Friday, 12 December 2008

Writing Whirlwind

Since beginning NaNo on November 1st, I've written 60,003 words, which is an average of 10,000 words each week. I'm absolutely shattered, but determined to keep this pace up until I type 'The End', ready for me to work on the second draft in the new year in the brand new Novel Race. Next year, I'm planning to be one of the winners!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Slightly sore head

Well, as could have been predicted, we didn't even make it out of the restaurant once we got talking, so no skating and no German Market action, though plenty of red wine (and an ill-advised limoncello, which I'm blaming for my feeling of wrong this morning). We also managed to embarrass our waiter, who seemed to have an uncanny knack for appearing behind the person saying something outrageous (often me). He overheard anecdotes about day-glo nylon thongs, phallic glassware (and gestures you should not make with them) and enthusiastically joined in a conversation about suet. We're going back on Friday, and are hoping he'll be working again!

On a more writerly note, I managed my 1000 words pre-wine, so they all, more or less, make sense.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Second wind

So far I've managed over 1000 words each day, though as this is just since Sunday that means, technically, twice. It sounded more impressive in my head... I've done some more this morning on the train, and should manage 1000 again, though hopefully before I hit the town with my Knitting Circle coven-mates for our Christmas Night Out. With the prospect of ice-skating, followed by mulled wine (NOT before the skating. That would just be foolhardy) and waffles from the German Market, any words I produce later on this evening will probably be slightly squiffy ones.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Luck, or the lack thereof

I seem to be having rather bizarre luck at the moment, and not in a good way. Not even in a bad way, just in a rather frustrating and strange way. I normally either bring my lunch from home, or buy something from Boots or Tesco in town. On Thursday, I decided to go to Sainsbury's, which is a bit further away than the alternatives but I would also be able to buy ingredients for supper. I knew they were doing some building work there, but it's been going on for about 6 months. Somehow though, I'd managed to choose the only weekday during the whole process when the store would be shut all day. These things happen, so I went off to buy a sandwich elsewhere.

Then this evening, I remembered that I've been meaning to change my mobile bill to e-billing rather than paper, but had never managed to do it at work because I needed my account number (why this has to be different to my phone number, I don't know, but it is). I had my account number on a bill so logged onto the site. I registered all my information, went through the FAQs about what e-billing entails and then went back into the 'Your Account' section to change my details, but it had gone. I had logged into my account TWO MINUTES before the site went down for planned maintenance until 8am tomorrow. My timing really sucks.

Time off for good behaviour

When I finished my 50,000 NaNo words, I (almost immediately) came down with a horrible cold. My voice is nearly back to normal, and I haven't had a huge coughing fit for 2 whole days now, so I have started to feel as though the break I was taking from writing might have grown a little long. I don't want to lose the momentum I had during November, but when my head hurt too much to think properly and I was sneezing over everything, writing wasn't really an option.

In the middle of all that, I also went away twice, first to an isolated 17th century cottage in Snowdonia, and then for a night in London including a big curry with some chums. I got out of the routine I had created for NaNo, and writing didn't fit so easily into my gallivanting as it did in my normal everyday life. Now I'm back at work, and in my (freezing cold) flat for the weekend, I'm writing again. Only 246 words so far today, but it's a start. And I'm going to keep writing, one word in front of the other, until I get to the end.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Almost celebrating...

On Friday evening, when I was travelling down to London for a weekend of frolics with friends, I crossed the NaNo finish line, ending my journey with 50,023 words. While this is certainly a cause for celebration, the story isn't yet complete, and that's what my real goal is. I can't stop now. I think I'm over halfway through the story (though it might be surprise me and be longer or shorter than I expect...), so am beginning the downhill section. I've got a bottle of pink champagne waiting in the fridge for the day I type 'The End', and set myself a revised deadline of December 31st. I'll update my word counter to show the target as 100,000 words tomorrow, but until then, I'm enjoying having it look like I've finished!

Saturday, 15 November 2008


I am seriously obsessive about backing up my work. My NaNo WIP is currently on my laptop, my work PC (so that I can work on it at lunch-time, never during the working day... Honest.), and a memory stick. Also, whenever I finish a chapter, I copy it into a new Google Document and also into Scrivener, the novel-writing package I have on my laptop. I'll be using this to edit it once I've finished the first draft, as it is much more flexible than Word, which is what I'm using for NaNo.

The Scrivener project stats tells you lots of things on top of just a simple word count, including how many paperback pages you have written, and this is what I've generally checked when I've added a new chapter. I copied in Chapters 17 and 18 this morning, and happened to also notice the word count for the project. In Word, I had reached 37,801, as you can see today in my word counter bar. When I looked at the Scrivener word count it said 37,910! I really don't understand the discrepancy, and am inclined to believe the Word total with the belief that it's better to get to 50,000 then realise I've actually done more when I validate it on the NaNo site than the reverse, but it still makes the scientist in me slightly nervous. Which one is right?! There is a discrete total of words (unless there's something funny going on with hyphenations or contractions) and I want to know what it is! Argh!

Thursday, 13 November 2008


With 35,026 words and lots of ideas left to write, I think this might be the best November ever, despite not making it down to Lewes for Bonfire Night. Again.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


After 8 and a bit days, I have hit the halfway milestone - I now have 25,052 words! This has been a fairly crazy week, with furious typing occupying every free moment I've had, but I've absolutely loved it. Blogging has suffered a bit, but I think that's only natural.

This has been a real learning experience for me, and I've found it rather liberating. I'm such a scientist, I like being really accurate, but I've made myself set this story in fictional places so that isn't such a thing as accurate - they're all only in my head. I can go back and change things later if I decide to do things differently, but for the first draft it's much more important to just get the words down.

Right, I need some coffee, and then it's back to the grindstone!

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Name change?

After this weekend of frantic activity (12,258 words so far, and I think I've got a few left in me before bed), my 'lazy' credentials are severely tarnished. If this continues, I may have to rename the blog, but 'hard-working perfectionist' just sounds rather dull, and not at all like me. Oh well, I'm sure when I get back into the office tomorrow, my momentum will falter, but with a start like this I don't really have any excuse for not finishing the 50,000 words this year!


Having already exceeded my target for the weekend (I'm at 11,082 words now!), I'm off to the pub for a well-deserved lunch.

More writing when I get back, and I'm hoping my characters will lead me to write even more unexpected things, following the creation of a feminist fairy-tale earlier today, which my main character told her daughter as a bedtime story!

Day 1 total

I had a good day yesterday. I think I've broken my previous record for number of words written in a day quite easily, and don't entirely know if I can keep up the momentum. But I can only try.

My total for the day was:

8,215 words!

Saturday, 1 November 2008


So far, 291 words, but I've just had to shut Word down for some updates to install. Annoying! But, security is important... And this is a good excuse to go and make a cup of coffee!

And they're off!

I am just about to start NaNo. All my preparation have been made, and I'm raring to go. My nails are short for ease of typing, all the books I might need for reference are around me, and Word is opening up as I type. I also have a big pile of fruit for when it's going well and I'm feeling virtuous, and a big pile of junk food, which I probably won't need for the bad times... I also have a big keyboard hooked up to my laptop to save my wrists.

So, without further ado, 'Once upon a time...'

Friday, 24 October 2008


I've just realised that the books I've been looking forward to receiving from Amazon won't actually ever arrive.

I only dreamt that I ordered them.

(Realisation occurred 5 hours after waking up...)

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Hacked or just really open?

I'm not sure whether this will stay long before being amended, but when I just went onto the John McCain page on Wikipedia, the first sentence was:

"John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936) licks balls."

Monday, 20 October 2008


After some soul-searching and calendar-scouring, I've decided I'm going to attempt NaNoWriMo again this year. I only managed about 16,000 words last November, but am coming at it from a different angle this year. I've noticed that while my WIP isn't autobiographical, a lot of the characters and situations have some basis in my life or experiences my friends have had. I think this is understandable, but I want to broaden my writing. So, for NaNo I've decided to really experiment and try to write against my instincts, in terms of characters and plot. I'm not letting myself think too much about it before November 1st (though to be honest I'm so busy right now, that's not too hard!), but I've already got some ideas, and they feel really fresh and different. When it gets to December, I'll have to reassess what I want to concentrate on, and whether my NaNo writing will change any aspects of my WIP. I'm really excited about seeing what will happen!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008


I managed to unremember that I'd also written 1000 words in a notebook, so that's been tacked onto the word count too. Nearly back up to 43,000...


I have now adjusted my word count, and was pleasantly surprised. I knocked off 10,000 words from my total over the summer with some much-needed pruning of the brain-dump back-story, but have managed to carry on writing since then and added 5,000 words back in. Now I just need to keep going...

Swan Lake

Last night I practically swam across Manchester (the weather was dreadful) to get to The Lowry. Standing in the foyer waiting for my friends, chilly and with wet feet, I thought that the show would have to be pretty special to make me feel a bit better about the state I'd got into on my way. Well, I wasn't just pleasantly surprised, I was totally blown away.

The Australian Ballet have totally reinterpreted the story, making it much more intense and dark, and the choreography is so much more than just dance. There is an emotional depth to the performance that I've never really seen in ballet before, and a heightened realism to the movements that makes it all the more haunting. I think it would definitely still have been worth seeing, even if I actually had to swim the Manchester Ship Canal to get there.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


I realised I had left my purse at home today while trying to pay for my lunch in Boots. Luckily, I did still get to eat because I knew the person in the queue behind me, and very kindly paid for my food.

Unfortunately, it was my boss's boss's boss (my great-grandboss?).

My cheeks matched the tomato in my sandwich.

Monday, 13 October 2008


I have spotted a direct inverse correlation between workload and blogging frequency before. The last month (since I received a promotion, thereby increasing the number of accounts I work on and the responsibilities I have for each of these) has yet again highlighted this relationship.

I have kept writing, doing some major surgery on my WIP, taking out around 10,000 words of back-story that isn't strictly crucial for what I'm trying to say. I've also plotted more and been working on filling out scenes I've sketched. Unfortunately, I haven't updated my word count here, but will when I remember and am on the right computer.

I'm also getting that autumnal NaNo-is-just-round-the-corner feeling, and story ideas unrelated to my WIP keep popping up. I'm trying to suppress them so far, but maybe a break is what I need...

Friday, 5 September 2008


It is pouring with rain, and has been for most of the day. However, I am in a building without water. To get a drink, or use the loo, we have to go to the building opposite. Through the pouring rain of irony.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Time, and how I lack it

A week on holiday was lovely, the following week - not so much. I got back into the office last Monday to be told that I was needed in Denmark 2 days later for 2 days. This was followed by a trip to Glasgow to visit friends, which was lovely, but I felt bad that I dozed off with alarming regularity. Anyway, while I'm now back, it's not for long - a weekend of singing will keep me busy (and still not writing...).

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


Yesterday I managed 13.5 pages in my little notebook, mainly because the friend I met for a drink was about 40 minutes late! It's all planning for the next section, and I think this is really important. I was putting off writing it because I couldn't work out how to get from what had happened to what I knew had to happen later on, and just writing it blind wasn't working for me. But now I've plotted out loads and will start writing the actual scenes when I get home tonight.

Although I will have to fit in an episode from the first season of 'The West Wing'. I've been having withdrawal symptoms...

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


I've watched the guys who joined the '100 words a day' group with their steadily increasing word counts, and thought about how busy I am, and how tired I am and how blah blah blah blah blah blah.

Now I have stopped making excuses.

I'm not signing up for 100 words, but I'm going to do something everyday, even if that is only some scribbles on a post-it during a meeting. (Not that I ever think about anything other than work during meetings. Obviously. It was just a bad example that popped into my head.)

On the train on my way to work this morning I wrote 4 pages in my little stripy A6 notebook. And my hand ached afterwards (must get used to writing with a pen again....)

Monday, 21 July 2008


A sticker on the door of the train toilet said, 'Out of use'.

Underneath, written in pencil quite neatly, though obviously while the train was in motion, 'Your mum is out of use'.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Lucky Lazy P

Throat infection + birthday would not normally = good times, but somehow the addition of a sapphire surrounded by 10 diamonds helped. Sparkly!

Monday, 7 July 2008


...have appeared all over my throat, accompanied by an inability to stay awake after 3 pots of coffee.

I feel some daytime TV coming on...

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

You think that's a good idea?... Really?

At lunchtime I saw a woman using crutches experiencing some difficulty walking.

Possibly because she was also wearing high-heeled flip-flops.

I truly despair.

Friday, 27 June 2008


I've been tagged by Calistro to do this meme, so here goes!

What were you doing 10 years ago?

I had just finished my A levels and was counting down the days until my first legal drink.

Five things on your to-do list for today:

1. Work out where the wedding I'm going to tomorrow is.
2. Find out what time it starts, and what time I need to be there for a rehearsal beforehand.
3. Learn the music I'll be singing at the wedding.
4. Buy a wedding present (can you detect a theme?).
5. Finish the vocabulary analysis I've been doing at work.

What are three of your bad habits?

1. I go to sleep whenever I'm a passenger - cars, buses, trains, planes - nothing is safe from my slumber.
2. I secretly think it's a waste if I'm not reading while I eat. I'm not sure why, but I think words make the food taste better.
3. I am EXCEEDINGLY messy, and if I try to tidy up, chances are I'll find a book after 2 minutes and accidentally start reading it while trying to put it on the shelf (or, more likely, one of my many piles of books 'hidden' in the corners of my flat, which my lovely husband kindly ignores).

What would you do if you were a billionaire?

Move to Italy and take lots of courses, but also travel wherever and whenever the mood took me.

What are some snacks you enjoy?

Prawn crackers
Carrot sticks
Green and Black's dark chocolate with ginger
Stem ginger without the chocolate
Fishfinger sandwiches

What were the last five books you read?

1. Shakespeare - Bill Bryson
2. The Secret of Lost Things - Sheridan Hay
3. The Woman in the Fifth - Douglas Kennedy
4. The Cairo Diary - Maxim Chattam
5. The Dante Trap - Arnaud Delalande (I haven't quite finished this but am on the last chapter...)

What are five jobs you have had?

1. Nursing auxiliary in a nursing home
2. Telephone fundraiser for my university
3. Fundraising researcher, also for my university
4. Editorial assistant at a medical communications agency
5. Medical writer

Five places that you have lived?

1. Uckfield, Sussex
2. Horam, Sussex
3. London
4. Paris
5. Manchester

I feel a bit guilty about not tagging people, but I know this one has been doing the rounds for ages, so I think almost everyone on the planet has done it already!

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Think before you quaff...

Ribena were giving away mini-cups of their new juices at Manchester Piccadilly this morning, and as a sucker for anything free, I gratefully accepted one. I headed to my train and took a big swig, which was immediately followed by the thought, 'Yeah, this doesn't really go with toothpaste... urgh.'

I'm sure it's nice to drink before cleaning your teeth though...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Excuses, excuses

While I have been doing a little writing over the last week or so, I've taken on a rather ambitious project - translating a novel from Italian. This is really only for my own benefit, as I'll be studying it for my A level next year, and want to get a head-start, but it has sapped some of my creativity and writing time. I think it will balance out once I get into the swing of things, and will probably be good for my writing, as I'm having to delve much deeper into the text that I normally do when reading a book. Fingers crossed, anyway...

Monday, 9 June 2008


As part of our preparation for the Ribbon Walk, we walked 11 miles over the hills yesterday. Having checked the BBC weather forecast on Friday at work (black cloud, rain-drops), obviously Sunday was the most glorious day we've had so far this year. And I am now slightly stripy in the shoulder area and my feet are polka-dotted with blisters. Nice.

Friday, 30 May 2008

I want your money!

I have rather foolishly signed up for the 20 mile 'Ribbon Walk' in aid of Breast Cancer Care on Saturday 21st June, and would be very grateful for sponsorship! If you would like to sponsor me, please go to

Thank you!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Courtesy of Popbitch

'A customs test at Japan's Narita airport last week placed a quarter of a pound of cannabis in a randomly chosen suitcase on its way to the baggage hold.
'Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in. Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.'

This once happened to me, albeit with a much smaller amount - in a sealed box of Smarties from a Brighton newsagent...

Sex and the City

I went to see the new 'Sex and the City' film with about 4 million other people last night (and that was just in the same cinema - they were showing it on 2 screens every hour!). Beforehand, I was excited, but also worried about whether it would live up to the expectations of everyone who had loved the show. Could it be as good? Could it translate to film? Would I secretly find Carrie exceedingly self-absorbed and sometimes want to give her a good shake (just like when watching it on TV)? Luckily the answer was 'Yes' to all these questions.

We all laughed, cried, and felt that the time had gone by in a flash, and I came out of the cinema with a smile (and a bit of smudged mascara) on my face. Even though some of the characters, especially Charlotte, lost some of their personality and became almost caricatures, it was still captivating. And best of all, along with the film I enjoyed a fair number of dolly mixtures as a retro treat. Yum!

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


Please don't laugh, but I think my iPod is psychic. On a number of occasions, I have been talking about a film with iPod playing on random in the background, and a song from the soundtrack has started playing. This is a pretty big coincidence as I have 8.7 Gb of music on there - enough to play continuously for days.

At the weekend, I listened to a CD in a burst of traditionalism. Today at work I wanted to listen to the same CD on my iPod, but scrolling through the tracks I just couldn't find it, so I selected something similar and got on with my work. But which album did my iPod choose to play me after the one I initially selected? The one I had wanted to listen to in the first place.

Business as usual

After a couple of weeks of sunshine, warmth and blue skies, I was beginning to get a little suspicious. This didn't feel like Manchester! I was no longer certain where my umbrella was!

Luckily, I woke up this morning and the weather had reverted to type. Grey skies, proper rain (not the weedy little 'showers' we've had to make do with most of the month) and temperatures low enough to necessitate finding a scarf. And my umbrella? Still in my bag from last time, thank goodness...

Monday, 26 May 2008

Writing is Dangerous...

... and should not be done when there is a pan of potatoes boiling in the other room. This way lies kitchen fires.

Luckily I smelt burning before there were actual flames, though I think I'll have to buy some potato salad to go with tomorrow's dinner. Oops.

On a more positive note, I've written over 2000 words this weekend!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Я не понимаю*

While doing some writing today I needed to check a Paris street map, so I googled, oddly enough 'Paris street map'.

I clicked on the first image that came up.

It was Paris, but it looked a bit odd.

I zoomed in to try to work out why.

All the street names were in Russian...

*'I don't understand' in Russian

Friday, 9 May 2008

A washing-up hum

I hum and sing a lot. This afternoon, while washing my lunch stuff at work, I had a little hum, which turned into a little sing. Luckily there was no-one around to hear, as it went something like this:

'Mmm mmm mmm, la la la,
How luckeee I am,
Living on the sea bed
In old Amsterdam.'

I'm just hoping it wasn't my subconscious having a global-warming related premonition.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Progress (at last)

Thanks to the impetus from Saturday (and possibly also because I forgot my book today), my word count has crept on by a whole 1%! Squee! Am now feeling a lot less like a fraudulent Racer, and while the finish is still a long way off, I'm out of the pits and back on the track again for the first time in months. It feels good.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


It seems fitting that my first post in ages should come straight after I meet all my fellow Novel Racers. (Thanks for the verbal kick up the bum Zinnia, please keep them coming!) Talking to everyone, sharing our ideas and experiences has made me want to stop letting work etc get in the way of both my blogging and writing. Even if it's just a few sentences, I need to actually do something regularly. So, I apologise for any times you have checked the blog and nothing had changed - I will do better. (Though being properly better about writing might have to wait until after my Italian exam. Eek.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Feedback #1

I've heard back from one of my lovely reviewers, and am very relieved because she liked my chapters! She also made an interesting point about the genre of my story - she couldn't tell which it was. Thinking about this, it became obvious why. I have no idea either... I think I need to do a bit of thinking!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


There are many things I want to post about, and will do very soon, but this week is SO busy for me that it will probably be next week before I get round to it...

Friday, 22 February 2008


Having got my first three chapters completed earlier in the week, I have bravely sent them (via Google Docs) to a couple of friends, to get their opinions. They are both rather knowledgeable regarding matters literary (one is the daughter of an author, the other studied English at both Oxford and Cambridge), so I know that their advice will be useful. I'm just rather nervous about receiving it...

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Possible title change necessary!

This week, far from being the lazy perfectionist of the title of my blog, I've been a highly motivated perfectionist and achieved a lot. My word count has shot up by over 5000 words since Monday, and the ideas seem to be pouring into my head. The only thing I'm finding difficult is having to not write 'Saving' for the 7.5 hours a day I'm contracted to write medical stuff. And sleeping and eating seem to be getting in the way a bit too, rather than the other way round, which is the norm, I've found...

He loves me, he loves me not

I watched a fabulous French film last night, 'He loves me, he loves me not' starring Audrey Tautou and Samuel Le Bihan. This 'love' story is the antithesis of 'Amelie', and really cleverly constructed so that you see both sides of the action, and the very different perspectives of Angelique and the love of her life. There's very little else I can say without giving away too much of the story, but the more sinister moments are beautifully balanced by Tautou, who radiates innocence and sweetness throughout.

I loved the use of metaphors about cardiologists and less literal problems of the heart, which were often hidden in the many layers of the story so that the meanings didn't become clear until close to the end of the film. It was a very visual story, particularly with Angelique's beautiful paintings and collages giving an insight into her rather lonely world. It's just the sort of imaginative tale you can get completely lost in for a few hours.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Bad blogger

I am a bad and neglectful blogger. I missed my own blog's first birthday! It was a whole week ago and I didn't notice. Oops. Must try harder...

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

30,000 words and counting

The Novel Race this year has spurred me on, and I expect to get to 32,000 words later today. I'm finding that the more I write, the more I want to write, which is a satisfying feeling. However, I definitely go through peaks and troughs, so I'm hoping to extend this peak as long as possible, even if it means lugging my laptop all around Cheshire and Manchester so that I always have it with me.

Apart from reaching 30,000 words yesterday, I also achieved another milestone. I write in a fairly patchwork way, jotting down bits of scenes all over the place and adding to them when I think of something to say. It means there's always something interesting to write about no matter what kind of mood I'm in, but it does mean that I don't really do linear landmarks. Anyway, I decided to concentrate on my first few chapters, and as of last night, the first three are all finished! They're still quite rough and first-drafty (draughty also works as I'm sure there are plenty of holes the wind can whistle through...) but my story has a definite start now. I just need to tame the wilds and plug the gaps in the middle and end, and then I'll have the first draft of a whole book...

Friday, 15 February 2008

In Search of Adam - Caroline Smailes

'In Search of Adam' by Caroline Smailes, a fellow Novel Racer, is very different from most books. The way she uses text as a visual device, rather than just a way of getting her words into the readers' brains, and her intentionally idiosyncratic use of sentence structure, gives the impression that every word and strand of the story has been teased into the perfect place with surgical precision. This makes Jude's life, which is not comfortable to experience, seem all the more true. The use of language and of information as an emotional rock at times reminded me of 'The History of Love' by Nicole Krauss, another novel about a young girl trying to find her way in a world that seems to have buried all that she needs to find.

The hidden depths beneath the secondary characters enclosing Jude's world give an ominous feel to what might otherwise be considered a 'normal' street. These characters will also get their chance to be heard on Monday, when Caroline releases 'Disraeli Avenue', to raise money for victims of abuse via the charity 'One in Four'.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

New Moon - Stephenie Meyer

This is the sequel to 'Twilight', which I read on holiday in Sardinia last year. 'New Moon' moves away from Bella's adventures with the Cullen family of vampires, and looks instead at her growing friendship with a werewolf - not entirely what you might expect from a romance...

I read 'New Moon' while recovering from a bout to stomach-related nastiness, and needed something light-hearted but enticing. I could also particularly relate to Edward's abstemiousness, having eschewed food for 48 hours. The twists and turns took me through my queasiness, and made it more bearable sitting at home for 2 days when watching TV gave me motion sickness. I did sometimes want to give Bella a damn good shake (self-involved, much?) but that's what being a teenager in all-encompassing love is about I suppose. The perfect book for curling up with when feeling a little sorry for oneself.

PS. A - don't worry - I bought 2 copies!

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Arms race...

I sprained my ankle quite badly in November, and hadn't ventured to the gym since. This morning I finally went back, and met up with one of the trainers to put together a programme that would not put too much pressure on my ankle. He suggested using the rowing machine, something I hadn't done much on before. I tried it out, and after a few minutes I detected a slight problem. I'm left handed, and consequently use my left arm more than my right. Normally this wouldn't be a problem, but on the rowing machine it manifested itself in, quite literally, an arms race, which my right arm was losing fairly badly. At least I wasn't in the water going round in circles...

Monday, 4 February 2008

Breaking the silence

Following a wonderful holiday in Marrakech, and then a not so wonderful virus last week, I'm now back online and in a fit state to blog... Unfortunately, I'm also rather busy after an unexpectedly long time off work, so it may take a little while before I get round to it. Argh.

Friday, 18 January 2008

And 'Best Typo of the Evening' goes to...

'As soon as his lips touched mince...'

No, this isn't a story about cooking.

Hey ho - I have broken the 20,000 word barrier though, so not all bad news.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

We're all going on a winter holiday!

S starts a new job in February, and we decided ages ago that we should go on holiday before he leaves his old one. This led to one of the most complex negotiation periods of our marriage - 'Where should we go? How long for? What should we do when we get there? How much can we afford to spend?'. We spent hours scouring the internet for the perfect destination, with the perfect flights at the perfect times. Last night, we finally sorted it out. Next Thursday, we're off to Morocco for 4 days, and I can't wait!

Now I just need to find some new sunglasses, dig out my summer clothes (they were rather neglected last year with the lack of any kind of summer-like weather in the UK) and decide which books to take (then let S take out most of them saying that as we're only going for 4 days I really don't need 10 books, sneak a couple back into my handbag and swear that it doesn't weigh a ton when I struggle to pick it up...).

Wednesday, 16 January 2008


It's lunchtime, I'm eating a bowl of soup (spicy lentil and tomato - yummy!) and working on my character sketch for Phoebe, the protagonist in 'Saving'. And that's when it happens, the brainwave I've been waiting for since I started writing this... I now have the perfect truly evil thing that my rather vindictive antagonist can do that starts the whole ball rolling. It links up, is logical, and is really nasty. Hurrah for lentil soup!

The Athenian Murders - Jose Carlos Somoza

I finished this a while ago but needed to digest it a bit before writing about it. 'The Athenian Murders' centres around a fictional text describing, you've guessed it, murders in Athens! This text is being translated by a man who decides it is an example of 'eidesis', a technique, invented by Somoza but of Greek origin in the book, of portraying images that are unrelated to the actual text in the mind of the reader by emphasizing particular words or phrases. As the translator works on the text he becomes more and more convinced that he is in it. There are bizarre parallels between his life and events within the text, and then things get even more strange when he discovers other similarities between the text and the person who worked on it previously, who just happened to come to a rather sticky end. Or did he?

This is a book to read slowly and savour, otherwise it gets rather confusing. The layers upon layers are intricately woven and over-lapping, and the stories combine in a rather tortuous way, but so cleverly done that it is a very satisfying read, though it's quite difficult to explain without going a bit cross-eyed.

Bright ideas and rising word counts

The word counter bar for 'Saving' is currently inaccurate. I have written hundreds more words than that, but have been scribbling in a notebook rather than using my laptop over the last couple of weeks, and have yet to transfer it all over. I think I may now have over 20,000 words, but this needs to be independently verified later on by my lovely shiny MacBook. I had got rather stuck before Christmas, and was unsure how to carry on - the 14,000 words I wrote during NaNo were all on track, and I knew in general what was going to happen later on, but I hadn't got the specifics sorted at all. I tried various planning ideas (spreadsheets, mind-mapping, lists) but nothing really felt right. Then it occurred to me that I didn't actually know my characters all that well, and that most of them were really just a vague caricature, without much substance. So I've gone back to the beginning and am writing character studies, some much more detailed than others, but it has really spurred me on, and all the little things I had sort of planned a bit but without really knowing why are coalescing and becoming logical, fitting in with the characters and their pasts. I've also discovered OmniOutliner, which is so useful, flexible and intuitive that I'm beginning to wonder how I ever managed to get anything done without it!

Friday, 4 January 2008

2007 Reading Round-up

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are the main books I read in 2007. My to-be-read pile is expanding rapidly, partly due to a good haul at Christmas, partly due to a big tidy when I discovered a number of books I had slightly forgotten about. This means 2008 needs to include lots of reading. Hurrah!

A Gathering Light - Jennifer Donnelly
Atonement - Ian McEwan
Break No Bones - Kathy Reichs
Children of the Storm - Elizabeth Peters
Dark Fire - CJ Samson
Death at La Fenice - Donna Leon
Gentlemen and Players - Joanne Harris
Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - JK Rowling
Holy Fools - Joanne Harris
Jamaica Inn - Daphne du Maurier
Krakatoa: The Day the World Exploded - Simon Winchester
One Good Turn - Kate Atkinson
Possession - AS Byatt
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
Rosetta - Barbara Ewing
Rubicon - Tom Holland
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Paul Torday
Second Honeymoon - Joanna Trollope
Sovereign - CJ Samson
Suite Francaise - Irene Nemirovsky
The Art of Murder - Jose Carlos Somoza
The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
The Diamond Age - Neal Stephenson
The Extremes - Christopher Priest
The Flanders Panel - Arturo Perez-Reverte
The Glamour - Christopher Priest
The History of Love - Nicole Krauss
The Horse and His Boy - CS Lewis
The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl - Belle de Jour
The Keys of Egypt - Lesley and Roy Adkins
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon - Richard Zimler
The Magician's Nephew - CS Lewis
The Nautical Chart - Arturo Perez-Reverte
The Observations - Jane Harris
The Oxford Murders - Guillermo Martinez
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
The Prestige - Christopher Priest
The Promise of Happiness - Justin Cartwright
The Seventh Gate - Richard Zimler
The Sign of the Cross - Chris Kuzneski
The Single Helix - Steve Jones
The Tenderness of Wolves - Stef Penney
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

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