Archives for babies

IGNORING GRAVITY: next Bestseller?

I am delighted to announce my novel Ignoring Gravity has been signed to take part in the launch of ‘Britain’s Next Bestseller’ on March 28, 2014.This is a new publishing imprint where you, the readers, can select which books go into print. If I achieve a minimum pre-order target of 250 sales of Ignoring Gravity, I will be awarded with a publishing contract for book and e-book formats. You will be able to place your pre-order for Ignoring Gravity on a special website to be launched on March 28. Watch out for more details here. Ignoring Gravity is the story of two pairs of sisters separated by a generation of secrets. Start reading the story of Rose Haldane and her sister Lily from episode one, now, by clicking here. Sadly for those who have been reading the instalments here, you will now to wait for the book to be published before you find out how it ends! To learn more about Britain’s Next Bestseller, and how you can place your pre-order, click here.
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Categories: Book Love, My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity' and On Writing.

IGNORING GRAVITY #52

She walked the few hundred yards to Mrs Gladstone’s house, trying to forget Tommy, breathing  deeply of the scented plants which spilled out of garden after garden. Jasmine. Buddleia. Lilies. But no roses, Tommy was right.’  The sky was like a Rothko canvas she’d seen in the Tate, the colours layered above one another like Eton Mess topped with mandarin segments and custard. She always found Rothko’s paintings calming, the colours melting and merging together. She took a book from her handbag, the latest Frank Bale detective novel, ideal for the mode of stop-start reading demanded by commuting on public transport. She opened it at the current page and there was her bookmark: a postcard of Rothko’s ‘Light Red Over Black.’ She breathed in the sweetness of the flowers, the glowing sky and the layers of Rothko’s paint, and let them soothe her. Careful not to stand on the whitewashed doorstep that sparkled with daily scrubbing, Rose rung the doorbell of 17 Child Street. It was a tiny terraced house, immaculate, its postage stamp garden packed with candy-coloured bedding plants. Not a single rose. The door was opened by an elderly lady who was wiping her hands on the sort of
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #51

She pulled Nick’s list out of her pocket and checked the addresses. Mr & Mrs Thomas Tyler, 14 Child Street. They lived at the white house? It looked more like the home of a thirty-something childless couple than pensioners. She tapped the cool steel knocker, and a thirty-something peered around the part-opened door, her foot with its red-painted toes in a fierce platform sandal braced against the bottom of the door to prevent unwelcome intruders. She spoke through evenly-capped white teeth. “Mr & Mrs Tyler? They don’t live here any more. Mrs Tyler died two years ago and we bought this when her husband moved to a flat. Sheltered accommodation, the kind with a warden. I’ve got the address somewhere, hold on.” She disappeared, shutting the door behind her. She left behind her the floral scent of something Rose identified as expensive from the perfume advertisements in Vogue, the kind with the scented strip you rubbed against your skin. This was definitely not a plug-in air freshener sort of house. As Rose rubbed at a brown mark on her linen trousers, squashed chocolate biscuit from number 12, the neatly-ironed thirty-something re-appeared with a piece of paper. It wasn’t far. Cornwall
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #50

Child Street was in a grid of terraces built as accommodation for workers at the Islington works which supplied bricks for the rebuilding of the City of London after the Great Fire. Rose tried to imagine Kate walking along this road carrying newspapers on a Sunday morning, running to the tube station round the corner, staggering home from the pub after one too many lager and limes with the girls. She tried to see what Kate saw every day. The monotony of red brick was broken in a couple of places by pre-fab concrete cubes, legacy of the post-war rush for housing. Not far away on the other side of the road a house shone out, its bricks and balustrade painted bright white; so bright in fact that Rose expected to smell new paint. The silvery grey of the lime tree outside added to the overall bleached effect. It was a style Rose liked. She hoped this was number 12, it was the sort of house she’d like to live in if she could ever stretch to a bigger mortgage. She would decorate it throughout with mocha walls, clotted cream carpet, caramel leather sofas and dark wood furniture. But the number
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #49

Rose was first into the office the next morning. The movement of something pink registered in her peripheral vision: a Post-It note stuck to her phone fluttered in the breeze from the portable air conditioning unit. ‘Maggie rang,’ it read. Maggie had been in Italy on a travel assignment so she didn’t know about Nick, the kiss, about loads of things a girl’s best friend should know. They always shared. The first time Maggie had sex, the first time Rose had sex, and the time Hallam Tye knocked Rose off her bike and in recompense had invited her to the premiere of A Sunny Afternoon in the Snow which turned into an exclusive interview for Chill’s film column. What if Susan and Kate were best friends at school like Rose and Maggie ? She logged onto Friends Reunited and clicked on the drop-down index, selected the school then the year. Kate went to school with a lot of Susans. She sent 13 e-mails to the possibles. Each e-mail said the same:- “I am trying to trace a girl called Susan who was at St Augustine’s Primary and then Lady Grace’s School for Girls, Richmond, Surrey, with my mother Kate Ingram
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #48

By the time she knocked at Maureen’s door at 7pm, Rose felt calmer. There was a knot in her stomach which she wasn’t sure was anticipation at solving Susan’s identity, Maureen had promised to talk about Kate and Susan, or hunger. She’d wanted to ask about Susan as soon as her foot was in the door, but hearing Diana’s voice in her head – “be polite!” – Rose devoured the dish of pasta spirals in tomato and sardine sauce which Maureen set in front of her. “I didn’t realise how hungry I was.” Rose wiped her dish clean with a chunk of crusty bread. “I love tomatoes. Any sort of tomatoes, those little plum ones are great in a salad or the big fat ones you have with mozzarella, and tomato sandwiches in the summer with a sprinkle of salt. Mmm, lovely.” “Your… “ Maureen cleared her throat before continuing, “… your mum loved tomatoes too.” She stood to clear the saucepans from the hob. “No she didn’t, they upset her stomach. Too acid.” “Not Diana. Kate.” “Oh.” To hide her confusion, Rose laid her knife and fork neatly side-by-side on the plate, imagining Kate eating pasta spirals in tomato
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #47

Nick. Nick. Nick. For the first morning in a week, Rose’s first waking thought was not about Kate.  His name ticked and tocked in her brain. His warm words, his soft lips as they… didn’t kiss her. Nick, who pulled away, rejected her, left without saying when… if… he would call. Rose turned the water in the shower from hot to cold and yelled so loud that Michelle and Lewis downstairs must have heard. Nick. Nick. Nick. “Pull yourself together girl.” Rose told her reflection in the glass of the shower door. ”He doesn’t fancy you.” Rose had never known a man not kiss her back, harder and insistent. What had she done wrong? What had changed? He’d wanted to kiss her, hadn’t he? Could she have misread the signs? He’d certainly led her to think he’d like it, wanted it… perhaps she’d cried too much. She made a mental note to show Nick the Strong Rose in future, the Rose she used to be before the adoption thing. Running late, there was no time for breakfast. She opened her bag and swept into it the pile from the hall table which comprised today’s paper, yesterday’s unopened post and her
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #46

She was sitting at a bench on the wide pavement outside The Eagle, nursing a St Clements and watching the late commuters straggle out of the tube station when he arrived. A large folder was on the seat beside her. Something had shifted inside her last night and things had become clearer, one of the clearest was that she wanted to see Nick again. She’d called this morning and arranged to meet. “I haven’t been exactly…  truthful with you,” were the first words she spoke. “I know I’ve been strange, behaving oddly, but there is a reason why.” Her staccato words regulated into andantino then andante as she showed Nick her birth certificates, baby picture and Kate’s photo. Feeling calmer by the minute, helped by the pressure of his arm against hers, she told him things she didn’t even know she’d been thinking until the words were said. He let her finish speaking. “Hey.” His fingers caught a curl beside her ear and twisted it into a ringlet. “That’s the first time you’ve said all of that aloud, isn’t it?” She looked at Nick and wanted to fall into his eyes. “I think what you’re doing is very brave.” That
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #45

She stepped out of her steaming bath water later that night and picked up the bottle of Soothing Rose lotion she’d bought at Cool Beauty yesterday. Mmm roses, she thought, the heady scent of summer. But the top wouldn’t budge, not even when she tried to loosen it with her teeth. Shivering now, she wrapped herself in a towel. Somewhere there was a pair of pliers. Leaving a trail of water across the floor, she checked in the hall cupboard, then the drawer in the dresser. She finally found them in her toolbox at the bottom of her wardrobe squashed between her Dorothy stilettos and favourite tan cowboy boots. With one tug, the threads at the neck of the plastic bottle gave way and the top was released. Her stomach lurched at the overwhelming stink of artificial flowers, chemical copies, not real roses. Rose stoppered the bottle quickly. It had smelled alright in the shop, but perhaps everything had changed now she was Alanna Ingram. * Wrapped in her bathrobe, dozing uneasily in front of an ancient repeat of ER, dreaming of twin sisters who continually morphed in and out of each other’s bodies, Rose was stirred by a knocking.
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #44

An envelope was waiting for Rose on the hall table when she got home from work the next day. A letter bearing the red-inked stamp ‘General Register Office.’ So 24 hours after sitting on the bench beside the war memorial, Rose returned to the same place, seeking calm in her secret green corner behind the library after today’s madness of deadlines, proofreading and caffeine overload. Squabbling sparrows were her only company. She turned the envelope over in her hands, wanting to open it, not wanting to open it. The name of my father is inside. Her eyes drifted over the names on the obelisk… Worth… Thewlis… Clarkson… Smith … Brough… Out of a brown paper bag she emptied her hasty purchase from Maya’s limited alcohol shelf: two mini-bottles of gin and fruit-flavoured alco-pop. She drunk one bottle straight down in one go, pursed her lips at the alien taste of saccharine, artificial colourings and E numbers, then put the empty bottle back in its bag. She’d never been fond of gin, mother’s milk, her mother’s drink for special occasions to be mixed with bottled orange juice and sipped through pursed lips but she needed the alcohol hit and it had
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #43

Ibuprofen, birth certificate, and an apology were Rose’s three priorities when she woke too few hours later. The ibuprofen was easy, but the Direct Gov website was still ‘undergoing a few problems which we hope to resolve soon so please visit us later’ and every attempt to speak to Nick failed. Gatekeeper Amanda was polite when she took Rose’s first message of the morning, her voice growing curter with each successive call. By 11am she was nowhere near catching up the backlog which was why she was working at home in the first place: peace, quiet, no interruptions, complete concentration, etc. That was the theory. But the 500 words she managed to squeeze out about psoriasis were rubbish and would have to be rewritten from scratch which meant she would miss her deadline. She longed for espresso, the really strong espresso that was only available from the Coffee Crema van round the corner from Southfields tube station. As she stood in the queue, her mind wandered away from itchy skin to Nick. Nick, who preferred peppermint tea. Peppermint tea, the same taste as toothpaste, Polo mints, chewing gum, after-dinner mints. Forget Nick. Think about your father instead. She pictured two
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #42

Rose left the Pre-Tox Party Kit press reception two hours later with another PR goodie bag. At Waterloo she ran but reached the barrier less than 30 seconds before departure. She watched the rear of the train disappear. She rubbed her aching neck and looked up at the indicator board in Waterloo station: 20 minutes before the next Wimbledon train. Her muscles and emotions were bound as tightly as a new ball of wool. She’d need some serious help to relax tonight. If she was quick she could nip into her favourite shop on Waterloo Bridge Road. She seldom left Cool Beauty without a bottle. So she nipped. As she stepped through the door of the shop, the unravelling experience began. She sniffed and sampled her way along the shelves through ‘Refresh’ and ‘Revive’ to ‘Renew’ and with each step her shoulders eased as a frayed end of wool teased its way loose. But she knew that only when she lay up to her chin in fragranced bathwater tonight would the last strands of tight muscle unwind from her neck and down her spine, releasing each vertebra one at a time. Then she would rub Soothing Rose Lotion into every
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #41

Lily stormed along the street, not knowing if she’d turned left or right. How dare Rose imply that my life’s a mess. Of course I want to get pregnant, doesn’t everyone? Poor Dad, poor poor Dad. And poor Mum too, she wanted a baby so much, she must have been at the end of her tether, so lonely. No wonder she asked her sister for help. Well she was lucky she had Kate to turn to. I wish I had a sister like that. That was a cruel thought, and Lily wasn’t used to being cruel. But it was true. Instantly she felt alone on the crowded pavement. Rose wasn’t her sister any more. Being cousins wasn’t the same at all. Suddenly Lily sensed she was being stared at. She was muttering to herself. She shut her mouth, took her sunglasses out of her bag and put them on. She stopped to re-arrange the pile of diaries better in her arms but the blue one on top slithered to the pavement. A metal lock burst open and loose pages spilled onto the hot pavement. Lily bent to her knees to pick them up and the words flew off the open page
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #40

Five hours later, Rose stood on the steps of Way Forward PR in Chiswick where she’d just left a breakfast press briefing about the New You range of slimming products. New You: the all-natural, organic way to detox and not go hungry. In her hand was a carrier bag containing the press kit. Product samples [sachet of powdered milk shake, energy bar and vacuum pack of dried savoury rice], press pack, scented candle to help her feel positive about her body image, notepad and ballpoint pen stamped with the New You logo. Standard press reception fodder: Rose would take the bag back to work and it would go into the goody drawer. When the drawer was full, Sam’s secretary would fill up carrier bags and hand them out to the features team. This would be followed by a frantic trading session as the boys swapped the lipsticks in their bags for the disposable razors in the girls’ bags. It was one of the perks of working on the features desk. Rose hadn’t bought soap, or pens, since she’d worked at the Herald. Now, bag in hand, she stood on a street corner and looked around to get her bearings. Cars
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #39

The first thing Rose looked at when she awoke the early next morning was Kate’s photo. Hello Mum, she thought. Mother. Mummy. She strode lightly from bedroom to bathroom to kitchen, flicked the switch on the kettle then logged on and searched for Kate Ingram. Loads of entries, but different Kate Ingrams. A town councillor in Ayrshire banned for dangerous driving. A footballer who scored the winning goal in Dewsbury Ladies’ 3-2 win over the Doncaster Darlings. A four-year old victim of a hit-and-run driver at a zebra crossing. Kate died almost 30 years before the internet was in general use, she didn’t have a Facebook page or an entry in Equity’s online directory. The waking urge to talk to her, to know more, became a fully conscious need, like the need to eat or pee or sleep. With a wave of shame, Rose realised she didn’t know where Kate was buried. Bizzie would know. “St Agnes’ in Kingston.” Rose could hear the smile in her Gran’s voice. “Where your Mum and Granddad are. Comfortable benches. I go to see them all once a week. So so.” This made Rose, who hadn’t been to the graveyard since standing beside her
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #38

She drove straight to Kingston. Bizzie’s house was alight with electricity, curtains thrown back, from the front gate, Rose could see her grandmother sitting in an armchair doing a crossword in the newspaper. She leant against the gate, the lichen slightly dew-damp under her elbows, knowing she was delaying, fearing what she might see in her gran’s eyes. She took a deep breath and walked up the path she had walked up a thousand times before, except for the first time she was frightened. She sat in the chair opposite Bizzie, looked at her straight, and told her about Mrs Greenaway. It was a five minute monologue, the sixth minute was silent. “Kate?” “Yes.” Bizzie’s eyes were full of sadness, they didn’t lie, she hadn’t known of her daughters’ secret. “You’re sure?” “Positive.” Rose understood the need to disbelieve. “Here.” She handed over the form given to her by Mrs Greenaway, the form from hell. “You never knew?” Bizzie shook her head then took off her reading glasses, polished them with the yellow felt cloth from inside her glasses case, and settled them back into the pink grooves either side of her nose. She read the form slowly once, then
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #37

Darkness was falling by the time she got to the allotment. She stumbled on the uneven path, cursing herself for not keeping a torch in the car as her mother had told her. She found her father’s patch, empty. For the first time in a long while she felt kinship with her mother who had often pursed her lips at his ability to disappear at moments important to her – parents’ evenings, Christmas drinks with the neighbours, choosing curtains. A light was flickering in the far corner of the field, like a light bulb with dodgy wiring. He had to be where that light was. Everything else turned black and she stumbled over uneven earth, not caring if she scuffed up sacred lettuce or radish seedlings. Lily would be able to tell the difference, she couldn’t, not even in daylight. She could now see the outline of a shed, a neater one than her father’s, painted bright blue. The tang of fresh paint and something yeasty hung in the air. It was Ron Fosdyke’s shed. His name was on the door, burned roughly out of a lump of wood with a hot poker and nailed to the apex. The sign
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #36

Rose crossed and uncrossed her legs, then crossed them again, snaking her feet around her ankles, the toes of her tan gladiator sandals squeaking slightly as they rubbed together. Then her mother’s firm voice rung in her head, ‘You’ll get varicose veins if you sit with your legs crossed, sit like a lady.’ Rose uncrossed them and pressed her knees tightly together. Her inner thigh muscles began to ache. She’d been sitting up straight in this corridor for ten minutes, a tunnel of wood-panelled walls, darkened with years of polish and dirty fingerprints. She started to cross her legs again but remembered in time and forced her knees back together. This was more efficient at muscle toning than that horrible machine at the gym, the one where you sat with your knees wide apart and tried to push them together against the weights. Her mother would certainly have disapproved about the legs wide apart bit. Footsteps approached from the left. “You must be Rose, can I call you Rose?” Rose nodded. The social worker was a large lady wearing a tailored jacket and pussybow blouse, a brown wool skirt stretched across her ample bottom. Rose hadn’t seen clothes like that
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #35

After twenty minutes of pinning down the differences between gluten allergy and wheat intolerance, Rose wrote the first paragraph of today’s feature. “The number of people self-diagnosing themselves as being wheat intolerant is growing and can lead to more harm than good, according to new nutritional research. Wheat aversion, a psychological condition, is also on the increase. Are the two trends connected?” It was true, but she pressed the delete button and watched her words disappear. Sam would never approve it, all the space sold for this feature advertised wheat-free biscuits and free-from bread. She stared at the empty white page. “Anyone wanting to avoid wheat in their diet today is going to have a hard time finding wheat-free and free-from products that don’t taste like sawdust.” Noooo… he wouldn’t approve that either. She pressed the delete button again. She knew the signs, she needed a breather, she needed a fresh start to the feature, she needed coffee. “Crap coffee?” she asked Frank, who nodded without a pause in his typing. He was on a tight deadline too, Sam had already shouted at him twice since lunch. Rose wandered towards the coffee machine, enjoying stretching her legs. “Coffee break already,
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.

IGNORING GRAVITY #34

Twenty-four hours and two frozen pizzas later, Rose put down the last library book. She rubbed her temples. Well, at least Mum and Dad hadn’t made her sleep in a cupboard. Reading Harry Potter made two things clear. First, don’t believe everything people tell you about your parents. Second, never trust your initial assumptions. Why must she always think the worst? It might be a happy story, or at least not an unhappy one. Because they might have died of a crack overdose, said that sharp cynical voice in her head. It’s better to know the truth, whatever it is, than not to know, said Strong Rose’s calmer voice. Even if they’re dead. Of course they’re dead. It’s the only thing that makes sense. Rose thought it made sense too. Harry made a third thing clear, she thought suddenly. Everyone who met Harry told him he had his mother’s eyes. Whose eyes did she have? * When Rose arrived at Café Blanc, Monday lunchtime, there was no sign of Maggie. She bought a bottle of mineral water and bagged a table outside. She loved this place, it smelled so good. Coffee but something sweet, vanilla perhaps, vanilla syrup, and onions
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Categories: Book Love and My Novel: 'Ignoring Gravity'.