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My review of 2016 – January – June

January kicked off with a BANG. New Romantics Press put on their best bibs and tuckers and headed to Lunnon Tah-an for Jill Mansell’s Book launch. There we bumped into many fellow RNA members who’d wandered over from another book launch to join us. A great time was had by all and we went away inspired to finish our WIP in 2016.

Read on to see if we achieved our goal . . .

In February, our baby boy Jasper was 20 and he received lots of cards. One from a Facebook friend and reader Lotte Sutton in Australia, which was such a kind thought.  I just hope he appreciated it. He’s 21 on February 2nd 2017 – I predict that there might be a little celebration on that day involving the Bridget Jones DVD, cocktails, canapes, cake and coffee. All the things he likes (cough, cough).

Adrienne and I have both had parents who’ve died from cancer, so we decided to raise some money for HOPE AGAINST CANCER, in their memories. In February we organised a literary lunch at swish Kilworth House Hotel, gave a hilarious (if I say so myself) talk about writing romance – and raised over £500 for the charity.

I also gave a talk on self-publishing to the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA, and to students at De Montfort University during February. March was a busy month, too. Apart from it being my birthday, I made the final of the Exeter Novel Prize with Scotch on the Rocks so we took the caravan down to Exeter and fitted in a spring-break holiday after the ceremony. I took good care of my precious trophy, but a certain person thought the award belonged to him!

April was rather more family orientated as it was my father-in-law Geoffrey’s 90th birthday which we celebrated in style. A moment to cherish. A friend of long-standing, Maggie, who regularly buys several paperback copies of my novels and POSTS them to Australia (at great expense) joined us for the celebrations.  img_17582

I got stuck in with the WIP and vowed to finish it before Christmas.

May was a busy month with the fabulous Romance in the Court which Adrienne and I attended. Passing through St Pancras I bought something in Aspinall’s and, after talking to the manager, we were invited back to hold an author event there in November.More of which in part #2. I’m looking forward to attending the same event in May of 2017, thanks to Goldsboro Books and David Hedley.

Next, I gave a talk in Chippenham, to aspiring authors to prove to them that self publishing was within their grasp and took along novels which New Romantics Press have published to make my point. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.photofunia-1484222424

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What we didn’t plan on last year, was trading in our caravan for a slightly bigger one with a FIXED BED. But that’s what we did, two days before we set off on our month’s stay in Bonnie Scotland . . . No more setting up/dismantling the bed every morning so we can have breakfast. I’ve also gained more writing space, so #winwin. Just writing about it makes me long to go on the road again. 2016-06-26 12.47.27

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the first half of 2106.

Do join me for #2 when I’ll mention:

  • a character from Scotch on the Rocks who came to stay
  • the historical novel society conference in Oxford
  • NRP book launch and another author presentation
  • our gig at Aspinall and meeting Tom Parker-Bowles
  • the RNA winter party
  • Chatsworth all decked out for Christmas
  • the last chapter meeting of the season and some surprise guests
  • a cover reveal for #4

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The Exeter Novel Prize – and a fabulous birthday weekend

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Many thanks to Isabella Tartaruga for making this collage. Isabella is one of my beta readers and helped me with the Italian in SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS, which reached the final of the Exeter Novel Prize. I named a character in the novel after her –  hence the plaque in the top left hand corner.

Here’s my report of the Exeter Novel Prize

& fabulous birthday weekend

First up – The Exeter Novel Prize, organised by Creative Writing Matters. Check out their website if you are just starting out on your writing career. Their slogan is: WHAT’S YOUR STORY and you’ll find lots of advice to help you achieve those famous words at the bottom of your manuscript THE END!

Exeter Novel Prize  the award ceremony was held in St Stephen’s Church, Exeter High Street. There were over 300 entries from all over the world and I was thrilled to be one of the six finalists. The  prize is held in high esteem by writers and comes with the added bonus that the short list is commented upon by respected agent Broo Doherty. 

 

Here’s what she said about SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS 

The novel opens with Ishabel Stuart racing across a Scottish causeway to her aunt’s house seeking comfort and solace, having discovered her fiancée has been unfaithful. She has the added burden of her recently deceased father’s ashes in her car; he has requested that his ashes be scattered from a Munro and Ishabel is expected to know how to organise it. 
Her aunt, Esme, a life long protester, runs a B&B on the island, and inevitably the hotel is full when Ishabel arrives.  Not only full, but full of an unwanted American who is going to stay on in the hotel while Esmee heads down south with her ancient hippy dippy friends to protest about fracking in Manchester.
This is a lively and amusing opening to a romantic novel. The setting is authentic, the characters original and the stroppy parrot who has the perfect answer for every situation certainly raised a smile whenever he appeared. 
2016-03-12 17.55.28Pershing – the parrot in the  novel is based on our parrot, Jasper. Here he is with my award. Or should that be, his award ?!

Although I wasn’t overall winner, it was still a great day and a validation of me as a writer. Many thanks to Margaret James, Cathie Hartigan and Sophie Duffy for all their hard work. Now all I’ve got to do is write the next one. Simples.

If you’d like to see a full report and more pictures of the event, go to the website

Here are some snaps of what I DID NEXT

 

  • Opened some birthday cards and had breakfast of croissants and bucks fizz in bed (!)
  • Had lunch at the Oxenham Arms, South Zeal, touched the lucky standing stone – and sat in the VERY place where David Bowie ate lunch.
  • Met up with friends  Sharyn Farnaby and Lin Tredgold
  • Returned to Exeter, had coffee in Patisserie Valerie and went on a birthday shopping spree
  • went home to find a lovely shout out from Amazon for SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS

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