Thursday, June 28, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 24 - Anna Louise Lucia

The sky is darkening, the thunder is rumbling in the distance and the words that people around here are starting to dread - 'heavy' and 'rainfall' are being used on the weather forecasts. There are also even less appealing combinations of words - like rivers/ bursting banks - and power stations and flooded - being used as possibilities - so if I disappear off line for a while, you'll know why.

In the meantime I'll leave you in the capable and elegant hands of Anna Louise Lucia.

Along with Julie Cohen, Anna Louise Lucia was one of my very first, original virgins - the four from the eHarlequin message boards )where she is known as AnnaofCumberland - most often shortened to Annaof) who met up at the RNA Conference in Durham in 2002. We'd all chatted on the boards and the fact that we lived in the UK while most of the other posters came from USA or Canada linked us together. The thing I remember most about that first meeting with Anna is that in that first moment of 'Hello' she sank into a wonderfully elegant curtsey before me - much to the astonishment of many RNA members who were around at the time.

And like Julie, Anna has been a special person in my life ever since. From being Queen Kate - hence the curtsey - I have since become Cyber Mum as a result of an online chat where I, in a moment of mock sterness, told Anna to behave and she responded with 'Yes Mum!' Since then the BM has been prone to telling people that he has one son and several adopted daughters. And certainly no daughter could have been more welcoming on one occasion when - details not neccessary - the BM and I did not have the accomodation we thought we had one night (one very wet and miserable night) and Anna came to the rescue, providing bed and wonderful food in her home. Something for which I will always be truly grateful. And the special Pre Christmas Writing Weekends and Christmas dinners we've shared with Anna, Julie and - another 'cyber daughter ' who will be blogging soon - Brigid Coady - have been a delight from start to finish.

As a writer, I always knew that one day Anna would be published. The only problem was with which publisher. I worked with her on a NWS script and knew she had a distinctive, individual voice and a sense of drama and emotion that could lead her down several different paths but for a while her plots didn't quite fit. That all changed on September 26th last year when Medallion Press took the book we all knew as McWife and which will be published as Run Among Thorns in June 2008. This will be followed by Dangerous Lies in 2009.

Frankly, I'm not surprised - just delighted. And so looking forward to reading the book I've seen in a rough draft actually in a printed form at last. Unfortunately Anna's book won't be in print in time for her to offer it as a prize this time - but I plan on grabbing her first title for a Bag of Books contest in 2008.

Anna is someone who was born a writer -as the saying goes 'Writers write - everyone else makes excuses' - And when you read Anna's post, you'll see that she grabs any opportunity to do just that - to write.

So here's AnnaofCumberland - aka Anna Louise Lucia

I’m writing this at the top of Hartside, a high pass over the Pennines (on the way to the isolated market town of Alston) wearing a little golden heart that Kate gave me at her celebratory weekend.

The clouds are down – the windscreen in front of me is rapidly beading with moisture, and occasionally a gust of wind rocks the car on its suspension.

All this tells you three things. One, I like writing in odd places. Two, Kate’s the kind of person that begins a celebration of her achievements by celebrating yours, and Three, it’s summer in Cumbria.

Now, there’s not a lot I can do about the summer weather and Kate will forever be a Class Act, but I thought I’d blog about fifty places I’ve written…. And ask you about your favourite.

So here we go:

1.In a tree.
2.In bed.
3.In someone else’s bed!
4.In the bath (paper edits, I don’t drag the laptop in there).
5.In the car while driving (with a dictaphone, promise).
6.In the car while stationary (on an Alphasmart).
7.On a picnic.
8.In Brougham Castle
9.At work (but don’t tell anyone).
10.In a hammock. I just re-strung the hammock I haven’t used in two years only to find that its been a victim of our musty utility room and has been eaten by mildew…. Shock horror! Within 20 minutes of finding it was compromised, I had ordered a new one online. There’s nothing quite like swinging gently in the back yard, brushing against clematis blooms and lilacs, while the cats play like monkeys in the ivy overhead.
11.On my lunch break.
12.By the River Derwent in the beautiful valley of borrowdale.
13.At the library in Durham University. A distressingly modern building, but at least it’s a stone’s throw from the World Heritage Site of Castle and Cathedral.
14.In the Riverside café at Grange, where the lovely double arched bridge, built in 1675, crosses the Derwent.
15.In the wardrobe. It’s a long story.
16.At a cottage in Alnmouth on the Northumberland Coast.
17.In the Treehouse at Alnwick
18.At Mum and Dad’s house.
19. In the arbour in the front garden.
20.On a boat. Specifically a narrowboat on our recent family canal holiday. Harrison Ford hired his boat from the same company you know….
21.In a meeting. After a while, you just keep nodding and smiling, and plot out the final scene on the back of the agenda.
22.In the toilet. Last refuge of the harassed.
23.On a mountain. Any mountain will do, but it’s Castle Crag in Borrowdale for preference. OK so it's strictly only a hill but it’s a mountain in my heart.

24.At the Romantic Novelists Association Conference. Fabulous for inspiration!
25.In Sainsburys. On the back of a till receipt. I’m not kidding.
26.At Larch Cottage Nurseries, on the sun-drenched veranda overlooking the gardens.
27.In a small caravan near Southwold, Suffolk. Where I wandered into a second hand bookshop and bought Julius Caesar’s “The Conquest of Gaul,” and Kate Walker’s “Something Missing”, to the bemusement of the shop keeper and her cat.
28.In one of Kate’s workshops. Kate does marvellous workshops, and this one focussed on the The Big Why – the motivation of characters. Digging into the reasons behind my character’s actions sparked a lot of progress that day!
29.In a doctor’s waiting room.
30..In hospital.
31.On a plane to New York.
32.At the marvellous and secretive Plas Tan y Bwlch
33.At The Bewick Coffee House. I once left some paper edits there, and they looked after them and returned them when next I visited….
34.In New York’s Central Park.
35.At No 15, a trendy lunch place near work. They have really spectacular house plants…
36.On the beach at Warkworth
37.In the kitchen. Although admittedly if I’m in the kitchen, I’m usually cooking or eating. Or both.
38.Among the forests and fields of Galloway, looking for a longhouse like the one Kier uses in my first book, RUN AMONG THORNS.
39.In my office. Yes, in spite of everything, I do sometimes write like a normal person, at a desk.
40.In lectures. See, “In a meeting”.
41.In the Durham Travelodge.
42.In a mine. Well, it was raining, and the abandoned slate mine entrance was dry. Kids, don’t do this at home….
43.At Watendlath which I happen to know will make the BM very, very jealous.
44.Beside Ullswater.
45.On a train to London. Trust me, first class is worth it.
46.At a vegetarian cycle café in Keswick. The only place within fifty miles you can get eggs on toasted muffins for breakfast!
47.At Castlerigg Stone Circle. Outside the circle. Writing inside the circle seems somehow disrespectful….
48.At a gorgeous coffee house in Keswick. Home of the best hazelnut latte in Cumbria.
49.In the middle of the night on the landing. Insomnia is the writer’s friend.
50.At Kate’s house. I remember writing fairy stories and ghost stories in her lovely front room, and gazing in awe at her books on the shelves in her office.

You know, it’s only when you come to do fifty of anything that you appreciate what a real achievement it is. Let alone writing and having published fifty romantic, emotional, delicious reads like Kate’s books. Congratulations, Kate!

Now, for the prize.

To win a copy of a beautiful coffee-table book of Lakeland Views (many of which include places where I’ve written!) by the celebrated local photographer Val Corbett,
leave a comment letting me know your favourite place to write, apart from an office or usual desk space. Are you a bathroom writer? Or do you escape to your local café? I’m looking forward to hearing about it!

Cheers, Anna


Annie West said...


I have a broad smile on my face after reading your post. That's just terrific. You make me want to get outdoors with my notepad and get scribbling!

There are so many places I've enjoyed writing, though now I think about it the enjoyment is usually not necessarily because of the location but rather with the fact that the words are flowing. I remember sitting writing in a huge indoor children's play centre (hundreds of littlies scrambling through tubes and slides etc) on a wet winter's day, with noise levels so loud it should have been distracting. The parents had a little fenced off area with tables and chairs, watching the activity and the children would race over for a cold drink every so often. I had a wonderful morning rewriting a chapter in the right point of view and starting a new one while the children had a ball.

My favourite writing places have been with a view of a garden (which I have right now) or within sight of water.

Thanks for the lovely inspirational post.


Virginia said...

I am not a writer. I am just a very big reader and you may find me reading anywhere,doctors offices, bathtub, ect. If I were a writer it would have to be in our computer room, because I can barely read my on hand writing and spell check would be a must, because I can't spell either.

sharon said...

I am a voracious reader and during the summer I read outside under a large umbrella in our garden. This tranquil setting is ideal and private so perfect to get immersed within a great book.

ellie said...

For me reading has to be in a quiet and secluded area. If I am inside I get cozy in a small settee with tea by my side, especially wintertime, but summer I love to read outside in my backyard surrounded by trees, flowers and the comfortable lounge chair.

KimW said...

Congratulations on your sale to Medallion Press. I've read many books published by them.

The only non work related writing I do besides emails is to write in a journal when I'm on vacation. I just got back from a cruise in Hawaii. I spent a lot of time writing from the balcony of my room. It was so beautiful out there. So, that's my favorite place. The Pacific ocean. Hopefully I will be able to do it again sometime.

Michelle Styles said...

At the moment, my favourite place to write away from my desk is in the car while I wait for my dd to finish her riding lessons. The views are across the Tyne valley to Cross Fell, generally with a horse or three in the foreground.
It is normally good for several thousand words...

Biddy said...

Other than writing in my sofa and my lovely little desk, the best place for writing recently has been on the long flights to Texas, New York or Nashville.
Or in the arbor of the English garden in Battersea Park. And I know I have joined you in writing in the graden centre.

This week I wrote in a hotel room in Stockport.

Kate Hardy said...

Lovely post, Anna.

When not at my desk, fave places: the North Norfolk coast on a winter day when the wind is howling and so cold that it burns your face (this is when my ed reads the book, sighs and says, no, Kate, you can't have any Old English poetry in the book, take it out NOW); in my garden, with the scent of honeysuckle in the air and the drone of bees and a dog at my feet and the kids playing cafe in their playhouse; in the rose garden at Alnwick; and one particular night, in the spare room while watching the Leonid meteor shower at half-past two in the morning because I had this great idea and didn't want to wake DH...

Amanda Ashby said...

Anna - that is a very glam photo you have there!!! Anyway, I have also written on a beach in Warkworth, though this is one in NZ where we now live, and my kids were busy making sandcastles while I scribbled down notes about robotic doppelgangers (as one does at the beach!!!)

Anna Lucia said...

Oh what fun!

Annie, I just love writing outdoors. Especially within sight of water, yes! There's something about the sights, sounds and scents that stimulates the senses, and plugs you into your character's reactions to their surroundings, too. Sometimes, though, it's not about peace, but about being surrounded by busy-ness and bustle.

I'm glad you enjoyed the post!

Virginia, I should have said where do you READ as well as write! I love to see people with a book in their hand, whether on a bus, in the doctor's office... although understandably I don't often see strangers reading in the bath. ;-)

Oh that does sound lovely, Sharon! We only have a very small garden, and I'm envious your tranquil space.

Ellie, that tea and settee sounds fabulous. Sometimes in winter I curl up in an armchair beside the fire... although it's not very successful for writing, because the cats always end up vying for my lap! I remember doing myself my favourite jacket potato with cheese and settling into that chair with one of Kate Walker's books.... then uncurling myself some hours later to realise I'd finished the book - but forgot the jacket potato! It was stone cold...

Thank you for the congrats, Kim - great to hear you read Medallion Press titles! Although I'm far too jealous of that balcony over looking the pacific ocean. Gorgeous.

That does sound wonderful, Michelle. Especially the view with something happening in it... views are never just pretty pictures, are they? They need action, too.

Yes, Biddy! You've written at that garden centre, too! It was a lovely day. You'll have to show me that arbour in the park...

Ah Kate, I can see we have a lot in common with our fave places to write! I can't get enough of the coast. :-)

Looking forward to more comments and favourite places to write AND READ!

Anna Lucia said...

Simulpost, Amanda! Oh that beach in NZ must be gorgeous... I'm imagining it right now, while the dark clouds are gathering over Cumbria again!

pearl said...

When I am on vacation and reading the primo spot for me would be on a deck overlooking the ocean. The beauty of that huge vista always gives me enjoyment and clears my mind.

joelle said...

Reading has to be in a comfortable and esthetically pleasing location. My favorite place is tucked away in a lovely cottage in the Rockies where I escape to briefly during the long, hot summer.

Jan Jones said...

My kitchen, when everyone has gone to bed and it's quiet and peaceful and the Aga is gently disseminating warmth at my back.

Lovely post, Anna. See you soon!

ChristyJan said...

What a fun post!

I'm not a writer, but I love to read in the bathtub.

robynl said...

I love coffee table books. I am a reader and

My favorite place to write is out on our patio under the unbrella with a glass of lemonade. The birds are singing, a slight breeze if one is lucky and I get to look at nature and my flowers.

principessa said...

Reading is an activity done where the right comhination of factors exists. For me it must be warm, quiet and serene. I become lost within the pages and can be anywhere. Ideally I would love to be in a villa in Italy soaking up the sun and scene.

Anna Lucia said...

Pearl! Another ocean lover... it's so beautiful, in all its moods, isn't it?

I'd love to visit the Rockies someday, Joelle. :-)

Now you see, Jan, if I try and write in the kitchen, I end up eating....

Reading in the bath is excellent, Christyjan - as long as you don't drop the book!

There's something about the scents a light breeze brings, Robyn... especially when it's rained not so long ago, and everything is clean and fresh.

That's a good point, Principessa - it's got to be somewhere warm. Or maybe wrapped up under a duvet....

Thanks for the lovely comments, everyone!

julie Cohen said...

I often draft sex scenes in my head whilst sitting in chapel at school.


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