Thursday, July 28, 2011

Caerleon 2

It's Thursday already. As the saying goes - time flies when you're having fun. And I've really been having fun. I always do at Caerleon.

Yesterday the new courses started so that everyone could move on to their second choice - Writing Poetry, Writing the Historical Novel, Writing Publishable Long Fiction,  Writing Non-Fiction Artilces and Books, adding Power to Your Writing  - and of course my own Writing Contemporary Romance.

The Main Talks sessions have been great  too - Brad Ashton was as funny as his reputation and illustrated perfectly how we make our own luck  - being prepared to write  and committing ourselves fully to the job, not waiting for the contract to come along. He is running a course on Writing Comedy next year.  Yesterday evenninbg was the traditional Poetry Reading  - with some very silly 'Roman Poets' who looked like the Babe Nagnet and a couple of friends.

And last night, when everyone was back from their day out to the coal mine, Cardiff or the book town of Hay on Wye, crime novelists Susan Moody and Janet Laurence gave us a sparkling  hour of 'Women of Letters' with  a selection of letters written by women, some sad,some happy, some poignant, some indignant and some truly hysterically funny.  I was particularly moved by the letter of the wife of a slave whose husband had escaped and fled to earn his freedon  and save up enough money to buy her freedom, only to find that here cruel owner wouldn't let her husband buy her. It was a real relief to learn that eventually she too escaped to freedom.

Today classes continued, with a lot of work on Building Characters and how to 'dig deep' into them. Tomorrow it's Conflict and Sex!

Now I'm off to the afternoon Main Talk by children's writer John Townsend - I've met him already several times this week and it promises to be a lot of fun.

Then tonight we will have the traditional concert by the Cwmbach Male Voice Choir.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caerleon


I'm back in one of my favourite places, Caerleon, Newport Wales, where I'm teaching Contemporary Romance at the wonderful Writers' Holiday here. My course doesn't start until tomorrow so I'm relaxing and talking to old friends, meeting new ones  and enjoying the sunshine.

We've already had some great main talks - one by comedy writer Raymond Allen (who wrote Some  Mothers do 'Ave 'Em) ande Yesterday Julie Cohen gave a great talk on My Writing Life. I've known Julie and her writing for years but her talks alwaysw give me new food for thought and her description of what she had learned about writing  - and herself - as her books grew from her original Mills & Boon romance to her current 120,000+ Getting Away With It was fascinating and stimulating.

The Babe Magnet looked after Julie's little boy while she was speaking, showing him the Roman exhibits in the museum, and enjoying ice cream in the sun.  Julie and I joined them later and we wandered round The Forum, looking at the amazing carvings and relaxing.

After talks on self-publishing and publicising your work, tonight's  Main speaker is comedy writer Brad Ashton who is celebrating 50 years of writing for many greats like Tommy Cooper, Les Dawons and even Groucho Marx. I've hear him speak before so I'm looking forward to that.

Tomorrow, the choice of courses changes and the Babe Magnet is teaching Writing Poetry while I'm  busy with the Writing Contemporary Romance - and in the afternoon, those who want can go on the excursions and see more of Wales.

Now I'm off to an 'after tea' session entitled Death in The Afternoon with crime writers Susan Moody and Janet Laurence.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Kitten Romance

Charlie has fallen in love  - but he's a bit of a fickle hero - he only longs for his heroine when she's on the wrong side of the door and he can pine hoplessly wishing she was with him.

The Offspring and his partner are having work done on thier house - the bathrrom is being taken out and competely redone.  So while chaos rules in their home, their cats have come to stay with us for safety and peace and quiet.

Well, peace and quiet when our cats don't realise they're here. 
Stumpy the Rag Doll and Creature the tiny  female black and white kitten are living in our dining room, while Charlie and Flora have the run of the rest of  the house. Sid just likes to snooze in  the calm of my office so he stays out of everyone's way.

But between the living room and the dining  room is  adouble door with panes of glass set into it - and Charlie spotted  Creature through this.  They then spent  most of the day with noses pressed up against the glass, reaching out paws to each other, with the windows between the,  She obviously thought he was a real alpha hunk - and he thought she was pretty cute.

For one day. Today I thought perhaps they could meet in reality. But it's obvious that the idea of being tragic, star-crossed lovers  kept separate by a cruel fate  is much more of  an enchantment  tahn actually coming nose to nose in reality.

When that happened,  Charlie fluffed up his fur, arched his back and hissed furiously. It was obvious he was declaring that he wanted nothing to do with her at all and that he had never loved her . . .

Creature, like the feisty little heroine she is, refused to back down or run.  'Fine' she seemed to declare. 'If you don't want me I will be fine on my own . . .'

Creature has gone home for the night now - and Charlie is wandering around, wondering where she has  gone - it's obvious he's missing her! But like a real alpha, he's just not prepared to admit it - not yet . . .

It's funny seeing the perfect feline romance being played out day to day.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Voices 2011

Welcome to Mills & Boon New Voices 2011!

On September 13th 2011 we launch our second global search for fresh writing talent to join Mills & Boon’s galaxy of romantic fiction stars.

A celebration of romantic fiction and romance, New Voices will put entrants through their romantic fiction paces – and we want the Mills & Boon readership to have their say every step of the way!
The winner of the competition will win some fantastic prizes, including publication by Mills & Boon and a Mills & Boon editor for a year!

There will be workshops again - I believe I'll be running one somewhere - details to be confirmed later - but if you live anywhere near Haworth West Yorkshire, I am running  a workshop on writing romance there on September 17th   - see my Events page for details.

And keep your eyes on the Romance Is Not Dead site for more details as they are added.
In the meantime - get writing! And then you'll be ready to submit when the contest opens.

And good luck!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New Writing Course 2012

So - I promised you news of the brand new week-long residential writing course I'm going to be running - in what has to be one of the most beautiful settings possible!

I love the weekends I teach in Wales - right on the coast in Fishguard - and  the setting of Caerleon Writers' Holidays  in a village filled with Roman history is so special that it now feels like a second home to me. I've taught writing all over the UK  - I tried to get to Scotland but there wasn't enough interest to make the courses run . . .

But now I can offer you the chance of a writing course in Italy!  In Tuscany to be precise.

How does this grab you . . .

Our beautiful and historic watermill stands beside the River Rosaro in the small village of Posara. Peaceful and secluded, yet part of the village, the mill is just a mile or so from the walled medieval town of Fivizzano with its caf├ęs, restaurants and shops. This is the heart of Lunigiana, in the North-west of Tuscany.

Set in a gentle valley with mountain peaks in the background, the mill is a peaceful spot, yet is within easy reach of the sea and the tourist attractions of Tuscany.

We have lovingly restored the historic buildings and created five self-contained apartments around a courtyard. These apartments come together for our painting and creative writing courses. When the courses aren't on, the apartments are available for holiday lets. The bright and airy rooms are well decorated and tastefully furnished. All enjoy lovely views of the the river, the gardens or the mountains.

Around the mill there's a walled garden, a vine verandah, a winding rose pergola, and riverside gardens, all with tables and chairs and providing delightful spots for sun-kissed or shady relaxation and contemplation. Then there are further secluded private gardens where you can stroll beside the millstream for about a quarter of a mile.

Sounds wonderful doesn't it?   What a fabulous setting to talk about writing, discuss techniques, put what you've learned into practise  - and hopefully make new friends or meet up with old ones.

I have been asked to set up a week long course on writing romantic fiction at The Watermill next year and of course I didn't really have to have my arm twisted very hard to agree.  So here are the details  if you're interested -  This is the 'blurb' on the main page.


Writing romantic fiction: beyond the hearts and the flowers
with Kate Walker

Author of the 12-point Guide to Writing Romance (now on Kindle) and a prolific Mills & Boon writer, Kate will explore the world of writing romantic fiction and give lots of practical advice.

Kate loves working with students who want to learn how to craft a novel that sells in the popular genre fiction market. Talking about writing, explaining how things work is always stimulating and she always returned home from her courses freshly inspired.


And here's what I have to say about my course:

Romantic fiction writing is big business, making up almost half the paperback fiction sold and generating billions in sales worldwide. This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write a popular genre novel. It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. With advice and exercises, I'll guide you through creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. If you're just starting out writing romantic fiction, or you've written a manuscript or two but are not yet published and are interested in honing your skills, this course is for you.

The course is intended to cover the main aspects of writing romantic fiction that from my experience of teaching over the years seem to create the most problems for unpublished writers. While the focus may be on romance novels, the techniques – dialogue, characters, tension, pacing, settings, hooks etc will also be relevant to all forms of popular fiction. I also hope to have plenty of time to discuss your own work with you either in one to one sessions or in an open critique forum with the rest of the group.


You can find all the details of the course, what the timetable and planned classes will cover - and anything else you want to know here on The Watermill's  main site  where you can see  more about this beautiful place and the fabulous setting  for this course.

I know it's going to be fantastic - I can't wait! The trouble is that I'm going to have to - the course doesn't run until October 2012 - 6th - 13th October to be precise.

But that gives you plenty of time to save up for this great experience.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Friends and titles

I'm having one of those  'how did I ever find the time to write' weeks. I have an strong idea buzzing in my head, characters wanting to talk to me all the time - and I'm rushed off my feet doing so many things.Account books up to date and delivered - check!
Writing Romance Course prepared, handouts copied, etc for Caerleon Writers' Holiday - check!
Washing and ironing done ready to pack for self and Babe Magnet to go  to said Writers' Holiday - check!
Letters  to write - some of 'em
Web site up dates . . .errr
And today and the rest of the week I'm kitten sitting. The Offspring and his partner are having their bathrom redone and so their cats - Stumpy the large Rag Doll and Creature the wicked not yet  3 month old kitten have come to saty.  Charlie and Flora  are in  the garden so they don't yet know about their visitors!

So it's chaotic - but fun.

But today and all the rest of this week I havce to send you to visit another site - for lots of fun, celebrations and books! And one of the loveliest people in the romance writing world!

This week the fabulous Liz Fielding is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the day she signed for Mills and Boon - and that's somwthing well worth celebrating! 

Liz is one of my favourite people and favourite authors of all time  and I was so delighted to be asked to share in her 20th anniversary celebrations.

Liz is having a week long blog party to mark this special occasion and so many of her friends - it's no wonder she has lots of them! - are joining in to celebrate - and give away books to visitors who come and join in.   So why not visit Liz's blog today - and all the rest of the week?  And wish her a wonderful 20th anniversary.
Titles? I heard from my editor yesterday that they love my The Devil and Miss Jones title for  Diablo and Martha's story - but America hve to OK it yet. So keep your fingers crossed!

Oh yes - and if you are interested in writing romantic fiction and would like to come on one of my courses - watch this space! I have news for you about that fantastic one week course I'll be running - in the most fabulous setting!

Come back tomorrow  for more news on that!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blogging around again

It's been a busy week  - and that's an understatement. I  say this every time I finish a book and then rush round  trying to catch up on everything that didn't get done when I was finishing it/doing revisions. There's accounts, updating the web site (havn't completed that yet - or the accounts for that matter)

 There are new events to agree to, organise - anyone in Nottingham in October? There's the New Writers' Festival on the 7th and 8th

And there's the prospect of this year's New Voices contest just around the corner too. There will be workshops for that too  . . . watch this space.

And I had  a special reason to celebrate this week that took me away from the keyboard  for a while. If you want to know what, then check out my Date with Kate blog over on the Pink Heart Society's blog where I'm talking about that special event  - and how as writers we need to think about this when we're making our characters fall in love.

And later today (ie when I think of something to blog about)  there's my Kate's Corner blog for We Write Romance.

But first I need to go into town for my hair appointment  so that I will look reasonably presentable for  my wonderful week in Caerleon at Writers' Holiday  from the  24th - maybe I'll see some of you there . . or on those other blogs.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

I wish I was in Wales. . .

So many of my friends are spending the weekend at Caerleon, Newport in Wales. This is where this year's Romantic Novelists' Association  annual Conference is being held at the Caerleon Campus of the University of Wales.

For various reasons I have been unable to join them this year so I'm missing out on the talks and the discussions and - most of all - I'm missing  catching up with my friends  and  having fun with them.

But at least i will be in Wales myself in a couple of weeks  because on Sunday I'll be at the same Caerleon Campus to  share in the fabulous Writers' Holiday for the week.  (24th - 30th).  I can't wait!  I'll be teaching a five session course on Writing  Romance   and the Babe Magnet will be teaching Writing Poetry.  And as I hear that preparations for another Mills & Boon New Voices contest are in progress this could be a great way to get in some early preparation for that!

There are still some places available at Caerleon this year so if you'd like to know more about it, take a look at their web site and maybe I'll see you there.  

You can also learn about my Advanced course at Fishguard where  we go into more depth and build on the things we've dealt with in the basic Caerleon course. (You need to go on one before the other.)  You can read what some past students have said about this course here on my Events page.

Anyway, I'm busy preparing my classes, handouts etc for  the week at Caerleon. It's not quite as much fun as being there right now - but at least I'll be at Writers' Holiday in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Here we go again . . . . yawn

So yesterday I was celebrating the fact that No Holding Back was being reissued in the Harlequin Treasury ...   Celebrating because this is a book  that is 16+ years old and has come round again for readers to get a chance to read it.

And today  I discover that in an article  in the Telegraph  the cover of this book - this  sixteen year old book is being used to illustrate an article about the reasons why Mills & Boon books are 'bad' for women because they  cause marital breakdown .   Can I say same old same old?

And in the case of the Violet Winspear book also used to illustrate this  accurate and up to date article - not! -  the poor lady died in 1989 - and the book illustrated came out in 1961!

Can I just say  those couple of little words  over again -  accurate and up to date?

And as for the fat that we romance writers never ever include the use of a condom in our love scenes . . .yawn!  Probably not in 1961 but as I just wrote  a love scene where the heroine  had the condoms with her in her handbag . ..  get some accurate information  journalists!

Still, it was nice to see my  elderly book get a showing

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Harlequin Treasury

I didn't go to the RWA conference in New York last week, but I've been catching up on the news from the event from friends and fellow writers who were there.  One of the big topics they've been talking about is  the new project - the Harlequin Teasury.

This is  the huge undertaking of taking the backlist of many authors - right back to the 1980s  - and bringing them out as new ebooks so that readers can catch up with the first books and backlists titles of their favourite authors.   They will have the original covers with a logo designation which shows which  decade they appeared in. 3000 (!)  of the backlist has been converted so  far.

I didn't know if any of my books were appearing in this  first run of  formatting, and I couldn't track down anything  on Amazon.com so far. But then  Liz Fielding pointed me in the direction of Amazon Germany  and that's where I did find some books - dating back to No Holding Back which came out in 1995.  (Though the picture on Amazon at the moment is a book by Alison Kelly, not mine.)

The other books I found in this format  so far are:
The Groom's Revenge   1997
Flirting With Danger  1997
Hers For A Night   1996
No Holding Back 1995
The Unexpected Child 1997

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to going through the new ebooks and finding some of my old favourites from  10, 20 years back and downloading copies of them! 

Which past titles would you most like to find again now  in ebook form?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

60!

I'm  sixty!

Well, no - not me - but the number of books I've written for Harlequin Mills & Boon.

I  just heard from my editor and the  'tweaks' -  aka the unravelling and knitting up the book again - have worked for her so the book is now accepted and sent off to copy-editing. And I can relax for a little while at least.

It really doesn't get any easier, waiting for a response!

Anyway, the book will be out in March 2012 - This is Carlos Diablo  and Martha's book  and I'm still waiting for a title to be confirmed. My editor loves my working title of The Devil and Miss Jones, but it has to be approved by all the Presents team - so watch this space! 

Now I need a new idea and a new hero - I shall have to do some really hard research . . .

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Tote Bags 'N' Blogs

Today is the first Sunday of July so  that means that it's my day for blogging over on Tote Bags 'n'Blogs so that's where you'll find me today. I'm talking about why I love July - for several rather special reasons.

And while you're over there, why  not  take a look at  the rest of the My Tote Bag site - over on the contest page, you'll find a chance to win two of my backlist books.

All you have to do is to anwer a simple question - this month the prize is a copy of The Antonakos Marriage and Bedded By the Greek Billionaire.  
You have until July 31st to enter.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Romancing the Book

Three years ago I spotted a request by Jen Karalfa who was looking for authors to interview for her new site. I offered to join in and had the honour of starting off the  new venture with  the first interview. That was July 1st  2008.

So today is Romancing the Book's  3rd Blogoversary Day  - and I was delighted to be asked back by Jen to start off their 3 year anniversary celebrations  with a special blog post.  I found this really interesting as it meant I could look  back on what had happened to me in those  intervening  three years.

So that's where I am today, on Romancing The Book's Blog looking back, looking forward - and  offering a  couple of copies of The Proud Wife  as a giveaway to celebrate.  Hope you'll join me.
 

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