Wednesday, April 28, 2010

US Cover for An Impulsive Debutante

I finally have the cover for the US version of An Impulsive Debutante! It is a June 2010 release with HH Direct and ebooks.
This is the linked book to A Christmas Wedding Wager and is dedicated to my high school English teacher Mrs Fifer. It features a minor character from ACWW who was not the nicest but whom my daughter loved and adored. I had great fun making Lottie into a heroine.

The cover was also used in the title sequence for the BBC production about Mills & Boon.

I am supposed to be getting my author copies soon. They delivered the wrong box of books -- Anne Herries Bought for the Harem which is also out in June.

Recently I had a really nice note from a 15 year old in Essex who had stumbled across AID in a library and it had become her favourite book! She loved and adored Lottie -- so I guess I did my job.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dealing with ticks

My youngest came home from a school trip to the Isle of Arran with a tick. The teacher had put vaseline on it. The trouble with vaseline is that the tick suffocates and vacates its stomach into its host. The best way to get rid of a tick is with tweezers or a tick remover. Removed promptly with tweezers or a tick remover, the tick should pose no problem.
Burning, vaseline or nail polish is not good and is likely to lead to infection.
My youngest is now on antibiotics. He thinks I overreacted but Lyme disease is no joke and there are a number of other nasty diseases. The doctor agreed with me, particularly as the tick was on his skin for over two hours.
The best way to avoid ticks is prevention -- long sleeves and insect repellent with DEET.

Other than that, he had a brilliant time. Lots of pictures of rocks and other geological formations as well as red deer.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Because I'm going to Nashville

I have booked my plane tickets for Nashville. My place at the RWA conference and hotel room were booked when the conference bookings open back in February but I waited a little bit on plane tickets.
They were more expensive than I thought they'd be.
This means no new wardrobe and that I have to fit into my existing wardrobe.
This means exercise as nothing makes you lose inches like exercise. One of the best workouts I know is indoor rowing. And until we moved the rowing machine downstairs (where it became a good clothes horse), I was very good at doing it. I have started again after my youngest remarked that 3 x a week for 30 minutes at a time will get you fit in 6 weeks.
Time to do it as I have no wish to be wearing a sack at the RWA conference.

I have also discovered that dividing my writing into chunks and concentrating on finishing one chunk at a time is working. It means limited my Internet time but it is keeping me focused as I can't just check until I have finished the next chunk of 750 words. Thus far since starting the new regime on 6 April, I have managed over 63, 000 words. Go me!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Misconceptions are us

I am currently reading a biography of Gertrude Bell. She is absolutely wonderful and a real daughter of the desert. It is through her work as much as Lawerence's that the Arab middle east evolved. She was particularly instrumental in setting up Iraq. She is a new heroine for me as I never really knew that much about her. She was just someone who spent a great deal of time in the desert and was an Edwardian lady traveller. Shows how wrong you can be.
Her early life adds a lot to my knowledge about the North East. Basically her grandfather, Lowthian Bell, was the Bill Gates of his day and the family transportation royalty rather than aristocracy. It is also great to read about when places like Washington and Redcar oozed money.
What surprised me and shocked me was her stepmother Florence Bell. As far I know no proper biography has been done of this lady. She was the daughter of a physician, brought up in France, highly musical, a playwright as well as writing various things on the education of children. She moved in artistic and industrial circles. Counted Charles Dickens as a friend. She was an early pioneer in social work, doing a lot of the hard graft of interviewing people and publishing the raw data. ALong with her husband, she was an early suppoertor of the trade unions (surprisingly they both felt that the owners of businesses were dependant on the workers and that workers therefore needed to be treated well) And as I was reading this , I thought no wonder, Gertrude was such a strong character and got the first first in Modern History that Oxford ever bestowed on woman. Her stepmother must have been one of the first suffragettes. Had to be.
Umm, no. Lady Florence Bell was vehemently anti-suffragette. She wrote essays on why the movement was wrong. Gertrude could not even discuss it with her. Her education philosophy was that women should be educated at home where ever possible. No exceptions. The aim being not to create a great academic but someone who would shine in society. Accomplishments were it. A woman's place was by her husband's side. Apparently her own daughters were renown as great conversationalists -- The Hugh Bells.
However, Gertrude was the exception. Realising that she needed stretching, Florence sent her first to Queens College and then to Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. The way women were treated in Oxford was surely scandalous -- being forced to sit with their backs to the lectures or on the podium with the lecturer. Luckily Gertrude did not stand for any nonsense and made several remarks about the lecturers not adding anything to the books she had read. After which, she decided that Gertrude needed domestication before she came out as a debutante! And Gertrudealso learned to operate within society. Although Gertrude never married (there were several scandalous affairs with men!), she always was a part of the establishment. It enable her to accomplish things.
Anyway, it shocked me that a woman like Lady Florence Bell could be so enlightened in many ways and yet not grasp the fundamental principle that women deserved the vote.

Anyway, it is a lesson to me not just to assume and to place my 21st century interpretations on things.
Busy writing away.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mystery object solved

Thanks to the ever so lovely Louisa Allen, I now know what the mystery object is -- a soda siphon. The picture she sent shows it complete with wire mesh.

My youngest is very grateful and my daughter feels vindicated. I told you that it couldn't be a lamp, she crowed.

I refused to speculate why it was buried in the bank. The people who built this house were bankers, not chemists. Before that, the area was part of a farm.

Now to see if my new way of work can continue today as everyone else is back at work or at school.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making sure you have a life

Yesterday on the Pink Heart Society, new author Mira Kelly blogged about deadlines and how suddenly she could not do the things she wanted to. Writing had become a job rather than a hobby and this meant changes and have to forgo things because of deadlines. Lots of people are sympathetic but I wanted to put my head in my hands and go ARGH!

When you write, there is always talk of deadlines. Some authors get so het up about deadlines that they forget to have a life and this can lead to burn out, particularly if they have overestimated the number of books they can produce a year. Over production is a good way to get writer's block and burn out. Burn out is something that all authors want to avoid.

Some deadlines are movable feasts and others are precise. Before your book is accepted, in general, deadlines are movable if you speak to your editor in advance. After your book is accepted and you are dealing with things like Dear Reader letters, and Author Alterations (aka copy editors) deadlines are cast in stone. You miss them, these things are not included in the book.
The trick is knowing which is which and speaking with your editor.

The editors do know about burn out. They are human. They understand that authors go on holiday. They go on holiday as well and surprise, surprise they do not take manuscripts to read! They would be appalled if you took work, sat in a hotel room in some exotic location and wrote, ignoring your family. One hotel room looks very much like another. There are no prizes for being masochistic. In fact the cemeteries are full of people who were going to take a break but never got around to it.
In fact, if you speak to your editor and tell her that you are going and when, she will attempt to make sure you do not have work. She will tell you to step away from the computer. The last thing she wants is a productive author to become unproductive because she forgot to have a life.
Equally life circumstances change. For example -- illness and other serious stress can through your work into a spin.

Communication with your editor is key when you are on a multiple book contract. She wants to know if there are problems because she can help. She can also help more before rather than after the fact. Editors are not going to drop you because you take a holiday. They want your books. There are always more places in the schedule for an author whose voice they love.

With writing, you do need to prioritise and if you need to be at your children's play -- schedule it and go! You will probably be more productive for having taken a break. You will feel less guilty and while you watch or have dinner or whatever, your mind works. You might even solve that intractable problem.
Equally you have to learn to say -- no, this request is going to eat into my scheduled writing time. Scheduling your writing time is important. If you are going to schedule class plays etc, then you also have to schedule your writing time. Block out the time. Ring fence it but be flexible for things that take high priority. Let your family know your schedule.
Communication is key. Learn to make priorities. Simplify your life. Decide what is important and what is a time waster/eating into your time.
If you start constantly avoiding the manuscript, you have to ask why. The reason is probably several fold. You may have also over written a theme. Writers typically enjoy writing certain themes. When they become overmined, writing can suffer. You might have to start writing other themes. Or it may have to do with you taking a wrong turn, or some other problem. It may not have to do with all your other obligations. Be honest. Is it your work or your outside obligations? Sometimes you do hit a dry patch. It is far better to turn out a good book than to churn.

So have a life. Stop blaming deadlines. Learn how to set priorities and schedule. It is part of the bit about working for yourself. It is in your hands. Organisational skills count.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Puppies reach one year

While we were away in Egypt, the puppies celebrated their birthday. Hardy chewed up his bed. Although I think Tess probably started it. The net result is now Chile the labrador and Hardy are sleeping on old towels while Tess gets the remaining bed. For some reason that bed has never touched.
It is hard to believe that they have grown so fast. They are still adolscents in many ways. Yesterday, they climbed through a hole in the fence and went into the neighbour's garden. Both emerging very muddy and smelly. They had baths which neither enjoyed. But they are now fit to be in the same room as humans!
They have very distinct personalities. Hardy is far more laid back than Tess. Tess is a dog who would wear high heels and generally run the entire show if she possibly could.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Ashes to Ashes -- the final season

As anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows I am a long term fan of the series, starting with the first series of Life on Mars just after it came out in dvd. Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) is what makes it. Totally unreconstructed alpha male. When I needed a Viking hero for Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife he fit the bill and I thought I was odd. But then other women started coming out of the woodwork -- the reason they watched was Philip Glenister. It has to do with integrity and unswerving loyalty. He is a man who gets justice done but unconventional methods. Underneath his gruff exterior beats a passionate heart. He cares. An early episode where he discusses the merits of various biscuits with an elderly witness showed it. He is a man who hates bureaucracy and this is no bad thing.

It is why I knew that the people leading the Labour advertising campaign were totally out of touch when they tried to smear David Cameron by super-imposing his head on top of Gene Hunt's. People want a leader who leads. Far better to actually watch a show rather than just to assume.

Anyway, I am enjoying the ride and hoping the ending will be far more satisfying than the US version of Life on Mars -- no sleeping spacemen wanted! My fingers are so crossed that Gene Hunt and the rest of the team will keep their inegrity. And because it is supposed to answer questions from Life on Mars, I am hoping Annie will make a reappearance...
Ashes to Ashes means my Friday nights are booked up!

Then tomorrow, the new series of Dr Who starts properly. Matt Smith last week calmed my nerves. So hopefully he will do a good job. It was Amelia Pond who stole the show though.

And I understand there is a remake of The Prisoner starting on ITV1 on 17 April. James Caviezel, Ian McKellan and Ruth Wilson. star. Fingers crossed that it is good. It is not set at Portmerion though. And early reports are not good, but I want to see for myself.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Does anyone know what this is?

Several weeks ago, my youngest dug the bottom half of it out of the dene. He had retrieved the top half a few years ago. They are a perfect match. We are stumped as to its original purpose. it had been holding the bank up by the stream...

Several members of the RWA Northumberland thought it might be an oil lamp cira the late 1890's. I am inclined to agree.

But any and all suggestions welcome. The glass is about an inch thick and there used to be stripes painted on it. There is a metal screw on the top. Altogether it is about 18 inches high.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sinai Adventure Day 7 and 8: The Red Sea

Today is my day for the PHS Destination Life column so my adventures with snorkeling on the Red Sea are there. It was tremendous fun but in the end hard work. I have never been so glad for the final snorkel to be ended.

The return journey was relatively painless. Once again the guides at the airport came into their own -- seeing off a porter and then guiding us to the correct queue. You would think getting in the correct check in line would be in a cinch BUT a group in front of us waited for over an hour only to be told they had joined the wrong line!

My cold came on on that last day and my sunburn ached but we all had had a glorious time. We arrived back to a cold, damp England.

As an escape from winter cold, and gloom, you can't beat the brilliant blue skies of the Sinai.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sinai Adventure Day 6 -- Into the desert

Our sixth day saw us going into the desert to have a meal with a Bedouin tribe. It included a camel ride, watching the sunset and looking at the stars. Originally we had wanted to go to Tiran Island but the boat trip did not come off and so we did camels instead.

The Bedouin of the Sinai are divided into about 19 tribes, although some say as much as 27. Each is headed by a sheikh. Sheikh simply means the leader and he really does the power of life and death over his tribe. Depending on the tribe, they live a semi-nomadic or a settled life. The government has built housing for them and there are a few local primary schools. As Bedouin life most revolves around camels and goats and to a certain extent tourism, the Bedouin are not renown for their adherence to education. Bedouins are v strict traditionalists and are Muslim. Bedouin women keep to the tents and cover up (although my daughter commented after suffering from sunburn, she could really see the point of wearing an all in one cover up in the desert!). It is the men and the children who interact with the tourists and the women stay in the houses. The Bedouin also operate on their own terms as they are a very independant people. Bedouin tribes are spread across the entire Middle East. The Bedouin of the Sinai do not have the oil like the Saudis or their Gulf cousins but it was mentioned that some oil had been recently found when they were drilling for water.

To ride a camel, get on like it is a horse. As the camel gets up, hold on to the pommel. Once a camel is up, let go. You can then either ride it like a horse or ride it like the Arabs do by hooking your left leg around the pommel. Personally I found hooking my leg was far more comfortable. Bedouin women ride donkeys rather than camels btw. The Bedouin children led the camels from the starting point to the camp.

The desert is still and sound carries. So total peace. You do feel as if you are riding on a timeless journey.

Once we were at the Bedouin camp, we were welcomed with cups of Bedouin tea. The tea is made from desert herbs and tastes like sage and honey tea. It forms a very important part of the engagement ceremony as it is the only chance for a Bedouin to say if she likes a man before they marry. Bedouins do not date and tend to marry very early 15/16. They also tend to marry within the tribe. The Bedouin have a very strict tradition of hospitality -- 3 days and that is all but for those three days, you are treated very well. After that, the guest is supposed to move on.

After the tea, the Bedouins brought out the shisha or water pipe. It smelt of apples. The last time I tried to smoke a cigarette, it was taken off of me as I was not inhaling. This time, I had a coughing fit. I much prefer the scent of a shisha to the actual smoking!

We then had lecture on the life of the Bedouin as we sat in the traditional goat hair tents with the flooring covered in rag rugs and pillows. My husband and youngest are keen birdwatchers and so did a spot of birdwatching. The Bedouin were very interested in the binos and after consulting the sheikh, several had a go at watching birds.

The Bedouin demonstrated how they made flat bread over the open fire. My daughter had a go. And then it was time for the typical Bedouin meal -- salads, grilled meat including kofta, a spicy potato thing and grilled chicken and of course the delicious bread. All washed down with water or a soft drink. We ate at low tables, reclining against cushions.

The sunset was spectacular and the entire canyon was lit up with different colours. The candles were then lit as there is no electricity. There is supposed to be no mobile signals either but much to the disgust of the man's wife, the other man in our group was able to find a signal for his Blackberry. Surround by nature, he had to check with the office. I really felt for her. The Bedouin seemed less keen on such devices than the binos.

After the sunset, the Bedouin demonstrated a few of their songs and dances in front of an open fire and then it was time for the stars.

I will admit to being spoilt, living up in Northumberland where there is very little light pollution but I like looking at the stars in any case. And the Bedouin's enthusiasm for the stars reawakened my love of the skies. There is no electricity, and therefore no light pollution. As the man spoke, the full moon rose over the mountains. It was absolutely spectacular. They had good telescopes and so Saturn with its rings, the moon and the North star were on view. I had forgotten how good Saturn looks through a telescope.

We then drove back to the hotel. The desert looks fantastic at night lit by the moon. It was a pity that the other family were entranced by gadgets. There again, it was their loss. Personally I enjoyed tasting the Bedouin life. And would recommend the excursion for any visiting the Sinai.

Tomorrow -- a wooden yacht and snorkeling in the Red Sea.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Sinai Adventure Day 5 -- St Catherine's

By any measure, St Catherine's Monastery is remote. It is in the middle of the Sinai Peninsula and there is one road which leads to it. It is only open 3 hours per day, three or four times per week. The Greek Orthodox monks are determined that this is not a tourist attraction but a working monastery of enormous significance to all Christians, but particularly to those of the Orthodox faith.

Why is St Catherine's important?
First of all, St Catherine is the wrong name for it. St Catherine of Alexandria died in the fourth century and her name is given to the firework -- the Catherine wheel. She and her relics did not become associated with the place until some enterprising monks *discovered* her uncorrupted body etc in the area around the time of the Crusades.
Second, about this time, a document purporting to be a treaty between the monks and the Prophet was also *discovered*. The Prophet recognised the holiness of the place and allowed the monks to be there. Very enterprising and determined these monks. A copy remains in the monastery library.
This monastery was built over one of the earliest Christian chapels, founded by St Helena in the 360s. St Helena was the mother of Constantine the Great and started life as a bar maid. She is probably the person most responsible for legitimising Christianity in the Roman world. It bothers me that her contribution is often forgotten. She was either very lucky or she did her research etc. Afterall the Romans did keep records...

She built the chapel, not because of Catherine but because of Moses. The chapel which is the holiest of holys in the monastery is built over the roots of the Burning Bush. The monastery has taking a cutting of the Burning Bush, and interesting it is the only one of its type to grow on the whole of Sinai. It is a sort of acacia. Also contained within the walls is the well of Moses where he met Jethro's daughters. Behind the monastery is Mt Moses where tradition has it that he received the 10 commandments. Thus it is Moses, rather Catherine who is the focus of the monastery. But as he plays an important part in three religions and volatility of the region, you can forgive the monks for safeguarding the monastery in other ways.
Because of its remoteness, Justinian built a fortress around the chapel in the 6th century. Napoleon reinforced the walls. There is a place where they poured burning oil on to the maundering Bedouin and the walls are etched in Coptic crosses. The original Justinian doors are still there, and it also contains icons that predate iconoclasm. St Catherine's boasts one of the best libraries of old documents including codices, second only to the Vatican.

Many people also walk up Mt Moses or Mt Sinai but due to opening hours and the heat, they do it at night, taking the camel trail up, sleep under the stars and then either go back down the same track or the Steps of Repentance -- 3,000 steps carved into the mountain where you do have scrambled with your hands. As we were only in the Sinai for a week, it was far too complicated. so we opted for a fleeting visit. As it was, the day started at 6 am.
Once inside the walls, it is like a medieval village and very crowded. The silence of the desert replaced by the murmur of hundreds of voices. There are loads of Orthodox Christians who come on a pilgrimage, Russian Orthodox in particular. The women were wrapped in headscarves and they were beating their breasts, mumbling their prayers or simply bowing their heads. The guide, a devout Muslim, pointed out that it was very different to other forms of Christianity.

The church of St Catherine's which also houses the icons is very much un reconstructed Byzantine and rather over powering. The Russians were busy being pilgrims and kissing various relics. But it is utterly glorious. Byzantine as it was meant to be.
The descendant of the Burning Bush was the one spot of greenery within the walls. The monks did have another dusty garden where they grew olives etc but that was further outside, near the charnel house where the bones and skulls were displayed.
Afterwards, we went to lunch in a Bedouin encampment. The meal was lovely and they had chairs etc for tourists to sit on. As we were getting back in the bus, a little girl came begging for food. We did have food left from the breakfast boxes and so everyone gave her some. The Bedouins of the area are very poor. Their biggest trades are camels, goats and people trafficking -- mainly smuggling Russian Jews into Isreal.There is a huge problem with illiteracy as the Bedouin often do not see a point of sending their children to school beyond the state required basics. Think Travellers or gypsies, a semi-nomadic people who are struggling with modern life. The Bedouin of the Sinai unlike their cousins further to the East have not had oil discovered on their land (although the guide did mumble something about oil being recently discovered when they were digging for weater).
We then drove Dahab which is another big centre for the Bedouin as while as being a big backpacking and diving centre. The Bedouin do sell their handicrafts there. They are renown for rag rugs, think proggy mats. We did not buy any but had Egyptian coffee. Various Bedouin children scoured the beach for shells that they could then take back to their parents and have them turned into trinkets for tourists.

We returned to the hotel, exhausted about 8 pm.

Tomorrow -- Bedouins, camels and desert stars.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Sinai Adventure Days 1 - 4

Before I begin, I should explain recent history of the Sinai has been volatile. The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt as part of the Camp David Peace Accord back in 1979 and still hosts foreign observers. Out in the desert, unexploded ordinance lurks and the tourist coast suffered from three separate terrorist attacks -- Taba, Dahab and Sharm El Sheikh. The authorities do not take chances and security is high. Each hotel has its own security checkpoints and you do get screened, bags checked etc. No one can drive up to the hotel reception. If you travel outside the Sharm El Sheikh area, you do need a full visa (obtainable when you arrive at the airport) and you do have to carry your passport. There are army checkpoints that you travel through and passports are checked. The soldiers all carry weapons. In many ways, it is very reassuring and certainly, the area is safe.

To get to Sharm, the plane travelled through a sandstorm during the last part of the journey over the mountains where the light suddenly went brown. Rather disconcerting. But we arrived as the sun set, turning the desert into wonderful colours.

Because we had booked our holiday through Classic Collections, the airport arrival was a breeze. We were met off the plane, and the representative had the visas. He also made certain that we cleared passport control quickly. Given the huge crowds milling about, waiting to get visas and then clear passport control, we were very grateful as the whole process was over in a matter of minutes. After getting our luggage, we had a private transfer to the resort -- Hilton Sharm Waterfalls.

We opted for an all inclusive package as all inclusive includes drinks. And in a hot climate, one needs to keep fluids up. If one wanted, one could eat 24 hours a day. The buffets were ever changing and did have lots of wonderful things to eat. I enjoyed the Arabic breakfasts of falfel, ful (fava beans cooked with onion and lemon), feta, tahina and pita bread. The rest of the family went for more conventional English or American breakfasts.

Our rooms were next door to each other and had a sea view. The seating areas meant that it was quite easy to pop back and forth.

The biggest problem with the hotel, and if you listen to the guides is the number of Russians who visit, many of whom have never really travelled. Russians can seem abrupt in their dealing with staff. It can be very difficult to watch. The pool has to close at sunset because of the problems with the Russians getting drunk on vodka and fighting. But basically, as we were not staff and they were speaking a different language, they were easy to ignore. There were relatively few English speaking people at the resort. Various members of the staff mentioned how much they liked the English who were always polite and always smiled.

The vast majority of the workers in the tourism industry in Egypt are male. In Sharm, the cost of living means that the families live elsewhere and the staff live in company provided accommodation. The women staff in charge of the various classes tended to be Russian or German. Apparently a clash of cultures can happen when the Russian/German women marry Egyptian men without really understanding the culture. The guide we had at St Catherine's said that because he does speak several languages, he can get called in when the women show up at the Tourist Antiquities complaining about not having papers etc.

The cleaner was very kind and kept doing towel art. I think I liked the swans best. My youngest now claims that he can make them.

We spent the first three full days at the resort swimming and lazing in the sun. The resort has its own private coral reef. So if you want to go in the sea, you do have to walk out in pontoon. Walking over the coral is a good way to get cut as my youngest found out on the first day. Luckily the cut was not too deep. Later we saw a Russian woman whose heel was bandaged.

The swimming pool's water was salt, rather than fresh. The air is incredibly dry and the sun hot -- just what we needed after a cold winter. The staff were very helpful, getting towels and finding sun loungers and umbrellas and moving them to where you wanted to be. They operated a no blocking the sun bed policy and did remove unattended towels etc. This caused much dismay to some Italians who had tried to bribe one attendant. But we found there were more than enough sun loungers for everyone and the sun warm and the water wonderful where ever. Up at the lobby pool, there were hammocks but we preferred the main pool near the beach and our room. Life is far too short to exercised by where your sun lounger is.

On the third day, I convinced my daughter that we should take a belly dancing class. After all, the tiny Russian woman who organised it seemed very friendly. She may have been but she also possessed an inner core of steel. Things were done her way and she was apt to stop the class with a wag of her finger and a No, no, this way, and did not accept that it was my first time. Everything needed to be done properly and relaxed. There are reasons why Russians are good at dance. Discipline. However, belly dancing is tremendous fun. Unfortunately there was only time for the one lesson as we started to do our excursions.

Tomorrow's post -- visiting St Catherine's.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Back from the Sinai and other things

I have arrived home -- sunburnt, with a streaming cold but throughly relaxed. Egypt, in particular the Sinai Penisula was a wonderful experience from snorkelling with sea turtles and Moray eels to riding a camel into the desert sunset to dine with Bedouin and visiting St Catherine's. More on this later when I have downloaded my photos and sorted my thoughts. We all one was sold for camel and no one had difficulties in the water. The Egyptian men (they are almost exclusively men) who work in the tourist industry that I encountered were for the vast majority kind and helpful. I can thoroughly recommend Classic Collection as their service was excellent ( second to none actually, particularly at the airport arrivals) and the Hilton Sharm Waterfalls.

Yesterday, Compromising Miss Milton became available on the M&B site. You can read the first chapter. I like the cover...which is still not up on Amazon.

I also like the Australian cover for my new 3 in one. It is interesting that the Vikings are emphasised!
Finally I want to send congratulations to all the Rita finalists, in particular my dear friends and fellow Harlequin Historical authors -- Michelle Willingham for her fantastic book Taming Her Irish Warrior , Elizabeth Rolls, Deb Marlowe and Amanda McCabe. I think it is the best showing that HH has ever had. I saw that Carla Capshaw is up for the best debut with The Gladiator which I did enjoy very much. I am so pleased that I shall be going to Nashville as it will be wonderful to see these writers get to shine.