Monday, February 27, 2006

Free lunch

Word count: 39,476

Things are still pretty mad - have written two features, though I am tweaking one like mad as I can't quite decide how to do it, but writing 800 words makes a change from 100,000! Once that's done I shall have a few days respite before my first batch of Open University assignments begin arriving... so I am going to try to top 40,000 and get the revisions done so I have something to send to my agent again.

I got my free lunch (see the sandwich saga below), which was jolly nice. It contained organic orange juice which tasted completely different from the usual stuff and was also paler, wonder why.

I am boring myself now, sorry. Creativity going elsewhere at the moment. Plus I've had toothache which would sap anyone's literary instincts.

Lovely Link of the Day:
In a comment the other day, Quin asked for information about non-fiction publishing. It's a very different world from fiction - and humour, which is where Quin must be aiming with his funny guide to the outer reaches ogf Greater London, is even more specific. I suspect a good starting point is a list of literary agents that handle non-fiction: try this list from Bloomsbury. Most fiction publishers will no longer accept manuscripts, but I suspect it's a little different with non-fiction proposals. It's worth having a trawl around the humour section of Waterstone's or Smiths to see books you think would be similar to yours and then either checking the acknowledgements, where the author's agent often gets a thank-you, for possible candidates, OR look up the publisher's website and see whether they will take unsolicited proposals. Hope that helps a little bit, will try to find out more when I have chance.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I’ll be back – after this short break

Word count: 38,231
Work is getting a touch overwhelming – not just the book but also some magazine commissions, which I am pleased about but are on a deadline. So I am going to take a mini-break from blogging till I’ve finished them, probably early next week.

But please don’t desert me for some fly-by-night blogger: I will be back with more tales from the Z-list end of authorship very soon.

Lovely Link of the Day

In the meantime, via the ever-wonderful Ms Snark, I suggest you go to this wonderful essay/speech on the subject of authenticity and voice in writing. It’s fascinating stuff and strikingly different from the normal ‘how to get published’ advice.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The customer is always... hungry

Word count: 38,090

I’ve done some writing. OK, not that much, I will admit, but work has been busy and I’ve also been doing some magazine pitching and some sorting out of labyrinthine IT problems relating to the Open University, and that’s left precious little time for writing. You might question then how I have time to blog, but then again you will have noticed the stream of consciousness style of these missives, so blogging is a piece of the proverbial in comparison to Proper Writing.

As a champion of consumer rights I have also been on the Case of the Wrongly Labelled Sandwiches. I bought my usual veggie wrap thing on Monday only to unpack it and discover tuna and boiled egg, a truly disgusting combo (you might like it, I suppose. I think it could only be made worse by the addition of, say, cold custard). The labels were all wrong. The following day I took a chance again (I am very fond of these wraps, they’re all cheesy and garlicky and beany) and this time they seemed to have had an accident with the black pepper as it was so full of hot bits that I needed to sneeze. Borderline inedible.

Anyhow, the two incidents were enough to get me looking up their website and emailing – and I’ve been impressed by how quickly they responded, within a couple of hours, promising investigations and a ‘free lunch delivered to your door.' Sounds a bit more exotic than a replacement sarnie. The whole thing felt very personal and I was reassured that my complaint was being taken seriously.

It’s in contrast to my experience with a well known soup maker named after a London market (heck, I’ve probably already bored you with this but I can’t find a search facility) which took weeks to respond to my email after I ended up with a painful scald when I followed their microwave cooking instructions. And then admitted there was a packaging fault and sent this standard letter saying they’d attached vouchers while they’d actually attached a cheque for £15. Now the cash isn’t really the point: it’s being taken seriously that makes me feel better – and that doesn’t happen with a standard letter.

So the soup company failed. And the sarnie company succeeded. Keeping consumers happy isn’t rocket science, is it? So isn’t it weird that a large company should make a hash of it and the smaller one make me feel more warm and glowy? The only difference that might have altered things is that I bought my sarnie at work and so sent my email from my work (ie BBC) address whereas the soup complaint came from a private email. But I am not that cynical…

Lovely Link of the Day:

I had a scout around for online consumer sites and found grumbletext which a) has a great fairy tale like name and b) has had some interesting press coverage. I can see how tough it must be running sites like this though, having done some consumer journalism myself – you simply can’t check out people’s stories if they’re all posting online and yet if you don’t you could be sued for libel. Still, good on them for trying… bizarrely though they seem to be getting texts on their site from consumers AND from the very premium rate text spammers they seem to be targeting.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Cold Snap

Word count: the same

I've got a cold. I decided to try again with First Defence, this nasal spray that appears to be a high tech way of banishing a cold if you spot it early enough: then I researched it and it seems that all it does is wash away the bugs in the back of your nose by making your nostrils stream. Or maybe it's a bit more sophisticated than that...

Certainly, this hasn't been one of those knock-out colds but who knows whether that's because of the spray or the bug, but it's moved a lot faster than usual, from the tickly phase to the underwater-gold-fish-bowl-on-the-head effect, in three days. So on balance I'd probably use it again.

Meanwhile, discovered this weekend while house-hunting for the boyf, that doubling your budget (he's done rather better out of the property market than me in the past) doesn't necessarily make the houses any less scuzzy/dirty/badly decorated. They're just bigger.

As a result of the cold and house-hunting , and also because I have been monitoring the tutor group on my Open University course, I've got nowhere on writing this weekend. But this week will be quieter.

Lovely Link of the Day:
These guys have been hoping for a house price crash for ages. Hmm. Judging from what I see on the streets of London, it ain't happened yet. Still, it makes interesting reading.

Friday, February 17, 2006

All gone a bit Pete Tong

Word Count: the same

Well, House Number 2 has officially bitten the dust - I had to have a proper think about it but called this morning to pull out. It's very depressing as it was the perfect house for me in so many ways: structurally very sound, nicely decorated, well cared for and with a very happy feel about it.

BUT...

Isn't there always a but? In this case, it's the old industrial site at the end of the road that seems certain to be developed for housing. The road I was buying on is a narrow little row of terraces, with this site at the end. The plans haven't been given permission yet but, with modifications, they almost certainly will be. It means up to 30 new homes, with all the building noise and traffic for up to two years: plus of course, the road will no longer be a dead end but an access route to the building site first of all (and you can barely get a Mini down the road, never mind a crane or excavator) and then to brand new flats. As I plan to work from home, it just wasn't going to work out. Very disappointed. I feel sorry for the people who live there as it's been sprung on them, but also a little surprised that the sellers couldn't find the paperwork of their very strong objection to the development - when I found their protest with about three clicks on the internet. Hmm. Another couple of thousand pounds down the drain but better than being stuck in a construction nightmare.

Onwards and upwards, eh? Am having a skive of a day as I feel a bit cheesed off. Last night's party was great fun. It was at the Wallace Collection, this incredible building just north of Oxford St in Central London. Saw some of my favourite people from my publisher, and generally scoffed lots of champagne and canapes. We also got a goodie bag with Green & Blacks truffles and two of the most successful books on their list. Which is good as I have just finished The Ninth Life of Louis Drax by Liz Jensen, which I really enjoyed: a very odd, compelling idea that in many ways doesn't add up, yet in the internal dynamic of the story, it made perfect sense and had real 'unputdownability'. Very strong voice as well.

I also feel buoyed up by a fantastic quote from Kate Bradley at Book Club Associates in the Bookseller magazine. She said that:
"The most exciting release in the fiction market [in May] is, for me, Kate
Harrison’s Brown Owl's Guide to Life, the brilliant follow-up to The Starter Marriage. Apparently, more than 50% of British women will be Brownies or Guides at some point in their lives – and in this book Lucy Collins decides that the old values and frontier spirit of the Brownies could be the key to sorting out her problems. If you, like me, can still recite the Brownie Guide Law and wish that life could be as simple as wanting to be an Imp or a Pixie again, then you too will love this book."

What a lovely thing to say... and I promise I haven't bribed her... Hope that doesn't seem to showy-offy but I was thrilled.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Here's some information about the expression that has given me my blog title today: 'it's all gone a bit Pete Tong' means, it's all gone wrong. Pete Tong is a British DJ.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Those pesky goalposts can't keep still!

Word Count: 37,613 (back at work so it's slowed right down)

I've been feeling in an odd mood this week. Going back to the 9-5 (or, commute included, more like the 8-7) has been a bit depressing and I'm frustrated that I haven't been able to get more done in the evenings on the book. But then I've also been running the first online tutorial for the writing course, so am spending a lot of time thinking about that. Plus socially it's busy: quality time on Valentine's night, a wine tasting last night (tried 32 different ones, and I have this embarrassment factor when it comes to spitting it out, so the rest of the evening was a write-off) and tonight there's my publisher's party, which is always worth going to.

Continued uncertainty on the house front too, which I will explain more about soon. But generally the goal posts keep on moving in my life, just when I thought they'd decided to stay put for a while. Oh and boyf is getting quite bad cat allergy symptoms again, which is stressful for both of us. Well, the cat too I suspect.

I plan a chilled out weekend combined with some writing - but only at very regimented times, so that I have time to relax properly.

Lovely Link of the Day:
There's lots of great writing advice here from novelist Caro Clarke - definitely one to bookmark.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Drizdays

Word Count: 37,171

It was a tiring but good weekend, hence the temporary blip in my blogging productivity. The Open University day school was really enjoyable, though I did have to ask people to repeat themselves occasionally as I am so deaf. Students seem really excited about the course - once the computer issues sort themselves out - and I think it's going to be fun. As well as hard work, of course.

Otherwise things felt a bit dreary: cold February rain on Sunday, the kind that makes you want to hide in the pub with chips, wine and the newspapers, so that's what we did.

Feeling slightly doom-and-gloomish about the house I hope to buy as I have found out some things about development nearby that concern me: need to do some digging to find out more. It's been going swimmingly apart from that but there's always a fly in the ointment.

Lovely Link of the Day:
The Apprentice is back on the Beeb in a week - hoorah! The importance of TV to liven up drizzly months cannot be over-estimated.

Friday, February 10, 2006

16K in two weeks (words not cash)

Word Count: 36,512

Not a fantastic word count, I'll admit but then again, two weeks ago I was only on 20,000 words so I'm doing OK, I think. Couldn't keep this pace up overall, though some people do. Nora Roberts who is published in the UK by my first publisher, Piatkus, is amazingly prolific (eg, her website says: In 1999, Nora penned four out of the top five romance novels; two were among the top 100 bestsellers of all books for the year. Nora was among the top five bestselling authors of the year). Maybe I can do that when I start my full-time novelling? Well, not the bestseller thing maybe...

Boyf had a nightmare last night, having his car towed away because he stayed too long in a parking place in London: he got a ticket and thought he'd go back later as he'd already got a ticket for £50. This was a normal parking bay, mind you, not half way across a pedestrian crossing. £200 to get his car back. He was pretty calm about it, whereas I would have gone bonkers, more with irritation at myself than anything else.

While he was dealing with annoying traffic fascism, I went to Pizza Express which had the same menu for about, what, 20 years, and now seems to add new choices every day, which is very confusing when you have been ordering Fiorentinas since you were a teenager and thought the place was at the cutting edge. My mate had bought me fantastic skincare items from Bliss - it's so weird, because their packaging reminds me of Boots Ultra-Budget Dry Calloused Foot Cream or something, yet the products themselves are wonderful. Plus she got this Cat Charmer thing (scroll down) for my mog which, unbelievably, had instructions... this is, basically, a bit of cloth on a bit of plastic, in a fishing rod type arrangement. Instructions?

Today then, writing, thinking, reading (just finished The Kite Runner which I was unsure about to begin with, but had me in proper choky tears about four times, so if you like to cry, go for it) and buying a nice new top from Hennes for the Orion party next week. £9.99. You could buy 20 of them - or get your car impounded. Your choice...

Lovely Link of the Day:
Another author blog, this time a 'newbie's view' from J.A. Konrath.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Slacker... NOT!

Word Count: 35,378

Now I know that looks a bit feeble after the totting up of the last couple of days but I did spend most of the morning on Open University stuff and also putting together, at last, the newsletter for the Between the Lines Club (my free club for writers and readers of popular fiction) - irritatingly, after spending HOURS copy-editing and sorting the layout and so on, I managed to put Feburary in the subject line, so that all the people I've sent it to will think I am a right wally.

Ah well, no sense crying over misspelled emails. It's been a gorgeous sunny day, though cold. I am off out shortly, the long journey into central London, which is still taking some getting used to. A night out requires much more planning than before.

Still hoping I might make 40,000 by the end of Sunday, though after last weekend's discussions perhaps I would be better off ignoring my obsession with numbers and actually doing normal weekend stuff, especially as most of Saturday will be taken up with the teaching.

Lovely Link of the Day:
I really think this book, Look the World in the Eye, looks fantastic - am going to see if I can buy it in Waterloo station tonight. And the author, Alice Peterson, has had such an interesting life as well, coping with a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis aged 18, and going on to write her autobiography and now this first novel.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Ploughing the word count furrow

Word Count: 34,612

Bit of a marathon session today as I had deliberately not organised anything extra to do. So me and the cat sat in the spare room, working hard. For me, that entails the act of creativity combined with the act of typing, For the cat, it entails sleep/chasing a random ribbon for 22 seconds until boredom strikes/making pathetic mewing noises to secure more Kitekat/more sleep.

I don't think 3,000 words a day is very sustainable. My legs ache and I feel a bit square-eyed and loony. Poor concierge bloke asked me to move my car as they're taking photos of the apartment block and I responded in zombie-like fashion. 'Ug, in middle of something.' And he'd even brought my amazon parcel up, which contained a DVD to give boyf for Valentine's (not saying what in case he decided to read this for a change), a book I fancy reading though may have to wait as it features a coma and I have just written one, and a game of Othello. I suspect boyf will get the hump about this as he agreed he would play it if I bought it but is convinced I am some demon player, not at all true.

In other news, the survey's been done on the house I am trying to buy and it looks great, very little wrong with it, the odd bit of dodgy woodwork in the window frames, plus some old 'movement'. Have also had lots of environmental searches come through which are very confusing... it's within 250 yards of a flood plain, but then so is half of London, so not much I can do about that.

Tonight we're going to have an evening of admin (oh happy day) and I am going to finish planning my OU teaching for Saturday, and then maybe work on a feature idea. So much for being 'on holiday.'

Lovely Link of the Day:
Writer Beware is a brilliant site designed to name and shame the scammers and vanity publishers who prey on people with little experience in the whole book game. And now there's a blog. Required reading!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Blatant self-promotion

Word Count: 31,742

I'm quite enjoying playing at being a full-time author this week. Last night went to the pub for our writers' social evening. Richmond was very wintry-Gothic, empty streets and ultra-still water in the Thames. Warming red wine and even more warming author chat was great. Our children's books super-star-to-be was telling wonderful stories about her recent trip to the USA, another writer is making great strides forward thanks to coach Jacqui Lofthouse, and overall it was jolly positive.

Then today I managed a reasonable word count, will do a bit more later, and also updated my website. There's now a sneak preview of the first chapter of Brown Owl's Guide to Life online and if you want to know more about the theme - does growing up mean growing out of your dreams? - I've created a new page to explain what it's all about.

Dreams are essential, as far as I'm concerned. Without dreams and hopes and goals, we just trundle along and though I am the first to admit I enjoy a bit of trundling, I also know how much happiness depends on striving for the things that matter to you. Becoming a published author was one goal I was never sure I'd realise, but having done it has led to all sorts of brilliant conversations with people who've talked about their own dreams, both in writing and entirely different directions. That's why I wanted to write about a group of women who've lost touch with what they really want out of life - until life comes back to, as it were, bite them on the bum and force them to take action. Anyway, more about that on the website.

Then this afternoon I went off for tea (well, strong coffee and cake) with another writer friend and we put the publishing world to rights. It's amazing how much you learn in the first couple of years after signing your first deal, some good, some bad, some downright scandalous. But the solidarity of other authors is the best thing of all... it's a lifesaver.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Actually this is literally yesterday's news, but the consolidation of imprints continues: French company Largardere (who own my publisher Orion, plus Hodder and Headline) have dipped their toe across the pond by acquiring Time Warner. Had an email saying it won't change anything day-to-day... Hope not. The world of books is terribly genteel on the surface but deals like this make you wonder what happens behind the scenes!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Not exactly supersonic

Word Count: 30,543

My pace of writing seems to have slowed a little. My best excuse would be that it's because the part of the novel I am writing at the moment requires hands-on research (something I tend to avoid due to the time it takes) and so I am making it up as I go along. Now this is of course entirely normal for any author, but if you're writing about relationships or dull office jobs or whatever, well most of us have experience to draw on. Right now, I am writing about specific medical stuff and will need to find out accurate information. I have that journalistic instinct to get the facts right, even though this is fiction: it's a hard habit to break and actually I have a responsibility to get all this right.

I plan to swoop on through - in fact, I am not far off the end of that little section - and then go back to the stuff I know about. In the meantime, though, blogging/shopping/eating/reading magazines/loading dishwasher all seem more appealing. But tonight it's the writerly drinks that are held every couple of months in our part of London AND there's some cash in the kitty left over from the Christmas dinner, so I will be able to share woes with other scriberly types. Fab.

Lovely Link of the Day:
Via the Grumpy Old Bookman, I found British Blogs, which is a directory. And via that I found this genius site about Zone 6... Zone 6 is the absolute limit of Tube/Train transport that still, marginally, counts as London and Quin Parker has written an extremely funny 'guide.' Now if you live in Zone 6 and love it, then it might be better to skip what he's written but if you've ever found yourself stranded out in the sticks, it'll make you laugh. It also, handily, explains how to get home once the last Tube has gone. Hah! Tube! Where I am currently, out in Zone 6, there's no such thing.

The bookman also has some interesting links about building a career as a writer: his tips include writing two books a year. Oh lordy. Once I would have thought it possible but now... well, see the title of this entry.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sunday Shortfall

Word Count: 29,328

I'd really hoped to get to 30,000 words by tonight, and it looked in sight, until I had some 'discussions' with boyf about my laptop/novel habit. It's such a juggling act and, in my journey towards catching up, I've been neglecting home life.

So all my fretting about 'how will I fill my days when I write full-time?' seems a little irrelevant as hopefully then I will have more time to do normal stuff. None of this is a moan, not really, just the usual 21st century story of how do you fit in all you want to do... boyf has been suggesting that I should work shorter hours at the day job, especially as I am going to leave, but I still have pride in what I do. Or he thinks I could talk to my publisher about it but a) I don't think I need to panic about the July deadline just yet, I am only pushing myself hard to make the book the best I have written and b) though they are a delight to work with, as an author it's best to stay as low-maintenance and professional as possible. There are always a hundred other writers looking to take your place.

And then I've just watched the end of a Panorama about breast cancer, presented by the ever wonderful Betsan Powys (I love the way this link talks of her being 'on loan from BBC Wales' like a rather good striker), and it put all of the trivia of every day life in perspective.

More lovely links this week, I promise...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Product-ivity

Word Count: 28,277

In view of my rather good progress on the book this week, I just treated myself to a Product Splashout in Boots. If you don't live in the UK, then Boots is the ultimate drugstore: where we always ended up on a Saturday afternoon as teenagers, and where I still go now for miracle cures.

It's not as glossy as, say, Liberty's beauty hall - or as cheap as Superdrug. But it has a dazzling array of Special Offers and apparent bargains, plus a product range that takes in uber-brands and cheap-as-chips stuff. It also has... The Advantage Card, a loyalty card. I collected so many points on this pernicious bit of plastic that the assistants would do a double-card when the total appeared on their checkout screen. This is why I have to ration myself.

I am a sucker for those features in magazines about what's in people's fridges, so if you aren't, skip this bit. But I thought it was fun to report that today I bought:

  • Elvive Cashmere Touch shampoo and conditioner (offer: two for price of one). Despite my Product Cravings, I am quite a cynic about advertising, but this stuff has transformed my frazzled hair. LOVE it.
  • Schwartzkopf grey hair cover-er upper: yep, I admit it, I have a cluster of white on the right hand side of my crown and though I dye it, the little blighters seem to come back faster each time. This thing looks like a shoe polish applicator tube, with 'hair ink' to cover up your old-lady bits in between dyes. If it works, I may never dye again. No offer.
  • Nutrisse Hair Colour, Auburn: and while I was in the aisle, stocked up on a couple of boxes of this. I have been every natural shade in my time, but this is pretty close to the colour I was born with, albeit with a hint of red that I like in winter. This one has natural fruit oils, apparently (offer: two for price of one).
  • Valentine's Card: looked at lots of nice ones, but all had nauseating messages inside. This one is jolly, unsentimental but BIG. Men like that in a card, I think. No offer, but I did buy some Lindt truffles to go with it. Yum.
  • Naked Body Care shower gel in Starflower: I wanted some classier shower gel than my usual 99p, 100 per cent chemical paint stripper stuff and I snuck a quick sniff in the store and it smells good. Offer: 1/3rd off.
  • Aphrodite or Girly Perfection or similar named razor: why do they keep redesigning razor blades for women, making them pink and giving them naff names? I have half a drawerful of stupid refills that I can no longer buy the main thingy (?) for. So I have bought swizzy new one in the hopes they won't discontinue it for a while. Offer: £2.99 'introductory' price.
  • Allergy Eye Drops: romantic gift for boyfriend as the cat is affecting his peepers. No offer. That's how much I care!
  • Naked Guest Candle: this is not a candle to hypnotise your guests into getting their kit off. Hmmm. There's an idea for a book. Despite my disappointment, I couldn't resist this as it's a candle named after Marian Keyes. How strange and yet marvellous is that? It will apparently ensure sales of ten million books if you burn it while writing. Plus it smells heavenly. Bargain, 1/3rd off. (Kate slopes off wistfully to wonder if she will ever have a candle named after her. Hmmm. Doubt it somehow)

I was on a roll by now, so when I got a skincare voucher for a fiver, I then carried all my bags around to find a nice skin cream, with a fiver off.

Have spent the last half hour trying to squeeze all these goodies into under basin cupboard. I'd be fascinated to see what the comparable male list would be like. I suspect many of them wouldn't have a clue what they'd got offers on: this is not sexist, just an observation. Special Offers seem to be to be a woman thing, that females have an instinctive response to (see also puppies and kittens) and males can't quite see what the fuss is about.

Incidentally, in case you think I am posting this in the hope of freebies, um, can't see it somehow. Fings ain't wot they used to be with customer care. I have just ended up with burn scars on my hands from a dodgy carton of soup and they have sent me £15.

Lovely Link of the Day:

I have also enjoyed some excellent Blog Nosing today and discovered a new (to me) agent blog, Pub Rants, which I like a lot. I was especially interested in her post about the chick lit backlash in the US, something I had to respond to (you can find my comments at about response number 68 but in case you can't face scrolling down, I've copied them here) because I've seen it here too. What strikes me from the other comments is the way so many people have fallen into the trap of dismissing the so-called genre without reading a variety of titles. Ah well. Losing battle, I guess. Back to my contrived, cliched, derivative manuscript...

"This sounds like the same backlash we've had over here in the UK. When I was
trying to get my first novel published back in 2002, I was told that many
editors had stopped acquiring: there were also endless sneery features in UK
newspapers criticising cut-and-paste Bridget-clones.

However, 'chick lit' (a label that now embraces all the mum lit, hen lit, menopause lit sub-genres AND, in Britain at least, is randomly assigned to almost any novel by a woman under 40, about a woman under 40, which is being published by a mainstream commercial imprint) is still alive and well. The acquisitions race that made the market crazy for a few years has calmed down, but editors are still buying, and readers too. My agent persevered, and Book 3 is coming out in three months.

What is happening is that the core idea or the setting or character DOES need generally need to be very distinctive or to have a Unique Selling Point: Book Group Lit is a recent example, and I am sure commercial women novelists (and the 'lad lit'
guys like Mike Gayle) will continue to innovate and find new contemporary
stories to tell.

'Chick lit' written as a cynical money-grabbing exercise, slavishly following so-called 'rules' (e.g. lots of shoe-shopping and Cosmopolitan drinking) deserves to fail. But stories that inject the circumstances of ordinary women's lives with added humour or wit or wisdom, will always have a place. So no need to organise the wake just yet, I'd say..."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tea and macadamia nuts

Word count: 26,101

I'm low-carbing again as I have a bit of a winter pot belly going on. So today, when a writer mate came round for tea, I restrained myself while she had one of my favourite diet (but not low-carb) bars of all time, the Svelte chocolate and raspberry, a miraculously good value portion of 99 calorie yumminess.

To reward myself afterwards, I had a massive handful of macadamia nuts which are the best snack in the world. But sadly horrendously high in fat.

We had a good catch-up. She's cracking onto the end of her novel, writing mainly dialogue to keep up the pace, and then filling in description etc later. Interesting plan... certainly, you can clock up the word count - and page count - fast if you write dialogue. I was telling her about my slight heebie-jeebies regarding the Full-time Writer Masterplan. It's something I have been dreaming of for ages, but now I know it's likely to happen this summer, I am wondering a) how I will fill my days without going (macadamia) nuts and b) how it'll change my writing once it's my main source of income. Don't get me wrong, I know how lucky I am to be able to consider this BUT it will be the biggest change in my life since leaving school, so I am trying to prepare myself.

Book is marching on apace, though things always take more words than I thought they would to explain or progress the plot. Am trying extra hard to guard against wordiness this time though.

Right time for some bean soup before round 2 this afternoon.

Lovely link of the day:
This is an interesting article about becoming a full time freelance journalist on the Writing World site, plus another one about writing a business plan. In fact, I am definitely book-marking the entire site: it's not the prettiest I've ever seen but the content is very strong.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The boutique hotel effect

Word count: 24,665

Back from my lovely long weekend in the countryside. It was like having very rich friends with their own swanky ancestral home, complete with 'staff' - but the friends let you roam around when they're not there, so you can do exactly what you please, when you please! Fantastic... what we pleased included: watching DVDs of Not the Nine o'Clock News, eating massive sandwiches at 4pm, playing board games over freshly mixed mojitos, swimming, having treatments, reading the papers and running around our ENORMOUS room.

It really is how the other half live and NOT at all affordable on a weekly, or even monthly basis. But for a treat, it was wonderful.

I'm now back and getting stuck into my ever-growing to do list:
  • finish novel
  • learn the ins and outs of further Open University computer systems AND plan all the teaching activities
  • buy the house I've had offer accepted on (more fun paperwork)
  • draw up a business plan
  • attempt to have a bit of a life as well...

Today I made pretty good progress with the book, wrote a shade under 3,000 words, though I know it's over-long. I sent the first chunk to my agent last week and she read it at lightning-fast speed and seems to have enjoyed it lots, so that's helped with the motivation side of things. I've got a few days away from work so if I can plough on at this pace, I can catch up after falling behind a bit with all my house traumas.

Must go and write some more and then see if I can remember the IT training I did before Christmas...

Lovely Link of the Day:

I played lots of Othello on the trip and I think (hope!) this is a safe site to get some practise in!