Saturday, June 30, 2012

This and That

Busy  week - when are they anything else?   

So -  what's coming up?  Let me see . . .

On Monday I'm being interviewed by Radio Nottingham - it's all about that book. You know, the one everyone  is talking about /reading/buying - 50 Shades of Grey. So I'm interested in what you think. Have you bought it? Read it? Enjoyed it? Hated it?  Any opinions?  I'm interested in the  50 Shades phenomenon as part of my job of  being aware of what is popular in publishing these days -  and I'd love to know what you think.

The interview will be on Monday but as it's The Breakfast Show, apparently I'll be on at about 7.50 am.  I'll need to have a stiff coffee to make sure I'm awake and functioning.

Tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month so that means I'll be over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs  . . . when I can think of something I can post about! 

I'm still open for any questions you have about  writing romance  for those of you who are planning to enter the So You  Think You Can Write Contest. So far  I've only had one question (thank you  Tora)  - so I won't get many craft posts out of that!

Oh and talking of teaching Writing Romance. I heard from the organisers of the wonderful Caerleon  Writers' Holidays yesterday.  There are still one or two places available on my  Complete Introduction To Writing Romance course this year.   They are still working on trying to ensure that Writers' Holiday continues in some form next year. Hopefully a way can be found to hold it at Caerleon again - but  there are other possibilities in the pipeline. 

Whatever happens, the Babe Magnet and I are SO looking forward to being at Caerleon again in July.  I can't wait.

But before that there's the RNA Conference . . . .

Monday, June 25, 2012

Do you dream of being a published romance author? If so, Harlequin and Mills & Boon has a great opportunity for you —  the  So You Think You Can Write online writing event and contest is back for the third year, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever!

This year’s So You Think You Can Write event is going worldwide. Editorial offices in Toronto, New York, the UK and even Australia are joining forces for the week-long virtual conference in September and writing contest where one lucky winner will get their series romance published! Readers can also get involved by voting for their favorite entries in the contest.

For more details about the event — including the official press release and some tips from  editors if you want to get started on your submission — can be found at

More updates and fun stuff will be posted in the coming months, too, and follow SYTYCW on Twitter at @sytycwglobal and with hashtag #sytycw2012, or on the new Facebook page for up-to-the-minute news.

 I'm planning on posting some craft posts - perhaps a craft Q&A to  offer help to those of you who want to  submit an entry to SYTYCW this time - but what do you want to know about?   Post some questions in the comments  and I'll answer them for you.

Also, next month -  July 13th - 16th, I'll be at the RNA Conference in Penrith, I'm giving a talk there on how to put  the Emotional Punch into your romance novel - so when I come back I'll post the notes from that session too.

Any questions on Emotion/Emotional Punch you want to ask?

And if you're going to the RNA Conference then I'll see you there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Passport New Possibilities

I have a new passport.

After   spending a morning getting photographs taken – the right sort of photographs – no spectacles, no smile!  - and filling in forms – the right sort of forms – the right sort of answers!   (Thank heaven for the check and send service) the Babe Magnet and  I sent of  our old passports  to get them renewed. And yesterday the brand new ones arrived.

They are fresh and smart, their burgundy and gold covers shiny and new, and they speak of  potential and new places  and sunshine  - I hope! Considering that it’s raining again and is supposed to rain for the majority of the weekend – whatever happened to that ‘drought? – I hope there will be some sunshine! There are such possibilities  in the places these new passports can take us.

But I also feel so sad as I ‘retire’ the old passports. There are some stamps on these that hold such wonderful memories and tell of places  we visited. Places we had such wonderful times.  Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles.  Visits to America that took us to  visit Anne McAllister and her husband (and dogs) to  RWA conferences where I  met up with so many friends and made so many new ones. And on another continent , Melbourne, Sydney, Hobart, New Zealand. .  .   Another round  of conferences  - Romance Writers of Australia and Romance Writers of New Zealand where we’ll never forget the wonderfully warm welcomes we received – and  where the Magnet once  had to stand in for a missing speaker at the last moment  and got ‘paid’ in chocolate!  They’ve taken us to Ireland – several times  too.  And now they are retired with the new ones  all fresh and new, waiting for new places, new adventures, new stamps . . .

We have ten years of travel on these new passports. I wonder where they’ll take us.

Well, the first place  we’ll end up – all being well – should be in Italy.  That of course is where the fantastic  Watermill  is to be found -  in Tuscany to be precise.  And   I’ll be teaching the Beyond The Hearts and Flowers course on writing Romantic Fiction at  The Watermill in  October.

Beyond the Hearts and Flowers

Romantic fiction writing is big business, making up almost half the paperback fiction sold and generating billions in sales worldwide. This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write a popular genre novel. It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. With advice and exercises, I'll guide you through creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. If you're just starting out writing romantic fiction, or you've written a manuscript or two but are not yet published and are interested in honing your skills, this course is for you.

The course is intended to cover the main aspects of writing romantic fiction that from my experience of teaching over the years seem to create the most problems for unpublished writers. While the focus may be on romance novels, the techniques – dialogue, characters, tension, pacing, settings, hooks etc will also be relevant to all forms of popular fiction. I also hope to have plenty of time to discuss your own work with you either in one to one sessions or in an open critique forum with the rest of the group.
If you have particular problems or concerns that you would like me to deal with during the week, please let me know. The basic format will allow for adjustment and additions where needed.

The format of the course will follow this pattern over each of the days:
•Morning: Workshop/Discussion
 After which everyone will be set a writing task

 •Afternoon - Students have free writing time to work on the task applying it to their own writing, either creating a new piece of work or reconsidering a novel you're already working on using what you've learned

 We'll all meet up again later in the afternoon to discuss when you've learned from your writing, what you found hard - or easier – and to provide feedback and help as to where to go from here.

The basic timetable of the course will be:

 Transportation from Pisa airport and settle in at mill. Get to know your fellow students.

 Working on characters – how to create successful heroes and heroines, and add more depth to the building of characters. Creating believable motivations for your characters

 Understanding the nature and function of Conflict in a novel. The difference between internal and external conflict and the use of conflict to further the plot and develop the story.

 Adding in the vital emotional impact of a story. What is 'emotional punch' and how do you create it? Developing this by answering the question 'Why' and working towards and away from the pivotal moment in the story.

Wednesday - excursion day (everyone goes to Lucca or the Cinque Terre)
 A chance for us all to enjoy the stimulus of new, beautiful surroundings.

 Understanding the role that sensuality and physical passion plays in the development of an emotional story showing how the sexual side of any relationship affects, develops and alters the essential emotional journey.

 Open critique session – discussing everyone's work and offering help and advice – to learn how to assess your own work objectively, accept criticism and editing and apply this to working through revisions
The practicalities – submissions, synopsis, covering letters, working with editors, revisions etc
Question and Answer session to deal with any lingering concerns or information needed.

Saturday am
 Farewell breakfast and transport to Pisa airport.

 And hopefully there will be sunshine - lots of it!
If you'd like to join me then please check out The Watermill's web site for details.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Caerleon summers

In 1997 the Babe Magnet wrote a book for a series called How To. His title was Writing and Publishing Poetry.  As a result of that, he was invited to run a course at Caerleon Writers’ Holiday.  When he was contacted by Gerry Hobbs who,  with his wife Anne ran Writers’ Holiday, he asked if they  would like a Mills & Boon author to come along too – ie me.  That offer was accepted enthusiastically, we both went the Caerleon  - and it was the start of a long love affair with the place and the event.

 We fell in love with the setting – a tiny Welsh town with the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the country - the atmosphere - the  good food  (there is always huge amounts of food, with so much choice ) But most of all with Anne and Gerry who ran a wonderful event with friendliness, informality and made sure that it was exactly as they described it a Writers Holiday. None of the other general  Writers' conferences come anywhere near to Caerleon on these points.

Since then we have gone back to Caeleon every year but one -  and that was only because it clashed with the RWA conference in America and I just couldn’t manage both., Caerleon in July has been so  much a part of our lives that we start to look forward to the next one even as we are driving home from the most recent event,  We have done talks, run courses, organised poetry readings, made friends, each year meeting up again with old friends and making new ones. We helped to celebrate Caerleon’s 25 anniversary and  we have been proud  to be part of the very special writing event.

We’ll be there again In July this year – but sadly probably not after that,

2012 is likely to be the last year that Writers' Holiday takes place in the form it has taken for the last 26 or so years, at the university campus in Caerleon, South Wales. The change is as a result of economic necessities but also other  difficulties so that Writers’ Holidays is unlikely ro continue as it has done in the future.

There's a possibility of Writers' Holiday evolving, next year, at a smaller and different venue, with a correspondingly smaller number of places available, but if anybody has always meant to go to the present Writers' Holiday Caerleon, or thought they might go this year but haven't got around to booking, this is your last opportunity. You can find out more at the web site

The Babe Magnet and I will be there this summer – I will be running the  course  A COMPLETE INTRODUCTION TO WRITING ROMANCE  . The Magnet is giving a Main Talk on something or other.  We will enjoy every bit of the week as we always do  – the courses, the conversations, that food – the Wednesday afternoon trip out – the final evening with the performance by the Male Voice Choir  and we’ll be desperately sad when it’s  over and at the thought  that it will never be the same again.

I’ll let you all know just what plans Anne and Gerry come up with to carry on their wonderful tradition of friendly and helpful writers events – and I’ll hope to see some of you at Caerleon in  July.

And don’t forget that Anne and Gerry also run the fabulous Fishguard Writing Weekend in February  where I   follow up my Introductory course  from Caerleon  with  Advanced Romance. I hope I’ll be able to run the basic course somewhere else next year with Anne and Gerry’s warm  welcome to look forward to.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kate's Corner day

It's the 15th of June so that means it's my day to blog over at We Write Romance in my regular Kate's Corner Blog.

I've posted it - and this blog  -  in a dash in and out  between the ferocious thunderstorms that are pounding this part of the UK  - and have stopped me working on the computer for most of the day. 

But I'vemanaged to write a post and I'm asking for your help on this one - I've so many blogs to prepare for the next few months, and so many workshops/course/conferences  coming up that I have very little time to spare and very little inspiration as to what to blog about - so what would you like to see in my blogs here and elsewhere?
All ideas gratefully received!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garden Tales

Well it may be cold and damp - OK - wet - but  in the garden there are wonderful signs of  spring/summer and since we had the improvements done on the house  we now have the wonderful garden room where we can sit  in an evening and watch  what is going on out there.
Last night was a something  of a relief as I have been worrying about  The Hecks - the family of herdgehogs who live  at the bottom of the garden. Apart from  one brief sighting a few weeks ago, we hadn't seen any hedgehogs and it has been so cold that I was afraid they might have  suffered as a result. But last night something   triggered off one of the security mlights and going to see what it was I spotted a hedgehog making  itrs way down the garden path.  This looked like a youngish  one - not one of the  fully grown ones that have been  visiting for the past few years so I'm hoping we have a new family to feed.

Oh yes, feeding - the other signs of spring have been the new families of birds that have come to the bird table - we have at least two, maybe three families of starlings, a dozen or so young ones who have been practicising their flying from the garage roof next door, over to ours. And they have demolished the suet cakes that we put out - at a rate of almost one a day., Add in the pair of crows, the four (at least) magpies, the goldcrests,  blackbirds, robins, sparrows, blue tits . . . . It's a full time  job  - not to mention the expense of providing suet blocks, fat balls - and now of course the meat/hedgehog cruncies for The Hecks.

Not that we mind - they give us such pleasure to watch them  Hopefully with some lighter - and dryer - eveings - we'll be able to see more of the hedgehogs  and maybe Flora will be able to play with them as she has done in the past.  I haven't seen Charlie encounter a hedgehog yet - hopefully it won't be too long before he does.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wet wet wet . . .

Is it really June?  I think I fell asleep and woke up in the wrong season. It’s wet and cold – so wet and cold that even Charlie the garden cat  won’t go out unless he absolutely has to.  And Flora – well, as you can see from the photos, Flora has found a nice snug, dry place to snooze. The only trouble is that  she is taking up rather a large spot on my desk top and it’s a bit tricky to work on the keyboard while she’s there.

Still having some internet problems –  hopefully they will be finally sorted out today (fingers crossed). It’s been tricky sending emails, uploading blogs etc. 

So what have I been doing?  Once the Jubilee holidays were over -
Well, there was the necessary task of renewing passports –eeek!  No you can’t see my passport photo. All I can imagine is that somewhere in the passport office there is some poor person who is either almost dying of laughter or wondering whether they should report this woman to the police as she is obviously a total psycho and probably dangerous.   It doesn’t help that you are told that you must not smile . . . 

The  renewal is important to get done now because I will need a passport to travel to Tuscany in October when I head for the fabulous Watermill to run the Beyond The Hearts and Flowers course on writing romantic fiction.  (If you want details they can be found here on the Watermill's web site  - or on my Events page.   )

I have been making lots of soup!   Something about the new kitchen has made me have a whole new interest in cooking – well, cooking soup. And the Babe Magnet loves a bowl of veg soup for lunch. Not the right sort of food for ‘Flaming June’?  Well – see the first paragraph above. I am definitely  thinking of building an ark. Drought? What drought?

And I’ve been reading – galloped my way through  The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain and Please Don’t Stop the Music by Jane Lovering (the book that won the Romantic Novel  of the Year Award).  Plus a selection of romance by Annie West,  Lynn  Raye Harris, Jane Porter, Donna Alward,  and Sarah Morgan – another way of ‘filling the well’  as well as the rain.

Saturday was a real treat – heading for the Crucible theatre in Sheffield to see the  fantastic John Simm in Betrayal by Harold Pinter. Brilliant. It was a family outing with  the Babe Magnet,  The Offspring and his brand  new  fiancĂ©e.    The Italian meal before the play and the discussion in the car on the way home were extra bonuses to an already great evening.

Today I’m supposed to be heading into town to get my hair cut –  It’s not actually raining at the moment, but what’s the betting  one of those big dark clouds will burst right overhead as soon as I emerge from the hairdresser’s? Sigh!

Where did I put that umbrella?

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Discussing the Devil

The Jubilee Weekend  - a double Bank  Holiday here in the UK - has meant that I have been busy with family and friends and have barely been anywhere near my computer . I have also eaten too much cake and sipped a little wine!

If you wanted to know  how I spent the  Diamond Jubilee Sunday, which was also the first Sunday in the Month,  then that was in my post for  Tote Bags 'n' Blogs   and you'll find it here.

My favourite bit of the weekend? The light show projected onto Buckingham Palace during the concert last night - followed by the  firework display. I  loved it.

And the Devil ? Well over at Romance Book Haven, three passionate and articulate readers - Nas Dean, Desere Steenberg and Maria Perry Mohan have all read  my novel The Devil and Miss Jones and they have cometogether in their virtual book club to discuss it and givbe their personal opinions on the book.

You can find the discussion here.  Thank you ladies!  (Now I must go and see what they have to say - I've posted this before I had a chance to read it through!)

Friday, June 01, 2012

Miss me?

Sorry - a dead  internet connection will do that. I've been struggling to get any connection at all for the whole week and I'm still not sure if this post will actually load - but I'm going to try!

Luckily, today being June 1st and so the first Friday of the month, my regular Date With Kate  post for the Pink Heart Society  has already been uploaded  and is ready to read.  It's a while since I've done a craft post - so, with the Queen's Jubilee in mind, I've posted the noted from my 'How To Write A Royal Romance' workshop - with the 20P guide to writing this particular type of romance.

And whether you're Royal watching, or having a street party or simply enjoying the  weekend  - the long weekend here in the UK - I hope you have a great time.

Now - fingers crossed this will actually post.

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