New Year, new-look web site, the result of having a web site surgery at the Society of Authors with Kristen Harrison of The Curved House. For those of you who don’t know, this involves sitting at a computer watching someone do clever things and nodding furiously,  the vigour of the nodding increasing in inverse proportion to your understanding of what you’re being shown, until the world is a blur and you’re feeling dizzy and slightly sick. Then you go home and stare at the notes you made until your eyes begin to water and you have to admit that you can’t make head nor tail of them.December 2012 022

As far as I’m concerned, all electronic gadgets are powered by magic. If someone were to open the back of my computer and show me a host of little goblins working industriously away I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. I didn’t mention this to Kristen, of course, but as she’s worked with writers for years she probably had her suspicions.

Apart from the technical advice, she also gave me tips on how to make sure I posted regularly – and as I saw her over a month ago, you can tell how well that’s going.

Children, parents, and that wolf who’s been leaving claw marks on the door have kept me from writing for too long, but I am resolved to finish my next novel this year. I was struggling with the second one, so I’ve decided to leave it for a while and go straight on to the third, in the hope of fooling the ‘difficult second novel’ jinx. I managed 20,000 words or so during NaNoWriMo, but lost momentum when I had to break off to compose another long letter to my parents’ local authority about their refusal to contribute to my mother’s care. Once again, I found that I could manage the suggested 1,700 words per day – as long as I stayed up until 3 am. I’m not going to set myself a daily limit from now on, as that only leads to a feeling of failure, but I am determined to finish this one soon.

The picture, by the way, is of Severndroog Castle, built as a memorial to Sir William James in 1784 by his grieving widow. It’s in Oxleas Wood on Shooters Hill, where I went for a walk on New Year’s Day with my family to shake off the Christmas torpor. It’s been slipping into dereliction for years now, but it looks as if enough money has been raised to start restoration work soon. Let’s see if I can complete the book before the work is done.

I can see the woods from my bedroom window, and I’m acutely aware of how lucky that makes me: I live in London, yet I have a view of ancient woodland, parts of which are more than 8,000 years old. Although maybe if I didn’t have such good views I might spend less time staring out of the window and more time writing…