Thursday, May 29, 2014


So I have not written a plumbean since last February.  I have a really really good reason.  I have been writing, editing, rewriting, writing some more and finally finishing my second book!  It is the story of the painter Vanessa Bell and her famous sister, the writer, Virginia Woolf.  The outrageous brilliant artistic literary friends are all there and the story is set in glamorous bohemian pre-war London.  It was huge fun to write and absolutely amazing to work with my magical editors at Ballantine/Random House in the USA and Bloomsbury in the UK and now it is coming out next January in a beautiful hardback with the pretty ragged edges that I love!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Nell!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Year

Hello!  Eight months?  I have not written a plumbean in eight months?  That is awful.  But then, it has been a fairly nutty eight months.  It has been a wonderful, stressful, exhilarating, difficult, nomadic, romantic, scribbling, fantastic eight months.  In the last eight months I have:

Become an aunt
Written a ton
Gotten engaged
Deleted a ton
Moved back to London
Written some more
Visited my first student who is now at my old college at Oxford
Researched a ton
Moved back to Hawaii
Transcribed the research
Moved back to London again
Checked the research
Walked all over the city
Re broken my foot
Written and written and written
And, after writing like a maniac every day, finished the first draft of my second novel.

And now I have a minute to breathe and realized that I missed the plumbean terribly!  Hello!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nell in French

So, writers procrastinate.  When I am noodling around a sentence, trying to make it fit, I lift the pieces and try them one way and then another and then I start over and then I sometimes get frustrated and wander off and google vaguely related and therefore somewhat justifiable, random stuff.  How is Nell doing on Amazon?  Where were the bus stops on Picadilly in 1906?  When did the Savoy Hotel open on the Strand?  Did people have birthday cakes in 1909?  How much did a really nice hat cost in 1910?  That kind of stuff.  Useful for the second book but not over the moon important at that particular moment.

Today, I unclicked the chunks of a paragraph and moved them around like lego and then quickly realized I was doing more harm than good.  You know when you pass that point of critical mass and you are now doing damage to the writing and making it worse?  Time to stop!  I quickly stepped away from the paragraph and gave myself three minutes of random noodling to refocus.  And in my first random google noodle, I bumped into Nell--in French!

It was the French edition and it came out last week and I had no idea!  In French, she is taller, wearing a red dress, and has hair I would kill for.  I love it!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Since June...

I have not written a new plumbean since June!  June!  Since then I have: gone home to Hawaii for the summer, written lots, deleted lots, written more, spent the autumn in the London rain, been rained on, read at least 900 WWI letters, taken notebooks full of notes, walked miles, broken my foot, been on crutches, fallen over on crutches, read lots, taught lots, bought new boots, seen dear friends, been terrible about phoning people I love, watched Downton Abbey, cut my hair even shorter, walked more, taken more notes, and come back to the States for Christmas.

Why did I stop plumbeaning?  Last May I started receiving uncomfortably rude notes at the plumbean.  I changed the settings so no one saw them but me but they were nevertheless distressing.  I thought about upping sticks and moving plumbean to a different zip code but that just felt wrong so we waited it out, plumbean and I.  And now, tentatively poking our heads out of the hedge where we have been hiding, we are back...

Friday, June 10, 2011


People are wonderful.  Do you ever have a day when you just suddenly realize that people are wonderful?  It can be a small holding door open thing or sweeping, huge life changing thing that can trigger the 'people are wonderful' reaction in me.

Look what lovely Allie from Hist-fic Chick wrote!  She was invited to do a guest post on the Borders website and she wrote about Nell.  People are wonderful.

Monday, May 30, 2011


For once I have a legitimate reason for not writing: I have moved!  From Bloomsbury to Vauxhall.  Moving is hard.  First you buy the plastic boxes, then you bring them home, and then you try to entice your stuff to hop into the plastic boxes--and your stuff is  always so much smarter than that.  It knows much better than to climb into a perspex box where it will likely never get to stretch out on a hanger or snuggle in a drawer again, and where it will probably get musty and start to smell like a lavender moth ball.  My stuff is particularly brainy.  It evaded the plastic boxes and refused to fold up nicely and wouldn't go without a fight.

After weeks of sunshine, it naturally rained on the day of the move.  My grumpy stuff got wet.  Of course my shoes and books took the brunt of the damp weather.  My waterproof bath stuff did not get rained on at all.  But now my books and shoes and bath stuff and dresses and birthday cards and pajamas are all here in Vauxhall.  And so I am writing.  Writing a plum bean and writing second book.  Second book got ignored during the move but has reasserted herself in my brain and is quashing thoughts of suitcases, unpacking and laundry.

And: it felt like such a treat today: Nell got a lovely review!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Month!

It has been a month since I wrote a plum bean.  A strange wonderful crazy month.  I have written, gotten stuck and then written again.  I am about to move house which unravels writing fairly conclusively for a few days.  Somehow the act of getting all my belongings into plastic boxes and from one flat to another is utterly outfoxing me.

Nell received a wonderful treat today.  Natalie, also known as Coffee and a Book Chick wrote a lovely review.  I was thrilled.  She said that Nell had prompted her to spend hours on the internet noodling around 17th century theatre.  How absolutely marvellous that she had that reaction.  I love the Restoration and so often it gets overshadowed by the grisly can't turn away from the beheading train wreck  of the Tudors.  I understand that.  Kings bumping off brilliant wives and changing the course of religion is compelling stuff. So it is especially wonderful when the Restoration gets discovered and explored.

So, tonight is the Manic Mommies Book Club interview.  I am absurdly worried about getting the access codes right and actually finding the interview.  Having had relatively little experience in a normal job (working on the Vagina Monologues was brilliantly, wonderfully abnormal--not everyone has vagina puppets on their desk) I have some anxiety around fax machines and conference calling.  Absurd, I know but there it is.  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The Italian cover!  Nell goes to Italy...

Saturday, April 16, 2011


"Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered. 
"Yes, Piglet?" 
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you." 
 A.A. Milne (Winnie-the-Pooh)

I have been thinking about things not said.  I love this quote.  I love the simplicity.  I love that nothing is spelled out but that feeling of safety, friendship and returned love is utterly captured.  

I have been thinking about how good writing works.  How to write a feeling without explaining the feeling.  How to grab a moment and make it sit still long enough to become perfectly realized.  It is not easy to do.  I think it is all about recognition.  That is the root.  To see yourself in a character or room or time or place or awkward situation pulls you into the writing.  It becomes familiar, personal, meaningful, important, yours.  I know that feeling.  I know the small moment of cocooned relief Piglet feels holding Pooh's hand.  Such good writing.