Thursday, December 22

The Beauty of...

  1. Broadband. We have *finally* achieved broadband status in my office, after having to deal with a no-name ISP that umm-ed and aah-ed every day on whether it would allow us to connect or not. We are now ADSL'd to the hilt and my Outlook Express polls all 12 email accounts in under 3 seconds. It also means that uploading to my blog from work takes a hell of a lot less time with a lot less keyboard-slamming on my behalf. Passers-by on the high street beneath my window now enjoy a highly reduced likelihood of having my computer flying out and landing on their head.
  2. Critique partners. I have never met Nell, my CP, even though we've been working together for about three years. In that time we've shared illnesses (of both ourselves and our loved ones), hospitalizations (ditto), submissions of work, crises of faith (mine), rejections of work, job dramas, requests for work (Nell's), and even a few wonderful sales (1 of mine, 2 of Nell's). We share moans, happiness, hopes, wishes, gripes, ideas, plans, stories of woe, and dreams, and on a number of occasions I have been known to seek solace in her knowledge of relationships. This week I bought and sent her a romance by one of her favourite authors because all her local outlets were sold out, and as thanks she sent me by return another romance (signed!) with one of her gorgeous new author notecards. We've already got each other's Christmas presents under our respective trees, and flowers have been sent and received by both of us on numerous occasions in recognition of birthdays and book sales. Nell, I frequently thank God (and the eHarlequin bulletin boards) for you!
  3. iTunes. So easy. So quick. So hip! The other night I browsed for and bought a bunch of songs than I had lost over the years. They were on cassette tapes I listened to repeatedly in the late nineties (or thereabouts -- essentially, my teen years) on my battered 'mega bass' Sony walkman that I hand-decorated with glittery nail varnish. The songs had usually been recorded off CDs I'd borrowed from friends or taped straight off the radio (I became an expert at hitting the pause button before the DJ could resume speaking -- if you hit pause instead of stop you didn't get loud click-off noises). As there is no godly way I know of getting something off a cassette and on to a CD, let alone an iPod, I bought almost all these songs off iTunes this week. Some were quite random and probably quite hard to come by in the shops, but for a beauteous £8.69 (or thereabouts) I managed to create for myself a no-skipping-required playlist that I would never have found on any compilation CD: "Naked" by Reef / "Runaground" by James / "If You Tolerate This, Then Your Children Will Be Next" by Manic Street Preachers / "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers / "If God Will Send His Angels" by U2 / "Kiss the Rain" by Billie Myers / "One Week" by Barenaked Ladies / "Higher Than Reason" by Unbelievable Truth / "Secret Smile" by Semisonic / "Driftwood" by Travis / "Sometimes" by James / "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush... *However*-- iTunes is still missing a lot of tracks (lots of notable exceptions in the movie score section), and among those I am waiting for to complete my walkmanesque playlist are "Come Back To What You Know" by Embrace and "Drinking in LA" by Bran Van 3000 (the former of which could quite possibly become the title for an idea I have been brewing on recently...). Apple -- you still have some work to do!
  4. Sainsburys. Every one of their own brand products in the health and beauty department is guaranteed fully cruelty-free by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. So when we stopped off at a moosive Sainsburys in Oxford the other night, I stocked up on shampoo, body wash, hand soap, bubble bath, etc. I especially couldn't resist the Cookie Dough shower gel. Yes, it's from the kids range, but *you* try smelling it and then putting it back on the shelf.

So... there. I know I'm about a month late for Thanksgiving, but I felt like showing my gratitude for a few things, whatever they may be. Obviously I'm grateful for other things too, but do you *really* want me to continue...?

Monday, December 19

Moving Goalposts // Moving Lyrics

I found out yesterday that there's been a reshuffle at Harlequin-Silhouette and the line I am targetting now requires a lower word count. I'm heading towards the original target (80,000), so I will have to cut quite a bit when I get round to the editing stage. I don't imagine that this will be too much of a problem, though, because I do tend to be wordy and go on a bit! Isn't that right, Nell! : )

I wrapped most of my presents yesterday. Managed to catch a couple of James Blunt videos yesterday, but thankfully not the one for "You're Beautiful"; yes, he has his top off in it, but I can't really bear the song because it was so overplayed.

Have come to a decision that I can't listen to his new song, "Goodbye My Lover", without welling up. This happened while I was sitting in traffic on my way to work this morning and they played it on the Chris Moyles show on Radio 1. Thankfully I recovered my composure when Chris pronounced the title in country-bumpkin-speak: "Good-boy Moy Loh-verr", which made me laugh and, I admit, is difficult not to hear in your head when you think about it.

The song's so gut-wrenching, though! Lines like "I know you well / I know your smell / I'd spend a lifetime with you / I've watched you sleeping for a while / I'd be the father of your child / And I still hold your hand in mine in my sleep" have me practically clutching at my heart with my lower lip wobbling. (Luckily I have plenty of Kleenex pocket-packs on hand at the moment because of my cold, in case the floodgates really do open.) What makes it worse is that as I listen to it I try to imagine the story behind the song, because he loves this girl *so* much, so why does he have to say goodbye to her??

Still -- those eyes and that mouth make it hard for a girl to stop watching Mr Blunt's videos:

Sunday, December 18

Fun with the Foos: Earls Court 17 December 2005


They were *great*.

Last night the Foo Fighters were supported by, er, Eagles of Death Metal (never heard of, probably won't remember... sorry) and the Futureheads (of whom I recognized a couple of songs). Most people were still walking about, getting beers, etc while these two bands were on. Our seats were actually very good -- literally the second row from the top of the arena, but right at the front. Unfortunately we had some nuthouse people in front of us, though -- 3 guys and a girl. The guy in front of me was about seven foot tall and had really bouffant hair so when he stood up I couldn't see bugger all. He also kept holding his head in his hands and moaning as if the music was so good he couldn't take it. Hmm... Another of the guys looked pretty sleazy and reminded me of Richard the slimy hotel-owner from Sex and the City. The third bloke was an old boy with a greasy grey ponytail and an unsteady gait. He smelt heavily of pot, was swigging from a bottle of vodka inside his fleece, and kept looking like he was going to keel over. The girl of the group actually looked quite staid but didn't behave like it, and my friend Kit and I had a hard time working out just which of the guys she was actually 'with'. We decided by the end of it that it could quite possibly be all of them!

So anyway. The place literally came alive when the Foos came on and launched into "In Your Honor", the title track from their new album. The crowd filling the mosh-pit was writhing and swelling like a river and it did look like fun, but I'm actually quite glad I wasn't down there: there was a bunch of guys a few metres from the front who constantly had a large circle of empty space around them because they spent the whole time cannonballing into one another. At first we thought they were having a fight, and I was quite surprised that nobody got hurt.

Dave Grohl talked to the crowd a lot and during "Stacked Actors" he actually came off the stage and ran through the crowd to play from the little lighting booth in the middle. As he was on his way there was some confusion as to what was happening, then the spotlight came down on him and the crowd went mental. Suddenly everybody swarmed back from the stage to the middle of the arena and Dave and Chris Shiflett (second guitarist) played a guitar duel which *rocked*. It was weird because from where we were up at the top you could see all these tiny lights around Dave, which we realized were people recording the event on their mobiles. Then, while Dave made his way back to the stage Taylor Hawkins (drummer) did an amazing drum solo. Here was where my only complaint lies -- all I could see of Taylor was his hands, because there was a big cable hanging down from the lighting rig which, from my viewpoint, ran right across the drum-kit. Luckily, however, they had video screens on either side of the stage and I was just about able to see him on that. (Also, because I didn't mention him, the fourth member of the band is Nate Mendel -- bass player.)

I had a bit of a moment when it came to the time for "Everlong" -- my favourite Foos song. Dave sang it alone with just his guitar for company, and he did it really softly and gently. For some reason, not many people sang along, but those who did (including me), did it really quietly. It's such a beautiful song... smoke had drifted out over the crowd and got caught in a bunch of laser beams and the whole thing was really ethereal and quite moving. The rest of the band came in and launched into the full version only for the last chorus.

They only played a couple of songs off the new album, and surprisingly "Resolve", their current UK single release, wasn't one of them. Most of the set was a really good bunch of stuff off all their previous albums -- Big Me, Monkey Wrench, All My Life, Up in Arms, My Hero, Have it All, Generator, Learn to Fly, Breakout, This is a Call, The One... All my favourites were there with only one exception ("Aurora").

There was a strange contrast for me, seeing the Foo Fighters in this kind of arena. I saw them play once before, almost exactly 8 years ago in 1997. That was at the Shepherds Bush Empire, a considerably smaller venue. The stage was pretty small, Taylor's drum kit was up on what looked like school stage-blocks, and there was a not-very-impressive silvery curtain hanging at the back of the stage. Well... this time around? A proper huge arena full of people, a huge stage, floor to ceiling banners with band logos on them, smoke effects, lasers, video screens... What a difference 8 years makes.

There's a rumour that next year they will tour again, but in smaller venues and playing acoustically only (I stress this is a rumour -- I read it on a message board somewhere and I can't remember where). If this does happen, I will *so* be there.


I started to get a really horrid cold yesterday, so I am going nowhere today. I'm going to wrap my Christmas presents and if I can get into the right frame of mind then I'll get on with chapter fifteen. I may also casually browse MTV for James Blunt videos...


I had a dream about him last night. Mr Blunt is a *very* good kisser.

Friday, December 16


So tomorrow night I go to see the Foo Fighters play one of only two London gigs in their tour at Earls Court. I am v. excited! Haven't been to a good gig in a long while.

No more writing yet, but I'm still hoping to finish before Christmas so I can leave the book to brew.

My decorations are now up at home and the tree looks so cute! My new living room is cream/beige/chocolate brown so we decided to go with just gold and cream on the tree. This is what it looks like:

In another piece of randomness, today a book I bought on eBay arrived in the post. I flicked through it and what should fall out from page 87? A sticker of Martin Prince, the over-achieving teacher's pet from The Simpsons. Random indeed.

I'll maybe post again over the weekend with a mini-review of the Foos concert.

Just finished reading: Everybody's Hero by Karen Templeton

Tuesday, December 6

Pepsi, Pogues and Publicity

As I write this rather hotchpotch post, I am drinking Pepsi from a paper cup bought at Burger King. I've been a staunch Coca-Cola girl for a long time. Proper fat-style, too -- 'Diet', 'Caffeine-Free', 'Lemon', or 'Lime' have never managed to sway me, though I do like a 'Cherry' every now and then. But it seems the tide is turning, as Pepsi is tasting increasingly better to me. The only downer about the one I'm drinking now is that it has "Kong My Whopper" emblazoned on the side, which I find somewhat dubious. (And before anybody points it out, I know it's for King Kong.)

On to something else. Today I heard my favourite Christmas song -- Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl -- for the first time this festive season. Kirsty MacColl was killed by a speeding powerboat while diving with her sons in Mexico a few years ago. I watched a documentary last year in which her mother went to Mexico to try and uncover the truth. While she was there she met Kirsty's diving instructor, who was there when the accident happened. It was such a sad programme, and it's such a terrible story. They never really brought anybody to justice for her death, and the person whom the authorities believed to be driving the boat at the time was, as far as I can recall, fined roughly £60.

Nothing else happened.

You may know that The Pogues are re-releasing Fairytale of New York this Christmas, and the proceeds from sales will be split between homeless charities and the Justice for Kirsty campaign. Please think about buying the song -- you can visit to find out more.

On a separate and lighter note, I meant to post last week to say that my critique partner Nell's website has now gone live! She has extracts of her books on there, as well as a newsletter, tips on writing, and two great contests. Please visit at!

Sunday, December 4

The Penultimate


I've finished chapter fourteen now. See updated word count across the page. Took some work, though! For various reasons it was a couple of weeks before today before I managed to get back to writing, and it took me almost half the day to get back into the right frame of mind -- I just had to spent time re-reading my last chapter and my plans. And listening to my character's songs again. But it worked! And now the chapter is done.

So next up is chapter fifteen -- the penultimate. And after that, it's The End. I will be so outrageously happy when I've finished this book.

I Will Have Finished A Book. (Maybe I'll make myself a t-shirt that says so...)

There's a saying or something, along the lines of "everybody has a book inside them, but hardly any of them will ever actually write it". All the How-To books I've read on writing say -- almost always in the first chapter -- that thinking you want to write a book and sitting down and doing it are two very different things. Lots of people think about it, some of them even start it, but not many people actually finish it.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I haven't actually finished yet. But it's so close!!!

Friday, December 2

All These Things That I've (Not) Done

Just about to go to bed as I have to get up early tomorrow to shower and set off for Christmas shopping. But earlier this evening I was thinking about my age. I'm 25. It hardly seems like that long ago that I was 20, which therefore probably means that before I know it I will be 30. There are things I'd like to achieve before I get there.

Five Things I Want To Do Before I'm Thirty:

  1. Have a book published.
  2. Be able to pluck up the courage to get on a plane so I can go to New York.
  3. Learn to play the drums.
  4. Actually take up jogging, rather than just talk about taking up jogging, and buying the accessories.
  5. Be patient enough to let my hair grow past my shoulders.

Just finished reading: The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom