Archive for the ‘friends’ Category





Filed under: Dear Thing, friends


Well, Dear Thing comes out on Thursday  in hardback, and I am sort of excited. Well, really excited. It’s even more exciting because Saturday is my birthday.

On Thursday evening, though, I will be celebrating with my friend and fellow Reading Writer, Claire Dyer. Claire’s first poetry collection, Eleven Rooms, is also published on Thursday the 11th by Two Rivers Press. Claire is a fantastic poet and novelist (her debut novel, The Moment, is out this autumn, in fact on the same day that Dear Thing comes out in paperback) and one of the most dedicated writers I know. It’s a privilege to share publication day with her.

Meanwhile, I’ve put up a short excerpt from Dear Thing on my website here, and I’m putting it on my blog as well.


‘Do you have children?’

Claire shifted slightly on Lacey’s sofa to face the woman who was talking to her.  She didn’t know most of the women in the room. Two of them were from school—Lacey had just started teaching geography last year, ironically to cover another teacher’s maternity leave—but the others were Lacey’s friends or family. All of the guests had been seated around the room according to birth sign; it was supposed to help break the ice and help them get to know each other.

‘No,’ she answered, doing her best to put on a gracious smile, as she always did when asked this question by someone who didn’t know. Today, it was a lot easier.

‘No wonder your skin is so gorgeous! All that sleep.’ The woman leaned forward. She had straightened hair and blue circles under her eyes. ‘Tell me—do you get to go to restaurants?’


The woman let out a long stream of a sigh. ‘Oh, I dream of restaurants. Ones that have proper cutlery. And menus that aren’t designed for children to colour in.’

‘I get excited about a bowl of chips at the soft play centre,’ added the woman on the other side of Claire.

‘Tell me about it,’ said the first one. ‘Do you know how Paul and I celebrated our wedding anniversary? Tub of Häagen-Dazs at the cinema during a Disney film.’

‘I forgot about ours,’ called another woman from across the room. ‘Harry and Abby both had the chicken pox. I remembered two days later and it hardly seemed worth it.’

‘Does your husband give you flowers?’ the first woman asked Claire.

‘Er…sometimes.’ There had been a bouquet on the table when she came downstairs this morning.

‘I got flowers for Valentine’s day last year!’ said the second woman. ‘Ellie ate them. We had to go to A&E. I didn’t get flowers this year.’

‘Were they poisonous?’

‘We were mostly worried about the cellophane wrapper. She didn’t do a poo for three days. I was terrified.’

‘Once, Alfie didn’t do a poo for two weeks. I shovelled enough puréed prunes into him to choke a horse.’

‘You have all this to come,’ said the first woman to Lacey. Lacey sat in a flowered armchair in the sunny, cramped front room of her flat, her hands laced over her protruding stomach. She smiled as if the idea of shovelling puréed prunes into a baby’s mouth was just about the best thing in the entire world.

Claire thought that probably wasn’t too far from wrong.

‘Wine?’ Lacey’s mother, who was a sweet lady with very red hair, was circulating the room with a bottle of pinot grigio. Claire shook her head and held up her glass, already full of mineral water. ‘That’s a beautiful cake you’ve made,’ Lacey’s mother said. ‘And so delicious. Aren’t you having any?’

‘Thank you. And no, I don’t really eat cake.’

‘Are you gluten-free?’ asked the first woman. ‘No wonder you’re so slim. I just look at a piece of bread and I gain half a stone.’

‘I just try to eat healthily,’ said Claire. ‘But I love making cakes, so.’

‘What’s the baby going to be called?’ someone asked Lacey.

‘We’re calling him Billy.’

There was a collective sigh of appreciation.

‘I like the simple names,’ said the first woman. ‘There are too many trendy names around. There’s a girl at Alfie’s nursery called Fairybelle.’

The women launched into a discussion of their children’s names: what they were almost called, what they were glad they weren’t called, what they would have been called if they had been born the opposite sex. The woman whose daughter had eaten the cellophane off her flowers got up to use the loo and Georgette, the other St Dominick’s teacher, slipped into the place next to Claire.

‘I’m sorry,’ she murmured. ‘It’s all baby talk.’

‘It’s okay. I’m used to it. Besides, it’s Lacey’s day. She looks wonderful, doesn’t she?’

They both looked at Lacey. She was generally the sort of person who didn’t call much attention to herself: a hiker, a camper, a good teacher.

She looked wonderful.

‘Still,’ said Georgette, ‘I think that people could be a little bit more sensitive. Not everyone wants to talk about babies all the time.’

Georgette had two children. Claire remembered when the youngest had been born; it was about the time Claire herself had gone through her third and final IVF treatment that had been allowed on the NHS, before they’d gone private. Claire had been given an invitation to the christening, but there was a little hand-written note in it: I’ll understand if you don’t want to be around babies.

She hadn’t gone to the christening, not to avoid the babies but to avoid the understanding.

The women in this room were complaining about their lives, but underneath they were happy. Claire could almost smell it, with the nose of an outsider. They exuded warm yeasty contentment. It was the same way, she noticed, whenever women with young children got together. The conversation revolved around little sacrifices or disasters, about mishaps and made-up worries, but its function wasn’t to communicate information: it was to establish relationship. To mark out common ground.

We are mothers. We do battle with nappies and Calpol. Look upon our offspring, ye mighty, and despair.

The truth was, she would give up anything to be like the women in this room.  She was tired of feeling the sharp stab of pain every time she passed a playground.  That raw drag of yearning at Christmas. She was tired of feeling like a failure, once a month, like clockwork.

But that didn’t mean she wanted to talk about it. Or to be pitied.

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good news

Filed under: friends

My friend and fellow author and Heroine Addict Liz Fenwick (@liz_fenwick on Twitter) has just signed a book deal with Orion—with foreign deals in Holland and Germany—for her first book, A CORNISH HOUSE. This is such brilliant news, especially for those of us who have been inspired and impressed by her hard work and dedication in making this book the best it can be, and her generosity as an author and friend. It is only the start of marvellous things to come.

Congratulations, Liz!

(Her blog is here is you’d like to leave congratulations.)

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hot men alert!

Filed under: free book, friends, hero worship, Honey Trap

Nicola Marsh is having a hot hero countdown to Valentine’s Day on her blog this month. Every day a different author posts a picture of a hot man who inspired a hero in one of her books. There are giveaways and lots of phoaaaaar.

Today I’m up, with a lovely pic of the lovely Maine man who inspired the hero of my book Honey Trap. And I’m giving away a copy, too.

Go visit, today and every day till Valentine’s Day, to check out the totty! And also to congratulate Nic on becoming a USA Today Bestseller!

Comments are off




party and blog

Filed under: friends, RNA

On Wednesday I celebrated the publication of my friend Nina Harrington‘s first Mills & Boon Romance, Always The Bridesmaid. We convened in a suitably bookish place and Nina looked very glamorous in her fascinator, surrounded by balloons and brand-new sparkling copies of her book:

Nina Harrington

We drank fizz, ate cakes, and generally had a brilliant time. Congratulations, Nina!

In other news, the Romantic Novelists’ Association has started up its own blog, with details of the latest books, and glimpses into favourite authors’ lives. A great resource for any reader or writer.





wow oh wow

Filed under: friends

Phillipa has had some amazing MOVIE NEWS on her blog…go see!





publicity and wine

Filed under: about me, friends

Well, Saturday was awesome. I was so very excited to have a day off being Mum and to connect with other writers. The panel at the RNA meeting was very inspiring. Bestselling author Carole Matthews, Alexander Martin from Midas PR, and my own editor Catherine Cobain talked about publicity, and I now have a to-do list as long as my arm. Well, longer. Here, in no particular order, are some of the little tidbits that I learned about what to do to be a publicist’s dream:

  • Have an interesting lifestyle, past, or hobby. (Hmm…I wonder if a David Tennant obsession counts?)
  • Have an easily-downloadable press kit on your website.
  • Run fun, easy competitions to connect with readers.
  • Make the most of your local media.
  • Be charming to everyone.
  • Write journalistic features and short stories that can get your name out there.
  • Make your press releases one-page stories that can be easily printed straight off the page.
  • As is usual at an RNA meeting, I met some fab and exciting people of like minds, old friends and new. I was very surprised and pleased when two very glamorous chicks came up to introduce themselves and turned out to be Elizabeth Mahon and Hope Tarr, over from New York. I seized on them immediately, as the book I’m writing is partially set in New York and I really need some help from a native. Of course Biddy (and other Usual Suspects Vicky and Gemma) and I dragged them out to the pub and thence to a wine-sodden meal at our favourite Italian restaurant. I do believe at the end of the evening that I drunkenly told the proprietor that I had set a scene in my next book, Girl from Mars, in his restaurant. His smile was both bemused and indulgent, bless him.

    In the end it was so late that I ended up staying in Biddy’s, sharing a bed with her and her sister (shut up, you have a dirty mind) and spending a lovely morning discussing plots with Biddy. I came back refreshed in mind and hungover in body, and spent the whole afternoon in the garden with my son.

    Today it’s back to writing. I’d like to keep up an average of at least 1000 words a day this week, too. And if I’m very very lucky tonight, I might get to go see Watchmen.






    Filed under: about me, friends, RNA

    Because I wrote 10,000 words this week (!!!!I rule!!!!) I’m rewarding myself by having today off, while the husband looks after the Fecklet. Providentially, it’s also the day of a Romantic Novelists’ Association meeting in London, so I am going to spend the day being A Lady Novelist with lots of my Lady Novelist mates. I’m meeting my friend Claire at the station to travel to London. It’s her first time at the New Cavendish Club and I know she will love it, being in a room with so many like-minded people. It’s such a pleasure to look forward to introducing your friends to your other friends.

    The topic for this afternoon is “Getting the Most Out of Your Publicist” and I will be storing up information like crazy.

    And Biddy reminded me that she and I met at a spring RNA meeting at the New Cav, six years ago! It’s hard to believe it was that long ago, and that short a time ago, too. Since then we’ve spoken to each other in some way nearly every day. She reads all my books before I send them to my editor and she is thanked at the beginning of every one. And all of that started by her getting me horrendously, droolingly drunk on white wine, six years ago!

    Joining the RNA was really one of the best things I have ever done. I’m feeling all misty-eyed about it.

    I might have a glass or two of white wine with Biddy this afternoon to celebrate. In fact, I predict that by 6 pm I will be hugging everyone in sight, saying, “I love you, man.”





    Nell’s a party animal

    Filed under: contests, friends

    Feeling in need of some good animal anecdotes to keep you chipper on a Wednesday? Fancy hearing about a pottymouthed parrot? Or gay donkeys?

    Nip over to Nell Dixon’s blog, where she’s having a party to celebrate the release of her Little Black Dress book, Animal Instincts.

    You can win a signed copy, too, if you leave an animal story before she picks a winner on Thursday.

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