Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Turning the Tide

Look what the postman just delivered! For someone who’s supposed to be able to tell you about these things in words, I’m really struggling to describe the feeling of seeing everything I’ve worked and hoped for come together. Choc Lit produce the most beautiful covers; I’m utterly thrilled with mine and I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to hold a copy of Turning the Tide in my hands at last.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Bar to Car

My sense of direction, never wonderful, fails completely when I’m in London so, despite detailed instructions from Tom, I still end up walking in the wrong direction and have to phone to be reoriented. Still, at least I’ve got as far as St James’s Park without falling down the gap boarding the train at Epsom, laddering my tights or snapping the heel off my shoes – all fears which have been haunting me. Reaching the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the venue for the RNA summer party, my next fear is that no one will talk to me and I’ll be left standing on the side like the girl nobody wants to dance with. Fortunately this too becomes a needless worry. The problem isn’t about having no one to talk to, but rather the opposite; there just isn’t enough time to catch up with everyone.

It’s a great delight to meet my fellow Choc Lit authors Sue, Christina and Margaret for the first time (Jane and Juliet, we missed you!) and to catch up with Lyn, Publisher Extraordinaire. We share a few collective ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ at the cover of Sue’s All That Mullarkey and I realise that it won’t be too long now before I’m holding a copy of Turning the Tide.

My shiny red shoes are another ice-breaker, with one lovely lady crossing the room to talk to me because of them. When Janet Gover photographs them for her famous Shoe Blog, along with Christina’s gorgeous floral platforms, I feel very honoured. Shoes, champagne and Choc Lit, I think, as we raise our glasses to Lucy King, the winner of this year’s Joan Hessayon trophy; what a night!

Now all I have to do is get home. After the party Bird Cage Walk seems much lonelier and darker than it was before (well, of course it is darker – because it’s later, but it feels dark too). My moment of relief at finding my way back to the Tube is short-lived when I discover that all trains are cancelled. ‘What are we supposed to do then?’ someone asks. ‘Walk,’ comes the succinct reply. After another quick call to Tom to find out which way to go, my shiny new shoes and I find our way (quite carefully, it must be said) to Victoria. Happily I’m just in time for the fast train. Someone’s even left their new ‘Hello’ magazine behind for me which is a bonus, even if it is a little heavy on royalty. The only slight problem comes when we reach Epsom and I lose the station, but then I realise I’m facing the wrong way so am pleasantly surprised when I turn round to see it’s still there, huge gap and all.

And finally...
Oh dear, we’ve had to face up to the fact that running two cars is a bit of a luxury so, last night, Lester The Fiesta was driven away by the father of one very happy new driver. I hope they enjoy their life together. Farewell Lester, a good and faithful servant.

'Abstracts' by Tom Tomos

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Party On

So there we were, fish and chips from the Hake Inn at, er, Hakin, balanced on our laps watching the fondant colours in the sky and an unusually flat, calm quicksilver sea. ‘We’ll always remember this evening, won’t we?’ we said, pausing only to blow on piping hot chips.

A romantic tryst at Milford Haven? Not as unlikely as it sound, I’ll have you know. We’ve spent many happy hours on or around the Haven. In fact, we’ve come to some of our best decisions bobbing around in a little wooden boat there. But this time we were looking across the Haven pleasantly passing the time whilst the country made a decision. Well, we will remember Election Night 2010, not because we sat up through the night (all right, I did grab a couple of hours kip at 3.am, but Tom was a real trouper) to watch the dawning of a new government, but for reasons that everyone’s all too familiar with by now.

Ah well, what Laura Kuenssberg (what a star!) has been referring to all day as the ‘fluid situation’ is playing out as I write so my thoughts are now turning to another party. Tomorrow we’re heading south so that, amongst other things, on Thursday I can attend my first Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party. Yesterday, in Cardigan, I thought I heard faint cries from the Factory Outlet store and felt it was my duty to investigate. And there they were, these shiny red shoes, cruelly abandoned on a bottom shelf. I felt it was only fair to rescue them and bring them home with me. Shiny red shoes – you shall go to the ball!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

School's Out!

Well, that’s it. A few days of absolutely no peeping so that I can spot any mistakes when I sit down for a final read-through, then it’s print it in triplicate and send if off to the OU. My End of Course Assessment, the culmination of two years of hard work towards my Diploma in Literature and Creative Writing. Sheesh! I’ve worked hard for this, much harder than when I went through the sausage-machine of university the first time – just goes to show what you’re prepared to do when you really want something as opposed to thinking you want something.

It’s going to be very strange not always having the next Tutor Marked Assignment ahead of me, but there’s lots to look forwards to on the writing front. I’m going to really enjoy concentrating on the current novel, but I’m also hoping to find time to write and submit more poetry too.

The photo is a summary of two years work. My trusty knitted monkey sits on my printer – goodness knows I’m not a soft toy person, and my preferred tea is Earl Grey, but when I opened the tea box and saw this sad, squashed face looking up at me, I just sort of... fell in love with it. The pencil tin used to belong to Dad, so it’s another personal talisman. However, there’s also a pile of notebooks there which probably point to the most useful tip I can pass on to other writers. If you don’t already do it, buy a notebook and write anything you like in it – but keep writing, keep adding to it. Fill it with cuttings – mine contains everything from a gran who knits bosoms (don’t ask me) to how to arrange your own funeral. Don’t censor yourself – just fly. You’ll be amazed at where your notebook will take you.