Wednesday 26 December 2012

Happy Christmas.

Boxing Day. First draft to edit. Who said writing wasn't a proper job? Working the holidays and everything. And yet still tasting Heston Blumenthal's crystallised orange. Like the centre of the earth inside a Christmas pud. That was one very fine present from my very fine friend. You see, there I go again distracting myself. Go back to work. Go on.

Friday 21 December 2012

reach for the sky

I can reach for the sky now, almost, anyway. Nothing to do with Anthem coming out (Kindle Christmas Day, book January 3 in case you're wondering). My ceiling fell down! It certainly did. Right around my desk. All that rain has done for our very old house. Poor thing. I had to shake out the rubble from my printer (they're surprisingly light, printers, especially after being shaken. Hm mm.) And sweep round my desk, move my towers of books, my turrets of papers. It had to be done anyway. New Year  resolution and all, but the big job, the sorting and chucking will have to wait. Pressies to wrap, stuff to buy, carols to sing,  hair to tear out. My own, if you're worrying. Isn't that what Christmas is all about? The busyness? Have to have this and have to have that and ggrrrr! I wrote a song about that, by the way, and now my singing group performs it every Christmas which usually wakes up a few of our audiences. Drives them mad. The singers that is. So many words in every line, all frantic and busy, just as we are, with our bags and baggages and ceilings falling down, and then the message, riding over the top, in one simple voice and still a baby lies forgotten in a cattle stall. I like it. It's not a great piece of music not compared to every other new carol being written, but one day, when I've saved up  I'll record it.  Anyway, happy everything to everyone. Keep safe.

Saturday 24 November 2012

in my hand

And here it is, in my hand. Anthem for Jackson Dawes. And instead of jumping about with joy I burst into tears. How is that? Why is that? Don't worry. I'll mop up soon. Promise.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

the heat is on

Once upon a time it felt so long. Since I updated my blog for instance, since I started writing Anthem, since my publishers said yes...Yet, now time's galloping away from me. Anthem is out with reviewers. Nail biting time. They might hate it. The final edits appear to have finished. More nail biting time. Have I got everything right. Have I missed out anything. My friend ordered and bought it for her kindle and that'll be there for her to read on Christmas Day! Between stuffing the turkey and firing the Christmas pud. The hard copy version takes a little longer, January 3, in case you're wondering. There'll be a french version and a German version coming out, it's in Australia from March, and America from May. Whooh. Am I just being a wimp or coming down with something? I need a rest. Just writing this has caused me to wobble.  The thought of it. But. There's book number two to do, so I can't be self indulgent. Work to be done. I'm beavering away at it, trying to get something down that resembles a novel by the end of November. My deadline. Ah well. I gave up nursing to do this. Any regrets? None.

Friday 14 September 2012

Editing - a force for good

Editing is an amazing process. Honestly it is. This is how it goes. I think I've covered it, dotted everything that needs dotted, crossed what needs crossed and punctuated anything left standing. I've cut out or changed the word that by some wizardry has turned up three times in the same paragraph or even the same line. I've sorted out direct and indirect thoughts and done the necessary to show which is which. I've deleted some things which just over-egg the pudding and yup, I've finished. At last.
Well. No. Actually. At least not yet. This is how it also goes.
In Anthem for Jackson Dawes I elevate Megan from the fifth to the twelfth floor in chapter two, but there she is, little minx, getting herself  back onto the fifth floor thirty pages later, from which she can't possibly see what I say she's seen. No wonder she gets herself into bother. And take Jackson. While he has huge eyes, which is fine and dandy, why does everyone else in the story want huge eyes too? They don't. They want some other eyes. But I give them all huge eyes. What am I thinking? I'll tell you what. I'm not thinking. It's me writing. It's me just full of a story I want to get down on the page, never mind that some things don't quite fit, or there are too many words trying to say something that can be said in one. Never mind that I've made a reference to something obscure and possibly not quite right. Never mind because it can be fixed. The next time I read and redraft, and the next. That's where my real writing, and thinking, begins. And if I've missed anything then I'm sorry. There have been many nexts with this book but maybe some little tiddler will still slip the net. I hope that doesn't stop you enjoying it. Look out for Megan and Jackson. January.

Sunday 9 September 2012

In answer to Alice

Sadly, apart from in India, where there are white coats a plenty, and on not very well researched tv programmes, there are no white coats. Not to worry,the amendments are made, my doctors, my students, are now wandering around in packs with gleaming stethoscopes like some sort of olympic medals around their necks and anything that could possibly flap or drip into patients' wounds well and truly tucked in or rolled up, or not there. Like white coats.

Now then, this is where I have something to say to those powers that allow, or in fact disallow, me to reply to comments to my blog. What's all this stuff about typing in that odd looking word you're showing to prove I'm not a robot? I tried three times and still you wouldn't let me. How many robots get it wrong that many times? I've proved it! Give me a break. 

Rant over. Normal service resumed. So just finished a long short story (or is it a serial, who knows, who can tell? Not me) which is all about the gold rush in Nome, Alaska. So enjoyed writing it. Will enjoy it even more if WW accept it and give me my own little pot of gold.

Novel two still under wraps till  it's accepted. Tenter hooks are awful things.

Tuesday 7 August 2012

new novel on the way?

Early Wednesday morning. The sun is shining and I have sent off a first draft for novel number two. Twenty five thousand words or so. It's a hey ho time, it's a wandering about in the dark time, it's a please let them like it time. Just don't know and it kills me. But it was always thus, I suppose. Not just for me but for anyone writing, anyone writing and showing it to somebody else that is. There's the rub. We could all rest easy if we didn't have to run ideas past people, or read out work in writing groups. Of course we want things to be so perfect that there's nothing but adulation and praise and wonderment, but along with that will come the pigs flying merrily past the window. It just doesn't happen. So best not to dream about it!  Not twiddling thumbs while wilting with hope and sunshine though. Writing some short stories to try and earn a crust. Needs must. Anyway, found out a disturbing thing the other day. Doctors, not even student doctors, don't wear white coats anymore. Well knock me down. I should have known that. Fundamental research error on my part. So I may have to strip them off the doctors in Anthem before it goes to press or just hope nobody notices. Ah but I will. And it'll stick out like a sore thumb. There's a lesson in this.   Check, check and check again. Fingers crossed for book two please.

Thursday 26 July 2012

colours of day

Yuck. That green is appalling. You see, that's what happens when you tinker. No more of that, thank you. Experiment over. Sorry, sorry, sorry, if you couldn't read it. Now then, I was at an interesting gathering last night -and I don't do these things very often, so wore inappropriate clothing, as always and felt like a square peg, hey ho, it is ever thus, just let me write and commune with my imaginary people, that's all I want - anyway it was full of writerly people receiving writerly awards for being right writerly.  It was nice, actually and held in an old building with a tiled lobby and sweeping staircases and miles to go to the rest rooms. It was round tables with cloths and a sea of wine glasses in front of me and none to drink because I was driving -ah me- but smashing food and speeches and prizes and a string quartet in the lobby. Splendid, actually. I was expecting sausage rolls somehow but you can't have sausage rolls in a place with staircases that embrace you in their arms and the names of the great and good are stamped into the cornices of the Great Hall. It made me think about being writerly. I was being an author on Monday and Tuesday, by phone. Editing. It shouldn't come as a surprise to me, but it did, just how exhausting close scrutiny of your work can be; how being asked questions about your characters, what you mean by a certain statement, having to remember why someone is doing this instead of that, can be so mind scraping. My mind has been focused on the second novel for so long now that shifting gear, back to the first was really hard. Yet the care taken by the editorial staff to make sure my words look good on the page, my ideas have continuity and I don't have cats sitting on ledges that couldn't possibly be there, twelve floors up on a glass walled tower block (the things you miss when you're writing) makes me feel that my work has a value attached to it. The amount of time they give to this process inspires me, flatters me and reinforces my sometimes wavering belief.  Mind you, I did have to lie down afterwards in a darkened room with a wet cloth on my head when the work was done. Nevertheless I'm glad to say that I didn't have names changing half way through my book or eyes changing colour or towns changing names or possibly even county. But it makes me want to say to anyone who attends my writing group, you've been let off lightly, if you think my critical analysis is tough. You ain't seen nothing.  And if those fresh faced and shining award winners of last night think the next stage is going to be a doddle, now they've got their awards, they might have to think again. I received mine in 2006 for this first book and I was blown away by the knowledge that someone, somewhere liked my writing and was willing to endorse it and give me money to allow time to complete it.  Then the reality kicks in. Anthem comes out in 2013. Seven years.  Yet the second one won't have anywhere near as much time and space to be written, as it's due out in 2014. It comes as quite a shock this real world of writing. It puts the stamp of work and employment, the tethers and weights and frustrations of being an author onto the pleasure of writing. But what a joy this new job is.  What an amazing thing it is. I just love it.

Wednesday 18 July 2012


I find this all very new and difficult. What's happened to the old and trusted blogging system? Now it seems to be, as does everything right now, life in general, this writing lark, but let's not go there, to be reloaded with a different cartridge. Just because they can (whoever does this, stand up and identify yourself). The old cartridge, it seems to me, was fine and dandy! It weren't broke, yet you fixed it. Stand up indeed. Someone should bundle together all tinkers in this word and shovel them into the cupboard under the stairs. And yet, if it's a case of, if you don't tinker and fix things that ain't broke, you don't keep your job, then that changes things. Hmm. I wouldn't want to be responsible for people losing their jobs. Lord no. That's the government's role. So if that is the case, then tinker away, but please don't disturb me, don't confuse my little brain, don't muddy its waters, I'm already up to the neck in mud and slime, and still not sure if I'm on the right road. Ah me. The writer in me feeling alone and unwanted and unsure. But how can I be alone with  scaffolding still at my gable end, like an ever present cobweb and men trapped in it working away fixing things, that really do need to be fixed? And how can I feel unwanted, when there's tea to be made and coffee with sugar and milk. And how can I feel unsure when... There's the rub. I do feel unsure. Maybe it's the rain. The rain.  I demand a refund. I demand some dry weather. I demand, I demand, I demand. All you people out there (Hi Alice, how're you doing?) let's hear it for Celia B's demands. Oh never mind. I'll just keep writing and hope it's for the best. If anyone can decode this blog then you're a better man than I am. So endeth it. I used green, by the way, because I can.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Am I fixated on moles?

And so it goes on. More copy reading, copy editing, making sure that Anthem is as perfect as it can be when it goes to press which is an old fashioned saying from the days when copy did indeed go to press. Gone are the days of tiny metal (probably lead) blocks with their back to front letters, and a mole eyed gent painstakingly fitting them into place, ready for a roll of ink and a press of paper. Not that we don't do painstaking. Lord no. And possibly we are mole eyed at the end of it, because we live and breathe painstaking. Nature of the writing/publishing beast. We have lots of eyes looking at Anthem, letter by letter, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, weeding out the little gremlins, adding, subtracting, changing, until finally, hopefully, we've got it word perfect. And yet, you know, there'll be something.  We'll have missed something. We're only human. So forgive us our omissions and trespasses into the land of whoops, missed that. Just read and enjoy. Book your copy. January is just a summer (with all its severity) away. And book two, you may ask? What's happening there. Well I'm writing it. Ten thousand words in. Mind you, I'm four and five thousand words into other ideas too, just in case this isn't the one to follow Anthem. Please let it be the one. I'm up to the eyes in mud, inglorious mud and it's heaven. First draft due soon. Hey ho. No pressure. Tap, tap, tapping away.

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Suddenly Sophie

And while I'm waiting, suddenly (or not quite so) we have Sophie, weighing in at 7lb 6oz which is, oh you do the math, if you want it in Kilos, I have drilling going on at the gable end and it's driving me absolutely daft, feels like they're coming right through my head, even with ear plugs in. So I'm typing this only half here (hear even) in a world that seems full of dentists, lurking noisily around corners, waiting to pounce, and that's just every body's nightmare. Think of your worst experience and magnify it by a thousand. That's the work going on with my crumbling gable end. That's not a medical condition or anything requiring hormones, by the way. Yet, when it stops, it's pure Heaven, and I take a look at Sophie, and that's even purer Heaven. She looks slightly miffed and blinklingly bemused, rather like a mole heaved out into daylight. This new world full of flashes and sparks and noise and movement. Whoa! Scary! We've all been through it, but who remembers the day they were born?  Anyway, I'll be delivering my own, metaphorical, baby in January. It won't be mewling or puking or doing anything remotely babyish, but still, it's my creation and will have a naming ceremony and bubbles and anything else that I can throw at it. Check out the Bloomsbury site and see the details, book your copy, wait with me, all eager, and watch me being winkled out of my comfortable little world, watch me blink.

Thursday 24 May 2012

old book, new book and summer mists.

It's that time already, when I check my blog and think whoops, left it too long. Don't look at me like that, you have no idea how busy I've been. Thinking, worrying, frustrating, and that's just about which brand of beans to buy. Anyway, things are moving with Anthem for Jackson Dawes, which comes out in January, I'm shockingly delighted to say, and just a tad tingly about. The road has been busy of late with the traffic of copy editing, details to address, long phone calls between here and London, little changes, bigger changes, relief at nothing to change too much and just yesterday, hopefully putting it to bed, letting it sleep and wake up in a cover and binding in 2013. Perhaps a premature dream but I can own my dreams and have them when I like. Erm. Think so anyway. Speaking of which, I have a dream for novel number 2 which plagues me day and night, which makes dull wallpaper of the rest of the world and its troubles, and which is boiling away inside the pressure cooker that is me. I've sent off the idea and a few extracts and though it would be silly to hold my breath or hang on by the fingernails till the decision is made, that's what I'm doing, metaphorically.  What a delicious agony, a lovely dilemma to be in. At least that's what I tell myself. Others might say, get yourself a proper job, woman, and stop wandering around in the mist. But no. I like the mist. It's there for a purpose. I like the moo of fog horns at night and clang of the bell on the buoy. And when it all clears I can start. Just waiting, poised, for the sun to burn it all away. Keep tuned.

Tuesday 28 February 2012


What a lot going on! I can't move for spinning. Recording the band, a couple of songs a week, which mean the kitchen's taken over, once again, by amps and wires and now a sound engineer; and coffee pots and meals for rounded carnivores and stick-like vegans (there's possibly something in that, but I'm not giving up dead fauna just so that I can look like a wire) and we now have a cat flap. Don't ask. Cats are not welcome in our house, they eat birds and cause allergies to those nearest and dearest to me, but it is to do with music. And multi cores. Meanwhile I'm researching pits, ponies and Flanders' fields, hoping that we can come to some agreement on which book I should write as novel number two. Meanwhile novel number one is being copy edited. Soon, oh let it be soon, we'll be looking at book covers. Whoopee! Excited? Me? Hold me down with a pitchfork before I fly away on it! Meanwhile the magazine I write for has been bitten by the financial situation and so we have to take a cut for our stories. Heck. Come on you money-laden people in high finance/high government give us a break. Off to flex some muscle at the gym, chisel off a few kilos and think about more important things in life, like babies.

Monday 6 February 2012

Hot Aitch two oh

Water. Hot. Hotter than ever. Brilliant.
One happy dude.

Sunday 29 January 2012

hot water

So it's been a month. No hot water from tap. A whole month. The plumber came, it was a Saturday, and what a comedian. Really. No sweat. Perhaps if it had been a hot day and my water was running hot etc there might have been a few trickles. But no. The other plumber removed the wrong bit. It was white and rubbery. He should have removed the solid metal thingy. The one pointed out to me, twice, by the comedian. So he's coming back. With his mate. To do this two man job of removing a thing which is not white and rubbery (new one on order) but the metal thingy. Oh, and they're bringing a bag of sand and cement to fill in the hole. Not that they're meant to, but, hey, we've been without hot water for a month, so plumber says we've been mucked about enough.
You think??????
Be nice. Make tea. With sugar. They all take sugar.
Hey ho once more.

Saturday 21 January 2012

If I could only have some hot water

My kitchen is FULL of amps, guitars and drums, coils of wire and tangles of wire, as we try to re-organise the music room, the rehearsal room, the room with so many years of dust, beer stains and coffee spills. Notice the beer never gets spilled... Great vats of soup for the workers (i.e various band members from various bands who can turn their hand to carpentry and heaving heavy equipment) and various drop ins, long haired drummer, round guitarists etc friendly birds of prey ready to rescue anything we're chucking out, and our lovely Alan doing the electrics, all delighted at soup and bread and freebies. Pandeflippymonium!

And, the water heater by sink has been broken for weeks. Had engineer in twice. He’s coming back today. He’s never seen one of these machines before… He gets the hot water going and it runs really well. He turns off the tap, I sign a thingy and out he goes. Ten minutes later I turn on the tap and no hot water…
Today I’ll lead him through the maze of musical/sound stuff and MAKE HIM HAVE A CUP OF TEA (white, lots of sugar, no doubt) and then try the tap again. To prove that it's not the way I do it. Is it?
Hey ho.

Got a bouzouki to try out. It's sitting on the kitchen table and now and then I get it out have a strum and put it back. Words and airs keep floating through my head. And just now, I read a poem written by a Padre, during the war. It's not a famous poem, it's possibly even twee, but I tell you what... it made me cry.

Off to the gym.

Monday 2 January 2012

Alice and

My friend Alice has just eaten a chocolate covered ant. How's about that for bravery above and beyond the call! Surely deserving of an 'I've eaten a chocolate covered ant, bet you haven't' medal. She is the bravest person I know. Apart from Colin, but then he's eaten half a sheep head in a restaurant in Cyprus; tripe soup which smelt like sewage at a pow-wow in Manitoba and maggot in barbecue sauce (part of this rather odd present we were given - Christmas creepy crawlies encrusted in chocolate or salt or something) given us by a friend who is now definitely not a friend, I'll see to that...
When I discovered what I was eating, thinking it a chocolate covered coffee bean and wondering if I'd ever sleep again, I spat the whole lot out and was picking pieces of ant legs from between my teeth for what seemed like hours. At least I'm convinced they were ant legs. Crispy ones. Someone out there, who will claim to know better, is sure to tell me otherwise but I won't believe that it was just a sugar casing, which only looked like ant legs.
I told Alice my story and still she thought it would be good to try it.
Mind you, we did have ready a glass of wine, just in case it was too horrible for words, a willing hand to waft her face in case she fainted and some resuscitation equipment (erm... more wine...) because, well, you just never know do you?
As it happens, Alice did have a mouthful of wine straight after eating the ant, so perhaps it wasn't the most wonderful experience, but there was no shrieking or spitting out, no hysterics, nothing to suggest she hated the idea. So yes, pin that medal on her chest.
Not sure if she just swallowed it or crunched it though.
Let's hold that medal until this has been thoroughly investigated.