I love Halloween. It signals the start of winter, dark nights, frosts and ancient magic. The belles have decorated the house ready and have planned their costumes to go trick or treating. We live on a small estate and it's good fun to visit friends and neighbours. Mr Nell is not so keen, although he never objects to helping eat the sweet haul. His thing is Christmas and in a few weeks from now my house will look as if a mad elf has attempted to recreate Santa's grotto. I have to go into work this week to discuss my sick leave, that'll be something to look forward too as I haven't any answers. My appointment is on the seventh to see the back and lower limb person so until then I don't know what all the treatment options will be. My hip is very painful at the moment so I'm not getting much sleep. The vacant posts have finally been advertised but only internally as yet so it'll still be getting toward Christmas if then, before they're filled. The sad thing is I've lost the capacity to care about it - I think I've worked so hard for so long that I'm still just numb from the whole experience.
Yesterday I did something I almost never do. I re read Charlie Darling. I usually don't reread books that are under submission until I've heard back from an editor. This is for two reasons 1) I invariably want to start tinkering with them, a word here, something different there etc etc and 2) I'm always a bit frightened that they might be complete pants and I must have had some sort of brainstorm in ever imaging that anyone would ever want to publish them. The reason I reread Charlie was because I wanted to look at the half-done medical that I have on my file so I wanted to see how it shaped up compared to Charlie. It's a very different type of book but I knew that some of the points that the editor had given me for the revisions on Charlie would apply to the new story so I needed to refresh my memory. Rereading Charlie wasn't as bad as I'd feared, I fought the urge to meddle and stuffed the crows of doubt in the cupboard while I forced myself to look for the technical aspects that I'd wanted to research. Then I opened the file on my half done story. This was the bit I dreaded - when I started this one I was doubtful about it but Jessica kept assuring me that it worked (thanks Jess)I went through tweaking and adjusting and using what I'd learned from writing Charlie and by the end of the day I'd added 1k and I think it's a much better story for the additions. Hopefully now I can push on with it and with Animal Instincts while I wait for a verdict on Charlie.
I finished c2 of Animal Instincts and fiddled some more with C1. It's coming together more in my head now and I feel as if I'm more under the skin of my characters. I need to tinker with my fairy story some more and then I can send that off. I also need to read over my half done medical and do some work on that just in case M&B come back to me. I heard just over a week ago that my editor there liked the revisions and Charlie Darling had been passed up a bit higher for consideration. So I've spent the last week feeling quite sick and jumping a mile everytime my email has pinged or the phone has rung. Since the belles are home the phone rings a lot - and never for me. I'm also still mulling over my big book idea - it's still bubbling away but isn't quite ready to come out onto paper yet. I've also managed to somehow lose all my emails - the ones I had saved into folders are still there but all the others have vanished into cyber space. I'm gutted and I can't figure out what happened so please if you emailed me recently with something and I haven't replied please resend it.
The Black Country as you've gathered is famous for it's ghosts. As it's almost Halloween here's an article on The Station Hotel which is situated at the foot of Castle Hill in Dudley.
Thanks to John Blythe for the following piece. Featured on television by ‘Most Haunted’ the Station Hotel Dudley in the UK, holds many dark secrets, particularly in the cellars. The story tells of a hotel manager who enticed a servant girl into the cellar. Spurning his advances and threatening to tell his wife, the girl was murdered by him.
When ‘Most Haunted’s’ resident psychic Derek Acorah went to the hotel, he reported the name of a male spirit George Williams/Williamson who was having an affair with a female by the name of Elizabeth Hitchen. George Williams allegedly murdered Elizabeth by strangling and stabbing her. Acorah then revealed that Williams disposed of Elizabeth’s body by means of a chute within the hotel, which would have been used, at the time, for the delivery of bottles and barrels. Williams was then reported to have buried the body near the front of the hotel. According to Derek Acorah, Elizabeth Hitchen’s body remains there.
Originally built in 1910, the Station was demolished in 1936 in order to build a larger Hotel. This became particularly popular with theatrical artists playing the Hippodrome Theatre, once situated opposite. Laurel & Hardy, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby and George Formby are amongst the famous names that have stayed at the Hotel.
It is still a nice comfortable hotel with a good restaurant decorated to reflect its former glory. Ask to be seated at ‘Georges’ table.
I have held a number of public paranormal investigations at the Station Hotel and have never been disappointed with the level of paranormal activity. If you visit make sure it’s on a cellar tour night, we have had people touched, pushed, slapped and in the case of one unlucky customer; thrown back off a chair just as the Planchette was about to start, all in the cellar, and don’t forget your camera, ‘orbs’ a plenty at the Station Hotel, currently rated as my number one hotel for paranormal activity.
The ‘Thing’ we photographed in the cellar; at the bottom of the barrel chute, is probably the murderer George but it will take further investigation before we are sure of its identity. If you do decide to stay one night ask for a room on the haunted landing, 214 is the one in which the bed and chair moved when ‘Most Haunted’ filmed there. Nice!
John Blythe is Senior Executive Manager for Haunted Weekend http://www.hauntedweekend.com who organizes public paranormal investigations in haunted hotels and castles throughout the UK. He has appeared on television with Haunted Weekend clearing a haunted house and has featured in and written for many paranormal magazines. He is also a featured expert on the paranormal for World Reviewer, a website that specialises in unique experiences; http://www
We stayed an extra day as the weather was so lovely. Crisp, chilly evenings with gorgeous sunsets and mist rising off the flat common land surrounding the site. During the day the sun was out and the sky was bright periwinkle blue. We got a lot of the things we'd gone for. Boo has new boots and conversers. La ended up with trainers that flash when she walks, gold totally impractical party shoes and conversers and Shaggy also got some conversers. Brilliant bargains, we saved the cost of the holiday and then some with what we bought. If I tell you I got the girls pyjamas from the M&S outlet store for £1.98 a pair you can see how good the shopping is. The girls got their friends presents too. It wasn't all shopping, we had a lovely day out at Wookey Holes which La insists on calling Wonky Holes, where we explored the caves, visited the dinosaur park, fairyland and made paper. We also saw a superb show which was done entirely by children from the circus school. The sun shone and people were walking around in tee shirts eating icecreams, absolutely gorgeous. My hips and back are now glad to be home.
I've managed to sort out my medical appointments. The choose and book system as I've mentioned before is a farce. It allows the illusion of choice but in reality it simply creates another bureaucratic maze to negotiate. My appointment to see the orthopoedic team has taken two car journeys and five phone calls to arrange. At least I finally have a date now on the 7th of Nov so hopefully my treatment can start. The rest has helped a lot but only while I continue to rest. Any activity, driving, walking etc starts it all off again and unfortunately my back is sore again too. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg - which came first? Does my back make my hips bad or is it my hip problem that throws my back into spasm? We're heading to the sea again on Saturday - just for a few days - back to Burnham where we went in May. The plan is to do some Christmas shopping and get the girls new trainers and boots from the Clarks shopping village at Street. I must admit I'm looking forward to the break - I'm still recovering from all the problems with the day job and it'll be good to be in a different place. Writing wise I'm moving on with chapter two of Animal Instincts and also a short story for another little project that I have in mind. (Yes, Allison, this is the story with Muriel the fairy)
I've finished editing or rather aditing Blue Remembered heels. I need to do another read through and then send it off once more to my editor for her opinion. As you all know I've mentioned before my propensity to underwrite and I adit rather than edit because the book has grown almost another 3K during this process. I think the story is stronger because of the changes - most of which are really very minor, but lots of minor additions soon grow into larger ones. I'm looking forward to getting back into Animal Instincts too, the plot has been fermenting while I've been away from it so it will be nice to leave Abbey and Mike to return to Clodagh and Jack. On a more personal front it seems my medical appointments have been messed up so I need to call at my doctors tomorrow to get my hip appointments sorted out.
I'm not here. I'm busy editing Blue Remembered Heels. My contracts have come so I need to do a post run at some point too. There are nice pictures at Phillipa Ashley and Ray-Anne's blogs today - see my side bar for links. Yes, I know I could put them up but I'm not here remember lol. To join in the fun here's my pic of the new hero I found for Animal Instincts. What do you think? This is Jack Thatcher.
Yesterday was one of those really nice days that happen every now and again. I got two lovely notes of thanks from people I'd done crits for. I love feeling that I've helped someone, so many people have helped and continued to help me that it's nice to feel that I've given something back. I googled myself - as one does - that always sounds a bit rude doesn't it? and found a note from a reader on a message board talking about Marrying Max and how much they'd loved it. I had an email from my agent to say my contracts should arrive on Monday and my edits arrived for Blue Remembered Heels. So lots to keep me busy but all nice things to help counterbalance the less nice things that are happening in my life at the moment.
The Black Country is renowned for the inhabitants sense of humour and love of 'saftness' in the form of practical jokes. Many of the jokes are told in the names of two Black Country characters Aynuk and Ayli. Here's a typical joke from The Book of the Black Country by Jon Raven
Ayli was late for work and the gaffer asked him where he had been.
Ayli said : "I've been to 'av me 'air cut."
Gaffer : "In the firm's time ?"
Ayli : "Well it grows in the firm's time, doh it ?"
Gaffer : "It doh all grow in the firm's time !"
Ayli : "I day 'av it all cut off !"
Aynuk was walking along the canal one day when he heard a cry for help coming from the water. Aynuk looked down and spotted a bloke drowning. Instead of helping him out Aynuk ran along the canal bank, up a road and through a factory gate. He rushed up to the foreman and said : "I've just seen Jack Edwards drownin' in the cut. Can I 'ave 'is job ?" "Sorry Aynuk," said the foreman, "I've just gid it the bloke wot pushed 'im in."
While I've been off I've been catching up on my reading pile. I've just finished some lovely medicals, Olivia Gates and Lynne Marshall. Then I read 'Is anybody out there?' by Marian Keyes. Now I'm ploughing my way through Margaret Thatcher's 'The path to power' which is a fascinating read by a woman I have a huge admiration for. I've been revisiting the miners strike, the cold war, the fall of the Shah of Iran and it's meaty stuff. I love economics and politics and the Keynesian vs Monetarist approach to the economy and inflation whilst it might drive some people nuts, I find it gripping. I found a lot of things I'd almost forgotten, the referendum for joining the EU, the 'snake' and a host of other things. It's very interesting to look at what's happening today and to contrast events with what happened then. I'd forgotten how much I love the intellectual arguments and philosphies of economics.
Still waiting for news from M&B. I heard from my lovely new editor yesterday and Blue Remembered Heels is being dispatched to me today marked up with some points for revision and edits. So, I'm waiting to see what's needed to make the story even better. (I felt very authorly when she said she would send it by carrier - I expect the glamour will evaporate when I get down to work) The postal strike should be over soon so I'm waiting to see what's stuck in the mail - including hopefully my contracts. I'm also hoping my medical appointments are in the mail or if not I need to get back on the phone to hurry them along. Rest and heat packs can only help so much. The first chapter of Animal Instincts is done and with Jessica for her invaluable opinion. Then onto chapter two which is already buzzing in my head.
At the moment the weather matches my mood. Enforced idleness doesn't suit me but I'm limited as to how much physically I can do. I've applied for some jobs as I feel that maybe now would be a good time to consider a change of direction. This is exciting and scary at the same time as I'm the main wage earner. The belles seem to like having me home and love that they can bring friends round instead of having to arrange everything around my work, so every cloud has a silver lining I suppose. I've almost finished the first chapter of Animal Instincts, I'm still fiddling with it as for me the first chapter is vital and if I don't get it exactly right then I struggle with the rest of the book.
My hip is sore today as I did quite a bit of driving yesterday. I'm still waiting for treatment, something else I need to chase up next week. My new editor got in touch on Friday so I should be recieving edits for Blue Remembered Heels soon - eek! The good news is that she loves the story. I had been a bit concerned as I'd sold it unfinished and worried that they might not have liked the ending. Still no news from M&B.
The Black Country is famous for it's canals or 'cuts' as they are known. As in'weer ave yow bin?' 'I've bin fishin fer Jack Bannocks in the cut.' Translated as 'Where have you been?' 'I've been fishing for small fish in the canal.' Canals were a vital transport system when the Black Country got it's name. They were used for shifting coal, iron, clay, bricks and any other number of goods around the area. Birmingham has more canals than Venice. The Black Country is very hilly and many great engineering projects were built so that the narrowboats (barges) with their cargoes could move around. This involved the building of the locks. Locks are used almost like rooms to adjust the levels of the water so the boat can move from one part of the canal to another. The picture is of the Nine locks, which isn't far from me.
I had a lovely morning yesterday with my very good writing friend, Allison Littlehales. We were just catching up on projects and nattering but it was so good just to talk about writing. Animal Instincts is shaping up, it always takes me a while to get the first chapter exactly how I want and it's important as the character traits you see there are the ones that show throughout the book. Clodagh, my new heroine is very different from Abbey, my heroine in Blue Remembered Heels. Clodagh is a slob, loves animals and isn't terribly good with people. Her step-sister Immi is self absorbed, vain and doesn't like animals. They both are going to have quite a journey. Clodagh's hero, Jack is just about to make his first appearance so it's going to get interesting lol. By now you're probably wondering about the cave bit of the post title. Well, as you know the Friday fun post included a link to the live webcam in the haunted Singing Cavern. This piece was in the paper yesterday :- 'There have been 500 hits an hour with people logging on from Canada, Australia and the USA.' So if you visited from here, thank you! Remember if you see anything spooky if you press the button on the site the trust gets a copy of the image and will analyse it. heres the link again if you missed it first time around. Spooky cave
Phillipa alerted me to this! Blue Remembered Heels now has a blurb up on Amazon - here it is!
A devilishly good debut for LBD from our fantastic new author, RNA Romance Prize Winner 2007, Nell Dixon! Life is sweet for con-woman Abbey Gifford until, one ordinary Wednesday afternoon, she's struck by lightning. They told her she might have some bizarre side effects, but nothing could have prepared Abbey for the fact that, since that fateful day, she can never tell lies again! Truthfulness is a big drawback for a con-woman, especially when suddenly she's being followed by the suspiciously gorgeous detective Mike Flynn. If only Abbey could stop blurting out secrets every time he asks her a question! And if only Mike knew the real reason Abbey spends her life tricking other people out of their money!
I am so excited and it sums the story up so well - ok so I love being called fantastic too - a girl has to get something in stock ready for the next attack of the crows.
Yes, I'm still cleaning and clearing. I found a drawer full of my diaries last night, one for every year going back to 1983. Wow! It was like a journey back in time - sadly some years were much to painful to look at and I wondered why I kept them. I still can't bring myself to throw them away which seems crazy. The other sad part was looking back I realise my weight is unaltered since 2003 - put some on, lost a little - sigh. Guess I'd better keep up with weightwatchers in the hope that this might be the one that works. I'm also three and a half stones heavier now than I was back in 1983. The overall effect of this is very depressing. I know now why I don't have these mass clearouts very often. 1} I don't usually have time and 2} It makes me miserable. Why do I never find good stuff - like money? In better news though I've started writing Animal Instincts. I know I'll chop and change the opening a bit but I quite like what I have so far. My aim is to finish the first chapter this week and I might write a short story too.
Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo called Teddy and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...