Thursday, March 31, 2016

Long weekend memories

I hope everyone who celebrated Easter had a wonderful time, lots of chocolate (if you wanted it!) and a relaxing time adjusting to the time change as the clocks went forward.

We had family  to stay - The Offspring and his lovely fiancée and the grand-dog  Lola  came to visit and stayed overnight. This was the first time that Lola had stayed and the cats were pretty indignant at having a d-o-g invade their space.  It was funny to see Ruby (who is about the size of a little bit dropped off  Lola)  fluffing herself up - with the fur on the back of her spine standing on edge to show she was no pushover. Charlie gave some fierce deep growls to warn the intruder that this

was his house  and she'd better watch her step.  But Lola has grown up with 6 cats so she knows the ways of felines and then  after  a few hours they   all settled down and  kept  a safe distance so that peace could be established.,

Most of the weekend,  I spent a fascinating  and nostalgic time watching the ceremonies carried out in Dublin to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising of 1916.  It was an important  Centenary for Ireland and it re-awoke some personal memories of my own.

One hundred years ago my mother was just a baby of seven weeks,  and my father was  14 months old, both  born in Ireland  but obviously totally unaware of the major events in Dublin that week.  My grandfather though was only too well aware of what was going on. He had been friends with Eamonn De Valera  who taught in 2 of the colleges where my grandfather had held the position just before him.

Fifty years later, I was in Ireland at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. My grandfather had just died and left behind his collection of technical and complex  mathematics text books. (He had gained a degree in Mathematics and Classics) These were not the sort of thing that any of his granddaughters were at all interested in.The only person my mother could think of who might be interested in those books was the man who had once sent my grandfather messages in complicated codes with mathematical problems - Eamon DeValera who was then  President of Ireland.  He and my grandfather had  broken off contact and ended their friendship  as a result of  'the Troubles'  and  it was only when she wrote to tell him that he learned of my grandfather's death.  As a result, he then invited my family to afternoon tea at his official residence Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin. I remember a very tall, almost blind old man (though he hid that most of the time, only admitting any problem when he asked my mother to pour the tea instead of going it himself) who admitted that he when he was asked to sing at school picnics,  always sang The Minstrel Boy to the tune of The Harp That Once Through Tara's Hall. He was thrilled to receive the mathematical tomes, though I doubt that he was able to read them with any ease.   No mention was made of any of the events of Easter 1916, or afterwards,  even though it was the year of the 50th anniversary.

The generation of my family who lived in Ireland at the time of the Easter Rising are now  all dead, but later this year, the Babe Magnet and I hope to revisit the country of their birth to mark this centenary  and to visit  and the family landmarks  - the house where my mother was born in Clones, the church she was married in in Limerick,  my grandfather's house in Dublin.  That will bring full circle the memories   that this 100th anniversary  has sparked off.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A special gift from a past student.

I’ve been busy sorting out my office. This room gets so messy when other things in life are going on – and even worse when the ‘other things’ are writing the next book.
Or planning a course that I’m teaching.

So today has had a bit of both – I’m mapping out the next  novel I’m writing  - and the one that goes with it. This book is planned as a duet, part of two linked books – because my editor asked for that. So really I have two stories to work on and plan out.  Two heroes, two heroines, two stories – ones that are connected and interlinked.

Good thing then that the course I’m currently planning out is  - Beginning Middle and End - Planning Your Novel
I’ll be looking at things like  beginning well, ending so that the reader wants to pick up another of your stories, avoiding the sagging middle!

So hopefully that will get me started well  as I plan out the sessions for the workshops. And then if I get into a muddle and find that I have hit a wall, or , worse, writer’s block , or all my confidence has seeped away, driven away by those dangerous enemies to writers The Crows of Doubt,  then hopefully my workshops for the next course - The Writer's Repair Shop (at Swanwick in Derbyshire )– will give me some help and boosts to my confidence to put things right.

(It's a course for those with work in progress. We've all been there - getting that nasty feeling that some things are not quite right with the book we're working on - but what's the caused it? And even more important, how to fix it? Problems that we will look at: Where to begin your story. Writers' Block and ways to break through it. Characters who don't come alive - how to sustain them as 3 dimensional beings. The sagging middle. Letting your story slip away from you/ lack of belief in what you're writing. Tropes or Clichés - it's all been written before)

So it’s been a busy and concentrated time.  But today I received a package that reminded me of just why I love  running these courses so much. Apart from the enjoyment of meeting up with students, some of whom have now become close friends and some are newcomers, hopefully destined to join that group in the future, there are the moments when discovering that one of my students is now a past-pupil and has achieved her dream of becoming a published author and is launched on her own  successful writing career.

One of these successes is Rachael Thomas who, as most of you will know, was a regular at my Fishguard Bay courses for some years and who had her first book A Deal Before the Altar was published in  published in  October 2014. Since then there have been  four more  with several lined up to appear on the bookshop shelves very soon.

Which brings me back to the package that arrived today. The Sheikh’s Last Mistress will be Rachael’s newest title – published in May this year and I’ve been lucky enough to be sent an advanced copy.  So, I have to acknowledge that this book isn’t new to me.  I first read the opening of it when Rachael brought it for a one-to-one at Fishguard  and then I read the early version of the full story in 2012. So I recognise it and the essential elements of it very well.  But those earlier versions didn’t  succeed and, wisely Rachael put the book away until she could look at it with clearer and more objective eyes.  (One of the things I often recommend when a writer gets really stuck and just can’t see where the book is going wrong.) Then, when your head is clearer, you can take it out and look at it afresh.  (Yes – that will be one of the points I’ll make in the  Swanwick course.)

Another point I always make is not to throw anything away – what doesn’t work now can always be reworked  when you know more, have a clearer idea of where you’re going and what editors want. So I’m extra delighted to get my hands on an advance copy of The Sheikh’s Last Mistress. I’m so looking forward to reading about Rachael’s heroine Destiny and the hero Sheikh Zafir in these new reincarnations, reworked, revised – but built on the same foundations as that first version I read in 2012.

It’s so great that my courses and my advice have helped  other writers move from student to published author – and to read their works  as printed  books  rather than in manuscript. 

So guess what my weekend reading will be -  a lovely relaxation  after the work on the next couple of courses coming up.  
And hopefully Rachael’s never give up approach will  inspire my next group of students . .and he next.

Thank you so much for the copy if Destiny and Zafir’s story, Rachael – I’m so looking forward to reading it.

Friday, March 11, 2016

International giveaway

So - I  promised anyone who might read my books in a language other than English, that I'd have a special treat for them  - and here you are -
it's an International  Translations Giveaway

I've had a lot of deliveries of  foreign translations of my books and  before I send any to the language library I support, I thought I'd ask if there are any readers out there who'd like to win a giveaway of  the titles I have available.

It's quite simple - all you have to do is to email me  and let me know which book in which language you'd like to win.
A few simple conditions - 
1. One book only per person
2. Books on a first come first served basis. Once they;re gone, they're gone
3. Please  give me one title and a second choice in case I've run out of copies of the book yo
u first selected. Of course if there's just one book in one language then I'm afraid once they're gone, they're gone.

The books you can choose from are:
 1. Italian translations 
Olivero's Outrageous Proposal - Un Intrigante Proposta
The Good Greek Wife  in Scintilla Greca   -  4 in 1 with Sarah Morgan Caitlin Crews Abby Green
The Konstantos Marriage Demand   in Matrimonio Greco   4 in 1 with Diana Hamilton, Margaret Mayo, Helen Bianchin

2. Thailand:
Olivero's Outrageous Proposal

3. Poland
Bound By Blackmail (by Kate Walkerova!)  Spanelskanhra

4. Holland
Olivero's Outrageous Proposal  - Perfect Wraak?

The Temptation Game in  3 in 1 Traummanner with Julia James  and Catherine George
Cordero's Forced Bride in 3 in 1 Mittelmeertraume  - with  Susan Napier and Melanie Milburne

6. French
A Question of Honour - Pour L'honneur du Cheikh

7. Japanese - MANGA editions  of
Kept For Her Baby
Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Wife


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Next Course coming up:

First of all - huge congratulations to  my friend Iona  Grey whose novel Letters To The Lost won  the RNA's Romantic Novel of The Year last week,  I'm only sorry I couldn't be there to congratulate her in person. 

I spent the weekend away in Halifax, where I grew up. Meeting with my family - husband, son, about-to-
be daughter in law sisters, brother in law, niece . . . we all got together to celebrate what would have been my Mother's 100th birthday!  We had a wonderful reunion and a fun, nostalgic time.

Now I'm back  and trying to organise the next few weeks  and there seems to be a lot  to do,.
New contract to sign - check!
New book (s) to plan . . .working on that
New wardrobes to plan for the bedroom - semi-check. . .we've planned and organised that  - now all we need is for the  wardrobes to be  built in - and then  I'll have  to move everything from one room to another and (hopefully) organise it fully.
Web site to update . . .  still working on that

And  - next course(s) to plan and organise for April and May
So - as I promised to let people know just what was coming up for me in my teaching schedule - here are the details of the next course coming up in April . There are still some places available on this one so if you'vre interested please contact Relax and Write for details or to book.


 Beginning Middle and End with Kate Walker

This weekend course will introduce you to writing that novel you have always wanted to see in print.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?  Do you plan out your book to the last detail or ‘set out hopefully into the mist’?
You could easily find your original plan is too rigid to work - or  lose your way as you write.   There are some things you need to think out even before you start.

 Did you start out hopefully, wanting to write the story that was burning in your head ... only to find that now you've slowed down. This course will teach you how to plan out your novel so that you have a much better idea of where you're going and how to create the best read possible.

Topics to be covered:
Starting  well
Opening hooks
Sustain conflict
Pace your story and  avoid the ‘sagging middle’
Write a satisfying end – making the reader want more from you

Come and join a group and gain new inspiration.
All inclusive fee £245 includes Sunday Lunch.

Also at the same venue, that weekend:

 Writing the Past with Stephen Wade

This course is intended to help both fiction and non-fiction writers at all stages of their writing lives. The aim is to provide help and guidance in all areas of writing which is concerned with the past. The course topics include the full range of writing and research skills you need to write in any category about the past. All inclusive fee £245 and includes Sunday Lunch.

Oh -  and  do you read my books in a language other than English? To celebrate the acceptance of my 65th title, I'll have some foreign language translations on offer for a give away just as soon as I get organised . . . watch this space.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Pink Hearts Day

Today is my day for blogging over on the Pink Hearts Society site.

With Mother's Day coming up this weekend (here in the UK at least) it's natural that mothers are in my thoughts - in romance and in reality.  Today would have been my own mother's 100th birthday and my sisters and I are getting together at the weekend to mark the date.

My post on the topic is on the PHS site here  and as Mills and Book is getting together with Gransnet to mark Mother's Day, you might find some interesting posts by authors there.

Some of my own personal memories of my mother have been posted on the Mills and Boon website here

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Happy Leap Year Day

Yes, I know that was yesterday  but I was too busy enjoying it to  write my post then.

And it was a happy Leap Year Day for me with the news from my editor that the revisions I'd worked on for the latest book  had worked really well and she was accepting and buying the book - and would I like another contract? Yes please!

This book has been bedevilled  by slow progress, health setbacks and such so I was really happy to know that it was successful and done and already scheduled to be published  in October.  My working title was Scarlet and Black  but some writer called Stendhal already has  a book under that title - so  this one will now be titled Indebted to Moreno -  Moreno being my brooding Spanish hero Nairo Moreno and Rose is the heroine who's deeply indebted to him .  . . But they share a past with some dark memories in it.

I'm particularly thrilled to know that this one is  accepted and bought as I believe it will be my 65th title!  So that was a good reason to break out the delicious fizz that my lovely students gave me as a thank you at Fishguard this time. Thank you to all of my students - that was a wonderful way to be able to celebrate a rather special book.

Now I need to get writing on the next book for that next contract. So perhaps it's just as well that March is doing its 'coming in like a lion' thing outside today.  Though first I do have to go and choose and organise new wardrobes for the bedroom. But my head will be busy with new ideas - I hope!


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