Wednesday, November 14, 2007

St Pancras, my family, Rail Travel, the NHS...

OK - I'm smouldering. No, I'm more than smouldering. I'm in meltdown.

They've just spent HOW MANY billion pounds on St Pancras station? Now, I'm a huge fan of John Betjeman, who was instrumental in saving the original building, and I'm delighted that rail travel is being upgraded. But I'm sorry - to whose benefit? We already had a continental rail link from Waterloo via Ashford - both accesible from the wealthy South-East. It now goes from St Pancras via Ebbsfleet - right out on the eastern edge of the South-East. What benefit will that have? And all the businesses and homes built up around Ashford with the government's promise of an assured and wealthy future - what happens to them?

And the boasting about it is unbelievable. Can we not point these stupid people - jobsworths creating work for other jobsworths - in the direction of the Beeching cuts of the 60s? Which are now acknowledged to have had a deleterious effect on the whole nation. There are people all over the country struggling to re-open those old lines, frequently with no hope of success because they have been built over, but trying because of a belief in reducing the amount of road travel, and because many people in rural communities are virtually cut off. And the government is trying to cut them off even further by cutting 2,500 Post Offices across the country.

Oh - I forgot to mention the health service. Now, here in the South-East we've had a nice juicy NHS scandal recently. An unwanted opportunity to view the inside of a hospital was given to me yesterday, as my daughter Louise sadly suffered a miscarriage. Those who know me also know it wasn't quite as simple as that, but then, when would my family ever do anything the simple way? Anyway - to our muttons. I actually had to go and find someone to come and see the three ladies in Lou's ward, who were all waiting to be discharged and had seen no-one since mid-morning. It was now 4pm. And I mean - no-one. Except the boy who brought their lunch, who also told Lou she could eat. Up until then she assumed she was still nil-by-mouth. No-one had told her otherwise.

Now I know how over-stretched the nursing stff are. We, as a family, also have a very close friend who works at this very hospital.(No, it wasn't the one appearing in our little local scandal.) But when a patient has been told "We need to keep an eye on you" and no-one comes near you for over six hours?

In general, I'm a supporter of the NHS. My own doctor is brilliant and gets furious with some of the other support agencies. While I was with him yesterday, he received a call from someone in a branch of Social Services saying, despite his entreaties, they would not even visit an elderly woman already on morphine to take her a knee support, let alone do anything else for her. He put the phone down on them, something I would never have believed if I hadn't seen it, he is so mild mannered, and I bet they haven't heard the last of it!

OK - so please, government, or anybody else, come to that, redevelop our unused rail network to provide transport for our OWN country. Take the admin away from the poor nursing staff and allow them to NURSE, for Chr*st's sake. Relax the bleedin' no-smoking rule! Just give us tiny little places to call our own and we'll happily kipper ourselves away from the rest of you. Keep the village schools open. Take the monopoly away form the supermarkets. Stop acting like Big Brother - sorry folks, the original Big Brother, not the more recent one - which, of course, should be banned. As should all reality TV. And yes, I HAVE watched some, as I was bullied about it back in the summer. "How can you condemn it if you don't watch it?" So I did.

OK - that's my audition for Grumpy Old Women finished. Except of course, I haven't moaned about the printers going bust with my new book still clutched in their maw. Sorted now, but there were a few hysterical moments. Oh, and the mice...

I have to say, my children think I'm unbelievable and tell me I've become an old woman. They laugh at me - you know, the way they do? As if my opinions were fairly unimportant and faintly risible. You just watch those lamposts down Park Lane...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Murder in Midwinter

Well, that's the Music Hall over. Sunday was, as suspected, knackering, but a good response from the audience (1000 seater theatre, this) although very scary when you're out there on your own.

Leo has left home, new job a tad repetitive, but as he said, he stuck Tesco and Jessops for long enough, and at least it's in his own field. He loves Didsbury, and I'm sure he'll get into the local music scene eventually. He'll have to, or all that money he spent on his lovely new Ludwig drum kit will be wasted!

Electrics have been done, I've tidied up my bedroom and feel almost back to normal. First panto rehearsal tonight, minus a couple of principals, but at least we'll get started.

Here's the cover of Murder in Midwinter in case anyone's missed Mandy's lovely slide show further down. Really must send out the press releases!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Music Hall, Panto and family

Just finished a week of Old Time Music Hall at The Playhouse - absolutely knackering - now looking forward to starting panto rehearsals next week. We do a one nighter at The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury on Sunday, which means being there virtually all day, so will be worn out by Monday, especially as a skip arrives today and Leo, Philly and I are starting to clear the garage. Then, on Saturday morning, our favourite electrician, Spanner, is coming to take up the sitting room floor and repair the electrics. Deep joy. Was supposed to be going to friend Paula's evening wedding reception that day, but have a feeling I'll be knee deep in muck and bullets.

Big family news: Louise and Jarrod are having another baby! Well, Lou might actually do most of the work. It's due next June, when Gus will be two. I think I might be pressed into grandmotherly duties, so I've cancelled the June visit to Cavus. Sigh.

More big family news: Leo is leaving home! Actually for the second time, but he's been back with me for over two years, so I shall miss him like mad, especially as he's going to MANCHESTER!!! He's got a job there, and will stay with a friend until he gets a flat.

That's it, I think. New book comes out in a few weeks, have a signing lined up for November 24th at our local indie bookshop, Pirie and Cavender. Must do a bit more publicity than I did last time!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Murder in Midwinter, pantomime and conference

I know, I know, I'm pretty crap at keeping up with this.

Got back on Tuesday night from Turkey (saw more dolphins) and youngest son Leo arrived back from Oz Wednesday morning. I had a great time in Cavus; while I was there the Hotel On was filmed for Turkish television, and there was a shot with me on my sunbed in the background! Also, my friend's room was filmed, including a good shot of Murder at The Laurels on her bedside table.

Strangely, there was a murder in the village market while we were there, and of course everybody came rushing up with a new title suggestion...

Panicking about proofs for Murder in Midwinter, which is due out in 7 weeks. Not to mention book 4, due out next July, which I really MUST get down to.

But overshadowing all are my panto auditions. No idea what my PA (production assistant) has got organised for them and I can't get him on his phone, so I shall turn up and try to look authorative and as if I know what I'm talking about. Several auditionees have actually put more work into this than I have, so far.

And of course, there is the CWA conference. My second-in-command, the lovely Tim Bates, took all the paperwork from me, so I'm a bit stranded. As he is deep in Frankfurt preparations (you can never get hold of an agent or a publisher at this time of year) I'm at the bottom of the priority list for him, and the CWA are getting twitchy. So am I...

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Seaside Holidays under threat! A rant about smoking.

No - unlike most rants about smoking, I'm not against it. I love it. I gave up for ten years, started again and never looked back. Now the only place I can smoke is in my own home and car, and how long will I be able to do that? I foresee smoking while driving becoming a punishable offence soon, as the enjoyable pursuit of going to the pub has now been downgraded to going and having a drink in an uncomfortable outside space herded together like sheep awaiting the dip.

And even there - they're complaining! Listening to the radio yesterday I couldn't believe that the anti-smoking brigade are now complaining that we've gone outside! Will they not be satisfied until smoking has been banned altogether? Don't answer that - of course they won't. Ron Liddle, resident smoking campaigner for The Times, says it all. Times online has all related articles, and says it all much better than I can, but one of the nastier side effects of the ban, as pointed out by one of his readers, is the setting of neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend. I have already seen that, and I know that this post will lose me friends, too. By the way, if Ron Liddle was older, or I was younger, I'd want to marry him. Definitely my sort of bloke, and sounds just like Arthur Smith.

The Victorian Society have a campaign running called Holiday at Home, extolling the delights of the British Seaside Holiday, of which I need no reminding. This reduces our - ahem - carbon footprint by abnegating the need to fly. And yes, I do mean abnegating - look it up. However, when we get to our delightful seaside hotel/apartment/cottage/caravan, we won't be able to smoke, even though hotel rooms are supposedly free from the ban. Ha! So those of us who would actually prefer to spend a week in a hotel in, say, Broadstairs or Salcombe or Ventnor, would be forced to spend most of it on the prom or the beach, assuming that the beach hasn't become a no-dogs and no-smokers area for the summer months. So where do we go. Abroad, that's where we go. And even there, in my favourite small hotel in my favourite tiny village in Turkey, my fellow Brits will wave their hands busily in front of their faces and disapprove. Don't care.

I find I am also being careful about smoking in my own house. I had a meeting in my front room the other day. All lovely people, six men, one woman and me. I had the window open all day, lit candles and had a cigarette in the garden before they arrived. Wine had been contributed to the meeting, and I'm sorry, but I did light up twice. No doubt some of those very nice people will have gone home, stripped off, shoved all their clothes in the washing machine and had a shower to get rid of the smell of my two cigarettes. I felt like apologising to them. Neither can I smoke when my grandson comes to visit, which made last Boxing Day somewhat of an ordeal. However, he IS my grandson and the child of my eldest daughter, whom I love dearly, so I abstain.

Yes, I know all the health risks. But it's my choice. Nothing else, it appears, is. I am lectured by everyone who thinks they have the right to dictate to me - and that's most people, believe me. My human rights are being abraded (another one! Good isn't it?) and the government is sneakily turning us into an Orwellian society. Seriously, if it wasn't for my children, I would leave the country. And if anyone reads this , don't bother to comment. I can hear your cheers at the last statement from here.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Kate Walker competition winner

The question I set on Kate Walker's blog competition was answered best, in my opinion, by Ruth Harper in the US, so she gets a copy of Murder in Steeple Martin. I'm still hoping one of the US publishers who specialise in Cosy Crime might pick the series up, Berkeley or Avon, maybe.

Attended a production of Outside Edge at the Whistable Playhouse last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. Next week we have the first production meeting for Sleeping Beauty, next season's pantomime, in my house. Set designer, build crew manager, sound engineer, stage manager and production assistant all crowded into my front room. Alcohol may be taken...

Must now get down to revisions for the new edition of my panto book and start writing Murder in the Midden (I kid you not!) due out next July. Meanwhile, I live in daily expectation of HUGE rewrites of Murder in Midwinter to come thudding through the computer.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Holiday, play and RNA conference

I'm really not very good at this, am I? Since last posting, I've been in a play, been on holiday to Turkey and attended the RNA conference in Leicester.

Starting with the play, Murder, Music and Mayhem, known as the 3Ms, we played to packed houses and made a lot of money at the box office. I was Lady Evadne Thrusting, well known middle-aged drunk. Type casting, some said. I then went off to my favourite place, Cavus in Turkey for a week. Not as good as usual, as the hotel was full of Turkish families with hoards of children. Don't get me wrong - the Turkish families are probably more entitled to be there than the British visitors, but we are all regulars who go for the peace and quiet. It's a very small hotel, with a small but beautiful pool, right on the beach. The other problem this time was the fact that the temperature stayed between 40 C and 50C for the whole week - and the air conditioning in my room broke down. We spent every other day out on boat trips with our friends Hassan and Kerim, and even then, the wind blew hot. Looking forward to going back in September when the children will have gone back to school and the temperature is lower.

Came back from that, into the chaos that was Gatwick airport after the Glasgow fire-bomb, and the following Friday attended the Romantic Novelists' Association conference at Leicester University. A great time was had by all, and I met up with many friends whom I see only too infrequently, including Kate Walker, Mills and Boon novelist celebrating her 50th book. I have contributed to her blog party today, offering a copy of one of my books as a prize in a competition.

Anybody reading this who doesn't know about the Romantic Novelists' Association and is a writer of contemporary women's fiction, published or unpublished, should check them out. They are the friendliest and most supportive group of writers I have evr met, and I count some of my best friends among the members. And in case anyone has the idea that this is a bunch of little old ladies in pink who have a sweet sherry before dinner, as one friend put it, the bar staff were gobsmacked by the ravening hoard of women queuing - not for wine by the glass - but by the bottle!

Amanda Grange, to whose website there is a link on this page, gave an impromptu talk on the web, sites and blogs that stole the show and Liz Fenwick took some wonderful photographs including Bernardine Kennedy and me in the bar!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Murder at The Laurels... finally out! It's been a big week, really, starting with Jane Wenham-Jones' launch of Wannabe a Writer at Borders in Charing Cross Road on Saturday. Thoroughly enjoyable, much wine was consumed and there were many mates to talk to. I also vaguely remember being asked to write a column about sex for the over fifties. I think I said yes, despite knowing nothing about it - from experience, that is, not age - but as I can't remember what it was for (magazine? Website?) I don't suppose it matters. Had even more drinks with Jane, Lynne Barrett-Lee and our publisher afterwards, a rather nice pub meal and a long taxi journey to Victoria via Euston. Don't ask.

Sunday my arthritis objected to too much wine and five hours of standing. My knees were so painful I could barely walk. I went to bed early on account of having to pick Travelling Daughter up at Heathrow at stupid o'clock and naturally didn't sleep. Duly picked her up, she having had only two hours sleep in 24, whereupon she phoned everyone in her phone book, had her hair done, downloaded all her photographs onto the computer, got them printed and insisted on the fizzy being opened the minute her big sister and nephew arrived at 5pm. By this time I was a wreck, having had roughly the same amount of sleep and cooked a four dish curry (her request) for 6 of us.

Tuesday I went to sign copies of Murder at The Laurels, which had officially come out on Monday, at our local indie bookshop, Pirie and Cavender. No public signing this time, as I want to do one for the next book in November, asnd I don't want the inhabitants of Whitstable to get fed up with me. Leo and I had a rehearsal for Murder Music and Mayhem and Wednesday both of them (Philly and Leo) left. Philly has gone up to spend the last two weeks of her tenancy at her London flat and Leo can't bear to stay in the house with his sister. (I did say she wouldn't be here for the next two weeks, but he'd been offered a room and it seemed churlish to refuse, especially as the offeree has also offered him a job.)

Yesterday, feeling bereft -empty nest syndrome - I went to pick up books (Jane's and Lynne's) I had ordered from afore-mentioned bookshop and the owner showed me our local paper, in which I appear larger than life with a whole page to myself. I am a "Whitstable Pearl" and the (extremely good looking) young reporter has been exceptionally kind and actually got things right. He's left out all the things I would have wanted in there, like mention of all my children and how talented they are, but otherwise it's fine. However, there will be a touch of the schadenfreudes among those who know me, I'm sure. Wait for her to trip up, they'll be saying.

Today I will work. Publisher telephoned on Monday to ask if I had the revisions ready for new edition of panto book which comes out in December and had I got a title for book 4 in the Libby Sarjeant series scheduled for next June. ?????? This, of course, all sounds wonderful to anyone not in the writing game. The reality is explained beautifully, and comically, in Jane's book. Read it, and you will realise why we're all still broke - and still doing it. Oh - and read mine, too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Wannabe a Writer

On Saturday 19th May at Borders, Charing Cross Road, I shall be among the "Assorted Other Writers" at the launch event of Jane Wenham-Jones' book "Wannabe a Writer". I'm hoping our mutual publishers will send along copies of Murder at The Laurels, even though its official escape day is Monday. It promises to be a meeting of old mates, as the writers in the photograph below will be there, along with many others, most of whom belong to the RNA. If you're in the area, come along and say hello.

Meanwhile, I have developed ANOTHER cold and have the works to go with it. Wobbly legs, temperature, sore throat and a complete inability to breathe through my nose. No sleep last night, then. Naturally, I have the first rehearsal of Music, Murder and Mayhem tonight, the cod radio play in which I shall be portraying Lady Evadne Thrusting, and tomorrow I'm being interviewed and photographed for a feature in the local paper. I shall no doubt sound like someone drowning and be photographed in a hooded cloak with impressive atmospheric shadows. All I really want to do is go to bed and put my head under the covers. How did I cope when I had four children running round? Did I cope? Comments from children no doubt coming up!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

In the Coal Hole

As promised, a photograph taken in the Coal Hole after the Savoy lunch. L to r: Judy Astley, Katie Fforde, Gilli Allen, Bernardine Kennedy, me and slightly behind, Jenny Harper. Photograph taken by Jan Jones.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Conferences and lunch

Thanks to the wonderful Amanda Grange, there will soon be a slideshow of my titles. The woman should get a medal.

A month since I last posted, during which I've sent more money to Phillipa in New Zealand and Thailand, worked a bit more on the novel (62000 now, and should be a LOT more) and been to the Crime Writers' Association Conference in Ilkley and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award lunch at The Savoy.

The Crime Writers' conference was interesting and enjoyable. Much more relaxed than the RNA conference, but that's probably because it's only published writers, so they don't bother to have writers talking about their work or giving workshops. Some useful speakers, particularly Ian and Helen Pepper, a husband and wife team who lecture on the crime scene and aspects of forensic science. Very entertaining and informative. However, the most notable feature of the weekend, my first, was that somehow or other, I was talked into organising next year's conference. Certainly made me a lot of friends! Luckily, the estimable Tim Bates of Pollingers offered to help, so we have formed a committee of two, and already sorted out the venue.

The problem has been cost. Two nights and conference facilities in Yorkshire, booked over a year ago with prices held, is vastly different to the South East. However, we have received and ALMOST accepted a very competitive quote from the hotel both Tim and I favoured, The Hythe Imperial. I went to visit on Friday, and it's terrific.

The Savoy lunch was as mad as ever. You never get to speak to everyone you want to and the best bit is in The Coal Hole next door afterwards. When I find it, I'll post a picture. Rosie Thomas won the main award with Iris and Ruby, which is now on my TBR pile, and Nell Dixon won the Romance Prize with Marrying Max, ditto.

Daughter-in-law-elect Clare took me out to dinner on Friday night at the Morroccan Restaurant in Canterbury, very posh, and the Champagne Bar, newly opened in what was the County Hotel. Even posher and London prices. Shan't go again.

My ankles have gone into summer mode and swell almost as soon as I get up in the morning, so I'm off to the sofa with the laptop to work for the rest of this bank holiday Sunday. Well, what else would I do?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Catching up after Easter

Having been prompted into action by a phone call from a friend wondering if I was all right, "or had I fallen off the planet?" I thought I'd better put in a quick update. Not that much has changed.

Family to lunch on Easter Sunday, and we spent most of the afternoon in the garden, which I have tried to do every day since! Glorious weather, and since my friend Chris redesigned my garden, and he and my son Miles created it, I just love being out there. It even promotes comments from young people passing through. Young chap visiting our "lodger" (son Leo's homeless friend) popped his head round the sitting room door to say goodbye and how much he admired my garden. Golly.

Deadline for current mss extended - not by me - so delighted. Going to try and break back into the short story market, so I've been buying the main contenders for a few weeks and reading stories by friends, including a serial called White Oaks by Lyn McCulloch. Do hope it appears in book form.

Big daughter Lou and her partner Jarrod have finally completed on their first house together. Owned house, that is, obviously they've been living in a house together for some time! Very excited and full of plans, but there's quite a lot of work to do, and the builders start next week. Spookily, when a friend called round to help me drink my whiskey last night, we discovered that the previous owners had been friends of his. Now, this isn't even in the same town, so even spookier. Mind you, it has happened before. A friend, Di, was moving to Bristol and telling me all about her cute new house. "Is it in a little courtyard?" I asked. "Yes." "Is it No. 3?" Mouth open:"Yes". "Is it King Dick's Lane?" Squeals of disbelief. I had actually stayed in that house, which belonged to the youngest sister of one of my best friends. Di and I lived in Whitstable, house was in Bristol, my old friend lives in Suffolk. So how much of a coincidence was that?

Must do some work, do some shopping and check up on the garden. Oh, and if anyone's interested my Philly ( is having a whale of a time. The last pictures she sent were of her jumping out of an aeroplane. Oh, good.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Marketing Day

Yesterday the Romantic Novelists' Association held a Marketing Day at the New Cavendish Club in London. Marketing guru and lecturer Alison Baverstock,, took us through the basics of marketing and gave us an outline marketing plan for authors, which I intend putting into practice immediately for Murder at The Laurels, which comes out in May. Then, our own Kate Allan,, took us through an efficient powerpoint presentation on modern marketing through the internet. Hence this blog. I've been seduced into using it as a diary when I should be using it as a promotional tool - and not letting out all this information about my family...and my birthday...oh, dear!

Anyway, it was an excellent and worthwhile day, and lovely to see so many friends, including Bernardine Kennedy, who, as usual, was my roomie, the indefatigable Jenny Haddon, current chair of the RNA, Jan Jones, Giselle Green, Roger Sanderson...too many to mention, and sorry to those I left out.

So now, I must start promoting Murder at The Laurels, which is difficult when my head is inside Murder in Midwinter (due out in November). Meanwhile, I shall pop in and see my daughter and grandson later, on this beautiful Sunday morning in Kent. (Whoops - too much information!!!)

Oh, and for the Novel Racers, I'm up to 40,000. Only another 45000 to go before the end of April. Help.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Best birthday in the world ever

A man knocked me up yesterday morning - with a large M&S box containing flowers from my oldest friend who couldn't be with me in the evening. Then eldest daughter Louise phoned and sang at me, while baby Gus shouted in harmony. This was interrupted by Miles and partner Clare knocking on the door, with arms full (how did they manage that?) of flowers, balloons, POURED bucks fizz, pains au chocolat and croissants. After a lovely breakfast, I checked the emails to find loads of good wishes from my writing mates, and a great e-card from Philly, sent just before she embarked on her trip round the Whitsundays. She then managed to phone from her mobile, at ENORMOUS expense from mid-ocean.

Hairdresser at 12, and there aren't many of us who receive a bouquet from the hairdressers! Off home to try and find more vases, then Miles, Clare, Louise, Jarrod and Gus came to join Leo and me for lunchtime fizz, presents, cards and olives. I was touched beyond belief that the children had picked up a passing reference of mine to a limited edition facsimile of John Betjeman's Archie and the Strict Baptists, a story he wrote and illustrated for his children in a Windsor and Newton sketch book. It had been gift wrapped - beautifully, in recycled wrapping paper and rosette - by Long Barn books and included a postcard reproduction of the book with a suitable message. They all contributed, but Louise's was the guiding hand. Baby Gus bought me a new hat box (for old costume jewellery, not hats) and Miles and Clare bought me another terrific book, about Alfred Bestall (he of Rupert fame) by his god-daughter, and a beautiful Aveda Candle. Leo bought me Glenfiddich.

Leo's best friend Alex moved in during the afternoon, following a split with his girlfriend. As the poor lad's parents have gone back to New Zealand, I'm substitute Mum. Philly's bedroom now has all the stuff pushed to the walls and all Alex's stuff on top of it! Trust he and Leo will have found a flat together before Philly comes home to reclaim her space. So much for me saying no-one could stay...

Philly's ex arrived on his motorbike at 6, had a cup of tea and went off to Miles's house, then I went to change and get ready to celebrate.

Despite my saying many, many times I didn't want presents, no-one had taken any notice. Bling and booze was the recurring theme. Miles and his duo partner Martin, known as Bona Tunes, provided musical entertainment, augmented occasionally by Leo on keyboard and one song from Lou. Another friend sang, too, and what with the food, the music and the added bonus of the lunar eclipse, the joint was jumping. It was my best birthday ever, especially as a friend who had a stroke and is only recently out of hospital made it, thanks to his indefatigable wife, who, due to a selfish streak, she says(!) is not about to let him sit about and degenerate. He's going to be talking, walking properly and back playing the guitar if she has anything to do with it.

Managed to keep the spectre of Brian at bay most of the time, although it is difficult, what with everybody saying how like him both sons are, and especially when Miles is performing. And of course, Miles does some of his songs. Also, inevitably, one group of friends who were intially Brian's. Over the years, obviously, they became my closest friends, but since Brian's death we have drifted apart. But, bless them, they all came (including aforesaid friend with indefatigable wife) and stayed overnight. Hope to see them briefly this morning before lunching with cousins and children - thirteen of us, or fourteen with Gus.

I had the best time. Nearly 70 (apparently) people all having a good time, not necessarily with me, but with each other, my family and music. And I was so pleased with my outfit for the occasion I didn't want to take it off.

No hangover this morning as I was sensible last night. My first drink lasted an hour and three quarters! Finished up watching recorded episode of Primeval with a Glenfiddich and went happy to bed.

And thanks to my friend Mary, I have changed the time of this post to BST!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I have recovered from the doom-laden previous post, although I still have a slight attack of the blue meanies. Partly because I am getting very fed up with living in what almost amounts to a police state - except the poor so-and-sos are also hide-bound by rules and regulations. Can't smoke, can't drink, can't park, hospitals closing (for good of patients, we are told??!!??) schools closing (see above), can't cuddle a child if it's hurt...oh, I could go on and on and on...

Over the last couple of weeks I had a return of the loo-leak that happened at Christmas, which has necessitated a new ceiling in the hall. I won't fill in all the details, but it has been stressful! Also have a man coming in to help me with my new wardrobe (cheap, Argos), so have contents of bedroom piled into spare room (or Phillipa's room when she's home). This means that I couldn't have anyone to stay over big party weekend even if I wanted to. (Heh, heh, heh.)

On final day of page proofing, and very glad I concentrated on them properly, as Editor Bob and I have both missed several anomalies. When I think how many times I have told students to check everything thoroughly - "Now, don't forget, don't change the colour of their eyes or hair" etc etc. I managed to change the name of a house and the name of a victim! Clever, eh?

Off I go, then. And congratulations to my friend Giselle Greene, who has just got a three book deal with HC. Way to go, Giselle.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

18th February, and word count

Today is the second anniversary of my husband's death, and the family and I were invited to the dedication of a bench in his memory on Whitstable beach. On Friday, my two sons did a gig in his memory at the club which he helped found, Brooke's Blues Bar in London, to raise money for the Macmillan nurses.

I have had a week of headaches, teeth-grinding at night and other obvious stress related symptoms. I can't talk to the children (32, 30, 24 and 22) about this, as he has become nigh on deified. I have gone along with the "we are a close family" for the last two years, including paying for everything he would have paid for, helping out with the sale of his house, paying for the storage of his furniture (which includes several items belonging to me, so I shouldn't complain!) and generally ignoring the absolutely awful circumstances surrounding his death. I'm not going to go into them now, but they'd make a terrific novel. Which I will never write.

But oh, God, how I want to move on. I adore my children, and I'm very grateful for their love and support, but I'm being tethered like a bloody goat. (Come to think of it, I am now a Nanny...)

I am in a foul mood today, as my youngest keeps telling me, and all I want to do is howl, because I still hurt and it's always in front of me. And I can't.

Ah well, on to more normal things. Shouldn't moan about personal things on here, should I? Oh - hang on, it's a diary. Well due to a good deal of research, other things on my mind and having to go to work at the Court on Friday, I'm only up to 25,190 words, a grand total of 5000ish this week. Next week will try and do better. And I've been forced to sign up to new blogger, so I probably need more help from jolly good friends less technologically challenged than I. (Hello, Mandy and Kate?)

Happy days are here again...

See you next week.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Novel Race and party.

Despite editor and I having a tough old tussle over timing and alibis etc, Murder at The Laurels is finally on its way to the printers - at least, I think so. Or just line edits. Whatever, I'm now able to concentrate on Murder in Midwinter, for which I have now signed the contract, so no pressure. Word count now 20,637, with which I'm quite pleased, as I lost a whole week with the rewrites.

Enjoyable talk at Rochester Library, where they had very kindly asked the local bookshop to provide copies for sale. To my astonishment, we sold seven!

Also discovered a museum this week, where they may well have some archive material useful in research for Murder in Midwinter. It was a feature in BBC's Inside Out, the local interest programme which alerted me, in itself a useful research tool.

My non-special birthday, to be celebrated just because it falls on a Saturday, is now 3 weeks away, and the guest list is now over 60. I don't mind, because I'm having it in a local function room, inculding buffet, which means none of that rushing backwards and forwards with plates of food all day before, and clearing up afterwards. Just turn up, drink, chat and listen to favurite duo, which just happens to be son Miles and friend Martin, performing as Bona Tunes. And yes, I've offered to pay them... Lou will be singing, I hope, at least one ot two numbers, and Leo will join in on the keyboard at some point. Pity Philly won't be there, but it's a long way from Aus...

This week I have been marooned on an island surround by broken concrete and mud while the local council replace the footpaths. I have my very own orange barriers round my car, which is having to be parked on double yellows rather than its concrete base outside my house, but it's a little like escaping from Colditz to get out of the house. Happy days.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Word count, pantomimes and rewrites

As a novel racer, I'm a complete failure, 12361 as a matter of fact, but my excuse is rewrites on Murder at The Laurels. Editor and I in tussle over a question of timing and alibis. So, having thought I'd finished, I now have to have another go at it this morning. Sorry, fellow racers, but I have a valid excuse, don't I?

Since my last post, we had a Drama Committee meeting at the theatre (Whitstable Playhouse) and next season's pantomime is to be my Sleeping Beauty (published by Jasper Publishing) directed by me. Two years ago, I swore I wouldn't do another one, but that was when my husband died, a traumatic time, to say the least. Now, I'm panicking. Next winter, no sitting down every evening in front of the fire to go mindless in front of the television. The good thing, though, publicity-wise, is that book 3, Murder in Midwinter, is scheduled to come out on November 19th and has a background of - you've guessed it - pantomime! The title, by the way, was thought up by eldest daughter Louise. Yes, I know it looks easy and obvious, but publisher and I had been agonising for days.

Going to see this year's panto at The Playhouse tonight. Will no doubt make me feel inadequate, despite my years of experience. Oh, and next Wednesday I'm giving a talk at Rochester Library. Must find out what they want me to talk about...

Back to rewrites.

Friday, January 19, 2007

New word count and guilt

Sad to say I'm still only 9408 words into the race, partly due to ongoing t'internet problems, which affect the research I'm still doing, and family related things. However, it seems to have got itself rolling, and I have more of an idea of where I'm going with it.

The guilt is to do with my much beloved eldest daughter Louise, my first born, mother of my first and only grandson, who is now six and a half months old. For most of their lives, certainly from as soon as they were able to understand, my four children knew a) I didn't want to be a grandmother and b) I wasn't going to be on tap to babysit. My parents lived too far away and Brian's parents were in Australia, and by the time we actually had my mother to live with us, briefly, the two older children were almost out of the babysitting years.

My daughter is a professional singer (and she'll read this, so sorry, Lou), her partner, the also much beloved Jarrod, is a professional musician. Lou's gigs usually start with her leaving home between mid-day and 4 in the afternoon, getting back between 2 and 3 the next morning. A lot of them are abroad, which necessitates at least one overnight stay, and certainly means leaving home around 6am. I have expressed concern for years, even before she was with Jarrod, having formerly been married to another musician (what a perishing family) about how she would cope with a child if she decided to go back to her profession. This is now what she wants to do. Co-grandma doesn't go out a lot and is therefore happy to babysit, but not for that length of time, I do go out a fair bit, and definitely don't want to babysit for that length of time. Herein lies the guilt.

I have berated friends of mine for giving up their lives for their grandchildren, one in particular has done so, and many friends have told me I would feel different once I had my own. Sadly, I don't. My friend Beryl Kingston has written a book, Neptune's Daughter, with this subject as one of the themes, giving me to realise it isn't only me who has a problem in this area. I know I will have to babysit sometimes, but how galling to think that if I get an invitation to dinner, or to a party, I can't go because I'm babysitting. I did that for a very long time with my own four.

Oh, dear. Comments welcome, especially if they tell me how to resolve the issue without losing a daughter.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Happy New year and Novel Race

Happy New Year to everybody, and apologies for not keeping up with the ethos of blogging!

Family situations, deadlines and health have all played their part in my silence, but I have joined the great Novel Race, and if my dodgy broadband connection lasts (I've tried to do this more than once) I'll try and get the links up. I have an April deadline and I'm only 8000 in, so I've got my work cut out. Mind you, if I was Penny Jordan it would be a piece of cake. She, who can confidently expect to write 26000 between now and Tuesday, taking today and tomorrow off. Gosh.

Also, I'm in My Weekly this week. And I didn't say a lot of it, before you ask.

See you soon.