Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

I think many people either love or hate Christmas. But hopefully whatever camp you fall into, you’ll find time to indulge in what makes you happy, be it spending time with loved ones or alternatively doing what you love.

For me there’s plenty to love about Christmas. It’s a time to slow down and enjoy the school holidays. Anyone else glad that they don’t have to do lunch boxes?! Not to mention pyjama mornings and the time to write.

As for Christmas morning, what’s on my wish list? The latest from my favourite authors: 

Wishing you love and happiness and hoping you get what you want this Christmas.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Friends and Secrets

Last week I met up with friend and fellow writer Melissa Morgan in the beautiful village of Betws y Coed in Snowdonia.

Meeting up with Melissa is always a treat and, as ever, was never long enough. We covered some wide ranging topics but inevitably came back to writing so I was in good hands when I raised a dilemma I have with a character in my current work in progress.

Getting to know characters is a gradual process for both reader and writer. Like new acquaintances, it takes a certain amount of time and trust before secrets and private thoughts are revealed but it is essential that those inner feelings are revealed or how else can we understand and empathise with the characters and their situations?

The trouble begins when a character is keeping secrets and the only solution is to ‘dig deep’ into a character’s past and current predicament. Simply discussing it with a trusted and respected friend who doesn’t blink twice when I say that my current hero (does sound a bit flighty?!) is keeping secrets is a treat. Throw in lunch, some beautiful scenery and it made a perfect recipe for wonderful afternoon. Thanks, Melissa!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Rewriting Paris

How many people have been to Paris? A few. I've been lucky enough to go twice and last week was my third time but it was a completely different visit to the other two as I went with my husband and daughter. Visiting somewhere with someone who hasn't been before has a habit of opening your eyes. As Marcel Proust said, ‘The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’

This visit, I saw Paris through the eyes of my nine year old daughter. 

The Eiffel Tower is still as tall (I'm scared heights!).

The Louvre is still as big but the journeys on the Metro became something more as she was in charge of plotting our train travel. I was able to rewrite some memories with fresh eyes.

Is this why we reread books? Perhaps. It’s certainly why I read some books more than once, not only to experience that high I know I’ll get from a particular book but also to find those parts that speak to me on a new level each time I pick it up.

Some of my favourite books that I've read and reread.

Anything by the wonderful and talented 

Sarah Morgan always captures something fresh.

Every time we pick up a new book, who knows what treasures we'll find inside?

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A Question of Research

I am currently editing a novel where my heroine works with jewellery. I think it captures the essence of the Presents/Modern line – glamour and passion contained in both the jewels and the design.

But as with any job, the more I uncover, the more complicated it becomes. In order to give my book that authentic feel, research is essential and what a wonderful excuse to research diamonds, rubies and precious jewels! The hours I could spend in the name of research … !

It’s all very well being appreciative of the art and work that goes into these pieces, but what about the detail? That’s where it gets tricky. The internet can only help so far without that inside knowledge that is particular to the country I'm writing about and there’s nothing like incorrect details to pull a reader straight out of a story.

So, aware of the saying, ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get,’ I set about asking. And who better to ask than Boodles

Helpful and prompt in their reply and for that I can only say thank you.

I think Kate Adie’s autobiography summed it up in the title ‘The Kindness of Strangers’. People are more willing to help than we perhaps initially expect and doesn't that warm your heart?

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

A Weekend in London

Last weekend, I was in London at the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference. Queen Mary University, Mile End Road played host to lectures, workshops and the chance to meet up with fellow writers and experts in the field.

Meeting up with friends and getting to talk shop all weekend was one of the highlights.

Me (centre) with Rachael Thomas (left) and Melissa Morgan (right)

One of my favourite workshops was given by Julie Cohen on The Art of the Rewrite and it couldn't have been more timely. And as an added bonus, we all got to indulge our love of stationery!

The lovely ladies from Mills and Boon were also there to run a workshop on the essentials of writing for their series romances. Invaluable advice, direct from source.

And then there was the gala dinner. We all need sustenance sometime!

The Octagon Library at Queen Mary University.

All in all, a fun, entertaining weekend that was packed from start to finish and spent with friends. What more could anyone want?! 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

A Rare Breed

That’s how I’d describe writers. I am continually astounded by my writing friends and colleagues. Never have I before encountered such generous advice and feedback from people in the same profession – even those writing for the same romance line as me. Like marathon runners who hug and congratulate each other at the finish line, writers give each other such encouragement.

So it was with a great sense of anticipation that I met up with friend and fellow writer Melissa Morgan for lunch in the picturesque town of Porthmadog. Having someone honest and fair with whom to discuss writing life and bounce ideas off is a rare gift indeed. 

Check out Melissa’s website for another insight into a writer’s life.

The sun shone and the mountains looked so close that I felt I could touch them, But caught in our little writing bubble, the time passed too fast. 

Monday, 30 March 2015

The Power of a Story

A recent visit to Beddgelert in Snowdonia got me thinking. What is it about a story that is so captivating? But I realised that the answer was tied up and tangled with another. Why do I write? It’s that desire to take someone on an all important emotional rollercoaster. And for emotion, the story of Beddgelert packs a punch. With the unerring loyalty of Gelert and the consolation that to make mistakes is to be human, the story is as heart-breaking as it is wonderful.

The wording on the slate ‘headstone’ tells the story.

Gelert’s Grave

In the thirteenth century Llywelyn Prince of North Wales had a palace at Beddgelert. One day he went hunting without Gelert the faithful hound who was unaccountably absent. On Llywelyn’s return, the truant, stained and smeared with blood, joyfully sprang to meet his master. The Prince, alarmed, hastened to find his son and saw the infant’s cot empty, the bedclothes and floor covered with blood. The frantic father plunged his sword into the hound’s side thinking it had killed his heir. The dog’s dying yell was answered by a child’s cry. Llywelyn searched and discovered his boy unharmed but nearby lay the body of a mighty wolf which Gelert had slain. The Prince, filled with remorse, is said never to have smiled again. He buried Gelert here. The spot is called Beddgelert.

Gelert's Grave, Beddgelert.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Away from reality - for a while!

Isn't that what writers do all the time, living in their own little world? Well, sometimes real life can get in the way. So I spent last weekend on a writers’ retreat in Leeds run by Malaga Workshops. Writing is of necessity a solitary occupation and the chance to meet with like-minded people who nodded in understanding was a tonic in itself.

The course tutor was the brilliant and generous Kate Walker. With 63 novels published to date, if she couldn't answer our questions, no-one could.

I met up with a group of six other writers at Weetwood Hall in Leeds where we had chance to really concentrate on our writing. Having submitted work to Kate beforehand, we each had a valuable one to one critique with her as well as group sessions where we raised questions and offered suggestions and solutions.

Dinner with the lovely and talented
Melissa Morgan.

But most of all we had the chance to write without the usual interruptions. And with Kate on call and available to discuss any other issues that arose during our writing the weekend was productive.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day

With today being World Book Day, I couldn't resist the invitation to pop along to my daughter’s school to read some extracts to the children. 

I read an excerpt from Louis Sacher’s clever and insightful ‘Holes’. A wonderful story about friendship and a book I’d bought long before my daughter was even a twinkle in her father’s eye.

Then I went on to the Kindergarten to read what used to be my daughter’s favourite story.
The ability to lose ourselves in a book starts early and their enthusiasm was infectious.

And my favourite book?

And I was blown away by Victoria Parker’s d├ębut novel Princess in the Iron Mask.

A day dedicated to books? What more do we need?

Friday, 27 February 2015

Book 3 - first draft - done!

Today sees me beginning revisions on my third novel. Completing the first draft of any novel is a real milestone and one to be cherished but the emotional journey on which I've accompanied my characters is over. Revisions and edits have their very own joys and challenges. It’s time to take a step back and think about whether something works and how to make it better, to polish those scenes so readers can really picture what my characters are up to. Now begins a very different journey.

Friday, 2 January 2015


January – cold, damp and today, windy. What’s to like? How about beginnings? A new start.

Remember when we were at school and given that new exercise book? How neat was it at the beginning? That first page was immaculate. But that’s the thing, isn't it? A new page is full of possibilities. The possibility to hold something better than the last exercise book, to be better than last time. Sure, there was a risk involved. What if the first thing I wrote was a mess? What if I had to cross it out and start again? Even now, that doubt is strong but now I know that new beginnings hold the promise of progress and development and change.

So, here’s to new beginnings, to starts, to taking time to count our blessings. Here’s hoping that 2015 is a great year for us all.