Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Books and more books

World Book day is coming up - March 5th to be exact - but in this house it seemed like yesterday was actually the world of books day. I had a lot of trouble settling to work because it seemed that every time I sat down there was a ring at the doorbell to announce another postman/delivery man with yet another parcel of books.
That's what you get for living in a house of two writers - Crime and Passion as the Offspring labelled us. And yesterday there was a fair balance of both my books and the Babe Magnet's.

There was the upcoming Indian edition of Cordero's Forced Bride which is out in March, just as it is in the UK. Then the very handsome Afrikaans edition of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge.

But for me the most exciting deliveries were two for the Babe Magnet. These are books I've been looking forward to seeing for a while so it was great to have them actually 'in the paper' so to speak.

Victoria's Spymasters (The History Press) is - well, just as it says - 'an insight into spying in the age of Victoria'. And in one of those peculiar coincidences that sometimes happens, as the Magnet was writing about one particular 'Spymaster' - Sir Mark Sykes last year, his remains (Mark Sykes' that is, not the BM's!) were exhumed in September 2008 in the hope that taking samples from them might lead to the hopes of a cure for the flu (Spanish Flu) that had killed him in 1919. This is the Magnet wearing his Historian hat - the one that he'll be wearing when he teaches the Writing The Past Course in Caerleon in July.

The other book is one that I personally love. Those students who were on his course in Fishguard last week and anyone who had attended Caerleon in the past know that as well as dealing in history and the Grim and Gruesome books, the Babe Magnet is a very fine poet. Much of his work has appeared in 'slim volumes' that don't really make many bookshop shelves so I was thrilled to get my hands on the Selected Poems and Monlogues that is now published by Emerald Publishing. I may be a total specialist but the Magnet is nothing if not versatile.

It seems a really good way to celebrate World Book Day with lots of different titles, reprints and new, arriving to fill up our shelves . . . now if I could just find a little more time to read . . .


Actually I've been back for a day or so but I've been trying to catch up on things - including sleep! You don't sleep much on a long weekend course when there are lots of great people to talk to, lots of writing to discuss and a little bit of wine to share while talking.

Not to mention the l-o-n-g drive back from Wales.

But it was worth it. It was a a great weekend. But then it always is in Fishguard - or Caerleon - any writing event run by Anne and Gerry Hobbs is always a warm, welcoming and happy time. And this one was specialy so,

Maybe it was because I had such a great group for my class - 16 lively, intelligent and interesting women all wanting to learn as much as they could about writing the novel and keen to join in in the classes, to make friends as a result, and to just enjoy the whole experience.

Or perhaps it was the addition (one totally unexpected) of two special friends to add extra warmth to the weeked. One, Chris, was on my romance writing course 2 years ago and she was visiting family in Haverfordwest so she came by for the Saturday night. The other was lovely fellow Presents writer Abby Green who wickedly convinced me that she was working so hard on revisions that, even though Fishguard is just across the Irish sea from Ireland, in fact the Rosslare ferry leaves from right below the hotel, she wouldn't be able to come and say Hi.

She lied! After totally deceiving me with texts that claimed to come from where she was supposed to be in Dublin where we had last seen her at the end of January, she was actually on the road to Fishguard and stunned and delighted the Magnet and I by suddenly appearing beside us as we were unpacking the car! What a real joy it was to have her company for the weekend as well. (Incidentally Abby's April Presents release, The French Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress, just earned 4.5 stars and a Top Pick from Romantic Times - congratulations Abby! )

Of course I could add in to the things that made the weekend great the amazing weather - the sun shone and it was actually warm enough to sit out side for coffee breaks and those on the artists' course took full advantage of that. The sea looked wonderful in the sunshine and the Magnet and I were able to appreciate that even more from our fabulous room which had a full balcony overlooking the bay. Not that we had too much time to enjoy it as we were talking, teaching and socialising most of the time.

And then there were other friends from past Fishguard or Caerleon events - special mention to Rachael, affectionately known as my 'stalker', having been to three of the course I've taught. (But then so has Johanna - and Kate and Sarah are coming up close behind!) And crime writers, Lesley Horton and Janet Laurence, new tutor Sophie King who taught the short story course . . . We had to tear ourselves away when Sunday afternoon finally came around.

But we'll be back again. I thought that we wouldn't be visiting Fishguard again for a while but Gerry took advantage of a mellow moment and booked me to teach there again next February - I'll be teaching the Modern Romance course there this time. Details will soon appear on the web site here.

While you're there take a look at the upcoming Caerleon Writers' Holiday where there are - just - a few places (a very few - about 3 I think) left to book. If you want one of those, you'll have to act fast!

So now that I've recovered from the lack of sleep and the travelling (my talk-hoarse voice might take a little while longer) I have to concentrate hard and focus on the latest book - and see if I can put into practice all I talked about at Fishguard.

But if anyone from my course this time is reading this, I just want to send a great big thank you to you all for making it such a special time - Rachael, Brenda, Jo, Kate, Siobhan, Sarah, Christine, Ann, new Granny Anne (have you seen those little twins yet?) , Christine, Vanda, Karen, Jess, Becks, Kirsty, Yvie and Mary.

Hope I'll see you all again soon.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


I'm heading out across country today - leaving any minute.

This weekend I'm teaching The Novel at the Fishguard Writers' Weekend and I can't wait. I love being back in Wales and the thought of waking up each morning with a view of the sea is just the best.

We'll be stopping off at Malvern en route to break the journey and so that the Babe Magnet can raid the bookshops so if I get a moment I might post from there. But if I don't then I'll be back here on Monday with the course behind me and Nikos my new Greek hero demanding that I write his story.

So be good while I'm gone. If you're coming to Fishguard - and I know some of you are - I'm looking forward to meeting you or seeing you again as appropriate. It's going to be a lot of fun - and a little work thrown in!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

So it's February 14th with all its attendant fuss about 'lurve' and red roses and chocolate . . .

The Magnet knows that I'm not keen on red roses (I prefer the golden ones I had in my wedding bouquet) and chocolate (I'd swap luxury chocs for a plate of chips/fries anyday!)but it's not those sort of things that count. Not really.

I was stunned this morning to learn that according to some report, the city of Hull is reputed to be the most romantic in the UK. Now Hull is just up the coast from where I live and it has never seemed a very romantic place to me. It seems that that assessment is based purely on sales of roses as Valentine's gifts. But it also seems that most of those bouquets are last-minute gifts - hmm - rushed, cliché gifts perhaps. Or am I being too cynical?

Anyway, whatever you're doing today I hope it's a lovely day for you and in celebration of the day, Harlequin have some gifts for its readers.

The first of these is a free special ebook at – A Valentine For Harlequin’s Anniversary. It contains a story “An Evening To Remember” by Catherine Mann, and 60 of the favourite posts by Harlequin authors and readers from the eHarlequin Community on topics like “Why I Write” and “Favourite Harlequin Moments”

Those favourite Harlequin Moments were written because - as I've already mentioned - Harlequin is 60 this year. And as part of those celebrations, and "to thank our many readers for taking us into their hearts and homes for 60 years and making us the world’s leading publisher of romantic fiction, Harlequin is giving every woman in America and Canada a free book. "

In fact, they’re giving away 16 free Books that readers can download.

The titles are available as a PDF and in all eBook formats. There is no drm (digital rights management)
The titles are also available as a Stanza App for the iPhone and iPod Touch
The titles can also be found at all the online retailers like Sony, Amazon, Barnes & Noble,,, etc.
The 16 free books (one for every series) will be available throughout 2009.

So why note head over to and take your pick from the slection of titles - from all the lines Harlequin publishes - to help you celebrate Valentine's Day too.

Finally - Valentine's Day is also the day that my friend Anne McAllister launches the new look on her web site. It has been freshly reworked and revamped by the brilliant Heather Reed from We Write Romance who also looks after my site. And it looks fabulous.

Anne is running a great contest to mark this relaunch so why not visit the site and see if you can win yourself a great prize.

And whatever you're doing - whether you're with someone or enjoying being free and single, I hope you have a lovely and loving day today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

It's taken me a while but I've finally managed to get into Blogger today.

But my real blog is over on I Heart Presents. With the fact that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I've been musing on the topic of What is Romance. I hope you'll join me and let me know about the most romantic thing that has ever happened to you.

Tomorrow I'll be back here with news of a special Valentine that's on offer from EHarlequin. More about that on the 14th

One other thing if like me you've been horrified and saddened by the appalling devastation caused by the terrible fires in Australia, and you've been wishing you could do something to help, well here's a couple of ways:

There's a Red Cross appeal that has been launched

And if you're a writer then maybe this will be something you'd want to join in on:

Here's a message from Australian Author and member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

Romance Writers of Australia are launching a book appeal. We know that for many affected families, books will not be high ontheir listof necessities for some time to come.But...We also know how valuable books can be in providing time out when reality gets tough.

So…With the aid of some wonderful volunteers, we've put together a Romance Writers of Australia Bushfire Book Appeal.

What we need?FICTION BOOKS! Romance books, children's books, genre books, whatever– either new or in sparkling condition.

Please send them to:

RWA Bushfire Book Appeal

c/- 89 Rennie St


Vic 3071


When to send them? Now! And any time over the next few months.

The books will be boxedand delivered to the appropriate neighbourhood centres/communitycentres/libraries in batches as soon as practicable.Feel free to pop a note inside, or if you're the author, sign the book.

With thanksAnne GracieForwarding this message on behalf of Romance Writers of Australia Inc.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hunting Bottle tops

. . . and wedding rings. And mascara . . .

For some days now I've been pretending that I'm not married.

Not willingly, but perforce - per Flora force.

You see I was foolish enough to take off my wedding ring at night last week. I had a rush of blood to my manicure brain cells and decided to anoint hands with a cream provided for that purpose. So I took off my wedding ring and placed it on the bedside cabinet.

Then I forgot to put it back on and went to sleep.

Bad mistake.

Flora the Floozie loves to come and sit on my head in the middle of the night. And when she sits on my head she also loves to play with anything that is on the bedside cabinet. She drinks from my glass of water (Luckily I've got wise to that now - I put a lid on it!) and she loves to bat things off the surface of the cabinet and on to the floor. She then chases them about the floor until she loses interest.

This, I assumed was what had happened to my wedding ring. When I went to sleep it was on the cabinet. When I woke up it wasn't.

So I started to hunt for it. I looked in all the usual places. (She has a special cache under the bookcase where she likes to store things). Not there.

Eventually I decided that the only thing left was to move the bed so that I could look underneath it. I found my wedding ring. I also found:

1 mascara wand
two socks (one mine, one the Magnet's)
1 lipstick

1 packet of mints
1 Packet of indigestion tablets
1 Earring (from the top of the bedside cabinet too)

1 bottle of nail varnish (ditto)
1 belt
and a dozen and a half assorted bottle tops

This is because Madame's favourite game downstairs is for me to take the top off a bottle of water or such and throw it on the floor so that she can chase it crazily and noisily about the room. They usually end up under the fridge
Or the settee

And now, I discover, under the bed. Along with half my cosmetics - well a girl has to make herself look beautiful!
And she looks so sweet and innocent. Sometimes.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And the winners are

The results from yesterday's awards lunch are that Julia Gregson won the Romantic Novel of the Year award with East of the Sun

Chair of the judges Alice O'Keeffe, books editor at The Bookseller, said East of the Sun was about "lots of different kinds of love". "There's the true love they're looking for, the love they develop for India the country, and the deep friendships they establish."

And - appropriately enough after that mention of India - the winner of the Romance Prize for 2009 was lovely India Grey with her book Mistress, Hired for The Billionaire's Pleasure.

I'm thrilled for India as she is a dear friend and this book is a great read. USA readers may want to know that Mistress, Hired For The Billionaire's Pleasure is on sales in Presents Extra this month.

The judges said that they were impressed by the "sheer verve and style" of the book which they described as "a model of romance, well-written and memorable with a clever plot featuring a lovely heroine and a gorgeous hero."

Congratulations, India!

And if you want to go and offer India your congratulations personally, you can visit her blog here

No one got both winners right but Jane did pick India's book so Jane if you get in touch with me (kate AT I'll send you a little something to celebrate too

Pink Heart Society

I forgot to add to the last post -

Today I'm blogging over at the Pink Heart Society where I'm talking about one of my favourite places in the world

And I'm heading there next week.

So like the little Pink Guy I'm feeling . . . .
Don't forget to leave your suggestions for the winners of the Romantic Novel of the Year and the RNA Romance prize

Monday, February 09, 2009

Romantic Novel of the Year

Tomorrow the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year award given by the Romantic Novelists' Association will be announced at the posh lunch in The Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London

This year's short list is

Before the Storm by Judith Lennox (Headline)

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson (Orion)

Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley (Allison & Busby)

Stargazing by Linda Gillard (Little Brown)

Thanks for the Memories by Cecelia Aherne (Harper Collins)

The Last Concubine by Lesley Downer (Transworld)

At the same event, the special Romance Prize will be awarded to one of these authors:

Mistress, Hired for the Billionaire's Pleasure by India Grey (M&B)

Promoted to Wife and Mother by Jessica Hart (M&B)

Saying Yes to The Millionaire by Fiona Harper (M&B)

Sold to the Highest Bidder by Kate Hardy (M&B)

The Wild Card by Beth Elliott (Robert Hale)

What's Love Got to Do With It? by Lucy Broadbent (Little Black Dress)
Congratulations to all the shortlist nominees and good luck for tomorrow

For the past couple of years I've run a little challenge for people to try and guess who will win - so why should this year be any different.

So pick the winner for each prize - one for the Romantic Novel of the Year and one for the Romance Prize. Post your selections in the comments section before midday (UK time) tomorrow and when I know who has won, I'll give a small prize to whoever got it right.

Just because

funny pictures of cats with captions

more animals

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Sexiest Thing on Two Legs

And for once it's not Hugh-in -A-Towel

Here's a Press Release from the UK's Romantic Novelists' Association. This should brighten everyone's Saturday . . . .

Romantic Novelists vote Richard Armitage Sexiest Thing On Two Legs

British actor Richard Armitage has leapt from last year’s 4th place to thisyear topping the ratings in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2009Valentine’s poll, to take the title of Sexiest Thing on Two Legs, beating top Hollywood stars to the number one spot. Johnny Depp, who topped last year’s poll, was pushed firmly into second place, with Hugh Jackman and George Clooney mere also-rans.

“RichardArmitage took 20% of the vote, more than double the count of any other male on the list,” said the RNA pollster. “He was a clear winner from the off.”

The RNA is not alone in admiration of the actor, as numerous online RichardArmitage fan sites will testify. The ardency began with North and South,grew by leaps and bounds with the leather-clad baddie in Robin Hood, and shows no sign of diminishing as Spooks takes to the airwaves.

‘It’s a coup for Britain,’ said one starstruck writer, ‘not just for sexyRichard.’

According to romantic novelists, the sexiest male celebrities of 2009 are

1 Richard Armitage

2 Johnny Depp

3 Hugh Jackman

4 George Clooney

5 Daniel Craig

6 Sean Bean

7 Alan Rickman

8 David Tennant

9 Pierce Brosnan

10 Gerard Butler
And this makes me smile because, of course, the hero of my September book Kept For Her Baby is called Ricardo and looks like this.
Not that I would want to replace H-I-A-T of coourse - but it's nice to have options.
Now all I have to do is to convince Anne McAllister!

Friday, February 06, 2009

More Celebrations

It seems as if there are 'Harlequin Birthdays' appearing all over the place. Yesterday I got a package of international editions of my books and amongt them was a Japanese edition with the special flash on it for Harlequin Japan's 30th Anniversary.

So with M&B's Centenary, Harlequin USA's Diamond Anniversary and now Japan's 30th, there is sop much evidence of how just long lasting and popular Harlequin Romances are. And who worldwide that popularity is. It's a great feeling to be part of such a major force in popular reading.

And a little scary to think that of those 30 years that Harlequin Japan has been around, I'll soon have been published for 25 of them! December 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of my very first published book. I'm working on celebrations for that myself.

And if there's something that brought this home to me even more, it's the fact that this particular Japanese translation is actually a reprint of one of my earlier books. It's The Groom's Revenge which was originally published in 1997 - 12 years ago! This was first published in Japan in 1997 and now it's being reissued as a 'Classic' in their 30th year.

Which is pretty amazing when I was just talking to someone about my childhood in Yorkshire when no one believed I would ever achieve my ambition of writing a single book for publication, never mind still be writing them 25 years after I first started out.

And that's something that will be very much in my mind when I head for Fishguard and the Writers' and Artists' Weekend two weeks from today. I have an interesting class, the youngest of which is just 16. How great that she - with her mother - is serious enough about her writing to go on a weekend course to learn as much as she can. I would have loved to do that when I was 16.

That's one of the reasons why I enjoy teaching writing when I can fit it in. I can't guarantee anything. My students may never ever be published - or one of them may just be the next JK Rowling - but either way they are putting their energies, time and enthusiasm into learning and trying and I really respect that.

So I'm looking forward to Fishguard. And when you add in the fact that I'll also be meeting up with wonderful friends Anne and Gerry Hobbs who run these weekends as well as the fabulous Caerleon Writers' Holidays (where I'll also be teaching in July) then I just can't wait.
Incidentally, Caerleon Writers' Holidays are celebrating their 25th this year too. Obviously 1984 was a very good year!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Blizzard Thoughts

I wrote this yesterday and tried to post it then but Blogger was having none of it. So let's hope that they've got over their problems now and this posts today.

One of my resolutions for this year has been that, before I BICHOK - Bum in chair, hands on keyboard - every working day, I really should do some BOOC, LIM - Bum out of chair, legs in motion - ie some sort of exercise so that I can 'earn' my hours sitting and working.

And if I don't do that before I start my working day, then I know I'll never get to do it. So I've been 'walking to work' - setting out as if I was heading for an out of the house office and walking . . . Luckily there's a lovely big park nearby and I walk round that before heading back to my desk.

But yesterday there was a heavy, wild snowstorm - a real blizzrd that descended while I was walking. It was a real experience walking through it. I could barely see a few metres ahead of me, and the snow was coming down so heavily that within minutes, it seemed, all the recognisable landmarks disappeared, the paths vanished, and I could barely find my way out of what was a very familiar landscape.

And it was as I was trying to find my way that I started thinking that really the wild winter storm was very like writing romance - in several ways.

For one thing, the route I take on my walk is pretty regular. There are lots and lots of paths through the park so I can take various different ways, but they are all in the park, and they all start from one point and end up at a particular destination - coming home.

Which is very much like writing romance. You start with the meeting, the conflict and work towards the happy ever after ending. There are only so many ways to get there, but if you choose a different combination of approaches and walks then you can end up with what seems like a different journey every time - or one that's different enough not to get bored.

And every day the scenery is very slightly different. Or, as in yesterday's case, totally different. Today after the storm where everything had been 'whited out', prisitine and clean and monochrome, there was a blend of dingy dull grey-brown, of molten ice and swirling water. It was so much the same as when I walked there the day before and yet some very different touches had made it a completely different plpace. Just as when I'm writing a novel, I know that the basic 'journey' is going to be so similar and familliar, but I try to sdd in things that can make it look so very different.

That journey in the wild storm was somethign that i also try to put my hero and heroine through - an emotional storm though, rather than a physical one. One in which the surroundings and liveds they knew suddenly changed because something happened to make them different and dangerous, strange and unfamiliar. The emotional storm means that for a time they lose their way, get blown off course, and have to fight to find their way back to the peace and security they once knew. My winter storm even had a moment of sudden peace - of clear blue skies and dropping wind - just before the real 'black moment' when the clouds closed in again and the snow almost blinded me, so that I felt it worst for having a brief respite.

Finally, my whole journey turned into a metaphor for writing - the way that I an set out on the 'journey' of a book thinking that this is all a familar landscape to me - that I kow where I'm going, what paths I'm choosing this time, what my route and the scenery will be. And then some emotional storm between my characters descends and they and the book get blown off coourse. The lanmdmarks that I thought would see me along my way are almost obliterated and for a while I think I'll never find my way to the end. But I just keep on going, adapting to the new conditons, changing as I need to, and keeping my eye on a few fixed points that I know are important. (In the snow bound park, these were the benches scattered all around the place. They marked the lines of the paths even when the paths were snowed in and no longer visible.)

And I hope that when my readers get to the end of the book they will have enjoyed the storms and emotions that suddenly sprung up. And that they, like me, when I finally got back inside my home and out of the fury of the weather, will feel invigorated and excited by what they've just been through. Happy to be in the peace and quiet again but feeling that they wouldn;t have missed the drama for the world.

That's what I'm aiming for anyway. And I'm thrilled to know that with this latest review of Cordero's Forced Bride, for one reader at least I've succeeded in that.

Here's what Julie Bonello of Cata-Romance has to say about Cordero's Forced Bride which she personally described as - "a gloriously intense and wonderfully romantic story"

Kate Walker’s legion of readers will not be disappointed with her latest tale of torrid passion and heart wrenching emotion: Cordero’s Forced Bride.

. . .when Santos kisses his shy English bride, he is not prepared for the sheer power of his desire for her and when wild passion leads to a love which neither of them can deny, Santos cannot help but wonder whether his convenient bride will ever consent to being his wife for real…

Kate Walker's name is synonymous with unforgettable romantic novels that stay with the reader long after the last page is turned and Cordero’s Forced Bride is the latest in a long line of captivating tales from this most talented of storytellers. Fast-paced, passionate, intensely emotional and gripping from start to finish, high quality romantic fiction does not get any better than this!

Thank you so much Julie! Your review made all that time in the 'blizzard' of emotion of writing Cordero's Forced Bride so worthwhile.
You can read the rest of her great review here on the CataRomance site .

PS And while I was out walking in the blizzard, the sensible ones in the family were curled up safe and snug like this

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Tote Bags 'N' Blogs

It's February 1st - the first Sunday of the month. And that is now my new regular blogging date to appear over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs on Lee Hyat's great site My Tote Bag.

So that's where you'll find me today - talking about bright things to look forward to in dark and cold days.
And there's a chance of a copy of my latest release, Cordero's Forced Bride up for grabs if you come along and post a comment.
Oh - and over on eHarlequin there's a contest to guess which desk belongs to which writer. Check out the photos and see if you can match the desk to the author. Regular readers of this blog will have an advantage in spottting which one is mine.

See you there!

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