Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Am Still Alive

Hi. I have been a bad blogger. I am alive but I am struggling a bit. I know where I need to go with this d*mn rewrite but I can't find out how to get there. So for the time being I am trying to keep my head down and focus - thus far not much success. So I may be a tad quiet for a little bit.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Useful Procrastenation Link

Over on Calsitro's blog she found a fabulous link that tells you whether you write like a man or a woman. Try it here. I found it a useful tool even if it was procrastenation! I was pleased my chapters in the male pov came out as a man writing and my heroines female. What was deeply intriguing is that Serena's chapters come out male - I guess it's all that teenage angst! But then by the end of the book her chapters come out female............ I guess it shows she has changed at least verbally.

This whole thing leads me to where I am struggling today. I have reached page 150 in the rewrite - the first fifty pages I am much happier with and feel I know them well and have layered in some good emotion - which is good. I am learning my way through the rest. However I realize that I don't introduce Mark's pov until page 97 although he physically appears on page 6. Now it and the subsequent three chapters in his pov are good but here's the question.......is page 97 too late to intro a new pov? Does it dilute from the strong female thing going on? Can I get his pov across without being in his head?

Well, at least I know that when I am in his head I am writing like a man :-)

No Explosives Dreams

I am now so immersed into A Cornish House I can't shift out of it to find my voice for Explosive Dreams at the moment. Please excuse me for the week's break.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Links Again

In case you are like me and are desperate to know what went on at the London Book Fair Masterclass then hop over to Deb's blog for a great report filled with wise words.

As I am working through the rewrite it was good to read Katie Fforde's sound advice here about sagging middles.

Now back to head down over the rewrite and will hopefully add next chapter of Explosive Dreams tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008


Yesterday the dd started whimpering in the back of the car as we were stopped at a traffic light. I asked what was wrong and she replied she was scared. I asked what of???? She pointed to the truck next to us in the queue which contained orange cooking gas cylinders. I didn't see what could frighten her about this then I read the name of the company of the door of the truck........Al Boom Gas!

I might have to use that in this weeks chapter of Explosive Dreams but then maybe not as Al Boom is just a last name like Smith........

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I regularly read Nathan Bransford's blog - particularly his Friday wrap up. Today doing my catch up read through his offerings this week and I hit gold here. He ends up the post with this nugget:

"But most importantly, your command of words is what you're banking on. It's like musical ability to a musician, athletic ability to an athlete, swinging on trees to a monkey. If you got it you got it. "

However I gained so much from his link in the post to Lee Lofland's interview with Benjamin Leroy, founder of Bleak House Books. There is sooooooooooooooooo much to take away from this interview so please read it all. Here the points that hit me over the head:

"An author’s job is to write something undeniably great from Word One. There are no excuses. There is no wait-and-see policy for things that cross my desk. Either the book has it from the opening Once Upon a Time or it doesn’t. And in seven years of reading submissions I’ve learned that if I don’t get moved on page one, I’m not going to get moved on page one hundred."

"As soon as I see awkward prose on page one, I reject a book. You wouldn’t trust a clumsy surgeon with a scalpel. I don’t trust authors who aren’t in complete control of their environment. Sloppy work is sloppy work. Doesn’t matter the profession, I don’t want it."

"An editor is like a Building Inspector. An author is like a general contractor. The author’s job is to make the best possible use out of the tools accumulated and experience gained to build a sturdy, up to code building. When the author is done with the construction and the clean up, the inspector is brought in to check the big things-is the foundation level? Does the plumbing work the way it’s supposed to? The electricity? After the inspection is over the author receives a checklist of things that need to be fixed before the structure is ready for occupancy. The building inspector doesn’t pound nails or rework the wiring, that’s the contractor’s job."

There's some food for thought! Back to revisions.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blues Buster

Well with the boys gone I have been blue. The house is empty during the day. Now I won't say that while they were here there weren't times when I thought a little peace and quiet would be good but now the Snowy and I rattle about the place. I know this is normal so I grabbed a book off the tbr pile and got lost. Yesterday I read Stage by Stage by Jan Jones. It took me to a world of theatre which I know nothing about and made me fall in love with a rake of an actor while my heart was so full for the heroine Beth. The sexual tension in the book was superb the whole way through ( don't know about you but sometimes when it happens early the spark just fizzles out afterwards but it didn't here). The humour was always bubbling through the surface so I found I had a smile glued to my face all day. It took the blues away quite nicely - thank you!

Now to take myself in hand and really focus on A Cornish House. I know what I have to do so I will do it. This rewrite will be complete by the time I fly to the UK on the 23rd of May! Now there's a deadline - yikes!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

I sat in the hall and waited for my students. I watched them walk in still in their overalls. They took their seats quietly with eyes cast down. After six months of English classes with me they still didn’t look me in the eyes and I still found it hard to relate to people who wouldn’t look at me. At least they worked hard at the lessons.

Once all of them were seated I stood up. I pushed down the nerves that always reared up when I was in front of a class. This was at least something useful and meaningful. If they learned to speak English they could get a better job and their lives would improve or at least that is what I told myself. It was so unlike the day time teaching I did to overstuffed and arrogant business men. That paid for my shopping habit that Tom was so scathing about. It’s not that I used his money to fund my shopping. No I used my own.

“Good evening.” I spoke clearly and slowly.

“Good evening, Miss Samanatha.”

Still they didn’t look at me but at the board behind me with their key words for today boldly drawn in black. I pushed my thoughts away and began the class.

Fr Simon standing at the back of the hall smiling reminded me that I had run over the hour again. The men would be itching to leave as they had so little free time as it was. I sent them on their way.

The old priest walked towards me and I wanted to hide. Some how he made me feel guilty and I wasn’t even Catholic.

“Birthday greetings for tomorrow, Sam.”

“Thanks.” I couldn’t help but roll my eyes.

“Big plans?”


“Low key – good.” He smiled.

“You’re after something ,Father.”

“Am I?”


He laughed. “I am indeed. I don’t suppose you have time to teach another class. I know you already teach three but this is for a group of women.”

“That would make a change. You always seem to send me the men.”

“You can handle them.”

“Thanks.” I looked at him and couldn’t help feeling that there was more to this request. I had been teaching English classes for Fr. Simon for five years now. Where he found these people I didn’t know. None of them were Catholic but all of them needed help. This evening’s class was mostly men from Bangladesh. “When?”

“It would be early morning.”

“How early?” My mind raced to the early morning rituals. Tom didn’t mind doing the school run but was lost in himself during his morning rituals and didn’t seem capable of getting Ollie up and breakfasted.


“Confess.” I put my hand over my mouth.

“Not to you my dear.” He winked. “It would be five.”

“Five? You weren’t joking about early. Who are these women and what do they do?”

“Maids. It would be their only free time.”

My mind raced to the schedule these poor women kept. Although they were paid to my eyes many of them were treated as slaves working all hours.

“I’ll think about it.”

“Good. Call me.”

“Will do.” Yet I knew and he knew my answer. I would teach these women. If they could speak English their opportunities opened if they could manage to leave their current employers.

“Have a good day tomorrow. I will keep you in my prayers.”

“I thought you always did.”

“I do but something tells me you need them more right now.”

I slipped away before he could see the tears in my eyes. Blasted old man could see far too much. I almost ran to my car. I didn’t see the damn traffic as I drove home. Ollie would be tucked up in bed and asleep. I could go straight to Becca’s. I needed a drink. Tom wouldn’t be waiting for me. He’d be working on his lap top oblivious to my presence in the house.

“Knew you would come.” Becca held a glass of champagne out to me.

“Surprise!” shouted ten of my girlfriends in unison.

“You idiots!” More tears broke through. My head swung from one face to another.

“We thought you needed champagne and a rich dark chocolate cake to prepare you for life as a forty year old.” Becca pointed to the most decadent cake I had ever seen.

“Bring it on. I sure as hell need something.” I took the knife and sliced through making a wish. I just wanted to go back ten years to when Tom and I were a real couple and not the shell that we are now. Well, there was no hope in hell in that happening but the cake looked divine.
The knife was grabbed from my hand I was shepherded into the sitting room and pushed into a chair. A table was filled with gloriously coloured parcels.
“Hey, guys, I thought we agreed we were going to forget this birthday.” I pleaded with all the laughing faces around me.
“Not on your life girl. You need to embrace this decade.”

“Yes, the best is yet to come.”

I could only wish they were right but I knew they weren’t. The first parcel was placed in my hands.

“Rip it open girl. Don’t keep us waiting.”

I looked up and wondered what they had up there sleeve. Was I going to find a batch of age creams I wondered?

“Peggy, what on earth you expect me to do with this?” I held up the skimpiest piece of fabric that could only just be called knickers.

“Flaunt your stuff in front of Tom!”

“I don’t think he will notice.”

“If not then you need this.”

I was handed another box to open. I shook it.

“No trying to guess.”
I tore the paper off and delved in to the tissue to pull out the biggest vibrator I had ever seen. My hand shook.

“Who will own up to giving me this?” I waved the object in the air as hoots of laughter abounded. “Come on? Sue, you handed me the box?”

“It wasn’t me.”

I turned the damned thing on, passed it round then downed my champagne. They meant well but had no idea.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sorry, I've been neglectful of the blog but its been the boys final few days here. DS1 left this morning and DS2 leaves tomorrow morning. So we have been squeezing in the films we haven't watched this time, the shopping that always gets left until the last minute, and then the blasted labeling of clothes that must be done..........

I hate it when they go.

Hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with next installment of Explosive Dreams and normal schedule will return.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Returns of the Day

Today I hit a middle milestone and I have to be honest here and say that I would prefer to hit it in better shape. Just last week I was declared clinically severely obese ( I carry all my weight about my middle), I am in the throws of menopause (a bit early not not unusually so), our life here is still on a temporary standing, and I still haven't cracked the getting published thing. However being the person I am I have to say that despite the above I am in good health as is the the whole family (thank God), we are not broke, I love my husband and children and they love me. So basically life is good in fact very good.

On the writing front I know that it will probably be at minimum book five or six that will break me through. Does this discourage me? A bit if I am honest but it won't stop me. Even if i never reach publication I will continue to write and hopefully to grow in my writing.

And with that thought I am back into A Cornish House trying to release the emotion that I know Maddie has but I have withheld from her..........do you deny your character anything?

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Dickens Challenge - Explosive Dreams Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

A grey toxic haze hung over the Dubai skyline as I drove down Al Wasl Road. I didn’t know what I was going to say to this counsellor. A good start might be - I was 39 and three hundred and fifty one days old and a mess.

The traffic was appalling but what was I to expect with a major explosion at 7:15 am and a blazing toxic fire on going. A text had come from the school saying they were keeping the children inside all day. The air was heavy with chemicals and I couldn’t help thinking that it was something more than an accidental explosion in a fire works factory.

I eventually made to the clinic and hauled my body into reception. I didn’t want to do this. It would be better to just dig a hole in the sand and stick my head in it. What could any one say to me other than I was completely mad. I was delusional. I saw things that weren’t there.

“Mrs. Samantha, please take a seat. It won’t be a few minutes. We’re all running late because of the traffic.”

I nodded.

“Did you hear the explosion this morning?”

“Yes.” I really didn’t want to talk about it. I didn’t want to talk about anything. I wanted to shop. That was it. I needed to shop. Shopping would make all of this go away.
The phone on the desk rang.

“The doctor’s ready to see you now.”

I stood up and looked at the door. Mango called my name. The mall wasn’t far and I remembered the little dress I saw just before I flew to Jakarta. A few quick steps and I would be out of here.

“It’s the first door to the left.”

I nodded and forced my feet that way and not to the car park on the right. This was what I was supposed to do. I wanted to fix my marriage didn’t? This was the first step, wasn’t it?
I put one foot in front of the other noticing the chipped black paint on my big toe. I should go have that fixed asap. I must put my priorities straight, toe nails were important. I hesitated before I turned the handle then walked in to see a small woman behind a large desk. I swallowed.

“Samantha, take a seat.”

I perched on the edge of the seat.

“I don’t bite.”


“Absolutely.” She smiled and I leaned back a bit in the chair. “So tell me why you are here?”

“I thought you said you didn’t bite.” I sat back up.

“I don’t but when you booked the appointment you didn’t tell the receptionist why you did.”

“Didn’t I?”

“No, so now is the time to tell me why you are here.”

“I guess.” I paused. I didn’t know how to say it. Did one just spit it out? “I…I don’t know really.”

“Somehow I don’t think that’s true but time will tell. So your form tells me tomorrow is your fortieth birthday. Do you have big plans?”

“No. No plans at all.”

“That is strange.”

“Is it?”

“I’m sure your husband will have planned something.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure.”

“So you are here to talk about your marriage.”

My head shot up. There were no flies on this petite woman. “Maybe.”

“Yes, maybe indeed.”

“How do you feel about the big 40?”

“Shit.” I bit my tongue. “Sorry.”

“No need to apologize. So you are worried about aging and your marriage. Anything else?”

“Why don’t you tell me as you are doing well so far?”

She sat back in her chair and smiled. “You will tell me yourself in time. When did you notice trouble with your marriage?”

“Well, I guess the doubt solidified in my head about a year ago.”

“Is he having an affair?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t think he could keep it up at home and outside.”

“So there is no problem with sex.”

“No, none.” I looked at my hands. Why was everyone so concerned with my sex life?

“So if he is not having an affair that you know of what do you think is the problem?”

“I.” I looked out the window behind her. What was the problem? “Belief.”

“You have religious differences?” Her eyebrow rose.

“No, I don’t mean that.” I waited for her to ask me more but she sat there complacently as if she had all the time in the world. I prayed for something to happen. Anything would do, maybe another explosion. I didn’t want to talk yet she was leaving this gaping silence in front of me. I felt compelled to jump in and just start blathering like an idiot.

The phone rang.

“Excuse me.”

Prayers were answered. I felt my shoulders return to their normal position.

“Sorry about that. The school has just called. I have to go.” The pint sized woman stood up from her desk.

“No problem. I wonder if they are closing my son’s school. Strange that I haven’t heard anything.” I followed behind her.

“There will be no charge for this session. Reschedule.”

I nodded. I didn’t want to but couldn’t slip past the receptionist without the doctor seeing me leave. I booked for next Sunday knowing I could cancel it as soon as I left the office.
It looked as though it was going to rain and air smelted heavy. My phone beeped as soon as I reached my car. A message from Tom glared at me.

Where the hell are you? I have been trying to reach you for the last half hour. There is no answer at home. School closed. Collect Ollie. I’m in a meeting and can’t leave.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Soundtrack of My Life Meme

Over on Jen's blog http://www.spiralskies.com/ she pinched from A. Writer the for the soundtrack of your life meme. I approached this with hesitation as my ipod holds all the family's music - 2 teen boys, 1 eight year old girl and of course dh (here read Shania Twain). I wouldn't know if I would even know the music that could be thrown up..........something by Linkin Park or White Stripes. We play a game in the car on long drives........throw the ipod on shuffle and everyone getss three rejects and three defends............it makes for an interesting journey. How do you like your Disney? With Emimen? With Russian Monks?

However the process hit a cord with me as two writers I know seriously work with music when they are writing - Julia Williamsand Elizabeth Chadwick.

So without further ado..........

If Your Life Were a Movie…What Would the Soundtrack Be??

So, here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool…because you’re not!
7. Stick the soundtrack on your mp3 player and listen away during the day.

Here goes:

Opening Credits: I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life - Natalie Cole

Waking Up: You're Beautiful – James Blunt (this made me laugh)

First Day at School: di Capua: i'Turin Vurrua Vara- Andrea Bocelli (Haven't a clue but it sounds beautiful)

Falling in Love: Sisters are Doing for Themselves - Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin (????)

Fight Song: Macarena - Los del Rio (now this is getting really bizarre)

Breaking Up: Missionary Man - Eurythmics (itunes was clearly having an Eurythmics fit)

Prom/Dance/Ball: De Curtio - No Ti Scorda Di Me - Three Tenors (?)

Life’s OK: Massenet - Three Tenors (must say it doesn't shuffle very well!)

Mental Breakdown: When Tomorrow Comes - Eurythmics again

Flashback: Buck's Nouvelle Jole blond - Buckwheat Zydeco (from sound track to the Big Easy in case you were wondering!)

Getting Back Together: Your Love is King - Will Young

Birth of Child: My Heart Will Go On - Celine Dion

Wedding: O Come All Ye Faithful - Josh Grosban (now this is getting weird)
Final Battle: White Christmas - Frank Sinatra (clearly this film has its high points at Christmas!)

Funeral Song: CHeeseburger in Paradise - Jimmy Buffet (no comment)

End Credits: Seven Year - Norah Jones

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


Okay, I can no longer see the forest for the trees. I reworked those first 50 pages of A Cornish House so many times I don't know what I've left and what I have cut out. It no doubt makes no sense at all any more.

So I just want to sit and read the rest of the book without doing anything yet I can't. I can not read my own work without a pencil in hand and continuous reworking........what to do? Can you read your own work without tinkering with it?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


As I mentioned before I am deep into edits of A Cornish House. I have reworked the first fifty pages heavily slashing them by twelve pages. In doing this I was aiming to improve pace. I think I am about half way there. However as I do I was browsing blogs and yet again Michelle Styles hit me over the head in her post here - (couldn't get it to link directly but it's the 29/3/08 post). However it was Michele's answer in the comments that has been thwacking me over the head:

"...unless a character is forced to chose, she can not have a conflict. Conflict comes in choice. Sometimes, goals/purposes change."

So in my head I have been really thinking about what choices has Madde been making. Have I thrown enough at her? The answer to that is no and certainly not enough in the first fifty pages. Not enough is at risk yet. Have pity on the poor woman as I don't know what I am going to do to her yet!