Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fishguard Course

You've read my thoughts on the latest Fishguard course (I can't believe I have to wait another year before we  I can do  it again)  but I thought you might like to read about the event from the point of view of one of my students.

Johanna who was on my course this year  - and has been to  other, past courses as well - has written a blog about being in Fishguard and what she got out of the course over on the Novelista Ink  web site/blog.  You can find it here.

Thanks so much for the lovely write-up Jo!  And good luck with your writing.  I hope you will 'be brave' with it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

And the winners were . . .

Judy Finnigan and Richard Madeley announced the five category winners who will contest the prestigious Romantic Novel of the Year during a glittering reception in London.

The winning novels will now be read and judged by five independent industry experts, and the overall winner will be revealed at the Romantic Novelists' Association's (RNA) Summer Party on 16 May 2013.

Katie Fforde has won the Contemporary Category for the second year running with Recipe for Love. This category is for mainstream romantic novels set after 1960. The other competing authors included Veronica Henry, Mhairi McFarlane, Monica McInerney, Sue Moorcroft and Polly Williams.
In the Epic Category, which deals with issues or themes including multi-generational novels, Rowan Coleman triumphed with Dearest Rose. Other finalists included Madeline Miller, Dilly Court, Kate Moreton, Gill Paul and Liz Trenow.

Finalists in the Historical Category (set before 1960) included Charlotte Betts, Christina Courtenay, Kate Furnivall, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanne Kearsley and Mary Nichols. Charlotte Betts was declared the winner with her novel The Apothecary's Daughter.

In the Romantic Comedy Category, for consistently humorous or amusing novels, the finalists included Jenny Colgan, Victoria Connelly, Jane Costello, Nicola Doherty, Belinda Jones and Jane Wenham-Jones. Jenny Colgan claimed victory with Welcome to Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop of Dreams.

The Young Adult Category features protagonists who are teenagers or young adults and the shortlist this year included Jo Cotterill, Laura Jarratt, Marie-Louise Jensen, Victoria Lamb, Sarra Manning and Susan Waggoner. Victoria Lamb was declared winner with her book Witchstruck.

The RoNA Rose Award, which recognises the best in category/series and shorter romance that focuses on a developing love affair between hero and heroine, was presented for the second year running to Sarah Mallory, author of Beneath the Major's Scars. Her rivals included: Fiona Harper, Heidi Rice, Carol Townend, and Scarlett Wilson, who had two books nominated. This category does not go forward to contest the Romantic Novel of the Year.

Long-time RNA member, Sophie Kinsella, was honoured with an Outstanding Achievement Award for her continued contribution to the world of romantic fiction.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Back in routine - I hope!

I love being  in Fishguard, love having the view of the sea right outside my window.  The hotel is comfortable and friendly, and I love exploring the village. And it’s wonderful to meet up again with special friends  Anne and Gerry who run Caerleon  Writers’ Holidays, fellow tutors Alison Chisolm and Della Galton,  and all the students, some of whom I’ve known for a few years, other I only just met this time.

  The teaching I do is  such fun too. And this year, the course was a particularly great one to run.  Everyone in the group  jelled together so well – we  had lots of  fascinating discussions,  great writing exercises  and a lot of laughter. I’ve rarely known  a  weekend fly by as fast as this one did.

And you know what they say about time flying when you’re having fun. I barely seemed to have arrived at the Fishguard Bay Hotel before it was  time to say goodbye and  think about coming home.  But already I know that so many people have booked for next year.  ( I need to check on this because  the last I heard the 2014 course was already filling up fast – if not already sold out!)

So to the class of Fishguard 2013 – Rachael, Marie, Jo , Johanna, Melanie, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah, Sarahjane, Daphne, Fiona, Jenni,  Karen, Kate, and Sallyann – thank you all for being such a great group and for making the teaching so much fun. I really believe that  on a writing course like this, the feedback from the group adds to the teaching experience as a whole and  you get the course you deserve. I can’t wait for next  year.

I  was so involved and having so much fun   that I forgot to take photos but there is one record of a special event  - it was  Rachael’s birthday on Valentine’s Day  so we provided a cake for her (special thanks to Anne & Gerry’s daughter in law who did the baking and the icing). It was a rather special cake – Rachael herself has blogged about it here.  And there is one photo of Rachael with me.

Going away for a few days is wonderful. And we had a couple of extra days at the end of the course – staying in Fishguard and then on to Malvern where the Babe Magnet was thrilled to find that his favourite second-hand bookshop had a half price sale! There were several ‘vital’ volumes that added to our luggage on the way back.  But I’m sure  that things multiply and mount up whenever you’re not in the house so  I’ve been chasing  my tail dealing with things since I got back.  I now hope  to get back into some sort of routine before I even think about my next course – at Caerleon . (There’s news on that too but I’ll save that for another post.)

So where did I put that list of Things to Do . . .?
PS Today is the day that the RNA announces the winners of their RONA awards and the  RONA Rose for short romances.  I can't be there but I will be with everyone in spirit - and so, looking forward to seeing the winners announced so I can share the news with you here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Writing Courses and Buried Kings

Was it really  Sunday the 3rd  when I last blogged ?  It's been a severe case of the disappearing week - it's always like this when I'm heading for Fishguard and the wonderful Writers' And Artists' Workshop Weekend.  There is so much to  do in preparation for the Advanced Romance Writing Course.  This course has been sold out for months and there is an interesting mix of  people who have been before and brand students. So I plan things that will interest and help (I hope!) both.

Then there's organising cat-sitters, washing, packing, all the things that travelling involves.  I'm so looking forward to being back in Wales  - as many of you know, I met the Babe Magnet there  all those  . . . .years ago.  (Considering we are coming up to a significant anniversary this year, it was a long time ago!) 

And talking of meeting the Magnet, one of the things  that connected us way back then was a fascination with Richard III.  The Magnet was even a member of the Richard III Society. So we've both been fascinated by and absorbed in all the reports of the dig in  that Leicester car park. We were thrilled by the news that the DNA testing had shown it really was Richard and not  some other skeleton they'd found - and it was amazing to see the recreation of his face from the skull. Now of course the debate is where he will be re-interred.  Personally I'd love to see him in York but what really matters is that after lying so long in an unmarked grave,  and important figure in history shou'd now  be given dignity and honour.  I'll hope to visit his grave - wherever it is.

 The discovery was all so distracting too  as it sent me back to reread some of the factual books I have on the subject - I daren't start on the fiction as I know that will just absorb me as it used to do in the past.   But I have downloaded Josephine Tey's Daughter of Time on to my Kindle to reread while in Wales.  If I get any time to read, that is - once the course starts, the weekend just seems to fly by and if I'm not teaching, I'm  doing one-to-ones or talking about writing in the bar, in the restaurant, in the bookrooom . . .   Can't wait!  So if you're one of my students who  will be there this time - see you soon!

And if you'd like to think about booking on one of my courses - the full details can be found on the Events page. I never leave Fishguard without knowing that some of the students have already booked for next year!   (There's   also the basic, Complete Introduction to Writing Romance coming up in July at Writers' Holiday at Caerleon   with lots of other great courses on offer too.)
So as I'll be travelling, teaching, talking, the blog might be a bit sporadic - again - for the next week or so.  I'm so looking forward to this weekend - and to waking up with this view outside my window  for the next few days.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Tote Bags Day

It's the first Sunday in February (where did January go?)  so that means that my blog today is my regular visit over on  Tote Bags N Blogs  so that's where you'll find me.

I'm writing about looking forward to heading out to one of my favourite places, in one of my favourite countriues - to do one of my favourite things - Teaching  writing!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Pink Heart Day

Happy February! It's the first Friday in February  so today is my day for my Date With Kate post over on the Pink Heart Society blog.

So that's where you'll find me today - talking about an important element that I feel a lot of people are forgetting when they aim their writing/novels at writing romance.

Hope I'll see you there.

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