Friday, December 12, 2014

Tote Bags day

Today's the 12th of the month - and as always time is rushing away with me.  I have gifts bought - some of them wrapped and the ones that need to be posted  have been taken to the Post Office and are now on their way to  be delivered to the people I chose them for.

Half the cards are done and on their way too - the rest will be in the mail tonight.  So  the Christmas preparations are  fairly well in hand,

Not so much the blog posting  -  I have a book to write as well, so that means that I have very little time left over for writing anything else like blog posts and such.

But today, as I said, is the 12th of December - so it's my day for my regular  posting over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs, and that's where you'll find me today.

Of course, as this is the 30th anniversary of my  very first publication, that anniversary is very much in my mind . . .

See you there

Friday, December 05, 2014

Another anniversary - Ruby's this time

Ruby at 8 weeks
 Remember this?

This was one of the first photos I shared with you when Ruby the kitten came home to us from the Cats Protection rescue shelter  in December last year.

Exactly a year ago, to be precise.  We had seen her on the Sunday  and fallen in love - and Ruby had flung herself into my arms and  made it clear that she thought I was hers and that was that!

Ruby and Charlie when she first arrived
We had to wait a few days for the formalities and checks to be completed, but it was quite obvious that the rescue organiser  agreed with Ruby, and knew that we had been chosen.  No one really had any choice - apart from one little black and white cat who knew exactly where she wanted to be.

So a year ago today, we went back to the shelter to collect her. She was yelling her head off as we approached but that stopped as soon as I picked her up and she was where she wanted to be.  She came back home with us and settled in straight away, no hesitation, no doubt. She  soon had  Charlie wrapped round her  little paws  - where he's stayed ever since. Though they do occasionally have mad chases all around the house  - it sounds like a major storm  as the result of Charlie's size. And if he catches her and jumps on her, from the hissing and spitting and yelling she puts out, you'd think she was being murdered when the truth is that all he wants to do is to lick her face.

She likes to be up high and in the garden she climbs as high as she can in the apple trees and then stays there. looking down on Charlie who is not a climber, being such a big boy.

Ruby one year on
She's still not a very big cat - but then any normal cat would look small compared with Charlie and his Maine Coon build.  She is affectionately known as 'Keg' by my son and his fiancee  because she  has a little rounded barrel-shaped tummy that comes from being able to persuade the Babe Magnet ( someone else she has wrapped round her paws) that she really is wasting away and needs treats - now.  The only problem with that is that he feeds her some tasty sticks of fish or meat flavours and instead of eating them she has to hunt them  and 'kill' them before they get eaten.  Quite often they get away from her and we have found stashes of  uneaten sticks under chairs of the settee when we move it to clean.
Ruby today

She as real 'lap cat' and spends long happy hours curled up on my lap, or across my knees on a blanket when I'm watching TV or reading.  And then when bedtime arrives, she knows that we go upstairs for 'snuggles' and curls up on my feet for most of the night.  In fact she has quite a good vocabulary  for a cat - knowing  just what outside. teatime, blankie (for the blanket),  treats  and snuggles.

We're so glad she came to live here, helping to fill the large empty hole where poor beautiful Flora had been, and even Charlie is quite  happy to have his adopted 'sister' in his life.  But then, Ruby would say that of course  that's how it was always meant to be - and it's why she chose me to give her her forever home.

Happy anniversary Ruby!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Other Writer in The Family

As many of you already know, my husband  Stephen  - the Babe Magnet -  is also a writer.

Most of the time he is a writer of facts, of history, local history, the history of crime, but just lately he has branched out into fiction and has had a couple of historical crime novels published - A Thief in the Night and A Killer Between the Lines.

He's also recently had a book called The Girl Who Lived on Air published (if you remember that's why we headed for Wales for him  to  talk about this book at the Penfro book festival,   And this week there is his biography of George Grossmith  - who wrote The Diary of a Nobody, but was also a friend of and a star in Gilbert and Sullivan's Savoy Operas - A Victorian Somebody.

People often ask me - as they ask me, too - where he gets his ideas from.  Well, last week was a perfect example.

  He was teaching at the university where he lectures part time,   and talking about writing from primary sources - letters, notebooks etc - one of his students said a friend of her was looking  for some one who might be able to use a  collection that she had.  This lady had helped  to an old lady  for years and when old lady had died there was all this stuff - photographs,  postcards, reports,  personal letters  etc etc

DH  said he would love to see what was what - he was thinking that there might be a box or so -  there were boxes and  boxes, and  three suitcases!!  We opened one the first night we brought this home   and ended up  with our minds whirling at what there is - she never destroyed a thing. There are passports dating back to 1930s -  she was in the WRVS and travelled to Singapore, Tobruk - other places I can't recall.  There are letters from  the House of Commons -  she'd  written to MPs  on topics like whaling, Rwanada,  exporting live animals reports of the planning for clubs and societies -  and games nights in the NAFFI. There is even  a small old card and a tiny bit of old, grubby material with HL loves BB  embroidered very roughly on it. There must be a story behind that. 

Now the Babe Magnet can get an idea for a  story that needs investigating from one small newspaper report, a photograph or an old postcard picked up in an antiques shop of a bundle of junk. So how much can he get out of this huge archive?  We have  barely scratched the surface  of what's in there!  I'll have  to wait and see just what he decides on and which stories emerge from this elderly, dusty (and frankly rather smelly)  collection of  papers.  One intriguing  thing - this lady was born on the same date as my own birthday - but  many years before.  

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

A Special Anniversary

December 2014 marks a very special anniversary for me.    It's  exactly 30 years since my very first book - The Chalk Line  - was published in 1984!  So this is the very first cover of my book I ever saw.

Snow scene - check! Heroine with auburn hair -  There's only one problem with it - my hero - Leon Dane Vincent - was supposed to have jet black hair . . . .

And just yesterday I got the first sighting of my  brand new cover for the Presents edition next book coming up in April. That's Olivero's Outrageous Proposal - so I'm  sharing this   cover with you too. It's a rather better portrayal of my sexy Italian hero.
But no - before you ask -  because people have asked!  - he does not have a  beard!   He is meant to be  rather unconventional and  at the ball where my heroine Alyse meets him he has tugged his bow tie loose  at his throat as if the formal dress is stifling him. This scene is after the ball - so I suppose  heavy stubble is meant to do the same job as bow tugged loose!

As today is my day for blogging over on the Pink  Hearts Society blog  I'm over there today - talking about the past 30 years! How did it ever get to 30 years since that first book!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cover changes

I'm always intrigued by new covers.   I always look forward to seeing the brand new  coves for each new book. (I don;t have any cover yet for Olivero's Outrageous Proposal but I'll share just as soon as I do)  But perhaps the most interesting  look at covers is when an older book is reprinted and reissued  - perhaps in  a 3 in 1 collection and then it gets a brand new cover which is totally unlike the previous one.

I have two reissues at the moment - one out now and one coming up and so I thought I'd share the covers with you - and the original covers these books had.

So the first one is out now  The book of mine that is in this reprint  is Kept For Her Baby  which was originally published in   2009.

Then the cover looked like this  -

So now it's reprinted in a  3 in 1  - Secret Love-Child  (with other books by Catherine Spencer and Tina Duncan)   It's  on  the shelves now.  And  this new edition looks like this.

Incidentally, Kept For Her Baby isn't really a 'secret love-child' story - both the hero and the heroine know exactly who the baby is  - but that's the name of the collection.

 The second reprint coming up is a republication of The Konstantos  Marriage Demand That's a book from  2010 - and it won the Romantic Times Best Presents Extra in that year.

When this book was originally published it had a cover that looked like this:
And now that it's reprinted it has a brand new cover that you can see at the top of this post - for the 3 in 1  Collection His Revenge Seduction  (with other titles by Melanie Milburne and Elizabeth Power.)

The two covers (for each book) are very different - just shows how things have changed in  a round  4 or 5 five years.

What do you think? Do you prefer the original covers ?  (You can see the Mills & Boon editions on the books' pages on my web site if you want to.)

Do you like the 3 in 1 collections that come out regularly\- the ones that are  called 'By Request' ?
Do you find it a good way to catch up on books you've missed - or get a copy of an old favorite?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Spooky stories

The Babe Magnet and I just spent a special  two days in York. I love this city with its ancient walls, the minster and the river.  We did some Christmas shopping  - how did it get to November? - and  on Thursday night we went to a production of The Woman in  Black  at the Theatre Royal.

Have you read  The Woman in Black? Or seen the film?  I've done both - and I couldn't begin to think of how someone could produce a stage performance of the book - like the film - but with only 2 actors!   I also didn't think that, having read the book and seen the film, it could scare me any more.

I was wrong. What a production. And it was all the more fascinating because it showed  the real power of the imagination in a way that  all the special effects/horror films can never create.  A bleak, almost bare stage, occasional light effects or sounds. . . .   2 men who changed costumes/characters with a different accent or a change of jacket. We were there on the night that a party of school children came to the theater. They must regularly see real horror films or video games - but  when the play worked on their imaginations they were more scared by what they couldn't see  than  what they could.

It was a real way of showing how powerful our imaginations are - which made me think of when people read my books and what are really just words on the page build up pictures in their thoughts and they grow stronger and clearer so that the story really takes off.  And probably no one quite see exactly the same thing whoever reads those words.  Isn't the imagination amazing?

It was also a great way of showing that there is no one way to tell a story - those 3 versions  of the original book have been so varied, different. But each one tells the story their way  - bringing it to life in their own special way.

We had a great night - and the walk back  through the dark, winding, cobbled streets of York had an extra thrill  as we looked at any dark figure of shadowy corner with a new and rather nervous  attitude.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Courses for 2015

I've been getting enquiries about possible courses I have coming  up  for 2015. I haven't been able to get round to updating my Events page on my web site yet as all the dates haven't been finalised but  I thought  I'd post what I do know and then if you're interested you can start to plan ahead - maybe save up. Or perhaps you can ask Father Christmas for the cost of a course  as a present?

Also - courses are booking up fast so  I'd better let you know what's still available and what isn't.

OK -

With Writers' Holiday.

Writers' and Artists Winter Workshop Weekend
13th - 15th February 2015

My Advanced Romance Writing Course is FULLY BOOKED
You can ask to be put on a waiting list in case anyone backs out.

There are other courses running  that weekend
Short Stories
Novel Writing
Painting and Drawing

The Writers' Holiday site says there are just ten places for the whole weekend still available  at a price of £299

For the Summer Writers' Holiday
There are also only 10 places left  - but you can still get on my Complete Contemporary  Romance course
Dates: July 27th - 1st August 2015
Cost: £499  all inclusive  (accommodation/tuition/meals)
For details of all the courses and events, check out the Writers' Holiday web site.

With Relax and Write

13-15 March at Weetwood Hall Leeds all inclusive fee £249
This is my Focus on Writing Romantic Fiction Retreat 

'Write Romantic Fiction' Retreat with Kate Walker
An ideal course to get your writing moving ahead. This course will help you edit and polish your synopsis and first three chapters.  For those of you who have been working on your novel, your work in hand will receive constructive feedback. There are a limited number of places on this Retreat, so it is essential you book early, in order to send Kate your work in advance for comment and arrange a one-to-one.

Places on this retreat are already limited - with  half the places booked already  so let Relax and Write know if you are interested.  You need to be able to provide three chapters and a synopsis for me to read and discuss with you.,
 Other courses available that weekend:
'Self-Publishing' with Malcolm Chisholm

'Create a Mini-Memoir' with Alison Chisholm

'Writing the Past' with Stephen Wade

We are still at the stage of planning and organising further courses with Relax and Write - and need to finalise dates and venues but plan to have coming up :
Beginning, Middle and End - Planning Your Novel
Writing Romantic Fiction.

More news when I have it myself.

You can find details of courses and other events on my Events page on my web site  and you will also find comments and reviews from students who have been on my courses  in the past here .

Maybe I'll see you somewhere in 2015.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Pink Hearts Day

Today's my day for posting over on the Pink Heart Society blog - so that's where you'll find me now.

I'm thinking back over the fun conversations  being a writer has brought me.

Some of the international editions of my books are still up for grabs  - so check out the list below in case one of them might be fore you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Busy.. . busy

 I've been  so busy, I haven't had time to post or even think of something to write for an age -  but some of you might benefit as a result.  You see, I've been sorting things out - collating and filing all my teaching notes    so now they're ail filed  correctly and I should be able to find anything at any time - for any course.  The next one starts in  so it's in good time . . .
And as result of tidying, sorting, filing and organising,  I've also found that I have a small deluge of  foreign editions that haver arrived in the past weeks -  and this is where my international readers get a  chance to share in a giveaway.

I've done quite a lot of giveaways, but most of the time it's English language copies that I send out - so this time is different - I want to share some of the foreign language editions with some  readers to whom these languages aren't foreign. Usually these go to libraries for foreign language sections, but they're getting the large print copies  so I can share these books with you - if you speak/read the language.

So here's the details   - I have 12 books to giveaway and if you would like one then email me  kate at to let me know which book you'd like and what language it's in.

The giveaway is only on a first come, first served basis - one book only  per person.  Or you can apply for a friend in their language if you prefer. Once they're gone - that's it - till the next time!
What I have on offer are these books:
               The 12 Month Mistress
               Shattered Mirror

              Bound By Blackmail
             Their Secret Baby |(in a 3 in 1 with books by Anne McAllister and Linda Conrad
             The Italian's Forced Bride  (With another novel by Michelle Condor.

                The Konstantos Marriage Demand (+  book by Michelle Reid)
                 A Question of Honor (+ book by Kimberly Lang)

              Bedded By The Greek Billionaire  ( 4 in 1)
              With books by Chantelle Shaw, Kate Hewitt, Michelle Reid)
              The Devil and Miss Jones

               The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife  ( + novel by Metsy Hingle)

                  Rafael's Love Child (+ Caitlin Crews)
                  Her Secret Bridegroom  (+ Lynne Graham)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Catching Up

I made  a mistake this week - I decided to tidy up and sort out my office . . . . That will leave me ready to focus totally on the book I'm writing - once I've organised my teaching notes (and  prepared the hand-outs for the Relax and Write course on  Before You Submit Your Novel - The Practicalities  at Weetwood Hall next weekend. )  But organising my teaching notes led to organising every  last file of hand-outs, course notes, writing exercises . . .

OK, it was a great excuse to buy some new stationary and lovely coloured files   . . . but it still took up too much time and - well, do you know that time when things get worse before they get better? That's the way things look this morning! The Babe Magnet is also preparing for a course on Writing  About Your Life - so he has hand-outs to organise as well.

But there's one thing about being busy in a practical sense - it leaves my mind free to think and plan the new story (working title currently  The Wrong Bride ) so I'm also scribbling down notes and making plans as I put papers in  files and plan work on synopsis, first chapters, opening lines  . .etc for the 24th- 26th.  And the story is growing as a result.

Other book news -  I was looking on Amazon  last week and discovered this cover. It's for a 3 in 1 By Request collection of past titles reprinted in one volume. This one - Secret Love-Child  - is coming out at the end of October. The title of mine that's in it is Kept For Her Baby.  Not exactly a 'secret love-child' story.  But definitely a novel in which the love of a baby is very important!
The other two novels in this volume are by Catherine Spencer and Tina Duncan

I also spotted another 3 in 1 volume coming out in January: His Revenge Seduction -   this time my novel The Konstantos Marriage Demand (the book that was awarded Best Presents Extra by Romantic Times in 2010) is I  the collection with books by Melanie Milburne  and Elizabeth Power.  I don't have a cover to share with you yet  -0 but I'll post it when I see it.

If you haven't already noticed, there is now a brand new Facebook page for all the Harlequin  Presents Authors. Lots of news,messages, and interest for anyone who loves reading Harlequin  Presents (Mills and  Boon Modern)

. Why not come along and 'like'  it - and join in all the fun.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tote Bags 'n' Blogs Day

Today is the 12th of October so it's my regular day for posting over on the Tote Bags 'N' Blogs  site.

So that's where you'll find my post about writing about connected characters  - meeting up with characters from past books and seeing what's happened to them in the time since I last 'met' them.

Do you like stories where a character from a previous book reappears and gets their owns story?  Are you interested in seeing how other people from past stories have been living and getting on since the end of their own story?

That's what I'm looking at today and I'm thinking about one of the minor characters from A Question of Honor.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Last Course of the year

Just finalising the details of my next course at Weetwood Hall in Leeds at the end of this month, and Lois Maddox tells me there are still some  places available on this course if anyone is interested - if so contact Relax and Write  for details 

The course is this:
Before you submit your Novel - The Practicalities with Kate Walker
Get your novel ready to send to a publisher.
This course will cover the preparation needed before  submitting your novel to a publisher:  
• Writing a synopsis that sells your story.
• Polishing those first three chapters. 
• What to include in your covering letter – introducing yourself to the Editor (or Agent). 
• Pitching the unique selling point of your story 
• Pinpointing the type of reader and the market you’re aiming at.

or you could try  this one - running at the same time:

Write About your Life - build your anecdotes into memoirs/short stories with Stephen Wade
After this, the next course coming up in Leeds will be March 2015.
There will be the Advanced Course in Fishguard in February but I believe this is already fully booked.

Weetwood Hall Leeds 13- 15 March 2015'Write a Mini-Memoir in a Weekend' with Alison Chisholm

'How to Self-Publish Your Writing' with Malcolm Chisholm

'Write Romantic Fiction' with Kate Walker

'Write the Past' with Stephen Wade

Further details of all courses are on my web site Events Page.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Cats and Computers and Pink Hearts

I had a wonderful, fabulous time at the Writing Retreat  Focus on  Romantic Fiction  and enjoyed every minute of it. I had a great group, the surroundings were lovely, the weather great. It was wonderful to talk to students about their own writing in the one-to-ones, see light bulbs go on in their eyes,  and then watch them go to different corners of  Weetwood Hall - to their own single rooms, or other spots - at a table in the lounge, a settee in a quiet corner, or a table out in the sunshine . . . and write.

Me too - because I do all the writing exercises I set people to show that they work - or try them out to make sure they work.   So I came back with pages of notes and ideas for the next book, made while I was sitting waiting for   anyone who needed help to seek me out.

There was wonderful food, wine, and company. So thank you so much to Lois from Relax and Write (the  focus is in the name) for all her organisation and efficiency, and to Jo, Claire, Marie, Linda, Penny, Sallyann, Melissa, Emma  for being in my group. I hope I'll see you again soon.

I know some of these students have signed up for the  next course - The Practicalities of writing - so  I'll see you then.   Meanwhile, we're planning courses for next year - March first. . . then others
. Watch this space.

I'm lucky to be back blogging here as  when I got home it was to find that Charlie the Maine Coon had ripped open his neck and had had to have stitches and now  needs to wear a plastic collar/cone/to protect his wound. Luckily The Offspring and his lovely fiancĂ©e were on hand to make sure he got to the vets.

Then I switched on my computer - or, tried to - nothing! It was dead!  Totally . Several expensive days later - new computer, the work of the computer technician to save as much as he could - I'm back up and running. But I'm still finding things have gone missing - including my whole address book. So if you were expecting an email from me and haven't heard - that's why.
So it's a good thing that I was prepared ahead of things and I wrote a blog for the Pink Hearts Society before I went to Leeds. Because today is the day for my Date With Kate over on the PHS today. It's   Time Out Thursday so I'm talking about what I do to relax - with talk of some of the wonderful theatre treats I've enjoyed recently..

Thursday, September 25, 2014


No I'm not retreating from life or writing  - but I'm busy finalising the details of the event I'm running this weekend.

It's not  exactly a course but a retreat - or as I've called it, a Focus. I'll not be running teaching sessions as such  but I'll  be helping my students focus on their  work - the novels they have written already - and showing them what works, and what doesn't. And then I'll be helping them to do more of the first, and less of the latter. And making them write more! There'll be plenty of time for one-to-one sessions, as well as group discussions.

It's the first time I've run this sort of an event and I'm really looking forward  to it. I know many of the students who will be there and the thought of spending a weekend with them discussing writing, and talking about their work in the comfort of a 4* hotel, with all meals provided is just heaven.  I might even  get some of my own writing done - if there's ever a break in the talk!

This weekend is fully booked, but I'm hoping to plan more like this in 2015.  So if you'd be interested, check out my Events Page  - or write to Relax and Write Courses to ask to be  let know what I'm doing.

I do have some more Relax and Write courses coming up -  there's one on the Practicalities of writing:
  • Writing a synopsis that sells your story.
  • Polishing those first three chapters.
  • What to include in your covering letter – introducing yourself to the Editor (or Agent).
  • Pitching the unique selling point of your story.
  • Pinpointing the type of reader and the market you’re aiming at.
That's coming up at the end of October
There are still some places on that course if you're interested.

And some courses have already been booked for next year:

By popular demand I’ll be back in Fishguard  again in 2015 to run the Advanced Romance Writing Course  again -
  • Date:  Friday 13th  February – Sunday 15th February  2015
  • Location: Fishguard Bay Hotel, Fishguard Pembrokeshire
  • Course: ADVANCED Contemporary Romance Workshop
Though the last time I checked, this was either already full  - or had just one place left on it. This course does sell out  very quickly, so if you're interested, contact Writers' Holiday   asap.

The very popular Writing Romantic Fiction   will be back at Weetwood Hall in March next year 
  • Date: 13- 15 March 2015
  • Location: Weetwood Hall Leeds   
Again that's with Relax and Write    

And of course there's the fabulous Writers' Holiday at Fishguard in July  2015  (27th July - 1st August)

So maybe there's something here that might interest you?

And if you want to know what past students have thought about my courses - their comments are here:

Anyway, back to the course preparation  . . . and if you'll be there at Weetwod Hall  from tomorrow - I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Introducing Rachael Thomas

I'm back from London - where I had a wonderful time. It's always great to meet up with fellow authors, talk face to face, and get to know the new authors, the ones with sparkling brand new  books and that wonderful glow of excitement that comes with having achieved their dreams.

There were a lot of new signings  at AMBA this time - I'm afraid I might forget some of the names if I try to list them all - but I do remember- because she was sitting directly opposite me -  Andie Brock who won second place in last years So You Think You Can Write and whose book is coming out in January.

There was one other new author I just couldn't forget because her special day was rather special for me too. This was because Friday was the day I got to introduce Rachael Thomas, one of my former students,  to everyone at AMBA as she joined us for her first lunch as a published author.  She even got to see her book on the shelves in the shops in London.

Regular visitors to my blog will remember how, at Fishguard for the Advanced Romance Writing course last year, I presented Rachael with her name on a book  - in the shape of a cake, iced to look like a HMB romance title.  I knew it had always been her dream to see her name on a real book - so I was almost as thrilled as she was when her So You Think You CanWrite 2013 entry made it into the ten ten selected submissions.   It didn't get into the top three - but that didn't hold Rachael back - and  after working on revisions  for her SYTYCW  submission, she finally had the call.

But I'll let Rachael tell you her story- welcome  Rachael-

From Stalker to Author

To be here, on Kate Walker’s blog is so exciting, not just because my debut Presents will be out in October, but because my writing journey began with a very special book.

Eight years ago, Liz Fielding gave a talk at my local writing group and she had with her a book which rekindled my desire to write, not just anything, but romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon.

You guessed it. That book was the fabulous 12 Point Guide toWriting Romance, by Kate Walker. I read it from cover to cover trying to discover all I needed to learn and in doing so, found out that Kate was doing a weekend course run by Writers’ Holiday at Fishguard, which was only a short drive from my home and even better, just six weeks later. So I immediately booked. The weekend was fantastic. It went far too fast, but I took in all I’d learnt and left having booked for the next year. I continued to attend each year, until I became known as one of Kate’s stalkers.

I submitted to Harlequin Mills and Boon and also joined the New Writers’ Scheme run by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. My aim each time I submitted a manuscript was to get a step closer to my ultimate goal of publication. I wrote and wrote, until my apprenticeship, which is how I’ve always thought of it, consisted of eight complete manuscripts and four false starts. In April last year I had yet another rejection from Harlequin Mills and Boon. At this point I really did wonder if ‘it’ was ever going to happen for me, so focused on writing the story I really wanted to write and not the story
I thought was wanted.

I had entered competitions like New Voices and So You ThinkYou Can Write in previous years, without any success. Then a friend encouraged me to enter So You Think You Can Write last September and from that point everything went a little crazy. I was amazed when my entry made the Top 50, which meant I could put my full manuscript on an editor’s desk. Just to have got that far, was more than I’d hoped for, but I was totally stunned when I learnt I’d made the Top 10.

I didn't make the Top 3, but I did get some really useful feedback from the editors and spent last Christmas revising my story before submitting it again in January. When I did get ‘the call’ I’d dreamed of for years it was totally unexpected and I tried to remain calm and composed, but inside I was jumping for joy.

My competition entry was given a sparkling new title of A Deal Before The Altar and will be out in October.

I still have to pinch myself and I don’t think I really will believe it until I see my book on the shelves. I
have had an amazing time over the last eight years, attending courses and conferences, but most of all, making some wonderful friends.

If I was to give one bit of advice to aspiring writers, it would be to write and keep writing, but most of all to enjoy it. As for stalking Kate at Fishguard – guess where I’ll be next February!

I'm so happy to be able to share in Rachael's celebrations - and to see her name on a book  in reality - not the cake one - we ate that! 

If there's one thing about Rachael's  story that  really matters, it's the way that  she never gave up and never stopped working towards her dream.  There's that saying  that  success is getting up one more time than you've been knocked down - and I think that's really true of Rachael's  determination and focus.  So if you're trying to write  or planning to enter this year's So You Think You Can Write contest -  hand on in there and keep trying. And good luck!

PS Rachael was the 14th student from one of my courses to have her book published - I'm now hoping for #15  -   perhaps someone out there will be the one!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back from Wales

I'm back - but only for a little while!  I just have time to unpack, do the laundry, repack and head out again.
This time I'm heading for London and meeting  up  with some of my author friends and editors for the annual AMBA (Association of Mills & Boon Authors) lunch.

This time will have an extra special delight for me as I'll  be helping to introduce lovely Rachael Thomas to everyone. Rachael was one of my students at the Fishguard Writers and Artists' weekends and her very first book - A Deal Before the Altar - is  out now. I haven't seen it in the shops yet, but I'm so looking forward to seeing it in print and getting my hands on it.

To mark this special occasions,. Rachael will be visiting here blog at the end of the week and she'll be talking about her book - and my course!

We had such a wonderful time in Wales at the Penfro Book Festival. The Babe Magnet gave a great talk and signed copies of The Girl Who Lived on Air. (Incidentally Rachael helped with this book - she took some of the photographs  - Sarah Jacobs' grave for example)

And what a beautiful venue  - Rhosygilwen Manor in Pembrokeshire - it was glorious. We slept in one
 of their courtyard rooms and had a wonderful time. It was so incredibly peaceful, and the gardens were glorious.  We were only there for two nights, but we felt as if we'd been on a full week's holiday.

The owners did ask me if I wanted to consider running a course - or maybe a writing  retreat there some time. I was so tempted! The only snag is that it is a long way from Lincolnshire . . .  but believe me I'm thinking - dreaming - about it.  What do you think? Take a look at some of these pictures  . . . wouldn't it be the perfect place to hide away and write?

I might not be running a retreat in Wales right now, but I do have some planned for the Relax and Write weekends I have coming up. These are at Weetwood Hall - rather closer to home!   The first retreat there is at the end of this month. This one is  fully booked now but I'm hoping to plan some ,more retreats in the future - keep your eye on my Events Page for these and other writing courses I'm running.

And come back later in the week to meet Rachael ands read about her book.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tote Bags Day

Today is the 12th of the month,  so that means that it's my day to post over on the Tote Bags 'N' Blogs site.

So that's where you'll find me today.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Girl Who Lived on Air - and Stephen Wade

By the time you read this I'll be on my way to  Gwyl Lyfrau Penfro, Book Festival  where my husband is talking about his new book The Girl Who Lived On Air. To celebrate this  - and to mark the fact that this has been chosen to be the Book of The Month in  Wales, I asked  the author - ie 'im indoors aka The Babe Magnet - to come and visit my blog and tell you a bit about his book - and the future titles he has coming up.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself as a writer?
I started as a poet, over forty years ago, as I had a vision of the writer as a suffering, isolated dreamer. Reality gradually crept in, and around 1998 I took more interest in non-fiction narrative.

And something about your latest book The Girl Who Lived on Air . What interested you about this story and made you decide to write it?
My imagination seized on this story about three years ago, when I read Sian Busby’s book, The Wonderful Little Girl. I was fascinated in the will to create a miracle in a time when the rational discipline of new sciences was rising in mid-Victorian Britain. Here was a young girl who was apparently, so some churchmen claimed, starving yet not emaciated, and still managing to live, albeit bed-ridden. I did what I always do – followed my enthusiasm – and worked to find some kind of explanation of what grew to be a national sensation in 1869.

Will you be doing any publicity in Wales to mark the publication of this book?
Yes, I’m giving a talk at the Gwyl Lyfrau Penfro, near Cardigan, this coming Sunday, 14th
September. I’ll be talking about the various interpretations of the story, and about the Victorian crisis of belief.

What other books do you have coming out – is there anything new coming up this year?
Scheduled for this month, although it has been delayed, is Creative Writing and the Art of Self-Discovery from Thames River Press. This is a new edition of my earlier Write Yourself a
New Life. My other new book out now is my first fictional work apart from short stories: a Victorian detective ‘cosy crime’ called A Thief in the Night  (The Mystery Press). Also, as I write this I have just completed a collection of short stories called Tales of Uncle Albert, which is being published by the Priory Press. It’s slightly in the Gervase Phinn genre – what I call ‘daft Yorkshire’ People with a long memory or very wide reading may recall Henry Livings’ Pennine Tales, which is much closer to the style I wanted.

And what do you plan for future books after that?
I’m half-way through my first crime novel, set in Cardiff in 1920 and called The Cage. It started when I researched Great War conscientious objectors. I’m loving the detective I’ve created, Ed Galber, Jewish ex-boxer and private eye!
On the non-fiction side, I’m working on Grimsby in the Great War and on The Justice Women, both for Pen and Sword books. The latter tells the social history of women barristers, prison officers and police constables through history in Britain. Much of the book will be biography, and my personal hero/heroine is Rose Heilbron, who was the first KC barrister, and who was the first woman judge to sit at the Old Bailey. She died in 2005.

Stephen Wade is also teaching the upcoming  Relax and Write   courses
 Write About your Life - build your anecdotes into memoirs/short stories
Weetwood Hall LEEDS 24 - 26 October 2014
Write the Past

Weetwood Hall Leeds 25 - 27 September 2015

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Where's Charlie - and Ruby?

People have been asking where Charlie and Ruby are - and what they've been up to.

- to catch up  with them - Charlie was helping me with the editing.  Good thing I didn't have to send in a paper copy of the new book, as it had large, muddy Charlie paw prints all over it by the time he'd checked it out. That's because he was only inside when it was raining.

Meanwhile Ruby has been enjoying every moment of being in the garden too. She started  off catching butterflies but has now progressed to grabbing dragonflies by leaping in the air and snatching them down while they're in flight!

When she's forced inside, she makes sure I do everything properly - including  inspecting the shower cubicle once I get out of it to make sure all those drops of water slide down the glass properly and go down the drain.

Ruby has been a little inspiration to me over some of the difficult weeks  before and after I lost my dear friend. She greets every morning with such a loud purr, and bounces into the day, no matter what the weather, the temperature, or anything.

I have been adopting her delighted 'It's a day!'  philosophy and find it works as a real day-brightener.

So - happy Wednesday - It's a day!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Good news day

As many regular visitors to this blog know, there have been some very difficult days and sadness that has knocked me off balance for a while.  So it's a great feeling to know that I have good news to share - and something(s) that have put a smile on my face.

Firstly there's the fact that the revisions I was working on  were just what my editor wanted and after a slow  (understatement!) start to my writing this year  that book has been accepted, scheduled and titled.  Which means that Olivero's Outrageous Proposal  will now be published in M&B Modern and Harlequin Presents in April 2015.  It will be my 63rd title.

It feels so good to have a new book in the pipeline and a publication date to look forward to.

There are a couple of other books coming up that I'm looking forward  to - but they're not by me  . . .

This weekend I'm heading for Wales where I shall  be proudly taking on the role of Mrs Babe Magnet when my husband is speaking at the Penfro Book Festival - talking about his book The Girl Who Lived on Air which is about a 19th century mystery ( a true one)  set in a small village in Carmarthenshire in 1869.   We've been told that this book will be Book of The Month in branhces of WH Smith and Waterstones in Wales this month - so I'm looking forward to seeing that.

And maybe I'll see if the  author will come along and tell  you some more about it.

Another guest  who will be coming to tell you about her brand new book - her very first - is lovely Rachael Thomas, one of my students from my Advanced Romance Writing course in Fishguard (another Welsh connection)  Rachael's  Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents title A Deal Before the Altar is published in  October - though it's out already on the Mills & Boon web site.
 Obviously I'm very very proud of one of my students' success and I've invited Rachael along to my blog to tell you all about book.

Talking of courses - I'm busy planning the ones I have coming up and looking into new ideas and dates for 2015 - so I'll let you know more about those too.  There are details of some coming up on the Events Page on my web site and I'll post up more details just as  soon as I can.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Pink Heart Day

So today I'm blogging over  on the Pink Heart Society blog  for my first Date With Kate post there since their new makeover.

I'm talking about writing courses and what you want from them.,

What about you? If there were other courses I ran - apart from Writing Romantic Fiction or the Advanced  Writing Romantic Fiction I teach at Fishguard -  what other writing topics /courses would you be interested in?  I'm running a writing retreat At Weetwood Hall next - looking forward to that.

Details of all my courses can be found on the Events page on my website.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Pink Hearts' Brand New Makeover

Life has been off kilter for a while and it's been a struggle to keep up with everything  but I'm hoping to get back on track rather more from now one - sort of new month, new  school year, new plans . . . Let's hope it works.

In the meantime, as regular visitors to my blog know, every month I write a special guest post for the Pink

Anyway, today is the relaunch of  the Pink Heart Society blog   with a brand new look and a rather different programme of blogs on different themes for different days.  As the editors say on the  blog today:
Heart Society blog.  I've been doing this ever since the blog started  way back in . . . was it really 8 years ago?

It's the Little Pink Dancing Guy's birthday today!
To celebrate eight years in the Blogaverse, we're revealing our new look and giving you a preview of what's coming next.

The book world has changed lots since The Pink Heart Society opened its doors back in 2006. Readers are buying books in different places, authors are faced with more choices when it comes to where and how they publish their work and we felt it was time the PHS reflected that. We'll still proudly continue to wave the flag for category romance-it's at the heart of everything we do!-but as our alum spread their wings, we'll be following them on their adventures and cheering their success. That way, we'll always know where we can find those little books with lots of heart 

Want to know more? Well, check out the blog today for further details.

I'll still be writing my regular Date With Kate column  - but it won't be always on the first Friday of the month as it was before. Instead it will be in the first week of the month - but it could be on any day of the week now. And so any theme for the topic of the blog.

I'll be starting the new routine tomorrow - so I hope you'll come by and visit.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Read A Romance blog

Busy with revisions - so looking forward to getting to the end of them and sending this book back to my editor.
But just to remind you that it's still Read A Romance month   over at Celebrate Romance-  lots of  posts by authors talking about why love romance novels.

Specially this great  one by  Wendy the SuperLibrarian - well worth reading - like plenty of the others - while I'm preoccupied!

Hope to be back soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tote Bags Day

I'm busy with revisions  and a couple of other things that life has thrown at me - but today is  12 August, and the 12th of each month  is my day to write a post over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs.

So that's where I am today.   And being very British, I'm talking about the weather!

After the storms and downpours of the last few days, I'm hoping it's a little calmer today. Not that it will matter too much as I have my head down and my focus on getting revisions back to my editor. But I hope that for everyone who is holidaying - specially with schoolchildren - that the day is bright and sunny for you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Winner at Last

My apologies for being missing for going missing for a while - life can do that to you sometimes.

Writers' Holiday at Fishguard, preparing for some more courses coming up - details to follow -  revisions - all take up time when I was already too bust dealing with stuff to breathe . ..

So I'm late coming to announce the winner of the copy of Julie Cohen's lovely  book Dear Thing.

But to remedy that now -  Charlie the Maine Coon has forgiven me for  going away - twice!  - and has now condescended to pick a winner and his choice is:


So Nova, please  would  you contact me and let me know your mailing address and I'll get the book into the mail to you.

Thank you to everyone else who commented  - and a special thank you to Julie herself for answering all my questions so fully and interestingly.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Trying to catch up

I don't seem to have had time to breathe since I last posted on my personal site - and I know I have to pick the winner of Julie Cohen's great book. But today is my date for posting over on The Pink Heart Society blog - so that's where you'll find me. And as I'm just back from the fabulous WritersHoliday - that's what I'm talking about.

I have to be away again  for the weekend so I'll still be trying to catch up when I get back.  but if you want here. 
something interesting to read while I'm away - then  there's plenty for you

August is Read A Romance  month at Celebrate Romance and there are  93 fabulous authors talking about  why they love and write romance - and  there are giveaways galore too.

So you won't even miss me. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014


I'm feeling really proud of my sister. She's just completed the Nijmegen March in the Netherlands.

That's 30 km a day each day for four days - in  summer temperatures!

Like me, she's no spring chicken but hasn't let that hold her back.

Congratulations Anne! Now enjoy your rest & recuperation - put your feet up!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Talking to Julie Cohen Part 2

Welcome back to Part Two of my special interview with Julie Cohen

What types of characters do you like creating best?
I like outsiders the best. I often have a main character who just doesn't fit in, even though they might want to. Romily in Dear Thing is like that, and so is Felicity, the heroine of my next book Where Love Lies. They're not particularly similar to each other—one is a single mother with a PhD in entomology, and one is a children's book artist who doesn't want children and who has a very unconventional background—but neither one of them is quite normal.

What themes intrigue you most – and make you want to write them?

I am a big proponent of identifying the theme of the novel you are writing, because I think it helps to clarify everything about the book—the characters, the plot, the setting, the imagery, the title. I have themes I tend to turn to again and again, and I work them out in a variety of ways through my stories. One is 'identity'. Lately, I've been drawn to the question 'What is love?' I suppose they're the same question down deep, actually.

What is your writing process? 
The more I write, the more I realise that I don't have a writing process that's set in stone. Every book is different. That said, I tend to have a progression, that goes something like this:
  • I spend some time thinking about my characters and my story. I do some pre-writing and possibly a little bit of research. I don't really plan out the story, but I have a general idea of where it might end and a few things that might happen on the way.
  • I write a dirty first draft, whenever possible not stopping to edit. I'll probably do some more research as I go, once I've worked out what I need.
  • About halfway through, I'll hit the suckage point, where I am certain this book is the worst thing ever written and that I really suck.
  • I take a lot of showers, drink a lot of tea, and go for a lot of walks or jogs.
  • Near the end, I speed up a lot, and by the time I've typed the last page, I finally know how to fix all those things that I got wrong at the beginning.
  • I revise the book, often with the help of Post-Its, doing my final bits of research, changing everything so it makes sense, and polishing up the prose.
How much research do you do for your books.  I know you had to research Regency dancing for  The Summer of Living Dangerously – have there been other interesting things you’ve discovered as a result of working on a book.
It depends on the book, but I do like to get things as accurate as possible, and I also do like to do weird research. I loved learning Regency dancing for The Summer of Living Dangerously—I also had to try on a Regency corset for that book. For Dear Thing I had to research surrogacy laws in the UK, and the experience of surrogacy, and the processes of IVF, but I also visited entomological collections and spent some days on Dorset beaches, which was fun. For various books, I've had to learn about bat handling, comic book production, aromatherapy, speaking Klingon, roller coaster design, being a stunt woman, and being a fake psychic. Being a novelist is a marvellous excuse for being really nosy. One fun story is that I consulted with Purbeck Ice Cream for Getting Away With It, where the heroine's family runs an ice cream factory. I had to make up a new ice cream flavour for the book, and I chose the weirdest thing I could—beetroot and horseradish. And Purbeck Ice Cream actually made the flavour specially because of my book, and sold it!

Your new title  Where Love Lies is out soon – can you tell us a bit about this book and how you came to write it?

It's out in hardback on the 31st July and I am incredibly excited about it. Dear Thing has done really well for me, but Where Love Lies is one of those books that feels really very close to my heart. I can't actually tell you very much about it, other than that it's about a woman who believes that she's happily married, until out of the blue, she starts experiencing overwhelming memories of her first love, ten years ago—memories that are accompanied by the scent of frangipani. And this scent and these memories leads to a whole sequence of events that change the lives of everyone involved.

I felt so deeply when I was writing this book, and I hope it really affects readers as much as it has affected me. The early reviews have been amazing and I'm over the moon about that, so I hope people like it.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on my next book, which should be out next year. It's a challenge for me, because it's got three heroines, each with a distinct story and point of view. I hope I can make it work

Don't forget that to be in with a chance to win a copy of Julie's book Dear Thing - you need to have left a post in the comments so that Julie can get to know you better  and then your name will be entered into the draw to win this great book.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Grab a bargain

If you don't have a copy already, or if you'd just like to have a copy on your Kindle - perhaps for holiday reading, I thought you might like to know that The Proud Wife is currently on special offer on Amazon

It's free!

I found it on Amazon UK and Amazon  USA

Not sure about anywhere else - I've seen it on  Amazon France India and Spain - but for some reason not in Australia.

Sorry - but this is a promo that Amazon themselves are doing not me.

The second part of interview with Julie Cohen is coming up soon

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Talking to Julie Cohen Part 1

Regular readers of this blog will already know about my dear friend and today's special guest -  Julie Cohen

It's just over 12 years (how the heck did it get to be that long ago?!)   since  I first met Julie  - in person that is - I'd already met her on line on various forums. Then we met up at the RNA Conference  which was in Durham that year - and since then I've been lucky enough to have her in my personal and my professional life.   When I first met her she didn't have a single book published -  now she's a real shooting star with a wonderfully sparkly success that I'm thrilled to see.  This summer the fantastic news was that her latest  novel Dear Thing had been chosen as one of the  Summer Reads in the Richard and Judy Bookclub..  It's her special focus week this week - so look out for the book in WH Smith if you're in the UK.

And if you're not . . . well, I'm offering you a chance to win a paperback copy  (see part 2 of this special interview for  more details about this book). I was lucky enough to be given a personal copy by Julie herself but as I want to share this book with you I've bought an extra copy that will be in a prize draw after  the weekend.- All  you have to do to have your name in the draw is to come along and chat with Julie - leave a comment and  you'll be in with a chance of winning this great read.

So now it's time to hand you over to Julie -

Welcome Julie!
Please tell us  a little bit about   yourself.

I'm American, I have crooked little fingers, and I'm obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and, at the moment, Hugh Dancy. Back when I was a fledgling writer, I was taken under the wing of a lovely and talented writer named Kate Walker, who gave me faith that I could achieve my dreams.

Your current book (Dear Thing) has been chosen to be a Richard and Judy Summer Read. This must have been hugely exciting as well as incredibly frustrating when you couldn’t tell anyone.  How did this all happen – and how did you hear the exciting news.

I heard the news that my book had been chosen for the Richard and Judy summer book club, in February. I was alone in the house when my agent rang, and I screamed and did a little dance. It's incredible exposure for your book to be chosen. But my agent told me that I must tell no one at all until the list was announced in May. She eventually capitulated: I could tell my husband, and my mother.

My husband was on his way to Japan but I caught him before he got on his flight. My mother, I told a couple of weeks later when I went home to the US to visit. Otherwise I had to keep my mouth shut. It was very, very hard at times—but at other times it was like waiting for Christmas, knowing that there's this marvellous thing coming up, and just knowing makes you happy.

I met with Richard and Judy in April, and because I couldn't tell anyone about it, I had to invent a cover story for why I was buying a new dress, getting my hair done, and wearing full make-up to drop off my kid at school. Fortunately I was filming at Penguin in the morning so I just told everyone that.

And the day that the news broke, I spent the entire day on Twitter and Facebook answering lovely, lovely messages from gorgeous friends. It was like a birthday, but even better. I don't think I've had quite such an

exciting day since I had my first book accepted for publication.
How did you come to write Dear Thing ?
Several of my dear friends have suffered from infertility; I myself had three miscarriages when my husband and I were trying for a baby. I know how devastating it can be. I also know how tough and rewarding motherhood can be. And that's why I wanted to write Dear Thing, which is about an infertile couple and the single mother who offers to be their surrogate—I wanted to explore these emotions, and look at the same situation from two very different women's points of view.

You’ve written books for several different publishers, starting with Mills and  Boon and then going on to Little Black Dress etc. Do you you think your writing has changed  strongly from publisher to publisher?

In the ten years since I sold my first book, the sort of story I've written has changed a lot. I've gone from writing series romance, to line-specific rom-com, to mainstream light women's fiction, to more book-club serious women's fiction. I think my books have become more complex, both in structure and in content and topic. I've been extremely lucky to have editors, right from the beginning, who have believed in me and who have challenged me to up my game with every book I write. 

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