This weekend I am mostly …

OK, so here’s the next 72 hours or so …

Friday: Royal Wedding, obv. Watch with children. Make my (slightly scary) Catherine Middleton doll smile and wave appropriately. Cheer along C&W while stuffing 40 Top Gun party bags with snickers bars, plastic aeroplanes and haribos. Buy lipstick.


Saturday: Alex’s 50th birthday party. Welcome friends from as far away as Dubai, Cornwall and Scotland, remind them how fab Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis were. Feed them burgers and cupcakes. Send them home with party bags. They are going to be SO impressed.

Sunday: My mother’s birthday. Give her presents. Feed her cake and champagne. Admire her new iPad – a present from my father. (She knows she’s got one, so if she reads this beforehand that’s fine, but actually at the moment my father has to print out my blog posts for her, so he can censor them if necessary; however that won’t apply in The Era Of The IPad, of course.)

Monday: recover, check entries to Nonie’s royal wedding dress design competition. The ones I’ve received so far are FANTASTIC! I’m glad I decided to announce 3 winners, because I’ve decided who one of them will be already.

Tuesday: send children to school, keep rewriting overdue book, talk to editor.

And the hardest part of all? The lipstick buying. I’m dreading it. Getting the colour right in something that doesn’t wear off after four minutes, or take the top layer of skin off my lips, and will make me look vaguely like Kelly McGillis. Anyone who has seen me will know how difficult this is. Wish me luck.

“Just hit the brakes and they’ll fly right by.”



As you know, I can’ t draw, but my family can. At Easter, my mother brings the painted eggs out of storage and adds a few new ones. My brother, father and husband have been known to make amazing contributions (my husband’s helicopter is fab, for example), but I think I only pulled it off once, and that was by keeping it simple.

My mother labels the tins she keeps them in Good Eggs, Bad Eggs and Rotten Eggs. Here are a few of the ones she picked from the Good Eggs tin to hang on branches above the table this year.

Happy Easter!

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When an editor calls

Oh goodness – I’m SO nervous.

At the beginning of the week I sent off the first 28,000 words of the rewrite of The Look to my editors (I currently have 2: Imogen and Rachel). Being the extremely helpful, available people they are, they promised to call me about them tomorrow, despite the fact that they’re busy working on a whole bunch of other stuff, too.

This rewrite is a REWRITE. The bit where they said ‘the story is totally there’ turned out to mean ‘but you need to change a few characters, refocus the main relationship, delete someone, enhance someone else and include a few scenes you skated over first time, because they’re important’.

I don’t disagree with any of this, and actually I enjoy the rewriting, but when I know that it’s being carefully checked over by two objective, experienced editors, I’m a mess. What if I’ve overdone it? What if I’ve lost some bits they liked? What if they meant me to make the changes while only rewriting 20%, not 70%? What if they’ve noticed that the manuscript is actually 10,000 words longer now than it was before? What if they …. preferred it before?

The trouble is, I like the new version. I’ve had more time to think about the main elements of the story, get to know the characters better. I think what I’ve done is more detailed and richer. But what if it comes across as simply slower, denser and duller? What if I have to rewrite the rewrite?

I can’t wait for the call, just so that I know where I stand.

Meanwhile, I’m soldiering on. We’ve agreed that my main character becomes interested in photography. I’ve taken an interest since I was 14 and I’m enjoying revisiting some of the great photographers who inspired me then. I’ve come up with what I think is a GENIUS idea for the main character’s creative epiphany (and I’ve realised that I think my books will always be about creative epiphanies, because that’s what I seem to do best) and I can tell you, in an exclusive preview (not including the fact that I just posted it on Facebook), that THIS PHOTOGRAPH helped:

It’s of Princess Ira von Furstenberg, and it was taken by Richard Avedon in 1955. Isn’t it gorgeous? Weird, but gorgeous. I’m liking that.

So if Rachel and Imogen don’t like what I’ve done with the first 28,000 words, at least I can console myself with the thought that I’ve rediscovered some wonderful photography. Sometimes you have to take your consolation where you can.

Writing life …

A snapshot of writing life …

  • A Brazilian fan called Paula was inspired by Nonie to write a blog of her own, and I think very quickly overtook poor Nonie in getting the hang of photo-based blogging. If you  like  images of fashion, hair and cute animals with Portuguese captions,  give it a go. I’ve picked a favourite post, looking at models with larger figures. What’s fascinating is to go from this post to the one before it, about traditional celebs in party dresses. So thin. So small. So sad.
  • I marked papers at the Southwark Schools Lit Quiz today, at Kingsdale School in Dulwich. Seven schools attended. Kingsdale B stormed it. Great to see all the children clustered round a big table afterwards, eager to find a book to take away.
  • WE GOT CHILDCARE!!! The fabulous Anna looked after my four year-old this afternoon, and will again three afternoons a week for the next three weeks. This means WRITING!!! (Which is good, because I need to storm through this set of rewrites for The Look to meet my next deadline.)
  • Steve, the illustrator who’s working on the cover for The Look, is letting me collaborate a little bit. My writing is occasionally pleasantly interrupted by new packshots (techincal word – love ’em) of the latest mockup. Love.
  • I’m organising a birthday party at the end of the month. A big one. This means I get to think about balloons, mini-burgers and professional cupcakes. On a regular basis. Happy face.
  • Here are some pictures from Kingsdale, including my School Visit Shoes (which are, naturally, Vivienne Westwood Melissas). Sadly, I don’t have pictures of Sandra Agard, who told a couple of fabulous stories about rumpled rhinoceroses and cruel kings. Maybe one day she can weave in a tale or two about magical Melissas.