Monday, May 23, 2016

A Day in the Life Of . . .

I've had a really busy day.  As I think I mentioned, we've had the bedroom completely redecorated and revamped. The result is wonderful - better than I could have hoped for but  now that the job is done (phew!)  I have  to  reorganise everything - bringing all the stuff/clothes etc that I'd moved out of the room back into the bedroom, putting them away,  finding places for everything . . .

It's all been worth it, but it's taken time, and I think I've walked more than those 10.000 steps you're supposed to  count up in order to keep healthy.

So that's my day.  And while I've been doing this, Charlie the Maine Coon has had his own sort of day. Cats are supposed to be 'active mammals' - well, in that case 'active'  doesn't mean what I normally thin it means.  And as I've had a few enquiries from readers who've missed seeing Charlie and Ruby  and what they've been up to, well here is -

A day in the life of Charlie Rumpuss - the Maine Coon.
First of all he woke up and had a little something to eat . . .

And then he had a snooze

 After a while  he woke up - briefly - and had a wash and grooming session
Which tired him out, so that he went back to sleep . . .
 Until it was time for a little snack

 After which, he  needed a grooming session, to make sure his paws and whiskers were all clean .

Which took rather  a lot of effort - . so he crashed out and is now fast asleep again.

Sometimes I wish I was a cat!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

That cake again!

    Just in case you feel inspired enough (or crazy enough! ) to want to make an Imperial State Crown Cake then here is the perpetrator - ahem - inventor - himself - Keef Piethagoras Williamson of Keef Cooks showing just how he went about it!

     I'm even more honoured that he did now I've seen this - though it was certainly a challenge to try to eat the result. 

     But it was definitely a cake and a half - and another half . . .Delicious.

    Thank you again, Keef!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Special Weekend

There are friends and there are friends.

Facebook makes it seem as if ‘friendship’ is as simple as clicking on a name and – that’s that!  Friends for life-  or at least until another click ‘unfriends’ someone. 
I’m happy to see my Facebook friends making comments or liking a post and some of them are real friends  - friends in the outside world,  people I’ve met in person – or through long correspondence or emails.  People who might  be separated sometimes by life taking them many  thousands of miles away but who, when you meet up again, fit like a comfortable sock,  falling straight back into place in your life and reminding you of just how much you missed them.

We spent this weekend with friends like that -  their life  has often taken them miles  away,  to different countries, different experiences, but  just recently they came back  to live in UK – just down the road in fact (well, in contrast to past times!). Close enough for us to go and visit  easily – and hopefully much more often.

So this weekend I was able to fulfil a l-o-n-g held promise to show my friend around Haworth and to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum together.  It was a slightly unusual  trip to Haworth for two reasons – one that the sun  was shining  so ‘Wuthering Heights’ it was not! And two, we hadn’t realised that we’d be sharing our latest reunion with  the crowds who had come to enjoy the annual  Haworth 1940s weekend.   So the narrow Main Street, the  park behind the Parsonage and  every one of the caf├ęs  were crowded with soldiers in uniform, land girls, RAF officers – and  the general public  dressed up to the nines in  costumes that ranged in accuracy from downright perfect to a passing nod to the idea of 40’s fashion.   Great fun – if a little wearing as you tried to make your way anywhere in the bustling crowds.

The highlight for us – and I’m sure for many people there – was the flypast of the Spitfire plane, circling low enough over the street to be seen clearly.

After that we all went  back to our friends’ new home for the evening sharing in the  - er ‘delights’ of the Eurovision song contest  ( you need to be friends to do that!)  There was also an extra surprise  for me -  extending my birthday celebrations with the  most magnificent cake I have ever been served.   Blending my birthday  with the 90th celebrations of HM The Queen,  Keef  had created the Imperial State Crown  of a cake decorated with incredible accuracy (we’d been looking at a replica of the actual crown only that afternoon.)

But the actual crown couldn’t have tasted as delicious as this light fruit cake version.  It was wonderful (well it should be when created by the Cook himself from Keef Cooks )– if something of a challenge! The cake itself weighed  a ton.  We could only manage a smallish portion each – and the rest of the cake will need to be shared amongst friends  who I’m sure will enjoy it every bit as much as we did.

But at least we managed to walk off some of the calories the next morning when we went  down to  Rodley Nature Reserve  where as well as   the delights of watching a proud mother sw
an carry all of her 8 cygnets across the water on her back  we were able to watch oyster catchers and the handsome, elegant herons from pretty close up.

A fabulous  weekend  -  I send special thanks to my friends  - and the great thing is that now they live so much closer, we can repeat this  again pretty soon.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Unfortunately my course in Swanwick this weekend has had to be cancelled - though that means that I have a wonderful free weekend to spend with a special friend (carefully not saying 'old' though we've been friends for 40+ years!) The Writer's Repair Shop course is hopefully just postponed until  a different date - if you're interested contact Relax and Write for new details.

My next teaching date is at the RNA Conference in Lancaster in July but that is just an hour or s...o - the same month I'll be heading for the wonderful Writers Holiday  in Fishguard for a week where I'll be teaching the Complete Romance Writing Course - so looking forward to being back in Wales with so many very special friends . If you're interested check out Writers Holiday  - bed, almost a week's full board, writing tuition (or just time to write- or sleep!) making new friends . . . all for just £499. It's great value (and I know because before I started teaching there most summers, I paid it!)

The Complete ROMANCE Writing Course  

This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write a popular romance genre novel. It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. While the focus may be on romance novels, the techniques – dialogue, characters, tension, pacing, settings, hooks etc. will also be relevant to all forms of popular fiction.

After that, the next weekend coming up is  at Swanwick: 
'Writing Romantic Fiction' with Kate Walker - A RETREAT. Restricted numbers

The RETREAT weekends are ideal for those with work in progress.  The group is kept small so that you benefit from constructive feedback on your work, which must be prepared and sent to Kate in advance, so that she can make notes to cover details with you at your one-to-one. This is a chance for you to discuss your work with a professional, get an objective assessment or would you prefer time to reflect on your novel and write? This is a perfect opportunity to take your writing to the next level. A synopsis and two chapters to be sent six weeks before the date of the course via Lois. 

(As  numbers are limited on this retreat - so that I can have one-to-ones with students and discuss  their work with them etc please make sure you have expressed your interest - and put down a deposit   with Lois so that you don't miss out.)

Friday, April 22, 2016

All roads lead to Haworth . . .

I missed Charlotte Bronte's 100th birthday yesterday because I've been flattened since I got back from teaching at Cirencester - sore throat, swollen glands,no voice. . . . I have my suspicions who passed on their germs to me!

So I'm specially grateful to Marie  Frances who shared the article in the Guardian  about her childhood writings  and those of her sisters, Emily and Anne,  because this is exactly what I wrote about in my MA thesis ('Fantasy and Prophecy') all those years ago, just before I got married. ...It seems to be the time to have started sharing that with my friends recently - yes, Sallyann Halstead? (Hope you're finding it interesting) And I'm planing on meeting  my friend Noelle  in Haworth very soon. All roads lead to Bronteland?

I have wonderful memories of speaking in the school house where Charlotte Bronte taught - as part of the Festival of Women's writing in Haworth in 2011. But my proudest moment was knowing that the archivist at the Parsonage Museum had asked for a copy of my Modern Romance reworking of Wuthering Heights - The Return of The Stranger - for the collection in the Museum.
Interesting then, that when I was at Hampshire Writers Society last week, one of their members when asked to review one of my books, chose Return of The Stranger to write up - and read the review on the night. Thank you Teresa.

 And thanks again to the Hampshire Writers for their warm welcome.

But it still seems that right now, all roads lead to Haworth . . . .

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tote Bags Day

It's been a crazy week, and it's going to get crazier.

Tomorrow I'm heading for Winchester  where I'm going to talk to  the Hampshire Writers'  Society. Then from there I'm heading for Oxford where I'm meeting a lovely writer friend, Julie Cohen and catching up after way too long.

On Friday I'll be at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester where I'm teaching  a weekend course on Beginning, Middle and End, planning your romance novel.  (I'll have a book - or two - of my own to plan too, so this will  be really helpful for me as well!)

And today, being the 12th on the month is the day that I'm over on Tote Bags and Blogs - so that's where I am today!

I'll be away the rest of the week, so I'll catch up again when I'm back

Monday, April 04, 2016

Catching up and looking ahead

I'm still not entirely sure how it got to April.  But I'm enjoying the longer days and the brighter sunshine that April brings (well, it has done today anyway!). I had hoped to do some  spring cleaning, with new wardrobes built in the bedroom, but  they're not ready yet so the clothes are still stored in all the wrong places and  the bedroom has one bed and a table lamp in it!

So this weekend was  crammed with work instead. The proofs of the latest title arrived rather late after a  mix up in delivery so I had to do a rush job on those to get them back to my Editor by this morning.  But I managed then and Indebted to Moreno is now in process, ready for publication in October this year.  The next delight ( I hope!) is seeing what the cover looks like.

Today has been spent looking at and planning the next course with Relax and Write.  This will be at a new venue for me - the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester. I've never been to Cirencester so I'm looking forward to seeing what it's like.  I've heard good reports.

The course - Beginning, Middle and End, Planning your Novel  runs for the weekend of 15th  - 17th  April.  It's getting well booked up now, but I can still squeeze in some more students if you've been thinking about  coming but haven't booked yet.

Was your New Year resolution to 'write that novel'? Did you start out hopefully, wanting to write the story that was burning in your head ... only to find that now you've slowed down. Come and join a group and gain new inspiration. This course will teach you how to plan out your novel so that you have a much better idea of where you're going and how to create the best read possible. All inclusive fee £245 includes Sunday Lunch. 
I always have so much fun on the weekend courses - as well as getting a lot of writing done!  - so I'm looking forward to this a lot.   And as I've just signed a contract for two new books, I'm  going to find it really helpful for planning out my own new stories along with all my students.

Details can be found on the Relax and Write web site  here.

I've been asked for the details of courses following  the April  one - so  just to let you know that there is another course running in May in Swanwick.
. So here are the details:

All inclusive fee £249.

'The Writer's Repair Shop'  with Kate Walker
A course for those with work in progress. 
We've all been there - getting that nasty feeling that some things are not quite right with the book we're working on - but what's the caused it? And even more important, how to fix it? Problems that Kate will look at: Where to begin your story. Writers' Block and ways to break through it. Characters who don't come alive - how to sustain them as 3 dimensional beings. The sagging middle. Letting your story slip away from you/ lack of belief in what you're writing. Tropes or Cliches - it's all been written before. Individual voice.  An excellent course.
I'm joined by the Babe Magnet in Swanwick (and in Cirencester too)  so this is the course he's running:

Writing Non-Fiction' with Stephen Wade
Stephen Wade is a multi-published freelance writer, author of 70 books on true crime (modern and historical), genealogy, military history, biography and poetry.  He has taught English and Creative Writing for over 25 years and currently lectures part-time at Hull University. He has contributed to Writing magazine, most Family history magazines and many other journals.
 The aim of this weekend course is to work on producing a synopsis and sample chapter.  Here, Stephen Wade will offer guidance in writing your synopsis for the non-fictional work you are developing.  The course includes examples and case studies from Stephen's own writing.

After these two courses, I have a moment to breathe  (and write!)  before I head for Writers' Holiday in Fishguard in July.

But before then I have a dreadline . . . help!

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