Thursday, 31 July 2008

It's in the shops!

Must be brief as LP has just nipped to the offy to get us a bottle of vino and a DVD but I just had to report that MY BOOK IS OUT THERE!!! I was in London today for a lovely lunch meeting with my children's book agent and managed to squeeze in 3 book shop visits to see my new book out there on the tables. I went to two of the WH Smiths in Paddington and the Borders in Charing Cross Road, and there it was, looking lovely on the 'Buy One Get One Half Price' tables. It should be in Waterstones too and other book shops, and Asda are selling it as well. Whoopee!!

I was surprised how overwhelmed I was to actually see copies in REAL shops (not just in my imagination). I didn't think it would be so exciting as when Any Way You Want Me was published and I saw it for the first time. I thought that would be a one-off burst of excitement, never to be repeated. But I was trembly all over again and had that must-pinch-myself feeling, that my book was really there, in a proper shop that sold stuff, and random people who didn't even know me might pick it up and read it... Oh, just such a fabulous, wonderful thought.

Good luck, book. May you fly off the shelves and tables into lovely readers' hands all over the country...

Must just finish by saying that tomorrow is the LAST DAY of my limerick competition so time is running out. Go on, have a last bash at it, the prize is so brilliant, remember, a whole big parcel of books...just what you want to see you through the summer. We are off camping for the weekend (it has just started to rain here...ha ha... ) but I will get LP to pick a winner on Sunday night so will announce the results then. Have a good weekend everyone xxx

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Partners

I have got a new perfect partner! Well, all right, not me, then - but Over You has. On Amazon. (Keep up!) My perfect partner for Any Way You Want Me changed a few times at first, then it was Brown Owl's Guide to Life by Kate Harrison (fabulous) before changing again to The Yorkshire Pudding Club by Milly Johnson (also fabulous). So I was chuffed with my perfect partners there, but what would be my new one for Over You?
Well.... I've just had a look and it is... Coming Up Next by Penny Smith, as in Penny Smith from GMTV! How exciting! I feel a bit dizzy at such proximity to celebrity and am almost tempted to write her a gushing email saying, Ooh, we're perfect partners, you and me - but will restrain myself. For now, anyway. Because that would be a bit sad, really, wouldn't it?

Talking of perfect partners, I had a fantastic creative bath last night with my real-life Lovely Partner (no, we're not talking about Penny any more). You know how it is, fellow authors, sometimes you find yourself in a narrative cul-de-sac, wondering, what the hell is meant to happen next? (Or maybe that's just me?) Anyway, my solution is to do some plot-busting in the bath with my loved one plus a fierce G&T for inspiration. You should try it. Not with my loved one, though. He's taken.
Seriously, though, there is something about being there in hot water and bubbles (a bit pissed) that seems to get the old storylines going. (Gawd - don't even go there with the double entendres please.) Now I just have to decipher all the notes I made last night to see if the ideas are really as good as we thought they were at the time...

Monday, 28 July 2008

Squeak piggy squeak

The school holidays have started here (at last) so blogging may be a bit sporadic over the next few weeks as I am likely to be out and about with the bairns. Today we went pig-spotting around town - we've got a map to tick off the porkers and managed about 18 today. I love the pigs, will miss them when they all get auctioned off in autumn. The kids are all really into the idea, so that was a very enjoyable (and free!) start to the holiday.

And then when we got back this afternoon, I was declared "best mum in the world" as the Nintendo Wii was delivered - yes, the one that I was supposedly waiting until Christmas to buy. Ahh well. Bar a weekend's camping in Dorset we're not actually having a holiday this summer what with the wedding already costing us a few bob etc, so I thought there might be some rainy days where we needed something to do... Oh all right, then, I couldn't wait any longer. It's ace. Hoorah for the Wii!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Drum-roll please...

So, the phone lines have closed, the votes have been counted and verified, and...
Oh, sorry. Came over a bit Davina there.
What I MEANT to say was... we have a winner of the anagram competition! It was a close call, I can tell you, very high standard. My completely unbiased partner was judging the entries and out of almost 40 fabulous anagrams, he drew up a short list of three.

In third place with Acrimony, you love dud is the very lovely Calistro






In second place with I luv you: condom ready! is novel racer Captain Black




And in first place....









With Randy? Could I move you? is.....




*drum-roll please*




... PatP from Write up the Hill !

Congrats, Pat - you've been picked to win my prize - if you email me at lucy AT lucydiamond dot co dot uk and let me know your address, I'll post you a signed copy of the book. Well done!

Oh, I did enjoy that. Now... who's going to have a go or two (or three...) at my limerick competition, then? See below for details....

Friday, 25 July 2008

Another competition!

So... this is the final day of the anagram competition. At the last stroke of midnight, I will be declaring the competition closed, and copying out all the entries for my Other Half's perusal and judgement. Oh all right, so I'll probably do that in the morning, but you know. Trying to add a bit of drama to proceedings etc. I will announce the winner tomorrow evening anyway, I hope your nails can withstand the tension.
If you are mourning the end of this wonderful competition and feeling a tad blue that all the fun and hilarity is all but over... stop! Do not despair! There is ANOTHER competition to launch today to celebrate the almost-publication of Over You... and the very generous Pan's people have donated a splendid bundle of books - feast your eyes on this lot:

My Vintage Summer, Jane Elmor
Tan Lines, JJ Salem
The Hakawati, Rabih Alameddine

The Forgotten Garden, Kate Morton
Proof copy - Love All, Elizabeth Jane Howard

A Set of the new Picador Shots
The Birds, The Bees and Other Secrets, Frances Garood
An Accidental Light, Elizabeth Diamond
The Morality Tale, Sylvia Brownrigg
Touching Distance, Rebecca Abrams

Wow. How good is that? What a prize! I am especially jealous of that new Elizabeth Jane Howard proof copy - I may have to arm wrestle the winner for that one...

So, anyway...now that I've whetted your appetite, here's what you have to do. This time, I'm looking for limericks please, and the only rule is that your limerick has to contain the words 'OVER', 'YOU' and 'DIAMOND' in any order you like (you can even throw in a 'LUCY' if you're feeling very clever).
You've got a whole week to think up a good one... closing date is Friday 1st August (which just so happens to be...PUBLICATION DAY!) As before, I will type up answers anonymously and ask my other half to choose his favourite. The power that man has at the moment... I hope he can take all this responsibility I'm loading onto his shoulders. And usual terms and conditions apply, judge's decision final, blah blah.
Sorry but I think I'll have to restrict this to UK entries only as it will cost a small fortune to post a parcel of books that size overseas. (But do have a go anyway if you feel creative!)

Right... I think that's all I need to say. Over to you!

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

What's it all about, then?

Well, it looks like this season's Amazon-rank-watching has begun... yes, they're now showing Over You as in stock, hoorah! Very exciting to think of those pre-orders whizzing off to their new homes now... and people actually reading the book... gulp.

So, I'd better tell you what it's all about, then, hadn't I?

I started writing this novel after a brilliant weekend in London with two of my best friends. The three of us had lived in many rented flats together in London back when we were twenty-somethings in such glamorous locations as Tulse Hill and Harringay all the way to the delights of Kings Cross (obviously we told everyone we lived in Islington though). And then, one by one we moved away from the big city, settled down, went travelling, had kids... you know.
Now we live miles from each other (sob) so the three of us arranged a weekend reunion in London for old time's sake. It was so strange and yet familiar revisiting our old haunts - Camden, Upper Street, Hackney - a really peculiar feeling of the past and present colliding. I kept expecting to see people we'd hung out with at the time, ex-boyfriends, old work colleagues, ex-housemates - and then reminding myself, Oh yeah, I don't live here any more...

ANYWAY. It struck me as a great start to a novel. What if a woman met up with two old friends in a similar way... and a secret was revealed that shattered everything she'd once believed in? What if the friendship wasn't actually how she'd seen it at all? And what if stepping back into the past meant that the present became tarnished and spoiled?

You'll have to read it now, to find out what happens, won't you... unless you win my anagram competition, of course, which is still running until Friday - see below. (And by the way, I've got another competition starting next week in which you can win a lovely Fiction Package from those gorgeous people at Macmillan. All will be revealed on Friday...)

Oh, and two more things: my new Bridalwave column is out here...
And the funniest comments thread ever seen on the internet is here...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Great Summer Reads

I've been asked to take part in an author promotion that Waterstones are running here in Bath. They're asking all the local authors to nominate their favourite book, and to write a short piece about it - I think there's going to be a display of them at the front of the shop which is quite exciting (especially as the local authors' books will be up there in the display too - result!).

My choice is The Magus by John Fowles. I find it so hard to pick an absolute favourite as so much depends on mood etc, but this has got to be up there as one of the books I have most enjoyed reading and it sprang to mind (sprang? sprung?) as a Great Summer Read, worthy of that front-of-shop place. I remember being dazzled by it first time around, mesmerised by the twists and mysteries, never quite knowing what to believe or expect next. When I think of it now, I think of bright blue Greek island skies, heat, intrigue and illusion. And I know I did that (rather dangerous) reading-whilst-walking-along-the-street thing with it, loath to put it down - which is always a sign of a fab book. I'm reading it again now and feel swept along by it already.

So... what would you have picked? What would you recommend? Which book would you want up there in the front of Waterstones as a book that you'd love others to pick up and read?

Monday, 21 July 2008

Oops

Oh no! I was just flicking casually through one of my author copies of Over You (it is very nice to flick casually through one's own book, I must say)...and on the very first line I read, I spotted a typo. Aaaarrrgh.
It's in the Acknowledgements page, so pretty much the first page you come to. Bollocks.
Free signed copy to the first person who can tell me what it is....

Friday, 18 July 2008

It's in the bag. (Well, technically, a box.)

A large resounding HOORAH, if you please. I have finished my third novel. Yay! Such a good feeling to get to the last scene, I felt utterly giddy with excitement and joy. Drank bubbly, ate pizza and watched Juno on DVD last night to celebrate. Hey, I know how to live it up (even though the film made me cry - the birth bit - always sets me off, that kind of thing).

Anyway, I've printed it out, all 344 pages of the beast and stuffed it in a box for a few weeks to stew gently before I come back to it for the edit. AHHHHHH! And relaaaaaaaax.

Meanwhile, competition entries are flowing in thick and fast, there are some real corkers coming through. Have you entered yet? See post below for details if not. Come on - have a go!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Competition

Ooooooooh.
Ooooooooh!
Something very exciting has just happened. A box of books has just been delivered... my author copies of Over You!!! And oh, they look really gorgeous. Really. I'm not just saying that because they've got my (fake) name on the front cover. The back is this lovely dreamy green colour and mmmm, the spine looks gorgeous, with my (fake) name really clear. I can't stop looking at them, THEY ARE SO LOVELY!

Now. As I am over-excited and generous, I'm going to do a giveaway, right here right now. Is it too soon to start giving copies away? Sod it, I'm in a good mood.
So what you have to do is come up with the best anagram of LUCY DIAMOND OVER YOU. That's not too hard, is it? I can spot loads of juicy words already - LOVE, EVIL...um... DEAD... VILE.... Hmmm. Was this a bad idea?
Anyway, you can either leave your entries in the comments box, or if you feel shy, email them to me at lucy at lucydiamond dot co dot uk. You've got until next Friday (25th July) to come up with one! To make things fair I will type out all the entries then get my Other Half to pick his favourite one so there will be no bias. And I think I'm meant to say the usual terms and conditions apply too. I will post the winner a signed copy of the book!

Go on, get creative. May the best anagrammist win!

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Today I am mostly...

Stressed. I found out that a festival event I've signed up to do is a whole hour long. That's sixty minutes of me on a stage in front of an audience of kids. Heeeeeeellllppppp!

Overwhelmed. Just finished reading The Outcast and it's bloody fantastic. Can't believe it's her first novel - just so good. Beautiful uncluttered prose, huge emotional depth, and such fragile, damaged characters it's almost painful to read. (Do wish the blurb on the back hadn't given away quite so much though.)

Apprehensive. Going back to the dressmaker who's going to shorten my wedding dress tomorrow. "Can't possibly do anything until you've got your shoes," she said last time before trying to flog me several pairs. "Of course, people do tend to spend hundreds on their wedding shoes," she went on when I turned them down. She is sooo going to look down her nose at MY wedding shoes, they only cost a tenner in the sales. Ho hum. Trying not to care...

Knackered. Running up hills on the treadmill. Ooer. Gruelling or what.

Excited. Finished copies of Over You are in and winging their way to me! Whoopeee!

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Busy busy busy

Cor....busy old weekend. A good 'un though. First stop, London on Saturday to meet up with some of the Novel Racers! How exciting...and how enjoyable to chat to so many people whose lives I've followed online for months and months. It was fab putting faces and voices to blog names, and so nice to chat to so many fellow writers about...well, all kinds of interesting stuff, actually... And then JJ nearly made me cry by handing out cards and Waterstones vouchers to me and Kate for starting the whole thing off... very lovely and unexpected. Just a shame that time flew by so quickly and I had to be a Cinderella and leave first...gutted!

Out in the evening to a friend's 40th birthday party in town. Had a really fab night, lots of laughs and dancing and beer. On the way home I realised that it was a year to the day that we'd moved to Bath...and it felt really apt to have had a great night out with lots of new friends to mark the occasion. Hoorah.

Today, went for lunch with a really good friend of my mum's and her husband who happens to be a very famous author. We were sitting in the back garden enjoying the sun and a cup of tea when the garden gate opened and this woman walked in. "My son is such a fan, I hope you don't mind, we've driven all the way from London to see you, can I bring him in to meet you?"
What a cheek, honestly! Sunday afternoon too. So rude and out of order and actually a bit creepy-stalkerish. But the very famous author was incredibly polite, signed various things, had his photo taken etc. Apparently this is the first time it has ever happened which is something, I suppose. But all the same...I wouldn't be very happy about that!

Friday, 11 July 2008

One, two, three

I couldn't sleep last night. I was fizzling about all kinds of things. Number one: the fact that I'm going to meet some of the Novel Racers in London tomorrow! I am so excited and a bit scared too. The last time I went on one of these blog-meet things it was quite unnerving walking through the door and actually seeing all these real, live people I'd chatted to over the blogs. Great, though - I loved it. And it will be so nice to finally meet a bunch of the Novel Racers after all the many virtual coffee mornings we've shared... the angst, the triumphs, the writer's block, the mutual cheering-on support and encouragement. Make mine a large white wine please.

Number two thing that stopped me sleeping: I had a cracking day on the novel yesterday. Isn't it fabulous how a good day's writing can give you such a buzz, such a massive rush of excitement? I was soooo chuffed with how well it had flowed, 4,500 words knocked out and they all came so easily too. I hate those days where you feel you are hauling sentences from your brain with tweezers - painful and laborious. So now I'm past 85,000 words and today I'm going to finish off one of my big plotlines (I have three). Just one juicy final scene to write and then that particular character's story is done. Done, I say! Then only two chapters and an epilogue to go... I can almost see that finish line now.

Number three: I finished The Road Home and couldn't stop thinking about it (in between everything else). Fabulous. Fabulous. Fabulous. There's something so convincing about the way Rose Tremain writes, you really feel as if she's been there, a migrant worker coming to Britain, struggling as a kitchen assistant and asparagus picker and everything else. I could have done with a slightly longer ending but maybe that's because I just didn't want the book to be over. Can't say better than that. Next book to be read is The Outcast - and I'm ashamed to say, I opened it up to flick through last night and my first thought was, "Oh good, nice big writing". Tsk tsk.

Down to work now, I'm going to get straight into my juicy finale scene for Character 1. Yum.
Have a good weekend, everyone - and look forward to seeing some of you tomorrow!

Thursday, 10 July 2008

I can, and I will

There is an acute case of end-of-term-itis rampaging through the house right now - all three kids are tearful, bad-tempered and over-tired. And we still have a whole two weeks to go before the school holidays! Eldest daughter is headachey and hot this morning and normally I would have kept her at home but she was so desperate to take part in the school concert today, I caved in. I'm not used to hearing "But I really WANT to go to school!" - I find that a bit freakish, personally. I'm sure I never uttered those words as a child. Anyway, she's gone, bless her. But what's the betting I'll get a phone call from the school in an hour's time asking me to trudge down the road and pick her up?

As for me, I need to make this last term-time fortnight count big-style...I'm determined to finish the novel-in-progress before the end of the month. Determined! I thought I'd manage it by the end of June but got so tangled up trying to hammer out one of my backstories, it didn't quite happen that way. But now... Now I am surging towards The End again, full steam ahead, I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!

PS Everyone go and say happy birthday to Clare today. Because she's worth it.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

The Raining Sky

Ahh...what lovely summery weather we're having today. (If you're reading this from a country far far away, I'm being sarcastic. It is lashing it down and set to be this way the entire day. Great.) Seems all the more grey and miserable somehow as we watched The Sheltering Sky last night on DVD. Wow. Have you seen it? Visually it is stunning - all those miles and miles of rippling golden dunes with impossibly blue skies, scorched earth, stone fortresses, leggy lurching camels - all so foreign and different. Star Wars land.
At first, as we watched, LP and I were ruing the fact that we hadn't travelled around North Africa together (in fact we haven't done any proper travelling together - we have covered almost all the continents separately on big travelling stints but have only ever had holidays together, not set off for months at a time (and obviously that ain't gonna happen now)). By by the end of the film we weren't quite so keen to dust off our backpacks, funnily enough... Great film though. I find John Malkovich a bit creepy (sorry, John, if you ever read this) but he was very good in it. Definitely Debra Winger's film though - she was brilliant. And oh, how I wish I had such a fabulous throaty laugh.

Anyway. Back to the real world. I am reading The Road Home by Rose Tremain at the moment which I am loving - she is such a fantastic writer who makes every detail and exchange of dialogue utterly convincing and seemingly effortless. It's one of those books where you sit down to read a bit and suddenly find you are 100 pages further through the book. Great characters and story. I'm hooked.

Lots of other interesting books in the TBR pile at the moment - I've got The Outcast and The Gathering (like everyone else) which both look brilliant, Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton, The Delivery Room by Sylvia Brownrigg (I read a proof of her new one, Morality Tale, which was very good) and Everything You Ever Wanted by Rosalind Wylie... phew, I need a week off to get stuck into that lot, I think.
What's next on your TBR pile? Tell me, tell me...

Monday, 7 July 2008

Smashing

Down in the kitchen first thing this morning, braced for the usual rush of making kids' packed lunches, breakfast all round, large cuppa for me, large coffee for LP etc, opened the fridge door to get the milk and... SMASH! The shelf in the door dropped clean off, along with all the jars. Chilli sauce bottle smashed, chilli sauce and broken glass everywhere. Too half-asleep to even swear luckily but that was the only silver lining to be had.

Back for tea after daughter's gymnastics at 5.45 this aft, braced for the usual rush of making the tea, nagging about vegetables, bossing into pyjamas etc, opened the fridge door to get a courgette out and... SMASH! Down fell that bloody shelf again, along with all the jars. This time it was the mayonnaise jar that shattered everywhere. Mayo and glass everywhere. Couldn't rein back the swearing. Children's eyes lighting up at bad words like little candles.

I bet this never happens to Nigella. Ever.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Pandas, iguanas and Lego cake

Son's birthday party on Saturday - we took him and some of his muckers to see Kung-Fu Panda at the cinema, followed by lunch in town. I thought it would be a stress-free antidote to last year's nightmare (12 boys in our house, five days before we moved, what a stupid idea of mine and yes, the longest two hours of my life as they all turned feral within two seconds of their parents dropping them off). But this year's effort was pretty easy as parties go - the film was ace although afterwards all the boys were keen to do lots of kung-fu at any given moment, all the way out through the cinema, along the street, crossing the road (I had to get a bit stern about that) and then along to Las Iguanas. Chips and Lego cake all round (not MADE of Lego, just decorated with little Lego people fighting each other (son's orders)) and the job was done. Lovely. That's birthday season over for us now until October, so a few months' respite...

Meanwhile, I am gearing up for the launch of the new novel - I am doing a signing at Waterstones in Bath on 9th August (feel free to arrange your West Country holidays around that date!) and sorting out some competitions for this here blog and elsewhere - with prizes and everything - so stay tuned... On the children's books side of things, I am saying yes to all sorts of other events - two festivals so far, three school visits in the offing, and two bookshop signings. Get me, eh, publicity whore. Or not, actually, I am saying yes to them all but then going into a kind of denial and pretending none of them are really going to happen. My head is too full of wedding detail right now to stress about anything else which is actually quite lucky really...

Friday, 4 July 2008

Domestic Goddess in Training

I nearly managed a post about what a domestic goddess I am these days. Nearly. I was doing so well, too, having whipped up four loaves of bread so far this week (edible, and everything) with my fancy new machine, and a batch of fairy cakes yesterday, ready for my son's party tea today (he's six today - another celebration! All go around here, you know). Once the kids were all in bed last night, I even made his cake, a yummy chocolatey one. God, I'm good, I was thinking. I am totally in this domestic goddess groove, I just need a Cath Kidston pinny and a halo to complete the look.

Then. Then I had a nice G&T and watched Heroes (evil Sylar is BACK!) before deciding to make the icing for the yummy chocolatey birthday cake. I blame the gin. I was just melting the cooking chocolate in the microwave (it's okay, Nigella does it) when I smelled a horrible smell.

Yes. Plastic bowl in the microwave. With a new molten bottom (sounds like a toiletry range) and chocolate dripping everywhere.

*sigh* Like I say, I blame the gin. So close...but no floral pinny for moi. Shucks.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Perfectly lovely

Birthdays rock!! I had such a nice day yesterday. Lovely home-made treats and prezzies from the kids (no horses though... youngest daughter's present was a vaguely horseshoe-shaped bangle but how she made the connection that it might be a real horse, I fear I will never know) and some brilliant treats from LP including one of these deckchairs and a breadmaker. Went shopping in the morning and bought myself a top from my favourite clothes shop and then had lunch with LP and youngest daughter in town...party tea in the afternoon (hula hoops, candles on the cake, Happy Birthday To You, party blowers etc), then down the pub in the evening... perfect. Only 364 days to go before the next one!

Right...must do a bit of work now before I am too tempted to get some of my home-made bread and fall asleep in my lovely new deckchair....