Saturday, 29 March 2008

Keep on running...

I'm starting to think that running is rather like getting married, say, or having a baby - everyone but EVERYONE - wants to put their oar in and give you advice. Which is a bit tedious really and annoys the (lycra) pants off me. Still, the one thing that everyone - but EVERYONE - has said is: Get yourself some good running shoes.
So... I took myself along to Running Bath (geddit) in town the other week. Blimey, I only wanted some flipping shoes but the salesman had me running up and down over a special pad on the shop floor so that he could have a good old laugh at me - I mean, use the footscan gait analysis system (I just got that from their website, don't ask me to explain please) to find me the perfect pair. Then, I tried some on and he made me run up and down The Corridor , a rather gorgeous Victorian shopping arcade by the shop, weaving in and out of the passers-by which was rather embarrassing. I tried on about four pairs and let me tell you, they were all so bloody ugly. The pair that fitted best were in this absolute vile bright orange and silver style with this horrible mesh over them - my feet were cringing inside, I can tell you.

"Oh God, why do they all have to look so hideous?" I moaned.
The salesman did this sort of tutting noise as if I was the most shallow person he'd ever met. Thankfully the next pair were slightly less gross - green and silver with the same horrible mesh and they fitted a bit better. Well, I think they did, but I really didn't want those orange ones, anyway so I said they fitted better. Maybe I am the most shallow person ever to buy running shoes. *sigh* Talk about a crime against fashion, though.

Anyway, I am still running away on that treadmill, trying to build up for the Race for Life. I had a wobble today (of the mind, as well as the thighs) when I limped off exhausted after a mere 2.6km, thinking, I've got to run twice as far as that in June, I'll never do it, this was a terrible mistake... But there are two months to go and I did only start running at all a few weeks ago so I'm trying to think positive. And now that lots of lovely people have sponsored me... well, I can't let them down. (Sponsor-Widget is still over there on the right, if I might just mention that again...)

Changing the subject - saw a really good film on DVD last night, Into the Wild. Anyone seen that one? I can't stop thinking about it today. Really moving and different and beautiful. Sure, it's flawed - a bit self-indulgent in places and some episodes rather drawn-out but oh... it's one of those films that stays with you. If you don't already know about it, my advice is, don't read too much about it, watch it without knowing the story. I'm really glad I didn't know the ending, it made it all the more powerful.

Hope you are all having a good weekend...

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Shopping list of doom

On the shopping list today:

Calpol
Dettol
Dioralyte sachets
CBeebies magazine to cheer up poor infant invalid (who is being surprisingly stoic in the circumstances...)

*sigh*

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Oooh!

Ooh - another, even shorter post. I've just seen that my story Explorer Trauma is on Jackanory Junior tomorrow - 5.45pm on CBeebies!
Sooooo excited!!

Genre-busting

I'm writing something completely new at the moment - a one-off children's novel. Normally I write children's series - either comic, breezy stories, or ultra-girly, princess/fairy stories - but this one doesn't fit in either category. It's quite spooky and atmospheric - I'm trying to channel the style of Tom's Midnight Garden and The Children of Green Knowe , with strange goings-on in a mysterious old house. It's so refreshing to write in a different style and genre - I am really enjoying it. How about you - have you ever experimented with a completely different kind of writing?

(short post today, sorry - keen to get back to my ghosts!)

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Tinkering and tweaking

I am holed up in my office-cave today, wrestling with the page proofs of Over You. I've realised that I've got characters called Nell and Mel, as well as Mr and Mrs Bell - oh, and two minor characters called Jake. Oh dear. Really should have spotted that earlier as at this stage it's pricey to change anything.

I am almost certainly my own harshest critic (I seriously hope nobody else is going to be any harsher) but I am struggling to get the balance right with my heroine in certain sections of the book, too. Okay, so something unthinkably bad happens to her so she's not exactly going to be skipping about tra-la-la full of the joys of life, but I've read these pages so many times now that my sympathy has evaporated and I find myself thinking, Oh God, pull yourself together and stop crying, woman! Which I am a bit worried about. So I am trying to lift those miserable paragraphs a bit where I can, and put in some feistier characterisation but... at this stage you are not supposed to be rewriting the blooming thing, just correcting any typos. Sigh...

I guess no author is ever one hundred percent happy with a book - I could certainly go on tinkering and tweaking this text for months yet. But I've got to email off all my comments today so a line must be drawn!

Friday, 14 March 2008

A Very Short Post

Rather belatedly, my new Bridalwave column is here.
Have a good weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Racing...

Oooh...it's official. I've just put my money where my mouth is and got my name down for the Race For Life this summer. Aaarrrggghhhh! One of my sisters is going to run (or jog...or limp...or crawl) with me and we've just registered. I've got a number and everything, I am a bit excited. And scared.

"Let's see, how long have we got, three months?" Nice Gym Manager said thoughtfully when I said to him last week that I was going to take part. "Hmmm, you should really be training every day, then..."

Every day! As if! We are not exactly talking a sprint here, I haven't transformed into super-fit-person overnight. And the very word 'training' sounds a bit frightening and serious from where I'm standing (or sitting, rather, with a cup of tea and biscuit). I will be happy if I get round with collapsing on the ground after the first mile. But I will give it my best shot anyway.

Oh yes, and if any kind generous lovely blog-readers would like to sponsor me (you knew that was coming, didn't you? Sorry!), there is a nifty little widget at the side there that you can click on, or just go here... Thank you sooo much. I need all the motivation I can get!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Cracking

A few years ago, when I heard the news that Any Way You Want Me had been accepted for publication, Lovely Partner and I celebrated with a bottle of cava and a Chinese takeaway that evening (we were so skint at the time that this was the height of Splashing Out). We got a bit pissed and made such a racket cheering and laughing that we woke Eldest Daughter who came downstairs and started tucking into the prawn crackers. "Ooooh, these crisps are nice," she said, cramming the last handful into her mouth. "Are there any more?"
"I'll tell you what, love, when Mummy gets another book deal, we'll go wild and get another packet," Lovely Partner promised drunkenly.

Well...
Can you guess what I'm going to say?
I heard on Thursday that Pan had made me an offer for a new two-book deal, and it was all confirmed yesterday. Two more Lucy Diamond novels! I am so so SO happy and chuffed and excited. Prawn crackers are on me!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

That was the week that was...

Ahhh.....what a week. I had four school talks to do on Thursday and Friday which all had to be pitched at different ages...gaahhhh. I am still a bit of a novice at public speaking so felt a bit stressed and prepared like mad for it beforehand, but I think they all went swimmingly - and it was actually great fun brainstorming ideas for characters with 150 kids or so at a time. "God, you're brave," said one of the teachers to me afterwards. No - just foolish, I think, but we all had a laugh doing it. I tell you what, though, I was so knackered by the end of Friday afternoon, how do teachers do that all day, every day?
Before that, it was Lovely Partner's birthday (21 again) and we made him a surprise birthday cake - well, I say 'surprise' but you know what kids are like.
"Dad, we've made a surprise for you, I'll give you a clue, it begins with 'C' and you can eat it," eldest daughter said cryptically.
"And it's a cake," youngest daughter said, slightly less cryptically.

We've just had a weekend in Center Parcs as a birthday treat which was fab - I know people sans enfants probably think that would be hell on earth but it was great. Lots of screaming down waterslides by day, and way too much booze by night. I am now anticipating coming down with something vile, having accidentally swallowed loads of water while I was showing off to the kids doing handstands etc in the pool but never mind.

Right - am fit for nothing but reading the papers and watching Lost now. Night all...

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Talk Amongst Yourselves...

I'm having one of those mad weeks - nothing bad, just lots on, so no time to chat with you lot, sadly... Hope all is well. Save up some good gossip for when I'm back!
Normal service will resume next week.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Smashing

Ahhh, the choking smell of old plaster dust is in the air tonight, as Lovely Partner has been smashing down a wall. Our house has been chopped about a bit in its past - it was two flats at one point, but it's also had rooms split in two, doors put in different places etc... Anyway, after a post-Christmas lull we have swung into DIY action again, making plans and getting quotes for building work which feels quite exciting. And when I came back from the gym this morning, there was 'Im Indoors with a whopping great crowbar, pulling down a stud wall (and enjoying himself far too much). Light now streams through to this part of the house where before the window was blocked by the stupid stud wall, so that's fab...just a shame the room is now filled with dusty rubble and there are electrical cables dangling like jungle vines from the ceiling. Hmmmm...

I did a bit more running at the gym today - ahhh, such a high afterwards, endorphins a-go-go or what. Nice Manager clocked that I was actually running on the treadmill instead of my usual fast-walking (I am such a saddo, I actually squeaked, "Look! I'm running!" at him, ahem). Anyway, Nice Manager was v encouraging - in fact, he started saying did I know about the Race for Life in June, and had I thought about going for it? Well, I hadn't until then but do you know what... I might do it. Ooooh. Now there's a challenge.

Lovely Partner has now buggered off to a mate's 40th birthday bash in London overnight and may not be in a fit state for anything tomorrow, so we had Mother's Day today - which meant I was brought a grand total of five hand-made cards this morning (the girls made two each) and daffodils, and have had a very easy, leisurely time of it all day - reading the newspaper in bed, going to the gym, being taken out for lunch, shopping ALONE in town....ahhh bliss.

Must just tell you this before I sign off - we've bought this big exercise book for the kids to write in their favourite bits of the day every day (or for us to write on their behalf). Thursday was the first day we tried it and our eldest started it off. I was expecting her just to put down one sentence, but she was writing away for ages, and this is what she put:

Hi, I'm Hannah! What, you forgot my name already? Ok, ok, I'm here to tell you my favourite bit of the day. Well, that would be... mmmm.... Ok, I've got it. Wanna guess? It was getting praise from my teacher, Mrs B!

How sweet is that? I reckon that girl's a born storyteller, you know. Mind you, I've just noticed she's written Holly's so-called best bit of yesterday: Holly: my favourite bit was picking up my great siblings from school...
Yeah, right! Cheeky minx!