Friday, June 15, 2007

A Kate Bit - long

It wasn't just the special dinner to celebrate the publication of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge that made last weekend so very special (was it really already a week ago?) - it was the fact that it was also a wonderful Writers' Weekend with a gathering of so many authors, published and unpublished who all got together to share and discuss their love of books and writing . And so, having had time to collect my thoughts after the bombardment of experiences we managed to put into three short days - here are (in no particular order)

50 things I will always remember about this

Writers' Weekend to Celebrate my 50th title


1. Lists lists and more lists and lists of lists I had yet to make

2.The way that the local printer interpreted my rough – very rough - idea of a design for the invites etc and came up with something I’ve been able to use as the 50th book logo on everything else

3.The phone call that came just as I was about to scream that I’d never get everything done – telling me that Trish Wylie’s plane had been delayed by half an hour. Those 30 minutes were a godsend and all I needed to get sorted out and get to the airport in time.

4.Having two wonderful Irish authors (Abby Green and Trish Wylie) to stay and talking non stop from the moment I met them at the airport until the moment they walked into the departure lounge again. Topics covered included writing, heroes, Pink Heart Society, Blogs, books, writing, web sites, RWA Conferences, promotions, sales, books, writing, heroes, reviews. . . Trish brought a book problem with her and we brainstormed that sitting in the sunshine with Sid the Cat playing the gracious host by purring beside us.

5.The way that the Hecks – the hedgehog family – appeared right on cue as I said, ‘They should be here about 10.30. . .’


6.Buying the shoes – and the story behind that day - can’t give the details yet in case it doesn’t work

7.The way that Trish, Abby and I formed a production line to create gold-wrapped parcels of the 50th title to give to people in Lincoln. Trish foolishly said that she could manage the ‘twiddly bits’ – the gold ribbon decorations – and so was stuck with ‘twiddling’ whenever it was needed.

8.Using the internet on my computer only to find that I was now logged in as Abby Green wherever I went.

9.The way that the staff at the White Hart Hotel had everything efficiently under control – from the moment I checked in, through the distribution of welcome notes and information sheets to other guests’ rooms, the provision of the restaurant and bar for the Saturday evening meal . .. Brilliant.

10.And the food was wonderful. The carvery proved the perfect choice for someone who as a veggie wouldn’t have liked to take on the responsibility of choosing meat for carnivores.

11.Never being able to sit down to chat to anyone in the lounge because I had to keep jumping up to greet another arrival – not that I minded – the hugs and the smiles were more than compensation enough. And there were lots of those hugs.

12.The realisation, as I met each new arrival, and was introduced to their partners, some of whom I had never met before, that my writer friends are married to some very attractive men – not surprising when you consider the heroes they create.

13.Noticing how very plain it was that all those husbands and partners were totally supportive of their ladies’ writing and careers – even if they didn’t quite ‘get’ the sort of books they wrote.

14.Seeing everyone who had arrived early and ventured into town coming back red-faced and panting and hearing them say ‘you were right about Steep Hill’.

15.The honour of knowing that the wonderful Iris Gower had travelled all the way from Swansea by train to be with us. And knowing that at least one member of staff at the hotel who was a fan of Iris’s books was really excited by this.

16.The Ghost Walk when even after 30+ years in this area, I learned things I didn’t know about Lincoln - hearing stories about ghostly horses hooves sounding on the cobbles – and watching the faces of writer friends change as they took in the wonderful part of the city we toured – and possibly gathered material for future stories.

17.The weather on the Saturday as suddenly those ‘flaming June’ descriptions actually proved accurate. Not like the torrential downpour that is outside today.

18.Greeting a whole new set of arrivals on Saturday, including 2 wonderful editors from HMB and talking books, writing, publication etc with everyone. Seeing authors being able to spend time with editors - and learning later of new plans and projects that resulted.

19.The delight of seeing how everyone blended in together – the link of writing romance bringing everyone together whether they were 20 something or 60+, multipublished or not yet published. Authors with their very first book due out chatted easily with those with dozens of titles to their name and all the M&B lines were represented – Modern, Romance, Historical, Medical, Modern Extra

20.Seeing the youngest member of the group (well apart from Julie Cohen’s baby!) chatting easily and happily with the oldest

21.Watching the Babe Magnet live up to his nickname and magnetise so many Babes and -

22.Seeing the BM dressed in a suit for the occasion – believe me, that’s a rare event!

23.The way that Julie Cohen’s ‘mini hero’ – her not quite 6 month old son – charmed his way into everyone’s hearts – and arms – so that Julie could be both a mother and have adult writerly conversations


24.Together with Anna Louise Lucia and Michelle Styles, decorating the dinner tables with gold hearts and book covers as centrepieces to follow the theme of the weekend. And talking books and writing and heroes and publishing as we did so


25.Hearing just once the background music CD I’d compiled for the dinner on Saturday evening and realising it was the track ‘Love Changes Everything’ – which seemed so very appropriate both professionally and personally for the occasion.


26.The surprise gifts that my fellow authors gave me to mark my 50th – beautiful necklace and bracelet - a large book token (can I please have a token for time to read some books too!) and a signed photograph of Michael Ball – they know me too well, these wonderful friends of mine.

27.Watching the BM stop magnetising Babes and become a wonderful M C of the whole occasion, managing to make himself heard over the buzz (the roar?) of conversation and directing things with skill and humour.


28.Seeing the Cathedral lit up at night

29.Those glorious golden roses I was given to mark my 50th title- And all the other flowers. Trying to find ways of keeping all the flowers fresh in the hotel room overnight

30.The wonderful gift that The Offspring and his partner gave me to mark the occasion – the seeds of a rose named The Kate Walker Romance Rose . Now all I have to do is to make sure that I can actually grow a rose from them!


31.The bells - the bells. . . they sound wonderful when you’re up and about or sitting in the lounge talking – but at 7am , 7.30 am, 8am – after a long night sitting in the lounge talking, they’re just a bit too loud and too much.

32.The poetry reading where the contributions ranged from the deep and serious to the really funny work of Judy Theobald, former editor of Lincolnshire Life and Lincoln’s answer to Pam Ayres.

33.The looks on the faces of the newly published authors when they were named and given their heart pendants to mark their success – and on the faces of some more established authors who hadn’t realised they were going to get one too – and the hugs that followed.

34.The way that the list of people in the hotel read like a ‘who’s who’ of romance writing: Michelle Reid, Susan Stephens, Iris Gower, Jacqueline Baird, Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley, Julie Cohen, Kate Hardy, Abby Green, India Grey, Anna Louise Lucia, Michelle Styles, India Grey, Jan Jones, Gill Sanderson

35.The thought of the people who had wanted to be there but couldn’t – Anne McAllister, Sara Craven, Penny Jordan, Sophie Weston, Joanna Maitland, Catherine Jones . . . .

36.And how could I not include – the appearance of Hugh-in-a-towel (though sadly not in person) to rounds of delighted applause.

37.Abby Green’s announcement that she had managed to book a hair appointment – though that’s not quite what she said. We know what you meant Abby!

38.Seeing the way that everyone who had been on the ghost walk the night before, approached the Ladies with a certain degree of trepidation, having been told that it was supposedly haunted by a lady in a mob cap. (My apologies to the perfectly innocuous lady who was standing in a hidden corner when I went to wash my hands and must have been rather stunned by my sudden and nervous intake of breath) (At least I think she was innocuous . . )

39.The fact that the hotel staff were stunned by how little my fellow writers and friends ate – must find some greedier friends and colleagues . . .

40.The amount of wine imbibed however . . .

41.Being able to congratulate lovely Karen Maitland on the upcoming publication of her two historical novels Company of Liars and The Owl Killers



42. Being able to introduce Karen to Kate Hardy – who wearing her other writer’s hat is fascinated by history – and seeing them get on so well together

43. Being able to introduce Karen to my editor who is also part of the M&B Historicals team – one of the best things about writers is how they get on so well together when they’re talking about writing.

44.No – wait a minute – I need to amend that slightly. One of the best memories of the writers’ part of this weekend was the way that everyone – from poets through saga writers – historical novelists – and M&B authors respected each others’ work and celebrated it. There was none of that anti romance snobbery that just shows up the commentator rather than the books.


45.The way that Jan Jones, organiser of the RNA Conference – who has promised me that she won’t need me to do anything for this year’s event – took advantage of my good mood and a glass of wine to make me promise for next time.

46.Being able to include my sisters in a writers’ event so that for the first time, by being invited to the celebration dinner, they saw something of this other side of my life.

47.The way that the two lovely receptionists Paul and Heather handled every query thrown at them with ease and smiling politeness – even if Heather did think my sister was me on the final morning! And the delight of the staff when I handed over the 'book box' that every author there had contributed to as a thank you

48.Not getting to bed till after 2am for four nights – and not really noticing the after effects until I got home

49.The length of time it took me to come down from the celebration dinner – after I’d put all the flowers in water, collected up all the cards, hung up my dress and reluctantly taken off those shoes – I was still unable to sleep for ages.

50.The fact that everyone wants to have the writers’ weekend bit all over again. (And I don’t even have to write another 50 books before we do!)

8 comments:

Natasha said...

It was a lovely weekend, Kate. I'm so very pleased you invited me to be a part of it.

And that hill ...... Honestly, I thought Trish was going to need carrying!

Kate Hardy said...

So glad you enjoyed it. It was a fantastic weekend and I second Natasha.

We also enjoyed plotting beforehand - and seeing the smile on your face.

As for that hill... the less said, the better!! (Vows to go off and get fit...)

India said...

It almost seemed an impossible task to hold a celebration that would do justice to *50* fabulous Kate Walker books... but you did it!! It was a wonderful, wonderful weekend-- a really fitting tribute to a wonderful achievement!

Biddy said...

It was a wonderful weekend!! And I am definitely up for a writing weekend!!

Lois said...

Wow-wee, I feel pooped after all that, and all I did was just read the the list! LOL :)

Lois

Julie Cohen said...

It was awesome.

I'm sort of glad I didn't try the hill with the pushchair though.

Jan Jones said...

But Kate, you lead sessions so well.

Donna Alward said...

Oh, Kate.

You do realize that your post has made me all tear up.

THIS is what I love about the romance community...and even being there vicariously from all the accounts makes me more thankful and happy and BLESSED that I get to do what I do.

It sounds perfectly magical.

 

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