Monday, September 29, 2008

Clean Knickers and a cup of tea

Or why I may never leave Kate Walker's house . . .

Greetings to all from the other side of the pond where the sun is shining and all is well. While I was taking a shower this morning, Kate brought up my clean laundry and a cup of tea, so I came back to my room (shared with Sid the cat) to lovely clean clothes and a sustaining brew.

I could get used to service like that!

Seriously, we have had a great time.Sid has made me most welcome (he's crazy about his Greenies). Flora the floozie has been swanning around showing off her birthday presents. And Dylan, also a greenies fan, has deigned to come have ear rubs every evening.

We had a wonderful time with Michelle Reid and her husband, prowled an old churchyard at a priory near to them, and then drove back to Kates across the Yorkshire Dales. It's very tempting to set a book in England.Who needs these 'exotic' Mediterranean locales?

I'm off today for Sophie Weston's where I will meet the pyrate in her life, her Maine Coon, Tom Kydd. And then we are off to France.

I hope to download some pics when at her house (or in France) so stand by!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On my way . . .

I'll be heading off across the pond on Thursday. I've been getting bags (well, one) packed and unpacked and the things I'm taking whittled down. I hate heavy luggage and I always pack too much.

Fortunately Greenies don't weight much. So Sid and Flora and Dylan, Kate Walker's cats, are going to get lots of treats. I couldn't go see them without the requisite Greenies.

Ever since the late lamented Bob Redford Walker discovered Greenies, they have been at the top of every packing list I've got.

I haven't done as much on Christo as I'd hoped to do this past week. I'm going to be working on some family history articles, too, and so I spent plenty of time going over the catalogue for the Cornwall Record Office to be sure I used my time there wisely.

There's never enough time -- so I need to make best use of what I get.

Consequently Christo has taken a back seat this week. But I expect him to accompany me on the plane. And now that I've figure out how to shut my wireless off, he can talk his head off and I'll type and type and type.

In case you haven't met my friend, the eeepie, it's a great little computer from Asus that has accompanied me on several jaunts this past spring and summer. It's the 900 version with the slightly larger screen than the original.

But it has the same footprint. And it's sooooo much smaller and easier to take along than a full size laptop. I love it. This is its first trip abroad, though, so I'm eager to see how it likes the trip.

My son's Asus eee pc just came back from Italy and had a marvelous time, so I'm hoping Eeepie will do as well.

On the getting things cleared up before I leave, I want to tell Avi that her books went out today. Avi, I hope you get them sometime in the next week (not sure how long it takes to get to your part of the world).

I'll check in and write on the blog when I can get wireless. You should hear from me from Kate's house. And then, with luck, from Cannes. After that, we'll see. Not sure where I'll run into wireless in Cornwall -- at least I don't know how likely it is where we're staying.

Behave yourselves while I'm gone. I'll send pix of the cats -- and anything else I think you'd enjoy.

Here's your friend to keep you company while I'm gone.

Oh, you thought I meant Hugh.

Right. Well, just because you asked --

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 22, 2008

Meet Bruno!

Pink has chosen a winning name for his new pup from all the wonderful entries. He says his new buddy is going to be Bruno!

So, thank you, Avi J, for giving Bruno his name. Go to my website and click on the contact Anne tab and send me your snail address and I'll send you two of my books.

Thanks to everyone who entered the contest. There were so many great entries that Pink spent part of the morning telling me he needed more dogs! Frankly I think he would soon have had 11, like you do, Avi, if I'd let him.

But he only gets one -- Bruno.

Check The Pink Heart Society to see who else Pink is going to visit -- and what other great presents he's getting.

Happy Birthday, Pink!

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lil Pink Dancin' Guy

September is the anniversary month of The Pink Heart Society blog. The PHS mascot (besides Hugh Jackman) is the lil pink dancin' guy who is traveling around to a variety of blogs this month to celebrate.

He's stopping here on Monday (which will be in a couple of hours Greenwich Mean Time, which is PHS time) so I'm hauling out his birthday present to go with the cake he is getting.

I figured you needed a friend, Lil Pink, so I've got a pup for you to share your travels. Gunnar, Mitch and Micah, my own pups, helped me decide on the perfect friend.

So here's your present, Pink.

And for everyone else who stops by, you get to help Pink name him (or her) and enter to get a present, too.

Make a suggestion in the comments section, and if Pink chooses your suggested name for his new pup, you'll win two back list Anne McAllister titles.

Pink will be deciding before Tuesday because I have to get ready to head off across the pond.

Happy birthday, Lil Pink! And best wishes for many more.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 19, 2008

PJ and Ally

I was cruising around the internet yesterday evening and discovered that PJ and Ally's Presents cover exists and that other sites have it -- even if I hadn't seen it until that moment.

So, here it is. Yes, I know you've seen it in the UK hardcover version, but it always looks different (to me anyway) in the Presents version.
It comes out in January 2009 in the stores, which means that those who subscribe in the book club may find it turning up in their mailboxes any day now.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ideas Are Easy . . .

In his book, Content: Selected Essays on Technology, Creativity, Copyright, and the Future of the Future, Cory Doctorow writes a lot about all of the above.

I skimmed a fair bit of it because I'm trying to get as much done on my own book as I can before I take off next week.

But a couple of sentences in his essay on fan fiction caught my eye and made me cut and paste them here.

He said, "Ideas are easy. Execution is hard."

And I thought, oh, yes. And then, speaking from mid-book, I said it again even louder, OH, YES!

He goes on to explain, "That's why writers don't really get excited when they're approached by people with great ideas for novels. We've all got more ideas than we can use -- what we lack is the cohesive whole."

Amen. (Picture me leading the nuns in Lilies of the Field in a rousing chorus of them.)

I've written before about the age old question, "Where do you get your ideas?" from non-writers who think that it's the ideas that are hard to come by.

As Cory Doctorow says, they're not.

What's hard to come by is that cohesive whole.

It's getting from here to The End without falling into the abyss or getting eaten by dragons or sidetracked by brown cows with blue eyes or secondary characters who are way more interesting and fun and energetic (waving to Anne Gracie!) that is the real trick.

I'm wading around in chapter four right now. I can't see the beginning from here -- too far back. I can't begin to see the end. There are a whole lot of bends in the road before The End is likely to come in sight.

I'm knee-deep in the mud of the first draft, and trying to envision the cohesive whole is like trying to walk through it for the next six miles holding jello in my bare hands and expecting to have anything left of the jello at the end.

Not easy.

Thanks, Cory, for reminding me of what it is I'm trying to do -- and why it gets frustrating. I'm just going on, trusting the process -- and my characters -- and myself. And hoping we get there with story at the end.

Check out Content. Guaranteed food for thought.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The People You Meet . . .

In the interest of clearing out the attic (a project near and dear to The Prof's heart), we have been going through old piles of records and tossing them out.

Some of them need to be shredded because in the Good Olde Days credit card numbers were on everything. So I'm shredding. And that means I have to open things before I shred. And a good thing, too, or I'd have missed a letter that got filed with the 1998 tax stuff.

It was a sad letter in some ways because it about about the death of a good man. But it was a joyful letter because if ever there was a man ready to get on with eternity it was the Reverend William J. Kitto.

I knew him as Bill. And I only knew him because I wrote books.

Back in 1993 I wrote a novella in Harlequin's Valentine anthology, My Valentine. Mine was called "Simple Charms" and it was about a 2nd grade teacher named Jane Kitto who got a charm for a charm bracelet every year on Valentine's Day from a "secret admirer." As romance novels are, it was about love and hope and finding the right person who completes your life as you complete theirs.

And because of that story, I got a letter from Bill Kitto. He'd been given the book by one of his daughters, he said, because of the heroine's last name. We corresponded a bit, and then we moved to phone calls. And while we talked about last names (Cornish last names in fact! I have a Kitto line of my own) and family history and all that, what we ultimately ended up talking about was love.

The love of Bill's life had died not long before. They'd been married over 40 years and he was quite a bit older than she was and had very much expected to be the first to go. He was pretty disappointed that he hadn't been. He was finding life without her lonely. But he never gave in to that loneliness. He cherished the years he had with her. He relished the memories and was delighted to share them.

He thought books celebrating the finding and cherishing that sort of love were wonderful. And he was glad that my story about Jane and Zack witnessed to the beginning of that love. I was glad he bothered to write and share his life and his story and his love with me. He was one of the world's real life heroes.

Bill passed away a bit over ten years ago. I still think of him often. I have several notebooks of his poetry that he sent me which I still dip into. The letter from his daughter, sent on the occasion of his passing, included several I didn't have.

They remind me again of the power of words to reach out and touch our lives even when the people who have spoken them are no longer with us in person. Their spirits, like their words, remain to sustain us, encourage us, give us joy.

Bill was just one of many people whose lives have intersected with mine since I began to write. I cherish them all.

If you drop in here and read my words, thank you. If you comment or write me an email, thank you. If you read my books and find something in them that speaks to you, I'm delighted beyond anything I can say.

I love writing. I love the people I've met through my vocation. I can't honestly call it work -- not every day. It only seems like work when Christo and his friends are making trouble!

wordle courtesy of

Labels: ,

Friday, September 12, 2008

Are We There Yet?

One of the things about armchair traveling is that you don't have anyone in the back seat saying, "Are we there yet?"

I blogged this weekend on The Pink Heart Society blog about the joys of glossy travel magazines.

And while you can bet I'd take a 'real' trip hands down almost anywhere, there are certain joys to pulling out a magazine, sitting down, putting my feet up and reading my way into the nightlife of Paris or the lure of a honeymoon in Fiji or an island getaway in the Seychelles.

I love reading about almost anything to do with travel. It's the next best thing to being there. And sometimes, given the hassles of getting anywhere today, it's better. Well, maybe not better, but less stressful.

One of my sons, who worked off-shore and overseas for a few years, says still, "I love being other places. I just don't much like getting there."


Early on I counseled my kids -- and I continually remind myself -- that 'travel time' is like 'Dream time.' The real world as we know it -- and to some degree control it -- ceases to exist when we travel. We start at home and, until we get where we are going, we're simply at the mercy of forces larger than ourselves.

It pays to remember that when luggage gets lost, planes get delayed or sent to Detroit instead of Philadelphia. It helps when you're entertaining children for 16 hours in the Denver airport because Untied Airlines can't get you on the flight they said you'd be on. Did I misspell something there?

I love my glossy magazines. I love the places they take me that make me want to go buy guide books and book my reservations. I love the people who wander into my mind and say, "I could live there. And you could write a book about me. Let me tell you my story."

I'm doing that in Cannes in early October. Demetrios Savas (Tallie and Theo's brother) has a date with destiny in Cannes. The story -- and a terrific heroine who is going to give Demetrios a run for his money -- appeared when I was reading an article about the film festival there.

Who knew? I certainly didn't when I started out reading that evening.

I'm counting the days.
Every morning I wake up and think, "Are we there yet?"

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wild About Harry

I love Anne Gracie's books. Never met one I didn't like, want to hang out with, read from cover to cover, then go back again and start all over.

I'm particularly wild about Harry, the hero of her new book, His Captive Lady, which just came out this month.

Harry Morant is the half-brother of Gabriel Renfrew, hero of the first of Anne's Devil Riders series. If Gabe's childhood was difficult, Harry's was well-nigh impossible. He's past it now. Grown up. A man of his own making -- but still something of a work in progress.

And the man Harry is going to become is in large part due to what happens when he meets Nell.

As the back cover tells us, "Harry Morant's tough exterior hides a badly scarred heart. Home after eight years at war, Harry is planning a practical, unemotional marriage. But his careful plans are threatened by an unexpected passion for an unknown lady.

"A lifetime of lies has brought Lady Helen Freymore to the brink of ruin. Forced into a marriage she never thought to have, she soon finds herself powerfully drawn to this deceptively gentle soldier... and increasingly worried about his reaction once he discovers her secret."

Oh, yeah. Wounded hero. Unexpected passion. Mysterious heroine. What's not to love?

Brooding, intense Harry captured my heart. And as she always does, Anne tells his story with equal parts deep emotion and gentle humor.

Her characters are wonderful to know. I fell in love with Harry when I read him in rough draft form. And he's only improved with polish.

And Nell? Nell is the last woman Harry would ever have imagined himself falling in love with. He fights it. So does Nell. But love is more powerful than fear, than bitterness, than the past.

Harry and Nell's love -- in spite of themselves -- is what makes the story so special.

Thanks, Anne, for another great read. Now get back to the computer, hurry up and finish Rafe's book! Your public is waiting.

Labels: ,

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Deep in mid-book

After Christo having led me a merry chase for the past month, during which he has gone down the beach and I have gone after him, and he has gone surfing and left me to fend for myself, he's back -- with a vengeance.


And now he seems to be waiting for me to catch up. So I've grabbed my notebook and pen and I'm following him and Natalie into the kitchen where they are deep in discussion -- one that she wants and he'd just as soon avoid.

But then, as I pointed out, if he'd cooperated a month ago, we might be well past this now and he could be having a good time instead of having his world turned on its head.

Poor Christo.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy!

Labels: ,

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Knitting and Character Development

I don't knit.

Well, I do. Or did. Badly.

I tend to increase. No matter how many stitches I start out with in the beginning, there are always quite a few more at the end whether there are supposed to be or not.

When I was first learning (or should I say, when I began to try to learn before it was determined that I was hopeless), my friend who was teaching me said, "We'll just start with a square."

I think she meant a rectangle, but no matter.

What we ended up with -- or what I ended up with -- was a trapezoid. And no matter what I did with it, no matter how many times I unraveled it and began again, I still had more at the end than I did at the beginning.

The question soon changed from, could I knit? to could I count?

Well, math was never my strong suit, either.

And, sad to say, character development is a lot like that. It seems straight-forward. Christo seemed perfectly straight-forward when he breezed into my life, tried his darnedest to knock Seb out of the way and muscle onto the page.

Hold on a minute, I said. Wait your turn.

And he did. He cooled his heels, muttering a bit. But he seemed to be perfectly clear about his story. I only had to write it, he told me. How hard could it be? He and Natalie. Meant to be. Piece of cake.

Yeah, right.

Turns out it isn't quite like that. It never is, of course, but they sucker me in every time. They promise me easy chapters, words that will flow like honey, completely transparent backstories that will make my life -- and theirs -- easy-peasy.


Can't trust 'em. None of them. Well, except maybe for Aidan Sawyer, nearly twenty years ago, who did exactly what he said he'd do in The Marriage Trap. And Austin Cavanaugh in Marry Sunshine who might have driven Clea crazy, but to me was the soul of cooperation.

Was I living right twenty years ago? Or were the fates just on my side for once?

Because, as far as the rest of them go, Cooperation Rn't Them.

And Christo is no exception. He who seemed transparent when he was a test pilot, turned in his test pilot badge before we ever got out of scene one.

Now he's a lawyer. A rat of a lawyer, if you ask me. Why didn't he tell me the truth? Why did he say he was a test pilot, then make me nuts trying to figure him out before he told me the truth.

And what about the girl in his bed?

What girl in his bed? I demanded.

He shrugged. Didn't think it was important, he said finally when I twisted his arm. Wasn't going to happen again.

Oh, really?

Who's writing this book, anyway?

Sneaky hero.

He doesn't even look like he used to look! He's edgier. Smoother when he needs to be (like I said, sneaky), but submarines could get lost in this man's depths.

He looks a lot like Hugh did in Erskineville Kings. I noticed that as I was hunting up Hugh photos for the Hugh Jackman tour. Especially when he (Christo) started talking as I stared at the picture. Hmm.

Wonder what else he's hiding from me.

Right now, he's making the knitting needles look tempting. Not to start knitting with -- to poke him where it will do him the most good.

Business as usual mid-book, in other words.


Labels: , ,

Monday, September 01, 2008


There are exactly 15 minutes left of September 1st where I live.

So I'm not late. Really, I'm not.

Slow, maybe, but not late, to celebrate the 2nd anniversary of The Pink Heart Society blog and, of course, Kate Walker's and my very own Hugh-in-a-towel.

Because Hugh is the 'mascot' or inspiration of whatever you'd like for Pink Heart heroes -- and certainly plenty of mine -- every year we celebrate Hugh Jackman Day at the Pink Heart and on our own blogs today (or what's left of it).

So celebrate with me. And get ready to go see Hugh in Australia when it comes out in November.

Drop by the Pink Heart and check out the comments for other blogs celebrating Hugh's day.

Tell me who would be your inspiration for a hero and you might win a copy of In McGillivray's Bed -- which purely coincidentally has a hero named Hugh.

Who needs a towel?

Labels: , ,