Sunday, February 27, 2005

The Joy of Fondue

Word count: 118,345

You know, I think the end is finally in sight for the Brown Owl book. Hurrah! Well, that's a short-lived hurrah because I have about 3,000 of those little Word comment boxes I have added along the way (which say things like: what a rubbish sentence, fix this).

There was a very interesting conversation going on one of the writers' boards I go to about whether novel writing gets easier, the more books you write. The unanimous view (and this is based on authors who between them have written well over 150 novels, including some of the bestsellers in the popular fiction category) was that it doesn't BUT the difference is that you know you will finish it, and then that you can make it better.

Had a lovely wintry retro fondue lunch today with friends of boyf's in Kingston - met their new baby son who is very cute and smiley. They're French and their daughter who is three is already brilliantly bilingual. We watched the rugby - I never expect England to win and, guess what, they didn't. But rugger players are much tastier than the football sort.

Lovely link of the day:
As it's Sunday, this quiz (which I tried ages ago but was reminded of on Kate Hardy's blog) is great fun with a very retro design that tells you what dog you'd be... interestingly, it goes with a movie I have never heard of, which goes to show that web viral marketing can be a mixed blessing, if the quiz ends up more popular than the movie!

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Rain, rain, go away... come again another day.

Word Count: 116,304

Another six days without blogging. So what have I been doing with the time when I could have been posting?
1. On Tuesday, went to the Orion author party at the Tate Britain. Very glam and met some top people...
2. Met my friend Jenny and had a meal in a Lebanese place behind Oxford St on Wednesday;
3. Boyf came round on Thursday and we watched telly;
4. Did the proof-reading on the US version of Starter Marriage;
5. Oh and bought an Oyster card which is like an electronic transport pass. But why Oyster? Have also been doing magaziney things that I can't talk about because of the bit of paper I signed.

Next week looks even busier - off to a friend's birthday meal on Monday; meal out on Tuesday; Wednesday is the critique group I go to, Thursday seeing a friend (maybe several) from journalism college donkeys years ago - and probably swapping over to a different magazine that day as well, and Friday probably out with another friend when she's back from holiday. So tonight am trying hard to get as far as poss with book.

Lovely link of the day:
There's some brilliant advice on here: Holly Lisle's site. Very thorough and practical and the kind of stuff that even, three books in, I can learn from...

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The to do list that never ends...

Word count: 113,076

Oh, there's no stopping me now. Busy weekend working - reading the US page proofs (this is where I get the typeset pages and have to spot any typographical errors, but usually also feel that sinking sense of dread along the lines of who wrote this rubbish? It is normal to hate your own work, actually), planning a relaunch of my website to coincide with the publication of The Starter Marriage and thinking about some talks I'm due to be giving over the summer on issues like ideas generation and fighting writers' block.

Did allow myself a night off last night, to go with boyf to see Meet the Fockers. It wasn't my choice but actually it was funny in places, if a bit daft and predictable. I'm more of an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kinda gal, but it takes all sorts, eh?

It's freezing cold today and set to get worse, with snow forecast in London, which always reduces the city to gridlock. Must remember to wear double thermals tomorrow.

Lovely Link of the Day
If you're feeling a bit unmotivated this chilly time of year, I recommend life coach Fiona Harrold's site. Though there is a fair bit of 'selling' of her courses and services, you can also find some brilliant motivational stories about how life coaching can make a real difference...

Back to WIP now. Have a brilliant week,
Kate x

Friday, February 18, 2005

Cover girl…

Word count:110,989

The glam world of magazines is proving fascinating, but there’s a limit to what I can tell you, because I’ve signed a confidentiality agreement, so this week I’m going to stick to writing-related stuff. Sorry, there’s no Devil Wears Prada UK going to be posted on here.

I am, apparently, on the front page of Writers’ Forum magazine (March issue is not showing up yet) in the UK this month which is fun… haven’t seen the magazine yet so will have to find one in the newsagent.

I’m making decent progress with Brown Owl, adding a couple of thousand words today alone. Even better, I think I’ve worked out a way of restructuring it so that I can keep it to the length I intended, rather than let it run away, which it was doing. I mean, long books are fine and dandy but sometimes you need to reign yourself in. My solution just means moving lots of the main action in the epilogue. Which will make no sense, but I am putting it here to remind myself, if I forget my brainwave.

I’ve been getting lots of brainwaves on the top deck of the 94 bus on my way to and from work, which is great, but does mean

Am feeling quite neglectful of my friends and family at the moment, as I am so focussed on trying to finish the first draft. January was busier socially than I intended and so I have been playing catch-up with the word count. So apologies to anyone reading this who hasn’t had an email or a phone call they’d expected. Normal service will be resumed, well, maybe around June. But then there’ll be another book to write (I hope, anyway, if anyone likes mine).

Book I am currently reading: Emma in the Orion press office very kindly gave me The Bitch Goddess Notebook in proof form and I am really loving it. Very acid smart writing with hard-to-put-down storylines. Excellent so far.

In fact, I think I’m going to read a chapter now over a glass of wine before I decide whether to bother to go out tonight, or whether I’d rather add to my word count. Oh my Friday nights are so thrilling…

Lovely link of the day:

Not sure if I’ve posted this before but this is hysterical: baby's named a bad, bad thing - I defy you not to laugh very very loudly.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Beds Time

Word count: 107,923

It’s gone really chilly today. But I seem to be making more progress with the WIP so I don’t mind being in the warm. Apart from managing to add over two thousand works to Brown Owl (just finished Chapter Thirty-One, where a big secret is revealed, all good fun), I’ve not done much. Went with boyf to choose a nice new bed for him at Feather and Black. I bought my dream bed from them about seven years ago when it was called The Iron Bed Company. This isn't an ad but I love their designs. Mine's a Lara and makes me feel like a fairy princess. Not a feeling I experience frequently...

Actually, I’ve just done my sums and it was more like nine years when I bought the bed. This is happening to me more and more. The other day I worked out I’d been working in London now for over six years. How did that happen? Until I was about twenty-two the years were slooooowww and now it’s all speeding up. Terrifying.

Obviously there’s something about grey Sundays that leads to introspection. Later on my mate Geri’s coming round to help me choose what to wear tomorrow.

Lovely link of the day:

This link, Ian Irvine’s The Truth about Publishing, was recommended on another writers’ board, and I agree, it’s terrific for a realistic, yet witty, guide to how publishing works.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Pastures New

Word count: 105,737

Busy, busy, busy… It’s been my last week in BBC development, before I head off to the glam world of magazines… so I’ve been getting rid of emails and tidying my desk and throwing away paperwork…

Well, actually, not throwing away nearly as much paperwork as I should. I am the original paper hoarder. I keep everything: letters; diaries (OK, that’s fair enough); notebooks (my journalism training tells me that people can still sue you up to seven years after you do something, so you need to hang onto your notes. Great excuse for a hoarder like me); old maps and ‘welcome leaflets’ from holidays I took fifteen years ago (well, you never know when you might want to write a story about Corfu set in 1988); magazines I don’t normally buy (another source of random inspiration); notes from training courses or my Open University degree (because I am always needing to look up linguistics or criminology or how to work the BBC’s bulletin system, even though I haven’t produced a bulletin for seven years); etc etc. It’s a shocker but I just can’t do throw it away… I have tried but it’s so tough.

This week I also went to see Acorn Antiques The Musical which is based on a sketch that Victoria Wood used to do in her shows on TV. It was very, very long and very funny and silly but also very expensive. £60 a ticket! Bloody hell. Not sure it was worth that, actually. Unfortunately the star of the show, Julie Walters, was ill the night we went so her role as Mrs Overall, the charlady, was taken by Victoria Wood who is a great performer, but it’s not the same… Ceila Imrie was great too. (NB: note to any American readers. Not a show I’d recommend going to see. It’s one of those phenomena, like cricket or warm beer, that people who weren’t brought up on programmes like Jim’ll Fix It or It’s a Knockout will probably never quite understand. Just be thankful, honestly).

Also spent too much money on my car (brakes) and my clothes (at Fenwick with their personal shopper – I can’t even tell you how much)… both are luxuries, but life is for living, eh? I also had a terrific parcel of books from Genevieve at Orion who’d found me lots of novels we’d all talked about at lunch last week: a Nicholas Coleridge called Godchildren, a book called Darkly Dreaming Dexter, plus the hotly-debated Belle de Jour.

So those are on the To Be Read pile. Have just finished Goodbye Jimmy Choo, which I really enjoyed, lots of fun but with some smart things to say about how we get sucked into image. Next is All Families are Psychotic. One of the new things about my secondment is that it will involve going to work by bus rather than walking – and though it’ll take some getting used to, I should get lots more reading done!

Lovely Link of the Day:

My friend and fellow writer Stephanie Zia sent me this: - very inspirational…

Sunday, February 06, 2005

The Perfect Weekend

Word count: 103,556

I had such a lovely authorly day on Friday. Went into central London for lunch with my editor, her assistant and two fantastic people from Book Club Associates, who are being incredibly supportive of The Starter Marriage. We went to Bertorelli’s in Covent Garden and had champagne and yummy Italian food: together with lots of fantastic gossip. I really enjoy hearing about the publishing world, it’s different from TV where I’ve worked for almost all my career.

As well as a chick lit lunch, I made a chick lit purchase – a lovely pair of shoes. Normally shoes don’t do it for me – I have really wide feet! But these are gorgeous and make my feet look almost dainty.

This weekend we cooked dinner for some friends – the highlight of the evening was definitely Nigel Slater’s Apple Chocolate Betty, winter pudding beyond compare – and then today I went to Oxfordshire for a top lunch with a Moroccan theme, followed by a really long walk in the country… apparently where we went may have been the setting for Ian McEwan's Enduring Love.

All in all, a perfect weekend. But not awfully productive on the writing front. And I know that this week’s going to be tough going because I am out every single night. I think I’m going to need to try to get up a few minutes earlier to write in the mornings. Or write in my lunch-hour… ah well. I am determined to finish the first draft by the end of the month!

Lovely link of the day:

Artemisia Holidays is running a series of creativity and writing workshops in Italy in August – and I’m teaching one of them! So if you want to do some writing in a gorgeous setting, then take a look.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Noises and peeping tom builders...

Word Count: 102,560

Friday! Yippee! Though the builders upstairs are driving me MAD! (warning: do not exceed exclamation mark quota or dire consequences will ensue)

The work has been going on for five months now and it's so depressing, having noise overhead all the time and rubbish in the garden, not to mention the random chucking of stuff out of the window. And they're rude and keep staring in at me through the bathroom window when I have a shower. Which then undermines my scary battleaxe persona when I open the front door and say 'exactly what are you intending on doing with that scaffolding pole?'

I know they can't be here much longer but it's really rubbish having no control over something that affects your life so fundamentally. Plus I have been thinking of selling my flat but can't do anything until they're finished. The upside is that the whole building ought to look much nicer by the time it's all completed but ARRRRGH.

Nothing to do with writing of course. The writing is going fine: well, better than it was. Have managed to get through the barbecue scene that was causing me so much trouble... so the last 20,000 words should be a breeze. Well, so I keep telling myself...

Lovely Link of the Day:

I really enjoy author Kate Hardy's blog, and not just because her name is very similar to mine. I've never met her though we've exchanged emails via the Romantic Novelists' Association and she seems a total sweetie. I love getting an insight into her life from reading her blog... I admit it, I am utterly nosy.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Absent without Leave (or Kate’s guide to celebrating a birthday in January)

Word count: 101,621 (utter rubbish, Harrison. Go to the bottom of the class)

OK, so I did a bunk again. sorry but it’s been that stressful time in any woman’s life: a birthday. Actually I do think that anyone with the misfortune to have a birthday in The Dark Months (ie November to March) should be entitled either to a) declare an official birthday during the Summer months OR b) to gain citizenship to a country where the climate is more favourable to drinking celebratory cocktails in the great outdoors rather than gripping mugs of coffee wearing thermals.

However, as I am not yet Aquarian Leader of the World, I:

....went to eat at The Blue Elephant with my friend Adele. This is a fab Thai place in Fulham and I'd never been there before. It looks pretty standard from the outside, but once inside, you're in a different world: lush and green and FULL of waiting staff so the service is excellent. Quite pricey but the food was yum: I had something like a Thai 'thali' with loads of different veggie dishes.
… stayed at The Alias Hotel Barcelona in Exeter with boyf. This place used to be the eye hospital and is a fab building that's been turned into a fab, quirky hotel. We stayed in the old Operating Theatre (no, we didn't have to sleep on the operating table) and ate in the restaurant and went to their very funky bar, where we watched a band and drank delicious cocktails.
… walked along Exmouth Beach - nothing like a bit of sea air of a Sunday afternoon, though we were the only people without a scampering dog.
... relaxed at Eden Spa, Exeter (or more specifically their orange flotation tank), which was part of the deal. Not sure I'd have one of these again. It wasn't as claustraphobic as I expected but it wasn't that relaxing either. Strange feeling, lying in a few inches of salty water, and good for your back I'm sure. An experience.
… had a nice dinner at Levant in the West End with my friend Jenny. Another restaurant themed around warmer climes, this was a Middle Eastern banquet - delicious and very healthy. Service was slightly incompetent (waiting 45 minutes for a Diet Coke) but there was a belly dancer there who had somehow worked out how to move her boobs independently of one another. Now there's a party trick...

Lovely Link of the Day:
Southern Comfort is... a writer's blog that focuses on marketing, with loads of top ideas. I don't know the author, Karen Gillespie, but will have to look out for her books when I visit the States.