Thursday, January 26, 2006

Happy Blog-day to Me

Word Count: 20,440

You see, I even work on my birthday. Quite a busy domestic morning, so that I can have an indulgent afternoon. Washing, colouring hair (so glam, but feels like the right thing to do on a birthday, holding back the years and all that), checking into my Open University online area as that has opened for business today and I keep looking to see whether all 22 of my students can access it.

Scaredycat is going OK: I am enjoying the way the characters are growing and developing their own voices, and I can picture them far more clearly now. Not long before I can send some to my agent for an independent viewpoint.

So later I plan a little light shopping (those Arctic Monkeys will be MINE oh mine) and lunch with my friend J, and then dinner locally tonight with boyf. But the main self-indulgence is over the weekend as we are off to ludicrously expensive posh hotel, which has reduced rates thank God at this time of year. Bring it on...

Lovely Link of the Day:
Other important things that happened on January 26.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Artic Monkeys minus three hours and counting

Word Count: 19,652

I am so super uncool on the music front that I buy about one CD a year, have only just downloaded my first iTunes and still singalong to the occasional Dire Straits track (I can't believe I have admitted that publicly). But I am unfeasibly excited by tomorrow's release of Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. Which makes me slightly worried for those poor Monkeys because it can hardly add to their street cred that thirtysomething (and not even EARLY thirtysomething) uncool women like me are singing along...

But hey. They're laughing all the way to the bank whatever happens.

I've been writing and editing this weekend, trying not to think about houses. Another viewing on a house I like on Saturday - one in a street where I swore I'd never buy, but this one is special - but there is someone else who has offered lots of dosh, more than I believe it's realistically worth, so I am just hoping my lack of a chain might help. And there will ALWAYS be other houses. I only want one, though. That's all it'll take...

Like most Brits, I was also glued to the story of the poor whale who washed up in the Thames. So sad. I am not smart enough scientifically to know whether this is simply a sorry accident, or a harbinger of doom (can an event be a harbinger, or only a person? Such a good word, either way) but it was hard not to get involved at some level.

Tomorrow is apparently the most depressing day of year so the sensible strategy of counting your blessings is worth trying. Here are some of mine:
  • enjoyed a beautiful sunny day today with the boyf
  • ate the best chocolate and almond cake in the world at Petersham Nurseries Cafe (though, guys, £6 for a bowl of soup seems excessive)
  • just finished Chris Manby's The Matchbreaker which was the best she's written so far (book ten, so if you haven't discovered her, it's about time you did). Really good example of a novel that grips, despite having a fairly unsympathetic narrator: you still root for her.
  • remembered I love writing - when I get round to it!
  • saw hundreds of deer in Richmond Park

Lovely Link of the Day:

MJ Rose's blog has some interesting stuff about whether your friends read your work, and whether you should be hurt or relieved if they don't...

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Soul-baring to Sell Books

Word count: 18,042 (but this includes some random statistics culled from the web that I need to edit so doesn’t really count as progress)

It’s that time of year – four months till publication of Brown Owl’s Guide to Life, and I am attempting to mine my life for interesting angles for magazine and newspaper articles to help generate publicity for the book.

There are limits to this confessional splurge (I know that might surprise you, given that I spill the beans on my life on the web) – I’d never write about domestic arguments or family secrets, but I reckon most of my own insecurities and eccentricities are fair game. The trick of selling features seems to be either:

a) coming up with a catchy headline or entirely new, invented syndrome: e.g. I am a Serial Blogger OR
b) having a horrible addiction/criminal past/fling with a boy band member (or a girl band member, I suppose)

I am focussing on the former approach as I am too tired/far into my thirties to know the name of most boy bands. My addiction is to the web (hardly very interesting) and I was talking to a friend the other day and realised I have never committed any crimes (not even stealing sweets as a child) and have only ever acquired one parking ticket. James Frey I am not. But then again, I could always make it up…

Second launch party of the week tonight, and I am wearing a skirt! Which counts as glamour for me…

Lovely Link of the Day:
There’s an interesting piece about the rise in confessional journalism here… but of course, if you like your scandalous celeb gossip there’s always Popbitch and Holy Moly! Neither for readers of a sensitive disposition so please don't click there if you object to rude words.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

January, bloguary

Word Count: 17,434 (revising, revising)

January just isn’t a month when much happens, and as a result I haven’t felt very inspired to blog. The house search continues: the lack of stuff on the market seems to mean that even fairly average houses are going to final bids and I am refusing to get drawn into ludicrous sale fever. I have a roof over my head and that’s all that matters for now.
This week’s looking a bit livelier – went to a groovy launch party last night (even though I was feeling very un-groovy) and caught up with some jolly nice people. Am still trying to get my head round the Open University course and systems I am teaching – so many new programs to learn. And work’s busy too, although all my colleagues who want to stay are having to face Spanish-style inquisitions to justify their existence which isn’t much fun.

Lovely link of the day:

January is the best month for curry. Especially Sag Paneer which I am currently eating every day for lunch. Yum. Here’s a good guide.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Open Sesame

Word count: the same, OK?

The proofs are done, the acknowledgements are written, so it’s time to get going again on Scaredycat… tonight I will be reading one of the key, slightly experimental scenes at my critique group and that will help me work out whether I am going along the right lines…
This weekend felt really busy – saw another house I quite like, that I might put on offer on… though I am reluctant in a way as the vendors have no house to move to, and there’s a baby on the way, which is a carbon copy of the one where everything went wrong last year.
I’ve also been to the briefing session for the Open University course in creative writing that I am going to be teaching this year – fascinating session and great to meet the other tutors, but it also brought out the whole difficulty in marking people’s work… especially poetry. It’s going to be quite a challenge.
Also reverted to my six-year-old sense during a shopping trip to buy suits with the boyfriend. There is NOTHING so boring as waiting outside a changing room. I tried to people watch – there was a suit salesman who must have been 80 and was straight out of Are You Being Served? – but the novelty of that ran out within about three minutes. Still, mission accomplished, two suits purchased.
I hate shopping, except for gadgets. I now try to buy most of my clothes in supermarkets as at least then the choice doesn’t overwhelm me. That, or designer stuff bought from bossy matriarchs based in the personal shopping suites of department stores. I have jumpers in my wardrobe costing from £4 to £150. Though more of the former…

Lovely Link of the Day:
I found this link about the Snowflake method of novel writing on Karin Gillespie’s Southern Comfort blog (her blog is always a great source of writing links).

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cats with rubber fetishes

Word count: same as before (have been proof-reading Brown Owl)

Interesting factoid of the day: Last night we heard the cat crying quite a lot (see previous entries for the complex arrangements we’ve adopted to keep the allergy risk to my boyf to a minimum) and went into the bathroom to find a huge puddle on the floor.
My instant reaction was that it was some kind of delayed stress reaction from all the disruption, and my heart sank – what if she kept doing this?
Cleared up, chucked away the bath mat which was also wet, and then had a brainwave. What if it was something to do with the mat, which I bought at the weekend. Good old Google provided the answer: apparently, cats think that rubber-backed bathmats smell of their own wee, and because they always ‘go’ in the same places, when nature calls… well, you can work out the rest.
Isn’t it weird?
So am very relieved that I don't have dysfunctional moggy after all. I am now considering retraining as a cat behaviourist...
Meanwhile, back at work, and wondering if we will ever get anything commissioned. I wouldn’t put money on it. It’s frustrating to work in this kind of environment and I know everyone else is quite depressed by the way things are going, but what can you do? Fashions change in TV and alas the kind of stuff we do is about as trendy as boot-leg jeans right now. I’m just glad I have my writing to keep me (almost) sane…

Lovely Link of the Day:
If you’re interested in the UK book industry, the Guardian's list of fastsellers is a good read - no, of course I'm not on it... but I have read or bought about 15 of the titles, not one of them a Su Doku book...

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year (unoriginal but well-intentioned title)

Word Count: 17,649 (OK, 5,000 words in a week but I WAS meant to be on holiday...)

2006.

So far, so good. Boyf's mobile is missing and he is on a detox. The cat is back and seems very happy - we're practising the feline equivalent of barrier nursing to keep her dander away from his allergies. But relented last night because it was NYE and she's very cute.

We also have suntans. Yes, Christmas in the sun is an excellent plan. The bit of Tenerife where we stayed was lacking rustic charm, but the hotel was very friendly and we read a lot, sunbathed and played air hockey together (that's not a euphemism). I won the championship, 13 to 12 games: quite a nail-biter - I found my performance improved when I drank wine. Flights were grim as I am scared of flying, which I know is illogical but there you go.

Resolutions, in no particular order:
  • to be more tolerant and less dogmatic (probably the hardest!)
  • to take more holidays/weekends away
  • to find a great house
  • to see more of my family and friends
  • to write the best book I can (The Scaredycat's Handbook is Book 4, and it's very important to me)
  • to enjoy my new teaching gig with the Open University
  • to get into the best possible routines for my new freelance career
  • to carry on blogging

If anyone fancies posting theirs, I'd love to see them.

Lovely Link of the Day:

It's always good to set goals... not sure mine are specific and measurable enough but I will do some more detailed ones.

Oh and, utterly unconnected, but Miss Snark is doing her Crapometer again, analysing people's synopses. Even if you don't agree with her, it's a brilliant way to learn.