Sunday, July 27, 2008

Heading out

Suitcases packed - all cats removed form the inside of the cases

Passports checked, tickets ditto

Taxi booked

So I'm heading for Heathrow and a flight to San Francisco.

If you're going to be there - see you soon .

If not, have a good week and I'll tell you all about it when I get back

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Alcolars

I'm busy panicking and packing as I prepare for RWA San Francisco - we fly out on Monday morning but have to get to London tomorrow so I'm at the 'how many tee shirts do I need for one week + two days?' stage.

And I'm having to be very careful not to pack a cat. Flora has got to know qhat a suitcase means and so she can be found sitting by the cases I've taken up to the bedroom with a very reproachful look on her face and is obviously making a statement that good mummies don't ever pack suitcases. Only bad Mummies pack cases and abandon their kittens like this.

But she will soon have plenty of company when the Grandkits return and this is once more a six cat household. They are staying here next week while their house is rewired this time so Flora will have plenty of company and lots of attention from The Offspring and his partner - and probably some attention from Meg, Moz and Stumpy too.

A lovely surprise in the post today - the Alcolars yet again. This time, totally unexpectedly, it's a German edition of the whole Alcolar Family trilogy all collected in one volume as a 'Sommer Spezial' . And this collection has all the stories - including that elusive Wife For Real or Alex's story.

I was intrigued to see that inside this edition someone has prepared an Alcolar Family tree to explain the rather convoluted family relationships of the whole Alcolar Family. I've never had that done before!

Right - back to the packing - first removing one grey Maine Coon teenager from on top of a bundle of underwear . . . . Bad mummy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Alcolar Trilogy Mystery Part 2

On Wednesday I blogged about the mystery book that had appeared in the ebook bundle of The Alcolar Family Trilogy instead of my on-line story Wife For Real which is the story of Alex Alcolar and his heroine Louise.

I have no idea what has happened here. I'm just glad that I found out about this mistake before the bundle had been on sale for too long. I made some enquiries about the problem in the hope of finding out what's going on, and with the help of eHarlequin's great team I've managed to get things sorted out.

Yesterday I heard from the Digital Content Manager that they had checked the book bundle collection published as Kate Walker's Alcolar Family Trilogy and found that
somehow the wrong file was included in the bundle during pre-production and the error has been replicated in all eBook formats. So they are are taking swift steps to have it corrected, including contacting via email all those who purchased the bundle to notify them of the problem. A corrected version of the bundle is in the process of being converted and proof-read, and the new version should be posted on all sites by Monday.

So if you did get the wrong version, with the mystery book in with it, you should be contacted by Harlequin so that you can get hold of the proper version. My thanks go to Harlequin for acting so quickly on this.

Next month will see the publication of the print version of The Alcolar Family in the UK in the By Request series. (Though it's already available over on the Mills and Boon website). This edition has the three main stories in it. And if you want to read Alex's story then just a reminder that it's included in the on-line read library on the M&B site - or you can buy it as an ebook (for just $0.99) on eHarlequin

And my very special thanks go to Deb for buying, reading and reviewing The Alcolar Family Trilogy as part of the 100,000 Book Challenge and so bringing this problem to light so it could be sorted out before many other people bought the wrong version and didn't get a copy of Wife For Real.

And if you were going to buy this ebook bundle - just wait until Monday and then you'll get the correct version.
Oh - and I should justmention that the wonderful Heather from We Write Romance has just updated my web site for me in record time so if you want to take a look and see what's new, it's all ready for you.
Heaher's own site at We write Romance has also had a great revamp so why not take a look there too - there's always lots of interesting interviews and reviews read.
Thanks Heather!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Books . . .

This has been around on a lot of blogs so as my mind is preoccupied with preparation and packing, ready for RWA San Francisco next week, I'm going to grab it and post it here as I can't think of very much else.

Check out Anne McAllister, Kate Hardy, Liz Fielding, Michelle Styles and others for other interesting results.

The Big Read, an initiative by the National Endowment for the Arts, has estimated that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed. How do you do?

The idea is:
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien (I spent one Christmas bedridden after an operation on my leg – this was the perfect book to see me through that month)
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte (yes – and written my MA thesis on it – I can see that I’m going to have to talk to Anne McAllister about this)
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (see Jane Eyre)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy (This is the book that brought the Magnet and I together – he said Hardy was the greatest novelist ever – I outraged him by disagreeing. We’ve been disagreeing about books ever since!)
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (‘Tis on my TBR pile – just need to write a book – or two –first)
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy (There was a l-o-n-g l-on-g train journey from my home to Aberystwyth University where I studied – this was one of the books I read on that journey )
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (I always feel you can guess at people’s characters from the creature they loved best in WITW – I was Mole!)
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (read them as a reader, as a Children’s Librarian to library clubs, and as a mother reading them to the Offspring)
34 Emma - Jane Austen (Emma – now there, Anne McA is a heroine I always wanted to slap and slap hard!)
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (I tried – so help me I tried – but there are far more useful ways to spend my days – like watching paint dry)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne (But the best way to absorb these books is to Listen to Bernard Cribbins reading them – brilliant!)
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins (another train journey book)
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt (Note to Kate Hardy – we are going to have to disagree on this – to me it was brilliant, absorbing, fascinating)
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (On The Offspring’s recommendation)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (York, 1969 – finished it just before the moon landing which makes it July 20th)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding (Another heroine who really really needed a slap - I'm yawning just at the memory of this)
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cat Days of summer

Yes, I know it's supposed to be the Dog Days, but as I'm back to having a six cat household, I think Cat Days are much more appropriate. The Offspring and his lovely partner are having their house rewired and new central heating put in so while the place is a wreck and the floorboards are up, exposing lots of interesting places where an inquisitive cat might get lost, the Grandkits, Meg, Mozzie and Stumpy are back with me - and Flora is not best pleased!

Sid doesn't mind so much - he has taken quite a fancy to Moz and they even touched noses yesterday. But then Moz looks very much like a smaller feminine version of Sid so he's bound to think she's goodlooking.

I made an unexpected discovery yesterday about the Harlequin ebook bundle version of The Alcolar Family Trilogy. The bundle is supposed to contain all the Alcolar books - That's The 12 Month Mistress, The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife, Bound By Blackmail and the on-line read that started off the whole thing - Wife For Real which is Alex Alcolar's story. The bundle is specially advertised as being unique in having this:

And as a very special free bonus, also included in this bundle is Wife for Real, the original online read that inspired Kate Walker to create the Alcolar family trilogy, available now for the first time ever.

But over on eHarlequin, I was chatting with Deb who had bought the Alcolar Family Trilogy and downloaded it onto her Kindle. I was puzzled because she had reviewed a book about two characters called Jordan and Katherine under the title of Wife For Real. Now the hero and heroine in my story are called Alex and Louise and the plot of this read is nothing like the summary Deb posted.

So I have no idea what has happened here. And I don't know whether it has just happened to Deb's download , the Kindle downloads, or all the ebook bundles. I'm just glad that I found out about this mistake before the bundle had been on sale for too long. I've been making enquiries about the problem in the hope of finding out what's going on. Just as soon as I learn anything about it and have any information, I'll pass it on to you.

But in the meantime, if you have bought the ebook bundle version of The Alcolar Family and there is the story of Jordan and Katherine included in it instead of the story of Alex Alcolar and Louise, then please contact Customer Care on eHarlequin and let them know about the problem.

Next month will see the publication of the print version of The Alcolar Family in the UK in the By request series. (Though it's already available over on the Mills and Boon website). This edition has the three main stories in it. And if you want to read Alex's story then just a reminder that it's included in the on-line read library on the M&B site - or you can buy it as an ebook (for just $0.99) on eHarlequin

Oh - and talking about ebooks, if you haven't already taken up the offer then don't forget that my June release Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife is still available to download for free on the DailyLit site. You can either download Raul and Alannah's story in 56 daily instalments or click to have it downloaded immediately.

This offer is available for the rest of July and August.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Wet Weekend in Hale

Well, the weather could have been better! It is July after all! But we travelled to Hale in Cheshire in torrential dowpours of cold rain. It made driving a bit difficult so my thanks have to go to the Magnet who took on that responsibility and coped admirably.

In Hale we met up with my dear friend Michelle Reid and her husband who had arranged to join us as Hale is sort of half way between her home and mine. We had a fabulous night together, enjoying a delicious meal at the San Rocco Italian restaurant and talking and talking and talking. I am also now the proud possessor of an advance copy of Michelle's next book The De Santis Marriage which is out in the UK and USA in September, and I can't wait to read it.

(This book is out in the same month as my own Bedded By The Greek Billionare, so Michelle and I are planning a joint contest for this one - watch this space!)

The next morning it was still raining . . . even more heavily at times, but luckily I was staying just around the corner from Hale library, so - again with the help of the Babe Magnet - it was aquick job to get my boxes of handouts and the goody bags that Mills & Boon had kindly donated into the library without getting soaked.

The room that the library had provided was warm and welcoming though, and Reader Services librarian Jim Gallagherwas there to welcome us. The room was packed with as many people as it could hold - and I was told that there was a reserve list of people who had wanted to attend but could fit in. I'm so sorry if you were one of the ones who missed out.

The audience I did have were just great. A lovely, lively, keen group who joined in, discussed, asked questions, and took up the writing challenges I gave them with enthusiasm. I just want to say a special Hi to everyone who was there. You made it a very special event for me and I can't believe just how quickly that 2 1/2 hours went. It just flew by!

We had coffee half way through and a light lunch was provided at the end. My thanks go to the library staff who provided this. We decided not to break in the middle for lunch as that would have interrupted what was asuch a lively event so by the end of the session, the sandwiches etc were really welcome - and so were the cups of coffee in the middle of the session. Thanks again the Jim who sorted all that out.

I didn't manage to fit in everything I wanted to talk about but I don't think it mattered. We had a great discussion about building up characters and how to create a hero and heroine who would strike sparks off each other to make a good story. We had a lot of fun too, and I just hope the laughter issuing from the workshop room didn't disturb the library too much.

As I said, Mills and Boon very kindly provided goody bags for every member of the audience and they were delighted to have these extra gifts to take home with them And therew as one extra special goody bag that was won by Olivia Smith who was clearly stunn ed and happy to win, to judge by the smile on her face.

The session worked so well that over half the audience stayed on after lunch to talk and ask more questions. I think we could have stayed there all afternoon, but the library closed at four so just before half past three we reluctantly packed up and cleared out of the room. The Babe Magnet was relieved to see that I had passed out so many of the handouts - and of course the goody bags - that there was a lot less to carry back to the car.

I was tired but happy at the end of the day - though my throat was raw from so much talking. Luckily the Magnet had book us a meal at a lovely little restaurant called The Samphire where we had a great vegetarian meal - fantastic soup - and a bottle of win to round off a good day.

And by then the rain had stopped! (I took the picture of the library at the end of the day which was the only point at which I could stand outside and not get drenched)

My thanks to Manchester Library Services for organising this event - to the library staff at Hale library for looking after us - and of course to M&B for the goody bags. (And if you're in Manchester, don't forget that the exhibition And Then He Kissed Her, celebrating M&B's 100 Years is still on at the Central Library until the end of the month

And as I said yesterday my personal thanks to Nicole from the group who helped me by taking some of the photos that illustrate this post.

I've already had a lovely email from Joan who was there on Saturday saying how much she enjoyed the afternoon and that she got a lot from it - that's the best news possible for me to hear. Thank you too Joan!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


I'm back and I had a wonderful trip to Hale. The library talk was fantastic, with a lovely, friendly, enthusiastic audience. And luckily I felt so much better so I was able to enjoy myself too.

(Kate sends a special wave to everyone in the workshop group on Saturday - you were great to work with and the time went so fast! Thank you!)

Full report and photos to follow when I can find my camera. (Special thank you to Nicole for takiing the pictures for me)

But before I forget, I just want to answer Linda C who asked me:

Has the 12 Step Guide 2nd. Edition been released in the U.S. yet? I went to Barnes and Noble, but it doesn't say which edition it is. I have the first one, now I want the second!

Linda - I went to check and the as long as you order the book where the edition of the 12 Point Guide that is advertised on B&N on line has the ISBN: 978-1842851319 that should be the second edition. I hope that soon they will have the cover up and you'll be able to see that the 2nd edition has the white band across the front where the first edition was just golden yellow.

Thanks for alerting me to this. It means that I can link to the B&N site from my own site.

Of course you can always order it from a bookshop with the details that are on my site . I believe that the RWA has put the book on the list of requested titles for the bookstall at RWA but I don't know yet if the bookshop will get stocks in. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

More later, but first I have to appease Sir Sidney and Flora the Floozie who are complaining loudly at the way I abandoned them for two days.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Busy weekend

Well, that was a lost couple of days. I was struck down by some vicious virus and spent the last two days in bed feeling rotten - so rotten in fact (and here's the really bad news!) that I couldn't even read because my head hurt so much. Now that is really mean.

But I'm back on my feet now, if a little wobbly, and it's just as well. Because this weekend I'm heading over the other side of the country, to Hale , Manchester where I'm running a workshop there on Saturday morning. This follows on from the opening of the Centenary Exhibition in the Central Library, which I told you about last month. And of course I'll be teaching from the 12PGTWR2.

I'm told the workshop is totally booked up so at least I know I won't be talking to myself or just one or two people. (I did have to do that once, when just two peole turned up for a talk I was giving!) So if you've booked for the workshop then I'll see you soon. I'm looking forward to it. I've never been to Hale so I shall be exploring a new place.

One other thing - as a small PS to my blog about the books I sent to Ghana and the lovely pictures of Hanana with them. Some of my lovely author friends (Margaret McDonagh and Anne McAllister ) have already written to me and asked if they could help by sending books too. So, not wanting to overload Tony, in case he could't handle an flood of books, I checked with him , and this is what he said:

Your idea sounds really good - the more books the better. Literacy in Ghana's northern regions is quite low, so any additional books would be great. Individual authors can send them to me direct and then there will be no customs duty to pay - it will be just be receiving gifts from the UK. I can stockpile them and then make a decision on whether the individual donations should go to the library or to a women's NGO.

So if any other authors reading this would like to get involved by sending a book, please email me for details and I can put you in touch with Tony. And maybe we can help put a smile on more faces and more women get lovely books to read!
I'll be back on Sunday - see you then.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Something that made me smile

First and most important thank you all for your wonderful messages and good wishes for our anniversary.

I loved every one of them and when the BM got home from a long day at work I showed them all to him too and watched the smile grow on his face as it had done on mine as I received them. He sends his thanks too for your lovely sharing part in our special day.

So today, I have something else that made me smile and I hope it will make you smile too. It's a lovely example of the way that this job of writing romance means I can occasionally touch the lives of people half a world away and brighten their day just a little.

I have a friend - Tony - who has recently left his job here in the UK and gone out to work in Ghana - to quote his MySpace blog - he's a 'PR Practitioner from Hull, East Yorkshire, UK who has taken time out to work in Bongo, which is close to Bolgatanga in north east Ghana, as Community & Advocacy Support Officer in Ghana's Ministry of Education. This is a two-year role supported by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) so I won't be coming back a rich man! Sadly, I've traded in the Jag for a motorbike, something I'd never ridden until being accepted for this placement. So why did I pack in a decent salary and comfortable standard of living to work as a volunteer for two years? Because I can! I've had an enjoyable, varied and interesting working life and I'm now in the position to be able to do this for a couple of years whilst I'm still fit and able.

Of course the great thing about email is that we can still keep in touch with Tonyno matter how far away he is, and a few weeks ago, I got a note from him that said: -

One of my neighbours, Hanana, is a keen reader but with no books. I've been borrowing books from the VSO office which she has enjoyed reading and recently I found three M&B novels which she has really enjoyed. I was wondering/hoping/grovelling if you would be happy to post out a couple of your books to Hanana (signed if possible), via the VSO office. It's good to see younger people here reading and I know Hanana would really appreciate them. She's the one on my blog who runs the local shop where I sometimes work.

Of course I wanted to help so I parcelled up a few books and put them in the mail to Ghana. Then I went and looked up exactly where Ghana is. Bolgantanga where Tony works it right up at the top of the country, furthest from the coast and on the border with Burkina Fasoe. So, knowing this, I was relieved when Tony wrote to me to let me know that the books had arrived and he was taking them to Hanana when he next saw her.
Then this weekend, I had a wonderful email which included these fabulous photos of Hanana in the shop where she works - with my books. Aren't they fantastic?
There was also a message from Hanana in the email -
I was really surprised when I received the books from Kate Walker - and she's even signed them for me! I'm enjoying reading them, we don't have too many romance novels to read up here in the Upper East Region of Ghana so my friends now want to borrow them.
I love the thought of my book bringing her - and her friends - such enjoyment halfway across the world from here!
And hopefully this story won't end here. Because at the opening of the Mills & Boon Centenary Exhibition, I talked to Bethan who's responsible for PR at M&B and told her all about this story. She's taken the idea even further and there are plans for MIlls & Boon to send out some books to
Bolgatanga to supplement the meagre book stocks in the local library. I think this is fabulous and a very practical and generous way of helping people with literacy.
As soon As I hear more, I'll let you know. But for now, I hope Hanana's smile brightens your day as it did mine.
You can read more about Tony's work in Ghana on his My Space Blog

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy ever afters

Today's a special day for me.

35 years ago (was it really that long?) I woke up on a rather cool, slightly showery July day, went downstairs to where my Mother had prepared me a breakfast of boiled egg, toast and tea, then I had a relaxing bath, dressed casually and went out to the local hairdresser's to have my hair done.

After that, I came home, joined my mother, aunt, and youngest sister my godmother and her husband for coffee chatting with various people who called in, including the Babe Magnet (who wasn't a Magnet then, just Steve) his brother, and one of our best friends from university before spending some time doing my makeup, putting on a dress that my not-yet Mother in law had made for me and the veil that my grandmother had worn on her wedding day some 60 years before, getting into a car and going to Sacred Heart church to get married.

35 years! And I know that at the time there were several people who were convinced it wouldn't last - we had no money, no jobs (straight out of university) no house, just the promise of a flat. . .

I was thinking about this today, obviously, but it also made me think about the way that when people learn what I do for a living some people - and it's happened more than once, to me and to several of my writing friends - accuse me of creating unrealistic dreams and selling them to gullible women who then have unrealistic hopes for their lives.

The problem is that you can only ever prove that 'happy ever after' does exist and does last that 'ever after' when you get to the end of it. And the books I write end at the beginning of that 'ever after', not at the end of it. The characters I've created start out on what they hope and believe will be a relationship that will last a lifetime. No one says it's going to be hearts and flowers all the way but the real 'romance' in the rest of the story will be that both he and she will committed to working at it, to sticking there through thick and thin, 'for better for worse', coping with the bad times and enjoying the good.

And that made me think of just how many friends I have in the writing romance world who've had long, loving sustaining marriages too, some of them for longer than these 35 years. Perhaps that's why we can write romances that ring true in the minds and hearts of our readers. Because we know the glories of love and its special moments, but we know the difficulties too, the workaday moments, and the times when it seems that it's all gone wrong. Perhaps instead of calling us 'pink and fluffy' and unrealistic and idealistic, some of those commentators and critics should look at the successful partnerships that so many romance writers share - and wonder if perhaps we know a little bit about these man/woman relationships after all.

So - Michelle Reid, Anne McAllister, Liz Fielding, Sandra Marton, Marina Oliver, Joanna Maitland, Jacqueline Baird - and many many others - tonight when the Magnet and I raise a glass to another anniversary, we'll be raising a glass to you too - and to all those real, true happy ever afters

Here's wishing you all a happy ever after too.
And Steve - thank you for more than 35 very special years as my real life hero and the inspiration for 55 fictional ones - and counting . . .

PS to the description of my wedding day - yes I did see Steve on the morning if the wedding - so there's that 'bad luck' superstition disproved once and for all.
This picture was taken on our 30th anniversary which we celebrated
at the Harlequin party at RWA Conference New York

Saturday, July 12, 2008

At last - the RNA!

I'm not at all sure what happened to the last week. There was the journey back from Chichester in some appalling road conditions, there was the interview with Jen, there was catching up to do . . .lots of catching up. There were proofs to correct . . .

And then there was in internet lock out. I just could not get into my email or my web browser - so frustrating!

So now I'm back at last and it's a week since I was in Chichester and lots of other people have posted blog reports on the RNA Conference - check out Kate Hardy and Liz Fenwick for some great reports - and I'm running fast to go nowhere - so I'm just going to post a sort of mini photo-diary of the event so you can see people and get some flavour of it all from the pictures >

So here goes . . .

Starting with the wonderful, unflappable, lovely Jan Jones who organised the whole thing and always does such a brilliant job. Here she is starting off the conference with the notices and the 'Celebrations' announcements.

Next the conference proper started with the panel discussing 'What is Romantic Ficiton anyway?' In this picture are, from the left in white is Nicola Cornick, next to her is Kate Harrison, the Sara Craven, Kate Hardy and Anna Jacobs.

Later that evening, in the bar. Here I am with my friend Kate Hardy. Thanks to Mary who tok the picture and actually managed to get one of me with my eyes open - I always seem to have them shut in photos.

Firsts talk Saturday morning - the interesting and wonderfully helpful Shelf Secrets or how to get your books onto the bookshop shelves by thinking like a bookshop owner by Mark Thornton who also ran a fabulous bookstall through the conference with titles by every author there - including the 12 Point Guide 2 which sold out early on.
Mark's bookshop, Mostly Books in Abingdon won the New Bookshop of the Year 2008 award and you can find out more about that - including his blog on the conference here.

Fabulous Katie Fforde introduces An
Audience with the equally lovely and witty Jill Mansell -->

The bar where most of the - um - networking took plpace. In the centre Katie Ff is chatting with the Sunday morning speaker, Jane Wenham-Jones.

The Chapel where most of the talks were held with the beautiful huge windows.

Brand new M&B author Sabrina Philips whose first book Valenti's One-Month Mistress will be out in February 09. Sabrina has also just got married and brought some of her beautiful wedding photos with her. Congratulations on both counts Sabrina!

The Saturday night dinner and Imogen Howson received the Elizabeth Goudge trophy as the author of the best first chapter of
less than 2,000 words - on the theme 'To Have and To Hold'.
Imogen's own blog can be found here.

Anna Louise Lucia looking glamourous at her first conference as a published author. Her first book Run Among Thorns (which I have read and thoroughly enjoyed) was on sale at the conference - and I also managed to persuade her to sign a couple of copies for the Tote Bag of Books contest which is coming up soon. (I also managed to grab copies of Jan Jones' Stage by Stage for that too- and a couplpe of other books from other authors - more soon)

Nell Dixon (in white) and beyond her Fiona Harper who writes for Mills & Boon Romance. Nell's new book for Little Black Dress Blue Remembered Heels was on sale at the conference too and was the first book to sell out. I took this photograph while she was deep in conversation with the babe Magnet - so you can see why he has this nickname at the RNA!

The dining hall for the Saturday evening Conference dinner - you can practically hear the buzz of conversations!

Julie Cohen at the Saturday dinner looking bright and beautiful - the next morning the image was slightly less so after a glass or two of champagne too many as she celebrated the publication of Anna Louise Lucia's first book.

Biddy Coady who won 3rd prize in the Elizabeth Goudge contest - with only a point or so between the top three. Yes Biddy - you can write - now finish that submission for M&B!

Sunday morning - RNA CHairman Catherine Jones (who writes as Kate Lace for Little Black Dress) leads the session on publicity and plans for the RNAs 50th birthday coming up in 2010.

Jane Wenham-Jones entertains the conference on Sunday morning. Regular readers of this blog will remember that Jane is a friend and regular tutor at the wonderful Caerleon Writers' Holiday which I shall have to miss this year (sob!) because I will be in San Francisco.

Julie Cohen showing the chart of themes and events that she used to plot out her lastest Little Black Dress Girl From Mars during her workshop on Pacing. I found this fascinating as Julie's approach was so very different from the way I work - hers is far more analytical in contrast to my more instinctive approach. Which just goes to prove that there is no one 'right' way of working - and we can all learn from looking at different ways of doing things.

The last night of the weekend - most of the delegates had already gone home but some of us stayed over in order to have an early start in the morning. We all crammed into Jan Jones' flat for a drink (or two) before dinner. And I really meant to join them back there after wards too for the quiz but I made the mistake of going to my room for a moment, sat down on the bed - and fell fast asleep. Conferences are like that! Talking and learning and talking some more . . . and som e more . . . and some more - wears you out! In this photo, I'm afraid I don;t know who the lady on the left is but next to her, with the grey hair is Liz Bailey, then Joanna Maitland, Sara Craven and Amanda Grange.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

My apologies . . .


I've been trying to post reports of the Conference etc but I'm having internet connection problems.

I'm only managing to post this by borrowing a friend's computer and all my photos etc are inaccessible.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can connect via my own computer.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back . . .

I'm back!

But I have such a list of things lined up to do this morning that I'll have to come back later with a report of the wonderful time I had. My thanks to my fellow RNA Conference attendees who visited my blog yesterday and posted comments. It was great to see you in Chichester - and great to see you here! You obviously listened to my talk very carefully! ;O)

But while I'm out and about doing things this morning, here's something for you to read instead.

A few weeks ago Jen Karalfa put out a plea for authors to interview. I responded and she posted the result up on Book Talk with J&J yesterday. So why not go over there and read that? She asked some great questions. She's also offering a copy of Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife as a prize - so I've added a copy of the Centenary Collection The Duke's Secret Wife to that too. Thanks Jen!

I'll be back soon . . .

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Heading out . . .

I'm setting out today for the RNA Conference . It's being held in Chichester - at the University there.

So tonight I shall be here -->

And I'll meet up with all my friends, talk, laugh, go to workshops - run a workshop (on web sites for authors) , talk . . .

So I'll be missing for a couple of days. Normal service will be resumed on Monday.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Chasing my tail again.

This is how I've felt all weekend - and it looks like it's going to continue. Every time I cross something off my list, another thing is added. Lots of nice things, interesting things, exciting things . . . but they all make me feel I'm spinning and getting nowhere.

Today's real blog is over on the Pink Hearts Society, where I'm blogging about one of the reasons why I'm in such a spin - Conferences.

So why don't you drop by there and read all about it?

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