Friday, December 12, 2014

Tote Bags day

Today's the 12th of the month - and as always time is rushing away with me.  I have gifts bought - some of them wrapped and the ones that need to be posted  have been taken to the Post Office and are now on their way to  be delivered to the people I chose them for.

Half the cards are done and on their way too - the rest will be in the mail tonight.  So  the Christmas preparations are  fairly well in hand,

Not so much the blog posting  -  I have a book to write as well, so that means that I have very little time left over for writing anything else like blog posts and such.

But today, as I said, is the 12th of December - so it's my day for my regular  posting over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs, and that's where you'll find me today.

Of course, as this is the 30th anniversary of my  very first publication, that anniversary is very much in my mind . . .

See you there

Friday, December 05, 2014

Another anniversary - Ruby's this time

Ruby at 8 weeks
 Remember this?

This was one of the first photos I shared with you when Ruby the kitten came home to us from the Cats Protection rescue shelter  in December last year.

Exactly a year ago, to be precise.  We had seen her on the Sunday  and fallen in love - and Ruby had flung herself into my arms and  made it clear that she thought I was hers and that was that!

Ruby and Charlie when she first arrived
We had to wait a few days for the formalities and checks to be completed, but it was quite obvious that the rescue organiser  agreed with Ruby, and knew that we had been chosen.  No one really had any choice - apart from one little black and white cat who knew exactly where she wanted to be.

So a year ago today, we went back to the shelter to collect her. She was yelling her head off as we approached but that stopped as soon as I picked her up and she was where she wanted to be.  She came back home with us and settled in straight away, no hesitation, no doubt. She  soon had  Charlie wrapped round her  little paws  - where he's stayed ever since. Though they do occasionally have mad chases all around the house  - it sounds like a major storm  as the result of Charlie's size. And if he catches her and jumps on her, from the hissing and spitting and yelling she puts out, you'd think she was being murdered when the truth is that all he wants to do is to lick her face.

She likes to be up high and in the garden she climbs as high as she can in the apple trees and then stays there. looking down on Charlie who is not a climber, being such a big boy.

Ruby one year on
She's still not a very big cat - but then any normal cat would look small compared with Charlie and his Maine Coon build.  She is affectionately known as 'Keg' by my son and his fiancee  because she  has a little rounded barrel-shaped tummy that comes from being able to persuade the Babe Magnet ( someone else she has wrapped round her paws) that she really is wasting away and needs treats - now.  The only problem with that is that he feeds her some tasty sticks of fish or meat flavours and instead of eating them she has to hunt them  and 'kill' them before they get eaten.  Quite often they get away from her and we have found stashes of  uneaten sticks under chairs of the settee when we move it to clean.
Ruby today

She as real 'lap cat' and spends long happy hours curled up on my lap, or across my knees on a blanket when I'm watching TV or reading.  And then when bedtime arrives, she knows that we go upstairs for 'snuggles' and curls up on my feet for most of the night.  In fact she has quite a good vocabulary  for a cat - knowing  just what outside. teatime, blankie (for the blanket),  treats  and snuggles.

We're so glad she came to live here, helping to fill the large empty hole where poor beautiful Flora had been, and even Charlie is quite  happy to have his adopted 'sister' in his life.  But then, Ruby would say that of course  that's how it was always meant to be - and it's why she chose me to give her her forever home.

Happy anniversary Ruby!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Other Writer in The Family

As many of you already know, my husband  Stephen  - the Babe Magnet -  is also a writer.

Most of the time he is a writer of facts, of history, local history, the history of crime, but just lately he has branched out into fiction and has had a couple of historical crime novels published - A Thief in the Night and A Killer Between the Lines.

He's also recently had a book called The Girl Who Lived on Air published (if you remember that's why we headed for Wales for him  to  talk about this book at the Penfro book festival,   And this week there is his biography of George Grossmith  - who wrote The Diary of a Nobody, but was also a friend of and a star in Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy Operas - A Victorian Somebody.

People often ask me - as they ask me, too - where he gets his ideas from.  Well, last week was a perfect example.

  He was teaching at the university where he lectures part time,   and talking about writing from primary sources - letters, notebooks etc - one of his students said a friend of her was looking  for some one who might be able to use a  collection that she had.  This lady had helped  to an old lady  for years and when old lady had died there was all this stuff - photographs,  postcards, reports,  personal letters  etc etc

DH  said he would love to see what was what - he was thinking that there might be a box or so -  there were boxes and  boxes, and  three suitcases!!  We opened one the first night we brought this home   and ended up  with our minds whirling at what there is - she never destroyed a thing. There are passports dating back to 1930s -  she was in the WRVS and travelled to Singapore, Tobruk - other places I can't recall.  There are letters from  the House of Commons -  she'd  written to MPs  on topics like whaling, Rwanada,  exporting live animals reports of the planning for clubs and societies -  and games nights in the NAFFI. There is even  a small old card and a tiny bit of old, grubby material with HL loves BB  embroidered very roughly on it. There must be a story behind that. 

Now the Babe Magnet can get an idea for a  story that needs investigating from one small newspaper report, a photograph or an old postcard picked up in an antiques shop of a bundle of junk. So how much can he get out of this huge archive?  We have  barely scratched the surface  of what's in there!  I'll have  to wait and see just what he decides on and which stories emerge from this elderly, dusty (and frankly rather smelly)  collection of  papers.  One intriguing  thing - this lady was born on the same date as my own birthday - but  many years before.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Special Anniversary

December 2014 marks a very special anniversary for me.    It's  exactly 30 years since my very first book - The Chalk Line  - was published in 1984!  So this is the very first cover of my book I ever saw.

Snow scene - check! Heroine with auburn hair -  There's only one problem with it - my hero - Leon Dane Vincent - was supposed to have jet black hair . . . .

And just yesterday I got the first sighting of my  brand new cover for the Presents edition next book coming up in April. That's Olivero's Outrageous Proposal - so I'm  sharing this   cover with you too. It's a rather better portrayal of my sexy Italian hero.
But no - before you ask -  because people have asked!  - he does not have a  beard!   He is meant to be  rather unconventional and  at the ball where my heroine Alyse meets him he has tugged his bow tie loose  at his throat as if the formal dress is stifling him. This scene is after the ball - so I suppose  heavy stubble is meant to do the same job as bow tugged loose!

As today is my day for blogging over on the Pink  Hearts Society blog  I'm over there today - talking about the past 30 years! How did it ever get to 30 years since that first book!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cover changes

I'm always intrigued by new covers.   I always look forward to seeing the brand new  coves for each new book. (I don;t have any cover yet for Olivero's Outrageous Proposal but I'll share just as soon as I do)  But perhaps the most interesting  look at covers is when an older book is reprinted and reissued  - perhaps in  a 3 in 1 collection and then it gets a brand new cover which is totally unlike the previous one.

I have two reissues at the moment - one out now and one coming up and so I thought I'd share the covers with you - and the original covers these books had.

So the first one is out now  The book of mine that is in this reprint  is Kept For Her Baby  which was originally published in   2009.

Then the cover looked like this  -

So now it's reprinted in a  3 in 1  - Secret Love-Child  (with other books by Catherine Spencer and Tina Duncan)   It's  on  the shelves now.  And  this new edition looks like this.

Incidentally, Kept For Her Baby isn't really a 'secret love-child' story - both the hero and the heroine know exactly who the baby is  - but that's the name of the collection.

 The second reprint coming up is a republication of The Konstantos  Marriage Demand That's a book from  2010 - and it won the Romantic Times Best Presents Extra in that year.

When this book was originally published it had a cover that looked like this:
And now that it's reprinted it has a brand new cover that you can see at the top of this post - for the 3 in 1  Collection His Revenge Seduction  (with other titles by Melanie Milburne and Elizabeth Power.)

The two covers (for each book) are very different - just shows how things have changed in  a round  4 or 5 five years.

What do you think? Do you prefer the original covers ?  (You can see the Mills & Boon editions on the books' pages on my web site if you want to.)

Do you like the 3 in 1 collections that come out regularly\- the ones that are  called 'By Request' ?
Do you find it a good way to catch up on books you've missed - or get a copy of an old favorite?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spooky stories

The Babe Magnet and I just spent a special  two days in York. I love this city with its ancient walls, the minster and the river.  We did some Christmas shopping  - how did it get to November? - and  on Thursday night we went to a production of The Woman in  Black  at the Theatre Royal.

Have you read  The Woman in Black? Or seen the film?  I've done both - and I couldn't begin to think of how someone could produce a stage performance of the book - like the film - but with only 2 actors!   I also didn't think that, having read the book and seen the film, it could scare me any more.

I was wrong. What a production. And it was all the more fascinating because it showed  the real power of the imagination in a way that  all the special effects/horror films can never create.  A bleak, almost bare stage, occasional light effects or sounds. . . .   2 men who changed costumes/characters with a different accent or a change of jacket. We were there on the night that a party of school children came to the theater. They must regularly see real horror films or video games - but  when the play worked on their imaginations they were more scared by what they couldn't see  than  what they could.

It was a real way of showing how powerful our imaginations are - which made me think of when people read my books and what are really just words on the page build up pictures in their thoughts and they grow stronger and clearer so that the story really takes off.  And probably no one quite see exactly the same thing whoever reads those words.  Isn't the imagination amazing?

It was also a great way of showing that there is no one way to tell a story - those 3 versions  of the original book have been so varied, different. But each one tells the story their way  - bringing it to life in their own special way.

We had a great night - and the walk back  through the dark, winding, cobbled streets of York had an extra thrill  as we looked at any dark figure of shadowy corner with a new and rather nervous  attitude.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Courses for 2015

I've been getting enquiries about possible courses I have coming  up  for 2015. I haven't been able to get round to updating my Events page on my web site yet as all the dates haven't been finalised but  I thought  I'd post what I do know and then if you're interested you can start to plan ahead - maybe save up. Or perhaps you can ask Father Christmas for the cost of a course  as a present?

Also - courses are booking up fast so  I'd better let you know what's still available and what isn't.

OK -

With Writers' Holiday.

Writers' and Artists Winter Workshop Weekend
13th - 15th February 2015

My Advanced Romance Writing Course is FULLY BOOKED
You can ask to be put on a waiting list in case anyone backs out.

There are other courses running  that weekend
Short Stories
Novel Writing
Painting and Drawing

The Writers' Holiday site says there are just ten places for the whole weekend still available  at a price of £299

For the Summer Writers' Holiday
There are also only 10 places left  - but you can still get on my Complete Contemporary  Romance course
Dates: July 27th - 1st August 2015
Cost: £499  all inclusive  (accommodation/tuition/meals)
For details of all the courses and events, check out the Writers' Holiday web site.

With Relax and Write

13-15 March at Weetwood Hall Leeds all inclusive fee £249
This is my Focus on Writing Romantic Fiction Retreat 

'Write Romantic Fiction' Retreat with Kate Walker
An ideal course to get your writing moving ahead. This course will help you edit and polish your synopsis and first three chapters.  For those of you who have been working on your novel, your work in hand will receive constructive feedback. There are a limited number of places on this Retreat, so it is essential you book early, in order to send Kate your work in advance for comment and arrange a one-to-one.

Places on this retreat are already limited - with  half the places booked already  so let Relax and Write know if you are interested.  You need to be able to provide three chapters and a synopsis for me to read and discuss with you.,
 Other courses available that weekend:
'Self-Publishing' with Malcolm Chisholm

'Create a Mini-Memoir' with Alison Chisholm

'Writing the Past' with Stephen Wade

We are still at the stage of planning and organising further courses with Relax and Write - and need to finalise dates and venues but plan to have coming up :
Beginning, Middle and End - Planning Your Novel
Writing Romantic Fiction.

More news when I have it myself.

You can find details of courses and other events on my Events page on my web site  and you will also find comments and reviews from students who have been on my courses  in the past here .

Maybe I'll see you somewhere in 2015.


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