Friday, April 30, 2010

Dine With Katie Fforde, Benita Brown and Sue Moorcroft

Dine with the RNA's Katie Fforde, Benita Brown and Sue Moorcroft, 9 May 7pm Jesmond Dene House Hotel, Newcastle:

This will be a brilliant event! Gorgeous hotel and food, apparently ... Do come if you can.

Or, earlier in the day, we'll be at the Bewick Hall, Newcastle Central Library, 2pm to 4pm. Same lovely writers, fantastic new library, promoting LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT, short story anthology and showcase of talent.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Miranda Dickinson Gives Us Another View of The York Festival of Writing

Miranda Dickinson, who was short listed for Romantic Novel of the Year Award for her début novel FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK, shares what it's like on the other side of the table…

The Festival of Writing in York was a bit of revelation for me – and not just because of the brilliant seminars, great atmosphere and wonderful location. It was the first time I had been asked to speak as a published author and, I have to admit, I was more than a little nervous about it. What was I going to say? Would anyone actually turn up to my session? And – perhaps most importantly – how on earth was I going to fill a whole hour??

I had been asked to talk about how my manuscript was discovered on (who were partnering with The Writers’ Workshop for the Festival), together with my editor, Sammia (who was as confident about presenting as I was!). We had nervously worked out a basic running order for our hour, hoping fervently that anyone kind enough to attend would have lots of questions to ask. Talking about ‘my publishing journey’ still feels very odd indeed after so many years of being an impressively unsuccessful writer - I have to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure how to make ‘I was flippin’ lucky’ last for a whole sixty minutes!

Thankfully, our audience (yes - there was more than one!) arrived with lots of fantastic questions and the hour flew past. As we were in the middle of the discussion, it suddenly occurred to me how much my life has changed as a writer in the past year. Last year I was at a similar event in Birmingham, listening to Joanne Harris talking about her publishing journey – and I remember wondering if I would ever be the ‘other side of the table’ talking about mine one day… It just goes to prove the point I made at my session in York – if this dream of being published can happen to me, it can happen for anyone. I still feel incredibly lucky to be able to see my book on sale – and, more than that, to be editing my second novel right now before that too is published in November this year. Crazy, ridiculous but incredibly exciting!

It was wonderful to meet so many writers from the RNA at the weekend, including Katie Fforde (whose key note address on Saturday morning was thoroughly inspirational), Liz Fenwick, Jo Thomas and Susan Alison. I’m still at newbie at the RNA, but the lovely ladies made me feel very welcome.

But the best thing about the Festival of Writing for me was meeting so many passionate, big-dreaming writers and hearing about their work, which they hope to see published soon. It was an absolute honour to be asked for my advice and to be able to encourage people to keep believing in their publishing dreams. It reminded me, once again, to never take this gift of being a published writer for granted and fired me with enthusiasm for the manuscript waiting for me on my desk when I got home!

©Miranda Dickinson 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sue Moorcroft Tells Us About The York Festival of Writing 2010

Sue Moorcroft reports...

York Festival of Writing – what a great event! Especially the Saturday sunshine and sitting around drinking tea with friends. I even discovered a real-life hero who, when I was having a chocolate crisis, found some in his bag and gave it to me.

I did seven one-to-ones as a ‘book doctor’, which were interesting. All the material I’d been sent was a pretty good standard and I talked veryveryvery quickly for nine minutes to voice all my comments in the time allowed.

My workshop was titled, ‘Who’s your hero?’

Katie Fforde attended it, which was fun. I told her I’d be able to add to my CV: ‘Taught Katie Fforde’.

The interactive part of the workshop went like this:

-Five minutes to create a character sketch of a hero – not necessarily a romantic hero. There were writers there writing historical, social commentary, thriller and SF
-List 15 words that seemed the most important from that sketch to produce ‘essence of hero’
-Nominate a market. Make any necessary adjustments to hero to make him welcome in that market
-Give him a quirk or inconsistency – this might drive the story at some point, possibly by creating conflict
-Check he suits the market
-Make certain the hero isn’t too ordinary. He should have something to distinguish him from the herd
-Check he suits the market

We discussed several main types of hero:

Beta/best friend
Reluctant Hero
Damaged Male

And if you wish more information on these, it can be found in Love Writing – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction.

Finally, everyone chose what type of hero they had created and we talked about some heroes having elements from more than one main type. And we checked that the hero would suit the market (you might see my theme, here).
‘One-to-one’ sessions were organised during the day so tutors expected people to creep in and out of workshops as these appointments arose. I was sitting on the desk at the front, spouting my stuff, and the first of these delegates rose to leave. She gathered herself and crept past. I smiled and nodded and carried on while she disappeared through double doors to my left. And she suddenly reappeared and groaned, ‘That’s a cupboard!’ So she had to cross to the other side of the lecture theatre and go out of the real doors with the whole audience hooting with laughter. I was in stitches and we had a lot of fun framing a meeting between hero and heroine that involved the same scenario.

Cupboard Lady, you didn’t come back to the session … but thank you. That was absolutely brilliant. I hope your one-to-one went well.
York’s campus is, in parts, ravishing. The ducks and geese wander around the lawns – they’re pretty rubbish at posing for photos, though – and the lake and gardens surround and enhance the impressive modern architecture.

All that had to be done to make it perfect was to add 400 or so writers, agents and publishers and orchestrate them into an entertaining programme that gave the writers the opportunity to hit on said agents and publishers.

And this the organisers of the Festival did. Thanks, guys.
Follow my blog at:
Starting Over (Choc Lit, £7.99)
Love Writing - How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction (Accent Press, £9.99)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory Muses on The Art of Positive Thinking

All writers know about displacement activity, that time when you know you should actually be committing words to paper for your latest work of creative genius but Other Things get in the way. All those boring, tedious little jobs become highly important - the sudden need to check emails, or even the realisation that disaster will strike if you don’t iron your socks. Normally, I fight these displacement activities as hard as the next writer (which means, sometimes, I don’t fight at all) but all this time wasting can make one feel very inadequate.

However, this Easter, I tried a different tack: I positively EMBRACED the displacement activities and looked upon them as a way of… wait for it…keeping fit!

My desk and computer are tucked away in a corner of the house as far away from the kitchen as possible, so every time I “needed” to get up for something – a cup of coffee, breakfast, a cup of tea, lunch, more tea, putting in the washing, tea, checking the calendar, ironing – I looked upon it as Exercise.

Do you know how bad it is for you to sit at a computer for more than twenty minutes at a time? The risks of eye-strain, RSI, back problems, neck problems plus Secretarial Spread (as it used to be known in the office).

So whether I am getting up and walking the length of the house and back, or running upstairs to make the beds (I told you that even the most tedious jobs become very tempting when one reaches a difficult point in the current masterpiece), this is positive good for me! Think of all those calories I am using up, all those muscles I am toning!

Okay, so nothing has really changed, it’s just that I feel so much better about myself……

Linda's/Sarah's latest book out this month is WICKED CAPTAIN, WAYWARD WIFE

When young widow Eveline Wylder comes face to face with her dashing captain husband - very much alive - she is shocked, overjoyed...and furious! So, whatever his explanation for his outrageous deception, she'll keep Nick firmly out of their marriage bed.

Eve's sheltered innocence bewitched Nick, but it's her fiery anger that captures his adventurer's soul! Now the daring ware hero faces his biggest challenge yet - proving to Eve that his first duty is to love and cherish her, for always!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Writing in Spain

There is a certain myth that the weather is always hot in Spain. Brits have this vision of swimming in the pool in February. Well, let me explode that one. It ain’t gonna happen. True, it’s not as cold here on the Iberian peninsula as it is back in the UK, and certainly warmer than Shap Fell where we used to live back in the 80s, but this has been a cold winter, and unusually wet, with four times as much rain as usual. On the really bad days this can result in no electricity. Not good for a writer dependant on her computer but really quite romantic in a way. We light our candles and sit by our blazing log fire and read our books. What could be better than that?

Easter is upon us now, the sun is shining, and this is a good time for walking in the quiet of the countryside. As you brush through the rosemary, thyme and sage that grows wild in the russet and ocre earth, the plants release their heady perfume. Some of the older villagers still collect herbs for their patatas a la pobre, a delicious dish of fried potatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and herbs. We work in our garden in the afternoons, while the soil is moist and friable, before the sun bakes it hard. But we have to be careful as this part of Andalucia is a haven for the tortoise, a protected species, and a family with their young do live in our garden. We also have the rare black wheatears, crested lark, swallows, martins, kestrels and other birds of prey, even a robin who always spends the winters with us. Wild boar trot through, and occasionally dig holes to nibble at the roots of plants. They don’t trouble us, and they were here first.

Most of the time, like any other writer, I’m at my computer. I work from 9am to 1.30, each day, then again from 4 – 7 pm, sometimes longer as a dead line approaches. I have two books coming out this April: the paperback of my latest saga, House of Angels, Allison and Busby, and Hostage Queen, pub by Severn House in hardback, (a paperback is due in the autumn). This book has been a new departure for me, since it’s an historical set in sixteenth century France. It has involved a great deal of research, but I have to say that I’ve loved every minute of it and already written the sequel: Reluctant Queen, with a third book to follow. Margot’s story is fascinating as she led such an adventurous life.

Marguerite de Valois is the most beautiful woman in the French Court, and the subject of great scandal and intrigue. Her own brothers: the mad Charles IX and the bisexual Henri III, will stop at nothing to control her. Margot loves Henri of Guise but is married off to the Huguenot Henry of Navarre. By this means her mother, Catherine de Medici, hopes to bring peace to the realm.

But within days of the wedding the streets of Paris are awash with blood in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew. Not only is her new husband’s life in danger, but her own too as her mother and brother hold them hostage in the Louvre. Can they ever hope to escape and keep their heads? In a court rife with murder, political intrigue, debauchery, jealousy and the hunger for power, it will not be an easy task.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Releases

Here's the list of April publications from members of RNA...

Milss & Boon
2 April 2010
Disgraced, stripped of his title and lands, all Hugh Duclair has left is his pride. Will the beautiful Lady Aude, once a childhood playmate, win his heart as she risks everything to help clear his name?


Severn House paperbacks
Art historian Claire moves to South East Asia and finds more than heat and dust. This is a novel about independence and interdependence, about women who have or achieve a certain courage in a different world.


‘By Request’ reprint of 3 bestselling titles:

Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride

The Sicilian’s Red-Hot Revenge

The Sicilian’s Wife

Mills & Boon
16 April 2010
Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Wife

Guido Corsentino is determined to reclaim his wife - even if she's about to marry someone else.

The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge

Emily and Vito Corsentino shared one passionate night but in the cold light of day her secret tore them apart. Now he's back, can they start again?

These two books make up The Sicilian Brothers duo

The Sicilian's Wife

Cesare fell for Megan from the start, but promised her father he'd wait until she was an adult. Now he's ready to declare himself - but Megan has a secret that could ruin everything.

Lesley Cookman – MURDER IN THE GREEN
Accent Press £6.99
ISBN 978--97070-1608-0
The sixth Libby Sarjeant adventure

Mary Nichols - THE FOUNTAIN
Allison and Busby
George Kennett is an ambitious young builder who aspires to be somebody in his local community just after WW1, and is not above shady deals to bring it about. Barbara is a talented artist but her personality is being smothered by her overbearing husband. It is the story of her efforts to bring up her children, to cope with his dishonesty and his love affairs and her own confused emotions over a young man she met in her student days. It is George's dishonest scheme to get the contract to refurbish the market square and install a new fountain which brings everything to a devastating climax.

Louise Allen, with Nicola Cornick, Bronwyn Scott, Diane Gaston & Annie Burrows – WICKED REGENCY NIGHTS
Mills & Boon
April 2010
Five sizzling stories, originally available as Historical Undone! e-books. Louise Allen: Disrobed & Dishonoured - the story of a highwayman who isn't all he seems and a young lady with an urgent need to lose her reputation. (Linked to the Those Scandalous Ravenhursts series)

What if it was Mr. Rochester chained up in the attic? An erotic tribute to Jane Eyre.

29th April 2010
A novel of ambition, passion and betrayal set against the backdrop of Britain's golden age of cinema as the nation recovers from war.

Secrets Revealed
4-in-1 Mills & Boon Special Release
Liz Fielding + 3 others
Four stories about the scandalous Valentine family

Accent Xcite
01 April 2010
Novella - PDF format
Futuristic erotica in which 24th century Utopia is rocked by Zia's passionate trysts with hunky wild man Conall.

Audio Books

Audio Lark
In the two years since the tragic car crash that killed his fiancée, Nathanial (Nate) Mayer has successfully avoided another relationship. His family and especially his twin sister Nathalie are worried. Jennifer (Jenni) Blake is Nate’s personal assistant. Hired after the accident, she has her own problems to deal with, including the deaths of her adoptive parents and the debts incurred by their nursing care. But those difficulties pale into insignificance when Jenni finally traces her birth mother…