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. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

A special guest.

I'm still struggling to keep up with things  and help my friend's family.  Add in a course for Writers' Holiday that I need to finalise,  revisions on the latest book that have to be done  and it's all a bit hectic.

So I may not be able to blog and chat   much for the next week  or so.,

But  don't worry - this blog will not be completely empty as I've asked a very special friend and a very talented writer to come along and talk to you,  She will be here on  Wednesday  with part one of her interview and the second part will follow in a couple days after that.

I hope you'll enjoy learning more about my special guest (you've met her before . . .)  and she has some great news about her most recent book - and the one coming soon.

So watch this space. . . .

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Thank you.

I want to thank everyone  for your kindness and thoughtfulness  sand all the lovely messages I've received  here and in private since I posted about the loss of my dear friend.

These messages have meant such a lot to me and  really have helped in a sad and difficult time - thank you all!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Proud Wife

If you haven't read it - or want a kindle edition because you had in in print - I've just discovered that The Proud Wife is currently on special   deal at Amazon   for £0.00

Now's your chance to grab a copy - perhaps for some holiday reading?

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


Facebook tells me I have 1,500+ friends – er, well – no not really.  I have that many connections on Facebook – and they are all welcome to come and find out what I’m doing, read the public posts I put up there.

But friends – that’s a different thing.  Real friends.

I saw a card the other day  that said ‘It takes a long time to grow an old friend.’ And that was something that caught  me on the raw and held.  Because for 33 years of my life I have had a truly special ‘old friend.’   

 We met when our boys were at playgroup.  We shared being  mothers, adjusting to being at home after  having a working life. Then we shared readjusting to a working life after our sons went to school. We shared the ‘empty nest ‘ feeling when they went to university.  She knew about my attempts to write romance when no one else apart from my husband and sister did. She read my very first attempt at creating a novel.  And she was there to celebrate with my when the first ever book was accepted and then published.   She was there for the 50th celebration too. When that  book she'd read was rewritten and accepted later, I dedicated it to her.  We shared  so many celebrations,birthdays,  anniversaries,  happiness, sadness, silliness,  just ordinary days, dog walks, cats, meals, coffees – endless coffees when we talked and talked – we never ran out of things to say.  There was never a silence between us.

Until now. The cliché is that this weekend I ‘lost’ her. I didn’t lose her. That implies a carelessness, a moment of inattention. That never happened. Never could have happened. I could never be careless or even casual about such a friend.  But sadly (what an inadequate word!)  she is no longer in my life.
 Almost exactly to the day that she walked into my world all those years ago, now that vile disease cancer has taken her out of it. And I hate the huge hole she has left behind.

I still have friends – friends I value so very much -  but I no longer have her. As someone said yesterday, with true understanding, I now live in a world that’s shifted on its axis and will in some ways always remain off kilter.   She was quite simply irreplaceable.

My true friends will know how valuable they are to me –  and thankfully she knew that too before she died.   I’m not going to feel like chattering on social media for a while –  but I’m sure you’ll understand.   I’d love it if everyone could make sure that the real friends in their lives know how you feel about them.   Friends matter so much.  Let your friends know that.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Pink Hearts' Day

Today is the first Friday of July which means that it's the day for my Date With Kate post over on the Pink Heart Society blog. So that's where you'll find me today.  The post has been a little late - and there's a reason for that - life has been chaotic and far from normal this past week.

It'll be much the same next week - and then from the end of the following week I'll be off to Wales to teach the Writing Romance Course at Fishguard.  So looking forward to meeting up with friends again and making new ones beside the sea,

All my current courses and the details for booking on them are now up on my web site Events Page.  All of these are filling up fast - if not fully booked already - so   get your enquiry/booking in early to make  sure of a place.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Ruby's progress

People have been asking how Ruby is doing  -it's a while since I posted anything about her  (and Charlie).   So - to rectify that.

Ruby has been growing steadily and  healthily. She is now a  beautiful and sturdy  8 month old queen. (9 months  next Wednesday. She has  the Babe Magnet totally under her little white paw - and big brother Charlie is far more smitten with her than he will admit.   They play pouncing  and chasing games together, either up and down the stairs or round the garden. But she has the advantage of him there as she is a brilliant climber of tress and  she can scramble up high,. leaving him well behind.

She is also the home supervisor, checking on everything from washing to mopping the floor - or the  efficiency of the shower.  She loves to go into it and study the water drops after the shower has been used.

She has also realised that a writer needs  a little companionship when working on a book or anything else that involves using the computer and keyboard. So she has taken up the traditional cat's position on my desk - between keyboard and computer screen.  Like this

In this she is following in the paws of many cats before her - like the wonderful Sir Sidney ACOSB  (A Cat of Superior Breeding)


And the beautiful Flora . Both sadly missed.
Flora Flooziebelle

And if you want to compare her size with  big brother Charlie - well, as you can see he  still is and always be her BIG brother, no matter how much she grows.

On other matters  -  thanks to my lovey and efficient web designer Heather Reed, my web site has been updated with  all the details about the new Kindle edition of the 12 Point Guide - and the upcoming events/writing courses over the next few month.


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