Tag Archives: romance

Festival of Romance 2013

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.

Reading from 'Is This Love?'

Reading from ‘Is This Love?’

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.

Shortlist for the Readers Best Romantic Read Award 2013 Me, Liz Fenwick, Jane Lovering, Scarlett Bailey, Hazel Osmond

Shortlist for the Readers Best Romantic Read Award 2013 Me, Liz Fenwick, Jane Lovering, Scarlett Bailey, Hazel Osmond. Photo by Ian Cundell (c) 2013

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.

Christina Courtenay, Caroline Bell Foster, Me, Rosemary.

Christina Courtenay, Caroline Bell Foster, Me, Rosemary. Thanks to John Jackson for the pic.

And here’s a lovely ‘off-duty’ pic from the bar.

Roll on Festival of Romance 2014.

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Publication day!

ITL?_new packshotToday 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:

Bookgirl of Mur-y-Castell

Female First

ARRA (Australian Romance Readers Association)

Mark West’s Strange Tales

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The pleasure of being an author (great reviews for ‘Is This Love?’)

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Really thrilled, this morning, to find notification of great reviews from:

 Serendipity Reviews and Being Anne

Being an author is  a pleasure. There’s a huge amount of hard work goes into each book (not just my hard work but everyone concerned with the production and promotion, too) and although I always love the characters, it’s incredibly warming when other people love them, too. It makes worthwhile all the days when the plot won’t work and the characters won’t behave and the whole point of what I want to say is eluding me. In fact, once good reviews start coming in, all that’s forgotten (especially as, by then, I’m writing new book to agonise and doubt about!)

Being a reader is an equal pleasure.  When others are watching the TV I’m reading. On trains I’m reading, in bed, over lunch, on planes, in waiting rooms, even cooking dinner (book/ereader in one hand, spoon in the other …), I’m reading. To lose myself in a wonderful story (usually a love affair, in my reading diet), want to meet the characters and visit the places is an absolute joy. It bathes me in a golden glow of satisfaction and it takes my mind away from whatever bad stuff there is in my life.

So if somebody indicates that one of my books has given them that kind of pleasure I’m overjoyed. I feel privileged. It doesn’t matter that it’s Monday, it doesn’t matter that the weather outside is cold and grey – today is a great day!

If you’d like to know more about the hero of ‘Is This Love?’, Jed Cassius, read an interview with him here.

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Ebook publication day for Is This Love?

Today’s ebook publication day for Is This Love?

It’s kind of crept up on me as I’m busy with the next book (which has at least three possible titles …) and have been stopping to do the promo for Is This Love? whenever requested, without realising that Tamara and Jed would soon be let loose on the ereading public.

So, what can I tell you about the book? Well, it’s about the different types and qualities of love.

Tamara has never moved away from Middledip village out of love for her sister, Lyddie, who suffered a hit-and-run accident when she was a teen and needs more care than most adults. Jed, teenage sweetheart of Lyddie, left the village around the time of the accident and the story opens when adult Jed returns to explain who was driving the car that hit Lyddie. He’s a bit of a mystery, is Jed, having dropped out of society for a while at sixteen yet somehow managed to land a great job without a qualification to his name.

As a ten-year-old, Tamara had harboured a secret crush on Jed – and those feelings come rushing back. But now she can’t make up her mind about him. Is he one of the good guys?

Or not?

DSCF9095I had a lot of fun with this book. Tamara’s a yoga instructor and yoga is one of my passions, so the research there wasn’t difficult because my own yoga instructor, Gail, gave up her time to help me. But there’s an alpaca herd in the book, and millionaires, and a lot of money, all of which had to be investigated. I had to find out how much half a million pounds in £50 notes weighs and whether a woman with a bad leg could carry it, when alpacas have their babies and how to look after them (happily, I have other friends, Sue and Adrian, who keep alpacas), what a close protection officer does (Jed has a stepbrother, Manny, who heads up security for the millionaires) and other fascinating stuff … like what happens at a spa day. (I had to do a day and a weekend, just to make double sure I had it all covered …)

The less fun research was into acquired head injury. My thoughts are often with all those who have suffered.

ITL The paperback of Is This Love? will be released on 7th November 2013. I received my author copies just before I went on holiday in mid-September. Pretty! It’s a sight that always makes my heart sing.

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Goodreads Giveaway

AllThatMullarkey_Cover:Layout 1If you want to win a copy of All That Mullarkey, you can enter the Goodreads Giveaway here.

Choc Lit are working with Goodreads – just follow the link and click ‘Enter to Win’.

 
All That Mullarkey is about Cleo, who discovers that the writing’s on the wall for her marriage – the bedroom wall – and hurtles off for a bit of an adventure …

The lovely Justin is happy to benefit from her moment of wildness and their encounter sets off a series of events that turns life upside down for both of them.

Tempted? Just enter.

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Getting ready for the RoNAs – what do you think about my shoes?

DALD_v12.2 reviseJust in case you missed it – Dream a Little Dream is up for a RoNA in the Contemporary Romantic Novel category. What does this mean?

Party!

Tomorrow evening there’s an awards party in London’s Piccadilly where Richard & Judy will be presenting the elegant glass stars to the winners of each category. I like parties. I’m sure I’ll like a party where I’m a nominated author more than any other kind.

I’m going down to London this afternoon to stay with a friend from then till Wednesday. So here’s how my ‘do do’ list is going:

– shower. Yup, done that. In fact, I’ve already had two goes at the hair but it’s not your average ‘do as you’re told’ hair so that’s not uncommon. Wonder whether I ought to have got my hair cut. Decide that if the gods had thought that important they would have given me better hair.

– begin putting miscellaneous items on the bed ready to pack.

– think about packing. Realise I don’t possess the ideal case and need to either squash everything in the small one or let it rattle around in the large one. Will probably do the latter and then curse it when I’m lifting it on and off trains and escalators. I always feel really conspicuous when I’m wheeling a case along the streets, too. It’s one of those that you pull behind you and trip everyone up.

– put the computer on and chat on Twitter and Facebook. Answer a couple of emails from lovely friends who have sent me good luck messages. Answer a good luck text from my mum. (Bet she sends another tomorrow!)

– put my iPad on charge.

– ring for a taxi to the station. Eek! [Pause] Yup, done that.

– wrap birthday presents for birthday meals I’m attending on my return Wednesday and Thursday. (One’s a box of bath bombs and one’s a toy fire engine, so I hope I don’t get them mixed up.)

– examine my nails and wish they hadn’t all broken inexplicably last week.

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Pretty sandals

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Not boring but will they ‘go’?

– feel sorry that I’ve let down the Romantic Novelists’ Association by failing to find purple shoes to match my purple evening purse. I’ll have to wear the boring black ones. Actually, they’re not boring – I love them! But now I’ve looked at them again, I’m not sure they’ll look right with my dress. So should I go for the pretty sandals?

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Slightly bondage

Or the slightly bondage ones?

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Blingy courts

Or the blingy courts?

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Shoe litter

(By this time the bedroom floor’s a little … littered.)

I’ll try and make up for the lack of purple shoes by drinking extra champagne, to show I’m still a good RNA member. Erk. If I’d booked an earlier train I could have shopped in Carnaby Street or somewhere for shoes this afternoon! Thunk.

– try on dress with all shoes (probably hate them all)

– pack

– do make up. Congratulate self on remembering to get eyebrows done. (Sorry, but these things are important.)

– get in taxi

– get on train.

I think that’s everything. (What do you think about the shoes?)

 

 

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Happiness is a warm bottom

I was invited to visit the studios of Monocle24 yesterday and whizzed to Marylebone (just off Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes used to hang out [should I say ‘used to’ or will that upset people?]) to spend half-an-hour on air with the lovely Georgina Godwin, presenter.

As it’s nearly St Valentine’s Day we talked about romance and romantic fiction, whether men read it, who buys it for them, whether it’ll get them chatted up on the Tube if they’re reading a book with a pink cover, what we can all learn from Fifty Shades of Grey (!) Why is romantic fiction such a huge seller? Is that likely to change?

Also, what a splendiferous organisation the Romantic Novelists’ Association is and what a fantastic set of shortlists there are for the RoNAs (Romantic Novel Awards) this year. Which is an unsubtle little gloat that I’m on one of them with Dream a Little Dream … Sorry.  Ought to be modest and self-effacing and I do try but fail spectacularly …

I also got to choose four romantic music tracks to play during the programme, which felt deliciously Desert Island Discs-ish. So I chose:

Stardust, by Nat King Cole, in memory of my dad. When we lived in Malta he gained a promotion and bought a record player. Each member of the family was allowed one record to go with it and he picked an Nat King Cole album, with Stardust amongst his favourites.

Substitute, by Frank Turner. His lyrics are just so amazing. Often his songs are political or contemporary-life observations but this song is about how music is his substitute for love and it’s so wistful that it clutches my heart.

Letter to Hermione, David Bowie, because I never fell out of love with his early stuff and this is such a romantic song. All about lost love. Ahhh.

Dream a Little Dream, by the Mamas and the Papas, not just in shameless self-promotion but because it’s a fabulous song and it celebrates a memorable Romaniacs kitchen party at the RNA conference last year – the results of which could be seen on YouTube but the clip seems to have disappeared, now.

It was a great afternoon. And one of the most remarkable things about the Monocle 24 offices? Their loo seat is heated. Seriously! All loo seats ought to be made this way, especially when you come in from a wet winter afternoon. I really want one of my own now. I’m putting it on my Christmas list .

I didn’t try the douche thingy, though. No. Tried it before. Didn’t like it.

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Is Publication Day fun?

I often send authors ‘Happy Publication day!’ messages on Facebook, Twitter or via forums. Until last week I’d done it without thinking, because a publication day is a day for celebration for me so I assumed it was for them.

I like publication day more than I like a birthday! On publication day for Dream a Little Dream I even went out for lunch with my gym bunny friends and we toasted the success of the book. I received champagne from Choc Lit, my publisher, and, just for good measure, went out to eat in the evening with family, too. (And I didn’t get a year added to my age – hence enjoying it more than a birthday.)

It was a surprise, then, when a successful author friend said that she felt anxious about publication day, about how the book would do and whether she’d repay her publisher’s faith in her. So I asked one or two others how they feel.

Elizabeth Chadwick:

For me it’s just an ordinary day. The books have usually been on sale for a couple of weeks before anyway, and the Americans will already have a blog tour going. I’m not the sort of person who does big days anyway. My ‘whoop de do’ moment on a new novel is when I’ve handed it in and received glowing feedback from my agent and editor. (Best case scenario!) It’s the best feeling in the world at that moment, especially when they tell you the bits they like best!

Anita Burgh:
Thinking about it the word mortification Is paramount. My first book launch was in the House of Lords. Publicity were beside themselves with happiness since it was the first time a book launch had been permitted there. The car which had been arranged to pick us up didn’t turn up and we were very late. My publishers weren’t allowed in until the Lord sponsoring us turned up and he was late too. I did not witness the scene between the porters and said publisher but I was told handbags swung. Said, Lord, trimming his beard with an electric strimmer sort of thing got carried away and cut a path through his hair; there was nothing for it to strim the lot making him look like an ex-con from the Scrubs! One photographer turned up and one journalist who didn’t speak to me but the canapes and champagne were lovely.

The next day the fact that the launch was of a commercial novel in such a hallowed place was duly reported and disapproved of, my book was not mentioned by name.

Jan Jones:

My next serial starts in Woman’s Weekly on Wednesday and I shall run around Waitrose beaming joyfully and thrusting it underneath people’s noses!

So, mixed associations! I’m just glad I’m one of those who enjoy it and I’ll continue to ensure that I do by doing very little work on that day and arranging lunches and dinners.

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Dream a Little Dream shortlisted for a RoNA!

ImageI’ve been sitting on this news for weeks – Dream a Little Dream has been shortlisted for a ‘RoNA’ in the Contemporary category. I’m so thrilled!

In all my years in the Romantic Novelists’ Association I’ve wanted to be shortlisted for an award but – as you’ll probably appreciate – the competition is fierce. And this, year, finally, it’s happened.

‘RoNA’ stands for ‘Romantic Novel Award’. There’s a glittering awards event at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London, on the 26th of February, when the winner of each category will be announced and receive a beautiful piece of crystal. Then those winners go forward to the Romantic Novel of the Year Award presented at the RNA’s Summer Party in May.

My congratulations go to everyone else on the shortlists and I hope they’re all as excited and pleased as I am.

And my thanks to Choc Lit, without whom there would be no book.

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Ta-daaaahhh! Gorgeous new cover

Due out November 2013

Due out November 2013

I’m thrilled to be able to reveal my new cover.

I think it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Covers are crucial to giving a book a chance of success. Completely contrary to the saying ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ books are constantly judged in exactly that way. Browsers, particularly, are attracted or otherwise by the visual appeal. We sometimes refer to it as ‘pickupability’ – that elusive image that draws prospective readers to take a book from the shelf.

Choc Lit have given me a fine array of covers and this one is no exception. Berni Stevens is the talented cover artist who created this (and Dream a Little Dream) and I often don’t envy her her job. It’s common for cover artists to submit an array of concepts, have one taken up, work on refining and completing the design with the publisher – only for the buyers from major booksellers to give it the thumbs down. So then the cover artists begins all over again …

Berni was particularly under pressure with this cover because not only were we getting close to deadline for the American market but the lovely people at My Weekly had asked me to write a story for their 2014 Annual, due out ITL?_packshot copyin October 2013, and were including an interview with me, partly about Is This Love?, due out a month later. We all wanted the new cover to be included in the feature – and they go to press with the annual first thing this morning. So Berni did a fantastic job getting the cover finalised with a day in hand.

From a writer’s perspective, part of whether a cover ‘works’ for us relies on whether the it correctly interprets our words. It must be irritating to be given a cover depicting a woman with red hair if the story tells us her hair is black or that the hero drives a sportscar but we see him in a family saloon. And I never see how glaring inaccuracies contribute to pickupability. So I’m lucky that Berni reads my books and then creates something that’s truly awesome.

What do you think? Do you like the new cover?

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