Friday, January 24, 2014

Celebrating a new author

Yesterday I was talking about the new courses I will be running this year.(I'll come back to talk about the second one - Leeds - October  later) But anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that one of my favourite places for teaching a writing course  is the one that's coming up at the end of February as it has done for the past few years.

At the very first Fishguard course I ever taught I met a lovely lady who has gone on to be one of my favourite students   and a dear friend.  Rachael Thomas started with the earliest, basic course I ran there and then she joined me on the Advanced Romance Writing Course that I organised to take the basic tuition on to another stage.

Away from the course she worked hard,  writing when she could grab time as well as  caring for her family, helping run the family farm. She  joined the RNA's  New Writers' Scheme, submitted manuscripts and learned from  the critiques - she worked and worked and she didn't give in. Like so many of us - me included - she had rejections that knocked her confidence but she picked herself up and had the courage to keep on going, keep trying.

Last year she entered the  huge So You Think You Can Write contest   and her story - Behind The Scandalous Facade  was chosen as one of that contests Top Ten - out of the huge number of entries.  She didn't win first place  and the publishing contract  that was part of the prize - but the editor who had read her entry loved it so much that she sent revision suggestions for Rachael to work on, which she did.

And yesterday I heard the very special, wonderful news that another of my students has received The Call.

I love this moment -  sharing the success of someone who has worked so  hard, learned so much, had the courage to pick herself up from rejection and  keep on going, keep on trying -  and now has the wonderful achievement of knowing that her dream has come true. Rachael is the perfect example of how you should never give in because this story, this  manuscript, might just one day be The One.

2014 is a special year for me. In  December it will be 30 years since my own very first book was published.  I remember only too well (even after all these years) how it  felt to wake up the morning after I received  the Call (though in those days it was a letter!) - the way that Rachael is feeling this morning. So I'm delighted to share this special year  with her and her first book ever.

Last year at Fishguard I helped celebrate Rachael's birthday by giving her a cake  in the shape of a book with her name on it - in the hope that one day that cake would become a real book. I'm so happy that this year  we will be able to celebrate her wonderful success.  And I'm so happy to have been able to help just a bit in getting to this special day.

Many many  congratulations Rachael -  I'm so happy for you. Here's to your  first book - I can't wait to read it -  and let's hope it's just  number one  of many for the future in your career as a published romance writer!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New Courses for 2014

I've been asked about the new  writing  courses I said I had coming up  for this year. I've sent all the details to my web site designer so she can post them up on my Events  page -  but as she's rather busy right now,and I'm not sure exactly when these details will be posted, I'll put some news on here as well

So here's the first one - coming up in May.

Relax and Write  - 16 - 18 May 2014
Writing Romantic Fiction  with Kate Walker
Place: Weetwood Hall LEEDS  Yorkshire  
Cost: £240
Romantic Fiction is big business.  This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write romantic fiction.  It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. The courses are informal and fun.
•             Creating realistic characters
•             Sustaining pace and conflict
•             Packing emotional punch
•             Writing sex scenes
•             Crafting a satisfactory ending.
If you’re just starting out writing romance, 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.
Also running on the same weekend :
Creative Writing & the Art of Self-Discovery -  with Stephen Wade
For further information contact:  Lois Bird-Maddox ‘Relax & Write’ Course Organiser
Write to: The Secretary, ‘Relax & Write’ 9 (D) Langthorn Close,
Frampton Cotterell, Bristol BS36 2JH.
Book early to guarantee a place.  Book early and pay by installments.
Non-participating partners welcome.

These courses are small and informal. The important words are relax and write.
 I already have bookings for the May course, so if you're interested please contact Lois and let her know so that she can reserve yous a place and you won't miss out.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Want to come on one of my writing courses ?

I'm trying to get organised.

The emphasis there is on the word trying. One of these days, I'll turn into Superwoman and have everything under control, everywhere tidy, everything in its right place . ..  but I'm afraid I'm one of those people who work best in 'creative chaos'!   Well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!

One of the things I'm hoping to get done before the end of the month is to update my web site. It has been sadly neglected in the past year, and I need to get it sorted.   I'll be totally  updating my Events page where I list everything I'm doing like the writing courses I run in  various places through the year.

I have new courses to let you know about - more details on those in my next post - but before I do
  that, I need to  talk about my Advance Romance Writing Course in Fishguard in February .

This course is strictly limited to 15 places available - it has to be limited because it is such an intensive, focused course that it's impossible to manage with any more than this number. Add in the  one to one critiquing sessions and the weekend goes by in a flash,

This year's course has been  sold out  almost since the dates were first announced  last year.

But yesterday I learned of an unexpected cancellation so, for the first time ever, I do  have a single place on this year's course.

It's coming up in February -   Friday 28th February - Sunday 2nd March to be exact.
Where?  Fishguard Bay Hotel  Fishguard  Pembrokeshire
And the cost is just   £229 all  in - that's room, all meals, and the course . . . six workshops sessions and your one to one.

I know it's short notice - but this place has only just become available.  So if you're interested  you can contact me - use the link at the bottom of the page- (kate At  or get in touch with Gerry Hobbs of Writers' Holidays who organizes this event  - and you might be able to grab this rare available place.

But  do remember that this is the Advanced  Romance Writing Course. Anyone who attends this course  should have been on  one of my foundation courses - or one run by another writer. And you do need to submit a chapter for assessment. This isn't a one size fits all course, I tailor the workshops to the people attending.  It's focused, intensive - but we also have a lot of fun!

If you're interested contact Writers' Holiday here

If the foundation courses are what you're looking for - more news on that coming up.  And all details will soon be on my Events page (I hope!)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Little and Large 2

Someone  - well, several people actually, who saw the previous picture of Charlie and Ruby  on the settee, wondered what the difference in size looked like when they were standing on the floor.

Well, they don't often stand beside each other very much at the moment - if Ruby comes alongside Charlie it's because she wants to bop him on the  ear - or on his tail - so that he will chase her. They spend a lot of time thundering up and down stairs, one chasing after the other.

But they do pause for breath when they get hungry and it's time to eat - so I was able to snatch this photo  while things were quiet the other day.

This is as close as they get together when it's food time!
But you can see the difference!

Ruby has grown a lot since she arrived - but she'll have to go a long way to match Charlie!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tote Bags 'N' Blogs

So today is January 12th.  How's your New Year so far? Have you settled in to 2014 or is it still all  bright sparkling and new to you?
Have you made resolutions? Kept any of them?

I've spent the last week or so sorting and organizing - oh, and throwing a ball for  a small, scampering kitten to chase  all over the place. I'm relieved to have the Christmas tree down so that she's give up climbing that!  And I'm particularly glad to know that she is no longer going to entice Charlie  to follow her up it!

So, as I mentioned a few days ago, there is a slight change in the way my guest blogs are organised for 2014 - and that means that instead of being on the first Sunday of each month, my post for Toe Bags 'n' Blogs will now be on the 12th of each month.

Which of course is today.

And Tote Bags is here

So that's where my post today is - all about some of the things I am looking forward to so much in 2014.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Settling in

I've had lots of inquiries to see how Ruby is doing and if she's settling in well. The answer is, yes, it's  now really seeming as if she has always been here. She picked me out at the Cats' Protection shelter and she has  pretty obviously felt at home from the moment she arrived.

She has grown so fast - acquiring very long legs so I'm not sure what size she might end up as when she is a fully grown cat.  Nothing like the huge cat that Charlie is, but then he's a Maine Coon so it's in  the breed. At the moment she still looks like a little bit dropped off Charlie - see the photo for  size comparison!

She is slowly winning Charlie over.  From growling and hissing  for two day,s they moved in to tolerating each other from a distance. Now they often touch noses in greeting and  have started to play with each other a little. The only trouble is that size of Charlie's. When he plays chasing and pouncing he is a bit awesome and  there have been some bloodcurdling shrieks from Ruby when she feels overwhelmed.

But she's working on growing to  even out the difference. She had her second set of vaccinations on Tuesday and has put on 0.5 kilo since she arrived. She has also lost the harsh, roughness of her coat and is starting to look really glossy and sleek.  She is also a total charmer - no one can resist her , not even Charlie, even if he does try to play the Alpha Male who is determined to keep his distance!  A perfect feline Modern Romance going on before my eyes!

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Mary Wibberley

I had some sad news yesterday. One of my personal favourite romance writers died during the Christmas holidays. Mills and Boon author Mary Wibberley, from Worsley near Manchester,  died at the age of 79 after a short illness.

Mary's first novel, Black Niall, was published in 1973, after which she went on to pen a further 47 romantic fiction novels and was a firm favourite with Mills and Boon fans throughout the years.

She caught the writing bug when she had an article printed in the Manchester Evening News when she was a child, dreaming of being an author as a schoolgirl and continuing to write whilst working part-time and bringing up her two children with her adored  husband Derek.

After seven manuscript rejections she finally got the letter she had been waiting for when she was 38.
As well as Mills and Boon novels, Mary also produced a guide for budding romantic fiction authors, To Writers With Love, and continued to encourage others to tell their own stories, especially at the annual Swanwick Writers' Conference which she attended for more than 40 years.

When I was first trying to write for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Mary’s novels were some of the ones I read with the greatest pleasure.  I loved her alpha male heroes and her spirited heroines.  I still have  my copy of her book Fire and Steel  with the hero Garth Vanner and heroine Arwenna. I must have read this several times over.

I was lucky enough to meet Mary, first at a writers’ day  in Eccles where  I was giving a talk. She was a big lady in all ways, tall, statuesque, warm, approachable and generous.   I remember that she invited all the sp was filled with family and numerous cats and dogs. Later I saw her at the early Author Days and Association  of Mills & Boon Author s meetings. 
eakers back to her house which

Mary’s how to write romance guide – To Writers With Love was  a great help to me when I was learning my craft – it read very much like hearing her talk, as if it was her voice in my ears as I read it. I still have my copy that she signed for me personally and when I heard the sad news of her death I took it out to look through it again.

I plan on rereading Fire and Steel this weekend in memory of her – and I’m going to go through To Writers With Love to remind me of her sound, practical and down to earth advice before I teach my course in Fishguard again in February.   I specially loved the chapter titled Pardon Me, You’re Treading on My Fantasy – a staunch rejection  of anyone who scorned romance novels as rubbish.

To quote:
‘So don’t be apologetic when you become successful and get your first romantic novel in print. What you are writing is escapist fiction and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Fairy Tales have been with us since the beginning of time, Everyone needs fantasy in their lives.’

Well said, Mary!

She opened the introduction to  To Writers With Love   with the words -

When I put down my pen for the last time and go to that Great Writer's Workshop in the Sky, my first task will be to ensure that there are unlimited supplies of paper (narrow feint, no margins, A4 size), my second that there are a few thousand pens (Bic crystal, black, medium point). If there aren't, I'm not staying.

I hope she has all the paper and pens she wants now. 

RIP Mary.

Friday, January 03, 2014

First Friday - Pink Hearts

It's  January 3rd and so it's the first Friday of the month. And , as with 2013, the first Friday of each month is when I post over atThe Pink Heart Society so that's where you'll find me today.

The First Friday Date With Kate will stay the same this year, for the PHS, The other regular guest post I do will be at Tote Bags and Blogs as before - but instead of the first Sunday of each month, that pot will now be on the 12th of every month from now on. So I'll be posting over there on the 12th January - which, now I've checked the calendar, will actually be a Sunday this month. But from then on it will be just whichever day the 12th falls

If you go and read the Pink Heart Blog, you'll see that I'm admitting to not being as organised as I'd like. I deliberately took some time over the Christmas break to stay away from the computer and work-related things  so there's a bit  of catching up to do! (A bit - now there's an understatement!)

I have sent out prizes to everyone who has contacted me  so hopefully the books will reach you just as soon as the mail can manage it.

There is one last winner who hasn't been announced - and that was the winner of the Christmas Eve giveaway - Charlie was too busy playing with Ruby's toys and trying to follow her up the Christmas tree - to be interested in  picking a winner   but now that things have calmed down a but, he has picked

as the winner of a copy of A Throne For The Taking.   Sian please send me your postal address so |I can
send you your prize.

Now I'm going back to my 'To Do' list - maybe by the end of the weekend I'll be a bit more organised - or I'll just have a while new set of To Do Lists to work on.

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year - and that 2014 will give you lots of happy days, joyful times and  love to leave you with truly happy memories.
#And everyone in the UK who is afflicted by the torrential rain, high winds and flooding  - keep safe - and, hopefully - dry!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my friends, readers and fellow writers - I hope 2014 is truly joyful for you but most of all a year filled with love.
from Kate
 and Charlie
and of course from Ruby

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