that doesn’t seem right

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that doesn’t seem right

I’ve been aware lately of a few wonderful paradoxes, and I thought I’d share them here because it’s been a while. I’ve been doing nanowrimo (writing. A lot. That is all.) and now that’s done, so I’m back in the world of the living, just in time to put up the Christmas decorations.

Leo says,

What’s a paradox? some might ask. A seeming contradiction. Two things that don’t go together, but SO DO.

For instance: happily listening to an Adele song.

Now, that’s a bit mean. There is a happy song on her new album. The last track. I know this because I went out and bought it (so strange for me) and I’ve been listening to it on loop, obsessively (less strange). And very happily. So there you have it.

adele is awesome
Another example of paradox: you want something done, ask a busy person.

So you get it. Paradoxes everywhere actually. The one I’m most aware of at the moment is less pithy. It’s about being certain of uncertainty, about being happy but not entirely content. I’ve been looking for part time teaching work and, at the same time, looking at my writing – my nine complete manuscripts, a couple of which are pretty close to being finished, so far as I can tell – and where to take it next, how to publish and publish well.

writing and tea

In both cases, there are things I can do to improve my chances and then there’s just a tonne of stuff beyond my control. I’m impatient to be in the classroom again, and I’m impatient to be published, but at the same time, I’m loving writing, and I know what I need to be working on, and I’ve enjoyed relief teaching much more than I expected. In some ways relief is a good fit with writing. And if I do suddenly get a big break and have to do a world book tour, I won’t have to take time off and mess anyone around…

But seriously, that’s only slightly less likely than finding a teaching job in Christchurch.

Maybe. Hard to say for sure.

Louis started school a couple of weeks ago and he’s so happy there. Elena’s still loving kindy and they’re both becoming more independent.

starting school

They’re happy, healthy, adorable, and relatively low-maintenance kids. I’m not dreading the summer holidays the way I was dreading school hols earlier in the year. I’ll still be able to write and find some time by myself.

happy kids boating

What I’m saying is, life is good – it’s great. But I’m still wanting more, wanting things to change.

Here’s another paradox for you: holidays. Is it just me who’s always tired at the end of them? I really am so much better at work, in my routine. I can write in a quiet house, by myself, for hours and at the end feel energised and rested.


Maybe I’m weird.

Okay, definitely.

Here’s another one: if you want to do something really well, you have to make it a priority, focus… get going toward those 10k hours we supposedly need to put in if we want to be brilliant at a thing. Any thing. But, that said, if you reduce yourself to one thing, one defining interest, especially in the arts, then you can’t do it in a way that’s relevant to the world around you. I recently started playing basketball. Now, I’m no sportswoman. I mean, I have zero interest in sport-watching, and it’s fun to play, but I’m not very committed to winning. I won’t push myself so hard that I get injured or asthmatic. If I’m stuffed, I sub-off. If someone shoves me, I back-off. But I’ve been LOVING basketball. I did not see that coming. Now, if I’m not open to trying new things, then I’ll quickly run out of things to write about. If I limit my characters to my experiences and interests and point-of-view then my stories will be so narrow.

Plus, life is more fun if you try new things.

such fun

And the next one isn’t so much a paradox, as just an unfortunate truth that I’m grappling with: you can’t do everything. You have to choose what matters and what matters less and what doesn’t matter. But there are too many wonderful things, and too many important things. You can’t even do the majority of them, to be frank. If you try to do all the wonderful and important things then you’ll be miserable: there’s simply too much to do and not enough time. And so there are some hard decisions to be made. Finish writing on deadline or go to the climate march, for instance. Both are important, but doing both would be stressful and unnecessary. I think I might come back to this in a future blog: the saying ‘no’ to things subject. It’s a big one. Tricky and important.

Here’s a tricky paradox: missing a place and being glad to be somewhere else. Ah, Paris, how you mess me around. Paris is EVERYWHERE, can I just say? I mean even when it’s not being shot up by nut-jobs, it is everywhere. I’ve been supervising NCEA exams and we confiscated a pencil case so it was sitting up the front, and it’s got the Eiffel Tower on it – of course! Paris is a hard place to leave behind anyway but seriously enough with papering the world in Eiffel Towers.

And then there’s an awful act of terrorism, so you have my permission again (not that you need it), and these past few weeks people keep saying to me, ‘you must be glad not to be there’, and I am. We were there in January for all the Charlie Hebdo palaver, and I am glad to miss out on all that stress and chaos and merde.

me and invalides

(Elena took this photo on the day that the Charlie Hebdo situation was shut down. We had an appointment in Paris and arrived early. We were waiting and she was playing with my phone. That’s Invalides in the background. I think it captures how tired, stressed, and overwhelmed I was feeling.)

But I also really want to be there. I want to hug my friends so, SO tight. Especially, but not limited to, those who lost friends at the Bataclan. I’m heartsick for them. One friend, a poet, has been posting little details of her day on facebook – about getting her bag checked at every shop, and not minding, but thinking the cursory glance in her purse wouldn’t likely catch anything dangerous if it were hidden in among the flotsam; about saying bonjour and merci to the guards outside the mosque – people she walks past every day and has never spoken to before. This is the stuff that makes me want to be there, and also so glad to be here.

But Christmas is coming, and being here in the sun wins.

summer wins

I am glad to be home and for summer coming, and pohutakawa blossoming up the road.


Brandy snaps and pavlova and lots of bubbly and long evenings on the deck, with the barbecue and Adele crooning away in the background (probably just in my head because everyone else will be sick of her and her album will be banned in our house… it’s only a matter of time.)

in my head

Oh, I won’t.

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the roquefort problem

Once you’ve discovered Roquefort, you’re always vulnerable. You’re always in danger because you cannot un-know how good it is.

can't get enough roquefort

Once you’ve (inevitably?) purchased a chunk of this potent, brilliant cheese you’ve a real problem because that stuff doesn’t last long. It needs eating. Or at least, that’s what it tells you; that’s what it whispers from its layers of foil and cheese-paper, sequestered in the not-quite-sealed cheese container in the fridge.

Melted on steak, stuffed in mushrooms, smushed onto bread or just pealed from the knife, you will eat the whole lot. And then lick the knife.

Which is all well and good until you’re trying to watch your diet and discover how many calories this stuff packs.

(Actually, the calories are about the same as every other cheese, if you’re wondering. If you can make a small amount of strong cheese satisfy, as opposed to a large amount of mild cheese, you’re in luck. Unless you live outside of France, or don’t have the funds. Sorry.)

I’m having The Roquefort Problem (not yet recognised universally by psychologists…) with Nanowrimo. Nanowrimo is an annual novel-writing challenge. Fifty thousand words in one month, that’s the goal. At first it is a strong flavour to get your tongue around, but once you know it, once you love it… well, there’s just no going back. At least, not for me.

November starts in a few days and I MUST NOT WRITE ANOTHER SHODDY FIRST DRAFT.

That’s not to say my first drafts are uniquely shoddy. First drafts tend to be shoddy, in comparison to their fifth/sixth/seventh drafts (ie. the ones worth publishing, best case scenario).

I am in the throes of fine-tuning two near-finished (probably… possibly…) manuscripts and that is what I need to focus on, not the shiny new sports car that is Nanowrimo. It will jet me off to some fascinating new location with fascinating new friends, and enthrall me for a month and leave me with YET ANOTHER unfinished novel.

I have ideas. I daydream about novel-ideas. I haven’t written a new one in a while. When these two manuscripts are shining bright and actually done-with I have at least two more waiting in the wings. Major rewrites involve lots of new writing, so I will get to do some fresh work in there, but I know myself. I will be tempted by that shiny sports car. I will need a line in the sand.

We recently instituted a new rule, aiming to get ourselves into bed earlier: no starting a new tv show after 9pm. This is working wonderfully, or would be if we didn’t then read and read and read… but it’s certainly helping.

New rule for me: no new novels until something is published. Or at least underway to be published.


Nanowrimo, like Roquefort, is a wonderful thing. If you need a kick of motivation and a world-wide community of cohorts procrastinating- I mean working right along side you, cheering you on, do it!

But I better not. Not this year. I got some feedback from a literary agent and if I can make the changes she suggested, in an impressive time-frame, then hopefully, fingers-crossed, we might have ourselves a real chance…

Fingers crossed, next year I’ll be doing Nanowrimo.

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step up, step up!

my sister in law embarked on a christmas challenge last year and she has just recommitted, to do the same crazy thing again: something christmassy with her kids each day from the 1st till the 25th of december.

It’s about making time and being intentional about doing stuff with your kids, and of course, it’s about christmas! And I thought – yeah, let’s do it too. So tomorrow we will begin, probably with something a bit weak-sauce like a christmas story, but great creativity and barrels (or perhaps mangers-full) of fun will ensue.

Promise. Probably.

The lights are still off in Antony, but fingers crossed that will be remedied soon. Or else we might have to go to the Champs Elysee toute suite!

My theme today is stepping up and so there’s the first thing: stepping up to a challenge of creativity, and I also like the intentionality of spending time with the kids, doing creative and new things.

Number two: stepping up by submitting my writing… eek. I want to be a writer but it seems that I will also have to hone my sales skills and market both myself and my writing. Which is much more scary and a bit less fun than creating characters who are doomed to fall in love and be miserable for a while before they get themselves together. (How’s that for a basic romance plot outline, eh?)

So I’ve been submitting to agents, and possibly the wrong ones because despite their promises to respond, even if it’s with a brief, stock rejection, within a few months, I’ve heard zip. Since June. I know that puts me well within my rights to chase them up but I think I’ll take it as a less than gracious refusal and say it might not be the best use of my time to chase them up for a slightly more gracious one.

The novel I’m shopping is a genre romance, mills&boon style, and so I’ve decided to submit direct to a romance publisher. From what I’ve read elsewhere, getting published is more difficult, and less lucrative, without an agent, but there’s a sort of evil catch 22 about the whole thing:

agents want published writers; publishers want agented writers.

Gah! So, here’s hoping I can get this wee novel published and even if the deal isn’t crash hot it might lead to a brighter future for my other novels.

Of which there are now five. (And then there were five!) Nanowrimo finishes today and so do I.

I’m well on my way to 60 thousand and this afternoon while Louis is at halte garderie I’m going to finish this b****.

Number three: stepping up to make friends. Ah, it’s a scary world and there are all sorts of people, and the chances of bumping into those with loads in common,who speak the same language and live in the same town, who you actually like, and who actually like you, seems not all that likely.

But what do you know? I bumped into a fellow kiwi at Louis’ halte garderie and we went to their place for dinner on Monday night and then later she invited me to a group french lesson. At the french lesson yesterday I met a load of other english speakers and I feel like I’ve stumbled onto a gold mine of kindred spirits – expats with a slowly-increasing grasp of the french language, with young kids and family far away, who all appear to love food (if the general response to the carrot cup cakes, served at the lesson, is anything to go by) and creative stuff… they’re all wives/partners of rugby players and I am a bit clueless about sport, but there you go: friends and french lessons in one!

There’s that awkward moment after you meet where one suggests getting together some time and the other responds enthusiastically, and perhaps it’s all just good manners and obligation and faff like that, but hurrah! for the click, the connect, the moments when you realise there’s loads you have in common and you could talk for hours and hours, and your kids will entertain one another, and so will your husbands…

So, here’s little miss positivity (that’s me, the slightly-annoying one) saying step up! It’s a bit risky: you might fail utterly, get rejected and have no friends. But that doesn’t seem likely. If you read all the way till the end of this blog post then you have at least one important quality: staying-power!

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the sunday sun and a wordy win

We have quite the habit of lovely lazy sundays. We lie about like cats in the sun and do very little for most of the day. I exert a smidgen of energy to make splendid platters of breakfast and hearty soups for lunch. Luuk broke the mold yesterday and went for a lengthy bike-ride, and then came home and lazed about.

But it was a gorgeous day yesterday, first in ages. We saw sun! Real, genuine sun. T’was very exciting. And we could not hide from its pull.

Luuk took the opportunity to bully Louis into trying his kick-bike but the wee man is reluctant and rather stubborn.

He got on it voluntarily after it was left on the ground and he was left alone for a while. But then he got off it again – prefers to walk, apparently.

Luuk wanted to demonstrate that it’s fun and there’s nothing to fear (rolling down a slight hill…)

Lovely lovely sun.

This lovely lady watched longingly – she will be an eager cyclist, I’m sure – but she did not want to be snug in her rug, little wriggly bug.

Louis was happy to play with the wheels of the bike…

and to go up and down the stairs of the Mairie numerous times.

While we wandered around the neighbourhood (with the bike in the buggy basket) I thought about my novel and looked at trees and houses and the bumpy pavement.

A wee bit jealous of these folks’ rooftop garden.

We visited a playground that Luuk bikes past when he takes Louis out on the weekends sometimes. It’s at the start of the ride, so they don’t usually stop, but it has a pirate ship and that was incentive enough.

Louis ran around the playground more than actually playing on it, but did the essentials…

And he discovered the slide just as we were leaving. Of course.

After all our meanderings we returned home for the kids to get a nap in before church. I wrote, and at about 4.30 Luuk said it was time to stop. And we were early to church. Miracle.

The kids are learning ‘Go tell it on the Mountain’ for the carol service and Louis, as yet unable to read the words, was given a maracca to play. His interest was less than steadfast, but he did get into the spirit of things toward the end of the rehearsal – he even had the rhythm right. Miracle.

After church and dinner, when the kids were in bed, we watched ‘Keeping the Faith’ which I’ve seen dozens and (embarrassingly accurate) dozens of times – but never before in French. I didn’t pay it much attention and kept on writing. After a while, lagging, I checked my word count, and what do you know? I’d crossed the 50k line. Didn’t even realise.

There’s still quite a bit of story to go. So, I have a new goal: finish the story in the next five days. Could be a bit of a push, but that’s what get’s me working. Pressure, pressure… and food.

these might help – hummingbird cupcakes – awesomely good.

Won’t be doing a huge amount of writing today, I suspect, as we have a french lesson this afternoon and then we are off to have dinner with some other expat kiwis – their youngest son goes along to the same halte garderie as Louis. And I’m pretty sure his dad used to play for the Crusaders. How cool is that? Ever-so-slightly star-struck. It’s times like these, perhaps, that it’s a good thing I don’t really follow sport. If I did I’d probably be even more star-struck and then it’s be weird and awkward.

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creativity begets creativity

Today I painted for the first time since we arrived in France.

I have had good intentions since, oh, week three or four. Now, in month ten, I finally put paint to canvas. I had my little helper, the pants-less wonder, contributing – first with green ballpoint pen, and then with my paintbrush. He then commandeered my brush so I let him have it and from then on it only got dipped in water.

For the sake of keeping Louis’ private parts private, this photo was taken after he was re-pantsed and put to bed.

What a mess, eh? Ah, but it was fun. And oddly beautiful, I think, but a long ways off being ready to hang anywhere except up to dry.

And to drip. Very important.

Painting this, I thought it’d make a great metaphor for nanowrimo, and really for first drafts at anything creative. So here goes my bit of advice for today, entitled,

writerly wisdom from painting

– the first layer of a painting, is not ready to be seen. It does not need to be ready to be seen.

– the first layer is fun, free, exploratory, expansive. You can do no wrong – unless you stop. It is never wrong before it’s finished. And it’s always wrong if it’s never finished. (Wrap your nanowrimo-tired brain around that.)

– you can paint right over the first layer if you want.

– BUT you won’t know if you want to for a while – you may think you do, but give it time. You need some space and objectivity before you’re ready to make those sorts of decisions.

– a first draft is often beautiful as a first draft. Beware: an audience will feel cheated if you hang it in a gallery (or put it up online as an e-book)

We’ve all seen something like this in a gallery. Sometimes we think it’s lame because we are ignorant. And sometimes it’s lame because the artist is lazy, and scamming everyone. Don’t be that artist.

– that said, some of the best work is an accident. Happy, happy accident.

most of the best work is not accidental, and is not done in a first draft. Most of the best work hasn’t happened yet and won’t for sometime. This is a lesson in patience as much as a lesson in art or writing.

We had this charming little tune on a tape we overplayed during road trips when I was a kid. Whenever I think of patience, I think of Herbert the Snail. And I get this stuck in my head. (My gift to you.)

The moral of the story: chill out. And keep working.

Now, I wonder how long I can bear to leave that lazy scam of a hash job hanging on the living room door, taunting me with how much better it could, can and/or will be?

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Progress Report

I have been behind ever since I started this nanowrimo schtick. And then, just now, I realised my time zone was still set to Wellington, GMT +12.

So I’m ahead! Hurrah! How did that happen? Hard to say for sure. Possibly the thought that I was behind was a good motivator and I did a few fear-induced 2000+ days in a row.

Tips? Anyone want high-productivity tips? As a pro-wrimo (which is bollocks – no one gets paid to wrimo) this is what I reccommend for getting stacks of writing (or other creative projects) done:

1. Have a plan. Stick to it, or not, as you like, but have one to start with.

2. Lower your standards. Whether you’re writing a nanowrimo novel or doing a sketch that might one day hide beneath layers of oil paint, on a canvas, on the walls of the Louvre (aim high, by all means), the thing you’re doing NOW will not be seen by anyone but you. I’m not writing a novel; not really. I’m writing a FIRST DRAFT.

3. Multi task if it helps. But only if it helps.

4. Talk to other writers (or artists of your medium)… but don’t talk about your current work in progress much. Or at all. Very tempting, yes, but if you talk it all out you risk losing your urgency to create it.

5. Lower your standards. Yes, I already said that, but this time I mean standards about everything else: how regularly the laundry pile renders the basket invisible, how regularly the kids watch two hours together of television, how regularly you eat the same thing for lunch and dinner in the same day… just chill man. It’s not forever. And even if it were, no one is remembered for the terrible laundry habits.

Consider getting some help around the house.

I have a few warnings too:

1. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Don’t take on another big project at the same time.

2. Don’t get lost in another world. Literally, of course, as well as literary (Heh, see what I did there.) I’ve been rereading Jane Austen’s Persuasion. It’s a favourite of mine. It’s similar in genre to what I’m writing for nanowrimo, so it’s helpful – almost like research – but it’s also short. Starting to read some fantastic series of enthralling novels that will keep you up till well past bedtime and utterly absorb you into their world is not going to help you write about your own other world. It’s going to suck up your time and make you feel like your story is totally rubbish. Just for a short time, be wary of great books (especially if they’re also long, and/or inspire fanfiction).

3. Your body needs good fuel to go well. Don’t live on caffeine and candy unless you’re happy writing the same way you did when you were fourteen, period one english, monday morning, after a long weekend of slumber parties. The occasional chocolate and a few cups of coffee a day will not doom you to create rubbish, but if you’re not getting a bit of actual nutrition, some sleep and the occasional foray into the outside world, a tad of exercise, some sun (if they have that in the northern hemisphere this time of year, damn it)… then it’ll take it’s toll.

Don’t let the rain win; go for a walk.

That’s it from me. Back to my other world – late 18th century London, in case you were wondering.


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on the go

Some things just don’t translate. “On the go” is probably one of those things. Louis has a great tshirt that says “Pardon my French” on the front and “Obtenez Perdu” on the back – literally ‘get lost’… but meaningless in french, or more like ‘gain lose’.

I keep getting frustrated at the inconsistencies in french. I’ve been here for nine months; it should make more sense already! For example…

je t’aime means I love you and je t’aime bien means I like you.

j’aime croissants means I like croissants and j’aime bien croissants means I like croissants a lot.


Anyway, thus endeth my rant. French lesson today went very well really, considering how tired I was. I had a big nap just before the lesson and felt half-asleep the entire time. Feeling good now though. Hurrah for lots of sleep and only a moderate amount of coffee. Elena is still sleeping through the night. Win!

It’s been days and days since I posted, for two reasons, either one of which would not keep me from blogging on its own, but with their powers combined they are captain-blog-stopper!

(Apologies if that makes no sense – reference to fantastic 90s children’s tv show – Captain Planet, whose theme is now stuck in my head…

– my gift to you: you can have it stuck in your head too!)

Anyway, my two reasons are:

a) predictably, nanowrimo has begun and my words-per-day have been absorbed into non-blogging writing, and,

b) we went to the Netherlands for the long weekend.

And here are lots of photos, starting on Wednesday with a little halloween silliness.

Hansel & Gretel, of sorts. I’m the witch, of sorts. Louis refused to take off his nikes or let go of the soccer ball, which detracted somewhat from the effect I was going for. Elena’s costume was the best – two dresses my sister once wore, though never together.

 What a feast! I ate most of those carrot sticks. And a lot of pineapple. Yum. (I’m actually not being sarcastic. I had maybe one lolly and it was not as exciting. There’s something wrong with me.)

My contribution: cheese muffins with scary faces. Lame? Sure, maybe, but yum.

And then, next day, we got in the car and drove to Maastricht. And while we drove I wrote the first few pages of my nanowrimo novel.

Once upon a time I got car sick. I have developed adult asthma and eczema, but I grew out of car-sickness. So that’s something.

We stopped at this place on the road north last time: Not a life-changing breakfast, but a pretty damn good children’s play area (ah, how priorities have changed).

We got to Maastricht just in time to catch the boat along the river Maas, just in time to get to the last “grotten” (like grotto) tour at St Petersburg (the tallest hill in the Netherlands). We basically wanted to stay in Maastricht just to visit these caves – 250kms worth of mined limestone tunnels which were used for smuggling and hiding during the war.

It was good weather to head underground…

they found dinosaur bones in these caves (once upon a time) and painted pictures of dinosaurs for the tourists – gotta love an honest guide.

The guide spoke dutch and Luuk translated bits and pieces for me. I mostly looked at the walls, tried to take a few photos, and then tried to placate a grumpy baby.

Elena cheered up after she’d been fed, on the boatride back to the center of the city. Louis wasn’t interested in the delicious hot chocolate we got him (trying to warm his shivering bones), but cuddles with the baby may have had a similar effect.

Okay, so we didn’t just go to Maastricht for the caves; it’s also a very cool, very old city. And the weather cleared up in the evening. Perfect.

We were wiped out from travel and exploring… so we had room service (a first for Luuk – very exciting) and then he crashed. I typed up my 1st of November words. Not enough, but c’est la vie.

More pics from our trip in the next installment… I’m still a bit behind on my nanowrimo word count but I’m not worried. Finished days early the last couple of times and I have a handy-dandy daily writing habit already, which makes the whole venture a bit easier for me than for most others. Some days it’ll be just a few hundred (today-cough) and other days it’ll be finger-achingly-awesome.

But right now, it’s bedtime. Nap, or no nap, I’m pooped!

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Plots, Parties and Plateaus

I have a villain! I’ve never had a villain before. My characters usually battle disembodied evils like fear or loneliness or always being control. There are those things in this story too, and it’s possible my villain will just bring them to the fore, rather than himself being the great evil to overcome. But we’ll see. Have to save some decisions for November.

Which won’t be a problem because so far I have one major first scene, and a handful of possible things that will come out of that. I have a cast of characters with lives intertwined, history and angst, dreams and fears… all that is in a big mess of papers with Louis’s doodles added for good measure.

Last November was the first time I plotted out, scene by scene, a whole novel before writing. I found Nanowrimo really easy after that. So maybe this year will go really smoothly, even with an extra child to juggle now. But it won’t be an empty month. There is at least one party to plan and pull off… perhaps in our tiny little apartment.

Louis is nearly two. I have plans for the cake and a rough idea of a guest list, but we might have to rearrange furniture to all fit in the same room. And we won’t all get seats.

Today is Luuk’s birthday, and Dad’s is next week. Between all the celebrations and nanowrimo (ie. fuel and/or rewards for words might tend edible-ways) I am a little worried about my weight-loss continuing. Even more so since I have apparently plateaued – I am the same this saturday morning as I was last. Eek! I skipped counting calories a couple of days this week, in the wake of horrible nights, so maybe that’s where I went wrong, or maybe this is the normal plateau a couple of months into a new diet. We have been eating LOTS of soup, which is all good in theory, but it’s also been colder and I’ve been hiding out indoors, getting less exercise, so maybe that’s the problem.

Anyway, I’m not gaining, so actually there’s nothing to worry about. And I’m certainly not dieting today. Not every day is a birthday, is a good dieting mantra, but today IS a birthday!

Luuk and I are off to Le Dernier Bar this evening, for fun cocktails and board games and overpriced but hopefully themed food. It’s this really geeky spot in Paris, with all sorts of sci-fi/fantasy paraphernalia from films and television all over the walls. There are games to play while you sample the fare – all geeky themed. Should be hilarious. I’m just gutted I won’t get to see the men’s urinals – something I never though I’d say – but these ones are special: the guys get to “ski” and chase penguins… use your imagination. Or don’t. Up to you.

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C’est une bonne idée!

It’s a good idea! This is one of those phrases I’ve mastered in French. Hurrah.

I still have to google-translate a lot though. I use that handy little gadget to check my french emails before I send them. And to figure out what on earth they’re talking about when they get all cute and funny in the french nanowrimo emails…

I’m not writing a novel in French, no. Heck no. But I am all signed up to the French nanowrimo community online, so I’m trying to follow a few conversations and summoning the courage to join in.

Meanwhile, I have an idea… peut etre, une bonne idée…


Lady Ailsa Bolton is the eldest and the last of her sisters to marry… if she marries at all. Surrounded by seemingly cautionary tales, she is cynical about the whole package: Marriage (gambling with happiness, really, and surely one family is enough trouble), child-bearing (life-threatening, potentially heart breaking, certainly back-breaking) and child-rearing (exhausting, easily mismanaged and potentially all consuming) cannot be the only option for a meaningful life. Surely there is an alternative for a resourceful, intelligent young woman in these modern times. Struggling between hope, boredom and restlessness, Lady Ailsa is off to London for her eighth season.

Until very recently David Clark was a bookseller-printer, but to everyone’s surprise (and everyone else’s great curiosity) he is now a fully fledged member of the peerage, the shiny new Earl of Brandon. He has the town house, the country manor, and the fortune to match. The old Earl’s steward has lined up a tailor, a dance tutor and an elocutionist, determined to have the new Earl do the name proud. David Clark is proud of his family business and unwilling to toss away his past life for the sake of a few toffy-nosed hypocrites. Least of all the disarming Lady Ailsa.

And I think I’ve stumbled on a title: An Heir Out of Place

Tehehee, I crack myself up.

Now, as Elena seems to be sleeping (or doing an excellent impression) I’m off for a (fingers crossed) nap.