Thursday, 23 October 2008

It's been a very long time since I blogged last - months and months in fact and a lot in my life has changed since then, but then that's the nature of life isn't it? Nothing ever stays the same.

One of the reasons I've been quite on the blogging front is because I have been so busy on the writing front, working to get my new book ready for publication in February. I am just about there now, only page proofs to read and then ta-da! There's the book all finished. Its a bit like childbirth, in a very small way in that as soon as you see it you forget all the pain and angst of producing it and want to do it all over again.

To be fair the kind of book I write isn't really as prone to pain and angst as most people, how artistic can one get over a romantic/dramatic/comedy? I'm not Proust after all, if I smell cake all I want to do is eat it.

I am hover, now sort of a Russian Novelist in that last week I got the Russian translation of THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER. I love getting foreign language translations - although in this case I really, really wish I could read Russian because the text is actually annotated with asterisks and extra explanations and I'd love to know which bits! If any one reading this happens to be fluent in Russian please do let me know....

Also last week ANOTHER MOTHER'S LIFE - which is the U.S title for THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE - was published in America and by all accounts its doing quite well and is to be put on a list called The Indie Next Notable Book list in December, which is great news. It's such a thrill for me to think of my books being read in other countries, or at all by anyone anywhere. I will never stop feeling privileged to have this job.

So now I have three books at page proof stage which, purely coincidentally as they all different publishers, will all be out in February 2009. THE ACCIDENTAL FAMILY - the sequel to THE ACCIDENTAL MOTHER, when you can find out what happened next to Sophie, Louis and the girls, RUBY PARKER SHOOTING STAR, the fifth and penultimate book in the Ruby series, where Ruby braves Hollywood again and MOMMY BY MISTAKE which is the US title for THE BABY GROUP.

And by the end of this year I will have started my new children's paranormal series called WELCOME TO WEIRDSVILLE and early next year I'll be starting my new women's novel, which is Top Secret at the moment but I can't wait to start it.

So here I am, back blogging, dipping my toe in the water once again and hoping to be much more present here over the next weeks and months...ONWARDS!

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

The Injustice of Judges

God knows I hate to be judged, but the thing about being a writer is that you are essentially inviting the whole world to judge you, should they feel inclined to. In fact you are rather hoping that at least some of the world will want to judge you, and that a percentage of them will rule in your favour.

On the whole I'm fairly immune to the judgements of others. For example I wear what I like, which is usually party wear even if its a rainy Monday morning and I'm taking my daughter to school. Like the lead character in the book I am writing I'm 'a woman who enjoys a sequin on a weekday and has a rule that the the heels of my shoes should never dwindle below three inches.' Subsequently some peole look at me a little askance on the school run, but what do I care? The answer is I don't. Life is too short for sensible shoes and a raincoat.

So me, judge me all you like - I can take it. But please DO NOT JUDGE MY DOG.

Yes this blog is all about my dog not winning HAPPIEST DOG category at the local dog show last weekend. Its a travesty.

My dog, Polly is a standard poodle. She's not a poodlefied poodle, she doesn't have the poodle hair cut, she rolls about in mud and likes to steal food - just now she stole an entire packet of fresh Parmesan out of the fridge is even now sleeping it off on the sofa murmuring Italian in her dreams. She would never win crufts. She was the decided runt of the litter, a good deal smaller than she should be, with buck teeth and a wonky eye. And well....lets put it this way I used to take her to puppy training classes but she got expelled for leading the other puppies astray.

I have never planned a life of dog show glory for her. But when my little girl begged me to take her to the local dog show where there were categories like 'Prettiest eyes' and 'Best rescue dog' I had to relent.

'Polly will definitely win 'Happiest Dog, Mummy,' my daughter cried. 'Look at her!'

And at the time she was snacking on one of my best shoes and she did look pretty pleased with herself, so I thought why not?

I should have known that we weren't going to fit in when the man on the registration desk looked at me wrestling Polly to a standstill and asked me 'Does she behave?'
'Yes she does,' I informed him tartly. Because it was true, of course she 'behaves' as long as you are non-specific as to type of behaviour then you cannot deny that she 'behaves' only it is usually quite badly.

Also I didn't have the right uniform on. Yes it was a county dog show, but I thought it was more for fun and fundraising than anything. I didn't know that a wellington boot and a barber jacket were obligatory. I thought a gold sling back and a red summerfrock would be fine. Plus whilst we were waiting for our class to come on an ice cream was dropped and Polly rather smartly helped save the environment by polishing it off - leaving her with ice creamed smeared chops that only just surpassed that of my daughters.

So eventually it was our turn to line up to be judged. Me, my dog and daughter stood in line with spaniels and dobermans, collies and Labradors, mongrels and pure breeds and I'm thinking this is a cinch - we are defiantly going win - sure these dogs look happy but my dog is the only one jumping up and down and barking and you can't get happier than that.

The judge approached us, I wanted to ask her how she quantified happiness in a pet, was it a look in their eye, the cock of a tail or tilt of an ear or was it that they were literally jumping for joy - because that was what my dog was doing, edging her far ahead of the field I'd say.

Only I didn't get a chance to ask her because before I could Polly put her front paws on the judges shoulders and licked her face all over.

'She's happy to see you,' I said enthusiastically. The judge did not smile back.

We waited for a long time while she frowned and looked up and down the lines of dogs. There were six prizes. Polly didn't even get one.

And that my friends, is a travesty. I demand an enquiry.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Publication Palpitations

So its finally here, the eve of the official UK publication of THE ACCIDENTAL WIFE. Thursday 24th April 2008.

I've written about this before, but oh well - let's talk about it again. This part, the publication part is a bit like waiting for a boy to call you. Yes, its the nearest thing I can think of to being a teenager in love, once again. You know, when you're not sure if you are going to get that call you've been longing for to be asked out to the youth club disco by the boy from the year above, where you will both stand on opposite sides of the room until the slow dance at the end of night, where upon you will magnetically connect at the mouth and snog for three and half minutes without even coming up for air until 'Careless Whisper' is finished and you have to retreat to the opposite sides of the room again and ignore each other.

Okay - its not EXACTLY like that. But it is exciting, pulse thunderingly nerve wracking, stomach twistingly scary and also, some of the time, bewilderingly anticlimactic.

I think that that last part is because publication day is a bit like - and oh I am loving my metaphors here today - losing your virginity once a year. The deed is done, and you feel as if something about you should have changed. There should be fireworks, a certain look in you eye, perhaps a particular knowing wisdom should alight you. You should be able to walk down the street and have people point and stare and say 'Look - she's written a book, you can tell just by looking at her.'

But its not REALLY like that, either. It's really like sending your child off to school on their first day. (metaphor number three, I'm counting) You are full of hope and pride and you just pray you've done enough to help them hold their own in the big bad world.

Still, as emotionally turbulent as the whole process is, there isn't a single moment I don't thank my lucky stars that I have a 'publication day' at all. And really there is only one final eloquent, erudite, sophisticated phrase that can truly sum up how I am feeling. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Spring Fever

I don't know about you but I genuinely do go a bit mad around this time of year. There's something about daffodils that make me a bit giddy and gives me the feeling that I should be off somewhere exotic, like Casablanca, sipping strong coffee, having adventures and not worrying about the consequences. After all in the scheme of things it wouldn't amount to a hill of beans.

But of course there are a few practical issues with running off to far flung places on a whim. The school run is one of them, plus we have to use up that half eaten packet of ham in the fridge by Thursday. This may be the female writers dilemma because like all working women, hang that, all women, we tend to have a lot of things to do. Dare I suggest, though, that for writers it might be even trickier. One minute we are busy working on a highly emotionally charged scene that may result in the climax of the novel and the next we are sorting socks, walking the dog, finding best teddy or searching for the remote.

Plus when you get to a certain age (about 10 plus)running around in daffodils is not considered seemly, especially if you don't happen to have dog or a child at hand to lend an air of respectability.

Why now? Why at this time of year do I feel restless and excited and uncertain and scared and glad to be scared? I don't know, maybe its the wind, maybe its the glimpses of blue sky after an age of grey. Perhaps its the promise of summer on a mild day or the glamour of the spring flowers making an appearance in my garden. Or maybe its because my new book is due to be published in April.


Friday, 8 February 2008

The truth, the whole truth...more or less.

This week has been a fun week. On Monday I went to the Romantic Novelist Association Romantic Novel of The Year Award. Now as we all know by now, mainly because I have harped on about it at some length, I was longlisted but not shortlisted for this award. A fact which I am absolutely fine and not bitter about in the least little bit, in fact my support group leader (Longlisted But Not Shortlisted Romantic Novelists Annonymous) says I'll be over the rejection and dissapointment in plenty of time for next year. And actually when I got there I was partly glad that I wasn't shortlisted, because at least I didn't have the nerve wracking wait to find out who had won. It was a lovely event, Helen Lederer was head jusge and an extremely funny speaker and eventually the award went to Freya North, who is a very talented and deserving winner and donated her prize money to a cancer charity in memory of a friend, which was touching and admirable.

One thing you may not know about Romantic Novelists is that they party hard. In fact because I so rarely get to hang out with a group of them (Is there a collective noun for a group of Romantic Novelists? A small prize for anyone who can think of one.) I didn't know that they party hard. But no, the largely female company was very, very keen to get to the pub and I was sad that my commitment to the writing class I teach meant I could staying drinking long into the night with them. In fact one very famous and important RN left me a message the next day to say that her hangover was really, really awful. I shall not name names.

Later this week I went to Harper Collins to film an interview that will go on the new Ruby Parker website when it is launched. That was fun too, although the questions were hard and sometimes I had to think of interesting and child friendly answers rather than the flat out honest ones that first came to mind. If I'd have gone with my first impulse this is what the interview would have run like:

THEM 'What is your biggest regret?
ME 'My inability to wear a hipster jean.'
THEM 'What do you lay awake thinking about at night?'
ME 'Cheese'
THEM 'What is your idea of perfect happiness?'
ME 'Cheese on Toast'
THEM 'What was your most embarassing moment?'
ME 'Walking through Leicester Square in a wrap dress that had come undone and wondering why I was getting so many admiring glances (or looks of horror, depending on your POV)
THEM 'If you had a super power what would it be.'
ME 'Shopping. Oh no, wait - I have that super power already.'

If you want to see the answers I actually gave you will be able to see the interview on the new website up in March sometime I hope. I'll post a line when I have one. They don't involve cheese.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Crossed off the list!

Well friends, I did not make the shortlist for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year. The writers who did make are all excellent and very deserving and I was honestly so pleased to be on the long list in the first place.

I really feel it is an important award because it is the only one that recognises that writers of popular fiction and yes, even romantic fiction, put as much care and devotion into their work with just as much skill and talent as the far more widely critically recognised writers of literary fiction do. So Good luck to all on the shortlist from me.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Roll on Hot Cross Buns

Well another Christmas has been tidied away, a surplus of chocolates and mince pies have been hefted on to high shelf and I have solemnly promised that I will not be getting the step ladder out to reach them (starting tomorrow.....) I find it such an odd time of year, everyone determined to be jolly and love each other when really actually its perhaps the most fiercely difficult time.

Especially if one is allergic to Christmas Trees.

Anyway I'm looking forward to the Spring. I'm a Spring kind of person. I like days with blues skies but a chill in the air, that kind of crisp new day freshness that puts syncopation in your step and make you dream of the heat of the summer. Which is curious really because I don't like hot summers. I get terrible heat rash. Which is why I've always thought I'd like to live in Switzerland.

I have not made resolutions, except I have committed myself to running a half marathon. Me! Thirteen odd miles, the woman who gets puffed out climbing the step ladder to reach the chocs on the high shelf. OK I exaggerate a little. I do, or rather have run, quite regularly for the last year, but never further than six miles. Everyone assures me that running 13 of them will be like a piece of cake but I am fairly certain it won't be. I can probably say for sure right now that there will be no butter icing and liberal dollops of jam involved. I think there will be pain, probably, wobbly legs definitely and a great deal of coming last. But I don't mind if I come last as long as I finish it.

I don't really know why I want to do it, I'm not a sports kind of girl normally. Normally I'm a high heeled sequined detail kind of girl but I was once on the school cross country B team when I was about eleven and it wasn't my speed that won me the place nor even my stamina but simply my determination never to stop. And that is how I am going to attack the half marathon and indeed this year. I shall keep going and do my best.

After all, what else can anyone do?