Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Roman's Virgin Mistress

The Roman's Virgin Mistress will be publish in the UK in May 07 in hardback and July 07 in paperback.
I love the title as it really says everything about the book. My editors have decided to go with more Presents type titles for my Roman books, which is fine by me. I will admit to picking books off the shelves with the word Virgin or Mistress in them in the past....

I have been offered a new three book contract. The other books in the contract are my Viking one and one set in the Victorian era at Christmas. I am looking forward to finishing them both!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ducks and rows

Anne McAllister has a post about getting all her doucks in a row and getting her book finished.

I had to laugh as my ducks are seldom in a row. they tend move far more as a phalanx. Last night, it was total confusion. The ducklings had decided to stay up late, and then panicked as I went to put htem away. They ended up getting mixed up with the older ducks. Eventually, I shut the duck pen and left them to it as I fed the dogs. Ducklings are unreliable and apt to panic, forgetting where their duck house is and rushing from one place to another, totally ignoring the duck house.
When I came back, the last of the ducklings were disappearing into their duck house, having eventually calmed down... and I was able to shut their door. But because I had not brought the dogs out, the big ducks refused to go to bed. they went into the house, and came out again, round and round the duck house we went until one decided that flying through the netting and going into the Dene was a good idea. I retreated, got the dogs, and then they were perfectly behaved.

My advice therefore is if you want to get your ducks in a row -- use older ducks and make sure you have a dog stationed near by.

In other news: my wip is going slowly, but it is moving ahead. I did some plotting yesterday and now know far more what happens in the middle bit. This in theory should make everything go faster. For the moment, my ducks are scattered and not in a row or even a phalanx.

Monday, August 28, 2006

August Bank Holiday Monday

It is the AUgust Bank Holiday here in Britain. This means grey skies and possibility of drizzle later.
My dh has started to put the garden to rights. This will involve a trip to the dump as the garden is looking rather like a jungle at the moment.

The ducklings are growing. It is very interesting to watch the social interaction. Lots of head bobbing before a young duckling join a group of ducks. There is a certain order to the way they do things. Everything regimented with lots of load quacking if it does not go as planned.

I discovered two books -- Consuming Passions about the growth of the consumer during Victorian times, apparently there is a chapter on Christmas. And also the Victorian House:Childbirth through death. Both by Judith Flanders. I am justifying the purchase as research for the Victorian Christmas one I am writing after this one.

Speaking of which, I saent the partial for HVC off to my editor who will be returning from holiday tomorrow. Even though, in theory I don't need to send in partials anymore. I like to do it. It makes for a certain discipline.

The marketing team for Harlequin Mills and Boon are busy gathering data for the 2007 Romance Report. In particular they are doing a survey about how romantic are you?If you would like to help, please fill in the following survey. Your answers are totally confidential and can not be traced back to you.Obviously the more people who fill out the survey, the more information Harlequin Mills and Boon will have about the currnet state of romance.The survey does need to be filled in by 30 September for your answers to be included in the 2007 Romance Report that is sent out to media worldwide. Thank you in advance for helping.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

A better day, a hero prototype found.

Margaret Moore wrote a very good article on the Harlequin Historical Authors' blog in which she had uploaded a picture of Gerald Butler. Before this, I had not encountered him, and had not seriously considered him as an image model for Haakon, my hero. But when I saw the photo, I realized -- this was nearly a perfect match.
It is the dark hair and blue eyes. I understand from Patrica Frances Rowell he has been used as an image model for a number of Harlequin Mills and Boon Historical heroes including her own A Fortuitous Abduction. Terri Brisbin informs that she has over three hundred photos of this man. I think I have been missing something here.... I am not worried that our characters will alike, the deep character that each writer creates brings something new to the table. It is just that the image sometimes helps.

And here he is in a more modern pose. He will be appearing as King Leonidas in the 300 -- wearing Spartan Gear. Thermoplyae and all that. I hope it is a well told tale, although I suspect there will be a large group of women going for the pleasure of watching GB...and his loincloth. And what is wrong with that? A healthy hetrosexual appreciation of a good looking man is nothing to be sniffed at.
Anyway, once I had seen the picture, many thigns feel into place and where I had been a bit stuck, things appeared to flow better...
Did I need a face to put to an idea? I am not sure, but thus far it seems to have worked. I sent my first three chapters off to one of my critque partners and they came flying back with a few minor tweaks. These I will do and then send it off to my other critque partner, before sending it to my editor for Tuesday.

The bee stings are healing. And the honey has been bottled. I am currently melting the wax to separte if from any remaining honey and then I will make a few candles. The windows have to be closed while I do this as the bees can smell the honey and try to get in.

But the wip is moving forward again.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Harvesting honey and mistakes made

On Sunday, my dh decided we had had enough of the honey drought. For the first since August 2001, we had been without our own honey. I was supposed to go down and put the porter bee escapes in below one super.
Porter bee escapes allow bees to leave but not return. The theory being that you then go and pick up the honey in the early morning, and there is no need to shake the bees off the individual frames. This is the THEORY. It is not always true in practice as I have discovered in previous years.

However, I wanted honey sooner than four days time, and so I decided to forego the porter bee escapes for the shake the damned bees off the comb method.

I went into the first hive and was astonished to see how much honey -- the top super was overflowing with sealed honey. We had no more supers to put on. There were very few bees in the top layer.
MISTAKE Number 1 I should have just taken the top super away and worried about shaking the bees off, so distance from the hive. In stead I thought to follow my original plan and transfer the super frames to a brood box. Result: bees tried to sting my arms. One or two succeeded. Bees dislike honey robbers.

I got the honey up and in with no more mishaps. It was Rosebay willow herb -- a lovely light straw colour, and wonderfully runny. There were 26 jars worth on the one super. When you consider for the last few years following the 2 brood box method, we have had a total each year of about 50 jars, I was very pleased. There are 9 other super boxes potentially as full of honey.

MISTAKE number 2 Do not attempt to reopen a colony just after you have taken honey off. The bees tend to be a bit aggressive. Particularly do not try this when your smoker has gone out. RESULT: 15 bee stings to my legs. And one hive of v angry bees, rising in a black cloud.

Luckily I am not allergic.

Now all I have to do is check the other bee hive and plot how I am going to get porter bee escapes on.

In other news HVC goes slowly. I have figured out where I made a mistake and more importantly why it is a mistake. It should read better.

If you feel in need of motivation about writing, you should check out margaret Moore's blog. She offers some wonderful pearls of wisdom. With me it is not worrying so much the other writer is writing 15 pages per day, but rather that I am going too quickly, if this makes sense. And yes I know,I would be the one standing, burbling in the corner, if I couldn't write as much as I do.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Gladiator's Honour on radio

The audio cd of Gladiator's Honour will be broadcast on One Word Radio, starting on 27 August.

It is your chance to hear the wonderful voice of Simon Poland. It is abridged, but I thought when I heard it that it was done very well.

Can you tell that I am very excited about this development?

My good friend Brigid Coady is the announcer.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And the winner is...

Gladiator's Honour is the winner of the 2006 Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Award for Mills and Boon Historicals.

I am very pleased as I did not expect to win.

Elizabeth Lane won the Harlequin Historicals award.

You can see the winners here:

The RNA lunch was lovely, despite the rain. It was thrilling to actually get to see Rosamunde Pilcher. LadyMary Stewart was too ill attend and Lucilla Andrews was in hospital. Lucilla ANdrews was apaprently spitting mad that she couldn't be there. For those who don't know, Lucilla Andrews was one of the big names in medical romance.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lunch, interview and a new blog in town

Today I am going to the RNA Lifetime Achievement Luncheon for Rosumunde Pilcher, Lucilla Andrews and Lady Mary Stewart. I will confess to not having read Lucilla Andrews. She wrote mainly medical romances which are not my favourites. BUT I spent very many hours reading RP and MS. Mary Stewart's Touch Not the Cat was one of the first main stream romances that I read and hooked me. I discovered RP before she wrote The Shell Seekers and always really enjoyed her books. I shall be doing the fan girl thing even though I believe Lady Mary is not well enough to attend.

I did a small Harlequin Historical Authors blog. It is a group blog, and we plan to feature all your favourite HH authors with interesting articles, news and comment. So please stop by.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gladiator's Honour is a 2006 Cataromance Reviewer's Choice nominee

I was very thrilled and delighted to learn that Gladiator's Honour is one of the nominees for this year's Cataromance Reviewer's Choice Awards. As many other wonderful writers (Kate Hardy, Kate Walker, Anne McAllister, Julie Cohen, Trish Wylie, Liz Fielding, Ally Blake, Jenna Bayley-Burke to name but a few) and books are on the list, I doubt I will win, but it is very nice to be nominated and to think Gladiator's Honour was thought highly of. You can view the full list here.

The awards are announced on Friday 18 August. It is an all day event. There will be interviews with the nominees, goodie bags and much much more. You can find out more by going to the Cataromance site. Cataromance is a website dedicated to Catagory Romance.

Monday, August 14, 2006

One Book

I have just realised that Kate Hardy tagged me with this. Put it done to jet lag.
And as two plumbers are busy wrestlingwith the Aga, now seems to be the right time. As you will see, I did have probelms with one or two answers.And I want it said that it is practically impossible to choose just one book.

1. One book that changed my life: The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. I read this as a teenager and it made a great impression on me.
2. One book that I have read more than once: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes – This is the book that I adored when I was about 12. Total literary crush on Rab.
3. One book I would want on a deserted island: One book? One measly book? It would have to be the Bible or possibly the Collected Works of Shakespeare or possibly the Icelandic Sagas. Something very long and with lots of stories in it.
4. One book that made me laugh: Regency Buck by Georgette Heyer
5. One book that made me cry: The Marriage Miracle by Liz Fielding
6. One book I wish I'd written: Mr Impossible by Loretta Chase. An excellent historical romance writer and I am consumed by jealousy. There are others aswell she mutters darkly...
7. One book I wish had never been written: Or is a better sentiment as I am not into book banning – sunk without a trace? Here I could put Mien Kampf or Das Capital. Both have had a detrimental effect on the world. But I will have to go for Marx. And among other things Marx can’t do math.
8. One book I am currently reading: 1776 David McCullough (just finished Mr Impossible) it is an excellent companion to his Pultizer winning biography of john Adams that I read several years ago. I have several others on the go including an Icelandic Saga.
9. One book I have been meaning to read: Blood and Sand by Frank Gardiner – It is an account of the BBC correspondent’s life, what happened to him before he was shot and left to die in Saudi street and how he recovered afterward. My eldest has read it. I also am meaning to read Ghost Wars, but as my dh is currently reading our copy, I think I am excused for the moment

Now to tag: Nell Dixon, Anna Lucia and Kate Walker.

And sometimes you are the bug

I have a fondness for Mary Chapin Carpenter and her songs. I discovered her about 12 years ago The one which is playing through my head is the one about Sometimes you are the windshield and sometime you are the bug.

Yesterday was an eventful day. It started noramly enough. In fact it was normal up to 3 o'clock. Then the hot water pipe burst inside the AGA. The first I knew about it, my dh was screaming at me to come and see. As he had just screamed about there being no hot water for his shower, and I was busy with laundry, I was not best pleased. However, once I realised the situation, it was all hands on deck.
The water had flowed out and was busily dripping down into the basement. The rugs are the bottom of the staris were soaked. The well around the Aga was covered in warm red brown silt and water poured from its side. We turned everything off and still the water flowed out. I think we finally drained last bit of water from the house....Anyway, now today I have to see about getting it fixed as my usual plumber is on holiday. As we have another boiler, I suspect that the Aga shall to be bypassed. The thought of having to have it taken apart...

There is no reason why the pipes should have gone -- except the water pressure has been funny lately and the pipes are very old.

All this has meant that HVC was not worked on and I shall have to try to catch up in the next few days...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Bits and bobs

Well it had to happen --- Gladiaotr's Honor received a three star review from the RT. I have not read the review as I am not a subscriber. The main obection (or so my editor tells me) is that my language was too modern. My editor does not seriously think this is an objection. She would refuse to publish me if I wrote it in some sort of archaic form of English.
Quite frankly, no one knows what the Romans sounded like or exactly how they spoke. Nearly all of the writing we have access to was formal. There is a great gulf between formal and informal. Always has been, always will be. Even back in Shakespearean England, people used contractions.
My characters might sound modern because to their way of thinking, they were modern.
Anyway, I am very pleased to have been reviewed and apparently a number of nice things were said. Hopefully the publicity will result in several more sales.

I am currently hard at work on HVC. I do need to up my daily output.

My muse seems to thrive on hard work. Push her, make her work and she rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck in. If I wait for inspiration, she decides to go to sleep or loll around eating chocolates. Annoying there but there you have it. BICHOK works for me. Just as well as I have two books to write between now and 20 Dec. It can be done. It will be done.

Better get back to work then...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Holiday part 2

Annoyingly, blogger is not letting me upload photos. And I did have some more good photos of Iceland.

The plane flight over to BWI was painless and I have to say that I like BWI much better than Dulles. However, once we stepped outside, it was like stepping back into the steam room at the Blue Lagoon.
Heat and humidity remained the themes for the trip.
We spent the first fewdays recovering, and then went to the newly reopened National Portrait Gallery. It has been closed for over seven years and it was good to see all the portraits. I particularly enjoyed the portraits from the early years...The modern hanging foam heads were a bit disconcerting. We also went to Mt Vernon. The house and the grounds do not really change very much, but at this time of year, the swallowtail butterflies are out and the gardens are good. They are busy building a new museum though.
Afterwards we went to Alexandria for lunch and walk around. There we went into Barkley Square -- an upmarket dog bakery. When a small dog wearing pink ribbons tried to attack my youngest, its owner apologized. The dog was grumpy because she was trying on clothes. It was only when I look at the racks of dog dresses that I realized it was the DOG and not the owner who was trying on clothes! No wonder she was so upset. However the shop is wonderful for all things doggie and I managed to get a new collar and lead for Chile -- our Lab.
We drove up to the Adirondacks via the Hudson Valley. Stops on the way included West Point and FDR's home in Hyde Park. More properly it was his mother's house where he lived. Sarah Delano Roosevelt was an amazing woman. A bit overbearing, but determined. Our tour guide was wonderfully informative about FDR and his life there. FDR's library and museum was fascinating.
Eleanor Roosevelt's house Val-Kill is being renovated and will reopen this autumn. She preferred the cozy comforts of that house to the formality of Springwood. Eleanor Roosevelt was a truly great woman and one of my heroines.
Adirondacks were peaceful and relaxing and I can thoroughly recommend them to anyone. The only caveat is to bring lots and lots of bug spray.
On the way back to DC, we drove through Pennsylvania and stayed over night in Bird In Hand in the middle of the Amish country. It is a different way of life. On the Saturday morning, lots of buggies competed with cars as the Amish went about their business. The funniest sight was a horse drawn carriage at a petrol station as the Amish man filled up his petrol can. The Amish are allowed certain self contained tools. Strimmers appeared to be popular. The farms and houses were immaculate. It was a salutary reminder that life does not have to go at a thousand miles per hour.
The holiday went by very quickly, too quickly and now seems a long time ago as jet lag has finished.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Holidaay part 1 -- Iceland

Iceland is a land of great natural beauty.

Icelandic Air is only airline to serve Iceland and does deals so that you can stopover for three nights on the way to North America without paying extra -- so that is what we did.

One word of caution -- Reykjavik is not as safe as the guidebooks like to say. Some drunk tried to abduct my youngest off the street on the first afternoon we were there. My dh put a stop to it, and luckily held on to his temper. Thankfully, we had no repeats, but it was a bit unnerving.

On the second day, I went horseback riding up on the lava fields with Ishestar. Icelandic horses are direct descendents from Viking horses. They are beautiful -- smaller than English or American horses, with beautiful manes. They have five speeds. At the end of the two hour ride when my legs were numb, I managed to fall off when my horse decided to gallop. Nothing worse than a few bruises and scrapes, and a case of wounded pride. After returning to the hotel for a quick shower (all hot water is provided by geo-thermal and smells of rotten eggs), we went to the Culture house to look at the Icelandic medieval manuscripts. The manuscripts helped inspire Tolkien as well as Wagner and provide the most insight we have to Viking life. We then went to the newest musuem -- 871+/-2 -- a museum devoted to the longhouse than was discovered when a new hotel was being built. It made excellent use of multimedia. Later, we went on a whale watching tour. On the expedition, we saw puffins, minke whale, white beaked dolphin and harbour dolphins. Both type of dolphin had young with them and so put on quite a display -- leaping, twirling and playing. Afterwards, we went to a little fishering shack and ate lobster soup and salmon kabobs while sitting on barrels.

On the third day we went for a walk on the waterfront and then to the National Museum, which was recently redone and is excellent. It really puts Icelandic history in context. The oval brooches taht Viking women wore were much larger than I thought. There was a dressing room where you could try on Viking clothes --including a helmet and sword. The chain mail was hanging up so you could feel how heavy it was. Then we went on a bus tour to Thingvellir and the Rift Valley where the European and NOrth American plates meet, as well the Gullfoss (Golden Falls) waterfall and Geysir after which all geysirs are named. Geysir no longer erupts with any great regularity but the one next to it does -- about every four or five minutes.

On the last day, the airport bus dropped us off at the Blue Lagoon for several hours. We spent the time in the warm salty water, smothering our faces with silica mud, getting a massage from a hot waterfall and generally relaxing. It looks like a James Bond set. The only problem is that the salty water is hard to get out of your hair. And thus, my hair was a bit stiff when I arrived at BWI!

Iceland is a terrific place to visit. There is a lot of development going on, and hopefully none of the natural beauty will be spoilt, but given the amount of the building projects -- I would say the time to visit is sooner rather than later.Even though, sometimes finding a hotel room can be difficult.

Monday, August 07, 2006


I arrived back in the UK this morning after three weeks away.

I will post pictures as Iceland is lovely as well as being highly organised for tours and the like.
I have fewer pictures of the Adirondacks because my middle kept forgetting to take her camera with her. The house where we stayed was the former great house of a Great Camp (built around 1900) and was fantastic -- right on the lake. With plenty of charm. My mother had lived there as a child for a time.

Iceland was cool but the US was meltingly hot and humid. There were also bugs, bugs and more bugs. Being bathed in sweat with rivulets of bug spray trickling into your eyes is not an experience I am in any hurry to repeat, but the views were fantastic. Everyone kept telling us that the Adirondacks were not normally so hot...Star Lake was lovely and cool though.

Iceland did not appear to have bugs. Its hot water is fueled by hot springs and smells of sulphur...

My friend Donna Alward sold her first book to HM&B while I was away.

And my interiveiw with e-harlequin's Inner Scoop is now up. I have also recieved a box of NA Gladiator's Honor as well as four Large Print The Marriage Inheritance from Linford Romance.

I have had the revisions for VW and they look highly doable and will no doubt make the mss much stronger. They are very minor tweaks, but crucial. Now just to execute them.