Friday, 25 July 2014

Research -- it's a hard life...

Last weekend I had the absolute joy and privilege of attending my best friend's wedding, and acting as her maid of honour. Cue days and days of being immersed in the warm and fuzzies, as I watched two people looking like they were the happiest and luckiest souls on the planet promising to spend their whole lives together. Emotional doesn't even start to cover it.

And because the happy couple had made the extraordinarily brilliant decision of getting married on the beautiful Jurassic coast, I also managed to cram in a little research for #BeachBum! This is where I introduce Miss Krista Cartlidge, Head of Geography at Burlington Danes Academy, south-coast native and my other long-suffering BFF (yes, we're a BFF triumvirate). She is the fount of all knowledge geographical, and I am now officially fully versed in the creation of arches, stacks and stumps; coastal erosion; world-heritage status; and the watersports potential of several south-coast resorts. Thanks, Miss Cartlidge!

From the top of Durdle Door. Very tempted to perch my hero's house right here

So that he and my heroine can enjoy views as beautiful as this one...

And stroll along this beach hand in hand

And learn about stacks and stumps from Miss Krista Cartlidge!

And if you're interested to know what a geography teacher gets up to in their summer holidays, read on! This summer Krista will be taking on her most crazy challenge to date...

She is flying off to the Swiss Alps to trek the famously beautiful but difficult Haute Route. The trek normally takes 9 days, but she'll be doing it in just 7 so it is going to be tough! This is one of the stages of the STRIVE challenge which has been set up by the fantastic charity Big Change, who help young people across the UK to develop critical character traits such as resilience, leadership, confidence and team work. If you want to donate to this fab cause, head to

And now I'm off to plan my next gruelling research trip. Wine tasting in the south of France perhaps? A yacht around the Carribean? Would love any suggestions!


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

They're here!

Picture the scene: you return from a gruelling four-hour shift manning the desk at your local library, only to find the postwoman has left you a card. She tried to deliver a parcel while you were out. And your author copies of Frozen Heart, Melting Kiss are due any day. But you've a deadline tomorrow, and no time to head down to the village and back.

This was me, last Thursday....

So I wait Friday until morning, when the proofs I've been correcting are finished, and head to the post office, full of anticipation of paperback loveliness. I head up to the counter with grin on face and bounce in step, and deal with business first, getting my proofs in the post so they arrive on time. And then I hand over the red card, practically dancing now with anticipation. The lady in the post office digs round behind the counter, picking up and looking at different parcels in turn. It's not that one! I want to shout. It'll be a bigger box than that. But what's this? She's heading back to the partition, with a unfeasibly small parcel. It's got my husband's name on it. No parcel. No books. An electrical connector for a Golf GTI alternator. Sob.

So I trudge home (actually, I drove -- I'd bought the car with me, anticipating a great big heavy box) and get on with some chores, have a bit of lunch. The doorbell goes, and I open it to find a UPS guy with a great big box ...

They're HERE! They're BEAUTIFUL! They're ALL MINE!! OK, so this last part isn't true. They'll be winging their way shortly to reviewers, as giveaway prizes, and to some of the fabulous people who helped me get this book written. So maybe next time you get a card from the postie, Will and Maya will be waiting for you.


Monday, 7 July 2014

Let it rest

Those of you I've already regaled with my tales of home-made bread will know that I recently invested in a breadmaker. This is quite possibly the best thing I have ever bought (and I have been known to buy rather luscious shoes on occasion).

Simply put, a breadmaker works like this: flour and yeast goes in - bread comes out. Warm, smelling delicious and ready to eat. Now you might be wondering what all this has to do with writing and romance. Good point. I'm getting there, honest. Because here's the catch: as wondrous as the breadmaker undoubtedly is, the magic doesn't happen instantly. Flour to bread takes just about three hours, and if you try and rush the process, the goods just aren't up to scratch.

And this is much like writing a novel (see, told you I'd get there).

I've spent the past few months immersed in my #BeachBum world, trying to mould Rachel and Leo's story out of the myriad ideas, emotions and hunches I'd been scribbling in my notebook. And now that I've woven their lives together into a somewhat coherent narrative, they need a break. 

Like leaving the bread to prove, a stage which if skipped leads to a heavy, unpleasant loaf, I have to leave my characters to rest, to mature without me. And I have to give myself space, time and distance from them, to see their flaws and their strengths, and the many, many repeated words that undoubtedly litter their story. So while the story's out with my fab critique partner and beta readers, I'm not looking at it. It's the longest time that I've spent without these two characters in my life for months, and I have to admit to finding it a little strange. All the time, though, more ideas for them are occurring to me, and other stories, some which I've put on semi-permanent rest, are trying to inveigle their way into my mind, making me look ahead to a time when Rachel and Leo are truly done, and I'm ready to move on.

In the meantime, I'm looking forward to that first read back, when I get to re-familiarise  myself with the #BeachBum world, and being able to see with fresh eyes exactly where I need to take their story. Accompanied by tea and a couple of slices of home-made toast, no doubt.