Thursday, June 22, 2017

Library Event

If anyone is around on the RNA Conference Thursday evening  13th July, there's a free event at the local Wellington Library, from 7-8pm, with Kate Walker, Sarah Morgan, Freda Lightfoot, Bernardine Kennedy and Nicola Cornick. You'd be very welcome.

Monday, June 19, 2017

One of the extra special things about being a writer is the way that I get to meet up with so many readers at such different stages of their reading experience. Last Friday was one of those days when I was invited to hand out the certificates to the readers who had worked hard to earn a completers' certificate in the Reading Ahead classes run by The Reading Agency.

To quote the Reading Agency web site:

One in six people struggles to read. However, research shows that when we ...inspire people to read for pleasure they benefit from far greater opportunities in everyday life, education and employment. Reading Ahead (formerly called the Six Book Challenge) is the gateway to these opportunities. Because everything changes when we read. 

Reading Ahead supports young people and adults by changing their perception of reading, opening up opportunities and building their confidence.

Run through public libraries, adult learning organisations, colleges, workplaces and prisons, Reading Ahead invites participants to pick six reads and record, rate and review them in a diary in order to get a certificate. The programme isn't just about books - it's about newspapers, magazines and websites too. The new name reflects this to help those for whom books might be a barrier to joining in.

I had a wonderful afternoon at a local library, meeting the successful readers, sharing in their delight in a new-found joy in reading and presenting their completion certificates. Thank you to all library staff for their warm  welcome - and tea and cake! - and to those new readers - keep on reading!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Family Connections

I've just come back from a family reunion that was a very special event.  I come from a family of five sisters.   (I come right in the middle of them if you’re wondering.)  My eldest sister is living in Australia  so she’s sadly thousands of miles away, but the next eldest sister – the one between her and me – is having a big birthday this year.   And she invited all the rest of us -  and the next generation – and the one after that – to come together for a very special family  party and overnight stay.

We had a wonderful time. We all live in different parts of the country, have different lives, but it was as if time and distance hadn’t existed.  So there were my other sisters, two husbands, one sister’s daughter, and the birthday girl’s son, his wife and two daughters. So that’s  three generations. And to add to the celebrations, there were two more about-to-be members of the family as my niece and my nephews wife were both expecting babies due to arrive in September.

Since I came home and I looked at all the photographs – specially one that had all of us, each generation, arranged on a flight of steps, it made me think about families both in reality and in books.  And it got me wondering about the families in some of my books.

I’ve now been published for over thirty years, so some of the babies  conceived by or born to past heroes and heroines will be about the age to become heroes and heroines themselves.   The b
aby that pushes Pierce and Natalie into marriage in  The Unexpected Child would be twenty years old now – just old enough to have her own story. And so will the little girl   Rosie who appeared in His Miracle Baby.

Sometimes I create characters who are connected by family or place and  then if I revisit that place, that family,  there is a chance to catch up with the story of the original couple and see how their life has progressed. I did this with  A Question of Honour where the hero and heroine  - Karim and Clemmie  later appeared – with their children -  in Destined For The Desert King .   And  Nabil, who was to have been Clemmie’s original bridegroom in that story, is the hero of this second book, with his new bride Aziza.  I remembered these books particularly as the story I’m working on will  take my new hero and heroine from their homes in Ireland to the kingdom of Rhastaan  where they may well meet up with Karim and Clemmie, Nabil and Aziza . . .and who knows how many children now?
So that made me wonder.  Do you like books were past characters appear, and you learn about their lives later on? Do you enjoy finding out about what has happened to them since their ‘happy ever after’ ending? Are they in fact ‘happy ever after’?  (I should hope so as I try to write characters who are just made for each other.)

Thinking about these earlier books has made me wonder whether it might be interesting to revisit

What do you think?  Do you like to read books like this? Are there any books - mine or any other  author’s  where you’d like to know what happened to a younger character – or just another person – in the future?
families and give them their own family reunion  and a story for the next generation.

I  know I’m looking forward to revisiting old friends in Rhastaan as I take Adnan and Ciara out to that country on their rather unusual honeymoon.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

This and that

Life has been rather hectic and a bit fraught  lately so I've been very bad  at keeping up with my blog. But I'm trying to add some posts that will wake this place up a bit and let you know I'm still alive.
 One of the things I should have mentioned is that I've been asked a lot about the teaching and the courses I'll be running in  the rest of this year.   So  the next one coming up is The Complete Romance Writing Course which is in one of my most favourite places in  the country and one of my favourite events in the whole year.
This of course is the Writers' Holiday in Fishguard in Pembrokeshire Wales.  As  so many of you know, this is one of the highlights of my summer for the past 15+ years . So I'm counting down t
he days before I  go back to Fishguard in July.    As always I will get to meet up again with old friends and hope to make new ones with the  visitors who have never been before,  I know some people are nervous about  being there on their own - but believe me, you won't stay on your own for very long.   Everyone is so welcoming, and the wonderful< Anne and Gerry Hobbs make sure that  things run as smoothly as possible all week.
There are always such great courses too - I'm always really sorry that I'm teaching for oe part of the week, so that I can only choose from the first set of courses when there are so many that I'd love to do. 
Here's this year's selection:

1. Writerly Desire

The ins and outs of writing great sex scenes

Is the thought of your characters’ sex lives too hot to handle? Do you always stop at the bedroom door? Shed your inhibitions as we explore ways to write effective and relevant sex scenes. the focus of the course will be on incorporating sex scenes in a variety of genres tailored to specific readerships, rather than on erotica perse. Suggestions from course participants for specific genres to be covered are welcome.

2. Write a Short Story at Fishguard

Sell it when you get home

This course is a practical course which will take you through writing a short story from Idea to completion. To get the most from this course you will need to do some homework during the week. But you should be able to go away with a completed short story and have some idea where to sell it.

3. Writing the Landscape


Whether you write fiction or non-fiction, the landscape around us influences our work, both directly and indirectly. But do we really notice it? This course will show you how to spot detail in the landscape and then bring it to life in your writing. Discover how to turn any interaction with the landscape into a self-contained piece… and be prepared to stretch your legs at some point, because if the weather is good we may go for a wander.

4. Poetry for All

Everything you need to know to produce stunning poems in traditional and contemporary forms.
Anyone can write a poem. James will ensure that you can do it with skill and flair!

5. Painting and Drawing


You can now spend all day Painting and Drawing – either all the week, or just half of the week. Demonstrations of technique will take place in the mornings, and afternoons can be spent out and about if the weather is fine, or in the Art Room with subjects and materials provided.

6. Make ’em laugh: Writing Humour


Ever wanted to write humour? Hit that funny bone with Steve Wade.

7. The Complete ROMANCE Writing Course


This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write a popular romance genre novel. It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. While the focus may be on romance novels, the techniques – dialogue, characters, tension, pacing, settings, hooks etc. will also be relevant to all
forms of popular fiction.

8. The Absolutely Complete Course on Writing Crime Fiction

Two experienced crime writers will combine to deliver a course which will be tailored to provide you with everything you need to write your own crime novel or crime short story.

9. All you ever wanted to know about Writing Competitions

Whether entering or running one
Competitions are the pathway to increasing your writing experience and to getting your work published. Among the areas to be covered are:
  • The writing competition scene
  • How to select the competitions to enter
  • Competition stories and novels
  • Competition articles and poems
  • Preparing your entry
  • The judging process
  • Running a competition

10. Painting and Drawing

You can now spend all day Painting and Drawing – either all the week, or just half of the week. Demonstrations of technique will take place in the mornings, and afternoons can be spent out and about if the weather is fine, or in the Art Room with subjects and materials provided.

As always, you can find the details and  ask about availability for rooms in the hotel (or as a day visitor)   at the Writers' Holiday  site

Book now while there is still room!
Incidentally, if you want a bit more information about Fishguard, take  a look at the current People's Friend - there's a great article in there by one of this year's tutors  Simon Whaley

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