Sunday, January 29, 2012

Losing track of time

I'm sorry - I forgot   about this blog I wriote earlier.  I lost tack of time and forgot that MIchelel Fayard has asked me some questions about my recent Big Blog Tour,

The post actually went up on  26th January  but I've had a nasty cold, and  been out and about and  have only just got caught up enough to remember and link to it.

Sorry Michelle! I'm doing that now - you can find the blog post here.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Things that make you smile

It's grey and dreary and cold . . . and about to get very wet from the look of things, but  to brighten the day here are 3 things that made me smile -
1. An unexpected phone call from a dear friend (Thanks Duck!)

2. Some of you may remember that I sponsor a little girl  - J  - in an orphanage in Central African Republic throuhg SOS Children's Villages.   Two years  ago when the sponsorship started, I was sent a photo of her  - a wide-eyed, rather nervous looking little 7 year old. I just received this year's photo  of a much taller, healthy, smiling 9 year old, proudly wearing her new pink flowered dress - lovely to see how she's grown  and that smile  . . .

3. As I've mentioned, we have  builders here with work on the extension going on in the garden -  after days of gouging out earth  plus a great big hole in the ground ready for foundations there is now  one huge skip filled to the brim with unearthed  soil  – all soft and crumbly - just perfect for  one Charlie  Cat,  to scrape a nice neat hole  - well, making his own contribution to things,

Then jumping down with a ‘Man that’s SOME litter tray!’ look on his face!
Happy weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bargain Price

Did you miss getting your hands on a copy of The Proud Wife?  (this is the book that  is nominated as Best Presents Extra 2011 at Romantic Times)

I just discovered that The Proud Wife is now in the Sale over on the Mills & Boon web site where you can get  a print  copy or an ebook for just 99 pence!  So if you missed it the first time round here's a chance to grab a bargain.

Oh - and about those workshops  - if you're interested in the one day workshop in Nottingham on 19th  May (10 am - 4.30pm) , then the easy way to find the details and download the  booking form to book your place on the course is to follow this link.
Places are limited so if you want to come along make sure you  get your booking in as soon as possible.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Thanks to lovely Heather from We Write Romance, my web site is at last updated with  all my news.

You'll find the covers of both the USA and UK editions of The Devil and Miss Jones and an extract from the beginning of the book. And there are the details of the  By Request Collection,  His Suitable Bride which contains  my book Cordero's Forced Bride  (which is also oiut in a Kindle Edition if you'd rather have an ebook.)

And most importsntly for those of you who are interested in coming to any of my workshops  there's now the full details  you need to book the workshop in Brigg, Lincolnshire  and the link to the page with the day workshop in Nottingham  in May.

The Brigg  workshop is on Valentine's Day

  • Dates: 14th February 2012 

  • Time: 1:30pm to 4:30pm

  • Location:  The Ballroom The Angel  Brigg Lincolnshire
    Tickets cost £7 per person and are available in advance from Ashby, Brigg and Scunthorpe libraries.
    Places are limited so book early to avoid disappointment.
    The event is for adults aged 16 and over. To book a place contact Emma Prideaux at North Lincolnshire Central Library on 01724 860161 or email

  • I'm busy working on the Romance Writing weekend course in Fishguard next month (February 17th - 19th). The course is well booked already but we've had a couple of  cancellations from people whose circumstances have changed so they can't attend this time - so there's still time to book if you'd like to come along.  Booking forms and details are on the Writers' Holiday web site.

    And of course then there's a week long course in Tuscany . . .   details coming up. . .

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Liz's Little Book

    I will be posting more details of courses and workshops - including that very special one in Italy -  soon - but if you're interested in learning to write romance then I have a new  how to book to tell you about  that could help you with your  novel.

    It's Liz Fielding's  Little Book of Writing Romance

    Liz has just released this book  as an ebook  this week. I knewshe was working on this project when we met last year, so I;ve asked her to give me a mini-interview about it to give you all the information you need.

    Liz, can you tell me a little more about your Little Book of Writing Romance?

    I've taken my model from the great thriller writer Elmore Leonard and I've left out the bits people skip over, kept it to bones of what a new writer needs to know. How to begin. Character. Emotion. Conflict.

    What gave you the idea to write this? Did the ideas come from any workshops you've done in the past?
    What will would-be authors find in this book

    It all began quite a long time ago when I was approached by a publisher to produce a "little" book on writing for Mills and Boon. For various reasons it didn't happen, but I'd written the first chapter - Grabbing the Reader on the First Page - which you'll find on my website under "Writing". Then, this year, I did a talk on Humour and Emotion at the RNA Conference, talked to people interested in taking part in Mills and Boon's New Voices competition, mentored a finalist, and I realised that it was time to put together all the stuff I've learned over the years.

    You say your book is a primer - will authors who have already tried submissions or read other books find things to help them in it?  (Personally I'm pretty sure they will -  so often it's not the advice that's being given but the way it's told that makes that light bulb moment happen and I'm sure your voice will reach so many people and help them.)

    Thanks, Kate! There are some terrific how-to books out there. I always recommend your own 12-Point Guide, which is a fabulous book on the art of writing romance. Where mine differs is that I've gone with the basics, holding the hand of someone who isn't familiar with the publishing world, who is a total beginner. I've used lots of examples, broken down a scene to show what I'm doing. Can a more experienced writer benefit from this? I believe it will be useful for someone who has been submitting for a while without success. And I use the vital bullet points myself to make sure I'm getting the most out of every scene, thinking deeply enough about conflict, getting to know my characters. (Walking around a supermarket with your heroine will tell you a lot more about her than her star-sign!)

    Where can readers who want to buy this book get hold of it?

    My Little Book is online at Amazon (you don't have to have a Kindle, you can download it to your PC) and should be available on all other eBook platforms very shortly. It will be online everywhere  an eBook  (except Barnes and Noble - but will come as soon as Waterstones sign up for the Nook) by the end of the week, or so I am assured.

    Thanks so much Liz! Congratulations on the publication of your 'little book' - I hope it's a great success!

    As I said above I do believe that  the good thing about having a variety of how to books out there is that sometimes one author's way  of explaining things can work better for  a writer than any others - and it's always good to have two different approaches to anything in writing so you can see what works for you best. And  having been to some of Liz's workshops - and of course knowing her writing, I  know how helpful this book  is going to be.

    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    A Mystery Solved

    I spotted over on Amazon that there was a 'new' title out on  17th February.

    This is a 3 in 1 By Request  collection  - so a reprint of one of my older books. I had no idea what the actual  book involved was - the title of the collection  His Suitable Bride - doesn't exactly give me a lot of help with guessiing!  Neither does the cover, which is rather striking,  but not exactly evocative of any particular story.

    But today I've just had a delivery of books - hardbacks of The Devil  and Miss  Jones, Paperbacks of that book too - and some  copies of His Suitable Bride. So now the mystery is solved.

    The book in this collection is in fact Cordero's Forced Bride. . A book that first came out in 2009

    Taken in payment into his bed!
    Alexa Montague is mortified. She's had to call off her sister's wedding, and now the ruthless, arrogant groom, Santos Cordero, is demanding that shy, ugly duckling Alexa, takes Natalie's place!
    The Montagues have stolen his money and his convenient bride, so Santos will enjoy taking Alexa instead. For Santos does not - cannot - love. But his body burns for Alexa as it has for no other woman before. He'll keep her captive in his bed until she's begging to be his . . .

    They're very different cover images, aren't they - it's no wonder I couldn't easily work out which of my titles was involved.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012

    In Memoriam

    Today is the 15th of the month and as so many of you know, on the 15th I have my regular Kate's Corner post over on We Write Romance's blog.

    But today is also the day before, sadly,  I travel to Lancashire to attend the  funeral of Penny Jordan.   Penny and her books have been so much a part of my life, so closely connected with my own career from the first day, right back in 1981 that I opened her  first books - Falcon's Prey and Tiger Man - and lost  myself in the world she could create - a world that took you away from  the problems and worries of the actual day and into a world of passion and excitement and great story-telling.

    So what else could I do but dedicate my Kate's Corner post to Penny?

    And tomorrow, when I come home, I'm going  to open Falcon's Prey,  Penny's very first book and  remind myself of how it all began - and I'll raise a glass to her memory too.

    Perhaps you'd like to join me in that? Pick your own favourite Penny Jordan novel  and remember her that way.

    Friday, January 13, 2012

    Looking ahead 2

    A few more details about two more workshops I have  coming up this year.

    Maybe Wales isn't easy for you to reach. (Though I have had students at Fishguard who have come from London,  Norwich -  Spain! )

    Maybe you can't spare a whole weekend to attend a course.

    Maybe you haven't been on a 'basic' course so you feel the Advanced Romance Writing might be too much for you

    Well how about  a half day workshop? A full day one?

    The first of these is, appropriately enough  on Valentine's Day:


    Planned for Valentine’s Day will be a workshop on writing romance with
    North Lincolnshire Libraries

    Date: February 14th obviously!

    Location: The Ballroom The Angel, Brigg Lincolnshire

    Time: 1.30 – 4.30 pm
    Cost, where to apply and all other details to be announced as soon as possible.
    But you can check on their page here  or ring  the Central Library to enquire  Tel: 01724 860161


    Saturday 19th May

    10am-4pm workshop (including a one hour lunch break and a short break in both the morning and afternoon).

    At The Nottingham Mechanics 3 NORTH SHERWOOD STREET NOTTINGHAM NG1 4EZ
     Details and booking forms will be posted on the Nottingham Writers Club web site

    I will of course post details of each event as I get them on my Events page here on my site. It's due to be updated in the next couple of days so then you’ll have as much information as I have.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012

    Do you want to read about Hull?

    I don't know how many times I've tried to write this post - but I know that each time I've started it  - or even thought about it - something has happened to interrupt  me. These interruptions  have tended to be linked to two things.

    1. Builders - we are having the kitchen revamped and extended   and the work started last week so  lots of questions, lots of noise, lots of dirt . . .the cats hate it, we can't get the car into the drive . . . .
    I keep telling myself it's going to look wonderful when it's done - and it is - but right now it's chaos.

    2. Interviews  - it seems that someone said - in a blog about settings for books :

    The precise setting matters: Edinburgh and London will work well. Leicester and Hull less so. With apologies to Leicester and Hull. (And this does NOT mean you can't set books in Leicester and Hull, just that they won't of themselves be a draw to those who don't appreciate the romantic aspects of those cities.)

    And as I live near Hull and have given several workshops and talks there,  the local radio - Radio Humberside - wanted  to interview me to know what I thought.

    What do i think? Well that it you are writing a romance  then you are writing the story of the emoitonal journey of your hero and heroine - and they are what matter. Just as in real life when it isn't  wher you are but who you are with the makes a romantic time,  so in a romantic novel it's the people  whose story you are telling who matter.  
    Of course there are more obviously 'romantic' settings that appeal to  a large number of people and so might make a book attractive  - Venice, Rome, Paris, all have that image - but it still depneds on who you are with or what the emotional story might be. Personally I spent one of the least romantic days of my life in Paris and as a city it has never appealed to me since - but my sister spent her honeymoon there - so obviously we'll disagree over that!  And I have had some very romantic days/evenings . . . nights   in some totally unromantic  seeming places. 

    The trouble with the accepted 'romantic' images are that they tend to be the easy sell - the places where it's easy(easier) to create a romantic setting   that will quickly an effortlessly be picked up on by a reader.  But the 'easy sell' is that because it has been used so often that it can become a shortcut/shorthand - and unfortunately can be used so often it also become a cliché  - and so not inspiring or interesting at all.  And it's still matters that it's who you're with /who you are reading about. A gloriously romantic setting won't make a dull book exciting or a  slow story into a pacy best seller.

    Which is basically what I said on the Radio Humberside interview. It must have sounded alll right because the next thing  was that I had a phone call  from the local news programme - Look North - who are also covering  this 'Hull won't work well as a setting'  subject - asking if I would do an interview for them too.
    Which wasn't quite as  simple a request as it sounds - when I took the phone call I had a conditoning pack on my hair, was in the scruffiest jeans and tee shirt, no make up - and my work room was a tip!

    I had an hour while the interviewer drove from Hull to here to sort that out - rinse hair, dry  hair, find some makeuo, do face - change clothes .  . .

    The 'tidying'of the room was done by my patented method - pick up all the mess, piles of papers, assorted (and not sorted) bits and pieces and take them into another room. Dump them there and shut the door firmly. Return to office and wipe a duster hastily aroud all surfaces.  . .  finished just intime.

    The interviewer was lovely, very relaxed and good at putting me at my ease. (Thank you Rowan!)  We did all the filming and I answered all the questions.  I think it went well - apart from the one moment when Flora decided to get into the action and jumped on the back of my chair, swishing her tail around and draping it across my face - we had to  redo that bit!

    So now I'm sirtting here knowing the result will be on Look North in  a very short time - the programme is at 6.30. I expect that only a very little bit of what I said will ve shown in amongst lots of other comments but it was an experience - and I have a cleaner, tidier room to show for it!

    You may be able to catch the programme on the play it again facility on the web site here.
    And I'd like to know what you think. How important is the setting of a novel for you? Do you want to read about glamorous international  settings - one that have the romantic 'easy sell'? Or are you interested in trying new places  in books - or not bothered where the book is set so long as the characters are fascinating and the story intense and emotional?

    I'd love to know - specially if you come from Hull.

    Monday, January 09, 2012

    Looking ahead

    I spent the weekend at my desk with diaries, calendars, notebooks etc -anything to get away from the mud and chaos at the back where the extension is being built and the kitchen knocked through and revamped . . . This will be the way things will  be for a  month or more  now.
    So I tried to impose some control over what I can deal with - the year I have coming up. And as lots of people have written to me to ask about courses/workshops etc that I have planned, I thought I'd let you know what's on offer. So - do you want to make this the year when you write that novel/ finish the romance story you started - maybe even submit it  and (we can hope!) get it published ?

    Well if you'd like to come on one of my courses/workshops  there might be something here to help you. Looking ahead I'm going to be all over the place, with long courses, short ones, day workshops . . . Maybe one will suit you.

    To start with - coming up  very soon  - there is the  Writers and Artists' Weekend at Fishguard Bay Hotel, Fishguard Pembrokeshire:


    This event is held at a hotel with every convenience - all set in sub-tropical gardens with magnificent views and walks amidst 160 miles of outstanding and unspoilt coastal  and countryside which makes up the unspoilt Pembrokeshire National Park.

    As always, the organisers Anne & Gerry  intend bringing you the best value for money each year - the best venue (which you will grow to love as much as we do) - the best workshop leaders (all experienced professionals), the very best choice of workshops all wrapped up in a superb, small, friendly and intimate event you’ll love from the time you arrive in Fishguard until the day that you leave. You can bring your partners for a leisurely weekend where they can enjoy the unspoilt walks - or just relax and soak up  the  atmosphere that Pembrokeshire instils in its guests.

    There’s nothing extra to pay - they’ll even collect you from Fishguard or Haverfordwest Railway stations and return you there at the close of the event on Sunday afternoon.  You’ll have  a choice of single, double, or twin roomed, all en-suite accommodation (even taking the trouble to guarantee that you’ll have a room next to your friends), and excellent full board plus (vegetarian choices) hospitality for the duration of your stay with us. Fully inclusive, the only extra expense will be in the bar during the weekend, or if you wish to purchase a book or souvenir from the Bookroom.

    All tutors are invited to join us by recommendation only. They have been selected for their unique ability to join in the informality that represents the most important aspect of all WRITERS' HOLIDAY events. The tutors will change each year but, the standard will not.

    The event opens on Friday evening with a leisurely dinner followed by a short meet the workshop leader’s session. Throughout the day on Saturday and through until lunch on Sunday the weekend is crammed with a total of six workshop sessions. Guests will be encouraged to inform the workshop leader of their weekend requirements and what they wish to achieve.
        The all-in  price is £219  for the weekend.

    (Book on line and save £10)

    My course for this weekend is the Advanced Romance Writing Course. To  join these classes you need to have done a basic course either with me, or another tutor  as the course  is not for beginners. Designed especially for Fishguard to move you on in your writing, the whole weekend will be concentrated on this workshop - without other distractions. Guests are encouraged to complete work with me prior to the weekend commencement.   

    This is an intensive weekend course - Friday night to Sunday lunchtime and we cram a lot into that time! (we have a lot of fun as well – ask any past student.) If you have any doubts as to whether you can mange this course, please check with me  using the email at the bottom of the page.

    Here are some comments from past students at Fishguard -
    A blinder of a course. I learned so much and . . . You were an inspiring teacher and brought so many useful guide posts to life for us. And made it all fun! . . . I ended the weekend with a much clearer idea of just what emotion and conflict mean in terms of novel writing. So thank you so much for laying so many riches before us. I really enjoyed every minute of the weekend.  ~ Janet Laurence
    Your course was fabulous: interesting, stimulating and empowering.. . . thank for your dedication to all of us. You're a marvellous teacher. ~ Susan Moody

    Thank you so much for all your energy and thoughts this weekend - a truly fabulous course which left me happily exhausted and full of enthusiasm for my upcoming week away writing. ~ Sarah Jane V

    Last year this sold out almost as soon as it went on the site and numbers on this course are strictly limited but I have just had two unexpected cancellations so there are a few places still available if you  want to join us.
    (And while you’re looking at the  Fishguard web site pages, take a look at the details for Caerleon Writers’ Holiday too – a fabulous writing experience.  I’ll be there in July too!)

    Friday, January 06, 2012

    Blogging around

    Regular visitors will know that I have  several spots where I guest blog every month.  The Pink Heart Society is one of them.  And that's where I am today.

    In the past, my regular Date With Kate post on the PHS has been on the third Friday of the month, which could be a bit tricky to remember,  but this year A Date With Kate will  now be on the first Friday of the month - much easier for you (and me) to keep track of.

    So this being the first Friday of January  I'm over on the Pink Heart Society blog talking about something appropriate to the new year  - Starting again - and how that applies to the characters in our novels.

    See you there!

    Thursday, January 05, 2012

    For Love and Money

    I've often complained about books /reviewers/critics  who dismiss romance novels  in derogatory terms without ever opening a single  copy of one. So it was a great delight - and an early Christmas present to be sent a copy of a new academic book that  discusses the real nature and appeal of these novels - and is written by someone  who has read and studied many romances by many different authors in her research and preparation for this book.

    I first met Laura Vivanco through the Teach Me Tonight site which always has fascinating discussions about the romance genre and you may remember that she ran an interview with me when I first had The Return of The Stranger published - discussing the way that I had worked on it with Wuthering Heights as my inspiration and the  changes, adaptations I had had to make in order to make that  classic  novel conform to the conventions of a short romance.

    Now Laura has produced her own book, a study of the popular romances of Harlequin Mills and Boon  - and this time the observations and comments  in this study are based on sound opinions formed from extensive reading and knowledge of the romance novel form, its varying types. its history, and its  many authors.  

    For Love and Money is a study of romance that challenges the stereotypical perception that Harlequin Mills & Boonromances are merely mass-produced commodities churned out in accordance with a strict and unchanging formula. Laura very kindly let me see a pre publication edition of this book and I found it absorbing and fascinating - with none of the teeth gritting fury that  critical works on romance so often induce. The novels are actually read as individual works, not  just pale copes of each other, each adding something  to the development of the genre that while it may move and change slowly and not very dramatically is constantly changign and adapting to the society and times in which it is written.

      And as Liz Fielding says, this is' an impressive study of the popular fiction of Harlequin  Mills & Boon that is a must read for any student of popular fiction and for those who write and love the genre.'

    It was a fascinating read - and an interesti8ng opportunity for me to go back to my student days and look at the books from the 'other side' so to speak - that of studying them analytically rather than writing them creatively.

    You can read more about For  Love and Money on on Liz Fielding's Blog  where Laura has given an interview  or on the Pink Heart Society site where she talks about 'Formulaic Cookie-Cutter Books' which - being Laura - she refutes that romance novels really are.

    At last - a critical work on romance that I can recommend as a balanced, knowledgeable and informed read!

    Monday, January 02, 2012

    Penny Jordan

    This is a difficult and sad post to write.

    As I said,  2011 ended with news that  saddened me so much and while it wasn't unexpected, it was still the worst sort of news to get of a friend.  I said I'd share when I could - but by now I think many people will have become aware of the sad news that Harlequin  Mills and Boon star Penny Jordan lost her battle with terminal cancer on the last day of 2011.

    I'm sure so many of you, like me, have known of, read and enjoyed her books for years. Way back, before any book of mine was ever accepted I read Falcon's Prey and Tiger Man and was blown away by them - so when my first rejection from Mills & Boon came back with 'not quite right yet - please read novels by authors like Penny Jordan to see what we are looking for' it was no hardship to follow that advice!

    I have followed Penny's career for all of the 30 years she's been published - admiring her work, astounded at her output, and eventually, to my delight, honoured to be able to call her a friend. She was a non stop worker - the perfect epitome of the saying that Writers write, other people make excuses, and I've lost count of her amazing total output which included not only her Harlequin titles but single titles and more recently sagas under the name of Annie Groves.

    She was generous and welcoming to new writers, several authors now published were encouraged and helped on their way by her warm advice and encouragement, I was honoured to know that she recommended my own 12 Point Guide to the writers’ group she ran in her own home town.
    She knew she had cancer for some time before she even let anyone know and she continued to write while dealing with her health problems. Sadly she didn't achieve her ambition of completing her final contract, as she had to go into hospice care before Christmas and, sadly, died on the last day of 2011.

    She was a powerhouse in a tiny, slender frame, always supremely elegant and perfectly groomed with a shy smile that would light up a room. She will leave a very large hole in life for her family, her many friends, admiring fellow writers and hundreds of thousands of ardent fans.
    I know I'll find it hard to face a world with no Penny Jordan in it and no new Penny Jordan books on the shelves.
    Rest in peace Penny.

    Sunday, January 01, 2012

    Happy New Year

    So here it is - January 1st 2012 - so I want to take this opportunity to wish a hppy new year to all my friends and readers who hjave shared this past year with me through my books, my blogs and your kind messages - I've valued them so much. And I hope that 2012 treats you kindly with love and joy to create happy memories to take out and look again at this time next year and smile as you remember.

    As it's also the first Sunday of the month, my regular blog post is over on Tote Bags 'N' Blogs so that's where you'll find me today. 2011 ended as it began, in away that made me think of everyone I love and value want them to know how I feel. (I'll share the reasons for this with you when I can.) I count each and every reader and friend amongst those valuable people. Without you I couldn't continue to write and create stories and I have my loyal readers in mind as I write - wanting to please you with the new ones I'm creating. So thank you all for being there and for sharing.

    And tallking of sharing - Flora has at last condescended to pick two winners for the last Countdown prizes - and the winners are Summer and Tash NZ - ladies, you know the routine. Please email me with your postal addresses so that I can send your prizes .

    To end with a little bit of  personal good news . Romantic Fiction on Line asked for nominations for Books Of The Year and recently published the list of all the nominees. I was thrilled to find that two of my own titles (The Proud Wife and The Return of the Stranger) were both included. Thank you to those who nominated them

    You can see the full list of Books Of The Year here.

    Happy New Year everyone.

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