Friday, July 31, 2009

The Digital Debate - Susan Rix Gives a Passionate Reader's View of the Sony E-Reader

Sony E-Reader For the Passionate Reader
by Susan Rix

For those of us passionate about reading, why a Sony E-Reader? That's a good question and one I've tried to answer time and again to my hubby and many of my friends who simply do not get it. First off, the benefits of using an E-reader in general.Storage - A Sony Reader is a fabulous storage solution, especially if you've downsized to a teeny tiny cottage like I have. Our spare bedroom is packed floor to ceiling with books of all kinds and space is a real issue, but not now I have my E-reader!Convenience - If, like me, you mostly read at bedtime (why is it the only place we get the peace we need sometimes?) you probably get earache from your partner wanting you to turn the pages quietly and/or turn the light out. Sound familiar? Trust me on this: my Sony Reader has helped to avert marital strife. I can now turn the pages of my book at the click of a button. There's another button that will also put a bookmark in, so there's no fumbling for these either when you're sleepy and wanting to put your book down. Yep, for me, it's another win-win situation.

Travel - The Reader is the perfect thing for avid book lovers when it's time to pack some reading material, whether it's for a vacation, long journey, or even an appointment waiting room. You can carry all your books in your handbag! This is great if you're never quite sure what mood you're going to be in as you literally have your own library with you at the touch of a button. Beats lugging around a suitcase full of books everywhere!

Variety - My reading taste's eclectic and changeable. Sometimes a romance might not give me what I'm looking for. Perhaps I need to read a thriller, historical or an autobiography/non fiction title, or a literary or classic book. With the Reader it's no problem. No more heavy sighing or cursing how I can't locate the book I want. And no, 'that' one won't do, it has to be the specific one!

Organisation - On my Reader, I can organise my books into collections. For my Harlequin Mills & Boons I have a separate 'shelf' for all the different series. At the click of a button I can choose a Modern, Romance, Medical, Historical, Spice, or wherever else my mood wants to takes me. Perfecto – and a lot easier than struggling to control or search through an overflowing bookcase...

A common criticism against E-books and readers goes like this: "But, I love 'real' books. The smell, the print, the whole turning the page thing." This may come as a surprise, but so do I! Okay, not strictly true because I have an aversion to mouldy, dirty books from second-hand bookshops (and occasionally library books). I mean, there are times when you wonder where some of these books have been, don't you think? For me, the beauty of my Sony Reader is that it's gorgeous to look at and touch. It's true that the smell isn't there but for what the Reader gives you that's a small price to pay, even if you do love the smell of print books, right?
Some might argue that E-Readers are not a replacement for print books. As far as I'm concerned, they don’t have to be. My e-books complement my print books. They do not diminish or replace them. One example is when I first started reading an e-book on my laptop. I was enjoying the story so much that I wanted to continue reading at bedtime. Have you ever tried reading from your laptop in bed? It isn't comfortable.

Why choose Sony over another brand? I've been waiting for this question! For starters, it looks absolutely wonderful, beautiful in fact, but that’s not the main reason. I'm sure I'm not the only person whose eyes get fatigued - especially after sitting at a computer all day. Well, the Reader has the fantastic ability to increase (or decrease) the size of the font on the page! I have to admit I was dubious about this in the beginning, but once again, it's so quick and easy to do and it doesn't detract from the story either. It feels the same as a print book, only better! Other Readers might well offer this option but Sony have it all mapped out to perfection.

Sue is a member of the RNA's New Writers Scheme and blogs regularly here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Digital Debate - Reading Ebooks on a PDA by Imogen Howson

I meet lots of people who say they wouldn’t buy ebooks because they “hate reading on the computer”. And I don’t blame them. I spend my working day looking at a computer screen, I don’t want to do more looking at a computer screen in my leisure time.

The first ebooks I bought, in 2006, when I was first researching epublishing, I read on my desktop computer. And honestly, if I’d had to carry on doing that, I would have bought very, very few others. A couple of short stories I actually printed out before reading, because what’s the point of a book you can’t take to bed with you? I couldn’t stretch to a specifically designed ereader, though, so I did a little research and ended up with this, the Jornada 545 (£35, secondhand from Ebay).

The Jornada 545 is actually meant to do a lot more than just read ebooks—it’s designed as a PDA—but even in 2006 it had been superseded by lots of sleeker, shinier, faster gadgets, so I’ve only ever used it for ebooks.

It came with Microsoft Reader pre-installed, which reads ebooks in the Microsoft Reader (.lit) format. I downloaded and installed Mobipocket, which is my preferred reading software.

Loading books onto the Jornada is easy. It synchs with the desktop computer via its recharging cradle, and sending a book across takes a few seconds. I’ve stored up to about twenty books on it before.

It fits very comfortably in one hand, and the pages can be turned either by touching the edges of the screen (with your finger or with the provided stylus) or by using the scroll wheel on the side. If I’m reading lying down, I find it much more comfortable than holding a paperback.

The screen is backlit—like standard computer screens—so I can’t read it in direct sunlight. It is, however, fantastic for reading in bed without disturbing my partner. I’ve often been halfway through a print book but gone and bought an ebook specially so I have something to read in bed without waking him up. Despite the screen being basically a small computer screen, I don’t find it tiring to read, maybe because it’s smaller so my eyes have to move less. The reading experience is very little different from reading a print book—of the various books I’ve read I actually can’t remember which I’ve read in print or electronic version.

The battery life is okay, although nowhere near the length of the specifically designed ereaders. I’ve read a full length novel on it before (reading most of the day) before it needed recharging. Recharging is easy—I just put it back in its cradle—and takes about an hour.

Since I bought the Jornada, my daughter has acquired an iPod Touch, which, like my partner’s iPhone, can function as an ereader. The display is crystal clear, and the pages 'slide' when you turn one, which takes a little getting used to even though it looks very pretty. It’s like a whole entertainment unit, with books, movies, music, TV shows, games, the internet… So it’s not necessarily what you want if all you want to do is read books, but as a lightweight, totally portable, all-the-entertainment-you-want device, it takes some beating!

When the Jornada eventually dies, I know I’ll be tempted by the Sony, the Lbook and the Cooler. But I’m not sure I’ll be willing to forego the ease of reading in bed without using a book light, so my next ereader could well turn out to be an iPod. Or, of course, another secondhand PDA.

Imogen is epublished by Drollerie Press and her next ebook release, Heart of the Volcano, is coming in September from Samhain Publishing.

The Digital Debate - Kindle Me, Baby! by Donna Poff

Kindle Me, Baby!

by Donna Poff

For a PC support technician, I am remarkably slow to jump on electronic bandwagons. Digital cameras, IPods, DVD and Blu-Ray players, high-definition televisions, BlackBerries—you name it, and I was one of the last people I knew who got one.
Which poses a question. If I am so reluctant about electronic doo-dads, why was I one of the first owners of the new Kindle DX from

Well, for one thing, the Kindle DX is just about the niftiest thing I have seen in a long time.
No, the Kindle DX does not receive email or keep your calendar for you. It does not play games. It cannot accept telephone calls or let you view the latest movies. Instead, the Kindle DX is dedicated to one thing and one thing only—e-books. It stores them and lets you read them.

E-books have been around for a while, of course, and e-book readers have been around just as long, so what makes the Kindle DX so great?

The Good Stuff
The Kindle DX is an excellent size. Measuring 10 x 7.2 x .38 inches and weighing only 18.9 ounces, it is not too big and not too small. It has a nice 9.7-inch viewing screen, which means you can read more than a paragraph or two on a single page.
With 3.3GB of storage space for content, the Kindle DX can hold as many as 3,500 e-books. That is a lot of reading, and with’s selection of over 300,000 e-books, magazines and newspapers to choose from, you won’t run out of reading material any time soon.
It is easy to buy e-books for the Kindle DX, too. You order the e-book from, and as long as you have the device’s wireless service turned on, you will have your book delivered right to the device within a minute or so. You can even browse for and purchase books right on the Kindle DX, which may or may not be good news for those of us with low levels of will power when it comes to buying books.
What is good news, if you are a book fiend like me, is the price. Most Kindle e-books sell for $3 to $5, which is not much less than a paperback. The deal gets better if you are looking at hardbacks. For example, Linda Howard’s Burn: A Novel, which came out in July 2009, lists at $26. has it available in hardback for $16.56, but the Kindle edition is only $9.95.
How easy is the Kindle DX to use, though? Well, the setup for it consists of turning it on. That is it.
Reading e-books on the Kindle DX is just about as easy. You flip the 5-way controller, which looks like a tiny joystick, until you select the e-book you want. Then you press the controller down. Presto! Your e-book loads!
Once loaded, you can change the text size and rotate the text on the screen, which is handy when you are looking at maps, charts and other illustrations. You can adjust the words per line to your reading preference. If you want to go to another e-book—and what reader worth their salt doesn’t have two or more books going at once—the Kindle DX will remember where you left off and take you back there when you return to the book.
The Kindle DX has features that let you take notes and mark passages in your books, as well as a decent search feature to find those notes and passages. It comes with the New Oxford American Dictionary pre-loaded, and if you highlight a word in an e-book, it will give you the definition automatically.
One thing I am always suspicious of when it comes to electronic devices is the battery life, and I must say the Kindle DX’s battery life is excellent. With wireless turned on, the device can go about four days without recharging. If you turn the wireless off, however, a full battery charge lasts almost two weeks.

The Weird Stuff
The Kindle DX includes three features calls experimental.
The text-to-speed feature lets the Kindle DX read the e-book to you. That sounds cool and all, but I didn’t care for it. You can change the text-to-speech between a male and female voice, as well as speed it up or slow it down. Both voices are pleasant to the ear, but both definitely sound mechanical, especially the female voice. Like most text-to-speech features, the voices occasionally run words together and don’t seem to recognize punctuation very well. The feature is an excellent idea for the visually disabled, though.
Using’s WhisperNet wireless service, which the Kindle DX connects to automatically, you can browse the Internet. Still, the browser is very basic and only in black and white.
The Kindle DX has the ability to store and play MP3 music and audio books from I have not tried that feature yet, but I can see how it could be very nifty. The catch is that MP3 files and audio books tend to take considerable storage space, and filling your Kindle DX with music instead of books seems to rather defeat the purpose.

The Bad Stuff
The Kindle DX is not all sunshine and roses.
The button placement is along the right side of the device, and I have occasionally pressed a button I didn’t want while reading.
My biggest peeve with the Kindle DX, however, isn’t really the device’s fault. Too many of the e-books I’ve read on it have typos. These are mostly misplaced punctuation and words. For example, in the e-book I am reading right now, at a scene break, the first letter of the first word is on a line by itself, followed by the rest of the paragraph on the next line. Irritating, no?
Another peeve is that you cannot organize your e-books on the Kindle DX. You can sort your e-books by title or author name. That is it. It would be nice to sort them by genre. I would also like to organize them into folders so I don’t end up with a list a mile long to go through. Yes, I know I can search on a title or author name, but being able to create folders would be ever so nice.
One issue that some people might have is that the Kindle DX is electronic, so getting it wet is not a good idea. That means taking it to the pool or beach could be problematic.

Wrap it Up … To Go
Even with the peeves I have about it, the Kindle DX is a nifty device. I love mine and take it with me almost everywhere I go.
At $489, it is a bit pricey, but if you love books, a Kindle DX makes an excellent investment.

Donna Poff

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Digital Debate - Ben Johncock's Thoughts

This morning, faced with kicking off the discussion of e-readers and digital books, I took the coward's option and decided not to weigh in with my views first (this will give me more time to poll the local population - here read trips to the pub). So, scanning the tweets of the morning, I stumbled across the wonderful Ben Johncock who describes himself as an unpublished author, freelance writer who blogs for The Bookseller. I think Ben's website does a far better job though. He made the mistake of tweeting a link about Apple's new tablet pc here. I shamelessly asked if he would share his thoughts which he did via tweets.... (I have edited out the @lizfenwick except at the start!)

@lizfenwick Hi Liz, glad to be of help! It's an interesting question you ask, as I'm both a book lover and Apple nut.

I think it's important to remember that digital is all about convenience and quality (more and better). Books are consumed in a totally different way to music. A novel you consume slowly over time, whereas a song is only a few mins.
Walkmans sucked because you could only carry 20 songs, tops, with you at any one time. Quality was an issue too, and access.
With music, you dip in and out, listen to many different songs (products) in a short space of time. No so with books.
Digital Books are trying to solve a problem that no one has.
I remember @ meandmybigmouth saying something like, you don't start your morning with a bit of Amis, then skip to McEwan, then onto Rushdie.
Watching the book trade trying to keep up with the digital age is like watching your dad dance at a wedding...they're having a go, but it's a bit embarrassing at times.
The success of the iPod was down to the software anyway, and no one I've seen re eBooks has even remotely addressed this.
And who can then? What electronics company does good software? I can only think of one.
Hardware, ok, even if it does look like the hideously deformed bastard child of a Spectrum & a microwave (Kindle), not software.
So that's what I think, at least for novels. Scott Pack has some interesting ideas re cook books, travel etc.

What are your thoughts? Thus far only 20 of you have voted in our poll. Come on and join the debate...

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Anna Jacobs - TBR Pile Confession

Anna Jacobs, who these days divides her time between Australia and England, has always loved history - not the political stuff that she had to study at school and university, but social and economic history - how people lived, played, earned their daily bread. In Australia she has a wall of research books aimed at understanding the people of the past. She says "Otherwise, how could I write about them?" She writes historical romances, historical sagas and modern family relationships novels. Anna's 46th novel, a historical saga, FREEDOM'S LAND, was published at the beginning of this month. Below Anna gives us a glimpse into her TBR in England.

Other people buy jewellery or antiques, or go for lavish holidays – I spend my money on books. I have fancy glass-fronted bookcases in Australia for books I’ve written, and two bookcases full of TBRs, plus about 9 bookcases worth of shelving for ‘keepers’. But here in the UK, in our smaller holiday home, my own books have to fight for space in my one and only bookcase. In the photo, the top shelf contains some of the books I’ve written, the other two shelves are full of TBRs. There are three more shelves above them with similar contents – and I’ve got my eye on the space on top of the bookcase for later.

Heaven forbid that I should run out of reading material because I even read while I watch TV. I get through three books a week, so I have to keep topping up my supplies. (Thank goodness for on-line bookshops!) Yes, I confess, I’m totally addicted to reading. Fortunately for me, my husband is also a reader, though he only gets through about two books a week. I let him share some of mine, but our tastes don’t totally coincide so he too has a TBR shelf.

Anna will be speaking at the Honiton Library on the 29th of July at 7pm.

For more information about Anna and her books visit her website .

Friday, July 24, 2009

Phillipa Ashley's Decent Exposure, winner of the 2007 Joan Hessayon Award, becomes film

RNA member, Phillipa Ashley, has just returned from the Canadian Rockies where she was watching her debut novel, DECENT EXPOSURE, being filmed as the 12 Men of Christmas for FOX. For full details see Phillipa's Blog.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Character is King - A Writing Tip from Amanda Grange

Amanda Grange writes adventurous historical romances set mainly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She also writes books that tell the stories of Jane Austen's novels from the heroes' points of view. Her lastest book, MR DARCY, VAMPYRE - an immortal sequel to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, is released next month in the UK and currently available in the US.
Below, Amanda shares a writing tip for those times when you are stuck.

Character is King

I started writing seriously about 10 years ago, having scribbled for many years before that, and I think the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is that character is all important in a novel. If I’m stuck these days I don’t ask myself what happens next, I ask myself, What would the characters do next? It’s a small difference but a very important one.

It took me years to start thinking like this but it’s probably the most useful thing I ever learned. It helps me when I’m stuck and it helps me when a chapter isn’t working.

I’ve just finished a novel called Mr Darcy, Vampyre, which is a Gothic sequel to Pride and Prejudice (out August) and there was a section in the middle where I could tell a chapter wasn’t working. Instead of trying to change the plot I thought more about the characters. They were outwardly small landowners, the equivalent of the English gentry, living in a remote part of the Alps, but unbeknownst to Elizabeth they were also vampyres. I didn’t want her to find out at this stage so I couldn’t have them doing anything that would reveal their true natures. I asked myself what they might spend their time doing and I thought of all the usual things the landed classes did in the early nineteenth century – riding, visiting neighbours, going to private balls, hunting – ah! hunting. As soon as I thought of it I knew I’d hit on the right idea. It would give me the perfect opportunity to introduce a double edged conversation which would really give point to the section:

‘What a morning we have had of it!’ said Gustav. ‘The best sort in many a long day. There is nothing to beat a bright autumn morning when the air is crisp and the blood is flowing with the thrill of the chase. We must persuade you to hunt with us tomorrow, Darcy, and Elizabeth, too.’
‘Elizabeth does not hunt,’ said Darcy sharply.
‘Then you must teach her.’

So my advice to anyone who is stuck is to think of the characters then make a list of all the things they might be likely to do in a given situation, as well as jotting down their hobbies, work, friends etc, and a convincing way of moving the story along will usually emerge. Sometimes it will throw up unexpected ideas but, always, it will throw up convincing ones, because as long as the characters convince, the book will also do so.

Amanda's website has details of her other books and has a really useful section filled with writing help. For more information on MR DARCY, VAMPYRE visit the book's blog .

Monday, July 20, 2009

Lynne Connolly - A Different Type of TBR Pile

Yesterday we reported the results of our poll on how many books are needed for a two week holiday. Nine of the respondents answered 15 books! If you are packing so many is there any room for swimsuits and sunblock? Do you have to pay overweight baggage charges? Or do you go digital? One RNA member, Lynne Connolly, has been a huge propoment of e-readers for a long time so we asked her to share with us her TBR Pile. She writes historical romance for Samhain Publishing, and paranormal romance for Ellora’s Cave and Loose-Id.

My TBR pile.

A photograph wouldn’t be particularly helpful, since it’s of a computer screen!
My TBR is mainly electronic. Since I discovered ebooks, I haven’t looked back. My shelves thank me, my husband thanks me, since he’s no longer breaking his neck tripping over the piles of books all over the floor, and my shoulders thank me, because I’m no longer hauling around stacks of books wherever I go.

Now I carry an ereader which holds hundreds of books. So I won’t list them all here, just the ones next on the list. I review for The Good, The Bad and The Unread, but I won’t review books by friends, or from publishers I’m with, so some of these are review books.

I just finished Olivia Gates’ The Illegitimate King (Silhouette Desire) and I have to admit it wasn’t one of my absolute favorites, because the hero is a bit too alpha for me. But she has a great way with words and reading her books is usually an exercise in lush enjoyment.
I’m currently reading Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Beguile A Beast, a Georgian-set romance that so far I’m really enjoying. A wounded, angsty hero, a practical, beautiful woman determined to drag him out of his self-pity – what’s not to like?

I read mainly HMB’s (Harlequin/Mills and Boon) and American authored romances, because I write for that market and it helps me to keep in touch. And because I love a good paranormal romance, something that hasn’t caught on in the UK as yet. Buying them in ebook format means I don’t have to wait for them, and I don’t have to pay £7.99 for a $7.99 paperback, something that annoys me.

I have Jory Strong’s “Zoe’s Gift,” an erotic fantasy romance (set on another world). I love her books, and this is definitely just for fun. (From Ellora’s Cave)
Jennie LucasThe Innocents’ Dark Seduction (HMB)
Liz CarlyleTempted All Night
Elizabeth LowellBlue Smoke And Murder (love her books, a great writer).
Susan Elizabeth PhillipsWhat I did for Love (romantic comedy. I love SEP’s books)
Sherrilyn KenyonDream Warrior (paranormal romance)
JR WardLover Avenged (paranormal romance) (have started this one a few times but I can’t get into it – can’t seem to get over the h syndrome).
Evangeline AndersonStr8te Boys – I don’t read much m/m, but I like Anderson’s voice
Larissa IonePleasure Unbound (paranormal romance) Looking forward to starting this series.
And I’m waiting for the new Suzanne Brockmann, due out soon. I am a big fan – nobody takes you right into a character like Brockmann does.

As for non fiction – we’ve just had our dining room/library redone, and all my non fiction books are in boxes, so I can’t recall what I have. Two biographies of Bonnie Prince Charlie (who wasn’t Bonnie and wasn’t really a prince, either) for sure.

Lynne's latest book, VENICE, is the third in the award winning Richard and Rose series.
Richard and Rose marry...but their troubles are far from over. You can find her and more about her books on her website .

So our new poll is about e-readers....join the debate.

RNA Website - Conference Session Reports and a Link to a Reporter's Day at the Conference

The RNA website now has reports of all the Penrith conference sessions here.

Roger Lytollis, a brave reporter, from THE CUMBERLAND NEWS, shares his experience of a day at the conference here.

The Book and Shoe contest, here, is still open as those who have guessed so far have been incorrect or are ineligible as they were there! (hint read the comments for clues) The prizes are Trisha Ashley's WEDDING TIERS and Kate Lace's TROPHY GIRL.

Finally, 78 people voted in our poll on how many books to bring on a two week poolside/beach holiday. The resounding leader was five books (34 votes) followed by ten books (24 votes) and trailing behind together were two books (10 votes) and 15 books (9 votes) and finally one book (1 vote). This leads to tomorrow's post from Lynne Connolly and why it isn't easy to take a photo of her TBR Pile.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Glimpse At Bernardine Kennedy's To Be Read Pile

This weekend's TBR Pile comes from Bernardine Kennedy, author/freelance writer and journo, living in Essex, UK. She has published seven novels and the eighth is under construction.

This TBR pile of books is actually only a cross section pulled off the shelf. I have so many to read but not enough time; or rather my time management skills are poor right now! The shelves are heaving with unread books but I'm still a compulsive book buyer of several a week.

I love going on holiday with half a dozen books and nothing to do but read. And eat of course. I'm into cruising at the moment and there's nothing better than a book, a balcony and the whooshing of the sea beneath. My current WIP has some ship travel in it both from the sixties and now, seems a shame to waste any experiences that come under the heading of research. I think writers automatically see everything through the eyes of 'research'.

I prefer to read books of a different genre to my own, firstly because I live in dread of subconscious plagiarism and secondly because its nice to read something different and give the brain cells a rest from 'work'. I do have a very eclectic taste in books although it changes from time to time. At the moment I'm into the crime novels of Kathy Reichs / James Patterson / Karin Slaughter and co and the romcoms that always lighten my mood by authors like Kate Harrison / Pauline McGlynn (Mrs Doyle!) / Jill Mansell. I'm also currently dipping into some of the celebrity autobiographies. Dawn French, Russell Brand, Eric Clapton are top at the moment...

I love to have 'dip-into' books on the go as well as the 'race to the end' novels that I can't put down.
'The Wit and Wisdom of Keith Richards' is one I keep going back to. Brilliant.

And now I've piled some of them together for the photograph I feel so impatient to get at them that I'm going to set aside some time to read them all. I hope!

Bernardine's latest, SHATTERED LIVES, is published in large print by Thorpe this month July. It was originally published by Headline December 2008.

For more information about her books visit her website and for a glimpse into her writing and what's going on in her life stop by her blog.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Going Wild - One Writer's Approach to Awakening the Senses and Stimulating the Writing Flow

Going Wild

Wild swimming. No chlorine, no tannoy, no lanes, and frequently no other company... To many people, plunging in to cold lakes, rivers or seas sounds like madness. To me, it sounds like bliss.

I've always been a bit of a water baby, but when I came to live on the edge of the Lake District in 1996, in seemed like a license to bathe. Whether it was from the gravel shores of Crummock Water or the stony banks of the River Derwent, sleepily wending through some of the most ancient woodlands in the country, as soon as the sun shone, I loved to get out and swim.

In 2008, time and heat wave never once coincided. This year, I was in the river by the beginning of May.

It's refreshing, renewing, great exercise and simply as if you've immersed yourself in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.

So what does swimming in lakes and rivers have to do with writing?

The fact is, whenever I'm struggling with a story, a quick dip never fails to get things moving again. Sometimes I think that's because wild swimming is such an overwhelmingly sensual experience. It's a whole body touch, sometimes bracingly, oh-my-God-I'm-going-to-die cold, sometimes almost decadently warm. The water, your whole world, smells and tastes sweet. Hear the slap and trickle of water on the move, then duck your head beneath the surface to hear in the wet-noise the squeak-speak of stones disturbed, or the eternally optimistic quacking of a foraging duck.

Opening your eyes to see a dragonfly, in yellow and green motley, hawking overhead, and beyond him the wisps of white cloud evaporating in the sunshine.

The senses come alive. I start to think about how my characters feel in different settings, how their senses are engaged. What sound conjures a childhood holiday? Which scent makes them think of past loves?

Then, of course, there is The Fear.

Most outdoor swimmers have encountered the breath-stealing moment of deep water fear. That horrible, there's-something-down-there terror that can be sparked by a shadow, a twig... almost anything. I get it nearly every time I go out of my depth, especially when I can't see the bottom (rare in Lakeland's crystal clear waters). You have to push through it, breathe deep, conquer the moment. Swim on.

You think, "can I do this?" and you have to tell yourself that you can.

Just like when you're not sure you can carry off that difficult plot point or when you wonder if this new genre is a good choice for you. When you know that as long as you don't submit a manuscript, you can't be rejected by a publisher.

When those moments come, whether you're deep in writer's doubt, or shivering on the edge of Blackmoss Pot in Langstrath Beck, you simply have to swim on.

It's worth it.

For more information on Anna and her books visit her website.

Anna's latest book, DANGEROUS LIES from Medallion Press.

Marianne Forster was only spending time with a gorgeous man in the hot sun of Morocco. It wasn’t anything more than that - until she was kidnapped on the way home.

An appology and a correction for yesterday's post...The conference experience was that of multi-published saga writer Elizabeth Gill and not as first attributed.

The weekend's post will be a look at another To Be Read Pile, Bernardine Kennedy's.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Penrith Conference - 2009 Joan Hessayon Award Winner, Allie Spencer and Another First Time Attendee's Thoughts

One of the treats of the conference is that the winner of the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award gets presented with the beautiful cup for a second time - now with their name on it. So here's a photo of Katie Fforde giving Allie Spencer the newly engraved cup for her first book TUG OF LOVE (also in the picture is the wonderful Jan Jones who won the award in 2005 for her novel, STAGE BY STAGE. She is also one of the two people, Roger Sanderson - the other, responsible for the brilliant conference)

Huge Appologies - the following report is from Liz Gill not as stated before!

Monday, July 13th
I felt guilty at the conference, sitting in stuffy halls in one of the most beautiful places on earth on one of the few sunny summer weekends of this year. I could have been walking around Grasmere, eating peaches by the lake and watching my cousin’s black Labrador, Fern, run in and out of the water after imaginary pheasants. I could have had tea and carrot cake in a little courtyard cafĂ© while the stream flowed past, the Methodist chapel glowed in the sunshine and spuggies sat on the tabletops, wide eyed and eating crumbs.
I had intended leaving the conference at lunchtime on Sunday and driving, roof down, across to the Durham dales to where I have a static caravan, to gain the rest of the day but instead I stayed to hear Rachel Summerson reading her childhood efforts at novel writing and Jean Fullerton talking about the research she does for her historical novels in East London. Rachel made me laugh more than I have done in weeks and Jean inspired me and made me want to start writing as soon as I got home and it was well worth the sacrifice of the outdoors both then and on Friday and Saturday, listening to the talks, seeing old friends and making new ones.
I am sitting outside my caravan now in the morning sunshine. At least I didn’t have to get up early today but I feel a slight pang for that too because I remember the lovely lady serving breakfast and saying when I asked for one egg,
‘Why don’t you have them both? There’s only two and this one would feel lonely without the other.’
So I did.
Elizabeth's latest book DREAM BREAKERS
1967: Jenna Duncan's only ambition is to marry the boy she loves and have a little terraced house away from her dull job and her parents' boring life. Ruari Gallacher has other ideas. He wants to be a professional footballer. Winners and losers can change places but when you have sacrificed the person who matters most to you can it ever work out?

More attendees are posting their conference experiences, photos, and reports on their blogs. Today Carol Townend has posted her notes from Jessica Hart's session. All the links are listed on the yesterday's post here and will be updated daily with new additions.

Keeping on the conference theme, tomorrow's post is from attendee Anna Louise Lucia, resident of the Lake District, will sharing one of her tips which never fails to get the writing flowing again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Events, Blogs With Conference Reports and A First Time Attendee's View


Summer Fiction Panel at Waterstones Notting Hill
Summer's here and before you jet off for your holidays, pop down and meet Judy Astley and Victoria Connelly, hear about their latest books and perhaps pick yourself up a beach read for your trip.

Thursday, July 16, 2009
7:00pm - 9:00pm
Notting Hill Gate
Tickets £3 redeamable against book purchases

Victoria will also be appearing at:

- A signing in Waterstones in the Chimes in Uxbridge this Saturday 11am - 2pm.
-A talk at Waterstones in Tunbridge Wells on Friday 31st July 7 - 8pm (£3 redeemable again)
-A signing in Jarrolds, Norwich on Thursday 6th August at 6pm(ticketed but free)

To date these are the blogs that are sharing their experience of the RNA Penrith Conference:
Liz Fenwick
Anita Burgh
Janet Gover
Sue Moorcroft
Jen Black
Nell Dixon
Anna Louise Lucia
Monica Fairview
Pink Heart Society
Victoria Connelly - publisher's blog her blog
Saskia Walker
Nina Harrington
Carol Townend
Imogen Howson
Susan Rix
Kate Nash
Lynne Connolly

This list will be update as further reports come in. Now for a report from a first time conference attendee Beth Elliott

A first-timer’s impressions.

I admit to a few butterflies as I walked from the car to Reception. It seemed that everyone else knew everyone else. Groups of people appeared and disappeared in the warren of student accommodation blocks. I overheard murmurs of ‘in the bar’ and ‘the naughty kitchen’. Was I going to be a forlorn outsider?

Then I reached Jan and Roger, seated at their table, beaming a welcome and handing out keys and goody bags. And other RNA committee members were standing around, ready to chat. The warmth of these first ten minutes was most encouraging. Feeling that I might survive, I set off to find my room.

Installed but still a little uncertain, I hurried to the Welcome session. By the time Katie and Jan had greeted us, the atmosphere was bright and lively. Everyone was friendly, everyone had time to talk to anyone else. Whatever your ranking, from beginner to the published author of many years’ standing, they all understood the ups and downs of a writer’s life.

The range of subjects on offer was wonderful. Whether it was Annie Burgh talking about how to impress the Publishers with our presentation, Freda Lightfoot showing us methods of publicising ourselves, or Jodi Thomas warning us that writing does not get any easier, we drank in every word. We all wished we could have been at all the talks. However, at the tea breaks, we shared what we had just learned. Shy? Nobody had time to be shy.

No wonder the volume of conversation was deafening at each pause. No wonder that mealtimes were a bustle of exchanging ideas, asking advice, making yet more friends. After the sparkly Saturday evening meal and the Elizabeth Goudge Prize presentation, groups formed in the bar and later in the kitchens. People passing by would see a party, tap on the window and join the squeeze round the table. Wine flowed and conversations ranged over vast areas. Usually we all write but for three days we all talked. It did us good.

We ended with Liz Bailey’s energetic session on charisma. She sent us back into the big wide world laughing, full of confidence and renewed enthusiasm for our Wips. The only regret was that the conference was over so quickly … but already I’m looking forward to the next one.

Beth's latest book IN ALL HONOUR, is available from Robert Hale.
The one man Sarah Davenport could ever love, handsome Major Greg Thatcham, seems to be unofficially engaged to her best friend. This means she must avoid him before her willpower evaporates. Sarah’s brother has lost his entire fortune to the sinister Lord Percival, who implies he will accept Sarah in lieu of the debt.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Tale of Book and Shoe - Penrith 09

The frocks for the gala evening on Saturday were beautiful, but not half so much fun to photograph - so here are a selection of shoes (the ones that were in focus that is - difficult to take photographs, drink and chat simultaneously- at least for this bumbling soul). So your challenge should you chose to accept it is - Can you match the shoe to the author? Can you match the the type of romantic fiction that the shoe wearer writes? We have two books to give away ( Trisha Ashley's WEDDING TIERS and Kate Lace's THE TROPHY GIRL) - finally can you locate Katie Fforde's feet? If you were lucky enough to be in attendance, needless to say you are not allowed to compete! The two people with the most correct matches will be the winners! (I had tried to label each photo with a letter but it didn't work - some had 2 or 3 and many had none - so you will have to be quite specific in your description of the shoes - sorry)

Tomorrow's post will be the tale of a first time attendee...