Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 37 - Jan Jones

Today's Great Big Blog Party Guest Blogger is a lady who I hope has spent the last week or so relaxing, recovering and revelling in the thought of another job wonderfully well done.

Because today's Guest Blogger is the brilliant Jan Jones who plans and organisesthe RNA Conferences with such brilliance - and so much hard work and worrying. A couple of weekends ago, in Leicester, Jan handled the arrangements for 150 or so delegates, a wonderful selection of speakers, meals, coffee breaks, rooms, sound systems . . . you name it - and all with the appearance of a swan gliding calmly through the water (though you know only too well that its feet are paddling away like mad under the surface to keep things going.) She coped with late arrivals, good news and bad news, kept the sessions flowing, made sure they didn't overrun - and all with a smile on her face that maybe got a little fixed at times but never actually disappeared. She was, quite simply a star. And I'm quite sure that by the end of the conference she was exhausted and had to go home and recover.

But you did a brilliant job, Jan. Thank you so much. If everyone had as great a time as I did then you can give yourself many pats on the back.

Of course in order to run such great conferences, Jan has become a Mistress of Manipulation, managing to persuade innocent and gullible friends and fellow RNA members into running talks/workshops/panels etc byapproaching them when they are in a very good mood (like at a 50th title celebration), happy, relaxed, and so unsuspecting . . . and then she pounces. Which is how I've ended up doing Library talks, workshops on plotting, Emotional Punch etc etc - and now it seems, in a moment of madness, have signed up for something else next year as well. But the truth is that I can rarely (OK, never) refuse Jan anything - and she did give me this conference off completely. (Which is probably why I enjoyed it so much!)

Jan doesn't just organise Conferences though, she also writes brilliant romantic comedy and her book Stage by Stage won the RNA's Joan Hessayson Award (for books that have been through the New Writers' Scheme). It's now published by Transita and I enjoyed it so much that just wish she'd get another published so I can enjoy that too!

So here's Jan Jones - Going For Gold

Fifty equals gold. Romance equals roses. So it was entirely appropriate that Kate Walker was showered with golden roses at her Big Fiftieth Title Party in Lincoln.

But - did you know that yellow roses are a comparatively new phenomenon? European roses were all shades of pink or white until the 19th century when the arrival of tea roses from the Orient caused an outbreak of breeding to produce different colours and forms.

Frenchman Joseph Permet‑Ducher spent twenty years breeding roses in a search of a hardy yellow variety. Then, one day in 1900, he noticed a mutant yellow rose in a field, which had all the characteristics he'd been trying to create!

Which brings me, rather tortuously, back to a Kate Walker link. One thing - was it from the emotional punch workshop, Kate? - which struck me particularly, was her saying that whilst it is always possible to refine a piece of writing to wring the maximum out of it, if the subject didn't spring naturally from your heart in the first place, it isn't going to work as well as something that does.

In other words, write from your heart. Which Kate does to perfection.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: Kate had golden roses for her celebration. I'd like to know which flower means the most to other people, and why?

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: is a signed copy of Stage by Stage, my NWS award-winning romantic comedy. Or, if you prefer, one of the Sexy Shorts anthologies in which I have short stories.

Biography: Jan Jones is on the RNA committee and organises the annual conference. (She also takes advantage of Kate’s good nature from time to time, but that’s another story) One day she hopes to find enough time to write another book.

PS from Kate

I've posted the official 'Jan Jones as Conference Organiser' picture that Jan sent me - but Sid would like me to add this one - that I've snaffled from her web site - as well because it shows Jan with a very handsome friend


Jan Jones said...

Oh, Sid, you rogue. The Cat in Question is called Merlin (because he had a predilection for caves - well, small, dark, bloomin-hard-to-get-out-of spaces - when he was younger). Had you investigated further into the website, you would have found Merlin's brother Archer on the my reading page.

They both approve of your cat-crunchie method of choosing winners, by the way.

Kate Hardy said...

Being me, I can't stick at just one *g*

One's a flower and the other's a flowering shrub.

The flower is the freesia - it was my mum's favourite flower so every time I see them or smell them I think of her and smile.

The shrub is the Californian lilac: we planted one when we moved into our house and it always had this amazing show of flowers in May - and I took photos of the children every year with it as a background. When we extended the house two summers ago, it had to go because it was smack in the middle of where the garage would be; however, we planted another at the bottom of our garden.

Donna Alward said...

I'm partial to Lilacs and apple blossoms...because those are smells I remember so well growing up (I grew up on an apple farm). I could hardly believe it when my web designer, a friend from "home", showed me the graphic she'd found - a bouquet of blossoms and lilacs.

I even love it when my characters have special flowers. Daisies play prominently in my next Romance and in my May release it was....yellow roses!!!!!!!!!!

Btw - my sister's name is Janet Jones. :-)

christina said...

The lime flowers are going over here now, but it's been the best year ever for them. The air has been heavy with their perfume - very romantic!
If you like roses, have you sampled 'Louise Odier'? She smells exactly like Turkish Delight (or if you're posh, Attar of Roses)!

lidia said...

Can't pick just one flower. I love lilacs -- they are my mother's favorite flowers. Ever since I was able to go out and buy things on my own, I've bought her some lilacs either for her birthday or Mother's Day.

The other flower is lily of the valley. For some reason I've always been partial to them. Now my daughter loves them also -- so now we have something in common.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Hi Jan!!!

Deep pink painted daisies are my favorite because they can grow in the worst of soils and still smile brightly during a dry spell. I have a pic of my young granddaughter standing amidst them while cuddling a fluffy gray and white kitty, and it's my favorite photo of her. :D

Sue A. said...

As a child I remember that the beginning of spring was marked by the blossoms of the crabapple tree on our front lawn. I just loved the profusion of pink against a blue sky. I also remember the blossoms carpeting the lawn in pink. Spring is forever marked for me by the color pink.

Nell said...

I love my Magnolia Grandiflora which has huge cup and saucer flowers every spring but my favourite flower is the daffodil. When I got married the church was full of daffodils. There were so many the arrangers had to use the easter cones.

ilona said...

Love the cat in the informal pose :)

As to which flower means the most to me? It has to be any orchid. My dear husband was unable to buy me flowers (though he did buy 21 deep red roses for my 21st) as I am allergic to them but then he found out that orchids don't have pollen and he bought me a beautiful purple one for a special occasion and has carried on doing so ever since. Now I call that love.

Jan Jones said...

Gosh, what a lot of lilac! We have it in the garden too, both the white and, er, lilac forms, and the scent is lovely, but for me it's always been a take-it-or-leave-it shrub. I must be missing something!

Kate H - that's so lovely about freesias. I've tried to grow them, but our snails adore them even more than you do.

Donna - apple blossom, I agree. Nothing like it. Sadly, my visiting chaffinches and bullfinches feel just the same.

Christina - I've never smelled lime flowers! I feel deprived.

Lidia - how lovely that your daughter likes lily-of-the-valley too. I have a tiny stand of them under my magnolia that I'm hoping will develope.

JJ - I can see the photo just as you describe it!

Sue - Yup. Pink blossom against a blue sky. Can't beat it.

Nell - I'm with you on the daffodils. For me they are always a sign that Spring Has Sprung and good things are on the way (plus they're always out on Mother's Day - small, damp, private moment here composed of inexpertly-cut, tightly clutched stems).

And for me - as well as daffs, I also love the autumn-coloured chrysanthemums which always seem to me to be putting forth their very, very best before winter claims everything.

Jan Jones said...

I can spell develop. Really I can.

Jan Jones said...

Sorry, Ilona posted while I was composing my last.

How fabulous of your husband! I didn't realise orchids don't have pollen (which just shows how often they get bought for me!)

Cherie J said...

For me, red roses are special since they symbolize romance. When my husband and I were dating he would get me them for special occasions, and sometimes just because, to help express his love for me. Even now that we have been married 7 years he still surprises me with them every once in awhile.

Virginia said...

I love lilacs for their smell, I planted two small bushes last year, but the frost this year about got them. I think they will make it.

Now a flower for their looks would be a red tulip there is nothing prettier then a flower bed full of red tulips. I just don't have much luck with tulips, I think the moles dig up the bulbs.

lidia said...


Lily of the valley muptiply -- quickly. We've given some away since every year they come up in new spots.

Donna Alward said...

My sister - the Jan Jones - has scads of lily of the valley and I think of her whenever I smell it or see it. :-)

Jan Jones said...

Cherie - oh yes, red roses just have that loin-melting quality don't they? Lovely that you still get bought them

Virginia - tulips are much less easy than they look, in my opinion. They do look beautiful, then the next year only two-thirds of them come up, then all the yellow ones die overnight, then you notice that you haven't had any of the deep purple ones for a couple of years...

Lidia and Donna - thanks for the lily-of-the-valley info (good name, your sister has, Donna). I look forward to seeing my little patch spread.

robynl said...

My favorite is the Rose. That was my Mom's name and her favorite flower. Whenever I see a rose I think of her. I collect items with roses/a rose on them.

ChristyJan said...


When my daughter was just a little girl (over 25 years ago) she would be outside playing and would ring the doorbell. From behind her back she would pull a little bouquet of yellow dandelions and proudly say: "I picked these flouwers for you Mommy."

I know dandelions are actually weeds, but to me they were beautiful.

Ally Blake said...

Jan, I had gardenias in my wedding bouquet. I knew nothing about them until that day (was married in Vegas so the choice was rushed ;)). And boy did I choose right. They are delicate, pristine, and the scent is just glorious.

Now whenever I smell them they remind me of waking up in the hotel room the day after my wedding.


Jan Jones said...

Robyn - what a lovely reason to collect rose-themed items. (My mother's name was Rosemary, so I've got a patch of that in the garden too)

ChristyJan - that is so sweet! And don't they say a weed is only a flower in the wrong place?

Ally - Now that is one beautiful reason for loving gardenias. Although I have to say, I scrambled your words into "married in a rush in Vegas" and thought Story - there's a story in that!

Minna said...

Pink roses. My mom used to have those in her flower bed. Too bad the insects liked them a bit too much.

Dena said...

Hi Jan,
I was raised by my Mom,and she worked very hard to provide for us five kids. I would love to make her smile. When I had extra money I would buy her a Carnation,they were less expensive and I liked that they lasted pretty long. One day this really old lady sold me an African Violet,[I think cheaper than it really was]and it was so pretty with the dark purple flowers and velvet leaves.My Mom loved it and we had many more African Violets from the original for years and years. Whenever I smell a carnation or see an African Violet I think of my beloved Mom and the heartache of missing her lessens some.

Jan Jones said...

Oh, Dena, I don't think we ever get over missing our mums. Every now and again the phone goes and I think Oh, it won't ever be Mum again, and there's that tiny squeeze of the heart. It's lovely that carnations and African Violets remind you of yours.

Minna - pink roses, another 'mum' connection and also very special.

I'll do the draw tonight when my cats have woken up and are feeling cat-crunchie-ish


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