcase shut somewhere behind me and I watched the woman with the pink nails quickly stub out her cigarette and duck back into the clothing shop. The hawkers sing song stopped and I looked up to see two municipality people walking in my direction. I continued to study the beach shoes on display and hoped that Rebecca and Dolores wouldn’t be shut upstairs too long. A quick glance at my watch said it was eleven thirty. I needed to collect Ollie from school just after two. With traffic as bad as it was in Dubai these days it meant leaving from here by one thirty at the latest and Rebecca had planned on lunch together. That might not happen.

I went in the store and selected the required tee shirts all the while keeping my eyes open for what was going on outside. I watched the crisp white of the dish dashes walk into the shop next-door where the lady with the pink nails had fled. Of course it probably wasn’t the woman from the plane. I mean why would she be here in Karama in a shop that sold belly dancing skirts and wooden camels? When I saw her last she was in a channel suit with a sleek bob so why would I think that this woman in tight jeans and stilettos was the same woman. My mind was clearly working overtime. I stepped out into the sun and to pick up what was being said in the shop while I tried to admire the carving on a camel’s hump.

I could hear them speaking Arabic. My eyes widen when I realized that the woman was fluent. I felt a tingle of excitement that I couldn’t explain but that quickly withered as I realized they were exchanging pleasantries about the weather. I watched them shake hands and the two men in white walked out of the shop. The woman slipped into the back room.
I put the camel down and jumped as a hand fell onto my shoulder.

“Mum’s in the car. We got out in time? Did you managed to find the Man U shirt for me or should I pop in next door?”

“I’ve got it.” I was willing my heartbeat to return to normal.

“Great let’s go get some lunch. We won’t be able to do any more shopping here today.” Becca looked to the two figures retreating into another shop. I slowly followed her to the car. What was wrong with me? I was imagining all sorts of crazy things and the reality was that it couldn’t be the same woman from the plane. Tomorrow I would make an appointment to have my eyes checked. I turned one final time to see the woman standing out in front of the display of camels and I could swear she was looking at me.

“That was a close one.” Dolores smiled at me from the front seat tapping her heavy blue plastic bag.

“Yes.” I nodded my mind still with the woman. “Where are we going for lunch?”

“There’s a great restaurant in the new hotel by the Burj Dubai.”

“Is it open?”

“Yes, and they’re doing a cracking business lunch including a glass of wine. Just what you need.” Becca manoeuvred out into the traffic. Did I need a glass of wine? I didn’t think so but I needed some thing. Two days until I hit the big 4 0 and my life was a mess.

I looked to the ever growing tower as we approached. There was no way you would ever get me to the top of it. At about 630 metres and growing daily the soon to be tallest building in the world looked impressive. The outside skin was being applied and I could see that it would become a thing of beauty but just looking up on that great height gave me the willies.

“How did you find this place, Becca?” I asked as we walked through the new souk.

“Oh, you know I heard there was another shopping area opened so I had to check it out.” I nodded. Becca knew all the best spots. She prided herself on it. I swear she could write the dream shoppers guide to Dubai - if you needed something she knew where to find it at the best price.

The restaurant was still quiet as most people ate a bit later than twelve but this gave us the choice of the best table with view of the growing Burj. I took the seat with my back to it. I couldn’t bear to think of all those men working that high off the ground. I would never be able to eat viewing the service lift cling to the outside. I was a wimp supreme.

Before long I had a large glass of white wine in front of me. I knew this wasn’t a good idea but a ploy. I had protested that I needed to drive later and Becca said that she had to do school pick and ski Dubai too so she would abstain and I could drink. Did I look that in need of a drink?

“Samantha, when was the last time you and Tom had any couple time?” Dolores looked at me over her wine glass.

I nearly choked on my first sip. “What do you mean?”

“When did you last go away together?”

“I don’t know. Maybe four or five years ago.” Becca leant back and watched her mother. I was wondering what had happened to the sweet and polite lady that was in the car earlier.

“How is your sex life?”

This time I did spew my wine. Did she just say what I thought she said? I looked around to see the waiter hovering closer.

“Excuse me.”

“You heard, Mum.”

“Yes, dear, how is your sex life? Does it exist? This can cause so many problems at this point.”

My head was spinning. I looked at Dolores’s neat white hair combed elegantly back behind her ears and wondered if I was hallucinating. “I have a sex life or did until recently but I’m not sure where you are heading with this.”

She nodded and took another sip of her wine. “You are coming up forty and your sex drive is gearing up. It is a wonderful decade but it normally coincides with husband steep climb up the ladder so his drops or he looks for excitement else where thinking that you won't provide it. Men get it so wrong so many times. Herein many a problem occurs. You want more he has energy for less or he wanders.”

I blinked. Becca was sipping her sparkling water as if we were discussing the weather. This was her mother talking about sex and not just any sex but my sex life.

“So, my dear are you having any sex and is it satisfying your needs.”

I swallowed and then took another large sip of wine while I hoped the starters would appear soon. That waiter hadn’t moved, the sod, and I knew I needed to say something.
“Well, we haven’t had any sex since the last fight about a week ago but when we did it was good.” I hoped that the confession would put the bloodhound off.

“Once a week is not going to be enough. Was it a quickie or did you take time with it?”

Shit, she wasn’t letting go. I thought back to the last time and it was fast and furious and good. A smile crossed my lips and I saw the waiter hover closer. This was bloody embarrassing. I felt like we were discussing me having an illicit affair and not my sex life with my husband.

“Dolores, I don’t think sex is the problem with Tom and me.”

“It is always there around the periphery, dear, if not the central problem. If it’s not sex and by that I mean what you are having or not and with whom, what do you see is the problem then?”

I leaned back in my chair. Was I making more out of the problem with Tom and me? Was sex the problem? Or was it something less interesting and more difficult to address? Maybe I should just focus on the sex.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


We were up early this morning to go dolphin watching and we weren't disappointed. I have never seen so many.......

The scenery was bliss - here's a few photos to expalin why the latest chapter of Explosive Dreams isn't written. I promise you I am going to work on it now - just before happy hour and maybe tomorrow morning before we head back to Dubai I'll post it - well one can hope!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Well, it's down as a first - St. Patrick's Day in Oman and I haven't brought any green to wear.

I'm just out side Muscat and the temperature is somewhere above 30 and the pool is bliss. Enjoyed a lunch of salad, calamari and white wine.......feeling very content having just finished Julie Cohen's One Night Stand. I smiled laughed my way through until the very end when a few tears appeared behind the sun glasses. I love it when I read a book and managed to lose myself in it and forget the skill that went into it. I giggled and blushed (must have been the heat) and just thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think very few writers could have pulled off the premise for this book and made it so bl..dy good........

Hopefully the next installemt of Explosive Dreams will be up tomorrow!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Few Pics For The Road

Had a fabulous few days away and I'll let the pictures do the talking...... These were taken near the Ray pools and Hatta. I'm off to Muscat tomorrow for a few days. Think I'll have internet access.........

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Off Exploring

Just off with sil to the back in a few days!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Six

Chapter Six

“I really shouldn’t be going,” I said to Rebecca.

“I know but it’s Mum’s last day and she would like your company.” I could picture Rebecca’s mother, Doleres, with her pixie face and couldn’t stop the smile spreading across my face.
I twisted the diary in my hands. There were a thousand I things I should be doing and going handbag shopping wasn’t one of them but it wouldn’t be handbag shopping. It would be quality time with friends which was different all together but Tom’s scathing words about Julia and me shopping echoes in my ears. He clearly felt that was all I did but he was so wrong.

“Okay, I give in. I’ll be with you a few minutes.”

I looked down at the note on the table. Tom’s scratchy writing stared at me.

Don’t forget that Ollie has a snow boarding lesson after school today.

There was no kiss, no love, no nothing but what did I expect and yet this morning when I woke I was carefully covered in a blanket from our bed as I had collapsed on the sofa rather than face the spare room. He obviously cared enough not to let me become chilled in the air-conditioning but not enough to put any warmth in the note. Maybe he had expected me to crawl into bed with him. It seemed no matter what I did it would be the wrong thing.

Rebecca was pulling her Cayenne out of the drive as I approached. Dolores was waving. It would be great to have a mum like that but it wasn’t to be. I clambered into the back seat.

“So, Sam how was Jakarta?” Rebecca led the car swiftly into the traffic. I flinched as a speeding car nearly collided with another in front.

“Your voice doesn’t sound fantastic?” Rebecca avoided another accident and I began to wonder if the traffic had taken another notch down the scale of dire while I was away or had I just forgotten.

“Sorry, must be jet lag.”

“You don’t suffer jet lag.”

“Don’t I?”

“Your own words. What’s up? Is it Tom?”

“What’s wrong with you and Tom?” Dolores swung round to face me in the back seat like a heat seeking missile pixie.

“Lots, I think.” We nearly crashed into a lurching lorry. “Concentrate on the driving Becca and not on what I’m saying.”

“Right.” I watched both her hands grip the wheel.

A gentle hand crept back and touched my knee. I looked at the ages spots that were liberally sprinkled across it and felt a lump in my throat. My grandmother’s hand used to look the same way and I used to trace my fingers across then playing invisible connect the dots.

“Now, I’ll need your help girls to find the right now bags for the granddaughters. I haven’t any idea what the young like.” A gentle smile peered back at me and I grinned back. How did one learn that type of tack? I stared out the window and tried to put all thoughts of me and Tom out of my head.

Dolores linked her arm through my as soon as we arrived. I wasn’t sure if it was for my comfort or to dissuade the chorus of hawkers as we worked out way to our favourite handbag shop. “Watches madam. Handbags, madam. Good price.” They all seemed to sing in rounds.
Rebecca kept shooting me sly glances my while we greeted the man who ran our favourite haunt. I was trying to focus my mind on the task at hand. What was the latest it bag for eighteen year olds. Was it the Chloe? Or Marc Jacobs? What was this seasons must have colour?

My fingers slipped over the leather testing for quality? I was trying to lose myself in the texture.

“Did you have another fight?” Becca leaned close to me.

“Not quite.”

“Just what does that mean?” she asked.

“We didn’t shout.”

“That’s positive, isn’t it?”

“It depends.”

“What depends dear? I do like this green, don’t you?” Dolores held up a messenger bag in a olive green.

I nodded and indicated to the man we’d like to see some other bags. I had hoped this would change Becca’s train of thought as we left the shop for another.

“You both need to see a counsellor. You need to do it for Ollie.”

“I won’t argue with you there but I know there is no way that Tom will go near that. That would mean talking about what is actually wrong and hearing my point of view. He just hasn’t got time for that.”

Rebecca gave me one of her stern glances that normally had her three kids quaking in their shoes. I shrugged it off. I knew Tom wouldn’t go into counselling. It wasn’t how he looked at life. He would sign the divorce papers before he see a therapist of any kind.

“Dolores, see that green colour there.” I pointed to a Louis Vuiton satchel. “That is one of this season’s colours. Can you two excuse me? I have just remembered that I didn’t pick up a gift for Ollie while I was away. I’m going to go buy him a tea shirt next door.”

“We’ll meet you there. If you see a Man U shirt in Peter’s size will you pick it up for me?” Rebecca was clutching the latest Channel that I quite fancied but I at this point I didn’t dare bring a new bag into the villa.

My eyes rebelled at the bright sunlight and I swung my sunglasses down from the top of my head. I was about to duck into the sportswear shop when I noticed a Filipino woman smoking outside the children’s shop next door. Something about her was familiar. I paused to look at the rack of shoes by the entrance and hoped that my glasses were dark enough that she couldn’t see my scrutiny.

Her long black hair hung loose on her shoulders and she wore a tight tee shirt over sprayed on jeans with three inch stilettos. How she could stand in them all day I didn’t know. She took a deep drag on her cigarette and that’s when I noticed that she wasn’t quite what she appeared. Her features were not of the Philippines and she had short pink nails.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Process of Creativity

I was going to talk about touring Dubai today but I'll do that tomorrow or the next day......Yesterday we took the sil down to the Bastakia area of Dubai to the Majlis Gallery. There were three reason for - sil has known one of the owners of gallery for years, two - our painter friend Paul Wadsworth had some new work to show us, and three - the area is just plain fabulous. So as I said I was going to talk about doing Dubai but then I was thinking about Paul's paintings......

Yesterday we were priviledged enough to see severeal works in progress which all inspired by his recent trips to Oman. These were all about Oman gardens which are lush. I find Paul use of colour exquiste (and have a large painting of his hanging in our sitting room). But yeterday I was very curious to see his working process. His sketch pads are filled and he's taken many photos but when he begins painting there is nothing on the canvas. he just moves at it with colour and large movements. Slowly the work emerges and details and fine tuning come late.

Looking at a these paintings in the early stages I could see things. i was pulled into the works even though they were raw. When I paint I need to have a preliminary sketch at minimum on the page ( here shows my lack of skill and training). I am afraid to just go for it.

However I realized that that is how I approach my writing. I do a minimum of background notes and a few plot ideas on a sheet of paper and then tuck it away. When I write the first draft it is straight onto the page before the idea dries up then I can come back into and put the detail in......

How do you work?

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Christmas Come Early

Sil arrive late on Thursday night and she brought with her my Amazon order!!!!

So where do I start? With Julie's One Night Stand? With Julia's Pasture's New? With Jan's Stage by Stage? With C.S.'s When God's Die? Or with Phillipa's Wish You Were Here?

I don't know but must be discipled and finish the Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox first.....which I am really enjoying but I have waited for these books for so long......

With sil here I may not get much reading or writing done but I used her as a sounding board last night for the changes in A Cornish House and she said to her they worked. DH who was listening said 'and this has a happy ending? How? It sounds more like a slash your wrist job.' It will have a happy ending because that is just me!

Yesterday which went to Friday (remember Friday is Sunday here) Brunch at the Al Muntaha restaurant (200 metres above sea level - the sticky out bit in the picture! ) in the Burj Al Arab. It was too die for........I skipped all the lovely salads, breads and things I could have anywhere and went straight for the lobster tails and prawns. Not that the lobsters were not Maine lobsters or even Cornish ones but they were fabulous and such a decadent treat as was the caviar (got used to this when living in Moscow). I then managed to fit in some prime rib before dd lead me to the puddings. Lets just say that one has to put all thoughts of diets aside and just enjoy. It was a buffet worth living for.....

(the colours in this photos are muted but in life think crayon box primary - red, blue, green!)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Laughter and Learning

I had a very high brow post planned for today but my day began with hysterics after DH read this headline from the Gulf News - "Lovers fight after man breaks wind. " You can find the full article here. It's well worth a read. I am still trying to recover.

Things for A Cornish House are starting to fall in place, I think. Having the lightbulb moment, while reading Pillow Talk by Freya North, that I haven't given Madde a voice I realized yesterday working with Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook that I hadn't really given Madde much of a story. Now, I know that sounds funny but it's very true. Here's my protagonist and although her story is interesting and touching it just isn't enough to balance out the story of Serena. So this is why she takes over even though she controls fewer pages in the story - her story is more compelling. So when I had been pounding the pavement around Safa Park here in Dubai in the mornings I worked through some aspect of Madde's story that I could change but it seemed pat as I said a few days ago. But then Julie's words...The key is to write them in such a way that only you could have done it.

So the brain went into overdrive with the questions posed in Donald Maass's book. I could make this work and tell it my way which would make it unique. So while I circumnavigated Safa Park this morning more of the new plot line fell into place and it will make this Madde's story and Serena will take second place. However I know this won't be an easy rewrite. I just hope I am up to the task because I will have raised the stakes and I don't want to let Madde down now that she has become more vulnerable and more flawed.

I finished Pillow Talk earlier this week - Delicious. The book is a pleasure to read and I enjoyed every moment of it. A truly romantic story for the Romantic Novel of the Year award.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Gazing down on Oliver’s regular breathing helped to steady mine. Tom and I hadn’t said a word as we entered the villa. I touched the soft blond curl behind Oliver’s ear and lent down to inhale in the scent of him. A tear rolled down my cheek. What the hell was I doing? What was happening with us or was it just with me? Oliver’s happiness was the most important thing here. Not me and not Tom.

I felt Tom standing by the door. I couldn’t look at it him. It was three in the morning and I didn’t know what to do. I was shattered and needed my bed but not if it meant sleeping next to Tom. I longed for Ollie to wake and drag me beside him where I could wrap him in my arms and forget the world.

“He missed you.”

“I missed him.” My back stiffed. I didn’t want Tom intruding into my thoughts.

“But not me.” Without looking at him I knew his arms would be across his chest. He had every right to feel defensive.

“That’s not quite true.”

“Explain then.”

I put my finger to my lips and crept out of Oliver’s room. If we were about to have a blazing row I didn’t want it to take place in there. I watched Tom back off towards our bedroom. I didn’t want to infect the air in there so I whizzed past him to the stairs.

Once in the kitchen I put the kettle on. Rather than making mint tea I really needed something stronger. “Would you like one?” I asked as I heard his feet hit the tile floor.

“No. What I’d like to know is what is happening in that head of yours.”

I sometimes wondered that myself but I wasn’t going to admit it. He doubted my sanity enough as it was. In fact he just didn’t believe me except my comment about taking through divorce with Julia. He clearly took that very seriously.

Tom came close behind me. I could feel my body reacting to his proximity. He always tried to get around me with the physical side of things but even that had been lacking lately. I held my breath waiting for his touch but it didn’t come. He just stood there behind me and suddenly I felt his confusion. It matched my own.

Cool air rushed toward my back as he walked to the other side of the room. I rubbed my arms and stood staring at the kettle that wouldn’t boil.

“So you didn’t miss me.”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Then maybe you should tell me then what you meant.”

“You haven’t given me a chance.” I watched the tea bag wilt under the boiling water.

“You’ve got it now.”

“Right.” I turned with the mug in my hands. I was enjoying the warmth in my fingers. “I did miss you in a way.”

“That’s good too know.” His arms were across his chest again.

“You didn’t let me finish.” I paused and waited for interruption. “I missed the Tom that I married all those years ago.”

“But you didn’t miss the me of now. Is what you are saying?”

“Yes, in short that is very true.”

“Great.” He started walking.

“See that’s it. In the past you would have waited for me to explain what I meant instead of just walking away. You don’t have time for me any more.”

“Well, that makes it mutual.” He stopped in the door way.

“That is so bloody untrue.”

“From your stand point.” He walked through the door and called from the stairs, “The guest bed is made up. Why don’t you sleep there tonight? I’ll take Ollie to school in the morning.”

I looked at the empty doorway. That had gone well. My dread of having to share a bed with him again had been solved. I didn’t have to worry about that any more. I sipped the scalding tea. I couldn’t taste the mint but I could still taste the salt from my tears.

I unlocked the back door and walked into the early morning air. All was still black and scent from the frangipani tree filled the air. I sank into the nearest chair. What has happened to my life? I was a few days off being forty and I was more confused than I had been at eighteen. Back then I knew what I wanted and Tom was it. Now twenty-two years later I had him. Or did I? I didn’t think so. He may say that he is still with us but I can’t help feeling these are empty words. When did he leave us?

The call of the mosque told me it must be just after five. Dampness had settled on me and the tea was cold yet I still held the cup in my hand. I looked up to the sky and saw nothing. There were no stars or moon. What was I going to do? Was I going to let go of Tom and our past? But what of Oliver and his need for two parents. If I walked away from Tom it would mean leaving Dubai and that was all Oliver had known. He had never lived in England more than a few weeks at a time. How would I cope living back there? Had it really come to this? Yet Tom had told me to sleep in the guest room. Should I go crawl into our own bed and try to make amends. I thought of all the times I had woken him with caresses that lead to amazing sex. Would that fix things? Or would it just highlight the problems even more? Physically the attraction was still there but was there anything else?

I stretched my legs and stood up. The possibility that he wouldn’t respond to me hit like a slap in the face.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Wonderful Award From JJ

I woke up this morning wondering what the day held. Fog had settled around the streets of Dubai and with a chilly 14 degrees and I felt home sick for Cornwall. Blogger/google was playing silly with me and wouldn't let me see anyone else's blogs saying I was a spamming virus. Now I have been called many things in my life but that is new.

Fortunately that seems to be resolved and could go and received my lovely new award. Feeling the way I have been feeling lately the kind words from JJ made cry a bit. Here's what she said-

I'd like to pass it on to Liz who was having a moment of despair last time I looked. I really hope that's all it is because Liz has always been a huge role model to me. Her industry, like Cally's , never faulters; her diligence puts me to shame and her constant attention and generosity to the Novel Racers and their adminstration is the best.

I will be posting the latest installment of the Dickens Challenge tomorrow as I am a bit behind this week. I have to confess this was because I was out hand bag shopping with Penny Jordan. Life is good some times and it was all in age of research for the Explosive Dreams I can assure you :-)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Madde Doesn't Have A Voice

First thank you for all your support while I looked at my writing or lack there of and fell into the pit of despair......Several things occurred to me. One is how wonderful the are people who visit my blog and two what a trememdous amount of knowledge there is out there in blog land.

A light bulb moment has just literally occured. I am enjoying a lazy Saturday morning thinking that well if I can't write I can bl..dly well read. So I have been stretched out on the sofa with Pillow Talk by Freya North. This is the book that won the Romantic Novel of the Year and I must say the pages are just turning.

Anyway in the back of my mind was the comment from Julie Cohen regarding the fact that my writing is too pat. here is her comment (hope you don't mind Julie):

"I think it's almost impossible to tell if your own ideas are "too pat". I write things that I think are obvious all the time and someone will always say she didn't see it coming (though perhaps they are just being nice). Of course the ideas are obvious to you, you thought them up yourself. The key is to write them in such a way that only you could have done it. "

I love Julie's books. Her slant on life is fresh and lively. Her voice is unique. So you are wondering where I am going with is this I can tell. Well, I have been struggling with A Cornish House and the fact that Serena, the 15 year old, dominates the story even though page for page there is less of her. I have spent hours thinking of how to balance the story and what can to do to Madde to make her story as compelling. Then reading Freya's book I realize that I have starved Madde of her voice. I have told her story although in her viewpoint in dialogue and action but none of it really in her head and with her thoughts. I know this is a funny thing to say but I felt freedom to run riot in Serena's head which is sucessful but I held back from Madde's because I was incorrectly thinking that being in Madde's head was telling and showing and make for bad writing if that makes any sense.

Suddenlty thinking about this I think this may be what holds August Rock back from being the book it could be .......but I am not going to rewrite that one now. However having decided this morning that I was going to give myself a week to work on the new book I know now I am going to go back into Madde's head from the start and let her voice be heard!!!

Here's a great link if you haven't seen it before - it gives one hope.