Wednesday, February 28, 2007
And there were the animals. Archie, Noodle and Wriggle who all seemed to have been specially trained or had decided to join in on welcoming guests to their home and making sure we were comfortable and happy.
Archie was described as the largest cat in County Cork. I live with a big cat - and Archie was bigger! He also had the most magnificent set of whiskers and a purr that could be heard all over the house. Archie was normally found in his very special spot in the front parlour (you can see him there on Anne McAllister's blog) but when he discovered that we had the log fire burning in the sitting room, and perhaps a smackeral or two of cheese, then Archie graciously condescended to join us - and to hoover up any bits of cheese that happened to drop his way. He also was very partial to my pashmina - perhaps because he could scent that Sid had been lying on it. Certainly he gave it a very good sniffing before settling down to sleep on it.
Then there was Noodle the terrier. Noodle was described by Justin as being a JLo of terriers - specially when she had just had a bath and her fur was beautifully clean and silky. The problem is that I never actually got a photo of Noodle that really shows her face - or perhaps it's because her long sillky fringe hid where her face should be and so most of the time all you saw of Noodle was a bundle of fur - and sometimes you couldn't quite be sure which way she was actually facing. Except for breakfast time - at breakfast, Noodle would join us and sit under the table and on those occasions you could always be sure which was she was facing - towards the food.
Finally there was the delightful Wriggle. Wriggle was part chocolate lab and part Springer spaniel. She had a Irish Setter look about her but was small and compact - and a real delight. One of Wriggle's duties was obviously to show everyone around - her guided tour of the house and grounds was so enjoyable that we wished there had been a little less rain so that we could do it all over again. You can see a detailed report of this tour on Anne's blog - with lots of pictures of Wriggle herself. The only thing that's missing is a photo of Anne with Wriggle - so I shall amend that.
Because Anne and Wriggle bonded. Wriggle would endear herself to anyone but Anne was missing her own dogs so Wriggle very graciously agreed to fill in for Gunnar, Mitch and Micah so that Anne would not feel at all homesick - and it worked. So much so that everyone settled in and felt right at home. And when the time came to leave, no one wanted to go. But Wriggle and Noodle were the perfect hostesses right to the end and they came to see us off with a wave of each tail and a 'come back soon' woof. Archie stayed right where he was - in his special snoozing spot, but it had started to rain again, and he sent a farewell purr after us to wish us well.
So that was Ireland - and it was wonderful. Now I need to get back to work and as I have a new book out in March (April in USA and Australia) I'll be blogging about that soon. And about the new Spanish hero who will be absorbing my days for the next few weeks. (Very few my editor hopes!)
Which reminds me that I should also mention what I read on my holidays. Well there was the RITA book I was judging, which I can't talk about, just as as I haven't been able to mention all the others I read for this contest recently. But remember this post - a Great Day for Romance? Well I was lucky enough to be given two hot from the press signed copies of the first books in Day Leclaire's brand new Royals Trilogy for Silhouette Desire. Thank you Day! Anne McAllister brought them to Ireland for me and so I was able to have an extra holiday treat by reading them when the rain was just too bad to leave the fireside. I loved them. The Forbidden Princess and The Prince's Mistress were everything I remember a Day Leclaire book to be - wonderful heroes. bright sparky heroines and that magical fairytale element that kept me hooked right from the start. The flight back to England passed in the blink of an eye as I became absorbed in the story of Lander and Juliana in the second book - so much so that I didn't even have to grab the BM's hand for take off - the part of the flight I usually like least.
And now I'm intrigued. Because The Royal Wedding Night, the third in this trilogy, features as its hero Brandt von Folke, a character who appears in The Forbidden Princess - in a somewhat less than heroic light. I can't wait to see just how Day turns this story round to make Brandt into the hero he's meant to be.
When did you say that the third book was out, Day? Do I really have to wait till April? And then there's Joc Arnaud, the fascinating character I met in The Prince's Mistress - his story is coming but not until September . . . . Can you tell that I'm addicted? Now I know why I missed Day's 'voice' so much.
Welcome back Day!
So now I have to get down to work - but I'll leave you with one more image of Ballyvolane House. This time it's the view from my bedroom window. Imagine waking up to this everyday? Nothing more to be said really except that, as Anne said in her comments on yesterday's post - I want to go back!
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
But when I think of Ballyvolane what comes into my mind – apart from the log fires and the wonderful rooms andthe soft cushions, the antiques and the bookshelves crammed with books and the polished wood flooring, and the grounds . . . (sorry I slipped back into memory time there) - what I remember is the fact that most places that take paying guests can label themselves a B&B – bed and breakfast – Ballyvolane , at least for me and the BM was very definitely a Bed and Breakfast and Bath.
Our room had en suite facilities – the usual extra room containing the toilet, sink and the bath. No – make that The Bath. What a bath! It was huge – definitely big enough for two to share companionably – maybe even three if you were really friendly. And it was a Bath of State. So big and deep that you had to go up two polished wooden steps to get into it. It had huge brass taps that worked on levers to turn them on and it must definitely date back to the time when the owners of the house had maids or a ‘gentleman’s gentleman’ to help them get ready for the day. This bath was so deep that you needed to turn on (or rather, lever on) the taps and then go away and drink a mug of tea or perhaps some homemade blackcurrant or elderflower cordial (both of which were provided in the room, together with fresh, pure well water to dilute them) while you waited for it to fill up.
And then there was The Bed. And as you might have expected from the size of The Bath, The Bed was pretty substantial too. The Bed was more than big enough to sleep three – even four quite comfortably. Not being into writing books about threesomes , or even foursomes, what my romance writer’s mind kept thinking was of the way that, after an argument or on that so familiar, ‘forced to sleep in the same room and there’s only one bed’ scenario it would be completely possible for the hero and heroine in a story to sleep in this bed and still stay miles apart – they would have to make a real effort to come together and if they wanted to they wouldn’t have to touch each other at all through the night. They might just as well be in separate single beds.
But then, of course, The Bed had wooden cherubs, and a carved love knot fixed on the wall around the headboard so maybe they would help to bring about the required reconciliation and bridge the gap so that The Bed could become a real love nest.
So that’s the Bed and the Bath – what about the Breakfast bit? Well, as you’d expect the Breakfasts at Ballyvolane were substantial – Full Irish Breakfast was provided in the dining room, at whatever time we wanted it. You could have eggs, bacon, sausage, mushrooms,
It was no wonder that we had breakfast - and then didn’t eat for most of the rest of the day. A couple of times we went out to nearby towns and ate in wonderful small restaurants or a local inn
– but even that was late on because Justin and Jenny provided afternoon tea as well – huge trays with great pots of loose leaf tea and cake – home made fruit cake or chocolate brownies – or, my favourite, the lemon cake. All eaten while sitting round the huge log fire while (on one day at least) the rain lashed down outside. Perfect.
As you can see, a lot of Ballyvolane was of large proportions – the rooms, the bath, the meals . . . so were the Grounds and The Cat – but I have a book to write and a Spaniard who’s impatient at being kept waiting for my attention. So I’ll come back to those tomorrow.
Ballyvolane House Brown Soda Bread(Makes 2 Loaves)
1 1/2 lbs. wholemeal flour1 handful wheat bran2 handfuls wheat germ2 1/4 lbs. pinhead oatmeal (aka chunky-grade)2 tsp. salt2 tsp. sieved baking soda1 liter buttermilk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease bread tins with butter. Mix dry ingredients well. Add buttermilk and stir until mixed thoroughly with the dry ingredients. Divide mixture into 2 bread tins and sprinkle with a little additional pinhead oatmeal. Bake for 1 hour on oven upper shelf.
Sunday, February 25, 2007
You see, the way that a Claddagh ring is worn on the hand is usually intended to convey the wearer's romantic availability, or lack thereof. Traditionally, if the ring is on the right hand with the heart facing outward and away from the body, this indicates that the person wearing the ring is not in any serious relationship, and may in fact be single and looking for a relationship: "their heart is open." When worn on the right hand but with the heart facing inward toward the body, this indicates the person wearing the ring is interested in someone, or that "someone has captured their heart". A Claddagh worn on the left hand ring finger facing outward away from the body generally indicates that the wearer is engaged. When the ring is on the left hand ring finger and facing inward toward the body, it generally means that the person wearing the ring is married.
Friday, February 23, 2007
Pat and Biddy at the book launch in Jan ->
Pat was also our chauffeur the next day when we went out to Skerries, just outside Dublin - but first he delivered us to our hotel where Anne McAllister and her friend Nancy were already settled. It was wonderful to meet up again and of course the talk started at once - and only really stopped when the holiday ended a week later. I'd met Nancy a couple of years ago when we visited Anne and her husband and as she had a large cat of her own - Big Bart - we have plenty in common. We all went out to eat and later were joined by Abby Green so the talking became even more enthusiastic.
In her day job, Abby is an assistant film director and she is currently working on the filming of the BBC TV series, Murphy's Law, starring James Nesbitt. We were lucky enough to be able to go and visit her on the set ( with Pat as our driver once again) and to see some of the programme being filmed. To Abby, this is all very matter of fact - it's what she does all day. But to me it was all fascinating, learning about a new world so that even the dressing rroms, the wardrobe van, the makeup van, the trailers were Aladdin's Caves of new and interesting details. Nancy took a picture of the Three M&B Musketeers (myself, Anne McAllister and Abby in the chair) in the makeup van to record the event.
Unfortunately we weren't able to take any picture of the actual filming, but we were able to watch and soon realised that this is where the boredom and stress of the productrion can soon set in. We were there for quite some time and all that was filmed was one tiny scene of James N (as Tommy Murphy) pacing up and down, up and down . . .again and again and again. Abby had told everyone that the 'M&B ladies' were coming to visit and everyone was really welcoming - including the star of the programme, James N himself, who came striding over to say hello and shake everyone's hands. Abby was was working on this programme when she had her very first acceptance so James knew all about her book - she'd given him a copy - and he admitted that he used to read his Grandma's M&B books as a boy.
Thursday, February 22, 2007
But it's oh so nice to come home
I'm back. Did you miss me?
I didn't want to leave but like the song says there's a lovely feeling of being home too - if only I didn't have proofs waiting for me!
Had a fabulous time - Met up with old friends, made new ones.
Was generously wined and dined by a lovely man (no not the BM) though the BM was there too - chatting up Irish women and actresses . . .Report on that tomorrow. . . (want a clue? Think Cold Feet)
Ate lovely food. drank a little wine (just a little!)Talked a lot. . . . About writing, books, plays, Ireland, history, films, writing . . .
Wandered around Dublin, Galway, Lissmore, Fermoy . . . Got very wet.
Talked a lot about writing, books, plays, Ireland, films, history, writing . . .
Stayed in a fabulous old house with the most amazing bath (photos to follow)
Read a couple of great books . . .
Talked about writing, about books, about cats . .Oh and I wrote - a little . . .
And I came home to find that the number of countries that have registered visitors on this blog has gone up to 81, there are some wonderful comments about my books - specially The Italian's Forced Bride over on the IHeartPresents blog.
And I also found out that The Italian's Forced Bride is marked as sold out over on eHarlequin.com which is a great thrill, specially coming after its three weeks on the Waldenbooks top ten. So a great big Thank You to everyone who made this book the great success it's been. That made my homecoming really special. I was just as thrilled to discover that my March UK release Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride is already appearing on the Amazon.co.uk bestseller lists and it isn't out till next week.
And now I have cases to unpack, washing to do, a book to finish, proofs to correct, the third edition of A Straightforward Guide to Writing Romance to prepare for the publisher . . .
And I have to appease Sid for abandoning him for a week and for being unfaithful to him with Archie.
Who's Archie? I'll tell you about him later.
I'll be back with the full story - just as soon as I get the cases unpacked and this washing in the machine.
Monday, February 19, 2007
We have had a wonderful time so far . After meeting up with Anne McAllister and her friend Nancy and then spending some time with Abby Green, we travelled from Dublin to Galway and spent a couple of fabulous days there. Now we're near Fermoy in County Cork and although it's raining the house we're staying in is beautiful and we have the company of two dogs and a handsome black and white cat (Don't tell Sid!)
Detailed repoprts and photographs will have to wait till I'm back home but I just thought that seeing as I managed to get an internet connection I'd drop by and say hello.
Sue A - I got your email and I'll send your prize on to you as soonas I get home.
I also have just discovered the great news that The Italian's Forced Bride is still on the Waldenbooks Top 10 - for the third week That's made me feel really warm and dry inspite of the weather!
I don't know if I'll get back to blog before I get home but then I'll reports all that's been happening and also include photos.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
We aren't just staying in Dublin - Galway and Cork are on the itinerary too. I've never visited Cork so that will be a first.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Thank you all for your comments on my blog so far - Sid was delighted to be mentioned as one of the major attractions but then he went all Italian on me, showed he'd been listening to Domenico and said 'Naturalamente!'
The hedgehogs will be pleased that they were popular too but at the moment they're too busy hibernating at the moment - and hopefully making baby hedghogs for the spring so they do't realise they're famous.
So the winners - one chosen by each cat -
Redford chose Nicolette
Spiffy chose Joye
Dylan chose Sue A
And Sid chose Rachel
Can the winners please email me - kate(at)kate-walker.com with your postal address and the nme of your choice of book from this list. Please give me a first and second choice in case I've run out of any of the titles by the time I hear from you
THE HOSTAGE BRIDE
THE SICILIAN'S WIFE
THEIR SECRET BABY
THE MARRIED MISTRESS
THE TWELVE MONTH MISTRESS
THE SPANIARD'S INCONVENIENT WIFE
BOUND BY BLACKMAIL
THE ANTONAKOS MARRIAGE
AT THE SHEIKH'S COMMAND
If you can let me know today then I can hope to get your prize in the mail to you tomorow morning - if you're later than that then I wiull be heading for Ireland again and will have to post it when I get back
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to everyone who commented. I'm glad to know that you've been enjoying the blog - and the hedgehogs - and of course Sid.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Domenico here - I have to take a moment from my honeymoon with la bella Alicia to let you know the results of the Grooms Contest.
But first I have to say grazie mille for buuying my book so that it is at numero uno on the Waldenbooks chart. Kate was so excited when she told me - and so was Alicia - but as I said naturalamente, it is a best seller - you readers know a good hero when you see one.
So now - the big announcement - the winner is
Max hasn't announced his winner yet but I'm sure he will do soon. Don't forget that Max's book The Valentine Bride will be on the bookshop shelves this week - Theo and I have had out time on the Waldenbooks Top Ten list so we are cheering Max on to be there too! As Theo would say - Go Max!
Well - no - don't remember - how could I worry about one person for whom my books just don't work when there's the popularity of The Italian's Forced Bride to prove that plenty of other people feel that way.
And then there are the reviews. I got another one for The Italian last week - from Sherri who reviews for Romance Junkies. The review was wonderful
Kate Walker has done it again! Internationally best-selling author Ms. Walker
pens another fantastic romance that will capture readers’ hearts. Alpha heroes
with a soft side and heroines with courage are Kate Walker’s speciality, and Dom
and Alice are no exception. With its passionately sensuous love scenes, its
emotionally gripping storyline, and realistic characters readers will care
about, THE ITALIAN’S FORCED BRIDE is going to definitely be another award winner
for Ms. Walker.
Thank you so much Sherri
But the best bit of this review was the mesage that came in the email with it - I've asked Sherri if I can print here and she's said yes so:
Sherri said: I don't know how you can keep coming up with such great storylines after so many books, but you never dish up the same old stuff. Thank you for giving readers a great story that tugs the heartstrings.
And that is a truly wonderful thing for a writer to read. When I'm coming up to the publication of my 50th title, believe me, it can be difficult to start on a new story - there are only so many plots that fit romances and it can be a struggle not to think, 'Oh but I did that in book 5 or book 18 or book36.' To me it has always been part of the challenge of writing to keep the freshness in my stories. I know I shall have to repeat some elements - after all there's that basic plot line that never alters.
That;s why, somehow, in those 50+ titles (I'm now on the 52nd) I've made it a point of pride not to repeat a name. How long I'll be able to keep that up I don't know - but it's part of the challenge of writing. The cahallenge of not just writing the tried and true. Some people say well your readers won't remember that you used that name/plot back in 1990. - Well I'd remember and it would disappoint me - so I'm sure it would disppoint my readers.
Man meets woman they are attracted to each other but there is a conflict between
them/reasons why they feel they should not be together. They work to resolve
those problems/conflicts and by doing so find a love that promises to give them a
lifetime of happiness together.
So that's the framework. To keep the stories fresh and interesting is both difficult and simple. Some authors - and a lot of editors - think in terms of 'secret baby plots' or 'amnesia plots' or 'marriage of convenience.' Trouble is, that makes these sound like all those other secret babies or amnesiacs or MOC books. For me the only way to keep things different is to tell the characters' stories. So a couple of books might have a marriage of convenience plot, but one will be Sienna and Keir's story (The Hired Husband) another will be Ramon and Estrella's story (The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife)- very different backgrounds, settings, people, relationships - so, hopefully making very different books.
So it's wonderful to read Sherri's comment and to know that, for this reader at least, I've succeeded in writing stories that ring fresh and true and emotionally satisfying. Thank you for taking the time to write, Sherri!
Funny though, isn't it - where Sherri describes 'heroines with courage ' and an 'emotionally gripping story line' - that is just about the exact opposite of X's belief that my heroines are cry babies who do nothing but whine and a plot that goes nowhere. Makes you wonder if they read the same book.
Just goes to show that, at the risk of repeating myself, you can't please all of the people all of the time. I can write a book where I believe that the hero is an Alpha with heart and the heroine is a woman of courage and sensitivity - and someone will read it and find an unredeemed male jerk and a wimpish whiney crybaby! But as the author, I'm not responsible for the personal background/beliefs / prejudices the reader brings to my book. So I'll just carry on writing what I believe makes a good story and thank heaven for readers like Sherri and other who 'get it ' so wonderfully.
After all, they're the readers I write for.
PS I haven't forgotten I have some prizes to give away - but first I have to rouse Sid from his morning snooze. And I have to get hold of Domenico to announce the winner of his (and Max's and Theo's ) Grooms' Contest. And as he (Dom) is away on his honeymoon somewhere I'll probably have some trouble getting him back here to do so.
Thursday, February 08, 2007
So today is the anniversary of the very first day I posted in the blog. February 9th 2006.It's been quite a year.
In that time we've had Lions and Tigers
And contests -bookbags and Christmas stockings
and author friends and
and authors who are so welcome back
And we had cats and dogs -
-a very special
Cat of Superior Breeding
and a wonderful Guide dog in training
Then we had Hugh's Day
(who could forget Hugh-in-a towel?)
And we've had hedgehogs
And Hearts - Dancing Pink Hearts
And there were the Brides and the Grooms
There were blogs - And of course there were books - new books, old books, books I've read, books I want to read - books coming up - writing books - 'How to write' books - and some ideas on how to write books.
So was it fun for you? Was it interesting ? Are there things I didn't talk about that you wanted to know? Things you wish I'd said more about?
Now's your chance. Today is the Blog Birthday Bonanza - and because I'm celebrating, I'm also offering prizes . All you have to do is to post a comment on today's post. Just tell me what you've enjoyed in this blog over the past year - and if there's anything you'd like to see a post about then mention that.
And then I'll get A Cat of Superior Breeding and his friends, Bob, Spiff and Dylan to pick some winners and the winners will receieve a signed copy of their choice of my backlist of books.
Happy Blog Birthday to you - I'm looking forward to the next year!
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- CAT CALENDAR MARCH
- Ballyvolane 2 - Archie, Noodle and Wriggle
- Ballyvolane - a B B & B
- And then there was Galway
- In Dublin's fair city . . .
- It's very nice to go trav'ling
- Somewhere in Ireland . . .
- Moving on
- Birthday Blog Bonanza winners
- And the Grooms' Winner is . . .
- Little things mean a lot
- Blog Birthday Bonanza
- It doesn't get better than this
- Books, Blogs and Birthday Bonanza
- A Great Day For Romance
- The Blank Page
- PS aka Groomed for Success
- Sunday the day of rest?
- Here Come The Brides - one last time
- Cat Calendar - February
- ▼ February (20)