Thursday, 20 December 2012

The Story Behind My National Express Short Story

On the ninth day of Christmas my publishers, Choc Lit, and National Express are giving away … my short story Touch Wood together with my hero’s easy recipe for delicious hot chocolate. Click on the link here and enter the code SHORT and you can download both for free.

The idea for Touch Wood, came from my cuttings file which, like my notebooks, contains photos and articles which speak to me in some way. An article about a craftswoman working with green oak had a particular pull, maybe because it brought back vivid childhood memories. My dad was a carpenter and joiner, although his area of expertise was not green oak but bespoke oak staircases and lantern lights. Oak’s a very costly material so there was a lot of tip-toeing around when Dad was setting out a staircase. ‘Measure twice, cut once’ was his maxim, because you really don’t want to do it the other way round!

What if, I wondered, my heroine was an instructor, teaching the craft of green woodworking? Another photo in the file caught my eye… and one of her pupils was a musician, a man more used to being listened to rather than listening? A superstition about shoes kept coming to mind and the obvious one about touching wood … and then I started to write.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Twelve Days of Treats

Remember this...?

(And a lot of people round here still chuckle at that hat, I can tell you.) Well, I'm pleased to tell you that that Choc Lit and National Express have teamed up again. As a special Christmas treat you can download a free short story from Choc Lit's Love Match Selection every day up until Christmas Eve!  All you have to do is collect the relevant code from National Express at their Facebook page or on Twitter and enter it here.

The twelve stories in this collection are lovely (well, I would say that, wouldn't I?) and they all come with a delicious chocolatey recipe to match.  Mine's out on the... oops, nearly gave the secret away.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Two Hundred Mile Lunch

'How nice,' people often remark, 'that you and Lily both live in Wales and can pop in and see each other.' Well, it's true we both live in the same country, but there's a hundred miles between where I live on the coast and Lily in Cardiff.  I also live 45 minutes from the nearest railway station.  An hour, if like yesterday, you happen to get stuck behind a milk lorry.  We love our remote location but some occasions are worth venturing out for.  On Saturday Tom and I drove to Cardiff to see Wales v Australia at the Millennium stadium.  We lost in the last minute and the bloke behind me dropped his beer down my back, but Lily and Russ gave us dinner which was lovely.  Then, yesterday, I travelled down again to meet some fellow Welsh-based members of the Romantic Novelists' Association for a lovely lunch...

We left the house in darkness so Tom could drop me at Carmarthen station at 9 am...
It was freezing - no wonder everyone's wrapped up.
The journey is very beautiful though - I bought myself a coffee and watched the scenery go by...

Coming into Swansea where the train takes a break...

It was perishing in Cardiff when I first got off the train, but there was a warm welcoming waiting...

L to R: Lorraine Hossington, Kathryn Eastman, Sandra Mackness (aka Toni Sands), fellow Choc Liteer, Evonne Wareham and visiting us from London, Jean Fullerton.

And just to prove I was there too...

I had a lovely time and really enjoyed sharing writerly experiences.  But it was also good to come home...

Friday, 30 November 2012

My Once-a-Year Day

After what feels like endless rain, the day was dry, crisp and cold...
The view across Cardigan Island

With a flat, calm sea...

An essential ingredient for the evening meal was gathered...

Strange to think that what once lived in a house like this...

... can be transformed into something like this...

Although this was couriered to our doorstep from The Fish Society as a wonderful birthday surprise arranged by Tom. Sadly, it's difficult to buy locally-caught seafood as most of it is shipped abroad.  Eating out can be a bit of a trek too, as we live in such a far-flung place.

I was thrilled to bits with my treat...

As you can see from what was left...

It's probably just as well birthdays only come round once a year!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Where Did My Year Go?

Hmm, I think I saw tumble-weed rolling past this blog. I just don't know where the time's gone this year. More soon, I hope, but for today I'm over at Choc Lit's Author's Corner talking about birthdays and horoscopes.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Looks, Books and a Zig-Zag

Since I handed ‘The Next Big Thing’ baton to lovely Choc Lit author Sarah Tranter whose novel, No Such Thing as Immortality, will be available very soon (look out for the Kindle edition at the end of this week!), I suppose it’s only fair that she’s handed one to me!  

Thank you, Sara, for the zig-zag challenge which, thank goodness, wasn’t too challenging.  I was asked to find the word ‘look’ in my current novel or a work in progress then post the surrounding paragraph.

To ring the changes from my current novel Move Over Darling, I’ve gone to the work in progress. Or rather the work I’m battling with as usual.  This is the first ‘look’ I found and it’s in the second chapter.  Some of you may recognise the location…

“'My pleasure,' she exhaled, closing her eyes, ‘I look forwards to meeting you at the end of the week then.' 
In the two years since Fiona and her husband, Paul, had opened Walton House, Little Spitmarsh had seen its financial tide beginning to turn thanks to the opening of Samphire, an upmarket restaurant which was still managing to attract food gourmets willing to make the long pilgrimage to the bleak east coast.  The restaurant and an annual film festival had almost reinvigorated parts of the once seedy town to the point of gentrification, encouraging a smattering of galleries, cool vintage shops and a few of the hardier pilgrims to snap up some of the most attractive old buildings along the seafront as second homes.  Foodie, film buff or Up-from-Londoner?   She tried to guess which of the new category of visitor the man at the other end of the phone would turn out to be.
He laughed gently.  ‘Well, I sincerely hope I don't disappoint you,' he murmured in a voice that hinted at emerald fields shimmering under the kiss of soft Kerry rain.”

Okay, I’m just trying to pass the zig-zag challenge on, but I think my victim fellow writer is just changing into her Lycra shorts so we’ll have to wait until she returns before I name her!

Oh wait, here she comes now!  Looking good, Linda Mitchelmore!

Sunday, 11 November 2012


This war memorial at Aberbanc is one we pass regularly.  Standing alone and in the midst of such beauty, it never fails to remind me of the sacrifice made by just one small village in west Wales.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Sea and Star

Sunday 4 November 
Lovely Lily, aka the new Mrs J is staying with us for the weekend while Mr J is away. We have a fine old time replaying her wedding day and looking at photos, but a bitter wind and heavy downpours put us off going for a walk to the beach.

‘Never mind,’ says Tom, ‘we’ll drive up to the tea hut at Aberaeron instead.’ A sense that the man in the tea hut is not, perhaps, as delighted to have any customers at all on such a miserable day as we would hope is offset by the fact that his tea is served in decent mugs. The sea is silvery green with impressive rolling waves and we park ourselves on a bench in a painted concrete shelter to watch it.

‘Tea time, is it then?’ says a man sitting on the adjoining bench to offer a biscuit to his scruffy little scrap of a dog. The little dog crunches delicately. ‘Sweet,’ Lily and I say to each other and, ‘oh look, it’s coming say hello!’ whereupon the little dog lifts its leg and does an almighty wee in front of us instead. I’m not sure what kind of hello that is, but we decided not to wait for ‘goodbye’ and head back to the car.

Tuesday 6 November
‘Third time lucky?’ says the courier who’s been following my efforts to buy a dress that goes over my rib cage without flapping round my hips. But no, having found a brand that seems to fit me, I’ve spotted a bargain in the clearance sale. Even better, it fits! Happy days!

My good mood gets even better when we nip out to the nearest shop to buy the celebrity magazine, Star. I’ve been told there’s a chance Move Over Darling’s going to be reviewed in it – if I haven’t been bumped out by books by Proper Slebs such as Cheryl Cole, Rod Stewart or any of the other biographies doing the rounds for Christmas. I’m over the moon to see I’ve made it! My second novel reviewed in a national magazine – amazing! 

Then, just when I think it doesn’t get any better, my neighbour arrives with a parcel that she’s taken in while we’ve been out. It’s the painting that I was incredibly fortunate to win in a hotly contested prize draw! ‘Watching Joe’ by talented artist, (and incredibly funny blogger, damn her, inventor of Writing Pants) Lane Mathias, is a beautiful, happy painting in acrylic and collage on canvas,which is now rubbing shoulders with Tom’s work in my study where it will always remind me of a very special day. Thank you, Lane. 

Painting is ‘Watching Joe’ by Lane Mathias

Friday, 2 November 2012

Choc Lit Author's Corner

I'm over at Choc Lit's Author's Corner today talking about the story behind that article in Best magazine.  How much would you dare to bare?  Do come and tell me.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

My Worst Writemares

At the invitation of lovely author, Liane Spicer, I'm over at Novel Spaces - a universe for writers and readers -  talking about writing terrors that go bump in the night.  Join in the discussion about writerly fears for a chance to win a copy of Move Over Darling

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

'The Next Big Thing' as tagged!

My fellow Choc Liteer, Christina Courtenay tagged me in her post ‘The Next Big Thing’ and kindly handed the baton to me… there’s only one problem, which is that I don’t actually discuss my work in progress and I’m far too worried about jinxing anything I do to describe it as a 'big thing'! That said, this post does give me the opportunity to talk about some different aspects of my current book, Move Over Darling, so that’s what I’ve chosen to do instead. 

What is the title of your book?
… the tricky ones first, eh.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Initially it was moving to west Wales and discovering that the population of the county I’d moved to was roughly equal to the small Surrey borough I’d just left. The legacy of working in various research posts in the past has left me (someone who loathed maths at school) with a bit of an appetite for statistics. Looking more closely at the figures, I noticed that increases in the population here are mainly due to middle-aged incomers, masking out the migration of young people in search of better-paid jobs away from a county reliant on the hard-hit sectors of farming and tourism.

And that, dear reader, must surely count as one of the least romantic premises ever for a romantic novel.

What genre does your book fall under?
I write relationship stories about love in many different guises; new lovers find each other, established couples reassess their love, families forge new bonds and the odd pet becomes the object of affection along the way too.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a film version?
Chance would be a fine thing. 

However… I have had a wonderful email discussion with the lovely narrator Charlotte Strevens who will be reading the audio book of Move Over Darling. Charlotte contacted me to ask if the Penmorfa in my novel was the Penmorfa in north Wales… at which point I had to take the email equivalent of a deep breath! Both Little Spitmarsh in Turning the Tide and Penmorfa in Move Over Darling are entirely the products of my imagination, as indeed, are their inhabitants (though strangely, I now live next to a hamlet called Penmorfa which rather threw me!).

More to the point, as anyone who lives in Wales will realise, there’s quite a difference in the language and accent of north Wales compared to the rest of the country with both sides convinced they speak Proper Welsh. I couldn’t possibly comment  except to say that I was relieved that Charlotte got in touch before Gethin Lewis, the hero of Move Over Darling ended up with a North Walian accent especially as I’d been thinking far more along the lines of Richard Burton reading Under Milk Wood!

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Girl who’s escaped to the country meets boy who’s escaped from the country. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It’s published by Choc Lit. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Too long. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s up to the reader. 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The image of my hero, Gethin Lewis, returning to the village where he was born. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
My heroine, Coralie, is adopted by a stray cat she names Rock. I’ve written a short story about how the two met for the December issue of Your Cat magazine. 

I’m now passing the baton to new Choc Lit author, Sarah Tranter, who's become a good writing buddy giving me encouragement and helping me along when I’ve been flagging. Over to you, Sarah!

In other news – and if you’re not completely fed up with listening to me, I’m in Best magazine this week (issue 43) making the case for romance. Writer Karen Clark’s clever short story’s in there too.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Doris Day, Shades of Grey and Sasha Fierce

Absolutely the best bit for me about being an author, apart from writing… or maybe that should be ‘having written’ since the process involves an awful lot of toil and tears… is getting feedback from readers. The ones who’ve enjoyed it, that it is. Getting feedback from folks who haven’t enjoyed it isn’t much fun at all, but, there, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

Reaching those readers, though, is the tricky part. I’m put off by authors who use social media only to trumpet about their latest book so it makes me reluctant to shout about mine. 

Sometimes, however, I’m genuinely too excited to keep it in, like on Monday, when Move Over Darling did something extraordinary, racing up the Amazon charts and settling – for a heady moment – at #2 in the Movers and Shakers chart and at #3 in Women Writers & Fiction. I was very tickled to see my title with its bright cover and Doris Day references resting between two editions of Fifty Shade of Grey so forgive me for sharing the screen grab here. And I haven’t forgotten that the higher you climb the pole, the more of your backside you reveal!

Talking to journalists is a mixed blessing too – I’m not whining about the fact someone is interested enough to want to speak to me, believe me, but I’m more comfortable talking about my books than myself. ‘You need a Sasha Fierce, Mum,’ says Rose, referring to BeyoncĂ©’s alter ego, making me laugh as I conjure up visions of fearless Chris Fierce strutting around out there. Until she appears though, I’ll muddle along and give grateful thanks to my nearest and dearest for putting up with me and to all of you for permitting me the occasional outburst of trumpet tootling. 

And now here’s a tootle for lovely Debs Carr who’s worked at her writing with such fierce determination and secured representation by top agent Luigi Bonomi. Fantastic news, Debs – many congratulations to you.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Romantic Novelists' Association

I'm over at the Romantic Novelists' Association blog today talking about myself again, but if you've got a spare moment I'd be very happy to have someone to talk to so please leave a comment if you have time.  Thank you!

Painting is Blue Pool by Tom Tomos

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Relieved and Release

What lies beneath?

I’m afraid,’ says the man peering into The Cesspit of Doom at the bottom of our garden, ‘that you will have to have The Big Lorry out.’ He then goes on to give us the grave news that if this tactic isn't successful, deployment of The Jetter may also be required at considerable extra cost.

It’s only now, since moving away from a house with the luxury of mains drainage, that we are discovering what country living really means; constant vigilance against incoming mice exploring the cavity walls and defending the loo from outgoing foreign objects. Visitors blanch when they get The Loo Lecture, but I have stopped short (no pun intended) of putting up a sign that boat owners sometimes display (boat loos also being notoriously fussy): ‘If you can eat it, so can I. If you can’t eat it, I won’t try.’ (I’m not sure I want to think about that too deeply, but it sort of makes the point and it was National Poetry Day last week).

After a certain amount of cross-questioning when our loo starts misbehaving, we decide that the ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had this summer may have affected the soakaway. Then we lift a manhole cover…

‘Well, everything’s working,’ says the The Big Lorry Driver, cheerfully. ‘I can tell by the smell. It just needs emptying, that’s all.’ I retreat to make coffee, which he and Tom bravely elect to drink as they watch the cesspit empty. A couple of hours later, it’s all done. The friendly driver leaves wishing us all kinds of joy that I’ll spare you in case you’re eating and we’ve learned a very great deal about our drains. Nice.

On a happier note, it’s the official release day of my second novel, Move Over Darling. I've also blogged on the Choc Lit Author's Corner today, with some images and ideas which composted down and found their way into my story.

To celebrate the official publication of the book, my lovely publishers, Choc Lit, sent me this delightful gift. So I did - eventually - come up smelling of roses, after all. 

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Settling and Getting Set

With nothing specific on the agenda, it’s been good to be able to take a few moments to pause and reflect. I’ve especially enjoyed looking at all the wedding photographs coming in from friends and family and absorbing different impressions of a day that fills me with happiness whenever I think about it.

I’ve also been taking stock this week because next Sunday sees the official release of my second novel, Move Over Darling. Without, I hope, wishing to sound in the least bit boastful, it feels particularly good to have reached this point after all the doubts, fears and long, long hours. I joke that when I look at my daughters, I’m filled with a sense that, wow, I made a WHOLE person (okay, with a bit of help) and then I did it again! Well, it’s a similar feeling holding a second book in my hand and seeing my name on the cover. With it come the same mixed emotions about holding on and letting go. There’s the joy of celebrating with loved ones, sadness for the people we miss.

It’s one thing, however, to create a fictional world and a group of characters hoping that it will strike a chord with the reader, but it’s a different and quite daunting prospect to have to face the outside world - as I did again this week - and talk about it! It’s lovely that any journalist in a world of fast-moving news, is interested enough to interview me about what I do, but, goodness, it doesn’t half get my pulse racing!

Two people though, who are much better at facing the outside world than I am, are the folk duo, Spiers and Boden (see also Bellowhead). Tom and I popped down to Theatr Mwldan again on Friday to see them perform. It was a full house, packed with the kind of audience who favour lots of au naturel hair and big woolly jumpers. With that and an aberrant stage gizmo that puffed smoke effects at surprising and unpredictable moments, it was a bit like sitting in an Iron Age hut, but we had a brilliant evening. Spiers and Boden are terrific musicians and great entertainers. How Jon Boden manages to sing one rhythm, play another on the fiddle and stamp his foot to a third is quite beyond me!

Today's painting is Tom's choice.  It's his painting of the Ring of Kerry from Slea Head.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Friday 14 September, my elder daughter’s wedding day… a day of pure joy! 

Tom, MoB, Happy Couple, Stepson Two, Rose & Si

After weeks of Welsh rain, the sun shone, the location was glorious – look at those views – and the atmosphere really was one of love and great happiness. Here’s a flavour of a very special day.

A confetti fest
My beautiful daughters

Monday 17 September… a day of utter terror! BBC Radio Wales were kind enough to invite me in to chat about my novels with Roy Noble live on his afternoon show. My thanks to Roy and everyone on the team for being so gentle with me! Here’s a clip if you want to listen to it… and, being radio, you can’t see my glass of water shaking as I tried to take a sip!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Thinking of the Days

This Friday 14th September, is my beloved elder daughter’s wedding day.

I’m a terrible worrier, but when I found myself worrying about a hair colour that had gone a bit wrong and not being able to find the right tights, I realised - just in time - how ridiculous I was being. This morning I remembered a friend from university who didn’t live to have children. When I attended her funeral on a bright spring day, I had a toddler and a young baby, waiting to be fed. I also thought of my younger daughter’s school friend who died before the Leavers’ Ball, whose parents were left to open her A Level results. Gloomy thoughts, yes, but those reflections made me extra appreciative to have the great good fortune to have come this far and to know that my lovely daughter is marrying a good, kind man.

On Saturday 15th September

We’re coming home and bringing Ma to stay with us for a few days. I’m pretty sure the conversations will include a lot of discussion about the wedding!

On Monday 17th September

We’re back down to Cardiff where I’ll be heading to BBC Radio Wales. Roy Noble has kindly invited me to be a guest on his afternoon show. I could easily get myself very worried about this as it’ll be my first time on radio, but everyone’s been incredibly kind to me so far!


I’m over at Nikki Goodman’s Blog - do come over and say hello if you’ve got time.

And finally...

Congratulations, you two! Here's wishing you every happiness together!

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Move Over Darling: Kindle Release

Yearning to be kissed (oh please!), Move Over Darling has just popped out on Kindle

Thursday, 30 August 2012

We Captured the Castle

‘I really don’t understand why more people aren’t in the sea!’ I exclaim happily after an exhilarating leap about in crashing waves. ‘Because,’ says Si, who with my daughter, Rose is staying with us for the holiday weekend, ‘you’d have to be NUTS to go in! It’s FREEZING!’ Ah, that would explain it then. It’s true it’s not exactly toasty on the beach or in the sea, but at least it isn’t raining… at the moment.

We’ve had lots of visitors over the last few weeks, but as the weather doesn’t seem to know that it’s the summer holidays, we’ve learned to adapt to whatever it’s throwing at us that day. For me and Tom that means a trip to the beach whenever there’s a sniff of sunshine. I’ve been trying out some daily disposable contact lenses just for swimming, rather than risk losing one of my gas permeables. Now I can brave bigger waves, which is great fun – well, I think so. My girls swam in the sea from an early age and despite a horrible incident of near-drowning in Greece, they still get on with it. I watch with pride as Rose wades in and strikes out without a girly fuss. It is a bit nippy-noodles, I admit, but it’s wonderful once you’re in!

On the day when the weather really doesn’t want to play, we head for Pembroke Castle. Lovely Rachel, from Choc Lit, has recommended it to me. It’s one of those attractions I’ve been meaning to see but have taken a bit for granted because it’s on the doorstep (ish!). Anyway, if you’re in this part of the world, Pembroke Castle makes a brilliant day out and it’s excellent value for money; the entrance fee will buy you as many turrets and battlements as you’d care to climb and you can make it as much of an educational experience as you wish. There’s a good cafĂ© too!

Bride on the battlements - on a windy, grey day! Brave girl!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Cae Hir

At Cae Hir
We’ve seen a wonderful garden on Countrywise,’ says my sister who, with her family, is staying with us. ‘It’s not far from you. Shall we go and see it?’

Although Tom and I enjoy introducing our visitors to the attractions of this lovely part of the world, those regular trips can lose some of their charm if repeated too often. It makes a real change to go somewhere new to us. It’s also interesting to see how other gardeners are dealing with the challenges of this summer; the non-stop monsoon since April – apart from a handful of dry days – has rotted our veg, turned innocent shrubs into towering triffids and the lawn into a meadow.

Cae Hir

Both Ma and my sister are passionate gardeners; Ma, who hates not being able to get outdoors, can make the saddest specimen grow. My sister’s a wonderful plantswoman who creates elegant designs. Looking at the jungle that’s our garden at the moment just brings out my impatient streak and I feel like taking a shredder to the lot.

It’s just as well than that Wil Akkerman who, some thirty years ago, had the vision to turn six acres of rough pastureland into a beautiful and very special garden was born with a lot more patience than me! 

Created, as Wil’s proud children put it, by just one man and a spade, Cae Hir is an absolute delight and I would urge you to follow the links to its website here, the Countrywise programme here (while it’s available) or, best of all, to see the garden for yourself. My lasting impression was one of a spirit of generosity about Cae Hir; it’s there in the planting, in Wil and his family who gave their time to chat and share their experience and it’s even at the tea room, where five of us shared two enormous cafetieres of good coffee for the price of two cappuccinos from most chains.

Cae Hir
As for the non-stop rain? Wil’s only complaint was that it had made mowing the lawn difficult… so I can’t use that an excuse not to tackle the garden. I suppose I’ve just got to get out there!

(Apologies for my photos which were taken on a overcast morning and really don't do justice to this lovely garden!)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Author's Corner and Bits and Pieces

Today I'm over at Choc Lit's Author's Corner blogging about the secret of success... my research shows there are no short cuts, unfortunately.

My apologies to all for being a tardy blogger and even tardier visitor.  Despite all of us doing our best to hold our nerves, the fast-approaching wedding seems to have created a frenzy of off-line activity.  I can't even begin to describe the trouble I've had looking for shoes (I have found some, thank goodness, two pairs, in fact, phew!; shiny heels for the day and some flatties - which looked very pretty in the picture but look suspiciously like slippers sprouting cabbages in real life - for evening).

The wedding's also galvanised me into attending to all those bits of essential maintenance I've been putting off too long; that niggling toothache - who wants to grimace through their daughter's wedding day?  Spare contact lenses - imagine squinting through the whole occasion!  And I've arranged long overdue appointments for all the bits of women's kit that need regular inspections - I won't go into details here, but hopefully all this vigilance will ensure I'll be in rude good health on the big day. 

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Don'ts and Do-ers

There must be some equation to the effect that the bigger the occasion, the worse the outbreak of bad behaviour.  I remember a few scraps at birthday parties when the girls were little and the usual round of ‘who’s going to eat what with whom’ at Christmas time, but the run-up to Lily and Russ’s wedding has certainly brought my blood close to boiling point several times.  It’s astounding how many people seem to forget that this is not about them, but a young couple marking the start of their journey together as husband and wife.  It is Their Special Day.  Surely that’s not too difficult to remember, is it?

On a happier note, I always admire the ‘can dos’, folks with a zest for life, and feel a bit sad for the ones who talk about the things they ‘used to do’.  It’s not about getting older - Ma’s a good example of someone whose lively curiosity is undimmed by age and infirmity - but about seeing opportunities rather than the lack of them.  So it was a lovely surprise when we got a call from some old friends who were up at Aberystwyth having travelled up from Fareham.  By boat. On their second circumnavigation of Britain! 

We invited them to spend a few nights on dry land with us and had a splendid time listening to their stories of crossing the Thames Estuary, dressing the ship in Poundland bunting for Jubilee celebrations at Wells and discovering the wonders of Hull.  At a time when one or two whingers have got me down it was lovely to share good times in the company of friends who know how to make them.

ePainting is Bedroom Window View, by Tom Tomos. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Author's Corner Post

This week, I'm over at Choc Lit's 'Author's Corner' talking about wedding preparations. Do feel free to share your wedding day triumphs and disasters with me there!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Voyages of Discovery

The process of editing, having a second or, if you’re really lucky, a third pair of eyes scrutinising your work is a valuable experience. It picks up any extra hands; she’s already holding his hand. Do you mean his other hand? Those repetitions; could you look at the number of ‘gazes’ ? And any pesky time anomalies; Two weeks? I thought this was supposed to be the next morning? It’s also a useful reminder that you can never know enough about your characters; what they do, where they live, and, most importantly, what they want (or think they want!) – you don’t have to regurgitate all of that information, but you need those details very firmly fixed in your mind.

As Move Over Darling comes closer to publication, I’ve put the splurge that’s currently Book Three to one side to do some research. I know that two strangers are about to find themselves offshore in a small boat and I know that Little Spitmarsh, my sleepy seaside town from Turning the Tide will reappear somewhere along the way. The broad-brush strokes are there, but it’s time to fill in the details.

Following up a line of research, I took one book off my shelf that can never be replaced by an ecopy. One Summer's Grace is Libby Purves’s absorbing and frequently moving account of sailing round Britain with her husband and their two very small children. Our copy lived on Veryan, our old wooden boat, for many years. It’s survived a couple of soakings and being flung about in rough seas with only the loss of its cover.

Picking it up again, I was transported back to the past. Lily and Rose were older than the Purves children when they started sailing, but some of the challenges they faced were just as daunting. With that book in my hand, I thought about the dreadful passage back from Cherbourg, where Lily was Tom’s only crew left standing, our dinghy sinking under us at Alderney, running aground in the Beaulieu river and the time the two girls lay in their bunks laughing and pretending to be asleep whilst Tom and I had a heated discussion about the best place to berth. Those moments have been woven into the fabric of our family. They’re times we look back on and laugh about. I suspect with Lily about to get married we’ll be doing a bit of reminiscing about the past as well as looking towards the future. 

When we were very young; Rose at the tiller, Lily scanning the ocean!

And so, after several rounds of edits which have been such a useful prompt about attention to detail, I know that my new characters have their own stories and memories. Now it’s up to me to discover them.