Saturday, April 29, 2006

A PS to the last post

After writing about Charles Wogan for my previous post, I went searching for anything more I could find on Google - and came up with this

"He was awarded a Baronetcy by James 111 and the Pope conferred on him the title of a Roman Senator .A number of Novels have been written about the escapade including The King across the water [1911] a novel written by Justin Huntly McCarthy a study in a book by J.M.Flood The Life of Chevalier Charles Wogan ,A Soldier of Fortune [1922] Charles wrote a novel about his adventure and then sent his writings to Swift who was unable to find a publisher ."

So I'm following in a family tradition of writing novels set by my who knows how many great-great-great grandfather!

Now that is wierd!

And if anyone ever comes across those books listed here, please let me know! I've tried Bookfinder etc . . ..

Being tagged - for Kate Hardy

Kate Hardy tagged me to write Six weird things about me. Sorry to be slow in responding, Kate, but I honestly had trouble thinking what was ‘weird’. I know some people who, if asked, what’s weird about Kate W?’ would say ‘everything’ – and yet others who’d say, ‘Well, nothing.’ There’s the writing romances for one thing. I’ve met several people who think that, for a woman with an MA and a professional qualification in librarianship, that’s really weird. To me, it’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do. Cats – some people would think that four are excessive - others (waves to Anna!) would accept that as purrfectly normal)

I asked the BM and, being the BM, he immediately went into English lecturer mode –‘Define weird . . .’ I know – that’s what I’m trying to do.

Okay, so, Kate my dear, this is what I’ve come up with.

1. I once rode up 44 floors – and down again - in an elevator dressed in my pyjamas, a tiara and a hat shaped like a giant bee – in New York! This was because I was at the RWA conference and attending the eHarlequin Pyjama Party. The tiara was because the writing group the Gonnabeez had honoured me by making me the Queen Bee – and the Bee hat was from the same group. The party was on the lower ground floor of the hotel. My room was on the 43rd floor. On the journey down, I travelled in the lift with a very nice man who simply smiled and said Hi as if he met Queen Bees every day of his life. Perhaps he did.

2. I once worked in a bookshop for 6 months after leaving university and getting a librarianship job. This is where I learned the art of reading books without ever bending or cracking their spines so that I could, borrow them, read them – and put them back on the shelves with no one noticing.

3. I’m sort of psychic. My record for saying, ‘I think I’d better switch on my phone in case The Offspring/The BM/one of my sisters etc is trying to get through – and then getting a call as soon as I switch on is almost 100%

4. I’m ridiculously obsessive about brand new magazines – books too. I hate to see anyone pick up a magazine I’ve bought and flick through it or, worse still settle down to read it. I have to restrain myself from snatching it from their hands and saying that’s mine! It’s not as if I think they’ll read all the words off the page – it comes from being one of 5 sisters and getting one comic between all five of us. Each week one of us had the delight of being the first to read it then pass it on to the next in line – but for four weeks you didn’t get to read it until everyone else had finished! And I had one sister who used to take forever to read anything. (I'm also well aware of the fact that in the light of No 2 above, this makes me totally hypocritical)

5. I have a strange collection of made up curses – ones used by my mother to express fierce emotion without resorting to swearing in front of her children. So, like her, I am likely to say ‘Hells bells and buckets of blood!’ or ‘By the seven holy men of Ringsend!’ – they’re pretty satisfying and a lot more imaginative than most of the single word curses.

6. I’m descended from a man called Chevalier Charles Wogan whose story is something of a delight for any romantic novelist – here is a brief summary:

"The Chevalier" (Knight) Charles Wogan was born in Rathcoffey. Is it possible that his heroic actions on the night of April 29th 1719 have given rise to the romantic fairytale tradition that for every fair princess shut up in a castle tower there comes a knight in shining armour ready to set her free so that she can marry the handsome prince of her dreams?
Wogan was a staunch supporter of the Stuarts. Hr initiated the alliance which led to the marriage of James Edward Francis Stuart (the Old Pretender), son of Charles II, to Clementina Sobieski, daughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland. She was apprehended, however, on her way to marry the Prince in Bologna. She was held captive in Innsbruck in the Tyrol. Wogan arranged false passports with the Austrian Ambassador and along with a small group feigning to be a Count, Countess, the Countess’ brother (Wogan) and her maidservant, managed to gain access to the princess. Following a quick exchange of clothing between the princess and the maidservant, the party escaped in high winds and blinding snow through the Alpine passes into Austria.
The marriage to James took place and from it Charles Edward (the Young Pretender) was born in Rome in 1720. Wogan’s reputation for daring and enterprise spread throughout all Europe.

It’s rumored that in fact Charles Wogan and Clementina fell in love on their journey but that his loyalty to his king meant that he didn’t press his own claim for marriage. It’s also rumored that as a result of this, the Chevalier and his family are entitled to wear their hats in the presence of the king and to a pension of £10 a year. Unfortunately, like most of these things in English law, this was only passed down through the male side – which has now died out - and I come from the female line. Pity. It would have been fun to think I could turn up to Buckingham Palace and tell HM that she owed me back pay for the past few centuries.

I’m supposed to tag someone? Okay – Anne McAllister who would probably include dogs and deodorant bottles and gunslingers in hers. And Liz Fielding because I have no idea at all what she would include but I’d love to know.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Pink Heart Pride

More foreign editions in the mail today – the Japanese edition of Bound by Blackmail and the Arab version of The Spaniard’s Inconvenient Wife. Both books are not only in a different language but also in a totally different script from the one I’m used to seeing. And that brings home to me once more – with emphasis – just how worldwide the enjoyment of reading romance is.

And that makes me – once again – burn with indignation at the way that so many ill-informed - or totally uniformed – critics - dismiss or put down the readers and writers of romance novels.
So that’s why there is a little pink heart dancing at the top of this post. I’ve joined

The Pink Heart Society
Proud Supporters of Category Romance.

The Pink Heart Society was founded by Irish Romance writer Trish Wylie and it all began with a post on her blog on New Years Day 2006. It is made up of Romance writers and readers who are proud to stand up and say that we write, read and enjoy category romances and are not prepared to put up with the bad press that these books that the great Charlotte Lamb described as ‘these complicated little’ books get so often.

Other Pink Hearters are:
Liz Fielding
Kate Hardy
Ally Blake
Fiona Harper
Nicola Marsh
Natasha Oakley
Michelle Styles

So if you’re interested, why not go over to Trish’s Website and her blog and see what she has to say – and maybe join us.

After all – as the picture below proves – love – and romances - make the world go round.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

And talking of cats . . . and web sites

In my previous post, I mentioned that I might have time now to stroke a cat - and of course there is one particular cat who is very pleased about that. 'About time too!' says Sid. 'I've been badly neglected while you were gadding about in London and tweaking Sicilians.'

Sid has also noticed the new- and very handsome - cat on the block - Nigel. Nigel appeared on Liz Fielding's Blog and has been garnering great praise as a result, His is actually Liz's grand-cat, belonging to her daughter, and he is a very fine cat indeed.

But he's not Sid. And Sid has had his elegant browny-pink nose put a little out of joint by all the attention that Nigel has been getting. He has demanded that I post another picture of His Sidness just to remind everyone who is actually First Cat around here.

And so - to appease him - and for his special friend and fan, Anne McAllister - and to thank her for her very kind post about my 12 Point Guide earlier this week - here is Sir Sidney St John Willoughby Portly Lummox in his usual position on my desk

PS My friends over at Romance Junkies are close to a Million hits for April and they want to make that very special total if they can. Help us reach their goal by going to the site and taking a look around. If you love Romance there's lots of information to find there - and even if you've already visited, then I bet there's something new there you've never seen. Hurry! There's only 3.5 more days left!

The Trouble With Tweaking

‘Tweaks’ are not revisions – at least, not in an editor’s eyes. Revisions means that the book basically hasn’t worked in certain areas – a plot doesn’t hang together, or a character’s development is inconsistent. . . But ‘tweaks’ are just little points. A line here, a comment there - an event that would be better as . . . and so you get asked to ‘tweak’ the book here and there - to sharpen, to define, to tighten.

And that’s what my editor wanted with Sicilian1. She loved the book (in fact I’m blushing at the way she described it) but she wanted some tweaks. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past four days. I’ve been tweaking poor Guido until he was (I hope) perfect.

But the problem is that stories are like knitting – or a carefully woven piece of cloth. You put it all together, plaiting strands and combining themes so that it all works. And if you have to tweak, you have to tug loose a single strand – and that risks unravelling everything else that that strand is attached to. If you change a tiny detail in scene right at the beginning, you also have to change any and every other reference to that tiny detail everywhere else in the book. Or if you change something later, then you have to make sure that every comment, every thought, every gesture that leads up to that moment is now consistent with the new slant you’ve put on things. And the hardest part is tracing down every last moment that might be connected and making sure that it now fits the new pattern. You have to pull out some threads, put in new ones, subtly change others – and then you have to knit it all back together so that it fits seamlessly and, if you’ve done it right, then the reader won’t even notice where you’ve been. That’s why it’s weaving, or knitting – not patchwork where you can stitch a whole new piece over the old one and it’s meant to show.

And that’s why tweaking can take so much concentration. Let your attention slip for a moment and you can bet that you’ll miss something important and it will come back to haunt you.

But after four days tweaking and knitting and rereading and checking, I hope I now have Guido just as my editor wanted. So he’s headed off back to Richmond to spend the Bank Holiday with her and I have a chance to draw breath and write the answers to an interview and stroke a cat – and turn my attention to Sicilian2 – to poor Vito who has been waiting in the wings – not all that patiently and wants his story told now! He’s learned all about his brother’s trip to England, you see – and he’s heard all about the reaction that Guido caused in one particular person when he walked into that church. (If you’ve forgotten what I’m talking about then it’s all in the post for March 21st.) And so now Vito wants to know just what has been going on and why . . .

And I’m going to have to write down everything he tells me.

And then I expect that I’ll have to do some tweaking . . or maybe not. I can hope. But first I’ll have to write the book. And so it all begins again - Chapter One .. .

Sunday, April 23, 2006

RNA Awards Lunch

The Savoy is a very elegant hotel, but the truth of the matter is that once inside any hotel at a very crowded event, the first thing you notice is that a. It’s too warm and b It’s very very noisy – the buzz of 300+ people – mostly women – all talking at once is definitely a strain to someone like me who is used to her own office, peace and quiet, apart from a few silent cats around.

The heat also affects my choice of clothes. I had taken 2 outfits – the glittery cardigan and chiffon skirt I wore to Julie’s book launch and a black long skirted skirt suit with bronze tee shirt with gold decorating the neckline. I chose the latter because the day was too warm for the glittery cardigan. But first there is a small panic. The BM has left his going-to-the Savoy jacket at home. So early Friday morning finds us out on Oxford Street acquiring a replacement. One very nice light grey silk and linen jacket later, we are walking back to the hotel when I spot a familiar figure –fellow M&B novelist – and Romance prize nominee - Kate Hardy, looking elegant in teal and some very high heels (though she swore they were comfortable!). I’ve promised to hold her hand through the lead-up to the ceremony so we gather her up and take her back with us to our room to chat while we get ready.

A rather slow taxi journey later – we get snarled up in traffic- we arrive at the River Entrance at the Savoy to meet Kate’s Aunt and Uncle and head upstairs for pre-lunch drinks with our publisher. Champagne, orange juice or water are on offer. I always need water – but I have a glass of champagne too. The half an hour or so before lunch is spent chatting to editors – there are still one or two I missed from my visit to the office yesterday – with conversations constantly being interrupted by a tap on the arm of the shoulder to be greeted by other authors, other RNA members. I manage brief helloes to lovely Marina Oliver and her handsome husband, RNA Committee members Jenny Haddon (Chairman), Catherine Jones, Evelyn Ryle, Conference Organiser Jan Jones – who last year sprang on me a request to run a workshop on plotting at the Conference. This year she doesn’t have to ask. I already know I’m doing an talk at Penrith Library. Roger Sanderson who writes as Gill Sanderson gave his usual exuberant hug and kiss. He is at a different table to mine so I won’t need to watch out for his wicked jokes just when I’m about to take a sip of wine. Julie Cohen arrives in her book launch ‘naked’ dress. She has good news so I hug her in congratulations too – though I’m not allowed to say why out loud. Authors Penny Jordan, Sharon Kendrick, Jessica Hart, Lucy Gordon . . . . The room fills up, the level of conversation gets louder .

At last we head downstairs to the elegant ballroom for the lunch. I’m at a table with , of course, the BM, Penny Jordan, Tessa Shapcott Executive Editor at M&B, Julie and delightful Elizabeth Power – elegant in pale pink - and her charming husband. Elizabeth is remarkably calm considering she too is short-listed for the Romance Award. We soon discover a mutual love of cats that makes instant friends! The food is better than on previous occasions – asparagus with lemon and walnut sauce - wild mushroom risotto (the veggie choice- carnivores had lamb) and a chocolate fondant pudding with thyme sorbet. The thyme sorbet was lovely –I passed the chocolate on to the BM.

After the meal, the presentations and speeches. The Foster Grant Reading Glasses Romantic Novel of the Year Award was announced, with a fairly long speech by chair of judges Dr Susan Horsewood-Lee. This included what seemed as if it was going to be a sort of ‘seven ages of man’ description of the reading habits of various stages in life but only detailed the fact that young adolescents were looking forward to Harry Potter’s first romantic encounter – then from then one it seemed that no one had time or inclination for reading until, apparently, the age of 60 when women turned to romantic fiction. It didn’t seem the most tactful of remarks to make to a room full of romantic novelists – that their books are enjoyed in the last stage before the grave! A brief description of each shortlisted book led to the presentation by Amanda Naylor – the prize went to Erica James for Gardens of Delight. Many RNA members were delighted to hear that one of our members had won the prize. After many years of Major Award winners declaring that they didn’t think their book was a romantic novel. It was great to have the prize go to someone who already had joined the RNA, especially as she has already been on the shortlist four times before. Then there was a long and rambling speech by Stanley Johnson, with rather too much self-promotion of his own books, Conservative politics and a description of a ‘romantic moment’ in – again – one of his own novels – in which, as a plane took off, his characters (a husband and wife) – ‘their elbows touched.’

The second Award of the day was the Romance Prize for the best Category Romance of the year. The books in the shortlist were summarised by Norma Curtis and as I’ve already mentioned here, this award went to Contracted: Corporate Wife by Jessica Hart – which means that Jessica Hart has now won both a RITA and the Romance prize. Congratulations Jessica!

There are some pictures and more details on Kate Hardy’s blog if you want more or to fill in anything I’ve forgotten her – including a photo of Kate, Roger (Gill) and Myself.

By the time the event wound to a close, both I and the BM glad to get out into the air again. We had plenty of goodbyes to say – all the editors again, commiserations to offer to Kate Hardy, Elizabeth Power etc – but they all had been given beautiful flowers by the RNA so they didn’t go home empty handed. After the noise and heat I was glad to be able to catch a cab back to out hotel . Our route took us up the Mall which was bright with flags ready for the celebration of the Queen’s 80th birthday the next day, Then I was able to kick off my smart shoes, hang up the suit and relax until it was time for dinner with some special friends – a much more relaxed and laughter filled affair.

The Awards lunch – and the judging of the two awards presented - takes a huge amount of organising and commitment from the committee and other members of the RNA so my thanks go to them for everything they put into making the day a great success. I have to admit that the speakers were not at all to my taste – but the food, the atmosphere and - most valuable of all – the chance to meet up with so many friends and to celebrate the writing and publishing of romantic fiction is the most important thing. That’s why I was there and I had a lovely day.

So that was Saturday . . .

Well, I’m not sure where yesterday went. I blinked and here I am on Sunday morning. I know what I did – washing, shopping (we needed a little food!). There was the unexpected request for an article for the Romance Writers of Australia Newsletter. I’m counted as an ‘Honorary Aussie’ since I shared a wonderful Conference with RWA two years ago and the Editor of the Diamonds and Pearls column had spotted some comments I’d made on the ‘rules’ (or, rather, lack of them) of romance writing and wondered if I would enlarge on that for their regular newsletter. As I have a book out in Australia in May, and the topic is something I really feel strongly about, I agreed and as it was on very short deadline, got the article out of the way at once. When the article is actually published, I hope to be able to post it here too in the future.

I shoudl mention that the editor of the D&P column, Bronwyn Jameson, as well as being a friend is also a very fine writer herself and has not one but three books nominated for the Romance Writers of America RITA Award this year. Many many congratulations Bron!

Next there was a l-o-n-g talk with Michelle Reid bringing her up to date on my trip to London and discussions with my editor. And then I turned into a tee shirt making factory.

Hmm- perhaps that needs a little explanation. . . . . The BM is working on a drama event as one of his Writer in Residence projects and there will be a performance for this on Wednesday. The tee shirts were needed for that – for the cast to wear. There is a very limited budget for this and with 7 men to find tee shirts for, and put the appropriate slogan on the front, it meant it had to be a home-made job. So with the help of a pack of tee shirt transfer paper, my computer and seven ‘value’ tee shirts from a local supermarket, we ended up with the necessary tee shirts for just under £20. The fun bit was remembering that we needed to get the lettering back to front so that it would appear the right way round on the actual shirts – but we succeeded and with the BM doing the ‘90 seconds at highest heat and firm pressure’ ironing part of the job while I cut, arranged, and finally removed the backing paper from each slogan, we’ve got the thing done. I just hope that the performance goes well too. A young drama student has put her heart into this and she deserves to succeed.

Oh, and there was the packing up of the prizes for my blog contest winner – Diane and MSCreativity , your books will be on their way to you asap. Interestingly, Diane wanted the oldest book I had a copy of (The Hostage Bride) and MsCreativity wanted my newest (apart from the current book now in the shops) . So she’s getting The Antonakos Marriage.

So that stopped me catching up on a report of the RNA Awards lunch. So I should think about saying something about that. But right now I’m heading for a day out with the BM, the Offspring and his lovely girlfriend

So, hopefully, more later

PS - And talking about the current book - you may remember that I am collecting up a tally of the number of tears this book has caused - well, not the actual number of tears, but the number of readers I have reduced to tears. I learned on Friday that it had made my editor sniffle as she read it in the office - so that tears count for The Italian's Forced Bride is now Readers 13 Editors 1 - and I believe Kate Hardy has read it - so - Kate. . . ?

Friday, April 21, 2006

And the winners are . . .

Well, I'm back.

I had a wondeful time both at lunch with my editor and then at the RNA lunch. I met lots of friends and talked and talked and talked . . .

Now I'm trying to catch up and deal with all the emails that arrived while I was away. I've fed the cats, put the first load of washing in the machine, made somthing to eat.

And now it's time to anounce the winners -
Sadly, Kate Hardy didn't win the Romance prize - but I'm sure she'll be so happy to think that everyone voted for her here. The actual winner was Jessica Hart with her Contracted: Corporate Wife. So no one wins that part of the conest!

But Erica James won the Romantic Novel of ther Year Award with Gardens of Delight - so that means that Diane and Ms Creativity won a prize for getting that right. I'll be contacting you both about your prize - which will be your choice of my backlist plus, to celebrate romance writing in general, I'll include an extra title by one of my special freinds and favourite writers - Anne McAllister.

Thanks to everyone who entered - I'm only sorry that no one won the prize for guessing the Romance Prize - and of course I'm disappointed that Kate Hardy's book - but being nominated is such an honour anyway, that none of the 6 finalists should feel anything but very proud of themselves

Winners - I'll be in touch

PS - Ms Creativity - thank you for the lovely comments on the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romantic Fiction. I hope the book does help you towards publication. Good luck with your own writing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The sophisticated life . . .

So, after the reality check of what my everyday life is like, today I head for London and a couple of days of actually playing at being a sophisticated Lady Novelist (I always want to add 'That singular anomaly' as in the Noel Coward song).

I have lunch with my editor - and we're supposed to discuss important things like plans for the next few books. Well - there's Sicilian 1 on her desk, Sicilian 2 in my head and that's as far as I go. That will be a short conversation! But I'm sure we'll find plenty of other things to talk about.

Thursday is the Romantic Novel of The Year Awards at the Savoy. Here I'll meet up with so many of my friends and fellow authors - Kate Hardy, Julie Cohen, Penny Jordan, Sharon Kendrick, Sophie Weston, Roger Sanderson, Joanna Maitland . . . And many more editors from Harlequin Mills & Boon. I shall hold Kate Hardy's hand as she's shortlisted for the RNA's Romance Award and will need a little extra support. Wish her luck here !

And I'll be back home again before the clock strikes twelve and I turn into a pumpkin again on Friday. So I'll see you then.

And while I'm gone you can play guess the winners - here are the two shortlists -

The Foster Grant Romantic Novel of The Year Award:

Winds of Honour Ashleigh Bingham Robert Hale
An Eligible Bachelor Veronica Henry Penguin
As the Night Ends Audrey Howard Hodder
Gardens of Delight Erica James Orion
Recipes for a Perfect Marriage Kate Kerrigan Pan Macmillan
The Ship of Brides Jojo Moyes Hodder
True Believer Nicholas Sparks Time Warner

RNA Romance Award Shortlist 200

Lucy Gordon - A Family for Keeps
[Harlequin Mills & Boon Tender Romance]
Kate Hardy - Where the Heart Is
[Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance]
Jessica Hart - Contracted: Corporate Wife
[Harlequin Mills &Boon Tender Romance]
Sharon Kendrick - The Future King's Bride
[Harlequin Mills &Boon Modern Romance]
Valerie Loh - Hannah of Harpham Hall
[My Weekly Story Collection]
Elizabeth Power - Tamed by Her Husband
[Harlequin Mills &Boon Modern Romance]

We'll make it a mini contest - running a book on the winners.

So post your choices in the comments section and if anyone gets both the winners right then I'll give you a prize.

They win - you win - can't say fairer than that.

See you soon.

Monday, April 17, 2006

More Reality

So I’ve finished that book and sent it to my editor – and I have, Oh, all of 24 hours or so breathing space. So what does a writer do in between books? I thought I’d give you an insight into the ‘glamorous world’ of a lady novelist.
So – since I sent off the book I have

Changed and washed the sheets
Washed the other xx loads that had piled up and were breeding in the laundry basket
Put flea drops on the cats
Paid a dozen bills just before they sent red demands
Written emails to several people who had been waiting for weeks to hear from me
Slept (very important that – but I still woke up at 6am ready to write this morning)
Found some clothes to wear on a trip to London this week(these have to be excavated from my wardrobe as my ‘London clothes’ are only used on these trips – the best thing about being a writer is the ‘uniform’ – tee shirt/jeans or similar/no makeup/unstyled hair –and – for me – always bare feet.)So I have to find some shoes as well – shoes that I can wear without crippling myself but still look smart
Organised the cat-sitter and made sure there is cat food for him to feed the beasts
Emptied, cleaned out and refilled the cat litter tray – see – I told you it was a glamorous life!
Watched several episodes of Coronation Street
Found the tickets to the RNA lunch at the Savoy (which is why I need some London Clothes) which were buried under the Creative Chaos – ie mess – on my desk
Found the hotel booking – ditto
Oh and I read a book – a lovely book – Princess of Convenience by Marion Lennox. This book is a finalist in the RITA awards in the Traditional category and I’m not surprised. It made me laugh and brought tears to my eyes. If you haven’t read any of Marion’s books then you’re missing a treat

But all the time I’m doing this, I’ve been working – doing what I think is that hardest bit of writing a book – planting a seed in my mind and seeing what happens- and asking questions. Sicilian 1, Guido may have headed off to my editor, but now his brother Sicilian 2, Vito is impatient for his turn. He’s already put in an appearance in Guido’s book so I know he wants to get on with things.
So – the questions start – Tell me, Vito, who is your heroine. And where did you meet her – and what happened next – and WHY? Always WHY?

Hopefully he’ll tell me while I’m travelling and lunching and dining this week. If you read this blog and you’ll be at the RNA Awards lunch please come and say hello – I’ll probably be the one scribbling away in my notebook – no, not taking down the speaker’s words of wisdom, but trying to make sure I don’t miss a thing that Vito Corsentino is telling me.

If I get time I may post tomorrow – if not, I’ll be back at the weekend

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Well, I finally made it to The End. That darn Sicilian hero didn’t give in easily though. For one moment I thought he was never going to get to that admission of a love that I knew he felt, that he knew he felt, that his heroine started to suspect he felt – but he just wasn’t saying!

But he got there in the end. And he and his heroine have declared their love and headed of, not into a sunset, but off to my editor’s desk. I hope she likes them. This is the point at which there is total equality between all authors. Never published, multi-published, or something in between, you send your book off to the editor and then you wait – and you worry. It doesn’t get any easier with each book, in fact, in some ways it gets worse. You are expected to turn in a publishable book. Everyone thinks ‘oh well, you’ve done it before, you’re bound to do it again – it’ll be fine.’ But you, as the author, know it isn’t like that.

A book stands or falls on its own merits. That sounds so obvious, but there are people out there who think that multipublished authors have it easier – that they have some sort of ‘bye’ into publication, no matter how good or bad their book is. I wish!

No, I don’t. I value my editor and her input. I value the fact that she is a cool, rational reader a reader who is distanced from my book and so can see if it works or not. I get so involved with my story, I get caught up in the characters’ lives and feelings and problems and motivations that I can get way too close to them and their story. I can think I’ve said something the right way when in fact I haven’t. I can think I’ve made things perfectly clear when in fact I’ve made them confusing – or overwritten them so that the poor reader thinks. ‘But you said this already! Again and again!’

I want to write the best possible book I can. I want to tell my characters’ stories in the best way I can to get across their personalities and their worries and their conflict and its resolution . I’ve done what I hope is a good job – now I need an editor’s cool eye on my book to tell me if I have. I don’t want any sort of ‘bye’ into the next round –e into publication. If things need revising or rewriting or tweaking then I’ll do it – that’s being professional. And being professional, I know I’m only as good as my next book, Not the one that’s on sale right now. I know that worked, I know people love it (Thank you to everyone who’s written to tell me so!) But I need to prove I can do it again . . .and again.

I never ever want to sit back and think ‘I’ve got this writing thing cracked’ – because as soon as you do that then the genre or the readers or just plain fashion does a seismic shift and if you aren’t careful what used to work no doesn’t work at all. Or you’ve misread the current market, or people have just had way too many of the sort of story you’ve written – or, worse still, you’re just repeating yourself over and over.

So the end of a book is both a wonderful feeling and a time of great tension. It’s a great relief to think you’ve completed another manuscript, that you’ve told a story, from the beginning to the middle and finally the end – and created the needed 55,000 words to do so. And you hope it’s a book that will please first your editor and then the readers who pay out their hard-earned money to buy it in the future. And you chew your nails as you wait to hear from your editor . . .

Every time I do it, I feel like I’ve sent out a little piece of myself – or one of my ‘babies’ – out into the big world and I don’t know if that world will be welcome or hostile. But I’m always glad I feel this way. I believe that feeling sure it’s okay is risky – it can lead to complacency and complacency can lead to laziness – and that can lead to bad writing and writing a bad book. One that a reader feels she wasted her money on buying. And I never, ever, want to do that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Reality - 2

Perhaps this should be called 'Not Growing A Book'. I'm still fighting my characters as I drag them towards that happy ever after ending. Would you believe they don't want to acknowledge they love each other?

One step forward . . .one step back . . . The ending of a book is like a dance - coming so close and then moving away again . . .turning circles, trying to avoid the inevitable, only to find they've ccome right back to face it again. That's my characters, not me - but sometimes it's me too as I try to get to the end and then realise it - and they - have to go at their own pace.

It has to be a believable happy ending, you see. No miracle conversions. No acts of God that suddenly brings about the proof of the truth without either the H or the h doing anything about it.

And most of all no proclamation of 'Well, I'm sorry I was mean - but I love you really' without any evidence for the growth of love in reality. And perhaps even worse, after some such a 'But I love you' proclamation, a daft and naive 'Oh if you love me then that's all right . . . ' from the other character (usually the heroine) !

I need to believe my H&h love each other. That they've come to it by growing through the relationship and learning and changing and opening to love. Then my readers will believe it too. Not that they've been hit on the head with a lightning bolt so that the ending goes like this -
'OhDuh! She didn't do that after all!(whatever that might be) I love her!' or
'Oh he said he loves me so I must forgive all that nastiness and vile behavious and fall into his arms! Duh!'

So in a way I'm pleased that these two are still circling each other uneasily, half knowing, half doubting, wanting desperately to say those 3 words - and fighting like mad to do anything but. It means it takes that bit longer to get to the wonderful moment of 'The End' but it also means that my characters have come alive and are going to do it their way, which is how it should be.

In the meantime, this morning I was cheered by a wonderful review for my current book The Italian's Forced Bride on CataRomance so I thought I'd share -

Kate Walker's latest release from Mills and Boon, The Italian's Forced
Bride, is a highly charged sensual romance which showcases her exceptional
storytelling abilities!
When Alice realized that she was falling in love
with her Italian lover, Domenico, she packed her bags and left Italy and Dom
behind and returned to England. Knowing that he would never return her love and
that he would soon discard her and take another woman in his bed, Alice thought
that she had made the right decision, however, fate had other plans for her.
Domenico is absolutely furious when he realizes that Alice has left him!
He's always been the one who calls the shots when it comes to his relationships
and he's adamant that he wants to know the reason why Alice has deserted him, so
when he finds out where Alice has disappeared to, he flies to England and is
knocking at her door demanding answers!
Domenico is determined to get Alice
back in his bed and when he finds out that Alice is pregnant with his child, he
proposes to her. Alice is still in love with Domenico, but will he ever
reciprocate her feelings? Or will he always just see her as the mother of his
Emotional, dramatic and heart wrenching, The Italian's Forced Bride
is another fantastic page-turner by international best-selling author Kate
Walker. Writing with plenty of style, flair and sensitivity, Kate Walker has
written a marvelous romantic novel featuring two extremely well-drawn characters
which the reader will instantly connect with as Kate Walker brings them to life
so vividly, that they will feel every emotion which they are going through.
Readers will absolutely adore Alice and they cannot help but love Domenico who
is a fantastic Alpha male who is strong, sexy but vulnerable as well.
Passionate romance, powerful emotions, sensuous love scenes, believable
characters which leap off the pages and master storytelling make The Italian's
Forced Bride an outstanding work of romantic fiction! Don't miss it!
CataRomance Reviews

Thank you Julie! That's made me smile and set me up for a good day's writing
tackling a recalcitrant hero who can't say I love you because he hasn't
realised yet that that's what he's feeling and a heroine who knows that's
what she's feeling and so is afraid to admit to it in case he doesn't feel
the same.

I'll sort them out! No - sorry - they'll sort themselves out - But they'll do it in their own time. I'll just sit here and write it down as they tell me.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Growing a Book - the reality

I know – I know – I promised you ‘The End’ and then I got tangled up in the saggy middle. And that’s where I left it.

But that’s because this thing called writing got in the way, Or, to be honest, this thing called a deadline got in the way. And life. So far this week I have had – one dental appointment ( for me and one for Sid the Cat), one minor family crisis, one MIL visit (that one’s still ongoing), two birthdays and a blinding headache – and a deadline!

And yesterday I had one of those days when my characters decided to go on strike – I wrote something – hero looked at it and said, ‘Well, actually, I’d never say that.’ So I changed and I wrote some more and Heroine looked at it and said, ‘ No way! I’m not going to tell him that, not when he just . . .’

And Deadline is this week. And I have Hero 2 (Guido’s - Hero 1 's brother) standing in the wings and tapping his foot impatiently because he’s not holding back on telling me his story.

So, tempting as it is to relax my shoulders a little and come in here and chat about endings, the reality is that I have an ending to write. So that has to be my priority. So I’m up now at stupid o’clock (well, it was stupid o’clock before I fed the cats/made a mug of tea/wrote this blog) and I’m going to get on with it.

It’s going to be crammed in between taking MIL out and about for the day and seeing she gets home safe – and there are beds to change sheets to wash and towels . . . But I have in my head a quote that reminds me –

‘Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.’ Jack M Bickham

It’s also on the mug I have my tea in – a gift from the Romance Writers of Australia when I spoke at their conference (was it really nearly 2 years ago?) So each time I look up, it’s staring me right in the face. So that’s what I’m doing today and tomorrow until it’s done – and then I’ll come back and chat again.

So in the meantime, if you want something to read, why not try The Italian's Forced Bride which is out now and available all over the UK. I apologise in advance if it makes you cry in the middle ! I now have three people who've told me that and it hasn't been out a week!

PS I just remembered that WHSmith have an offer of 5 for 4 on the current M&Bs so if you're out buying a copy of The Italian's Forced Bride and you need another 4 titles to go with them - then here's where my money would go this month:
Anne McAllister - The Antonides Marriage Deal
Liz Fielding - The Five-Year Baby Secret
Julie Cohen - Being a Bad Girl
Kate Hardy - The Cinderella Project

Well, I say that's where my money would go but all those lovely people have given me copies of their books (thank you all!). But I would have put my money where my mouth is and bought them if they hadn't been so generous. Now all I need to do is to find the time to read them - and to do that, I need to finish off this Sicilian. . .

Writers write – everyone else makes excuses

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Growing a Book - 3

I’ve now – sort of – caught up with most of the things that were waiting for me when I got back. And I’ve renewed acquaintance with Sicilian 1 who was feeling very neglected. So I’m back to blogging. And as I was talking about Growing a Book, I thought I’d complete that.

I did mention writing the ending the The Italian’s Forced Bride, but that’s getting a bit ahead of myself. Because before The End comes The Middle – and this is often where the book hits a problem. I’m at that stage right now with Sicilian 1 so I should know.

In The Middle, the pace naturally tends to slow down just a little. The initial conflict is out there, your characters have confronted each other, but they are still keeping a definite distance – if only emotionally – physically is a very different matter! But you can’t yet let them fall into each other’s arms . . . . Which is why, if you’re not careful, your Middle tends to sag.

This is where your conflict is important. Is it just a ‘one-hit wonder’? Or can it develop, grow, change –parts of it become better, parts worse, as you go along? What’s a O-H W? you ask. Well, that’s the sort of plot where the heroine believes the hero has been seeing that clich├ęd romance character Another Woman or the hero believes the heroine is a thief – and there’s nothing else in the conflict. No added complication, no extra layers of the problem that can be unfurled – it’s a problem that could/should be dealt with with one question and if it isn’t then you have to have some pretty good reasons why that question isn’t asked. A conflict that will stop your middle from sagging is one where the answer to the questions opens up another set of problems. It adds complications. When one of them finds out not just what has been happening, but why, then instead of solving things it rips open the problems in a whole new way.

As I say, I’m at that stage with Sicilian , and I’ve just got to the bit where some of the whys are coming out – and just when the action could stall, I’m hoping that they will be enough to move things right along again. I was talking to someone about The Italian’s Forced Bride at the weekend (sorry Helen – I didn’t mean to make you cry as well!) and it reminded me about the way that I planned that book so that, just as it seemed everything was planned and was heading in one direction, events would be turned on their head and my hero and heroine would have to adjust, regroup, move on in a very different way from the one it seemed they were going up to then.

The problem with writing romance – particularly the sort of romance that I write- is that the real ‘plot’ is the development of relationship between the two people and so that relationship has to have enough depth and enough room for change and growth or you get past the initial clash that sparks the conflict and it . . fizzles . . out . . .

When I set off for Reading and Julie’s book launch, I was at the reaching the middle point in this story. I knew what had started the conflict – why Guido was heading for that church – and then the next stage after that – and the next one after that . . . But I wasn’t absolutely sure what stopped the middle from sagging – what extra twists I could give the conflict, and most importantly, twists that grew from that conflict that would pick up the pace from where I am now and take it on towards the resolution and the end. But a couple of days away, leaving things in my subconscious to grow and develop, worked wonders. You see, a romance plot isn’t just a linear thing – he does this because – and she does that for this reason – and somewhere down the line, those reasons, not just the what they did, but the why, are going to come back to haunt them both – and that is what exposes another layer of that conflict. It’s not the same conflict all the way through but variations on a theme and although you start out with what might seem like the real, the most important part of the conflict, the truth is that you might not get to that until the very end and the part that’s always described in writing books as ‘The Black Moment’.

Which is what I’ll blog about tomorrow – after I’ve moved my Sicilian along the way towards his Black Moment by changing the conflict, adding in a couple of factors and so, hopefully, picking up my sagging middle and turning it into a neat, taut, honed and streamlined one.

If only I could do that with the saggy middle around my waist!

Monday, April 03, 2006


So I'm back . . . (obviously!) And to prove it here is a picture of Julie at her book launch party.

The BM and I had a wonderful timeI had a wonderful time - but who would have thought that 2 days away would have created so much catching up to do!

The launch party was great fun - Julie looked every inch the glamorous author, and a real star. - which she is She wore a wonderful black crochet dress with one of those 'secret' flesh coloured linings and the most sparkly pair of gold stillettos in the world. (The Dress theme was sparkly )

The BM went around with a smug smile on his face as he was surrounded by beautiful women. A horde of editors turned up. I met my new editor and loved talking to her. We ate popcorn and chocolate covered raisins and drank - - - a little champagne!

Oh, and the faces of Julie's friends from the staff from her school as she read 'Go Fish' from Being A Bad Girl (her second book) were a picture. I don't think they'd quite realised what her books are like! If you haven't picked one up yet, then you're in for a treat.

I have one problem with Reading - but it's a big one - too many shops!! Apart from the thrill of seeing my books on the shelves in a big WHSMiths - I actually watched a woman choosing my book and take it to the counter! ( that thrill - it never goes away!) But there are other shops - result? One trench coat, one handbag, a couple of skirts, two tops and a sparkly cardigan. Well, the dress code for the party did say 'sparkly' and I decided that the top I was planning to wear wasn't sparkly enough!!

And then the BM hit the secondhand bookshops. . .

Did I say I had a great time?

If you want more pictures check out Julie's Blog where you can find lots of them.

So now I have to remember what my Sicilian is up to and persuade him to co-operate after a few days of ignoring him. And get back to work

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