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.

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