Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Everybody loves kittens

When I'm busy at my desk, I sometimes need to take a break  - to think or plan something - and  those breaks give me a chance to indulge in a little kitten viewing.

No, we haven't adopted  a new kitten - I wish! - Flora and Charlie are  quite a handful as it is- but there are  virtual kittens - or rather a live stream of real kittens to be found here at Ripley's Kittens.  But be warned it's addictive!

I know it's addictive to cats too because when I had it on the screen and the mother cat was chirruping to her kittens, Flora heard and came leaping on the desk to see where the kittens were.  She started watching, then pressed her nose to the screen when one of the kittens came close.  Then she started patting them if they ran by her.

The problem is that now she's started looking under and behind my computer screen, looking for the kittens and I can't explain to her that they're not there!

I tried to take a photo of her 'playing' with the kittens but all I got was a big fluffy head in the way of the screen - so here's one or two  I took earlier. She was much younger then, and much smaller - and you'll have to imagine that  the racehorses she wants to play with  are  kittens!

Charlie never bothers to watch the TV  but Flora loves it. There is an advert for wild bird food for the garden where there is a long queue  of garden birds (computer generated images)  waiting for a table where the food is served - she loves that one and keeps trying to catch the birds!

PS If you want to help the  Purrfect Pals Cat Shelter  that is caring for Ripley's Kittens, you can vote for them in a contest to win a large grant to help them care for the cats they rescue - just scroll down the page where the livestream is to the link  - or look on the Animal  Rescue Site where the shelter vote can be found.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Writing Article


Before Christmas I was contacted by  Sally Quilford who was planning  a  regular column on writing romantic stories in the writers' magazine Writers' Forum.

She asked me some probing questions about writing romantic fiction and how to get started.   The series - called Love Notes -  has just launched today in the current edition of Writers'  Forum with the article 7 Things you always wanted to ask about writing romance.

So if you're in the UK you can find the magazine in WH Smith or you can get more details from the website here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

RNA Awards Shortlists:

The 2013 RoNA AwardsCategory Shortlist Announced for 2013 Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards

The Contemporary Romantic Novel category is for mainstream romantic novels set post-1960 and includes genres such as chick-lit, paranormal and romantic suspense. The shortlist, in alphabetical order by author name, is:
Katie Fforde, Recipe for Love, Arrow
Veronica Henry, The Long Weekend, Orion
Mhairi McFarlane, You Had Me At Hello, Avon
Monica McInerny, The House of Memories, Pan Macmillan
Sue Moorcroft, Dream a Little Dream, Choc Lit
Polly Williams, The Angel at No. 33, Headline

The Epic Romantic Novel category contains serious issues or themes, including gritty, multi-generational stories. The shortlist is:
Rowan Coleman, Dearest Rose, Arrow
Dilly Court, The Lady's Maid, Arrow
Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles, Bloomsbury
Kate Morton, The Secret Keeper, Pan Macmillan
Gill Paul, Women and Children First, Avon
Liz Trenow, The Last Telegram, Avon

The Historical Romantic Novel category is for novels set in a period before 1960. The shortlist is:
Charlotte Betts, The Apothecary's Daughter, Piatkus (Little Brown)
Christina Courtenay, The Silent Touch of Shadows, Choc Lit
Kate Furnivall, The White Pearl, Sphere (Little Brown)
Pamela Hartshorne , Time's Echo, Pan Macmillan
Susanna Kearsley, The Rose Garden, Allison & Busby
Mary Nichols, The Kirilov Star, Allison & Busby

The Romantic Comedy Novel is for consistently humorous or amusing novels. The shortlist is:
Jenny Colgan, Welcome to Rosie Hopkin's Sweetshop of Dreams, Sphere (Little Brown)
Victoria Connelly, The Runaway Actress, Avon
Jane Costello, All the Single Ladies, Simon & Schuster UK
Nicola Doherty, The Out of Office Girl, Headline
Belinda Jones, Winter Wonderland, Hodder & Stoughton
Jane Wenham-Jones, Prime Time, Accent Press Ltd.

The Young Adult Romantic Novel features protagonists who are teenagers or young adults. The shortlist is:
Jo Cotterill, Sweet Hearts: Model Behaviour, Red Fox (RHCP)
Laura Jarratt, Skin Deep, Electric Monkey/Egmont
Marie-Louise Jensen, The Girl in the Mask, OUP
Victoria Lamb, Witchstruck, Corgi (RHCP)
Sarra Manning, Adorkable, Atom (Little Brown)
Susan Waggoner, Neptune's Tears, Piccadilly Press

The winners of each of the above categories form the overall shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, which will be announced on 16th May.

Also being presented on 26th February is the RoNA Rose Award, which recognises the best in category/series and shorter romance that focus on a developing love affair between the hero and heroine. The shortlist is:

Fiona Harper, Always the Best Man, Harlequin Mills & Boon Riva
Sarah Mallory, Beneath the Major's Scars, Harlequin Historical
Heidi Rice, The Good, the Bad and the Wild, Harlequin Mills & Boon Riva
Carol Townend, Betrothed to the Barbarian, Harlequin Historical
Scarlet Wilson, West Wing to Maternity Wing, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical
Scarlet Wilson, Her Christmas Eve Diamond, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical

Cover images for all of the above novels can be found at:
Download a list of the books shortlisted for the 2013 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, the RoNAs. Take it to the bookstore or library and check them out.
2013 RoNA Awards Reading List. (pdf)
Download descriptions of the of the books shortlisted for the 2013 Romantic Novelists' Association Awards, the RoNAs.
2013 RoNA Awards Books. (pdf)
A list of past winners can be found at

Congratulations to  everyone on the shortlist.
Anyone got any favourites in this list ?

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's a hard job . . .

As a writer of popular genre fiction, part of my job is keeping up to date with what is  currently popular so I've spent this morning working hard - doing research.
My source was the Total Film  survey to find out who had been voted the sexiest  actors for 2012.

Apparently the results are these:

1. Tom Hiddleston
2. Robert Pattinson
3. Ryan Gosling
4. Benedict Cumberbatch
5. Richard Armitage
6. Tom Hardy
7. Alan Rickman
8. Michael Fassbender
9. Robert Downey Jr
10. Chris Hemsworth

So  of course, I had to take my research further and study each and every one of these Top Ten candidates. I worked very hard on my research all morning.

Sometimes  this is a very difficult job.
Oh - and if you want to know the Top Ten female actors, the results were:

1. Jennifer Lawrence
2. Scarlett Johansson
3. Kristen Stewart
4. Emma Stone

5. Mila Kunis6. Emma Watson
7. Anne Hathaway
8. Zooey Deschanel
9. Natalie Portman
10. Charlize Theron

Would you agree?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Addiction . . .

Well, the winner of the calendar from the We Write Romance blog is Caroline!

Caroline - please can you send me your postal address so that I can get it into the post to you before 2013 gets much older and it's not much use to you! 

The snow is piling up outside and we don't have it anything like as bad as some people - so all me friends in Wales and the North West, keep safe and warm.

It's the perfect excuse to stay indoors and curl up with a good book  - and that's where the addiction comes in!  I was out  in town yesterday and found a book that I really wanted to share with my son (Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn if you're nosy). I'd read it and knew he would like it too - but,  oh dear, the books, normally £7.99 each were  two for £7 - so of course I had to find another title to go with this one - I mean, it's compulsory, isn't it?

I picked up a book I'd heard  a buzz about, and one that had been recommended by the Richard and Judy book club - which is usually an indication of a good read. (Gone Girl's on there too, I see.)  So I thought I'd try that.

Now I have a lot of books waiting to be read - a TBR pile - a Kindle line-up . . .  I even have just received a parcel of RITA books to read and judge . . . I don't need another book!  But to be honest, I've read several of my Christmas stocks of books and been  - underwhelmed.    I've been OK with some, some have really disappointed and two -ghost stories that I was really looking forward top fell as flat as pancakes.  I didn't need distracting, but I was looking for a good read.

I found it.   I was going to put the book I'd bought - The Good Father by Noah Hawley - on the TBR pile and get to it when . . .  but I thought I'd just have a look at the first page . . .  pages . . . Chapters . . . Mistake.

And that's why the title of this post is addiction  - I'm reading this book  - devouring it - like an addict. I want to know how it ends - but I don't want it to end. I'm picking it up whenever I can, and unlike some of my other reads it's not a question of 'it depends on how it ends as to what I think about it'  - I don't care how it ends. I'm hooked. (Don't you love it when that happens?)

So I'm posting this now and I'm going back to my living room - there's a fire, the Babe Magnet - two cats - and my book. Can't wait!  (But the RITA books are going to have to.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Over at We Write Romance

It's the 15th of January  - can you believe it? It seems like only two minutes ago it was  New Year's Day and already January is half over.

Anyway,  the 15th of the month is my day for blogging over on We Write Romance in my regular Kate's Corner spot - so that's where you can find me today.

I'm talking about diaries and calendars - and as I've just found an extra calendar that I bought - one with lovely photographs of England on it - I'm offering this as a prize for someone who comments on my Kate's Corner blog - Charlie has been missing the chance to pick winners and have extra treats - so why not make him happy and give him lots of chances to enjoy himself!   (I know it's  a bit late for the start of January - but there are plenty more months left  for 2013!)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Busy week

'Oh the weather outside is frightful . . . '

There is snow on the ground, piled up by inches, and more comuing down all the time. The cats are refusing to go outside at all unless they absolutely have to.  But apart from my walk this morning, that I got in before the snow started coming down I  have so much to do that I’m  not worried about being inside.  

I’ve just spent a busy week organising my Advanced Romance Writing course for the Fishguard Writers and Artists’ Weekend.  One person had  dropped out of this so  I had thought that I was going to be able to announce that there was one place left if anyone wanted it, but as soon as  a space appeared, someone else booked – so the weekend is fully booked again.  Hopefully it will be back  on again next year . . . or there’s always  the Writers’ Holiday  at Caerleon in July. (So pleased that the concerns that Caerleon might not run this year have proved to be unfounded.  I’m already looking forward to being there in the summer.  And if you want to join the Advanced course, my basic Complete Introduction to Writing Romance is the perfect foundation for the Fishguard weekend.)

I also had a fabulous trip to the theatre on Saturday - luckily before the snow started.  With the Babe Magnet, the Offspring and his fiancĂ©e went  to the Sheffield Crucible to see a brilliant production of My Fair Lady, starring Dominic West (The Wire, The Hour) as Professor Higgins and Carly Bawden  as Eliza Dolittle. But it wasn’t just the stars of this show who made it such a great night (though they were both brilliant)  - the whole cast, the staging, the singing, dancing and production were fantastic.  No wonder the production got  so many 5 star reviews.  And no wonder it’s now sold out.  It’s moving to the West End  after Sheffield so hopefully a lot more people will get to enjoy this treat.

And of course it’s great inspiration and research for a romance writer as  the alpha Professor Higgins meets his match in the feisty and  brave Eliza.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

It's the first Sunday of the month - and of 2013 -  so as always I'm over on the Tote Bags 'N' Blogs  site where I've a post on my thoughts as to how I'm looking forward to  2013 - but not looking too far forward!

See you there?

Friday, January 04, 2013

Pink Heart Society

Today is the first Friday of January  - the first Friday of 2013 - so that means that today's my day for my regular blog post over on the Pink Heart Society blog in my  Date With Kate column.

So that's where I am today - and  I'm talking about starting the New Year off right with - not resolutions - but a lot  of resolution.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Romantic Novelists' Association

The very first non Christmas post to arrive at this house between Christmas  and New Year was my brand new membership card for the Romantic Novelists' Association. It was  great to see all the meetings planned for the coming year  - from the January Industry Panel on Erotic Romance  to the Annual Conference in Sheffield in  July. I hope to be there.

I've always said that one of the best things an unpublished writer can do for learning their craft and working on their career is to get a place on the RNA's New Writers' Scheme  - if you can, because these 250 places are like gold dust!  Applications for  the NWS open at 12.02 am (UK time) on January 2nd. Applicants should e-mail the Membership Secretary AFTER that time to reserve a place on the New Writers Scheme. 

Today I have a post over on the RNA's blog for the 12 days of Christmas where I'm talking about one of my favourite personal ornanments on my own Christmas tree.  Regular Christmas visitors to this blog will recognise my now rather elderly little angel. Scary to think she's seen some 30 Christmases!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to everyone.
I hope 2013 is  a truly lovely year for you, filled with love, warmth, happiness and success with your family and friends around you so that you can build up shining memories to take with you everyday from the first January to the very last day of December.

Thank you for being my readers and my friends - for sharing my books and visiting here. I hope I'll 'see' more of you in the coming year and that you'll enjoy the books I have coming up.

Happy 2013!

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