Monday, 28 April 2008

Mexican Stand off.

We have a new cat, her name is Tyler, but we've decided to call her Tilly. She's six, a tabby with a sweet nature and great big green eyes. She's not very lady-like, her language is quite shocking, and poor old Blue, my ginger tom, is not impressed. She swears at him like a tart on a street corner whenever he dares to approach the food bowl, blanket, her chair, or even the stairs, and he eyes her with disdain and slinks off. Poor old boy, he used to be king of the lane where we live, and he's been usurped by an uppity upstart!
They have settled down - sort of. She sleeps on the spare bed, he sits outside the door, thereby asserting his bossiness by not letting her out of the room. If she's in our bedroom, he sits at the top of the stairs cutting off her escape route. He hadn't really taken into consideration the fact that she's female, very indipendant and absolutely free with her language and her claws. They've agreed to disagree, so it's a start I suppose.
But it's lovely to have a cat, especially a tabby female, who loves being picked up and cuddled, who enjoys my company and will sit on my lap for hours. The only time I don't appreciate her - or Blue, is at night. Two days after her arrival, they were both on our bed. We were asleep, it was four in the morning. Tilly decided she wanted to see what Blue was doing on the other side of him indoors, and POW KAPOW - cat fight on the bed, tooth, claw and fur flying all over the place. A quick rampage around the room, two cats doing the wall of death before they shoot out and down the stairs. The cat-flap rattling in their wake. Talk about a wake up call!
They don't do that any more thank goodness. I need my sleep.

The Moment I've been waiting for

That's it, I've finally written those magic two words - The End - on part three, Legacy. It happened on Wednesday, quite by surprise really. I knew I was close, but didn't realise it was that close. Now that may seem strange to you, but it's the way it happens sometimes. The characters have done and said all they need to, the strands of the plots have all come together, the mysteries solved - there's nothing left but to say goodbye and move on.
It's a sad moment, although it is also a triumph. Ihave never written a trilogy before and it was a mammoth task and a very steep learning curve, but I've done it! It's over bar the shouting - ie, editing, mucking about and having it come back and forth from the publishers to tweak. I'm free for at least three days - then it's on to the next project. I have four lined up at the moment, and know which I'm going for. It's a bit like a kid outside the window of a sweet shop, mouthwatering, heart pounding, already tasting the delicious wares that are displayed. This of course wears off when I'm in the middle of the book and I've hit a snag, got a block, too much going on to concentrate and huge doubts as to my ability to carry it off. But this is where the characters come in. They bully me and chide me and shove me back into my chair so their stories can be finished - I've left them hanging you see, and they don't like it - and neither do I. It's unfinished business. But those characters become very real as I write my stories, and when it is time to leave them behind and meet new friends, it is hard to forget them.
I can hear you sniggering and thinking she's off her rocker, and I fully accept that I'm probably not at all normal. It's a bit like being a schitsophrenic - is that how you spell it? I don't know, but I can't be bothered to reach for the dictionary - I'm off on holiday from writing - anyway, as I was saying, I have a lot of characters racing about in my head, and I know them all intimately, so that probably does make for a split personality!!!!!
So I've finished Legacy, it's sitting here in a box on my desk, waiting for that moment when I read it through and start cutting it down. My editor swears I'm the cause of her hernia, for my manuscripts are always hefty.
The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and I have a new cat. Well, she's not new, she's six, but she's a rescue tabby and utterly gorgeous, and will sit on my lap and purr, and even try to put her own paw on my writing while I'm at the computer. Makes for some very strange wording, but hey, she needs to express herself, just as I do. More about her in another blog. For now, I have raised my glass in salute of Legacy and am planning to just mooch about, do a bit of housework - which him indoors hates - and plot the next project. Him indoors hates it when I'm not writing, I tidy up and get ratty when I have to pick up eight pairs of his shoes which he's left scattered about the house - and don't even start me on the laundry basket. Why can't men put things in it, instead of dropping them next to it? Same goes for the dishwasher - oh well, take a deep breath and just let life flow. The End.

Monday, 14 April 2008

follow up to reunion

I'm glad I made someone laugh, but the truth be told I was crying inside too most of the time. Boarding school is hard enough anyway, but when you've been dumped in a foreign country among girls you don't know or understand, and then have a headmistress who hates you on sight, then it makes for a lonely few years. I made some wonderful friends, who must have been exhausted by my bad behaviour at school - and I was bad - but I think I just wanted to be noticed, to make any kind of impression as long as I wasn't ignored. I'm still doing it!
I was different you see, not only because I spoke with a strange Aussie accent, but because I lived with my grandmother - I was illegitimate - shock horror, plague to all who enter there! But that was the atmosphere in those days, and if I'd known that the headmistress was sending letters to parents warning them of my bad influence and the chances of their daughters being tainted by having friendship with such a terrible person, I probably would have sued. I still may! It's a good thing I was an innocent abroad in those days - these days I'm just a broad and my innocence was murdered years ago - so watch out! I will return, and boy, am I going to make you take notice!

Sunday, 13 April 2008


As our school was pulled down many years ago - probably due to the calibre of student that went there - the headmistress was in constant despair, I seem to remember - we decided to have a reunion to celebrate the fact we had reached a significant birthday, and the fact we are all still alive and have mostly all our marbles, it should be celebrated.
It was quite exhausting trying to track various people down. Many of us have moved abroad, had several husbands, changed our names, decided we want nothing to do with our old school, or the people who went there. But the networking was magnificent, and we had letters from those who couldn't come, emails and phone calls as well, but the majority of our year did turn up, and it was great fun to discover who looked the same - and who didn't. We had drinks, lots of them, in a nice hotel bar, then went into lunch and had more drinks, then coffee, then back into the bar - and yes, you've guessed it, more drinks. Then there was cake and champagne. Photos were hauled out of handbags and laughed over, fingers pointing, who the hell is that? I don't remember, yes, someone on the other side of the room knows who it is, and so on. There were the usual reminiscenses about our days in the torture chamber of our school, and the general consencus was that most of the staff were unqualified old spinsters who had nothing better to do with their days, that only a few should have been allowed to be in charge of young girls, and that if the same sort of things went on in a school today, they would have been sued!!!! 'elf and safety would have had a field-day.
I was reminded that I was always in trouble. Every morning at assembly the cry went up and I was hauled into the headmistresse's study to receive my daily telling off, accept my daily incarceration in the library to learn my daily section of the Bible. I used to know the bit about 'a time to be silent, and a time to speak,' but thankfully have blanked it from my brain.
I was also reminded that I was different, with an odd Aussie accent, which added to my behaviour made me a bit of oddity - but they hadn't realised how lonely I was, how depressed to be shut in that awful place with girls who couldn't understand me, and who I couldn't understand. It was a long time before I began to make some real friends, but it was worth it, for they are still friends today, and it was interesting to hear their take on things.
After cake and champagne, we decided to forego supper before the theatre, and managed to stagger down to the congress theatre to see Voulez Vous, an Abba tribute band. A bit naff, yes, the audience suitably attired in some very strange outfits. but actually it was brilliant, and we were soon up and dancing to the tunes that even the younger generations seem to like. Having worn ourselves out, we then went off to an italian restaurant for supper, got chatted up by the waiters and staggered back to the hotel. I was asleep the minute my head hit the pillow. I had a lovely day, and I hope that if anyone is reading this who was there, feels the same way.

A new Arrival

No, I haven't had a baby - too long in the tooth thank goodness. But Bluey, the ginger tom which has featured in my books in various disguises, has a new playmate. Actually, he's singularly unimpressed, even though she's a beautiful tabby with yellow eyes and a deep purr. He sits and looks at her, his tail flicking ever so slightly at the tip, eyes narrowed, nose raised in a sneer as she swears and spits and hisses at him, eats from his bowl and tries to sit in his favourite chair. He puts up with it all, walking away with a strut to show he couldn't care less, but then she made a big mistake, and he had to put her in her place.
Bluey is supposed to be my cat, but he adores him indoors, and at night insists upon sleeping on the pillow, or on his shoulder. Tilly, my new arrival and the second female person in this house to redress the balance, decided she wanted to see what him indoors was dreaming about, and proceeded to walk over him to investigate. Bluey was in usual position on pillow, Tilly trod on him, and at five oclock in the morning we had a full-blown cat fight going on on our duvet. Claws and fur flew, hissing, growling and yowling, then a hectic dash out of the room, Tilly going hell for leather down the stairs, Bluey stopping on the landing and metaphorically dusting his paws as if to say that saw to her!
But she has used her charm on him, and being gorgeous, has deigned to let him sleep on the front bedroom bed in the sun. We found them at opposite ends of the bed, both stretched out and purring, pretending the other didn't exist.
There's a litter box in the kitchen, umpteen bowls of dry food, wet food, water, the odd few prawns and bits of chicken, as well as a cat basket. I'll be glad when the two weeks are up and we let let her out - dirt trays aren't pleasant at the best of times.

All work and no play

Hello, sorry I've been lax in writing my blog, but I've been writing. Yes, I know, it's about time I hear you shout - all I seem to do is swan about on cruise ships and shoot off to Cornwall. But I do work, and when I do I am fully occupied.
To give you some idea of my working day. I have a gallon of coffee and do the soduko, read the paper, make the bed and fill the dishwasher. Dishwashers are a brilliant invention, the kitchen looks tidy in a tick, and I don't know any working woman can live without one. Having woken up it's about nine thirty - I'm not an early riser, preferring to stay up until three in the morning, hence the inability to get up a few short hours later - it's into my office. This is a spare bedroom in my home, which overlooks a line of trees on the top of a hill, a bit of a paddock where there are two shetland ponies grazing, and a chicken run. This chicken run used to be a nuisance, because it contained a rooster who got far too big for his boots and was shouting at two in the morning and was still at it a four in the afternoon. Needless to say he has be removed and is now living a pleasant rural life in another part of Sussex where we can't hear him.
Talking of roosters, no sooner had that one gone than another appeared in next doors garden - talk about over-egging things - sorry for the pun, but you have to admit, it's not bad for a Sunday morning when I've a bit of a hangover. I digress, which I do often - the second rooster has now joined the first, which is a relief to all.
My office isn't very big, but there's a large desk under the window, a proper typing chair and two walls completely covered in bookshelves. A lot of the books are my own, issues from foreign publishers which they give me - the rest are folders and files to do with writing, reference books, atlases, dictionaries, picture books, geography, plant life, trees, flowers and animals, and of course loads of stuff on Aboriginal Dreamtime, customs and rituals etc. There isn't any central heating in this room, I don't know why, we just never got around to it, but I do have the old nursery heater I used when my children were small and this is perfectly adequate. I am surrounded by pictures of Australia, bits of pottery from Cornwall, bronze statues of shearers and drovers and loads of fake flowers. They're easier to keep than real ones and don't die on me.
Having read fan mail and email and done all my other admin, I settle down to work. I usually read over what I'd done on the previous day, edit it, bin it, or think, yes, that worked, and then get on with the next bit. I have to stop now and again to look up something, or read reams of information of which I will need only a sentence, and then carry on. Him indoors supplies coffee, pot noodle etc., and sometimes unwanted company. There's nothing worse than being in full flow when someone creeps in and lurks behind you. Love him, but I wish he'd go and find something else to do.
Writing is my career, it's what I do - and is probably the only thing I do really well, even if I say so myself. So it is my work, and my livelihood, so it has to be treated with respect. I work Monday to Friday, from ten in the morning until six, and usually don't realise what the time is until him indoors enquires as to what we might be having for supper. Urrrrrrrrgh!
Weekends are sacrosanct, it's when I catch up with friends, go down the pub and generally behave like a hooligan. It's incredible when you realise the bush telegraph works just as well in Sussex as it does in the Outback. I went and had dinner in the local pub, had rather too many glasses of very nice wine, and by nine fifteen the next morning, someone who lives at least fifteen miles away, phoned me up and told me I'd been seen staggering home. Not good, but hey, I was on a night off.
So work. I am writing the last of the Oceana Trilogy now, and it's tough going. Having to round up all the story lines, keep the balls in the air so to speak, and make sure I haven't left any loose ends, means I have to really concentrate. I have idiot cards on my desk with my characters' names, ages, eye colour and hair, and who they are married to, and the names of their children - it's funny, I always forget what colour their eyes are! With the trilogy I also have to have a family tree, and that wasn't easy, because I'm dealing with three families and their affairs and the progeny of said affairs. I would have liked to include the tree in the book, but if I did that it would give the plot away - so hopefully I've kept it simple and the reader won't be too confused.
At the end of my working day I usually go downstairs, cook supper, feed cats, empty dirt tray, tidy up the mess him indoors has made during the day and collapse in front of the tve to watch whatever rubbish is on. Bedtime means reading someone elses book until I fall asleep.
That's about it. better get on, I've thought of another blog.