Friday, April 27

Nell Wins!!!

So I planned to blog today about how my lovely spanky new laptop has turned up -- they could have repaired my old one but I was offered a brand new replacement laptop for a reasonable fee, so I opted for that. However, there is now a more important announcement to make...

I'm thrilled to tell you that my critique partner, Nell Dixon, has won the RNA Romance Prize 2007 with her book Marrying Max! I don't know any more details yet (such as what the judges said) as I only just found out on a frantic mobile call from Nell, who's quite rightly celebrating at the awards luncheon at The Savoy in London.

Congratulations Nell!!!

Will boast about my shiny new widescreen Samsung with Windows Vista another day :)

Just finished reading: All He Ever Wanted by Allison Leigh

Wednesday, April 25

A Gift Box of English Treats

With less than a week to go to the start of Brenda Novak's annual diabetes auction, here's the full description and a photo of the English-themed gift box I'm donating. You'll be able to start bidding on my gift box (among many other fabulous prizes) from May 1st, at which time I'll post up a link to the auction. In the meantime, you can check out a list of the other fabulous items up for auction by clicking here.

My English-themed gift box contains:
  • An autographed copy of Fall in Love: An Anthology (pub. Sep 2006), which features my romantic Oxford-set novella “The Little Shop of Dreams”
  • An autographed copy of Haunted Hearts (pub. Oct 2006), my full-length romance set in a haunted house in an English village
  • An autographed copy of A Taste of Summer (pub. May 2007), a 2-in-1 beach-themed romance featuring my romantic novella “One Shore Thing” [Please note this book is not seen in the photo since its publication date will occur while the auction is in progress!]
  • A 125g box of Twinings English Breakfast teabags -- as supplied to The Queen!
  • A 250g box of Duchy Originals Organic Butterscotch Shortbread, produced by Prince Charles’ organic food company
  • A fabulously fragrant Laura Ashley “Crème Anglaise” votive candle (a creamy vanilla scent enhanced with subtle notes of caramel and cinnamon)
  • An all-natural handmade pocket notebook decorated with gold and silver skeleton leaves
  • Two packets of English Cottage Garden seeds. These delightful and well-balanced mixtures of quick-to-flower annuals bring all the nostalgia of an English yesteryear and are guaranteed to provide a welcome splash of colour for many weeks. Simply sow and forget! Each packet is sufficient for 2 square metres (20 square feet).
  • A selection of Jessica Raymond goodies, including bookmarks, fridge magnets, a jotter pad, and pens

The total value of the gift box is approximately $80 USD.

Friday, April 20

Top 100 Favourite Romances - UPDATE

Here's the latest update in my Top 100 Favourite Romances project. There have been some changes to the five books with the most votes, but I've got to say that number one is way out in front!

5. Born in Fire by Nora Roberts (new entry)
4. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (new entry)
3. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (up 2 places)
2. Persuasion by Jane Austen (non-mover)
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (non-mover)

I'm still taking votes for the list and will continue to do so until May 16th (this means the voting period will have lasted two months). Everybody is welcome and encouraged to vote for their own personal favourite romance novels, and books from all subgenres of romance fiction are welcome. If you haven't yet voted, click here to go to my contact form and fill in your choice of titles. If you've already voted, please do spread the word about the project; I am still receiving nominations but they have slowed up a little and I really would like to make this list as comprehensive as possible.

In Flump news, we went for another scan this week to check on the bubba's growth rate. He/she is going great guns and has a current predicted weight of 3lb 9oz. On a less positive note, today I had to have a glucose tolerance test done -- bleurgh. The drink was gross and there was a lot more of it than I was expecting. Luckily I have had no indications of gestational diabetes in any of my previous tests, but I still had to have the tolerance test anyway because my dad was diabetic.

Speaking of diabetes, don't forget that Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction launches on May 1st. My gift box is now ready to be bid on! Next week I'll post a picture of it and a description of the contents. Once the auction is live I'll place a permanent link to it on my side-bar.

In fruit-tree news, the cherry blossom is still blooming nicely and the apple tree now has lots of emerging peachy-pink buds :)

Just finished reading: Angels by Marian Keyes

Sunday, April 15

Cherry Blossom

Last spring I planted three fruit trees in my garden -- a Peregrine peach, a Sunburst sweet cherry, and a Worcester Pearmain apple. We didn't expect them to do much in their first year, and although none of them blossomed, the peach tree did produce a couple of small fruits.

A few weeks ago the peach tree started to sprout a few pink blossoms. Then, earlier this week, I saw one or two white buds on the cherry tree. A few days later, and the picture you see above is how it looks today. Isn't it pretty? The apple tree is also covered in green shoots so I'll have to see if we get any blossom on that too, and if so, what colour it will be.

On to another subject, and I realize I didn't do an update for the Top 100 Favourite Romances list this week. This is partly to do with the laptop troubles I've had. Once I've reloaded the database of current votes on to The Bloke's laptop and added in all the latest votes I'll post a new current Top Five -- hopefully in the next couple of days. I'm still taking nominations for the next couple of weeks, by the way!

Just finished reading: The Redemption of Matthew Quinn by Kathleen O'Brien

Friday, April 13

It Sleeps, It Squirms, It Sleeps, It Squirms...

The last twelve hours or so has been a time of great contrasts in the world of Flump. For the first time in a while he/she seemed to sleep for almost exactly as long as me, resulting in the best night's sleep I've had for a while :) I still woke up every time I had to move, so I could rearrange my pillow collection, but I got used to that a while ago. Prods and kicks, however, were at a minimum = slumberous bliss.

Since getting up this morning, though, Flump has been All. Over. The. Place. His/her current activity of choice is kicking (or punching) outwards all along the far right-hand side of my stomach, resulting in that tickly, jumpy sort of feeling you get when someone comes up behind you and pokes you in the waist with sharp fingers (but from the inside).

Yesterday I worked some more on my plans for Wisteria Cottage. I'm perfectly able to work on The Bloke's laptop using my CD-ROMs, but I've decided to take this opportunity to go "off piste" and work by hand. Subsequently I've started to fill an school-style exercise book with my notes. It's been really refreshing to work on a story through the medium of actual, physical writing for once! (My Laptop Update: It's being collected on Monday and I'm due to get a report on whether it will get fixed or replaced around Wednesday.)

Just finished reading: Black Rose by Nora Roberts

Wednesday, April 11

The Great Laptop Farm in the Sky

That may be where my little Packard Bell is headed. It had a bit of an accident yesterday and won't switch itself on. My claim's been put in and it's due to be picked up and looked at by the professionals any day now. In the meantime, I'm appropriating The Bloke's laptop to access my emails and work off CD-ROMs. Mercifully I do have all my stuff backed up and can still access all my emails (dating back to January, thanks to Google Mail), but I may get a bit behind on emailing people simply because I'm working directly from the web and not from all my little Outlook Express folders. So if you've contacted me lately, I apologize if there's a bit of a delay before I get back to you.

In other news, I've been working more on my plans for Wisteria Cottage and have a better idea of my hero and heroine and their stories. I'm also getting my gift box ready to go for Brenda Novak's Diabetes Auction. Keep checking back here for a picture of my donation and a description of the gift-box contents!

Saturday, April 7

Interview With the Writer

Flying by to say Happy Easter to everybody! Hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend and that the weather with you is as pleasant as it is with me.

Also, I was recently interviewed by the lovely Connie from Once Upon a Romance, and am pleased to say that my interview is now up on the site. Click here to read it!

Just finished reading: Blind-Date Marriage by Fiona Harper

Monday, April 2

What's Your Dream Writing-Space?

Last week I was contacted by a young woman called Emma Henry, a design student from a university in Belfast. Emma has been given the brief for a project in which she must design the interior of a cabin for a writer, which would be located in the back garden of the client's house. She's doing some research into the habits, inspirations, motivations, and environments (actual or dreamed-about) of writers and the spaces in which they write so she can design the perfect writer's cabin.

If you think you might have a little time to spare to answer a few questions for Emma, please let me know and I will forward your details on to her accordingly. Just leave a comment, email me if you have my address, or send a message through my website. Thanks!

Just finished reading: Paradise Fields by Katie Fforde