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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Pershing – 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
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my latest blog. If you don’t already subscribe to my newsletter, please sign up here. I’m giving away a free paperback copy of Tall, Dark and Kilted to one lucky subscriber this month.
Just leaving for Devon where the Exeter Novel Prize ceremony will take place on Saturday 12th March – the day after my birthday. I’m a finalist for the award and have beaten hundreds of other writers to get here. I’m the only indie author to have made the final. Even better, the short list has been drawn up by fabulous agent Broo Doherty. Woo hoo. Go me! The novel which has been short listed is my #1 best seller – Scotch on the Rocks. If you want to find out more about that novel, read this blog. I’ll report back next week, hopefully clutching one of the prizes.
Lovely blogger and huge supporter of indie authors – Rose Amber – reads her review of SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS
If you’d like to read about the locations I use in my novels – then check out this fabulous blog post by Barb Taub
And finally . . . a heart warming review by Sharon Booth
My favourite bit? This . . .
“Romance? The best kind. It starts off with mistrust and doubt, sparks fly, passion ignites and then…Well, some romances are forever. There’s nothing so romantic as a hero who vows never to hurt the heroine, never to leave her, and to love her forever. Especially when you just know he’s speaking the truth.”
Many thanks to Luccia Gray for interviewing me on her fabulous blog and for reviewing Scotch on the Rocks. Since then, Scotch on the Rocks has been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize The first novel by an indie author to reach the final six . . .
Here is a link to Luccia’post . . .
I am really getting stuck in with my new novel – working title, This Highland Magic and love meeting my new characters and writing about them. Here’s the blurb. Doubtless it will change through the course of the novel being finished! Those characters have a way of ‘taking over’. Here’s my up-to-date word count, too . . .
Dr Henriette Bruar travels to Wester Ross to catalogue the library of an ancient castle set in the middle of a remote Highland loch. The laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie, of that Ilk, is pressed for cash and is selling off the estate’s assets, including the library to subsidise his extravagant life style. This doesn’t please his son, Keir, who fears there will be nothing of the estate left to inherit. To all outward appearances, Henriette seems like any run of the mill academic, unremarkable even. However, in her heart of hearts, she sees herself as a cross between Indiana Jones and the Relic Hunter and dreams of someday finding a precious manuscript, a hidden treasure or unlocking family secrets. At Castle Treamannair, she sets out to do just that. By the end of the novel, Henri learns that treasure comes in many guises and, sometimes, family secrets are best left undisturbed.
My spring newsletter will be coming out in March and I’ll be giving away a paperback copy of Tall, Dark and Kilted and other prizes. If you haven’t already subscribed, sign up here – and join in the fun . . .
Bye for now,