Sunday, 29 March 2009


I got a call from T a couple of days after I sent her the first three chapters of my book to read. She likes it! And even better, she liked it so much she gave it to her husband to read as well, and he also likes it! I was so excited I almost skipped for joy in the hotel lobby of mystery city; in fact I think I did manage a few small skips anyway out of pure glee. It was doubly lovely as the last time I spoke to T was probably 11 years ago, so the fact she liked it enough to be straight on the phone was brilliant; it was so nice to hear from her. And of course, knowing she liked it and wants to read more is fab encouragement for me – now I have to get my skates on with the editing!

I was also pleased that the only errors she spotted were small things like a couple of typos; this just shows how important the edit process is, especially for me. I really do have to go over everything umpteen times to get it right and even then, some stragglers will slip through the net. I am keeping a note of how many times I fully redraft each chapter – not just change a word here and there, but a proper edit each time. Six seems to be my magic number – not a quick process, this! But then again, if you want to get it good, why should it be quick?

Today I am looking at chapters 4 – 7. If the edit process was like gardening, I would say that my lawn is already mown, the new plants have been watered, and all I have left to do is to rake a few fallen leaves. I am hopeful to send these chapters to T on Monday morning, unless of course I find a molehill, in which case my shriek will be heard throughout London.

And I am so sorry for sporadic posting. For some reason Blogger would not let me create a new post since yesterday morning - all other links could be seen, but no matter which way I tried to sidle into 'new post', it just wouldn't let me. But now, suddenly as if by magic, it works. Very odd. And there is no need to tell you of the stupid week before that, when I thought my computer had died and in actual fact I'd forgotten to top up my broadband credit. Yup, no need to mention that week of panic at all.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Packing and Permanency

Why is packing so tricky? I am off to ‘mystery’ city tomorrow, for a whole week this time. This is causing me and my one little suitcase some distress. You see, it is either the one little suitcase, or it is the giant whopper that my mum once dragged back from the market. If you pack the giant whopper, then you are off for good. It is so big that it even looks roomy if you are packing for a three week stay in the Bahamas (speaking hypothetically, since I have never been on a three week holiday, or to the Bahamas. What a deprived life I lead.).

And so I am trying to cram everything in, with a stand-by shoulder bag in case of emergencies. I just know my smart trousers will crease and my shirts will rumple. Why did I bother spending the best part of today struggling with the iron? I hate ironing, and ironing hates me. My best look is ‘creased’ anyway.

So what have I been up to since we last sat down to chat? I’ve got a job! Yes, a real one – permanent, pays wages. Although the current freelance job is going well, the press / publishing industry is still generally up the swanny… all my email alerts keep announcing people taking ‘voluntary redundancy’, and how ‘happy’ they are about it. Hm… It feels prudent to get permanent work with everything so uncertain. And it should be good… at least, it sounds like it has potential. And wages! Yes – let me hug you, nice wages. It will be nice to go away to Italy and know I have a job to come back to, rather than back to sitting in my room wondering if I can make a new dress out of dusters.

Freelance job has been quite tough actually. This is probably more to do with my sleepy Internet connection, as every time I upload content it conks out and then claims it has no signal, the lying little sod. I think it has been trying to teach me patience, and it is working – at least, I haven’t thrown it out of the window just yet (only once across the room, honest). I now have a date for proper broadband to come and flood my house with goodness. At the moment this date is far off in April, but at least it is en route! Oh the things I can do… upload pictures! Play with settings! Reply to other blogs! Download emails! Whoop!

Novel has had a slight hiatus while work has been so frenetic. The first 3 chapters are now ready for my good friend T to see, and I am going to print them out tonight to send to her tomorrow morning. I'm not sure where I will find a post office though... the only one I can think of is 40 minutes the wrong direction, and not sure the one little suitcase will stand being dragged all that way. It has wheels, but not that you'd know it - it much prefers twisting onto its side and being dragged lamely along making me look bad. Still, there must be one somewhere. Surely? I've been having good thoughts again with the novel, which is a positive step. Sometimes I need a bit of a break from it, and to step away for a while to get all fired up with it again. It's hard living with the same story for so long, especially when there is no guarantee anything will happen with it. In the end, it's a story I want just for me, to please me.. but I am so picky. Even for a readership of just me, it has to be perfect.

And lastly – clues on mystery city. So far we have established it has trams. It is also quite fond of Matchstalk Men. And on that tantalising clue, I shall carry on packing…!

Monday, 16 March 2009

I Don’t Like Monday’s

I think I need to look up my horoscope for today and find out why it all went so horribly wrong. There must be some retrograde Mercury thing happening to certain unlucky Virgoans as my communication is up the spout – be it verbal or virtual. Of course, this would be the day of Tight Deadline, Must Be Finished Today On Pain of Death. Of course it is.

Wrong Things

  • Up at six to beat Three Mobile Broadband’s usual paddy from 10am onwards
  • The computer system I am uploading to dies from 9 – 11am. This is my prime Internet time, and now it is wasted.
  • Three Mobile Broadband starts crashing every half hour from midday. Cannot upload any of my work
  • Decide to pack up and use free wifi at British Library. This is the nearest reliable source of wifi that has plug sockets available, as my lap top needs plug power
  • Train fare today is £6.50, yesterday it was £4.50. I query why when it is the same journey. Ticket man shrugs and shrugs, and then finally says it is because I am not travelling direct today (as the trains only run direct on weekends) and am using the tube. I was practically purple with rage at this point. My ‘thank you’ was said through gritted teeth.
  • Buy a bottle of fizzy drink that fizzes all over my hand and down my canvas carrier bag
  • Get to British Library and there is not a spare plug anywhere in the building.
  • Share someone’s 4 plug adapter for 10 minutes before I get told off by jobsworth security man as I have moved my table 2 inches to the left and am running a cable across the floor. I get the cable; I don’t get the tiny table movement. Damn the man.
  • Work on battery power. Cannot access job website, password’s not working
  • Manage one section when get new password from tech bloke, and then battery on lap top dies
  • Cruise British Library desperate for a plug socket, trailing power cable
  • Find one, but it means sitting on cold marble floor like a looney
  • Internet falls over half hour later
  • I give up, and decide to go back home
  • Get home and Internet works, for an hour only
  • Make boiled eggs in anger for tea
  • Internet then crashes at 20 minute intervals until 8.30pm

    Right Things

  • Internet occasionally worked
  • Kind man at British Library let me share his 4 plug adapter
  • Found a plug socket of my very own
  • Deadline extended for me until midnight
  • My boiled eggs were done to perfection
  • My mum knows not to talk to me when I am in a snit
  • I read my ‘Bedknob and Broomstick’ book on the tube
  • I finally finished my work by 10pm, so I can crash out in bed

  • Saturday, 14 March 2009

    Writing at the British Library

    I get here far too late for one of the comfy seats on the first floor gallery. At least I presume they are comfy, they should be as compensation for putting up with all the people that walk past with Eyes of Longing. There is also the fact that seated person cannot possibly get up and leave said seat for a coffee / bathroom visit / cigarette break as otherwise we’d fall like locusts clutching Mac Books.

    Where are the books, one wonders, at the British Library? A visitor would be forgiven for thinking that this large marble space is just one big free wifi study hall. Everywhere you look reveals people hunched over lap tops, some sitting uncomfortably on benches, some with a table, some in the Comfy Seats of Splendour, and some looking rather smug as they have found a seat near a plug. These have to be guarded on pain of death. People cruise past, lap top in hand, power cable dangling – a constant flickering gaze scanning for un-manned plugs.

    I took a moment to observe the field, and then I carefully seated myself at the table along from a beret-wearing girl whose lap top trailed a tell-tale cable. There be plugs in that there booth, I thought, and there also be an empty litre bottle of water beside beret-girl. Something was bound to give, and I hoped it would be her bladder. Still, my wait lasted over an hour before she packed up and I pounced swifter than a Swift. At last, me and little borrowed lappie had a plug of our very own.

    However, the hour or so without the Internet proved very fruitful indeed. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of learning, perhaps it was the lack of distractions (where the bloody hell are the books?), or maybe it was being rooted to my seat in case a passing cable trailing prowler nabbed it, but I did actually get on very well. Of course, I am editing chapter 4 again, which must be for the umpteenth time. I could have sworn I was happy with it and had reached chapter 7, but no. Hey ho, that’s the way the cookie crumbles (and I must remember to pack lunch with me next time – would have killed for a cookie).

    Friday, 13 March 2009

    If you were in a band…

    …who would you be? Would you be the lead singer, the lead guitarist, the bass player or the drummer? Perhaps you would be a fancy sax blower, or a dancer like Bez (or perhaps a better dancer than Bez) or a keyboard player?

    I am somehow of the opinion I would make a really good drummer. How have I come to this conclusion? It is because I tap with rhythm, I have decided. Just look at me keep time with Simple Minds as I tap my nails on my mouse (computer that is, not uninvited furry guests banqueting downstairs). Don’t You (tap-tap-tap) Forget About Me (tap-tap-tap-tappity-tap).
    I am dang good at this. I am sure I would be equally good with drumsticks in hand and a loud noisy thing to whack repeatedly.

    Or perhaps I would be the moody guitarist? Not the lead guitarist, as that would mean replacing the pads of my fingers with concrete reinforced slabs. But perhaps I would be the bass player and stand at the back and stare through my hair beyond the stage. I obviously wouldn’t be a star bass player like Mark King (Level 42) – I’d be more like Stuart Sutcliffe (The Beatles, once upon a time). Arty looking on the stage, and yet has to turn away a little to play the fiddly bits.

    Or maybe I’d just leap around aka Pans People? I could do that. I have the hair for things like that – free-range, and non-conformist, in the fact it hates straighteners. I could easily prance and leap and interpret songs literally – I am just listening to Squeeze’s ‘Labelled with Love’ – oh yes, this would be easy – ‘winds up the clock and sweeps dust from the shelf’ – see me go! You can picture the routine already I am sure.

    So what would you be? And… to do my little bit for Comic Relief - I am putting my real photo on Twitter and above just for today only. I am sponsoring myself to be brave and keep it on my blog / Twitter, and will donate a pound for every hour I leave it there. I know it’s only a pound, but I am truly skint so… pound it is. Will reveal grand total next time I post! Could be a whole 24 quid – gosh, what riches.

    If you don't have your picture on your blog, why don't you do the same? *grins*

    Thursday, 12 March 2009

    A moose loose about this hoose

    There has been a strange rustling and scurrying noise emitting from a little-used cupboard in the kitchen. I have noticed the cats are often to be found sitting beside this cupboard with their ears perked. Houston, I said (as I like to call my mum), I think we have a problem.

    The screech from the kitchen this morning confirmed it. My mum burst into my room, panting, and said she had seen a mouse. Various sizes were given (size of a finger-nail to half a hand, depending on where in the story she was) and various threats were made to our furry uninvited guests. I pointed out we have nothing to fear, as we live with two cats who are fearsome mice hunters. At least, when they can be bothered and haven’t got some top-level snoozing to get in first.

    I am now convinced I can hear plotting mouse activity behind every room in the house. I have taken to singing loudly every time I walk in a room so as to give them time to duck out of sight. It’s the scuttling I don’t like, the quick scampering. It gives me the heebie jeebies.

    So here I am, working from home in Mouse Central. And what are my fearsome furry warriors doing? Sleeping. I presume this is to raise energy for the final push this evening, she says, glancing nervously over her shoulder.

    Wednesday, 11 March 2009

    Blow me Internet down, sport

    Whenever the wind blows, my Internet falls over. So I apologise for not updating for over a whole week – it has been slightly gusty outside the window. Slightly gusty is Three Mobile Broadband code for ‘quick, stop working’. So while it stops, I continue – working from home this week, so no mystery city visits. The best thing about working from home is that you are in your little world, cat on lap, own coffee, and own sneaky biscuit. The worst thing about working from home is that you don’t leave your little world, need extra long arms to work around the cat on your lap, no Starbucks, and the biscuits are usually the ones me and mum rejected now forlorn and soft at the bottom of the barrel.

    The cat on my lap is called Ginger, as…um… well, I think you can guess. He likes to keep me alert and active while home-working by digging his claws into my leg at regular intervals. This would be fine if it was my light-pawed Tabby-girl, but Ginger’s second name is Mr Big Paws. Ouch is all I say about that, and I know I could push him off but he purrs away happily and so I leave him slowly turning my thigh into a pin cushion.

    Book stuff – well, I haven’t done much over the last week or so. My lovely author friend T got in touch, and I am sending her the first three chapters to look through – it will be so great to get her opinion! So I am hopeful to do that at some stage this week, but I did a very light edit on the beginning pages so I have to read that through to see if it all still makes sense. Sometimes I dive in the middle of chapters and add a word, only to realise that I repeat the same word a paragraph backwards. It’s like my brain knows that word should be there, and forgets to read (yes my brain forgets to read, it’s all its fault) what I had written previously. In the real edit I am still swooshing away at chapters 4 – 7. There is, as ever, a long way to go.

    And now I am determined to go for a walk before starting my day, and get a feel for life outside the window. I am going to stride into the brave new world and get a posh coffee.

    Monday, 2 March 2009

    The Hotel Gym

    It takes me less than five minutes to exhaust all the possibilities of fun in my hotel room - I have eaten the free biscuit, made a cup of tea, drank the spare milk (one of my guilty pleasures I am afraid), turned on the taps (and off again, obviously), swooshed the curtains, hung up my clothes and charged my mobile. There is nothing else for it, it is time for the gym. Besides, I have to work off my two a day Twirl habit (oh yes, am totally over the food poisoning now and back into bad old ways).

    The gym lies deep in the basement, and is not just a gym, but a leisure centre. This means it has a bored person handing you towels, a place to drink orange juice, a plunge pool inexplicitly always filled with elderly ladies using strange circular floats, a jacuzzi, several lounge chairs and a little glass walled gym, so people can watch you sweat. The good thing about the gym is that you can instantly see whether the one running machine is in use, and the bad thing about the gym is that if someone is using it, you may have to hang around pretending to stretch for hours before you get a chance to jump on.

    Tonight was such a night, I pulled every yoga pose I could remember from memory in various positions around the busy running machine, but no joy. This meant I retreated to the feared step machine instead, and climbing the equivalent of the Eiffel Tower (ok, 25 floors). By the time the running machine was free I managed 10 minutes and nearly collapsed into the jacuzzi. I get the feeling I will pay for this exercise tomorrow!

    My time on the internet is nearly up chums (£6 for an hour! Evening robbery!) and I have some bad music to listen to on youtube before I am done (Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep - Middle of the Road. I am so into it!) I will catch up with you soon. Take care!

    Sunday, 1 March 2009

    List of things to do on a grey Sunday

    Read Sue Townsend’s ‘True Confessions of Adrian Mole’
    Make porridge
    Shower, put on colourful ‘it’s Sunday’ clothes, look like a children’s TV presenter
    Do expenses and timesheet submitting
    Download other job application onto memory stick to frown at in the week
    Wash, iron and pack work clothes
    Look up weather of city I’m working in (grey, rain, and somewhat worryingly – sleet)
    Pack jumpers, scarf and gloves
    Research train times for morning (must remember if have off-peak ticket to not get peak time train)
    Set alarm clock even earlier as need to allow for buying (correct) tickets
    Eat chocolate
    Wish had more chocolate apart from small bag of Cadbury’s buttons
    Mindlessly watch documentary on Prince Philip
    Play with the cats
    Give tabby-girl her flea treatment; she was ecstatic
    Make ham and mustard sandwich
    Text J
    Tidy room so don’t come home to giant room mess
    Charge ipod
    Check emails
    Eat dinner
    Read You magazine supplement
    Ignore the fact I should wash and straighten my hair (yawn)
    Make hot chocolate
    Poke at the biscuits in the barrel. All boring ones left.
    Feel really guilty about hair
    Wonder if it’s about the right time for a slice of Arctic Roll