Friday, May 26

Springtime in Paris, Part Deux

I. M. Pei's Reversed Pyramid in the Louvre (you'll recognize this is you've read/seen "The Da Vinci Code")

Stunning views from the top of the towers of Notre Dame Cathedral. Totally worth the climb.

Arc De Triomphe

One of the fountain ponds in the Jardins des Tuileries (complete with ducks)

Place de la Concorde, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background (the Grande Arche de la Defense lines up behind the Arc de Triomphe, as does the Louvre Pyramid behind us in this pic)

Me in front of the gorgeous Pont Alexandre III. Bloke got excited here as he realized that the road you see behind me is one of the locations in "Ronin"

Thursday, May 25

Springtime in Paris

Although I suppose it's technically summer now. Oh well.

Had an absolutely *lovely* time. We saw so many places, walked until our feet practically bled, and sat side-by-side in pretty parks eating crepes. A fabulous break. Here are a few pics. I hope to post a few more later on.

The view from our hotel room (Hotel Splendid, Avenue de Tourville)

Bloke and I on the "Batobus" water taxi in front of the Eiffel Tower

Outside the Louvre, with my hair looking rather shiny

On the Pont D'Iena in front of the Palais de Chaillot at sunset

Friday, May 19

The RNA Summer Party, Westminster

Last night about 150 people convened at the highly gorgeous Library of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in Westminster, London, for the Summer Party of the Romantic Novelists Association, during which the winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers Award was announced.

Congratulations go to Fiona Harper for winning the award for her forthcoming Mills & Boon Tender Romance, The Blind-Date Marriage (retitled, out later this year)! Fiona seemed completely gobsmacked but still delivered a lovely and completely coherent winner's speech!

Nell's book certainly sounded like it was a close contender, with a glowing review from the judges, and all the other nominees also garnered very positive reviews. For the record, the shortlist was as follows:

Unfortunately, 2 of the nominees could not make it to the party, but here's a photo of those who were there, followed by a couple of other pics:

From left: Fiona and Nell - apologies, but I'm not sure who's who of the other nominees

Nell and I -- a picture in which Nell looks absolutely lovely and I look like like I'm in the middle of a rather nice dream!

Fiona and I -- look at me, I'm standing with an award winner!

Carol from's Mouse & Pen board, Nell, and myself

I really enjoyed myself at the party. It was great to spend more time with Nell (and to finally meet her hubby!) and Bloke and I met up with them before the party at their swanky hotel beforehand to have a drink. I was so proud of Nell for her achievement in being up for the award. She has come so far in the last year and this is all down to her talent at (more than one style of) romance writing, her dedication, her tireless hard work and perseverance and her determination to achieve her dream. Today, the RNA New Writers Award -- tomorrow, the WORLD!

I also loved meeting some of the guys I chat with on the boards. On message boards you get to meet people and after a while, you can chat like friends, but usually only to that extent that people who have never met in real-life can. Now that I have actually got to know some of my fellow "online" writers in person, I feel like there's a new level to our web-based chats and celebrations. It's a lovely feeling.

The other lovely feeling I have as a result of the party is the absolute knowledge that writing romance is what I want to do. Not that I had doubts before the party -- in fact, after I joined the RNA in January I really felt like I'd ascended a level in my writing. I was serious -- I was taking a step, making a commitment. I suppose the fact that I finished my book that same month also contributed. But after last night, I *know* this is my dream, and I really want to get there.

As we stood and chatted in the library, glasses in hand, I took a few moments to simply look around me. Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Joanna Maitland, Sophie Weston -- huge names in the romance fiction world. Mills & Boon editors galore, whose names I recognized from the guidelines pages on, and who I would look at and think "Jeez, these are the people who open our submissions and decide whether we'll make it on to their shelves or not". Writers whose names I recognized from email newsgroups, online message boards, blogs, snippets of news in the RNA newsletters... Once or twice it became an overwhelming feeling, but immediately afterwards it became determination, drive, will -- whatever you want to call it.

This is what I want to do, and I will try my hardest.

Wednesday, May 17

My Cosmopolitan Week

Yes, yes, I know I haven't written for ages...

I've finished my first round of editorial revisions on Little Shop, which was a real learning experience for me. I polished the manuscript so many times before sending it in to the contest, but while going through the revisions lists I still found patches of cluttery, unnecessary sentences and contradictory words etc. that I just hadn't noticed before. So Shop is now back with the editors at Moonlit until the next (or final) round of edits.

Tomorrow evening, Bloke and I will be heading to Westminster in London for the Romantic Novelists Association's Summer Party. The winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award will be announced, and Nell is one of the nominees for The Cinderella Substitute -- extremely exciting! I've got my outfit hanging up ready to go and am really excited about seeing Nell again, meeting her hubby, and meeting so many other writers who I've met online.

Bouncy 2

In other exciting news, we have *finally* booked our holiday! Well, more of a short break, really. The fact that we desperately want to get a patio laid in the next month or two means that we can't afford the week-to-10-day holiday in sunny climes that we would have liked. BUT... instead we have booked a four-day trip to Paris, travelling by Eurostar and staying in a hotel where every room has views of the Eiffel Tower! We leave on Sunday and I am so looking forward to it -- I've been to France lots of times before on family holidays, but I've never been to Paris.

Au revoir pour maintenant! (Ugh, I hope that's right. I may shop for a phrasebook tomorrow.)

Just finished reading: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

Sunday, May 7

Bid and Win for a Worthy Cause

Another weekend has zipped by, and as I sit here thinking about going back to work tomorrow I yawn and wish my job was to test out the comfiness of beds while simultaneously reviewing books. Maybe one day...

My editing of HH is now on the back burner again as I work on my revisions of Little Shop for the Moonlit anthology, which Laura, the editor (my... editor...?!) needs back by the end of the month.

I'd also like to draw your attention to award-winning romance author Brenda Novak's diabetes auction. It's a yearly event where legions of kind souls donate all kinds of items to auction, and all the money goes towards finding a cure for diabetes. It's a cause very close to my heart as my Dad had diabetes. Items up for bid include bundles of books (many of them are autographed -- and they're not all romances), jewellery, travel packages, sports memorabilia, gift baskets, chocolate, beauty items, quilts, and critiques from editors, authors and literary agents. You can pay by Paypal or credit card if you win, and there's an extra *huge* bonus prize for the person who places the most bids. Auctions run until the end of May.

Please check it out at