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Narberth Book Fair 2019

Last year I learned via Jessie Cahalin that a book fair had been held at Narberth, Wales and I was keen to take part this year.  One of the great things about having a caravan is that you can rock up, book into a site for a couple of nights and enjoy all the comforts of home. The only down side of the weekend was that weather front Imelda decided to hit the Welsh coast at roughly the same time as us. However, writers are an intrepid bunch so we didn’t let that put us off. 

There was a day to go before the Book Fair opened and so we made the most of the opportunity to explore Tenby, a place new to us. What a fabulous little town it is, set above an amazing swathe of beach (reminiscent of The Prisoner), pastel painted houses of Dylan Thomas’s Llareggub in Under Milk Wood, twisting streets and chi-chi shops encircled by a formidable granite town walls. Much to my delight there was a Seasalt shop and a niche off-license selling gin in all its many forms. Yep, you guessed it, the tills were soon ringing.

We headed back to Narberth and set up my book table for the book fair the following day. If you’d like to read my interview on the Narberth Book Fair blog, you can find it here.

Next morning, bright eyed, bushy tailed and accompanied by a man in a kilt, I was soon behind my book table eager to meet new readers. My husband Dave is such a good sport, happy to chat to potential readers and answer questions about his kilt: which clan did he belong to (Lamont) where he’d bought his kilt (eBay!) and what was it like being married to a crazy writer of romance. (I asked that last question, actually). Other authors asked if he was available for hire as the kilt certainly proved a hit drawing in readers. 

As some of you may know, I was a teacher for 34 years and I was delighted to present a workshop to aspiring writers. One of those attending my workshop – 10 Point Guide on How to Write a Novel – was Anne Williams – fabulous blogger/reviewer and friend, who shared her knowledge on what was current in the publishing world, the benefit of writing sequels/series and the importance of having a social media presence. I hope that we can work together in the future as our joint perspective was appreciated by attendees. In case you’re wondering what’s on the large scroll I’m holding, it’s my novel PLANNER which I was keen to share with the attendees. I then went on to explain the difference between being a plotster or a pantser and, among other topics, having the courage to kill off your darlings if they aren’t moving the plot along.  

An unexpected bonus of attending the fair was meeting writers I’d only spoken to via Twitter or Facebook. In the collage are (clockwise) Anne Williams, Judith Barrow (joint organiser of the fair with Thorne Moore) Juliet Greenwood, Wendy Steele, Thorne Moore and Tim Wickenden. I also met Judith Arnott and we had an interesting discussion about Margaret Beaufort’s place in history. If I didn’t write romance I’d probably write historical fiction. 

Sadly, the weather on Sunday worsened and that had an impact on footfall. However, books continued to be sold, business cards exchanged and, gratifyingly, two attendees from my workshop returned to tell me how much they enjoyed my talk. They complimented me on the the way I’d presented the information in such an informative, easy to understand fashion. Clearly, all my years as a teacher hasn’t gone to waste. After clearing the hall I headed for local hotel Plas Hyfryd  and a celebratory meal (and maybe a raspberry gin and tonic, or two) with other writers. Dave returned to the caravan to watch the Rugby World Cup. 

When I returned, Dave had, covered the caravan’s windscreen with its protective  ‘bra’ (see photo 1) in preparation for the l-o-o-ng journey back to Leicester – six and a half hours with a fifteen minute break. The mist hung low in the valley as we left Wales and we were chased home by another weather front snapping at our heels. However, that couldn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the weekend. Many thanks to Thorne, Judith and their team of helpers for making the Narberth Book Fair such a resounding success. 

So what’s next? I plan on spending the autumn and winter hunkered down over the pc finishing my WIP – working title I’ll Be in Scotland – and getting it ready to publish Summer 2020. In the meantime, do watch my slideshow, check out my five published romances, or read some of my other blog posts.

Men in Kilts (and the women who love them…) by Emma Seaman


Many thanks to Emma for joining me on my blog and allowing me to share this fabulous post with you.  If you like Men in Kilts and novels about Scotland (good or bad), read on . . . 

One of the advantages of a Kindle is that the moment you’ve finished a good book, you can download the sequel, or more by the same author, right away. E-books can also be dirt-cheap, or even free, which gives me the impetus to explore genres and authors I wouldn’t previously have tried.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-11-at-10.56.47One of the downsides of the Kindle is the amount of (often self-published) weirdness out there…

I’ve been addicted to Diana Gabaldon’s fabulous ‘Outlander’ series since a friend recommended them last year. They hit every button for me – amazing settings, suspenseful plots, masses of fascinating historical detail, a strong-minded heroine and a frankly swoonworthy hero. The first book has just been made into a TV series (available on Amazon Prime) and though at first I had doubts about the casting of the book’s iconic Jamie Fraser, I’ve loved every minute. I’ve been saving the last (8th) book in the series to read later, because I’m pretty sure that either Jamie or the heroine Claire is going to die, and I’m not ready to lose them just yet… so I recently decided to browse on my Kindle for something similar.

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The eternal fascination with what lies beneath…

Well, I have to say, I didn’t realise ‘Men in Kilts’ were such a big thing, if you’ll excuse the innuendo… I’ve always had a sneaking fondness for a man in plaid, ever since the Highlander film in the 1980s (my husband does a pretty good Christopher Lambert impersonation), but I had no idea that Gabaldon’s books had sparked such a surge of hormone-fuelled fantasy.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-28-at-16.57.23There are novels in every genre – from ‘Outlander’ time-travel copycats (though I haven’t found any as good as the original) to bodice-ripping drama and contemporary romance. As you’d expect, the quality varies hugely – I soon abandoned the ‘historical’ romances, which were often unreadably awful, with hideous ‘Forsooth, ma brae lassie’ dialogue and paper-thin characters. Authors, please note: a hero with a kilt, an accent and an improbably large sword does not make up for lousy writing.

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Who designs these book covers? His boobs are bigger than mine.

Speaking of large swords, there is a frankly incredible amount of ‘Scottish erotica’ out there (don’t tell the Scottish National Party about this – they’ll only get ideas).  It seems the Highlands are positively awash with passionate Celts who will tear off their tartan at the sight of a heaving bosom.

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Really? Surely no self-respecting gay man would wear THAT striped shirt with THAT tartan…

It’s not just ladies who like the idea of a laird – kilted gay erotica is  particularly popular, though queerly enough, much of it is still written by women – for women?

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Eeuuwww. Wrong on so many levels.

There’s even a sub-genre of ‘Scottish Historical BDSM Fertile Erotica’, which is a very niche interest. Dearie me.

Screen-Shot-2015-04-28-at-17.04.09The contemporary women’s fiction scene is generally more wholesome (and rather better-written). Lizzie Lamb’s “Tall, Dark and Kilted” is a good, fun read with likeable characters, making great use of the romantic Scottish setting. I’ve also read a couple of entertaining supernatural stories where the kilted Highlander appears in ghostly form, to break a curse or charm the repressed English heroine.

If you’re more interested in the ‘real’ history of Scotland, you’ll find literary fiction re-imagining every era from the Picts to the 1960s, or you could venture into the murky realms of crime with Scottish Noir (though, to be fair, there’s not a lot of hot kilt-action in those).

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Ouch. That’s what chaps were invented for

There’s so much kilted-ness to explore – I’m quite intrigued by the sound of the ‘Kilts and Quilts’ cosy mystery series, and more so by the probably dreadfully-chafed Cowboys in Kilts (c’mon guys – even Jamie Fraser wears trousers on horseback).

I’ve found Vampire Scots (do they bleed Irn-Bru?), Scottish Fairies (harking back to the magic of the standing stones in Outlander), Scottish Dragon-Shifters (Oi! Bob! Help me shift this bloody great dragon!) and even Footballers in Kilts (now that would REALLY liven up Match of the Day).

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A kilt too far..

Still, I think the prize for ‘freakiest kilt-related fantasy’ and possibly the oddest book title ever, must go to “Men in Kilts with Tentacles – and the women who love them”.

 

I am NOT going to download that one, BTW –  some things are definitely best left unexplored…

 

 

 

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Emma Seaman lives in Devon with her young family, and is a freelance Marketing & Social Media professional. She has been writing fiction for ten years, winning awards including the Jeremy Mogford Food & Drink writing prize and the Wells International Literary Festival Award.

Her short stories have featured in eight anthologies published by Legend Press, Exeter University, The Yeovil Prize and The Harrow Press (USA), with another due this October from the Bath Short Story Award.

She finds inspiration in long walks on Dartmoor, lazy days at the beach, from the people she meets and the fascinating minutiae of everyday life.

You can discover more about her writing at: www.emmaseaman.co.uk and her books at:  http://www.emmaseaman.co.uk/blog/books/

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While we’re on the subject of Men in Kilts, dear reader, let me lead you gently by the hand towards my latest Scottish themed novel – Scotch on the Rocks which is available over on Amazon as a kindle download and as a paperback.

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