Thursday, August 30, 2007

On behalf of The Hecks

A headline from Tuesday's TIMES and TIMES ON LINE

Hedgehogs on endangered list as manicured gardens take their toll

Well, not in my garden - not if last night's snuffling and grunting and snorting - and chomping and slurping when The Hecks found the cat crunchies - is anything to go by.

What's worrying me is what the merry hedgehog enclave and breeding programme outside my bedroom window says about my gardening and maintenance skills - "manicured" it is not!

But - hey - now I have the perfect excuse - I keep it - er - slightly untidy - for the Hecks! They love it that way.

But seeing as these cute, prickly creatures are now officially on the endangered species list - can I just say that if you're in the UK and if, like me, you have a slightly 'unmanicured' garden - then right now is when hedgehogs need extra nourishment to build up fat reserves ready for hibernations - and so plenty of crunchies are an extra boost to all the slugs and snails they eat.

And once they've built up those reseves of fat then one of these ->
with some nice straw or leaves left lying around outside the tunnel will give them a warm, safe, snug place for them to sleep the winter away.

The Hecks will thank you for it - and it might even help hedgehogs to stop being endangered.
Further Heck Info can be found at The Hedgehog Preservation Society

Thursday Talk Time

OK so - first things first.

I forgot it was Thursday. That's what having a Bank Holiday at the beginning of the week does to you. You start everything a day late. From then on Tuesday is Monday, Wednesday Tuesday . . .and so on.

So I forgot it was Thursday. Until I went along to the Pink Heart Society Blog as part of my usual routine blog hop as I wake up in the mornings. And there I discovered that not only was it Thursday - but there was a Thursday Talk Time article up there and - er - I'd written it!

The ladies over on the PHS are so well organised that they get everyone - editors and columnists included - to set up and log their posts a month in advance. So I actually wrote this last month - and then forgot about it until today. But this is my very first post as an officially appointed PHS Columnist (along with Anne McAllister, Annie West, Fiona Harper and Samantha Hunter) so I was thrilled to write it - keen to get started. Until I saw the topic they wanted me to write on.

My Favourite Category Romance

And that's when my poor brain cell blew a fuse - because how could I choose? When there are so many wonderful books. Different books for different moods. Romance stories that tug at your heart and your emotions, and Modern/Presents ones that tie you in emotional and sensual knots and Historicals that take you away into another century - back into Roman times even - Medicals that have such poignancy and knowledge and fizzy, flirty Modern Extras . . . I read them all and have my favourites in all.

Isn't that what category romance is all about - A story for every mood, a book for every style of writer, a line for every type of reading?

So, no, I couldn't manage to pick just one book. I did manage - just - to narrow it down to just one author. An author I've been reading ever since I started reading M&B Romances - since before the lines were split in anyway - since before I was published. An author whose storytelling and emotion writing ability reached out and grabbed me and has never let go.

Who? Sara Craven - that's who.

Well if you want to find out more then you'll have to go and read the article. But I will say here that when I started out on the road to trying to be published, way back in 1981/2/3 someone had told me that one day I would not only meet Sara Craven but I would be able to call her a very dear friend, and she would actually say that she loved my books - then I would have known that they were lying and that this was all just a dream.

But here I am, all those years later - and all of those facts are true. Which shows me how far I've come and just why I never trample on other people's dreams - because the truth is that with luck, hard work and a following wind of talent, dreams do come true.
RNA Conference Workshop July 2007
Jenny Haddon standing Sara Craven seated

So Sara - thank you for everything - for the warmth of your friendship, the jokes that crack me up (the final night of the RNA Conference this year will live in my memory forever), for the amazing accolade of knowing that a M&B star like you enjoys my books - but most of all thank you for 32 years (yes 32!) of wonderful, brilliant, totally enjoyable books, You're one of the very best.

(And yes - I'll go and shoot that crow!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Favourite Kate Walker Book - last chance to vote

The poll to vote for your favourite Kate Walker Top Five (or Top Ten if you want!) novels is still open until the end of the month . It closes when August 31st finishes everywhere in the world.So if you haven't voted yet, send your choices in, listed in your order of preference - top fave first - to me with FAVOURITE BOOK in the subject line and your name will go intothe draw to win.

Sid the Cat will be picking winners on Sunday Sept 1st - when he'll also be celebrating some very important birthdays -so if want to be in that draw, send your votes in now. You have to be in it to win it.

In case you're interested, here's the way that the voting is going so far. I just added in the new votes today to bring everything up todate.

Favourite Kate Walker Book (Top 20)

A Sicilian Husband

The Italian's Forced Bride

The Antonakos Marriage

The Sicilian's Wife

Desert Affair

The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife

Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride

Wife For A Day

12 Month Mistress

At The Sheikh's Command
The Married Mistress

Bound By Blackmail

The Hostage Bride
Fiancee By Mistake
Their Secret Baby
Leap in the Dark

The Christmas Baby's Gift
Constantine's Revenge
Rafael's Love- Child

The Hired Husband

So why not send your vote in now?

Questions, questions . . .

So in the last Great Big Blog Party Post, Anne Hobbs from Caerleon Writers' Holiday, asked as her giveaway question :

If you could ask any writer just one question - which writer would you choose and what would you ask them?

And several of the questions in response were aimed at me. SO I thought I'd answer some of these here rather than on the comments section. (I really have to get used to going in and answering Comments - after months of leaving it to my guest posters, I'm out of practise.)

So to start with, Dena asked -

Well I would like to know Kate who and how did your husband get his nickname? it's adorable. Actually my question Kate is if there was another genre that you would be interested in writing a book in?

Dena, to answer your question about the Babe Magnet, I have to go back to 2002 and the RNA's Conference at St Aidan's College Durham. I was giving a Workshop there and so was my husband in his capacity (then) as Dr Wade, lecturer in Creative Writing. (He still does that a bit but he also is Writer in Residence in a prison and writes his own books on the Grim and Gruesome that I've mentioned) He was giving a talk opn Teaching Creative Writing and Marina Oliver who was organising the conference along with Roger Sanderson asked me to introduce him.

As part of the introduction, I said that I had never realised that my husband was a Babe Magnet until I brought him to RNA Conferences and saw him chatting to the delegates who are mostly female authors. The nickname stuck for that Conference and then for the RNA as a whole and eventually, when I first started writing a blog over on, and referred to my husband as 'affectionately known as the Babe Magnet' the name stuck. And to see the resulting threats of handbags of dawn etc that appeared amongst the comments when he posted for my Great Big Blog Party, it seems he still has the magnetism for so many of those Babes out there! Though there are some who find the abbreviation of BM less delightful!

And to answer the second part of your question, I've always wanted to write ghost stories. Really good ghost stories. I once met Barbara Erskine at a Readers' Day we both attended and I loved talking to her. I also love her books - ghost stories and romance - that's a wonderful blend and I'd love to be able to write it myself.

But as I have a deadline way too close and a new book that's way too far from the ending, for now I'll just concentrate on romance.

More answers to questions tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm busy but . . .

I'm busy with a Greek hero but I've been meaning to post about this in a while - someone sent me a reminder today and as I have friends with this disease and who've lost family to breast cancer, I thought I'd just post this little reminder of a way you can do some good with very little effort on your part - just click!

Please tell ten friends to tell ten today!
The Breast Cancer site is having trouble getting enough people to click on their site daily to meet their quota of donating at least one free mammogram a day to an underprivileged woman. It takes less than a minute to go to their site and click on "donating a mammogram" for free (pink window in the middle). This doesn't cost you a thing. Their corporate sponsors/advertisers use the number of daily visits to donate mammogram in exchange for advertising. Here's the web site! Pass it along to people you know

And while youy're there - click on the other sites - The Hunger Site - Child Health - the Literacy Site etc - support them all.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Catching up - and the Blog Party one last time

Well, I suppose it was inevitable. You know how it is when you've had a wonderful party and you finally get all the tidying up done. The ballons have withered and the flowers faded, the food is all eaten and the wine has been drunk - and you've picked up all the wrapping paper and ribbons and the gift tags and tried to make sure you remember who gave what . . . and then under the table or behind the settee or in a box you thought was rubbish, you find on last little gift that you'd manage to miss all this time.

And that's what happened this week. As I sorted out things and organised the last distribution of prizes from the Great Big Blog Party, I realised that there was one final giveaway that had not been given away.

I know what happened. When I said that I would write some Writers' Holiday at Caerleon specials to round up the Blog Party, I originally had two books from writers and tutors at Caerleon to go with those posts. Books by Zoe Sharp (First Drop) and an extra novel by Jane Wenham-Jones (Perfect Alibis) . Then the lovely Jane Jackson said that she wanted to join in too and she wrote a blog post and gave away her book Dangerous Waters. And in the final Caerleon post I rounded off the Blog Party with copies of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge and Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride.
Spot the not- so -deliberate mistake? Jane W-H's book was never given away. And that's what I found this week, complete with the 'Greetings From Caerleon' message where she signed it for that Caerleon Special.

Well, this is a book that was meant to be given away - so, although the Blog Party is over, I need to organise a winner to receive this book. So I'm offering it as a final, very last Blog Party Prize - and all you have to do to be in the running for it is to leave me a message in the Comments section telling me what you liked best about the Great Big Blog Party - all 60 posts of it! Did you have a favourite visitor - a favourite post? What did you most enjoy about the party? If I have another one will you come again?

Leave a message and I'll get Sid to pick a winner in the usual fashion and you could end up with a copy of Perfect Alibis to go on your To Be Read Pile.

And talking of celebrations. Remember the real Writers' Weekend to celebrate the 50th title when my lovely, wonderful friends gave me flowers galore to celebrate - well, I just had to share this with you . .

Here (on the left of the picture) is a little patio rose bush that dear Jan Jones gave me back in June. I brought it home, found a larger pot to put it in and put it in my garden. This week I was checking on it after the rain and more rain and a little sun and more rain - and I found that it now looks like this -->

And guess how many flowers there are on this bush now - 50 - some in full bloom, some part open and some just buds - but there are 50 of them! That's really rather special.

So Thank you again Jan - your rose bush is looking wonderful.

And finally, for the fans of the Hecks, the hedgehog family. They are all doing well, in spite of the cold evenings and the rain. They were round visiting last night, looking for cat crunchies or cast-off cat meat. So I'll leave you with a picture of Middle Heck - who has grown over the summer in to Pretty Great Heck.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Returning to normal service . . .or trying to

So what happened to the last week? I posted on Monday, blinked and here it is Saturday and I don't remember too much of what went on in between

I could blame it on the Great Big Blog Party - like a real party I needed so much time to clear up and tidy after the big event that I've been proccupied with that a lot. There hve been prizes to organize, addresses to pass along, parcels to post. Most people have their prizes now and if it hasn't yet reached you then it may be in the last batch that is waiting to go to the Post Office on Monday.

Then there was the recovery after the Leicester weekend - as I said, that was so much fun but it was also a lot of work - Julie Cohen and I ended up teaching almost 24 hours in 2 days and an evening so that by Monday I was pretty flattened

So I've been dealing with other important things like work and a deadline and haven't managed to post as a result.
But I'm hoping to restore normal service from now on. I've been trying to think of what to blog about after all the excitement of the party for a start - There are some questions that were posted in the Comments section to Blog Party Post 60 and I'll get to those as soon as I can.
But in the meantime, if you want more prizes - why not check out the Pink Heart Society's blogazine today. Every month they give away a hamper of books donated by authors and it's always worth having . Today;s prize is even more worthwhile. No one claimed last month;s hamper so thie month is a 'rollover jackpot' with two month's prizes in one going to a lucky winner.

And all you have to do is to name your favourite ever category romance - simple . . . or not. I was asked to write my first PHS column on just this topic - and it was impossible to make a choice.
What did I write about? You'll have to check out the PHS on Thursday to find out.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Great Big Blog Party #57 #58 #59 and #60 WInners

So to round off the Great Big Blog Party In have the final set of winners to announce.

Firstly - Anne McAllister's Prize

Anne says that her handsome hound "Gunnar has chosen Amanda and Christina as his winners of copies of The Antonides Marriage Deal. If either of them has it already, I can substitute another book if they prefer. "

Next I have the winner of Zoe Sharp's First Drop.

Biddy wins for her suggestion that the place for a murder mystery "would be Nashville and the time would be February/March when the country radio seminar happens there."

Jane Pollard has picked two winners of her book Dangerous Waters. Jane says:

It really was a tough call. I agreed with so many of their choices. But the two that stood out were
Kate Hardy - who chose Penitence Hurd and Henry King from The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, and Ilona - who chose Leon/Leonie from These Old Shades and Devil's Cub by Georgette Heyer. (I adore Georgette Heyer. Her books are my comfort reading, and a constant reminder of how authentic and effortless true historical romantic fiction should be.)

And the very last winner of this Blog Party is RobynL who is the winner of signed copies of my books

The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge and Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride

in the final Caerleon Special post.
So winners please make sure that I have your addresses and the final prizes will be sent out.

And once again my thanks to everyone who came to my Greate Big Blog Party and helped me to celebrate my 50th title - I hope you had as much fun as I did .

And huge, heartfelt THANK YOU to all the authors, family and friends - all 60 of you who wrote posts, came and visited and donated prizes for this special event - I could not have done it without you and your friendship and generosity is so appreciated.

Now all I have to do is write the books that get me to that 60th milestone!
And finally the winner of the Grat Big 50th Title Celebration Contest over on Leena's Goodie Room is Nathalie D. of Canada
Nathalie wins signed copies of the hardback editions of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge and Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride and the heart shaped necklace. Congratulations Nathalie!

And that's it - unless you've voted for your favourite Kate Walker Top Five Titles where I still have one more set of prizes to give out. (You still have time to VOTE for your favourite books if you want to enter - just send me an email listing your top 5 )
Watch out for another exciting contest coming soon.

Beyond the Hearts and Flowers

I'm back. Did you even notice I'd been away?? I was so busy preparing for the course I was teaching that I never got a moment to post before I left for Leicester and the Writing Romance: Beyond the Hearts and Flowers course this weekend.

I had a fabulous time. It's amazing the way that 12 people who have mostly never met before (14 if you include the tutors) can meet and 'gell' quite so fast that in a couple of days I felt as if we'd known each other for ages and that I'd made a whole bunch of new friends.

I knew it was going to be a good weekend, if only because I was teaching with my great friend Julie Cohen who I haven't seen in far too long and I was right about that. Julie is always wonderful company and as a co-tutor I doubt if I could have picked anyone better. But I wasn't prepared for was just how much fun the whole weekend was, from the first welcome cups of tea, through the teaching sessions, the meals, the evenings swapping ghost stories in the bar (and being told to be quiet because we were laughing too much!) the critique sessions , the Writing Sex class where the poor man asked to bring us in a heater (this was another cold WET summer weekend) fled rapidly as soon as Julie told him what we were doing . . .

It was one of the best courses I've ever been involved in and that was down to those 12 people who made up the class. So, in no particular order -

Liz , Jo , Jacqui , Lara, Melanie, Pat, Karen, Sue, Gray, Jane, Sarah, Marie it was wonderful to meet you

And of course Julie - Thank you all for a fabulous time.
And thanks to Sally and Bonnie from Arts Training Central for organising everything and for all the photocoyping!

Now I have to catch up - again ! The Great Big Blog Party is over (sniff!) but I have plenty to do. I still have some winners to announce and, looking at the last Party Post, I have some questions to answer that will give me some material for the next couple of blog posts.

And of course I have THE DEADLINE . . . .So I'm going to be busy.
Oh, and there's one thins I should mention.

Recently I've had a flurry of emails asking about the internet story Stolen By The Sheikh that was the result of the Writing Round Robin that I did on eHarlequin last year. This story is linked to the later book At The Sheikh's Command and the two cewntral charaters of S B T S appear in that book at the end.

This story was available as a special ebook mini on eHarlequin and then it disappeared. Because so many people were asking about it, I checked with eHarlequin and to my delight they have reinstated this ebook - and what's more it's available for free! So if you're one of the readers who wants to get you hands on this story, you can find it here to read absolutely free.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Great Big Blog Party #60 Caerleon Special

So - Caerleon has great courses, friendships, food - but that's not all. As the organisers my dear friends Anne and Gerry Hobbs always emphasise, it is a Writers' Holiday - so you can do everything or nothing. I've been to Caerleon and I've joined in everything - run one course, attended another, been to all the Main Lectures, a couple of After Tea Sessions, the Poetry Reading, the afternoon trip out, the Welsh Male Voice Choir Concert . . .Phew!

And I've been there and done nothing at all. There was the year I had a deadline and I gained a reputation for disappearing off to my room at every opportunity. 'Kate's locked in her room with a hot Italian' was the story that went round Caerleon that year. It did my image a power of good - and the resulting book - The Sicilian's Wife - was a brilliant success too!

But there's plenty of fun to be had in Caerleon as well as plenty to learn and to find out about. There's the final Concert Evening which I've mentioned and there are the trips out on the Wednesday Afternoon. You can visit Cardiff or the Welsh Folk and Country Museum at St Fagan's - or you can really go for Book Overload and take the coach to Hay on Wye.

Hay on Wye is the Town of Books. Mostly secondhand boooks - shops and shops of them - and streets and streets of shops!

Every year I lose the BM as he disappears into book heaven and emerges, blinking, several hours later with innumerable carrier bags filled to the brim with musty, dusty old books and an expression of pure bliss on his face. I just thank heaven that we're not flying to and from Wales - we would have to pay for excess baggage every time.

And I've barely mentioned Caerleon village itself where you can visit the remains of the Roman Fortress,find out about Caerleon's links with King Arthur, explore the wonderful little museum or simply sit in the sunshine and stare at the river. The BM's friend Les tells me that there is excellent beer in the local pubs as well and he should know - he organises the traditional Pub Crawl every year.

And the traditional Poetry Reading. Every year anyone who goes to the Poetry Writing Course - or who just wants to join in the reading - gathers for the 'Open Mic' evening. And it's at this event that the notorious Caerleon Mad Russians have appeared for the past 3 years or so.

The first Russian immigrant poet to appear was Dmitri Todgeroff who bore an unfortunate resemblance to the BM. He was soon joined by Vladimir - who looks surprisingly like Les and then there is the lovelorn Tatiana who sends Dmitri love poems every year. There are rumours of a Russian Poetry collection next time . . .

So that's Caerleon in brief - is it any wonder that the BM and I - and many many other Caerleon 'regulars' - Kathy, Val, June - sending you special hugs - are addicted and each time we go there the week just seems to fly by. Just writing about it makes me wish I was back there.

Oh yes, and just to prove that we do actually do just a little work - here's the BM holding forth on writing History.

And yours truly talking about How Not To Write A Romance

And so, to round off this Caerleon Special - and the whole Great Big Blog Party - is Guest Blogger number 60 - the brains (and the beauty) behind Writers' Holiday - the fabulous Anne Hobbs who thought of the whole idea 20+ years ago and has been running the fabulous event with her husband Gerry ever since.

I photographed Anne as she wrote her blog in the Bookroom at this year's Caerleon - and it's a picture that really sums up the mood and the atmosphere of Caerleon and the warm personality of Anne herself.

So if Caerleon is the writing event withe heart, then here's the heart of Caerleon : Anne Hobbs

Kate Walker kept me awake last night-again. To be more precise her 50th book did. Being really pedantic but, terribly honest, it wasn’t so much the book's fault as the Sicilian hero between the sheets - ahem - pages!

Not only am I a huge fan of Kate Walker's but I’ve had the pleasure of introducing her as a main lecturer at Writers’ Holiday this year. I wonder how many realize what a great sense of humour she has. Being a coward and of fairly sound mind I’m not going to repeat here any of the probably libellous, certainly comical instructions on “How not to write Romance”.

Writers’ Holiday is an annual event held at the Caerleon Campus of the University of Wales-Newport. My husband and I originated and run the holiday, without the aid of safety net or the dubious benefits of a committee. The whole thing began as an act of friendship and it’s the friendship of the speakers, course lecturers and that of the delegates that has kept us doing this insane thing for over twenty years.

As you can imagine it’s pretty hectic trying to look after almost 150 people and I need my beauty sleep more than most (my own mother will testify to the truth of this) so I really needed Kate’s fiftieth book like Britain needs more rain right now. Not that I’m complaining, but the two bottles of Champagne and a quantity of wine (undisclosed amount to protect the guilty from the Really Nice Alcoholics association) we consumed in order to celebrate the safe arrival of Kate’s fiftieth child didn’t do much to make the holiday the run without hiccoughs.

It would be quite a good idea to reach for the sick bag at this moment-but in truth, and with the benefit of over twenty years experience, I can honestly say the more successful the author the more willing they seem to be to pass on their hard won knowledge to would-be –writers.

Writers’ Holiday delegates not only receive tuition from the very best, they are royally entertained by them and where else can you go and find it perfectly normal to sit and enjoy excellent food, alongside top Mills and Boon authors, agents, publishers and above all, in an intoxicating atmosphere of fun and friendship… I think I just talked myself into running this event for another twenty years.

To the bags under my eyes - sorry, to the extra pounds in weight from the good food and unreasonable amounts of alcohol - sorry. To Kate and all my friends at Writer’s holiday a big thank-you and I look forward to partying with you all again next year!

If you could ask any writer just one question - which writer would you choose and waht would you ask them?


Well the prize was supposed to be a couple of books from some of the speakers at this year's Writers' Holiday - but then Zoe and Jane wanted to join in the Blog Party too so their prizes went into their blogs - and you've already had Marina Oliver, Iris Gower and Jane Wenham-Jones as guests on here. You've even had the BM aka Dmitri. I'd offer you the Mad Russians' Poetry Collection From Petrograd To Pudsey but that's still in production. So I thought we might as well go back to the beginning and I'll offer as a prize the whole reason for this Blog Party in the first place - that 50th title of mine. And because it's one of two linked books, then I'll throw in the other book as well.

So the final 60th Great Big Blog Party prize is a signed copy of

The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge and its linked title

Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride

And thank you all for coming to my party!

But I can't end without posting one last special picture of Caerleon - this is a wooden sculpture that is in the grounds of the college - I've passed it every day I've been in Caerleon and I love it. (If you can't imagine what it is - think of a wonderful Welsh Dragon disappearing underground and leaving only his tail sticking out).

And if these reports on Caerleon have whetted your appetite and made you want to think about trying the Caerleon experience for yourself then you can check out the details here

I won't be running a course next year - next one I'm doing is 2009 - but if you can't wait till then, then take a look at the Fishguard Novel Writing Weekend which you'll find here. It's a shorter event and hasn't as much variety to offer as Caerleon but the tutors are every bit as enthusiastic and welcome is every bit as warm - it's run by Anne and Gerry to so it has just the same atmosphere.

Maybe I'll see you at one event or the other.

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.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Great Big Blog Party #48 and #56 Winners

I have more winners! More prizes to give away!

First someone who you must have thought had gone missing in action - the lovely Marion Lennox who was last heard of here on July 28th. Then she . . .well, I'll let her explain for herself . . .

No of course I didn't choose a winner, that would be a normal responsible sensible thing to do and this year that's all gone out the window. I'm still living in chaos after the house move. I'm having trouble finding the dog!!!! I've just come back from RWA Conference in Sydney where we gave Barb Hannay her Rita which was just lovely. I have a head cold, a deadline and I'm exhausted.And I still haven't given you a winner. The winner is Cherie.

Permission to post this response wherever you want. It might give reassurance to all those who think romance authors lie around and dictate to our secretaries while drinking pink martinis. Now where is that damned dog?

And secondly I have a prize announcement from Michelle Reid who persuaded her husband - affectionately known as 'Ginge' to pick her winner:

Hi Kate,

I had a great time reading everyone’s comments to my Blog at your Great Big Blog Party, thanks for inviting me!

A gave Ginge the honour of making the pick of 16 great posts and he chose No 2, which was crystalg

Congratulations crystalg! I will be sending you signed copies of The Ranieri Bride and The Italian’s Future Bride just as soon as I can.

All the best

Winners - you know the routine by now - send me your postal address details at my email address and I'll organise your prizes for you.

Thanks again to Marion and Michelle

A Kate Bit - more on covers

Interesting post this morning - parcels from HMB Richmond and from Harlequin New York - neither of which were expected.

The NY package contained translations - one of my books obviously, but one I couldn't recognise because it was translated into a language that I couldn't recognise either. This was the cover ->

Err . . . ??

I tried to think of a book in which the hero and the heroine exchanged white doves - or where the heroine had incredible gold painted fingernails for that matter but I couldn't come up with one - so I took a look inside. It turns out that it's The Antonakos Marriage in Lithuanian. Which just goes to show that you can never guess what cover image a new country is going to come up with. The original Antonakos Marriage (Presents) as you'll remember cover was like this

And this definitely is a new country for me - I've never had a book in Lithuanian before! But I think I may have had some visitors on this blog from Lithuania - my Neo counter shows 10 visits. So welcome to anyone from Lithuania!

The other parcel had large print copies of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge (and that cover looks really good on the bigger book!) and another, unexpected, 3 in 1 By Request Bestseller collection called Mistress Material, which is coming out in October.

This anthology has a reprint of The Married Mistress in it which is something that I'm pretty happy about. If you remember the other By Request volume I'm in - Bound By A Baby - that's out in the shops now - that has Their Secret Baby reprinted in it. And as The Married Mistress and Their Secret Baby are slightly linked by the characters who appear in them (Rhys, the hero of TSB is the boss of Sara who is the heroine of TMM and he appears at the end of that book) then this means that anyone who didn't get to read both books the first time around now has a chance to read them both together this time.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Great Big Blog Party 58 - Caerleon Special with Zoe Sharp

OK so - the Great Big Blog Party Caerleon Special.

How can I sum up Caerleon in a short space and few words. I have 3 Caerleon Specials but I also have 3 Guest Bloggers - all connected with Caerleon Writers' Holiday this year, so there's a lot to fit in.

I could tell you how Writers' Holiday was set up in 1986 by Anne Hobbs and it's run by writers, for writers - and receives no financial assistance from any source whatsoever. And I could tell you how the emphasis is on that word Holiday - but you can read about that on the Writers' Holiday web site just as you can read about next year's courses and the writers who are going to teach them. (several of whom heave recently appeared at this blog party.)

But I do have a quick way to describe this jewel of Writers' holidays - and that's the one that I wrote in a copy of Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride that I gave to Anne on my last night there this year.

Caerleon is the Writers' Holiday with Heart. And it's that heart that makes it special.

The BM and I discovered Caerleon some ten years ago - or a bit less. In 1997 he had just published Writing and Publishing Poetry with How To Books and many of the 'How To' authors were invited down to Caerleon to run courses. When Gerry rang up to discuss things, the BM casually said, 'I don't suppose you want a romance writer as a speaker as well?' The answer was a resounding yes - and a warmly welcoming, 'please both come' - and from then on we were hooked.

For one thing it was like going back to our student days when we met at university in Aberystwyth - we both came away with a love of Wales and now we had an excuse to go back every year. But our student flats weren't like the neat study-bedrooms with their en-suite showerfacilities at Caerleon. And we didn't have tea and coffee provided in the kitchens at the end of each floor. Those showers are in curious little bathroom cubicles - washbasin, shower and toilet all in one - and one thing you always have to remember at Caerleon is that you have to shut the door when using the shower -otherwise you set off the fire alarms! No - don't ask - I don't understand it either - but someone always does forget and ends up wet and embarrassed when the fire alarm sounds.

And someone always leaves their key in their room when the door slams shut behind them. This year it was me - the first time in all those years I've forgotten to take my key with me. But there was a lovely hunky security man just happy to come to my rescue - and the important thing is that things like that don't matter. The warmth of the welcome and the easy way of dealing with everything means that problems just evaporate. If there is anything you need help for then there is always someone in the bookroom - Anne, Gerry or their son Richard or sometimes my dear friend the other Kathy - night or day - and they will always help. From the moment that you walk into the bookroom in the mail college building to colect your key and the programme of the week's events, you are treated like a friend, a new friend if it's your first time - or an old friend if, like so many of the 'regulars' you are coming back for the second, fifth or even tenth time.

The bookroom. Ah yes. The bookroom is a vital hub of the Caerleon holiday. Here the visiting authhors can display books for sale, or talk about them, or sign them if you want to buy copies. Here the speakers all gather after 'Main' talks or between courses to chat with everyone and enjoy a drink. It's in the bookroom that I've met so many authors that I admire - Iris Gower and the wonderful Elizabeth Elgin, sadly missed since her death in 2005. Jill Mansell, Jane Jackson, Marina Oliver, Jane Wenham-Jones . . .

(In this photo you can see Iris , Lynne Hackles (who you might have seen on Deal or No Deal with Mr Noel Edmonds) with her back to the camera, Jane W-H in green and agent Teresa Chris after Jane's talk.)

. . .and it was in the bookroom this year that I met thriller writer Zoe Sharp who is today's special guest blogger.

It was Zoe's first visit to Caerleon and as you can see from this photograph her her - where else but in the bookroom - that 'new girl' feeling didn't last long. It doesn't usually. Zoe was there to teach the Crime Writing course in the second half of the week. (Each course lasts through 5 sessions in the mornings Mon-Weds or Weds- Fri). In the programme I spotted the fact that she was born in Nottingham and as I was born just down the road , in Newark, that gave us a point in common. We soon found we shared a sense of humour and lots more besides . As soon as Zoe knew that I was planning this special ste of blogs she was only too happy to sign a copy of her book for me to use as a prize - and to sign her latest - Second Shot for the Offspring which made him very happy indeed. And when he's finished reading his book, I'm going to grab it off him - having met Zoe I know it's going to be a great read - and after all, when I read a quote like- 'Zoë Sharp grabs hold of the reader's throat in the first sentence of the Charlie Fox debut thriller and never lets go " it just makes me want to read her book right now.

As well as being a crime writer , Zoe has the sort of job that makes my novelist's senses tingle and my fingers itch to jot down notes - she's a freelance photo-journalist, and makes a living writing and photographing mainly for the motoring press. That makes it sound so safe and civilised - it's when you hear Zoe's stories of hanging off motorbikes, coming really close to the ground, at great speed - just to get the best possible shot that you realise this is not staid, studio photography. I'm already thinking hard about a leather-clad, motor bike riding, photographer heroine! Just imagine what some macho Alpha Greek - or even a Sheikh would make of that!

So when she found out about the Great Big Blog Party and she asked if she could come along as a guest of course I said yes. I was thrilled to be able to introduce you to her and to her books - and to include her in this special section on Caerleon and the friends I've made there.

Oh yes - and I have to make one thing perfectly clear! When Zoe says that I have "a fine ladylike way with a pint glass of white wine" - I would like to point out that the wine was in a pint glass because all the others in the speakers' bar had been used - by other speakers - Zoe included! And it had just a normal glassful of wine in there - not actually a pint of the stuff! Honest - you know me!

Anyway, here's today's Guest Blogger - Zoe Sharp

Wow - fifty books! I’m lost for words, which - for a writer - is not a particularly good state of affairs, is it? But, honestly - fifty books. Many congratulations, Kate! You really don’t look old enough ...

I admit I’ve come late to this party. Although I was aware of her work, I only met Kate and her delightful husband, Steve, for the first time when we were both speakers at the Writers’ Holiday, Caerleon, at the beginning of August. (Did you get that Swiss Army knife you wanted for your birthday, Steve? I know I never go anywhere without mine.)

It was my first ever Caerleon and Kate was one of the people who made me feel most welcome, one of the ones who helped make it all such fun. She has a wicked sense of humour that really appealed to me, and no sign of the ego, which - let’s face it - she’d be more justified in having at this point in her highly successful career. (I mean, fifty books. Jeez!) Just a down-to-earth attitude and a fine ladylike way with a pint glass of white wine. Long may she continue to dazzle us.

Kate was generous enough to want to give away a copy of my crime thriller, First Drop, as part of the celebrations, which makes me feel very honoured. First Drop features my series heroine, Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Fox, an ex-Special Forces soldier working on her first assignment as a bodyguard for the agency run by her ex-lover, Sean Meyer. Charlie’s in Florida for what should have been little more than a working holiday, until it all goes horribly wrong ...


First Drop is set largely in Daytona Beach, Florida, over the Spring Break weekend at the end of March. A specific time and place that were the inspiration for the book. Where in the world would be your special location, and when?


A copy of Zoe's First Drop - signed by her in the famous bookroom at Caerleon!

Zoë Sharp is the author of a paltry six novels (Her words - not mine! - Kate) in the Charlie Fox crime thriller series, the latest of which, Second Shot, is published by Allison & Busby in the UK, and St Martin’s Minotaur in the US, in Aug/Sept 2007.

PS - to readers in America - Zoe is about to set off on a tour of the US next month to promote Second Shot and she'll be kicking off things with a joint event with Lee Child at Partners and Crimes bookstore in Greenwich Village, New York, on September 6th. The full dates and itinerary will be posted on her website soon so you might be able to see in her person soon. (If you do maybe you could tell her you 'met' her here first!)


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