On Thursday I spent a wonderful (if cold!) day at Icarus Falconry at Holdenby House, Northampton, learning a little about birds of prey (raptors). Thanks to a good friend, I got to feed various birds, fly a couple and put one through its gymnastic exercises for the day. I think the best thing is for me to let the pix speak for themselves. My thanks to Jo for giving up her day and sharing her knowledge, and Mike for letting me visit.
I’ve been really lax over putting these pix up but I had a great weekend at the Festival of Romance in Bedford 8-10 November.
It began with me joining Nick Coffer on an outside broadcast for BBC 3 Counties Radio in a coffee shop, The Kiln, to represent the Festival and talk about how to plot a romantic novel. The slot was enlivened by the feed being lost three times so that a few hundred thousand people were left listening to ‘dead air’ and someone in the studio had to hurriedly play music while the link was re-established. I don’t know about Nick but I wasn’t stressed by the experience – every time he put the mic in front of me I talked, and left the techie stuff to others. And I’ve thought of a way I can use the experience in a book, and also in a workshop, so it served me well. Also, I got some cake. I don’t think it could have been chocolate or I would have remembered.
Speaking of cake, my author event was at the Coffee & Cake morning on Saturday. Yes, more cake. You’re beginning to see a theme here …?
There were so many great excerpts read from the authors present that I downloaded three books when I got back to my hotel. The rain was putting a dampner on things outside but in the cafe we were warm, toasty and entertained. And the cake was chocolate.
I would have loved to have spent more time at the Romance Fair but my own events were on at the same time – my apologies to the lovely lady who, apparently, turned up to meet me at the Fair after hearing me on the radio. I had a ‘Creating Irresistible Heroes’ workshop to run with Christina Courtenay at Bedford Central Library. We didn’t have cake. (We had Heroes chocolates.)
In the evening, it was a pleasure to meet so many of the New Talent shortlisted authors, as the event was sponsored by the Romantic Novelists’ Association and so I was invited to the reception.
Then it was onto the Ball for the Awards.
The Harpur Suite of the Bedford Corn Exchange is a gorgeous venue, and the evening was suitably glitzy, with a lot of awards to be handed out.
Is This Love? was nominated for the Best Romantic Read Award but the honour fell to lovely Liz Fenwick for A Cornish Affair. Although I had a purple sparkly dress, I didn’t take my jacket off for the pix because I had a huge equally purple bruise on my arm from when the train lurched into my station when I was returning from World Fantasy Con the weekend before! It looked like a tattoo gone wrong. (It isn’t.)
You’ll be pleased to know there was chocolate cake for dessert.
And here’s a lovely ‘off-duty’ pic from the bar.
Roll on Festival of Romance 2014.
On the 29th of March 2014 I’m going to be running a course for WriteStars – Learn to Write a Romantic Novel in a Day.
To make it more fun, the venue’s a mystery! It’s a gorgeous location in London’s Piccadilly but its identity won’t be revealed until the day. Participants will meet nearby and then be shown to the beautiful place where they’ll spend the day learning about how to choose the kind of hero and heroine to spark deliciously off each other, goals, quests, conflicts and sizzle. We’ll talk about the story arc and how to avoid a saggy middle or unsatisfying ending. It’s a fun interactive workshop and a day that should arm you with everything you need to write a great romantic novel.
Today is publication day for ‘Is This Love?’
I was going to say that a publication day is like Christmas and my birthday all rolled into one – but, actually, it’s more fun.
The lovely publicists at Choc Lit have lined me up a lot of online interviews and blogposts to go live today, fantastic friends on Facebook and Twitter are sending me nice messages, and I’m on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire this afternoon, after recording a segment for Bookmark at Community 105. And I’m going out with friends this evening to celebrate. (I’ve even been able to arrange for somebody else to drive.)
Publication Day is Publication Day, even though the ebook came out a month ago and the online bookstores shipped the paperback copies last weekend. Mere details! Publication Day is the marker, the day I pause in my usual work to enjoy the moment. It’s also a good excuse for a bit of hoopla.
Happily for me, Publication Day more-or-less coincides with the Festival of Romance, which begins tomorrow, in Bedford, so I have an interview on the Nick Coffer show on BBC 3 Counties Radio at 12.30 and a booksigning at Waterstones 1.30pm till 3.00pm tomorrow (Friday 8th November). Then I can relax and watch other authors do their stuff at the ART AND ROMANCE EVENING, The Higgins Museum & Art Gallery.
Saturday is a chance to be in two places at one time as 10am to 3pm sees the ROMANCE FAIR at the Harpur Suite, Corn Exchange, but I’m appearing and reading 10.30am to 12noon at the COFFEE AND CAKE MORNING at The Lane … and 12.45pm to 3.45pm myself and Christina Courtenay are leading the IRRESISTIBLE HEROES WORKSHOP at the Central Library. Other Choc Lit authors Jane Lovering and Laura James are being so kind as to sell my books at the Romance Fair. Of course, they’re busy with their own events so Jane’s partner has kindly volunteered to take over. I’m not sure if he knows this yet.
Don’t anybody expect any real work from me until Monday! Because today is Publication Day and I’m managing to make it stretch over the weekend.
Even Amazon is celebrating with me – ‘Is This Love?’ is available at a special price for Kindle users because it’s part of the 100 Kindle Books promo.
A few of the first blogposts, interviews etc:
ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association)
Far be it from me to boast … But I’m going to. WriteStars received this write up of the workshop I led for them, and have given me permission to reproduce it. So here it is …
Writing a novel seems to be a global ambition. From the outpourings on forums, blogs and social media – not to mention the boom in digital self-publishing – it’s something we all dream of.
And if we don’t dream of it, it’s because we know we could do it. Right? It’s just that we don’t have the time.
Cue Sue Moorcroft, best-selling novelist and inspiring creative writing tutor. That’s why we’re at the George Hotel in Stamford, Lincs on a course organised by WriteStars: isn’t it appropriate that someone who shares the secrets of writing fiction has written a novel called Dream A Little Dream?
We’re a mixed bunch. Some want to write romantic fiction, others are planning children’s books, historical sagas and young adult titles. One or two think writing fiction might be good fun and have come to find out more.
Someone asks why I’m here, as I’ve written lots of non-fiction books and had a children’s novel published. There are two simple answers.
The first is that my novel got good reviews but sank without trace and I want the next one to stay afloat. I also know that writing one kind of book isn’t the same as writing another, any more than a tiger is the same as a leopard.
The second is that I heard about WriteStars through my niece, Claire, who works for Hopwood PR and is handling the company’s publicity. Claire knows I want to flex my fiction muscle again and gave me a kindly and encouraging kick up the backside when I moaned that I’d missed the fiction boat.
On the workshop, we’re straight off the starting blocks as Sue shows that writing isn’t all down to inspiration. There’s also a lot of perspiration and plenty of frustration. The joy of her workshop is that she shows how to maximise your chances of getting it right and minimises the risk of falling down all those nasty traps which line the route.
Five minutes into the course, she gives each of us a slip of paper on which is written the gender, age and mood of a character. Mine’s a 12-year-old boy who hates PE and is feeling grumpy.
We have ten minutes to create a pen portrait, which we read out in turn. Sue then asks questions – where does your character live, what does he wear, does he have a girlfriend? As we join in, we learn how to create characters through dialogue, how to avoid stilted descriptions and how to flesh out a skeleton.
It’s fascinating. It’s also fun, so even the shyest participants enjoy themselves. The room’s buzzing with ideas and laughter, which sets the tone for the day.
We look at creating first pages which hook the reader, avoiding soggy middles, the importance of conflict and how to resolve it. We learn about research and about the discipline of writing. If you watch Coronation Street/East Enders/whatever, spend an hour writing instead.
A workshop can’t work miracles. Or who knows? There was some obvious writing talent in that room and I’d love to find out, a year from now, what everyone has achieved.
As for me, the Moorcroft magic is irresistible. The WriteStars short story workshop with Sue that’s planned in Cambridge next January? Put my name down now, please.
Carolyn Henderson is a freelance journalist and author. My thanks to her.
I’m doing a happy dance (mainly the cha-cha with a tiny bit of jive thrown in) because yesterday I learned that Is This Love? has been shortlisted for the Readers Best Romantic Read Award at the Festival of Romance.
The paperback isn’t even out until the 7th of November and Is This Love? has already received a nomination. That is truly a reason to dance and be happy. In fact ‘happy’ isn’t strong enough a word – I feel as if a giant balloon has swooped me up into the sky.
As I was already going to the Festival Ball on Saturday 9th November, where the award ceremony takes place, I have bought a dress (purple, on theme with the cover, although I didn’t think of it at the time) so I’m all sorted.
The shortlist is strong (Scarlett Bailey, Miranda Dickinson, Liz Fenwick, Jane Lovering, me and Hazel Osmond) and congratulations to them all, and to all the authors shortlisted for the Romance Reader Awards, the Industry Awards and the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance.
The Romance Reader Awards are judged by a reader panel and so this nomination says to me ‘We like your book’. No commercial considerations weigh with a reader panel – each reader must read one dozen books and every book gets at least three reads – it’s simply that Is This Love? is in the top six of the books they liked best of all those they read for the award. There can be only one winner for each award, of course, but actually, winning doesn’t matter to me as much as you might think. Last year I received four different nominations and didn’t win a sausage (in fact, had I won and the prize turned out to be a sausage, I would have been disappointed) but I thoroughly enjoyed those nominations, the validation, the happy feelings, and the awards events.
Nominations are fabulous.
The moment when the announcement was made is etched on my heart forever as one of those rare instants of pure joy. And I didn’t win a sausage, I won a beautiful crystal trophy. Then a waiter bought me chocolate cake and my evening was complete.
Well, for one thing, yesterday was publication day for my RNA friend Alison Morton’s new book PERFIDITAS, the second in her thriller series comes out today, featuring her heroine Carina and her adventures, not least her complex relationship with the enigmatic Conrad. If it’s anything like the first in series, INCEPTIO, it’ll be a great read. Historic authors Simon Scarrow and Jean Fullerton and writer and broadcaster Sue Cook have endorsed it, so I might take a look at it!