Thursday, April 29, 2010

Brenda Novak's Auction


April is coming to an end. It will soon be May 1st and that means that it's high time I talked about something important that's coming up in May and that is -

Brenda Novak's On Line Auction for Diabetes Research

Help Brenda make a difference in the lives of her son and millions of others like him who live with diabetes by shopping at her Sixth Annual Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research in May 2010. How does it work? Just like eBay—except the proceeds help accelerate progress in diabetes research.

Take a look at the Auction website here

And you'll notice a new link in my sidebar from today - that's because I've donated two lots to the year's auction and if you bid on those you could win yourself a great Kate Walker lot - and make a donation to a very worthy cause at the same time.

What have I donated? Well . . .

There's the Kate Walker Writer's and Reader's Basket

To quote the listing on the auction site -

The winner of this bid will receive autographed books from Harlequin Presents bestselling author Kate Walker:


A great selection of Kate Walker's novels:
KEPT FOR HER BABY (Presents Extra October 2009)
CORDERO'S FORCED BRIDE (Harlequin Presents February 2009)
THE ALCOLAR FAMILY TRILOGY in one volume (Mills & Boon By Request Reprint)
BEDDED BY THE GREEK BILLIONAIRE (Harlequin Presents November 2008)
All books are packed into one of her fabulous Kate Walker Tote Bags.

Bonus: Kate Walker pen.

And then the second lot you can bid on is this:

Critique of a Partial by Harlequin Presents Best-selling Author Kate Walker

Do you dream of becoming a published romance author? Do you want to write for Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents? If so, this is a unique opportunity to have your work critiqued by Kate Walker, one of its best-selling, award-winning and most famous authors with 25 years of publication and 56 titles to her name! Kate Walker is also the author of not one but two amazing guides how to write romantic fiction.

The winner of this bid will receive:
Critique of a partial (first 3 chapters and a synopsis) of the manuscript aimed at Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Romance/Harlequin Presents by Kate Walker. Do not miss this great opportunity!

Bidding on both these lots will open on 30th April 2010 - that's in just under 2 days time.

So why not put in a bid and see if you can win -

And while you're there, check out all the other fantastic lots on offer . . .there are some wonderful things you could bid on and contribute to this great cause!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dylan's Happy Week

It's been a bit chaotic here for the past week. We have had the plumber in replacing the fittings in the cloakroom and mending a couple of pipes. A joiner hanging a new door and making a gate and a new fence. And a couple of other buildrs ripping out the ceiling in one room and rebuilding it so that it now actually has some proper insulatiuon in there instead of the couple of bits of cotton wool that seemed to be all there was there before.

So it's been noisy, dusty, messy and chaotic. And the cats - most of the cats - have hated it. Sid has taken refuge on my windowsill and stares out at the world, trying to pretend it's just not happening though his ears flick wildly backwards and forwards at every thud bang or clatter.

Princess Flora the Floozie if wildly indignant at such things going on in her house, and she has taken herself off to the garden where she has been sunbathing onthe lawn and playing chase me with her two new boyfriends, the grey tabby and the golden fluffytailed handsome prince who flirts out rageously with her.

But the one little cat who has been happy as the week was long was Dylan. The other two may hog the blog spotlight but Dylan just gets on with his own way of doing things. And one of his favourite things in life is actually having workmen in the house. He's always loved inspecting what they were doing, investigating their tools, and generally helping with things, or just keeping them company.

I think he also loves to get strokes - which he does, a lot. Perhaps it's because he's small and he only has one eye that works, and that wins their sympathy. And I'm sure it's because these guys have big hands that can deliver great strokes all the way down a little furry grey body. But he loves it- and he gets a lot of fuss.

So he's had a very happy week, going from room to room, getting a new set of strokes here, a rub behind the ears there.

He has even set himself to investigating the various vans that have been parked outside the house, filled with interesting boxes and tool kits and cloths . . . so much so that twice now the builders have set off home, only to have to return because they have a small grey tabby curled up in the back of the van.

Sorry Dylan - the repairs and renovations are all done now. And the vans have left for the last time - thankfully without you in them!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Courses etc coming up

I'm just orgainsing myself to update my web site and I'll be posting some new courses/workshops dates coming up - so as I know a lot of people who read this blog like to know about the teaching I do, I thought I'd list the details here as well and then post them on the web site for future reference.

So -
July 2010

Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference
Place: University of Greenwich in SE London
Dates: Friday 9th July - Sunday 11th July 2010

I'll be teaching a workshop on Conflict - so if you're going to be there and you have any specific queries about Conflict then please send me an email and I'll hope to answer your questions (and maybe I'll be able to use the lecture as a series of posts on this blog about the subject too.)

Once again I’ll be going back to one of my favourite places and taking part in the Writers’ Holiday at Caerleon 2010.
Date: July 25-30, 2010

Event: I will be teaching a five part course on The 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.

Further details and booking forms can be found here:
Book online and save £10!

September 2010
NAWG (National Association of Writers’ Groups) Festival of Writing
Place: St Aidan's College, University of Durham, Durham
Dates: September 3-5, 2010

I'll be teaching four workshops over the weekend:

Friday evening - What Sort of Fiction Should I Write?
Commercial publishing is a highly competitive world. Knowing how to focus on the type of fiction you can write best is an advantage in this often cut-throat business. But how do you decide where your focus should lie?


These 3 workshops will be particularly focussed on writing Romantic Fiction which is my speciality. But they will also be helpful for anyone who wants to write any sort of fiction, particualarly commercial genre fiction. They can be used as a mini course - or dipped into by someone who just wants to do one or the other.

1. Creating Characters
An essential skill for succesful commercial fiction is to create believable and sympathetic character. Whether storm-tossed lovers, hardened, cynical detectives or even blue headed aliens from another planet you need to build characters the readers care about and who come alive on the page. This workshop will give you techniques and ideas how to do just that.

2. Plotting
Are you a planner or a pantser? Do you plot your story in details or 'travel hopefully into the mist'? How do you create a romantic story - or indeed any sort of story - that will keep your readers turning the page and avoid the dreaded 'sagging middle'?

3. Writing A Sex Scene
Very little commercial fiction that involves the relationships between men and women (or indeed same sex relationships) is published today that doesn't involve dealing with the passionate and sexual aspects of that relationship. So how do you write a believeable, emotional, sensual scene that works for your characters and keeps you out of the short-list for the annual Bad Sex Awards?

October 2010
Calderdale Writers' Roadshows - Halifax
I really enjoyed taking part in these last year. Sadly, this year I'm already booked up for other things for the dates of most of them, but I will be doing the following

1. Friday 8 October – Halifax Library – 5-7pm – one-ones (you'll need to book thse in advance)
2. Saturday 9 October – Halifax Library – 10.30-12.30 workshop on Romantic Fiction

February 2011
Once again I will be teaching at the fabulous Fishguard Writing Weekend.
Event: Weekend Residential Writing Course – Romance – Moving It On

You’ve been to Kate Walker’s Writing Romance Workshops – Now here is your chance to take your romance writing further with her new series of ‘Moving It On’ workshops designed exclusively for Fishguard 2011

Dates: 18 – 20th February 2011
Venue: Fishguard Bay Hotel
Quay RoadGoodwickFishguardPembrokeshireSA64 0BT

Book on line and save £10

Anyone who has been to any of my previous workshops is welcome - and even if you haven't been to one of my writing weekends or courses, this new series of classes will help you learn more about writing romance and how to polish your manuscript ready for submission.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Reasons why I love my job . . .

Sometimes I curse and swear when a character won't behave or a plot gets totally knotted, but really, althought slightly wierd, writing romance is a great way to earn a living.

Some days there are parcels and parcels of books that arrive - this last week alone, there have been

French editions of The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge, and The Spaniard's Inconvenient Wife and Cordero's Forced Bride.

Brazilian editions of Cordero's Forced Bride, Bedded By the Greek Billionaire, The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife, Sicilian Husband,Blackmailed Bride, The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge

Polish copies of The Greek Tycoon's Unwilling Wife
German, Portugese, Japanese and Dutch editions of Cordero's Forced Bride

The foreign languages collection in Hull library is going to be happy with me!

Other reasons to smile -

The Konstantos Marriage Demand has 3 five star rating son the Mills & Boon web site- when the readers rate your book, that's what it's all about! Oh and Claimed by the Sicilian is at #2 in the bestselling listing of the M&B By Requests titles.

And last night I spent the evening with a glass of wine and two great DVDs - and it was all research.


Nothing but research.

The DVDs were supposed to have been this drama. . . but for reasons beyond my control they ended up being something else. Oh well, North and South can always be used for inspiration . . .

More clues? Well the 'special project' is sort of linked to a famous author who was born on this date in 1816 . . .

Oh and the post lady has just delivered an extra treat in the shape of the latest great romance by a special favourite author - Liz Fielding - A Wedding at Leopard Tree Lodge - and I might actually have time to read it!
Can't wait.

Like I said, sometime I love my job!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The trouble with Sid . . .

. . . is that he takes his duties as a host too seriously.

Whenever we have visitors he has to check that the bed is comfortable . . .

Make sure that the chairs are just purrfect . . .

Deal with any paperwork that needs doing . . .

And then he spends lots of time being great company for the visitor before he gets down to the important job in hand . . .

Of picking winners of prizes.

But at last I managed to drag him away from being stroked, having that special spot behind his ears rubbed, being told how handsome he is. . .

to get him to pick a winner of the Claimed by the Sicilian 2 3 in 1 By Request. . . and then he went and picked two names!

So - Crystal B and Karen D - you have each won a copy of Claimed by The Sicilian

Crystal, I have your address - but I'm afraid that I'll have to wait to send your prize until the planes are flying again!

Karen, I think I have yours but I just sent an email to double check.

The answer to the question was that the titles in Claimed by The Sicilian are:
The Sicilian's Wife

Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride

The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dreadlines and Publication dates

I know that a lot of people reading this blog are would-be New Writers (as the RNA labels them) People who are aiming to be published, partway there, trying to learn the ropes etc . . . The sort of people I was talking about in my We Write Romance post yesterday.

But of course as soon as you reach that wonderful, magical day when you get 'The Call' and are told that someone is buying your manuscript and turning it into an actual published book, then everything changes. You become a published author, not just a writer, you enter into contracts, you have revisions, proofs, dreadlines. . . Writing becomes A Job. Not just the wonderful sit down to write when you feel inspired/want to write way you've been working up to now. Later, people will read your book, review it - some people will love it but not everyone will find it fits with them. Some of the reviews over on Amazon - or the new 5 star rating on the Mills & Boon web site are evidence of this. And guess which reviews are the ones that stick in your mind - the ones you just can't forget?

There have been some great posts on this topic out in blogland recently - over on the Pink Heart Society Mira Lynn Kelly was talking about the first year after acceptance on Wednesday and yesterday Michelle Styles had a good post about Deadlines and making sure you have a life. I so agreed with this - one of the first pieces of advice a friend of mine was given by her newly-acquired editor was that you must have a life - or what will you write about?

I'm at that stage in my writing right now. The latest book is delivered, the next one is brewing and growing , and I have a little time to breathe. It is important to breathe - this writing game isn't a sprint, with a mad dash to the winning tape and then you're done. It's a marathon run where you need to pace yourself to keep on keeping on. It was something that was brought home to me again when I was talking to the Airedale Writers' Circle and others in the past few days. After all, I'm still celebrating that 25th anniversary of being first published and I thought I'd come back to that for a few posts - because for me it wasn't just 'Now you're published, you're settled and all you have to do is to keep writing the books. . .'

More about that later. But I was also wondering about what to blog about now I have a little more space in my schedule - anyone got any particular topics they want to know more about?

But of course the other part of the heading to this post refers to one of the greatest moments an author has in their writing career, one that never gets any less exciting even as the years go by - and that's the publication date of a new book.

Although I've actually seen it out and about on the bookshop shelves already, today is officially the publication date for the 3 in 1 By Request book Claimed by The Sicilian.

So to celebrate I have a copy of this book to give away.

To be in with a chance of winning, just email me with the titles of the 3 Sicilian books that are reprinted in this special anthology. You have just over 24 hours to get your answers in - at noon on Saturday (UK time) I'll get Sid to pick a winner Put Claimed by The Sicilian in the subject line so that I'll find your answers easily.

I have to admit that I'm getting an extra special thrill from seeing this book out there with all three titles of my books in it!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kate's Corner Day

I had a wonderful time at the Airedale Writers' Circle .

If any of them have tracked me down here, after the talk on Tuesdday - I would just like to say thank you for the wonderful welcome and the great evening - lots of fun and interesting questions - I hope you enjoyed it too.

Special thanks too to crime writer lovely Lesley Horton for her warm hospitality to the Babe Magnet and myself when she put us up overnight. I'm looking forward to returning the favour when she comes to stay on Friday as she's teaching on the Magnet's Crime Writing Course at Hull university.

I love talking with writers - it's always so stimulating and inspiring.

And that's what I'm blogging about today - over at the Write Romance BlogWe where as it's the 15th of the month, it's my Kate's Corner day - and if you're interested in maybe getting a personal critique of a partial manuscript from me as a way to help charity, there's some news about that over there too.

See you there!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Didn't I use to have time to blog?

So the Sicilian has left the building - I was glad to see him go and I hope my Editor is equally glad to see him in his newly tweaked glory.

I am out and about today - talking to the Airedale Writers' Circle in Keighley about writing romantic fiction so the Magnet and I are going via Harrogate as we haven't visited there for ages and it's one of our favourite places. It's also (special note for Anne McAllister, Anna Campbell, Anna Louise Lucia etc) the place after York that has the biggest Bettys Teashop in Yorkshire . . . I foresee afternoon tea and Fat Rascals coming up. (The Fat Rascals are the Bettys speciality rich scone type things and totally delicious - not talking about the Babe Magnet!)

So now I need to get on the road. But first I have to wish a special Happy Birthday to a special friend - Happy Milestone Birthday to Little Black Dress author Julie Cohen!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Sicilian weekend . . .

There's been something of a theme about today.
I've been checking through the Sicilian's revisions ready to send him off to revisit my editor on Monday.
Then I was just in WH Smith and in spite of the fact that the official publication date is 16th April, Claimed by The Sicilian was there on the shelves - I have to say that that cover really does look lovely and it stands out amongst the blue/pink/purple/turqoise covers of the single title books. And then I discovered that it's already at #3 in the top selling M&B By Request titles on Amazon.

Today is The Offspring's lovelygirlfriend's birthday so we've had tea and cakes in the sunshine (yes - the sun is actually shining!) and I had my favourite muffins - with Sicilian lemon! And tonight we are out for an Italian meal to celebrate as well. So it's turning into a Sicilian weekend.

Hope the sun is shining where you are.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Pink Heart Blogging

I've been so busy with The Sicilian that I haven't had a moment to spare to come and chat - and I still don't!

But don't worry - I do have a blog today - just not here. I'm over on the Pink Heart Society Blog with my monthly post as one of the regular columnists there - and as it's Friday I'm talking about must-watch TV.

Which programmes and I talking about? well, I'll give you a couple of clues . . .

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

April Fool?

I thought that April Fool's Day was past. April 1st wasn't it?

But then I also thought that being a journalist meant investigating things, hunting down the facts, teasing out the truth and then reporting as accurately as possible . . .

More April Fool me!

What am I talking about? An article that appeared in the Irish Independent this morning - apparently on the back of the announcement that so many younger readers are now downloading Mills and Boon novels onto ereaders instead of buying them in shops. This article, under the heading: Mind & Meaning: Why Mills & Boon still make the ladies swoon claims to explain why romances are still so popular with readers - it's the safer alternative to lying down in a dark room with a bottle of whiskey, apparently!

I don't have time to point out exactly how many 'facts' this woman has got wrong in such a short article - basically it's about 750 words or total inaccuracy - but luckily for me I don't need to. Irish author Trish Wylie (who wasn't approached for a comment or any information for this article - no, that would constitute research and effort rather than just parroting what other lazy journalists have said before) has done a great job of this already over on her blog today. I could hope that the author of the Irish Independent article will read it - but I doubt it.

Sometimes I wonder if it's worth the time and the effort to answer these lazy inaccurate journalists - at around 3,500 words, Trish's detailed analysis is about four times as long as the original - and for me that would be a good writing day total on one of my books. But then this particular article really has to be in the running for the award for the record number of innaccurate 'facts' in the shortest possible number of words.

Oh well - I should be used to it by now. I'm going back to write one of my "gentle love stories where the main players are good looking and thoughtful," and where in the dénouement "the hero gently tells his heroine of his love for her as he bends to kiss her tenderly but fulsomely on the lips. She reluctantly submits and a spark within her acknowledges her previously denied attraction to this tower of masculinity"

Ah yes - apparently this "holds more appeal than . . . exploring themes of lust, revenge and betrayal." Which is going to be a problem considering what I'm going to be working on today . . .

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter - and what can you buy for 2p?

Happy Easter to everyone who is celebrating it. I hope you all have a wonderful day and enjoy being with your families and eating lots of chocolate - if that's what you enjoy (the chocolate that is)

I'm passing on the chocolate for two reasons - one - and I know this is sacrilege - I'm not desperately keen on the stuff. A little taste maybe but more than that makes me feel ill and I don't want anything extra to make me feel ill right at this moment because the second reason why I'm avoiding chocolate - or most things! - is that I'm just recovering from this vile sickness bug that is going around and the chocolate seems to be what makes it worse.

No - actually, there are three reasons why I'm avoiding chocolate, but I'll come to the third in a moment.

As I said I hope you are having a wonderful Easter but after the week I've just experienced I can't help but be very aware of the fact that right now there are several friends and people I know who have just don't feel like celebrating at all, for various sad reasons. And that must be repeated all over the world as well. So I just wanted to send out a message to anyone else who feels that the Easter celebrations are not for them this year - to send them thoughts and sympathy in the difficult times they are going through. I hope that the dawning of Sprin g brings you brighter days in every way very soon.

And that brings me to the third reason why I'm not bothering with chocolate this year. A writer friend of mine (Lynne Hackles who often teaches with me in Fishguard or Caerleon) ) posted on her blog about a charity called the Fresh Start Foundation in Gambia - She tells me that 2p (yes 2p) is what it costs to feed one child one school meal a day.

Here is the newsletter she quotes:

FSF's first school meal appeal has been a success with all children at Kwinella Lower Basic School guaranteed a meal until the end of the summer term. As a result of the appeal the school has seen an increase in its enrollment figures which means more children learning and less working on the streets. Now FSF want to feed more children. We are appealing for support to feed 770 hungry bellies and the funds will be allocated between 3 schools and 1 nursery. Schools and nurseries charge 2p as a contribution for a school meal. However, for some families living in abject poverty this amount is simply too much to pay. As a result some children go the whole day without food.

So I had a think - didn't take much thought really - and I came to the conclusion that even at £5 for 3 Easter Eggs (for chocolate that was going to make me feel sick!) of £5 to feed 250 children was a very simple equation. Even the price of a Creme Egg would buy a decent number of dinners.

Anyone want to join me? How many 2p coins (or the equivalent in your national currency) do you have in your purse right now? Just think they could be turned into something a whole lot more nutrious than chocolate. And I'll just bet your Easter Eggs will taste even better as a result!

I was going to call this post '2p or not 2p - that is the question' . . . but perhaps not!

Oh and as today is the first Sunday of the month, I will be blogging over on Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today as well. Just as soon I think of something to write about!

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