Merit versus luck and the perception of value. That's the short answer to what my book is about. Sounds terribly high-falutin' put like that. The elevator pitch would be 'a rediscovered cellar sensationalises the London wine scene, but when Chloe uncovers its scandalous origin, will she get what she deserves?'

Yuck, now it sounds like a corny action thriller. It's not. There's a straightforward love story running through it, but it's not romantic fiction; neither is it fantasy or comedy, though I hope it will be funny in parts. It'll probably get lumped in with popular fiction, but with delusions of grandeur. That'll put it among the countless worthy and literate novels published every year that nobody ever actually reads. Unpopular fiction, then. And that's assuming it ever gets that far.

I'm working on it for about two hours a week at the moment, usually first thing in the morning. For the past week, I've been researching the history of sherry by reading Julian Jeff's comprehensive volume about it. (So there's another clue: the book features sherry. Ooh, the plot thickens.)

Strangely, I feel an almost paranoid reluctance to give too much away. I guess I want to keep the plot as secret as possible - but why? It's hardly likely that anyone will pinch the idea. Perhaps I'm being defensive in case it all amounts to nothing - but the point of writing this blog is partly to force myself to persevere. There's also a sense of embarrassment in case people think it isn't any good. And the possibility that I might change course en route.

And all this before I've actually written a word of the actual book. This over-preparation is quite deliberate, however. I'ver tried writing a book more than once before and failed because I had absolutely no idea where it was going. My earliest effort, when I was 18, was a barely disguised account of my first year at university in which the lead character was a ambitious but lovelorn young writer. When I realised how much it sucked, I suddenly introduced involved a criminal brother-in-law, an AK47 and a couple of hapless detectives. This sucked even more.

Lesson learned. This time I'm researching the detail and planning the plot meticulously before I start writing. So here's another clue: the book won't feature any AK47s. Probably.