A writer’s life for me

The day Planet Mail came out was obviously a happy one for me. But as I spent half an hour erasing pencil scrawl from my daughter’s chair, table and hutch and mopping up the apple juice she had deliberately spread over every surface, I found myself wondering whether I was the only author who found not a lot had changed.

When will I be able to command my personal assistant to take care of the mess so that I can go back to my muse? How many books do I have to write before I become the new Barbara Cartland or Nora Roberts? Quite a lot I imagine. I keep hearing that I need to write steadily for the next 5-10 years or so, gain a steady following and then bask in my glory. That seems like a very long time to wait…

I blame this attitude on Mr Kate. When I hit 40 he pointed out very kindly that I was probably halfway through my life. This kind of startled me. I hadn’t really thought about it like that before. But was I a glass half full or a glass half empty? That is the question. And I’m still not sure. Hence my impatience to write faster and do better quicker.

I got to do a nice writerly thing last Saturday. My friend Susan and I went to a writer’s class to support our friend Caron Kamps Widden in one of her first forays as a published writer. She talked about her book, Restoration, did a reading and answered questions. She was really calm and professional and authorly.

I still can’t quite see myself doing that. First off, finding a passage to read in one of my books that wouldn’t frighten/offend/titillate someone would be tricky. Secondly as a famous blusher (read my previous blog on this) I’m not sure if I could deal with someone actually asking me about the sex scenes!

Email and the internet are definitely my preferred medium. People can imagine me how they want to imagine an erotic romance writer and I can write to them with confidence that they’d never guess it was me if they met me on the street. One delightful thing is fan mail from readers. When someone responds to your characters as if they are real people or wants to know what happens to secondary characters, you can only feel that you have ‘communicated’-that magical alchemy between writer and reader we all strive for.

It’s really hot here at the moment and my keyboard is a bit sticky. It makes it hard to type and even harder to concentrate when all I can think about is a nice big glass of cold water! In a week, I’m off to the Romance Writers conference in Atlanta. I’m really looking forward to spending some time with my ‘peeps’. People who understand my vagaries and my inability to live in the real world. People who understand that a first sale ribbon means something. (stop laughing Mr Kate)

Mr Kate is girding his loins to look after our 4 kids. He’s actually very good at it. The only thing I notice is that when I come back they are pleased to see me cooking anything. I’m not quite sure what he feeds them while I’m away. It’s probably better that I don’t know. But one great thing about dear Mr K-he is super tidy and I always walk in to a gleaming kitchen and clean floors. (then I wonder why I came back) (no, Mr Kate-that’s a joke-don’t pout!)

No more World Cup posts after this

Well, not for the next four years anyway! Overall, it’s been a disappointing experience, despite the fantastic German hosts but that might be because I’m getting old and cynical. Lots of diving, ref nagging, play acting and a couple of spectacular fouls which would probably get you arrested if you tried it on the street. But then money rules over sportsmanship these days-and here I go again sounding like an old git.

On to other possibly more interesting things. Why aren’t more people entering my contest? Did I make the question too hard this time? Last time I made it super easy and even then a few people got it wrong…who knows. Maybe nobody wants a nice poster of Mr Yummy tummy.

I finished another shortish book this week and sent it in. Fingers crossed everyone that my editor likes it! I’m also trying to finish a short story which is due by the end of the month. As I’m going to the RWA conference in Atlanta, I need to get it done asap. I like writing the shorter books and I love writing short stories. It’s like instant gratification. Sometimes when you realize you’ve got 75,000 words left of a 100,000 word novel to write and you’ve run out of ideas it can get a little depressing.

Planet Mail is well and truly launched and I’ve had some nice feedback from some readers. I know I’m showing my newbie status here but I’ve actually had mail from people who like the book and don’t even know me! No bribery required. I kind of like that. Now, of course I have to wait for the reviews…

The RWA conference is coming up fast. This is my second one. Last year I was so shy I tried to blend in with the wallpaper which proved quite hard to do in a Reno hotel/casino. This year I told Mr. Kate I’m going to try and be a bit more outgoing-maybe make eye contact with people or something radical like that. The trouble is that Mr Kate is a damned attractive charming man so I tend to let him do all the socializing these days while I trail along behind, my eyes sweetly cast down in a Lady Di kind of way.

But I’m a published author now, I will have a ribbon (Mr Kate thinks the whole ribbon thing is hilarious-apparently they don’t have such things at computer conferences-I suspect he’s just jealous) I can walk proudly down the corridors-that is until someone asks me what I write and I stutter over the word erotic. Mind you, that’s an improvement on my first ever writing conference in San Francisco when I was asked what I wrote I said “books”

Oh well…

Now I can watch the World Cup without worrying. My team are out with the usual bad luck, can’t take penalties, don’t seem to believe they can win attitude which usually dogs an English football team. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to be C Ronaldo when he steps out to play for Man Utd this year-I suspect he will be heckled from coast to coast for his behaviour on the field.

I’ve always had a soft spot for dear old Becks-despite Mr Kate’s constant heckling that he had to come off the pitch because someone touched his hair. Becks was born about a mile and a half down the road from where I grew up. I could’ve babysat him.

Watching England and telling my son that I thought they would lose brought up a very interesting difference in the English and American mindset.My kids don’t really remember much about England and have grown up with a Californian view of life which brims with optimism and self-belief. I, of course carry the legacy of an old knackered country which has done everything and come out believing the worst. My son thinks I always look on the dark side and I think he might have a point, even if it is just about football.

Self-belief-how can an English team ever find that ability to transcend their national pessimistic streak and believe? Maybe it’s time to send a few Californians over there…

On to cheerier news. Mr Kate is back from China. He even managed to bring some decent chocolates back with him this time. We still have a beautiful gold box of Chinese premier chocolate that he brought back about 6 months ago that no one will eat. Now in a house with s teenage boys and me that’s saying how bad it was.

I got some very nice bookmarks for Planet Mail from Printing For Less who are based in Montana. I had a very interesting conversation with them about Montana, and England and job satisfaction which made me want to visit Montana and see why someone would give up his well paid computer job just to return home.

Planet Mail comes out on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to it. I’m especially proud of this one because I wrote it when I was in the worst writing slump I’ve ever had. I decided to write something fun and not edit it as I wrote-just keep writing until I got to the end which at that point was very liberating. Of course, I had a lot of revising to do later and it’s not a method I would always choose but it got me through that slump.

I have to thank Maria G for reading PM and pointing out some major plot problems, my mentor Julia Templeton for her helpful comments and lastly Pam Trader who helped me write, well wrote, the blurb. I’m so lucky to have such great supporters around me. Of course I’m sure you’ve already guessed that that’s Mr Kate on the cover…