Friday, 29 February 2008

Friday feeling

The streets around here are seething with fluorescent-clothed runners at the moment - it feels like the whole city is training in preparation for the Bath Half Marathon next month. Me? Don't be daft. I broke into a run on the treadmill at the gym yesterday for the FIRST TIME for all of...ooh, at least five minutes. Don't laugh, I was dead proud of myself, I've had a bit of a 'Can't Do It!' block about running, I've been fast-hill-walking on that machine for all this time, too scared to up the speed past 7. But yesterday I felt brave and whacked up the speed. And I did it, yay! Didn't even fall off or give myself two black eyes (if you know what I mean, girls). Now that's what I call a result.

Had some lovely lovely emails yesterday. Nice editors saying exciting, hope-inspiring things and wanting to meet me to discuss new books (hurrah!) and then TWO from my Lucy Diamond agent saying (get this) first that someone wanted to discuss an option to put on a theatrical production of Any Way You Want Me!!! and second, someone wanting to discuss the film rights for it!!!! Can you imagine - Any Way You Want Me: The Movie. I was so stunned I burst out laughing. I know that 99% of these things never actually happen but it's still quite exciting to daydream about it... I'm hoping that someone wants to put on Any Way You Want Me: The Musical next, with rousing choruses and dance routines. My agent says he's hanging out for Any Way You Want Me on ice tee hee.

Ahhh...feel very cheery today, Friday's here, we've all made it through the week. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, 28 February 2008

New toy

Oooooh.... I am a bit excited. I had a spanking new phone delivered yesterday to try out and it's rather gorgeous. I must confess to being a bit rubbish at gadgets - my current mobile is the sort that people snigger at openly as it is *sssshhh* quite old and not very cool and can't take photos or anything fancy like that.

But this...oooh. It's gorgeous. Nice to hold. Shiny and clever. It feels lovely - very soft and smooth to the touch. I've only had a little fiddle around with it so far but I can feel myself getting sucked in to gadget-world. I can see why people go a bit bonkers over phones. I am never going to be one of those techie sorts who gets excited about mega-pixels and HDSPA ( I don't even know what these things mean I'm afraid) but I am swayed by aesthetics - ie as I was opening up my parcel, I thought, "Ooh, lovely packaging - nice boxes" (does that make me a bit sad??? or just a bit of a crap phone tester???).
The only thing I don't like is that it's called the Orbit II. To me, Orbit is chewing gum. Or maybe even a rocket. Or a new razor; I can almost imagine the macho Gillette voice-over now. But anyway. I will save my other phone-related stuff for this blog over here...

PS I reached 59,874 words by the end of yesterday...so tantalisingly near that 60,000 word mark yet I couldn't quite get there (I found I was just churning out waffly dialogue so as to up the word count which is never really a good sign of 'quality writing'.) So I stopped and went to the pub instead. But today...yes, today I will definitely get there...

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Oo-arrrr

My son has developed a West Country accent! It is soooo sweet. He kind of burrs his 'r' sounds at the end of words - like herrrrr or tractorrrr. I just love it, he can pass as a true local now (unlike me and my flat Midlands vowels). The girls still sound the same although my eldest says 'daps' instead of 'plimsolls'. Bless.

I have finished When We Were Bad - brilliant - and am now rereading Great Expectations. Feel as if I need to brush up on this before starting Mr Pip, so as to get all the references. Swotty eh. I haven't read Great Expectations for twenty years and back then, I was far more interested in crimpers, hippy skirts and aubergine-coloured hair dye to appreciate Literature-with-a-capital-L. On second read, I am loving it. So good!

Now - work to do. I have already sent off the first draft of something and it's not even 10.30! How impressive am I today? I am rationing myself on t'internet, that's why I've had a productive start. Back to the novel today - only a few days left of Feb and I'm supposed to be hitting the 60,000-word mark. Better crack on...

Monday, 25 February 2008

What's for tea, Mum?

So the kids are back at school, my partner is back in London and I'm back to single parenting and trying not to lock us all out of the house.
*sigh*
Someone please tell me something nice to cheer me up.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Wookey Horror Show

Oh no...half-term is almost over and I'm gutted at the thought of returning to so-called normal life. Lovely partner has had this whole week off work and it's been so nice just arsing around together with the kids. Yesterday was (in theory) the Big Treat...a trip to Wookey Hole, but sadly it didn't quite live up to expectations. It was rather like being back in the 1970s for sheer naffness/bizarreness; I kept expecting to see John Simm with his pointy collars and leather jacket, or maybe Slade wandering around in shiny clothes and big-soled shoes. Okay, so the caves were great, and what saved the rest of it from being a complete rip-off/disappointment was a free circus skills workshop where the kids could all try out tightrope-walking, juggling, plate-spinning but other than that...Jesus, it was the most motley assortment of sideshows and other tat I've ever seen. A paper mill! A teddy bear exhibition! Loads of old slot machines! The most camp circus-themed restaurant in the world!
Won't be rushing back there, that's for sure.

Changing the subject, have you seen Caroline's blog lately? She's only gone and raised over £1000 for One in Four, you know! And it's not too late to download her new novella (love that word) Disraeli Avenue and contribute either, so get yourselves over there. I'm really looking forward to reading DA....sounds a brilliant idea for a book.

Am currently reading When We Were Bad by Charlotte Mendelson which is fantastic - right since the first corking wedding scene, the pace hasn't let up for a second. Brilliant, larger-than-life characters and white-hot writing too, the sort that makes me sooooo envious. I am hooked.

Now, better go, one bedtime left on the agenda then down to work - yes! on a Saturday night! - but I have deadlines coming out of my ears at the moment...

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Eloise, Mabel and good intentions

Ahhh I’m enjoying this half-term so far. Been to Stourhead with friends (stunning), spent lots of time in our sunny garden digging up old weeds and putting in new plants, read two books (Slummy Mummy – hilarious; The Accidental Mother – fabulous), and yesterday went to the BBC in Bristol as one of the judges of their RaW writing competition which was very enjoyable and interesting. One of my co-judges was a lovely librarian and I found myself rashly agreeing to some author events in Bristol. Eek. Me and my big mouth.

What else? Ahh yes. My three-year-old appears to be having an identity crisis. “Call me Eloise,” she insists grandly. “Not Holly any more. I am Eloise.” All very melodramatic in the way that only a three-year-old can get away with. I remember my son going through this when he was two, ‘helped’ by his big sister who’d dress him up in her clothes and put hair-clips in his short tufts of hair. “Call me Mabel,” he’d say, clopping down the stairs in her pink shoes. It was the campest thing you’ve ever seen, bless him.

I’ve had a slight setback on the writing front. Remember that new children’s series proposal I was all excited about? Well, it was the acquisitions meeting last week (where publishers/sales and marketing directors decide whether to give the yay or nay to possible new projects) and mine didn’t exactly get an outright ‘nay’ but didn’t get an immediate ‘yay’ either. Apparently it needs tweaking which is a bit of a blow, although I’m not sure quite how much tweaking is to be done, I haven’t spoken to my editor yet. Obviously being as melodramatic as Holly – I mean, Eloise – I was plunged into ‘I’m a failure’ feelings about this when I heard last night, but have pulled myself together this morning. H-t-b has taken the kids to his mum’s for the day and I’m going to write something new and brilliant today that will wow every acquisition meeting in the land. Well. That’s my little daydream anyway. I can but try….

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Time off for good behaviour

Hooray for half-term...lie-ins, pyjama mornings and not having to make packed lunches at the crack of dawn. No arguments about finding book bags, doing spellings, washing faces... no bad-tempered school runs. Bliss.

Back in a few days...

Thursday, 14 February 2008

New anthology


This is worth a look for all you bloggers (and lurkers) - a blog anthology for War Child, on the subject of camaraderie. Sounds good to me!
Right - nose to the grindstone now. Must get some words added to the wordmeter before the Friday Novel Racers' weigh-in...
(Oh, and Happy Valentines Day, everyone!)
PS Sorry about the non-picture. I am such a technomoron...

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Good vibrations

I've been tagged by the lovely Leigh and asked to list five ways in which I "raise my vibrations". Ooer, mrs, as they say. Here is my wholesome U-rated list:

1) Going to the gym
I know - who would have thought it? I have developed a crush on the gym - no, not just a crush, a full-blown love affair. I love the cheesy music they play in there. I love filling in the little boxes of my card - increasing all my repetitions, times and weights, charting my progress in black and white. I love that endorphin rush that comes at the end when I'm walking home on jelly-legs. And I especially love that last week I had my first month's review with the manager and all my measurements had gone down - heart rate, blood pressure, fat percentage etc. And all because I mutter "Wedding dress, wedding dress," to myself while I'm panting on the treadmill. So it's a Whoopee for the gym - straight in at number one!

2) A cuddle with h-t-b
...Or any of the kids, for that matter. We are all cuddlers in this family. I love having my cuddles with the kids, feeling their little hands stretch around me. I love getting to breathe in the smell of their hair, feel their faces against mine. And I especially love snuggling up to h-t-b on the sofa of an evening, glass of wine at hand, and something good on the box. Which brings me on to...

3) Top telly
Lost! Heroes! Green Wing! And oh, I did enjoy Mistresses last night too. Hoorah for the small screen!

4) A great book
I do love getting lost in a brilliant book. I love it when you carry the characters around in your head all day, wondering what they're going to do next. And oh, as for BUYING books, well, now you're talking. *Ooh, shall I choose this one next? Oh, this looks good. What a fab cover! Never heard of this author but I like the sound of the blurb... Sod it, I'll buy all of them.* ... That definitely raises my vibrations. As well as my credit card bill, sadly...

5) Holidays
a) Going on holiday but also b) Planning holidays.
We are having a little titchy honeymoon away from the kids after we get married (and sadly it will be titchy - 2 or 3 nights away tops) but hey, I'm still VERY excited about planning and researching where we're going, where we'll stay, and all the rest of it. We're also hoping to take the kids away somewhere special as a 'family honeymoon', cash allowing, so I'm really enjoying looking at holidays on the internet at the moment. Almost as enjoyable as actually going there!

Ahh, I'm feeling quite blissed out after making my list. Am I supposed to tag other people now? I always feel a bit shy about doing that. Tell you what - if you fancy it, help yourself!

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

..And Difficult Behaviour

Forget the terrible twos. It's all about the terrible threes in this house - and it's a scary place to be, I can tell you. Youngest daughter has turned from Little Miss Sweetheart into Raging Bull, hellbent on arguing about absolutely everything. Which is rather wearying, frankly.
Yesterday, we had battles about the following:
which colour straw she would have in her milk
getting dressed
putting on shoes
getting in the buggy
whether or not it was a good idea to take her otter Sylvanian family out in the buggy (no, as it turned out, Mr Otter is now roaming free somewhere between our house and the school)
whether or not she needed a nap (yawning and resting her head on the table before screaming that she didn't)
whether or not she needed a wee (clutching herself and jiggling, yet still insisting she didn't)
not watching CBeebies
how many bits of broccoli she would eat for tea
whether or not it was nice to shout at the top of her voice when her brother was trying to concentrate on something
sitting on the naughty step for three minutes
staying in her bedroom for three minutes
going to bed early....

My God, I was surprised my hair hadn't turned white overnight. She is so bloody stubborn!
Thank goodness playgroup have got the pleasure of her company this morning, is all I can say. I'm already braced for the argument we're going to have about lunch... Anyone got Supernanny's phone number?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Difficult questions

"Mu-um?"
I was just about to turn off eldest daughter's light; it was bed-time last night. "Yes?"
"I've got a question."
There's always a question at bed-time; delaying tactics usually. "What is it?"
"Well... I was just wondering. You know before I was born?"
"Yes."
"And you and Dad were in love?"
"Yes. Well - we still ARE, but yes..."
"It's just... How did your brain know to make a baby?"
Ahhh. "Well... It's not really your brain that decides if you have a baby, although being in love helps."
"So how DO you make a baby?"
Oh Gawd, here we go. "Well, all babies start off from a tiny tiny egg..."
"Yes, I know that, but how do they start growing?"
It's late, I want a gin and tonic, I can't think of the right words. I'm just going to cop out of this one for now. "Love, I really want to explain this to you properly but there isn't enough time now because you're meant to be going to sleep. So I'll talk to you about it another day, okay? Night night."
"But Mum!"
"Good night."

Breakfast-time this morning: me, rushing around making packed lunches, pouring cereal, trying to wake up. "Mum, will you explain now?"
Aaaaaarrrggghhh!!

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

The drugs don't work

...The anti-histamines, that is. I still look very unattractive and freakish. Oh GAWD. SO many people have now asked if I am okay, if I have a cold, if there's something wrong, if I am ill. It's bringing me down all right, I can tell you.

Too sulky and ugly to write any more. Waahh.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Freak-face

Woke up yesterday to discover I had mutated into a freak overnight - huge puffed-up face, swollen eyelids, all blotchy and weird-looking. I think it must have been an allergy to the oyster sauce I'd eaten on Saturday night, or maybe I was pulling a face in my sleep when the wind changed, I dunno . It still hasn't gone right down - I had to do the school run looking like I'd gone ten rounds with a bag of spanners which made me feel a tad self-conscious. "Have you been crying?" my nice neighbour asked when she saw me.

Sigh. Won't be serving oysters at the wedding, then. I don't think Bride of Frankenstein is the look I'm after. Talking of The Wedding, my new column is up on Bridalwave today. You can take a look here...

Freakshow face aside, what about Lost last night, then? Ooooh, it was a corker, I thought. So good to have it back on the box at last. Lots of clues and hints, and I love the flash-forwards. Nice touch. But oh....so sad about Charlie all over again!

Right, off to put the frozen peas on my eyes again...

Friday, 1 February 2008

The TBR pile grows a little bit bigger

Ahhhh January's over at last, thank Gawd, and it's Friday too. Hooray! I feel like I just hang on for the weekend at the moment, I'm finding it tough going with my other half being in London 3 days of the week. Not much fun. Still... the big news is, he's handed in his notice at work, so it won't be for that much longer. Another hooray!

So...February. I'm aiming to get to 60,000 words on the novel this month. I will do it, I will do it. If I keep telling myself this, I will do it. I'm also waiting to hear from two publishers about some proposals, so I'm hoping there will be some closure there, one way or another... Please cross your fingers, blogworld, I can't bear a sad ending.

Luckily there are loads of great books around at the moment to distract me from my waiting pain - Milly Johnson's new one, The Birds and The Bees, Slummy Mummy and Mister Pip. Oh, and because I'm rather jammy, I've got a proof of the new Tim Winton book, Breath which I can't wait to read - oooh, I love his stuff. Cloudstreet is up there as one of the best books I've ever read. And of course, if you're out in the bookshops, I do believe that today is the paperback publication date of In Search of Adam - if you haven't read it yet, where have you been? It's fantastic. And the lovely Caroline will be signing copies in Chester tomorrow!

Have a good weekend!