A Drizzly Day!

Manhattan today is wet and dreary so the perfect time to settle down and once again attack the book proposal. I’ve just re-read the two paragraphs below about the day we bought my bicycle on ebay in preparation for the trip. Anyway, I thought I’d share them with you as it was such a happy time and despite the rain today, it’s made me smile …. I hope you’re smiling too.

So, sitting in the sunshine outside a sleepy pub in Suffolk with my parents-in-law, husband and several pints of beer, my other half gleefully took it upon himself the task of bidding for the bicycle. Loving a challenge he rolled up his sleeves with gusto and, with a grin for his audience, he somewhat importantly pushed his lop-sided glasses further up his nose with one finger. Then, licking his lips, he rolled his head from side to side as if in anticipation of six rounds with Mike Tyson. In truth I think he was having a moment of fancying himself on the trading floor of a city bank. Any moment now he’d be shrieking, “Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell!” Michael Douglas and Wall Street have clearly left their mark on him.

With the ease and serenity of someone who is unfazed by the adrenaline rush of an auction, he laughed his way through the excruciating process of the last hour of bidding. I sat beside him wringing my hands in anguish, squealing rather a lot and as the seconds counted down, leapt around crossing and uncrossing my legs as though about to wet myself, which was in fact a distinct possibility. Thankfully however, we won the bid as, when the clock hit the last five seconds he put in a final cheeky bid. One hundred and one pounds! He grinned with victory and punched the air, beer spilling onto the table. It mattered not, for my heavenly husband had beaten Mike Tyson, outplayed today’s gold market and made a sweet million. I had a bicycle. He was a happy man. His parents were uproariously giggly and a tad tiddly and disappeared to fetch some celebratory drinks; meanwhile, I was utterly exhausted and needed a lie-down, but five minutes later made-do with a large glass of red. Shopping with my husband has never been a tranquil experience.”

Katie x

Manhattan!

It’s faintly liberating to finally post a personal picture having avoided it for so long.

I can’t say I’m ever going to do a Liz Hurley and have a stream of swimwear shots week after week; frankly I wouldn’t want to be responsible for anyone not fully digesting their breakfast; suffice to say, I’m too old. But maybe just the occasional one fully dressed top to toe, so you can put a face to a name. I hope that’s ok.

Now back to matters of importance! At 20:43 last night our mobile phones went into crisis mode as the New York alert system delivered a siren so loud we jumped up from watching the highly addictive ‘The Crown’. A tornado was apparently on its way.

Short, sharp and violently it hit us. At 49 floors up, the windows shuddered, the wind raged and howled, sheets of rain and hail were horizontally fired at us and below in the light of the street lamps, we could see the boughs of enormous trees, still heavily laden with their autumn leaves being violently thrown from side to side. Rubbish, detritus, road cones and plastic barriers were being tumbled and scattered down the streets with force. And not a person was in sight. Manhattan was understandably deserted.

We couldn’t hear the television through the noise, so instead of trying to resume the dramas within Buckingham Palace, the Colonel shouted to me about the marvellous engineering and structural strength of the building and the way in which glass is made for exactly these conditions; I wondered at what point we should hide in the bath and put a mattress on top of us, but perhaps that’s only if there’s a bomb … my mind was clearly befuddled.

Twenty minutes later and it was all over. I returned to The Crown with relief and a stiff drink; the grizzly, drizzly rain and weather at Balmoral Castle seemingly quite clement in comparison.

So I’m having a quiet day today, writing, cooking and drinking copious quantities of tea, alongside peaking a look at some of my swimwear beach photos from the summer. Nope, I ain’t never posting any of those! Some things are best kept to oneself!

Katie x

Scrabble … Really?

I’ll admit it. I love scrabble. Don’t be too harsh on me.

I’m fully aware it’s seen as an old people’s game, a dull person’s game, a tediously lengthy game for the quiet type with a bad haircut and an annoying habit of absently pulling at their nasal hair. Whilst I currently do indeed have a bad haircut, I do not however put my fingers up my nose, well, certainly not in public.

The Colonel and I take our games seriously. We have taken competitiveness to another level. We have a large black book for our scoring and an extensive list of words that are and are not allowed. No slang, abbreviations, Latin and absolutely nothing from the Urban Dictionary. Quite how “gonad” was allowed in I’ve yet to work out, but I digress …

The last game was won by The Colonel by a mere three points. This result was met with ecstatic fist punching and jubilant hysteria from himself and much screeching, cursing and howling from Yours Truly. This daily release of emotion is a wonderful antidote to any pent-up frustrations of being held in confinement.

Strange we may well be as we find ridiculous pleasure in bringing out the longed-for seven letter word, or in utilising the ‘J’ on a triple letter score, but one thing is certain … it sure does pass the time in a very happy way!

Kx

P.s. How are you passing your free time? And dare I ask, do you play Scrabble?!

Last Week I Met an Author.

Last week I met the author Barbara Taylor Bradford OBE. She has written 35 novels, sold over 30 million copies and is apparently worth in excess of 300 million dollars. That’s a lot of books and an awful lot of money.

When I think of us all tap, tapping away on our iPads and laptops with our spellcheckers and predictive text working overtime, I wonder if when she began in the 1970’s she wrote on a manual typewriter with a dictionary and thesaurus to hand.

She was charming and very beautiful. I was star struck and developed a rather strange lisping stutter. I did however manage to ask her how disciplined she was about her writing. Ridiculous question of course, but surprising that I managed to utter any words given the sudden vocal constraints. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind if I told you she starts at five o’clock every morning and with only a short break at lunch, continues writing all day. Ahh! So yes, really rather disciplined.

So with this in mind, I have adjusted my daily schedule to, if not exactly rising at five, certainly by nine o’clock I am wrestling once again with my final editing. I’ve begun researching appropriate agents and pondering over query letters and all the while, thinking about beautiful Barbara and how hard she works, day in, day out despite being over 80. Quite an inspiration. I just wish I hadn’t have offered to find her a cab … of course she had her driver waiting for her downstairs … what a durr I am.

Katie xx

Is there anyone who really inspires you to write or work?

Food Shopping – Oh The Joy!

We live in an apartment. It’s an apartment in Manhattan with one of those downstairs reception hall places with people in uniforms who sit behind a big modern desk with lots of telephones and say, “Have a nice day” each and every time you pass them. That’s a lot of “Have a nice days”. They also give me a spare key every time I forget mine and call me to ask if I need the fire department when I set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen. Its a bit posh for me, but they’re lovely and we understand each other.

Yesterday I made the unfortunate decision to go to Costco to do some food shopping. Now, just to be clear, I obviously have aspirations to be a Waitrose or Wholefoods kind of ‘gal but I believe that I must have some Scottish ancestry which makes me … shall we say, ‘careful with money’. Therefore Costco is my weekly shop.

I had forgotten that at weekends however the trains often have delays because this is when maintenance work is done. I had also forgotten that if it looks like it’s merely drizzling from the apartment windows, it is actually gale force one zillion with horizontal rain once you step outside.

Being Autumn, I had worn my ‘Glasgow’ coat which the Colonel bought me on a posting to Scotland a couple of years ago. My lovely coat with its fleecy lining reaches mid-thigh, and has a hood with soft fluffy bits that frame one’s face. It is supposed to be completely waterproof. I now know that it is not.

I sat in a puddle on the train squeezing ineffectively the drenched sleeves whilst listening to my Audible book “Next Steps in French” by Paul somebody and muttered in French every few seconds the response to his questions. I can now say, “I am afraid of flying, so am planning to take the Eurostar”. I know for a fact this sentence will never be useful to me, but perhaps the next chapter will be more relevant.

By the time I had walked from the subway station and arrived at Costco I was wet from my forehead to my knickers and from my knickers to my squelching sodden shoes. My neatly written shopping list had turned to papier-mâché in my pocket and the quirky turquoise ink that I like to use had transferred, not only onto my right hand, but clearly I had been touching or wiping my face rather a lot too. In fact, the only part of me which was dry was the back of my head, and as for the soft fluffy hood delicately framing my face? I looked like I was draped in a collection of small drowned rats’ tails.

Having squelched and shuffled my way round Costco, it took an hour and a half to get from the checkout queue back to my apartment. And, as I walked into the reception hallway, three wide pairs of eyes looked at me from behind the desk.

“Don’t say it!” I said through gritted teeth. “It’s not a good day.”

They looked sympathetically up and down at me, tutting and shaking their heads. Then they nodded, looked at each other and simultaneously said, “Ma’am, have a better day!” and roared with laughter. Bollocks to the lot of them.

As for the “Next Steps in French” by Paul somebody, by the time I had gotten home and onto the next chapter, I could say, “I was about to book a taxi when you called me”.

As I’m too tight to get a taxi, I don’t see that this is ever going to be relevant either … although perhaps it would have saved me the delayed trains, the soaking knickers and the turquoise face … as for my Glasgow coat … I don’t believe the fluffy bits will ever look the same.

Katie x

Ps. Before you ask what the relevance of the picture is, there isn’t any, it just made me feel wonderful simply looking at it!

Joining a Book Club

It has finally happened. I have conceded. I have joined the ladies-who-lunch brigade and have been accepted into what is, by all accounts, a rather smart book club on 5th Avenue.

What was I thinking? I have yielded to my vanity!

This is not an opportunity for a bit of Joanna Trollope and a girly natter over chocolate biscuits squeezed into someone’s cosy flat. No. This book club is for grown ups. Smart women with multiple degrees, serious careers and a penchant for reading Virginia Woolf. Shall I be caught out on day one as an imposter and fraud who loves the merry romp of a Jilly Cooper rather than anything marginally, even fractionally heavier? Quite possibly.

Well, I shall just have to stop ruminating and clutching madly at my hair with tremulous hands and go to the bookshop. I have to purchase not just one, but two books which need to be read within 3 weeks. I’ve made my bed and now I shall lie in it, with the books no doubt.

Just a teensy thought, I wonder what one wears to a book club meeting on Fifth Avenue? Hmm … my book shopping might need to include some clothes shopping …

Think I’m going to nail this!

Katie x

Any experiences of book clubs?? Help me please!

Finishing The Book …

Writing.

Editing.

Rewriting.

And repeat …

If we were to travel back thirty years, I would have been daily banging my fingers on the typewriter keys making a click, clickety click as the type bars struck the inky ribbon and left their imprint of blackened letters onto a white sheet of paper. And when the words in my mind refused to flow, I could rip the sheet of paper out with a forceful and resounding whoosh of the roller, scrunch it up between my hands with fury and hurl it into the waste paper basket across the room.

In today’s modern computer-abundant world, just holding down the delete key doesn’t give that same painfully exquisite release of frustration. It’s a shame really. Of course I could simply throw the iPad at the window or indeed the nearest person, but somehow the repercussions of that would most likely not be proportional to my momentary frustration.

So, I continue to write, edit, rewrite and drive myself mad with trying to create something that is, in my mind, not perfection, but the very best I can do. After all, isn’t that what we should do … our very best?

Katie x

Any tips or suggesstions for getting through over the last hurdle?

The Audio Book

I am now a modern woman. I have an App and it is called Audible.

I have precisely one book in my Audible library and of the twelve hours of listening that is required before I can pronounce I have finished it, I have completed just one hour, thirty-five minutes and a smattering of seconds.

Presumably, I can only imagine that because the book is about various women, it is therefore being read by a number of women, one of whom has a rather irritating voice. Nasal, whiny, like a cat in a fight. I don’t enjoy her chapters very much and thus far she has read a lot of them.

The issue I have is one of multi-tasking. I had imagined that I could walk around New York listening to my book whilst running a few errands, window shopping, picking up the groceries. No. It simply doesn’t work like that.

I find myself walking aimlessly in the wrong direction clutching at my ears trying to stop the earplugs from falling out, yet again; I stand, endlessly staring into shop windows, seeing nothing, just listening to the story; I gaze at displays of fruit for so long that I am asked by random strangers if I need help; and all the while I am trying to concentrate on a book, a plot, numerous different characters and all delivered by a nasal, whiny voice.

Perhaps I should persevere. Perhaps I should revert to a physical book with lovely pages to touch and feel. Perhaps I am simply too long in the tooth for this audiobook malarkey. And yet, when I heard of people who by June had already read fifty books that year (were they showing off?) I question how on earth they managed this. Do they too have audiobooks and spend their days plugged into their phones, whilst simultaneously running their multinational conglomerates? Or do they read through the night with a torch under the duvet?

I shall, for the time being, persevere. And if I reach the stage whereby I want to bludgeon the nasal voice to death, I shall revert to a proper book with proper paper pages. I shall hide with it late at night under the bedcovers, with a torch and its undoubtedly dying battery, just like I used to as a child. After all, isn’t that what normal people do?

Katie x

Do you use audiobooks? How? When? Where?