Wednesday 17 December 2008

Yes, yes, it's Christmas - Tree. Part Two


So, anyway, I got him home (Mr Tree, that is), suggested he slip into something more comfortable, we had a discussion about how much he'd like off the top (I swear EVERY YEAR they grow a foot taller between the Christmas Tree Farm and my lounge), and then I judiciously wielded the lopper.

I gave him a drink. He began to relax. Started to look, oh, you know, a bit Bob Geldorf.

So that's when daughter and I really went to work on him.

And see? They can be taught!

Tuesday 16 December 2008

Yes, yes, it's Christmas - Tree. Part One.


Yes, well, it apparently wasn't enough to admit that Christmas might just be approaching. I have to actually do something about it.

So the car and I went out - in the rain - to interview applicants for this year's post.

This chap seemed to have the right qualifications. Tall, strong, the right shade of green. Not so opulent around the mid-section that we'd have to be edging past him for the next couple of weeks.

No conversation, though. I mean, he just sat there in the passenger seat all the way home without saying a word. Possibly he didn't want to distract me from calculating safe braking distances on a wet surface.

Monday 15 December 2008

2009 Romantic Novel of the Year Longlist

As an early Christmas present to all those authors on it - the longlist for the 2009 Romantic Novel of the Year has just been announced

Congratulations to the 22 who have got this far - only a month until we know who's made it to the shortlist

And a month after that it will be the Awards Lunch - the posh frocks, the sparkle, the food, the wine, the ambience...

Saturday 13 December 2008

Oh, all right, it's Christmas

All right, I give in. It's Christmas.

I got an inkling of this when the Romantic Novelists' Association Cambridge Chapter (small but perfectly formed) met for our bi-monthly lunch and discovered Roast Turkey With All The Trimmings chalked up on the blackboard menu.

We celebrated Judith Lennox's news that one of her German editions had sold 25,000 copies in the first ten days after publication and Louise Allen having pressed the send button just that morning to dispatch her 30th title to HM&B. In addition, Judith was within two pages of finishing her next book (each one takes her 18 months!!!) and Mary Nichols had also delivered a manuscript within the last week.

It was a lovely, chatty meeting (so much so that Judith and Mary left with about 90 seconds to catch their train) and we drank to those of us who unfortunately couldn't be there due to illness / dead cars / deadlines / work.

So, from the RNA Cambridge Chapter to you:


Tuesday 2 December 2008

What blog am I?

I found this link on Liz Fielding's blog, and couldn't resist giving it a try.

Apparently, this blog persona is....

ESFP - The Performers

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

So, now I know!

Thursday 27 November 2008

They don't make things like they used to

Well, I don't know. You can't trust anything these days. I've only had this little flour scoop for 33 years and the handle has snapped just like that!

Wednesday 26 November 2008

More, um, libraries

Anyone fed up with libraries yet? No? Oh good, because here's my nice table and display at last week's book signing at Newmarket library.

The Regency nibbles (Liz F - this is for you) were little crisp lemon biscuits, cheese straws (well, they had cheese pastry then, but I wasn't going to fiddle about making raised pies, so I adapted the idea), ratafia biscuits, cloudy lemonade and hot chocolate. Which we needed!

Now, don't you wish you'd been there?

Friday 21 November 2008

Another day, another library

But this this time it was the fabulous library at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and I wasn't talking (well, I was, but I wasn't Talking) but catching up with my lovely friends at the Romantic Novelists' Association Winter Party.

I was actually having such a good time that I failed to take any photos until Catherine gave her speech (below), so here's one I pinched from the gorgeous Liz Fenwick.

Catherine Jones (aka Kate Lace) gave a rousing speech celebrating the fact that the press (I believe the Guardian was mentioned) have finally realised what the rest of us knew all the time - that romantic fiction is a Good Thing, especially in these days of doom and gloom.

Huzzah! Let's hope sacksful of stories are sold for Christmas - and bagsful of books are borrowed from libraries beforehand.

(Especially mine - Fair Deception - a perfect regency-style present for your nearest and dearest, see the side-bar or the Hale website)

Thursday 20 November 2008

Gone visiting

On Thursday 20th Nov, I'll be guest-blogging over at Historical Romance UK so do pop over there for a further excerpt from Fair Deception.

Monday 17 November 2008

BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

On Tuesday 18th November, I shall be on the beautiful and talented Sue Dougan's programme on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to talk about Fair Deception and Regency Newmarket.

My slot will be between 3pm and 3.30pm, so pop the kettle on and have a listen.

With any luck the studio webcam won't be working, but I'll put on a posh top, just in case...

Thursday 13 November 2008

I Love Libraries

Look what lovely Haverhill Library made for me!

Isn't it gorgeous? And what's more, it attracted a very nice audience indeed for my talk there on Wednesday night. They were interested (and interesting) and asked so many intelligent questions that the time flew by.

A display, a good evening and a couple of cups of tea. What more could a writer want?

My thanks to Sanphra and her team at Haverhill, and to Linda, the Suffolk coordinator for the National Year of Reading (oh, and if the photographer could give my hair a trim and airbrush out the bags under my eyes, I'd be very grateful).

Wednesday 12 November 2008

Fiction Feast anyone?

Anybody out there got a November '08 copy of Fiction Feast? Apparently I had a story in it (retitled The Magic Garden) but because I hadn't been told and have had a rather hectic month what with the new book being out and all, I didn't buy a copy or few.

So if anyone does happen to have that issue and has finished with it, I'd be happy to buy it from you. Contact me via my website, please.

Monday 10 November 2008

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month

I posted this last year on the Transita Authors blog, but it is just as apposite this year.

And every year.

Flanders meets the High Street
by Jan Jones

Standing in Waitrose at eleven o’clock
All life suspended
One woman reaching for a steak&kidney pie
An old man gripping his wire basket
Me with my trolley as thousands of cheerful, too-fast soldiers
March before my eyes in jerky shades of grey

PALs: joining up together, fighting together

Dying together.
A village wiped out. A community blasted.

The cashiers sit down again
People move
Two minutes of life, gone in the blink of an eye.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Now, that's what I call a tea bag!

As anyone who knows me will testify, I am somewhat partial to the odd vat of tea. So when I was perusing the special offers in Waitrose this week and I noticed a sign saying "Free BIG tea bag with every box of Good Earth purchased", my attention was caught.

How big, I wondered?

Enough for a teapot?
A thermos?
A couple of large flasks?

So over I wandered and found this. Looks like my kind of carrier!

Wednesday 5 November 2008


I have got various events planned to go with the launch of Fair Deception, and have just realised, belatedly, that I should probably have a list on here of where I am going to be when!

Thursday 6th November - 10.30am to 11.30am - Talk to the Top Timers at Newmarket Library

Wednesday 12th November - 7pm to 8.30pm - a talk at Haverhill Library

Friday 14th November - 3.30pm to 5.30pm - book signing at the Community Association Fair at Cheveley School

Saturday 15th November - 10am to 12 noon - chat, book signing and Regency nibbles at Newmarket Library

As well as my Newmarket Regencies I'll also be talking a bit about Stage by Stage, short stories, and where my ideas come from.

If anyone is in the vicinity - you're more than welcome!

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Ms to go

There. In the interests of sanity, Fortunate Wager has been polished, printed and packaged ready to post to the publisher tomorrow.

Wish it well.

(Mind you, I'm not sure it's really ready to be sent - I mean, I'm not throwing up at the sight of it yet.)

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Short Story Alert!

And as if Fair Deception coming out this week wasn't enough good news, I also have a story in Woman's Weekly!

Building Up A Story had its origins several years ago when the then owner of the-house-next-door got the builders in to gut and modernise it in order to sell it on. I lived with those builders for MONTHS! Believe me, the stereotype image doesn't go nearly far enough.

However, the pain has receded and I now have really lovely new neighbours - and a short story to boot! It just goes to show that a writer never throws any experience away.

(WW on sale 29th October to 4th November - and in addition to my story you get gratuitous pics of Sean Bean as well!)

Monday 27 October 2008

Another nice reveiw


I'll be getting a swelled head if I'm not careful. Elaine over at Random Jottings has read Fair Deception and loved it. She thinks I write with "great style and verve and pace" and thought that the book was "sheer delight from start to finish".

The cheque's in the post, Elaine.

Friday 24 October 2008

Easy - not!

My manuscript is 67,695 words.
Ideally, I'd like it to be 70,000 words.

2305 words short
272 pages

So that's an extra 8 or 9 words per page needed.

Sounds easy, doesn't it?

Tuesday 21 October 2008

It's Here!

Yippee! I'm now surrounded by lots of copies of Fair Deception.

Even better, the perfectly lovely Nicola Slade has read it and says it is sparkly and spangled and sheer, unadulterated fun!

Lori loved it too!

Thanks, girls, I couldn't be more pleased.

Tuesday 14 October 2008


There I was, peacefully minding my own business in the library, when I turned around and saw...

A poster advertising ME!!!

It wasn't that I didn't know I was giving a talk, you understand, I just hadn't expected there to be a poster advertising it. Made me come over all of a dither.

Sunday 5 October 2008

Journey to the bottom of the freezer

You know how you get days when something snaps and you look at a job you've been meaning to do for, er, months and think, "Today's the day!"

Well, today was one of those days. The day when I would chip away at the ice around the top of the freezer so the lid would fit properly again. Ten minutes, I told myself, and I could reward myself with a mug of tea.


Only, it's just so satisfying when you ease a whole chunk away from the side, isn't it? So I fetched the sledge-hammer and chipped away some more. And then the basket was in the way, but when I tried to move it, it was actually frozen in, so... you get the picture.

By the time I'd finished the sink looked like this.

And under the basket ...

Suffice to say that I decided I no longer needed beetroot from 1994, tomatoes from 1992 or turkey gravy from 1991.

And look - I found the bottom of the freezer!

So - what's lurking at the bottom of yours?

Thursday 2 October 2008

Losing it!

Aaarrghhh! I've lost a timeline.

I'm having a last-ish surge through Fortunate Wager and am at the checking all the dates and all the facts stage - and I can't find the timeline!

I know I've made one because I can't not have done. I make one for all my books as I go along. Being just slightly control-freakish, I need to know when I am as I write (one of my pet peeves are books where it isn't clear how much time has passed between one scene and the next). It's also helpful to know which character is appearing too much or too little. Or if the hero and heroine are spending more time apart than together. Plus it's a tremendous way of procrastinating whilst still legitimately claiming that I'm working.

So I know I've written/drawn/annotated this one. I can even see it in my mind's eye with large arrows swooping all over it where I needed to move scenes around. BUT I CAN'T FIND IT NOW!

It's obviously been misplaced somewhere in this lot.

I'm going to have to make another one, aren't I?

Monday 29 September 2008

Stockpiling memories

My mother did not believe in running out of things. After she died it took us three months to use up her stock of loo paper. Her mammoth roll of cling-film lasted me a year. It was twenty-two months before I needed to buy more ginger conserve ("Because they stopped making it one time, darling, don't you remember? We had terrible trouble finding it again.").

Silver foil, light bulbs, batteries.... I finished them all, one by one. And just this last week I blew my nose on the very last multi-coloured tissue in the very last box I unearthed from her airing cupboard (no, I never worked out why they were kept there either).

Rest in peace, Mum. Hope they've got a decent supermarket up there.

Hellibores moved from my mother's shade garden to mine when I sold her bungalow.
Rosemary Coulson: 4th June 1930 - 30th September 2005

Saturday 20 September 2008

I Love London

Now, I know I've lived in East Anglia for nearly thirty years, but London has always been my city.

It's where I was born, where I did all my growing up. It's in my bones. It puts a fizz in my blood like nowhere else in the world.

And it has its moments of sheer, unexpected surprise.

This looks like the interior of any church, looking out towards the garden, right?

But it isn't. Because this is St Dunstan in the East, in the heart of London, and this photo was taken from the outside looking in

The tiny church, bombed beyond reasonable repair during WW2, has been turned into a city garden. Instead of being demolished for redevelopment, it is now a small oasis surrounded by office blocks

I love London.

PS - thanks to Fiona Harper for directing my feet there

Sunday 14 September 2008

Black Box

I blame Liz Fenwick. See, this is my black box. (In a later post I'll show you what's inside it.)

But Liz found another black box. A black box created by Stray to promote a book by Caroline Smailes called - wait for it - Black Boxes.

The book is about choices. And the Black Box Widget is about choices too. In theory, the choices you make when you open it will connect you to a blog (or website) belonging to someone who also made similar choices.


What it really does is to steal away all your will-power so you can't help opening the little beauty over and over again. You start off thinking, "Hey, this is cool. All these nice blogs to land in." But after three or four hours, you're doing it because it's so bewitching watching the darling boxes rotate and open up to display more choices. And after seven or eight hours you're doing it because you actually are interested in all the choices you're making.

So, if you are on a deadline, do not open this box

Saturday 13 September 2008

Taking my mind off.....

Have just been to have troublesome upper tooth 'investigated'. This is dentist-speak for scraped out, prodded, tutted over and re-filled.

"It's much better," I said brightly when I arrived.
He looked at me. "But you told me last week that whenever you drank anything cold you felt as if your ears were being torn off."
"Well yes," I said. "But I've been limiting myself to tea. And red wine at room temperature."
He sighed. "Just sit in the chair."

Consequently am now numb from right cheekbone to right eye and having difficulty drinking my tea without dribbling.

So, I'm cheering myself up playing with the publicity-postcards that arrived today. Aren't they gorgeous? Can't decide whether I like the fan design on silver lamé or the casual block design on blue velvet.

It's going to be a real wrench to send them off to all the libraries in the Yellow Pages in the hopes of making a few sales.

But, hey, I can always order more!

Sunday 7 September 2008


Here it is! The final cover of Fair Deception

Available to pre-order from the Robert Hale website, or indeed Amazon or your local independent bookshop (but at the moment, ordering from Hale is much cheaper)

Aren't you just itching to find out what happens when gorgeous Kit rescues Susanna from the dastardly Rafe Warwick? If you haven't got time to read the whole first chapter, here is a tiny taster:

. He knelt next to the tub
and before Susanna could divine his intent, lifted her leg and lowered her foot into the cold water.
. Her gasp was less for the icy temperature than for the fact that his grasp on her calf had been disturbingly sensuous.
. “I beg your pardon, did I jar you?”
. “No, I - ”
. But he was frowning and gently stroking the red weal. “The ankle I saw you twist, but how did this happen?”
. “Mr Warwick has a cane,” said Susanna, twitching at his touch and thanking God that her foot was already becoming numb. “And an uncertain temper.”
. Her rescuer sat back on his heels. “As well you did not provoke it further. I have heard that cane doubles as a sword-stick.”
. Susanna stared at him in horror. “And you hit him with your bare fists? He might have drawn on both of us!”
. “That’s Mr Kit for you,” said the footman cheerfully. “Acts first and thinks later. Always has done.”

Now that's my kind of hero!

Friday 5 September 2008

When in, er, Cambridgeshire...


Now this really isn't something you see every day. Cyclists, yes. Cambridgeshire is full of cyclists. Cyclists dressed as Roman centurions complete with modern-day steel chariot, no.

So after I'd got over the shock (thinking that maybe he was a miasma brought on by Too Much Rain), I abandoned the washing up and rushed outside with my camera, just in time to see the centurion conferring with his support vehicle and deciding to head back the other way.

Apparently they are riding the length and breadth of the country for various charities, including the East Anglia Children's Hospices.

"But why as a Roman centurion?" I called as they disappeared into the unremitting drizzle.

I think he yelled back that it had seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sunday 24 August 2008

This cannot be comfortable!

Now, I know that cats can - and do - sleep anywhere.

But this really cannot be comfortable!

Sometimes, I worry about Archer.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Punts and a chocolate box

Lovely lunch in Cambridge today with Elaine from Random Jottings.

We sat on the Galleria balcony and watched the punts, eating and chatting and then - disaster - no sticky toffee pudding on the menu!

So Elaine consoled herself with the Dutch Apple Flan (with toffee sauce)

and I had ... a Chocolate Box.

Yes, really, it is a divine cube of multiple layers of different textures of chocolate. And it came with toffee sauce and cream.

We both agreed it was a good thing we only met for lunch every six weeks or so...

Thursday 14 August 2008

FAIR DECEPTION ready to pre-order

Wahay! Fair Deception is available to pre-order on the Robert Hale website at £13.29 instead of £18.99. Plus free postage too!

Go to the book description to get in before stocks run out. You won't be sent it until October, mind, but by then you'll have forgotten you ordered it, so the parcel will come as a lovely surprise.

This is the rough of the cover - it's lovely, but by the time the real one comes out I'm hoping the artist will have taken on board my mentioning that Kit has flaxen hair and Susanna's red-gold curls are the source of all her troubles...

Saturday 9 August 2008

Bed and Breakfast?

Now this is something I've never seen before - a whole mass of bees sleeping in the dahlia bed!

These photos were taken about 7 o'clock in the morning - each bee sleeping on its own dahlia flower. They were definitely sleeping, not feeding, because I'd been watching them for half-an-hour or so before it occurred to me to get the camera. As the sun warmed them, they stirred and flew off. By 7.30am they'd all gone.

Very strange.