Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Great Big Blog Party Caerleon Special - and Jane Jackson

When I think of Caerleon - which I do quite often - I think of food. Lots of it.

I've been to conferences, writers' events, courses where the food had been adequate - sometimes even good. But I have never been anywhere, even at a far greater price, where the food has been as plentiful and wonderful as it is at Caerleon.

You arrive, unpack, head for the welcome reception and a glass of wine and go from there into your first meal - Sunday evening dinner - a choice of 3 cooked meals (one veggie) or the salad bar. I always, always indulge in the salad bar. Yes, indulge. It's not one of those miserable two bits of lettuce and a tomato salad bars, there's a huge choice of at least ten different salads - and there's chicken, ham, salmon, quiche, prawns, tuna . . . to go with it. Then if you have room there are wonderful puddings - and cheese and biscuits and fruit - and coffee . . .

The first time you think 'well, I'm on holiday . . .' The next morning you think 'Oh a cooked breakfast -what a treat . . .' Lunch offers the same number of choices as dinner the night before, dinner is the same. And you can, if you really want to pig out, have biscuits with your tea

and coffee mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

By Wednesday, I'm always thinking 'Oh no, do I really have to eat again?'

The other thing that always hits me in the dining room is the noise - the sound of a couple of hundred voices talking - getting to know each other, asking what course are you going on, buzzing with excitement at what they've learned. Later the lecture theatre will be full of sound too - from the speakers talk or thequestions asked - and often the place is rocking with laughter too. And on the last night there is the glorious, soul tugging sound of the Cwmbach Male Voice choir in their regular concert.

Food - and a little wine - and lots of talk and laughter. A dozen wonderful courses to choose from. Another half dozen 'Main Speakers'. And then there are the 'After Tea' Sessions - times when volunteers - people who are at Caerleon for the holiday or as speakers who offer extra short courses or just a one off class so that you can learn even more,, find out extra things. There's been a class of Palmistry, dowsing, the BM talked about writing the Grim and Gruesome, there is a time to practise reading poetry aloud, ready for the regular Poetry Night with Caerleon's resident Mad Russian Poets (of which more tomorrow).

But before I introduce today's Caerleon Guest Blogger, I remember that I promised back in July that I would let you know what colour Jane Wenham-Jones (who was running the Starting to Write a Novel course) had her hair this time. It was red white and blue last time I saw her in London at the launch for Wannabe a Writer. This time is was - well, see for yourself . . .

As I said, Jane is never boring.

Oh, and inside Wannabe a Writer there is a competition to write the opening of a novel - and the prize is a free week at Caerleon Writer's Holiday.

Jane W-H was running the beginner's course on writing a novel, and today's guest - another Jane - was running the Intermediate Novel Writing course.

Looking back at my photos of this year's wonderful week in Caerleon, I was stunned to realise that I didn't have any photographs of lovely Jane Jackson and her equally lovely husband Mike. I suppose that was because she was teaching a lot of the time and when she wasn't teaching then she and I - together with the BM and Mike and often Marina Oliver (also a tutor -on the Advanced Novel Writing Course) joined us too - spent a lot of our time talking and talking - over one or more of those amazing Caerleon meals. We don;t meet up all that often so we have to make the most of it when we do.

I first met Jane at an earlier visit to Caerleon and took to her straight away. A softly spoken, lively-minded woman, with an amazing smile, she has brought a real warm friendship and a lot of laughter into my life in a very short time. After only one meeting, when we met up again for the Fishguard Novel Weekend last November, it was as if we had been friends for ages and we just took up where we left off. Jane and I share a connection in that she used to write for M&B too, as Dana James, but now she writes historical romantic adventures set in Cornwall in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Jane's recent book Dangerous Waters was long-listed for the RNA's Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Jane has kindly offered a signed copy of this book as her giveaway prize today.

So I'll let Jane Jackson introduce herself:

A professional writer for over 25 years, with 25 novels published, I've lived in Cornwall almost all my life. My last ten books have been historical adventure romances, and the most recent, Devil's Prize, set in C18th Cornwall, will be published early next year.

I'm delighted to have made it in time to join Kate's fantastic celebration party. Fifty novels is a tremendous achievement, and Kate deserves every one of the accolades she has received. Her books transport readers into another world: one of conflict, passion and love that triumphs over all.

The moment you pick up the latest Kate Walker novel you feel a delicious sense of anticipation. All the covers are so gorgeous I'd be hard-pressed to choose a favourite. But if forced, two of the more recent ones that draw me back time and again are At the Sheikh's Command, and The Sicilian's Red Hot Revenge.

Though Kate and I only meet rarely, we got together recently at Writer's Holiday in Caerleon, South Wales where Kate gave one of her fantastic talks. As gifted a speaker and tutor as she is a writer she had an entire hall full of people rocking with laughter. What secrets was she sharing with us? Ah, that would be telling.
Many many congratulations, Kate. Here's to the next fifty!


Who is your favourite character from a historical novel?


Copy of Dangerous Waters, long-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award 2007.

Website address:

Jane and I will be back together again at this year's Fishguard Novel Writing Weekend in November. She, like me, is one of those generous, caring - or just plain mad - tutors who can be persuaded to run an extra class on the Saturday night - and we only need to be bribed with the offer of a glass of wine! Can't wait to see you again Jane !

(If you want to know more about the Fishguard Novel Writing Weekend - click on the link above or here . There are details on my web site and some photos of the hotel - where the food is pretty good too! - but the web site url had changed and I haven't updated it yet. Same with Caerleon Writers' Holidays - the info for that is on this link.)


peggy said...

megan penworthy and ambrose st.james.from man of my dreams
written by johanna lindsey.
that was a hard ?
some times i think my favourite
character is in the book im reading
at the time. peggy

lidia said...

Welcome Jane!

My favorite h and H from a historical would have to be Jessica and Sebastian (Dain) from "Lord of Scoundrels" by Loretta Chase.

While I have other favorite characters these two stand out because to me they are a "true alpha male with his lifetime mate."

Sebastain had "issues" -- would you believe a low self esteem in some respects -- though he would never admit it -- LOL. Jessica was the perfect foil, she knew when to push and when to back-off. The book had some really amusing moments.

Can you tell that is my all time favorite?

Kate, would you believe that this is the first time that I can post on a blog since I ran into the problems. I am very sorry that I missed Michelle's and Anne's days blogging. I love their writing!

ruth said...

Maxim de Winter in Rebecca has always be an intriguing and mysterious character. He is compelling especially from the vivid description and the detail given in the novel.

annie said...

My favorite historical character has to be Nicholas Nickleby in the book. This man has depth and character to deal with his misfortune and manages to maintain his sanity and continue on in life with success.

Lois said...

Well, hi! I already have the book, and thought it was great! :)

My favorite heroes from historical books. . . oh geez. . . well, generally, my new favorite hero has a tendency of changing everytime I read a new book, but there is Mr. Darcy, a reliable standby answer. LOL But I loved the book Mr. Tilney. Didn't like the movie version of the one I saw, but I looooooved the book version, so he's number two. :)


ellie said...

Fiona Finnegan is my favorite character. From the novel, The Tea Rose, this young woman who has courage, strength of character and determination makes a success of her life and helping her family during her trials and tribulations.

sharon said...

Jane Eyre is my favorite for sure. The vividness of her surroundings and the difficulties that she had to contend with made this memorable.

Cherie J said...

I would have to say Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice would be my choice.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Jane Eyre for me also. We're still in love with her years later and will be throughout all time.

pearl said...

Rachel, in My cousin Rachel has to be my ultimate. This book lends itself to suspense and mystery which is totally enthralling and memorable.

jenna said...

Someone who has always fascinated me is Sherlock Holmes. An interesting and unique man who had talent and capability.

ruth said...

When I was 10 I was introduced to the classics, L.M. Montgomery and I read all of her books and loved them. From then on I just read and loved books. Mary Doria Russell is one of them.

Virginia said...

Hi Jane, I am going to be a little different then the others, because I am going to choose Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind its a classic. Rhett Butler was a rogue but deep down he really had a good heart. This has always been one of my all time favorite books. I loaned my copy out years ago and never got it back and have always regreted it.

Dena said...

Hi Jane, Well this is a bit tough, I like quite a lot. For a man I would say Mr. Darcy too.For a woman it would be Rosamund from The Friarsgate Inheritance series by Bertrice Small.

Kate Hardy said...

Penitence Hurd and Henry King from Diana Norman's "The Vizard Mask" - this is SUCH a fabulous book and the characterisation is incredible (the plot's pretty good, too.) It'll make you laugh and cry, you'll root for the characters, but more importantly it'll make you feel as if you really ARE in 17th-century London. Marina Oliver recommended this book to me years ago - and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Kate Walker said...

Great to see you all !
I'm posting a message from Jane:

I'm thrilled and delighted to see so many entries in response to my question: Who is your favourite character in a historical novel? Fifteen already, and still another day to go before I have to choose. You have all made it really difficult for me as I agree with so many of your choices. Tomorrow I'll name the winner.
A special note here for Lois who already has a copy of Dangerous Waters. I'm delighted you enjoyed it and thanks for posting.


KimW said...

I'm going to go way back and say Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. He appears to be a bit shy and possibly drab...well maybe just little. lol But, I find his character so interesting. I would have like to have book #2 written by Jane to see what happened once they were married.

ilona said...

I think my favourite character from an Historical book has to be Léon/Léonie from Georgette Heyer's These Old Shades and The Devil's Cub - he/she is so impulsive and exuberant the character really came alive for me :D

Anonymous said...

Anne of Green Gables from Lucy Maude Montgomery. She was cute, comical, serious and a darling.

robynl(bad blogger)


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