Current Release

Current Release
The Warrior's Viking Bride

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hens

Yesterday one of the Black Rocks died. It was more than seven years old and so its demise was not entirely unexpected.
I buried it, put a potted canna over the grave to prevent any grave robbing foxes and telephoned the MacDonald's farm. They have supplied us with hens over the years and yesterday was no expection. We now have four more hens. Two Goldenline and two Light Sussex. If you want to know about he breeds, you can read about them on the Haydon Bridge Hen website.
We picked the hens up late last evening and put them in the hen house with food and water, having clipped their wings first. Then the pop hole was closed until almost dark. The remaining hens had gathered around the pop hole and went in quite quickly. We also did not have a mass escape by the new hens.
This morning I let them out. They all went on to the path and none are hidden in the henhouse.
Tonight, I shall have to make sure none decides to roost in an unusual place.

The Junior Duck Patrol seems to be mostly comprised of drakes. I am hoping that they will get along but fear duck wars. When we had cockrel wars, I ended up being the person delegated to dispatch the cockrels...My dh being woken up at 3:30 am was a worse thought than having to dispatch. That being said, I have avoided dispatching ever since...

The wip is in its final 10k. Onwards and upwards.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Corbridge Roman Festival

Yesterday, my middle child andI went tot he Corbridge Roman Festival. My dh and other two asked to be excused on grounds that it didn't really interest them. So, my middle child shuffled with embarassement as I asked questions of members of the Roman Miltary Research Society. They were fetchingly dressed in blue tunics. The colour of tunics was decided twenty years ago and they pointed out -- no one knows for certain what the actaul colour of the tunics were.
Personally I doubt they were blue (or as blue as they havethem) blue was a difficult colour to dye. Also the Romans didn't particularly like bright colours on their men. The current research shows that the ordinary footsoldier probably wore white while the officers (including centurions) wore scarlet.
However, it did look attractive.
I was able to lift the chain mail coat. This is what an officer would have worn over his tunic during the period I am writing about. The segmented armour did not come into being until about the end of the Augustan period.
Also they explained when the different swords came into use. The shorter gladius with its parrell side and sharp point was in use during the late Republic.

Unfortunately the games tent had blown over and I was unable to actaully play any ofthe Roman board games. The men I was speaking to assured me that the soldiers often painted game boards on the reverse of their shields and played at latrunculi or tali during rest stops.

We also watched the Romano-British cavalry thundering up and down the field.

I had a good converstation about rituals and the nature of the Roman religion.he was upset that due to the wind his demonstration of Roman ritual was cancelled. Luckily he had already cooked the entrails.

After I returned home, I spent a very tense early evening listening to the cricket. Unable to stand watching it (and also because my dh was flicking back and forth between Geordie gloom (Man U v Newcastle) and the match) I listened via my computer and tried to work on my wip.

The wip is coming on. I think it is getting stronger andI at last feel like I am on the home stretch.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Historical errors -- a slight rant

I love history. I also love historical romance. I fully accept that when I read historical romance that it will not have happened. But I do like to think -- it would have possible. Or is at least has some modicum of grounding in real life.
But it does bother me when the author's historical note afterwards is wrong. I picked up the latest M&B Super historical by K Micheals. A Regency about Queen Caroline. She went on about how not that much was known about Queen Caroline. Slight news to me as I can remember reading an excellent Jean Plaidy as several non fiction books about George IV's erstwhile consort. I became interested in the era after reading The Young Victoria. I wanted to know more about Princess charlotte and Prince Leopold. Leopold was one of Victoria's main adviser's. There is a wealth of material on the era...if you know where to look. The reason Queen Victoria was born at all has to do with the unfortunate death of Princess Charlotte.who died in childbirth in 1817.
But I really raised my eyebrows when she stated that Queen Victoria succeeeded George IV. Umm, what about William IV and Queen Adelaide?
The offending passage by Kasey Micheals in her author's note states King George IV...never did remarry so that upon his death, Victoria...became queen.
George IV died in 1830 and his brother William succeeded to the throne. Wiliam IV died in 1837 without legimate heir when Victoria became queen much to the disgruntlement of George and William's younger brother who became Elector of Hanover (as Hanover had a bar on women succeeeding)
William IV was the last British king or queen to freely chose his prime minister. How can anyone ignore 7 years of rule?
Those seven years meant that Victoria was able to rule on her own rather than having to suffer a regency with her mother, the Duchess of Kent holding sway.
To say that Victoria was George IV's heir was wrong. Sailor Billy was.
A small point to be sure but if the woman had spent 25 years writing about the regency era, surely she should at least know her kings and queens of Britain.
Call me unreasonable, but I do like the framework of history to be correct. Play what ifs BUT get the dates right, the kings, queens and presidents in the correct order, as well as the battles. Otherwise, it makes me want to throw the book across the room and more importantly makes me resovle NEVER to read said author again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The American top 100

Another way to procrastinate courtesy of Sela.

Take the list of AFI’s top 100 movies and bold the ones you’ve seen.
1. CITIZEN KANE (1941)
2. CASABLANCA (1942) --Bogart and Bergman Here

s looking at you kid
3. THE GODFATHER (1972)
4. GONE WITH THE WIND (1939) --Leigh and Gable
5. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1962) -- overly long but with Omar Sharif
6. THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939)-- a firm favourite
7. THE GRADUATE (1967)
8. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954) --Brando
9. SCHINDLER’S LIST (1993) -- don'twatch when in first stages of pregnancy, can cause vomiting
10. SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952)
11. IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE (1946)-- JimmyStewart
12. SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950)
13. THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI (1957)
14. SOME LIKE IT HOT (1959) -- fanatastic
15. STAR WARS (1977)
-- no comment, I have seen way too much
16. ALL ABOUT EVE (1950)
17. THE AFRICAN QUEEN (1951)-- Bogart and Hepburn, the book is a great adventure
18. PSYCHO (1960)
19. CHINATOWN (1974
)21. THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1940)
22. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968)
23. THE MALTESE FALCON (1941)
24. RAGING BULL (1980)
25. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (1982)
26. DR. STRANGELOVE (1964)
27. BONNIE AND CLYDE (1967)
28. APOCALYPSE NOW (1979) -- the only thing worse is the Heart of Darkness which it is loosely based on
29. MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (1939) --Jimmy Stewart
30. THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948)
31. ANNIE HALL (1977)
32. THE GODFATHER PART II (1974)
33. HIGH NOON (1952)
34. TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962)
35. IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT (1934)--Gable takes his shirt, and underwear industry sinks.
36. MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)
37. THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES (1946
)38. DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944)
39. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (1965)-- Lara's theme is the best part
40. NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959)
41. WEST SIDE STORY (1961)
42. REAR WINDOW (1954)
43. KING KONG (1933)
44. THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) --second half gets grusome
45. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (1951)-- Brando does his Stella cry
46. A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971
47. TAXI DRIVER (1976)
48. JAWS (1975)
49. SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS (1937)-- I can name the seven drawves
50. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID (1969)--Redford and Newman -- those eyes
51. THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (1940)-- Another favorite comedy.
52. FROM HERE TO ETERNITY (1953)
53. AMADEUS (1984)--Prague, Mozart and dodgy historical research
54. ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT (1930)
55. THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965 --I've met one of the VonTrapps at their lodge in VT. A firm favourite film
)56. M*A*S*H (1970) --Loudon Wainwright sings Sucide is painless
57. THE THIRD MAN (1949)
58. FANTASIA (1940)
59. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) --James Dean and chicken racing
60. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981) --Harrison Ford, yum
61. VERTIGO (1958)
62. TOOTSIE (1982)
63. STAGECOACH (1939)
64. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977
65. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (1991)-- refused to watch this
66. NETWORK (1976)
67. THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962)
68. AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (1951)
69. SHANE (1953)
70. THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971)
71. FORREST GUMP (1994)
72. BEN-HUR (1959)
73. WUTHERING HEIGHTS (1939)
74. THE GOLD RUSH (1925)
75. DANCES WITH WOLVES (1990) -- avoid
76. CITY LIGHTS (1931)
77. AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973) --Harrison Ford appears and a host of 70s tv stars before they were famous.
78. ROCKY (1976)
79. THE DEER HUNTER (1978)
80. THE WILD BUNCH (1969)
81. MODERN TIMES (1936)
82. GIANT (1956) --James Dean in jeans, do I need to say more?
83. PLATOON (1986)
84. FARGO (1996)
85. DUCK SOUP (1933)
86. MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY (1935)
87. FRANKENSTEIN (1931
)88. EASY RIDER (1969)
89. PATTON (1970)
90. THE JAZZ SINGER (1927
)91. MY FAIR LADY (1964)
92. A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951)
93. THE APARTMENT (1960)
94. GOODFELLAS (1990)
95. PULP FICTION (1994)
96. THE SEARCHERS (1956)
97. BRINGING UP BABY (1938)
98. UNFORGIVEN (1992)
99. GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER (1967)
100. YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942

His Excellency

Every Christmas, my dh gives me several non-fiction books. His Excellency by Joseph J Ellis was last year's. I should have read it sooner BUT it was put in a bookcase when we arrived back from the Christmas holidays. I only rediscovered it a few days ago. It makes a welcome relief from the ultra depressing Mao.
His Excellency
is a biography of George Washington, one of the more inaccessible heroes of the American revolution. Part of the problem is his almost mythic status and the fact that he knew his writings would be preserved at an early stage in the American Revolution, and so was very cadgy about revealing his personal feelings. All his private letters to his wife were burnt.
Elllis is a marvelous biographer who won the Pulitzer for The Founding Brothers.
Despite the problems, and Washington was very self-contained, Ellis manages to give a very interesting portrait of a man who not only influenced the shaping of the US but also the modern day world.
Washington is the only quasi-king to voluntarily give up power at the end of a revolution. Once the British had surrendered at Yorktown, he said farewell to his troops and went home to Mt Vernon. He saw himself as the American Cincinnati. His thinking was heavily influenced by the Roman Republic -- although he did not have the same difficulty with the word *empire* that we do today.
His views of how America should become a nation were very different than Jefferson's. Jefferson paid a lot of lip service to the equality of man. Washington believed in deference. On the question of slavery, Jefferson wrote a lot but in the end freed few.
After Washington became aware of the slavery problem, Washington looked for ways to get rid of his slaves. Part of the reason for this had to do with economics, but partly on humanitarian grounds. After the American Revolution, Washington wanted to sell his slaves in family groups, but when this proved impractical, he maintained the slave family, despite having transferred to a type of agriculture that did not require slave labour. At his death, all his slaves were freed. He was a product of his times but he still remains the only slave-holding founding father, to do so. His vision was for Virginia to become a Southern outpost of the North -- a bit more like Pennsylvania rather than a northern outpost of the South. If this had happened and VA stayed with the North, it is difficult to imagine the American Civil War happening.
Washington's army -- the Continental Army was the first racially integrated army in US history. The next one did not happen until after the Korean War.
When confronted with an epidemic of smallpox, he instituted one of the first mass inoculation programmes in US history.
I could go on and on. I thought I knew Washington and the period but have been pleasantly surprised.
In this present day with the mess in Iraq, I do think his observations that the nationhood is only fired in the crucible of despair bears some thought. He was convinced that catastrophe had to hit a nation before it would be willing to come up with a workable constitution. It is worthwhile remembering that the Articles of confederation (the US's first constitution did not work and that Shay's rebellion was one of the catalysts for the Constitution as it stands today)
actually in today's climate, I doubt such a document would be produced. The delegates were only supposed to amend and tinkered with the Articles, not throw them out. Each side would have been leaking their POV to the papers and compromise would prove impossible.
What today is seen as a great triumph, Washington felt was a failure. Would that all failures were like that.
Before dismissing Washington as the deadest of dead white males, it is helpful to understand what he was truly about and why he is a hero. First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. The book should be read by anyone interested in the period.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

HBO and BBC's Rome

I had managed to let this wash over me. However the HBO showing of the Rome series is about to start on 28 August (9-10 pm ET/PT). Rome is in the BBC's autumn line up but I don't know the exact start date. However, I suspect the ads for the BBC version will mention the fact that it is a huge hit in the US. The Sunday Telegraph also have an article about the series in today's edition.

Critics have apparently liked the series which follows the fortunes of two fictional characters during the fall of the Roman republic and the start of the Empire. The starting point is 53 BC.

HBO are looking to Rome to keep its status as a at the edge TV series provider. They need a new mega hit as Sex and the City is gone. The Sopranos is on its last series (maybe -- they are starting to film 8 bonus episodes in Jan) and Six feet Under is on its last series, I believe. It is supposed to be I Claudius on Viagra and steriods. In any case a $100 million, it is the most expensive television series shot to date. This means the advertising will be heavy. HBO want the series to succeed. The few clips I have seen -- with swords flying everywhere, the suggestion of sex and the hint of intrigue look good.

Obviously I am hoping it will succeed as it might make people want to read more about the time period. The Gladiator's Honour might be well placed to take advantage of it. I shall be watching the ratings with fingers crossed. If anyone in the US chances to see it, I would be interested to hear what you think of it. Does it whet your appetite for more?

I will have to watch the series as whatever happens, it will enter the public conscience and become to a certain extent *what people expect*. Hopefully, it will be reasonably be close to my own idea of what Rome was like.

Other news: I am busy editing my latest wip. It is a case of revising because I had to clear the proofs from my head. However, TSD is becoming stronger and the motivations clearer. BUT I have had a whole host of crows, dragons and turkeys of doubt on this one.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Summer

In a gloriously blue sky, my dh managed to hit a cricket ball for six and break an upstairs window. Glass strewn all over the eldest's bedroom and the hallway. The only thing that prevent the ball from travelling out the other side of the house was our bedroom door was shut.
My dh was pretty proud of his achievement.
It is lucky that glazier is coming on Tuesday to fix the other window he broke this summer.
I suspect if it had been one of the children, he would have been very annoyed but as it was him, he was proud of his atheletic prowess. Men.
The shattered glass is now all cleaned up. It is far too hot to workin the garden and so the nettles will have to wait for another day.
Warm summer days are rare in Northumberland and I intend to make the most of it -- despite the broken window.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Under a blood red moon

Last night a crimson moon rose in the sky and hung there in the last few embers of the sun.
Watching it, it was easy to see how people must have seen portents in sights like that.
Of course as the sun continued to set and the moon to rise, it was less red, but no less big and beautiful.
I had never seen a red moon before, and thought that perhaps it was a tale told round a campfire, but there it was -- between two treees in a deepening blue-black sky. My dh was somewhat amused by it all. The elder two children were interested (the youngest was sound asleep after his garden camping adventure) but not for very long. For me, however, it was a source of fascination.
What would happen if such a moon appeared before a battle? How would people react? Would the camp fall silent, the general background noise of plates, dice and laughter fading as the moon was noticed? Or what if a woman was waiting for news of her soldier husband, knowing there wqould be a battle? Would it make any difference on the time period? Sometimes, one can only look on in awesome wonder.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Lessons from the proofs

I finished doing the corrections of The Gladiator's Honour's proofs. The next time I see the book, it should be bound with a cover.
It was my first direct expereince with M&B editing. And so what have I learnt? First and foremost -- there is no need to signal a scene change if the only change is the point of view. Second, make sure you read the proofs carefully to pick up all missing italics.

Did my editor cut a lot of my book? Not so I'd notice. I will admit to not going back and comparing. Either it would get me paranoid or depressed. The only thing that matters is does the current proof read well, and does it read the way I envisioned it reading. The answer to both questions is a resounding yes. So I was well pleased. There were parts I thought -- yes, this is quite good and very exciting.

Also I did mange to catch one small slip. The Romans played a board game called Laturnculi. It was an early form of chess. Chess as such wa not mention until Sanskrit writings in the 7th century CE There is a lovely website about Roman board games, in case anyone is interested.

My mother has left and is now winging her way across the Atlantic. The children are a bit upset as they get on very well with their grandmother. It will be interesting to see if I get more or less done with her gone. Certainly, I know how to ignore my children. Ignoring my mother proved more difficult.

Monday, August 15, 2005

On being trendy

The Telegraph had an article about beekeeping in its Weekend section. Apparently it is now a trendy and glamourous thing to do...if you are a woman. It is wonderful to see hobbies being reclaimed. Knitting with its Stich and Bitch commandos. Baking with its sexy Nigella Lawson domestic goddess persona. Even chickens and vegtable growing.
The fact is crafts and doing things with your hands because you take pleasure in it is coming back. Knitting or conted cross stitch can be a far better way to relieve stress than smoking. I am always grateful that I have never smoked as I need to be doing something with my hands. It has never bothered me that knitting and the like were supposed to be religated to the granny squad in this country as being American, I was considered differnet anyway. Besides, I have knitted fluffy pink jumpers. I prefer to use different wools and cotton. My favourite is a demin cotton that you knit and then wash to shrink before sewing up.
For that matter, I love to sew. Designer clothes are much less expensive when you make them yourself. It is also the challenge of making something.
And I do like to bake bread. All of these activites afford me time to think about my work rather than say watching TV which does nothing for my creative process.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Doing the proofs

Yesterday, I went out to the postbox and had an awful dega vu moment. A thick, obviously manuscript sized envelope. But, my mind protested, my partial surely wasn't that big. How can I be getting a rejection? I don't have any fulls out there! For the life of me, I couldn't think what HM&B were sending. I tore open the envelope and there were the proofs -- with the standard note from Editorial.
Apparently the format for M&B proofs has recenltly changed. Instead of letters, you can now see what the finished work will basically look like.
M&B proofs are different from Hale proofs. Hale proofs look like the finished book, completed with frontpiece, copyright page and double spread for each page.
M&B proofs are double spaced, with each line numbered.
With Hale proofs, you use different coloured pens to denote whether it is a printer error or more likely an author error. With Hale, you make proof reading marks directly on the paper.
With M&B, I need to write out on a seperate piece of paper, the page number and line of the correction, and what needs to be done. I then email my editor with the list rather than posting the entire manuscript back.
Two big things I have noticed. First the en dashes look like hyphens. My editor assures me that this is simply HM&B proof style and the en dashes will look like en dashes in the finished work. Secondly not all of the italics were picked up. This is because it is machine done, and I need to make sure that all the italics (ie for Latin words) are there.
It is fun to reread Gladiator's Honour for basically the last time before I see it in print.
Now is not the time for wholesale changes. It is merely the time for correcting errors.
One big thing I have noticed is that where I have indicated a scene solely due to POV change, there is no longer a scen change. I shall be making that change in my current wip.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Better than average

The Lady Soldier has been reviewed at www.myshelf.com. The review was a good one, with the reviewer saying that she thought it was a better than average Regency and she wished the book was longer. So it was a very pleasant review for me to read.

Donna asked what are courgettes. Courgettes are zucchini.
Aubergine are eggplant btw.
Swede are rutabaga as near as I can figure. As I am not overfondly of either, I have not investigated closely -- although my dh keeps trying to convince that mashed swede is great. You would think after 17 plus years of marriage, he'd have learnt. I do give in on high days and holidays and try to choke down a mouthful.

We watched Sideways last night -- a buddy film about two men wine tasting in California's Santa Inez Valley. It was mainly shot around Bulleton and Solvang. As I visited both when I was growing up -- the locations brought back memoriess. When I lived in California, my dh and I used to go wine tasting -- so some of that brought back memories as well -- the contrast between the small winery and the big winery with its steel vats and overly touristy hype. I rapidly learnt that the small wineries often had wonderful gems. As the main character is an unpublished writer, I had a certain amount of sympathy with his anxiety as he waited to hear about his book. It is a better than average film and will probably appeal to people who liked Withnail and I and films like that. According to the telegraph yesterday, Sideways has made the Santa Inez Valley a popular toursit destination as causing a revival in Pinot Noir. I believe it won an Academy award for best adapted screenplay.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A surfeit of courgettes

We are suffering from a surfeit of courgettes. Normally we do not have enough, but this year, we made a policy decision and have been picking the courgettes when they get about the size of my thumb. Sometimes larger, if they get overlooked. I have adapted a soup recipe from The River Cottage Cookbook. Hugh Fearnley Whittonstall has a recipe for courgette and milk soup. I have changed it to -- courgette, basil and brie soup.
As I suspect a number of people search out ways to use up courgettes, I am sharing it.
It is very simple -- sweat courgettes and garlic in a little olive oil until soft, mash with potato masher, add a combination of milk and chicken stock until the desire consistency is reached, add fresh torn basil leaves, and about four oz (125 grams) brie -- stir to melt. Process in food processor if you like your soup smooth. Add basil leaves and pieces of brie on top. Serve. I suspect this soup will be as good cold as it was hot. I also suspect it would be quite good with other types of cheese.
This recipe is now added to my arsenal of courgette recipes -- from courgette bread to courgette encaladas to Italian roasted and now soup. The River Cottage Cookbook also lists courgette souffle and courgette pasta....

I am facing a small problem in the wip. It is very difficult to write a passionate scene when one is likely to be walked in on by one's mother and children. I suspect I shall have to skip this scene and write the end of the scene and the next few chapters, then go back after my mother leaves.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

summer holidays mean school clothes

It was that time of year. It could no longer be put off. The children were not placated by my old stand by of Can't you make do? School's nearly out. So we had to do it. We had to brave the M&S school department.
It was not so bad. Give it another week, and it will be wall to wall madness. I know that. I have been there too many times. When your hand goes for the last sized anything, only to find some sharp eyed mother got there before. And the queue for the fitting rooms stretches out the door and down the block. It is no good not tryingthings on because if you go for that option, you are going to face the Returns.
It is no good saying -- order online as with school trousers, size varies so. See above about Returns. Been there, done that. Had to return.
We had one hiccup. No trousers fit the middle daughter. Nothing. Cue silent cursing.
However, there was a saving grace -- she likes skirts. She is now the proud owner of two new skirts and seven pairs of tights. This should suffice.
The youngest found his trousers (they will need to be taken up) but the eldest swears his current trousers fit. They had better.
To make matters worse, my mother was with us. It made for an interesting shopping experience. But the end I was frazzled.
However the school clothes shopping is over for another year. It is just the shoe shopping that I have to go for next. They all got newshoes in the last term -- so it can wait.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ghosts of Christmas Past

When I arrived back from Norway, I discovered Deb Hunt had sent me a book on the first fifty years of Crystal Springs Uplands School. It was very sensitively done. Not too much attention was paid to the Patti Hearst episode but it was acknowledged as were several other distressing episode in the school's history.
I can well remember my English teacher being really relieved that Crystal was called tony (as in of the ton) rather than the usual exclusive in some newspaper piece. When the Patti Hearst kidnapping fever was its height, much was made of the school's exclusivity. A slight shock for the school as a few years earlier they had been excused of taking troubled girls. I think the powers that be dispaired of ever winning the media battle.
Anyway, the book provoked my children into asking to see their mother's high school yearbooks. I went searching around in the basement and duly found one as well as the journal I kept when I was thirteen. Part of the journal's purpose was public -- we had to keep in for English class, and part of it was for me. Among other things were pieces on To Kill A Mockingbird as well as story ideas for novels I wanted to write and snatches of dialogue and the usual self-justification of a 13 year old along with my horrible handwriting and awful spelling.
In there, I listed my Christmas presents for 1977 -- from my parents -- a suitcase, a calender and a book on poker. What I had really wanted was JRR Tolkien's Smillarion (something I received a month later for my birthday, according the journal.) While a suitcase might be a strange thing to get for Christmas, it has proved an extremely practical present. I still own the turquoise blue hard sided American Touristor suitcase and it has accompanied me on my many travels. 28 years and it still begs to be filled every time we go on holiday. Instinctively when I wait for the luggage, I look for its cheery blue -- slightly battered, with stickers my eldest put on in a bored moment when he was three to come up the ramp. So although I think my 13 year old self was perhaps a bit disappointed, the suitcase has proved a far better friend than JRR Tolkien book which disappeared years ago and was only read once. (Although I loved LOTR, the Smillarion was confused with no over all plot to hold it together -- yes I know it was the point but...)
The whole experience has made me think -- what are the best Christmas presents? Those that we long for, or those that we use time and time again? Which gives the most pleasure?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back

I am back from my Norwegian cruise. There were over one hundred emails waiting for me! Serves me right to start taking Laurie Campbell's synopsis class and then not go to digest messages!
The best email was from my editor. She confirmed that they are keeping The Gladiator's Honour as title in the UK. In the US, it will be The Gladiator's Honor. The Gladiator's Honour will be published in hardback in March 2006, and in paperback in May 2006. The large print version will be September 2006. They are still trying to decide if it will published Direct or Direct and Retail in the US.
She also confirmed that my partial is in the right place. When it came in, it went into the slush pile by mistake BUT that was all sorted . I will be hearing her thoughts shortly...
Norway was lovely, but I have been cured of any desire to do the 14 day Norwegian coastal cruise. Any cruise that I take from now on will need to have lectures and a purpose, not just sitting back and watching the mountains pass. Beautiful. Breathtaking, but it would drive me nuts after a few days. The thought of taking enough books sends shivers down my spine. I divided my time between watching the fjords, and reading.
I will put the photos on here soonish.