Monday, 27 July 2009

Piggy Flu

I have received a few e-mails this weekend along the lines of - 'Where are you, you've gone quiet.' I'm not being sulky or stand offish, honestly, but I suppose I had better come clean and 'out' myself.

I have succumbed to the dreaded Swine Flu. As I spend most of my time ensconced in my sitting room with the laptop, I have no idea how I contracted it, and although it's not pleasant, it's no worse than ordinary flu and I'm guaranteed it won't last as long either.

The bummer is, you cannot go to your doctor to be diagnosed, they make you answer a questionnaire online. I waited for the screen that said, 'Go Away You Are A Hypochondriac', but it never showed!

If you answer enough 'yesses', you are given a number, and your 'swine flue friend' [not you, you're infectious] takes that number and various pieces of ID to a 'collection centre' for the antibiotics. Again, not your doctor. Our nearest collection centre was thirty miles away, and when my husband got there he was told they weren't a collection centre any more - 'Whadya mean any more, you only opened three days ago!'

So he had to drive another ten miles to the next one. I wouldn't mind, but we have a doctor's surgery and a pharmacy right next door to our house!

The world's gone mad and I'm in the spare room!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Should Authors Write For The Market?

There are lots of e-mails being exchanged recently in groups and forums that encourage new writers to ignore the fickleness of the current market and write what you love. To write from passion for your subject and remain true to our characters who demand their story be told, not to fit any criteria set by the publishing market.

Noble perhaps, but not very practical when the competition for authors has never been this fierce and publishers not only demand a genre specific story that is atmospheric and original, but perfectly written too, so they don't need to spend time and money on editing your work.

Write what you love is fine when you are already on a publisher's list and have some leeway to be adventurous, but as a relatively new novelist, I can't afford to be too reactionary. If I follow a few genre rules and write for the market, this may get me recognised, then that market might allow me to indulge my passion for a story that, although it may not tick all the boxes, might open up a few more.

I am currently trying to write a novel that fits what is required, but I have set it in an era I love and know something about. My imagination is being stretched as I get into the head of a subject I may not have chosen otherwise, nor had sympathy with had I met her in the 17th century royal court.

I'm growing to love her though, and hope I can portray her as she really was.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

They're Off!!!

The London to Mongol Rally left Goodwood Racecourse, after the 'Festival of Slow' today. There were some amazing vehicles tricked up to go, including one carrying a full sized canoe and a fire engine covered with red fake fur with a crew of army boys going for the 'Help For Heroes' Charity!

After an honour circuit of the track, they headed off to the ferry at Dover. Their aim is to reach Prague by Monday night where the first party is being held. My lot are trying to get there via the Nurburgring in Germany to qualify for the 'sticker' to attach to the car. Whether they will try and go round the track fully loaded or not is debatable, we'll see.

An emotional day for everyone, although it was all smiles in this photo. I wonder how long that will last?

Ulaan Baatar is a long way - 10,000 miles in fact! I suspect I shall gets lots of writing done over the next five weeks to act as a distraction.

Photograph courtesy of Alex Davison

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Pimms Anyone?

My daughter went to the Henley Regatta last week - that icon of English summertime. When asked if she had a good time, this is what she sent me with the words - What Do You Think?

Nuff said.......

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Legitimate Research or Self Indulgence?

I'm not working right now, my choice and my husband is fine with it, but it means I have to give warning if I'm going to max out the credit cards. I wanted some books for research and when DH asks me what I spent....well you tell me if you consider this legitimate research or indulgence?

DH: How Much?
ME: They're a legitimate working tool, I needed them to draw an authentic picture of the time.
DH: The're all about the SAME SUBJECT! Why not buy just one?
ME: You buy three Sunday papers every week, from the high-brow conservative through liberal mainstream to the gutter press with big bazookas. Why?
DH: To give me a broader view of the news and current affairs, so I can decide what really happened as a single source can be slanted.
ME: Exactly - I need a broader view with different perspectives of the events.
DH: Who cares about what perspective you write a fiction novel in?
ME: I do, and I'm not getting into that.
DH: But they are virtually the same book!
ME: Are you pissed off at the amount I spent?
DH: Nooooo. I simply can't see why you need more. You're up to your ears in
historical refence books.
ME: Yeah - isn't it great?
DH: Oh, I give up.

Historical Fiction Author 1 - Husband: Nil

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

What is this Meme Thing?

I received the "I Never Tell A Lie" meme from my dear friend, Ginger Simpson... posted on her Dishin' It Out blog. She says she has bought a gun, so unwilling to gamble on the fact this may be one of her lies – here goes:

Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie.

Actually, I can lie extremely well – to everyone but my husband. He has Anita-radar and I have been trying to work out how he does it for years!


If I could say I turned my son and daughter from badly behaved little monsters into well adjusted human beings, I could take some credit for the pride I feel in them. But I can’t, they were both loving, well behaved children we could take anywhere. Now we have a 6ft blue eyed son who is off to drive 10,000 miles for a childrens’ charity next month and a stunning daughter who holds the championship for being the best friend ever. Both of them are hard working, professional people too, and yes I’m shamelessly using this forum to boast – but I don’t care!


I doubt anyone envies me, but I've done my share of, ’their life is so much better than mine’, whingeing. But as Ginger says, they are probably more screwed up than me anyway! As the years go by, I've learned to cherish what I have in my very small but close-knit family and devoted, romantic husband, who still thinks I’m gorgeous and sexy.


I hold my hand up to this one – [see pic] these are my favourite chocolates and no one dares buy me more than very small boxes at a time for special occasions as I am capable of eating whatever quantity I can get my hands on. Strange really, when I hate alcohol, but love these with a passion! The Italian cherry harvest failed one year and they weren’t available for my Xmas present – I was distraught!!!

Ginger’s answer to this was so funny, I simply cannot top it–but there are certain things that light my fire – and in case I think of slacking off, my DH says. ‘The more you indulge the more you want to,’ He has a point. If you don’t use it – lose it!

I used to get spitting-feathers angry over pretty much everything from abused children to someone pinching my parking spot at Waitrose. Again, age has mellowed me with the knowledge the world isn’t a friendly place and will always be cruel and unjust, where people do not get what they deserve –[Except perhaps Bernie Madoff!] Politicians will always be self-serving if not downright corrupt and people will always shaft you if they can. So I Chill – did I mention I have low blood pressure?

This is another failing that life and experience has knocked out of me. I used to be acquisitive, I admit, but losing a business and a home when everything is carted off in a matter of hours is a hard reality check. I have gone the other way and don’t bother trying to acquire anything now. I share everything I have and if two quid is all that’s in my purse and a Big Issue seller says hello to me, I hand it over!


Is that a single thing or a long-term thing? I’m the laziest person I know when it comes to things I hate. Like housework, gardening, cooking, exercise, [especially the 'E' word]– but I can write for sixteen hours straight and after five hours sleep get up and do it again – in pyjamas of course with a bucket of coffee beside me!

And the seven victims? I don’t really want to annoy that many people in one go - so I’ll make do with five and whether they want to pass this on is up to them: No pressure, ladies.

Anne Whitfield

Chris Redding

Gemini Sasson

Alison Stuart

Anne Gilbert

And I still don’t know what a meme is!