Thursday, August 31

September Starts

So, I didn't quite make my self-imposed end-of-August deadline for my revisions on HH. Other stuff came up and I just couldn't make it, but it's not a disaster because actually the book doesn't need to be ready by October. That's not to say I am going to leave it until October, of course! I'll get back to work on it this weekend and will still plan on getting it all tied up as soon as I can, so I can get to work on the new idea.

Tomorrow is the 1st of September, and as well as bringing the sense of the start of autumn, it also brings the start of two other things.

The first is a new month of entries on the Moonlit Romance Authors Blog. This blog was created to give you the opportunity to find out about Moonlit's upcoming releases, and meet and chat with the authors, editors and publisher themselves. Because the Fall in Love anthology is being released in September, myself, Nell Dixon, and Rebecca Ruger (the anthology authors) are hosting the blog for the month. On the blog we discuss writing romance and reading romance among many other things, and everyone is welcome. A new entry will appear every weekday of the month, so be sure to come along and join us!

The other launch happening tomorrow is that of the Pink Heart Society blog. The PHS, of which I am a member, is a gathering of supporters of category romance. Writers, both published and unpublished, and readers are encouraged to come and show their love and support for romance, so please feel free to pop along and join in the fun. You might even like to volunteer as a reviewer -- and get free books! Now tell me why that's not worth checking out... :) You can reach the blog from here at any time by clicking on the dancing pink heart in my links section to the right.

In other news, Nell's latest release, Things to Do is now available to buy! TTD is quite possibly my most favourite of Nell's works yet.

Just finished reading: Drive Me Wild by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Friday, August 25

Die Hard 3: The Bottle Puzzle

The Bloke and I watched Die Hard with a Vengeance the other night, which I've never managed to see all the way through, for reasons I'm not really sure of. The only bit that had stuck in my mind was a puzzle that Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson were set by loony villainist Jeremy Irons, in which they had a 3-litre bottle and a 5-litre bottle and had to use them both to put exactly 4 litres of water on a set of scales to prevent a bomb blowing up. They do it so fast in the movie that you can't really follow what happens, and I spent about 25 minutes after that scene blankly watching the movie while the cogs in my mind were turning and trying to figure out how they did it -- and I did! Snaps to me!

So I thought I would post the solution for the next time I watch the movie and can't remember how they did it. Or maybe for anyone who watches the movie, also can't figure it out, and gets on the web to find out how.

Remember they couldn't use an approximate measurement -- i.e. no filling up the 5-litre bottle around four-fifths of the way up.

1. Fill 5L bottle to the top.

2. Fill the 3L bottle using the full 5L bottle, leaving 2 litres in the 5L.

3. Empty the 3L and refill it with the 2 litres you were left with in the 5L.

4. Fill the 5L all the way up again, then pour as much as will fit into the 3L. Since you already have 2 litres in there, only one more litre will fit -- leaving you with 4 litres in the 5L bottle!

Hmm. Now I've written it out it sounds really easy.

Wednesday, August 23

My Hand Hurts!

You see, I've practically rewritten all of chapter six, which is the latest bit of revising I've done on HH. I had to take out an entire, almost chapter-length conversation between my characters which was to do with a conflict I'm no longer using, and write in a whole new chapter-length conversation using a brand new conflict. I've been working on paper, doing all my changes in a red pen, then typing them all up into a new draft on my laptop. The side of my index finger seems moulded to the hexagonal shape of the pen barrel. Nice.

I'm edging closer to the halfway point and am still hoping to have it all done by the end of this month. I'm really looking forward to starting work on my new idea, too, which is spurring me on to get HH done and out the door.

I have ridiculously high hopes for this new idea. Well, not hopes exactly -- high hopes implies you are likely to achieve them, even if they're very tough. It would probably be better to describe the feeling as high ambitions. I would love for this next project to go a very long way -- straight up into a very specific stratosphere -- but whether it does...

Well. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. I'm going to plan it and write it with a very specific vision of where I want to see it in five or ten years' time. It will help me get the right feel and the right tempo. I hope.

And, no, I'm not saying what my "high ambition" is. It's too embarrassing. Imagine a student at a school careers counselling session saying "I'm going to take over from Bill Gates" or "I'm going to be Prime Minister", and really, really thinking it could happen. Well, that's me.

Yup. High ambitions indeed.

Just finished reading: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Thursday, August 17

One Book

Am at home this afternoon. Women's things suck.

Nell has tagged me for a 'book' list, so here it is:

1. One book that changed my life: The Oxford Companion to English Literature. The middle school I attended had a tradition of giving one book to each departing pupil, which they got to choose, and I picked this. I wanted a book I would constantly refer to and get really good mileage out of, but something that was more exciting than an ordinary dictionary. I have turned to this book many times over the years: when I wanted to learn more about Shakespearean characters, classic writers, outlines of Must Read books, and writing styles.

2. One book I have read more than once: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. This was my favourite book all through childhood, and remains my favourite book to this day. Apparently JK Rowling has also named it as one of her favourite books, so I am in good company. This story is beautiful -- the writing even more so -- and I still pick this up and re-read it every couple of years. I even bought myself a new copy about eight years ago so my original childhood one wouldn't get too worn out.

3. One book I would want on a desert island: Hmm... tough one. It would have to be something pretty big, I think, because I read quickly. But then again, it depends how long I'm stranded and what else there is to do. Rather boringly, I suppose something like the SAS Survival Handbook might be very useful.

4. One book that made me laugh: Things to Do by Nell Dixon. Okay, it's not published yet, but since I'm the author's critique partner I get the "CP's benefit" of reading Nell's work as she writes it. You have all got a lot to look forward to with this book. Nell's characters, the situations they get into, and the things they say had me laughing out loud as I critiqued this book (there were lots of red pen "LOL"s). Gilly is one of my favourites in this book, but I also hold a special place in my heart for Mr G and his backseat karaoke ;) It's out on August 29th.

5. One book that made me cry: I don't think I've cried at many books, but the most recent one I can remember is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Apparently more characters are due to die in number seven. Gulp.

6. One book I wish I’d written: Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani. This book is the first in a trilogy, all of which I consumed in just a couple of weeks one summer a couple of years ago. If you haven't read them, you simply must. They are some of the best books I've ever read and the characters are still with me. The good news is that a fourth instalment is coming in September -- early birthday present to self.

7. One book I wish had never been written: Hmm, another tough one. I might have to go with American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis. I know it's cult reading, but it's also the vilest thing I've ever read. It's usually included in lists of classic twentieth-century novels, but whether the writing is revolutionary or not, I just can't get past the content. Sorry.

8. One book I am currently reading: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. My NWS report mentioned Susanna Kearsley twice (once as a comparison to my manuscript -- eep), so I immediately sourced out some of her books. This is the first one I have read, and I can't put it down. It's part ghost-story, part romance, set around an archaeology dig in Scotland. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of this author's books.

9. One book I have been meaning to read: Ye Gads, there are about five hundred! But the one that is sitting on my shelf, staring at me, tapping its foot and raising an eyebrow at me is The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier. If you read my blog regularly you will know that I read Rebecca for the first time a couple of months ago and absolutely adored it. I'd tried THOTS last year, on the dual recommendations of a colleague (Hi Anne!) and Nell, but couldn't get into it. Given how much I loved Rebecca, I'm determined to try again with this one.

I tag Phillipa Ashley, Fiona Harper, and Sam B. (if you can do it on your blog!) to complete their "One Book" lists.

Tuesday, August 15

A Little Light Relief...

...from the current air travel situation. It made me laugh, anyway. (Don't forget to look at the sidebar with 'other news stories'.)

Saturday, August 12


Yesterday I gave my website a bit of a revamp. I'd decided that the font was a bit too big and not particularly readable, plus I didn't think my "About Me" had enough detail about my history with writing, and there weren't many links. I've also added a page for all my latest news, which I plan to update once a month (but with a permanent link here, for all the latest latest news). If you happen to pop over and have a peek at it I'd love to know what you think.

Just finished reading: Ghost of a Chance by Nina Bruhns

Thursday, August 10

Call Me Butter...

...because I am on a roll!

Ha ha and all that... :)

Yesterday was a very successful day. I revised another two chapters which, although it doesn't sound like much, amounted to about 8,000 words. I did quite a lot of deleting and substituting, and I also wrote quite a lot of new stuff. I'm very pleased with how it's shaping up so far and my characters seem so much more vibrant. I've updated my word count bar and as you can see, I am now almost a quarter of the way through.

I can also now tell you that my entry has come and gone in the Romance Junkies Writing Contest! It appeared the week before last. I think I ended up with about 65 votes, although I don't know what they were. I received a little selection of comments, too, including some "nice"s, a "lovely description", and even an "I love this"! Somebody also mentioned that they didn't like my opening line and that was okay, because I wasn't too crazy about it either. I know how important the opening line has to be -- especially in a contest where you rely on people getting sucked in to voting on your entry by the first couple of lines -- and I'd already decided that I was going to change it. You can still read my entry, although voting on it is now closed. It is called Never Forget.

Wednesday, August 9

Jardin de Jessica

The deck and the new patio furniture are now stained, the plants are potted, and the brick barbecue built. Here's how it looks:

There's still more I need to do in the garden -- creating flowerbeds, nailing up trellises and wall baskets, etc., not to mention praying that my lawn recovers, but at least the seating area is now finished. Here's the barbecue:

I love how rustic and cottagey it looks! And to top off my picture display of the day, here is a peach that has started to grow on my peach tree:

Today being a Writing Wednesday, I am getting on with my HH revisions, and I'm hoping that by the end of the day my new progress bar will have made a sizeable leap. I'd still really like to get this MS all tied up and sent out by the end of the month, so I can start working on my next idea -- and get busy with publicity bits and pieces for the release of the Fall in Love anthology!

Just finished reading: California Moon by Catherine Lanigan

Wednesday, August 2

And She's Off!

It is true! After:

(a) slogging through my treacle-like mind for the last month or two, trying to find solutions to the problems in Haunted Hearts that my New Writers Scheme report threw up;

(b) settling on and fleshing out the Good Idea; and

(c) doing the research that would enable me to execute the new plot directions and characterizations...

...I finally started my revisions today. I've set up a new word count bar to keep track of my progress; so far I have got through chapter one. It may not sound like a lot, but it really feels like it to me. I am one-fifteenth of the way there!

But I'm not cracking open the bubbly yet -- no way. I can get very easily sidetracked (eh, Nell?!) and I'd really like to get HH finished up and ready to send out by the end of the month. In September last year, The Bloke and I had recently moved into our house and for some reason I hit a real athletic stride with my writing -- like nothing I've ever experienced -- and I churned out the best part of HH (14 chapters) in little over a month. So it would be nice if I could have the book all tied up and shipped out on submission before this September starts. That way I have a nice clean break in which to start a new project, with the memories of last September inspiring me on to more "In-The-Zone" greatness.

Just finished reading: Honeymoon with a Stranger by Frances Housden (which I *loved*)

Tuesday, August 1

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

I recently received my contract for "The Little Shop of Dreams", which will be appearing in the Fall In Love anthology, from Moonlit Romance. It was pretty exciting to read, especially when I was referred to throughout as "The Author". :D It's on its way back to Moonlit as we speak, and I've just realized that the anthology will actually be coming out next month!! I feel nervous already!

Also, happy birthday to my blog, which turned one year old on Saturday. Congratulations to those of you who've been reading my blitherings for that long!

Just finished reading: True Believer by Nicholas Sparks