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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Here, there and everywhere

Today, the fantastic Kate Walker continues her masterclass on what makes a M&B alpha male hero with my thoughts. Kate and I are at one with this. Alpha male heroes rock.

There is also a post about Following your dream and what makes people decide to follow that dream on the Pink Heart Society. So please leave your thoughts. I love discovering why people decide to follow their dreams.

And finally, I get to play at being a glamorous author today as I am going to the launch of the Hexham Book Festival this evening. I believe tickets are still available for most events, including the M&B panel discussion on Saturday afternoon. Sheila Hodgson, a senior editor from M&B is chairing the event and she has sent a number of interesting topics through which we will be discussing. Things like the ALPHA MALE HERO and he changes! As well as the universal emotional truths in romance, particularly in a post feminist environment.

I am planning on taking pictures so hopefully people can live vicariously!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stories and codes

Julie Cohen put a comment in my post about Narnia and codes. Actually I knew Julie would feel this way as she was at one point a highly dedicated and passionate teacher of English literature. We differ on the subject in some respects.
While I have no objection to individuals getting more out of a story than the writer intended, I do object to the searching for codes and hidden symbolism as the primary purpose for literary theory. The first purpose of literary theory should be to look at the structure and how the story develops. Without a solid understanding of story theory, it is impossible to say if certain symbolism or meanings are possible or if the reader is merely projecting. In other words, people need to understand and to appreciate the construction as much as they like to love for the puzzles and hidden meanings.
Without STORY, the whole point of reading fiction vanishes.
In some ways, the concepts of plot, pacing, proactive characters and the reasons why they work in one story and not in another are hard to grasp. Why do particular stories resonate with readers at particular times?
So for me as a die hard -- the Story must come first person -- the first test for anything hidden is it possible within the bounds of storytelling craft? Is it possible within world building? Or is it stretching the bounds of credulity? When does literary theory with an emphasis on hidden text and meaning start becoming a discussion of how many angels can dance on a pin head?
Also do stories have to laden with obvious hidden meaning for them to be worthy of study? And can that meaning change depending on the socio-economic context of the reader? Or is it fixed within the social understanding of the author? And if you get a different meaning from the story than the accepted one or the one the author intended, is it necessarily wrong?
Equally, to a certain extent, you need to know when and why certain things were written. For example, in A Question of Impropriety, Diana wears a rose pink gown to the ball. It is highly doubtful that in a historical context, she would have done. I knew that when I put it in there. Why did I do it? To symbolise her movement from the virginal pure state? Actually, it is there because my then editor said in a call about the revisions that she had found a lovely cover with a rose pink gown and the model looked a bit like her, could I make the colour of the gown rose pink. It wasn't important to the story what the colour of the gown was, so I readily agreed.
Anyway, for me, it is always Story, story, story and really it is what commercial ficiton is all about -- in whatever age it is written. Story is what helps literature stand the test of time. That new generations find elements that speak to them is great but it is Story that underpins, not the codes or hidden meaning.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Return of the Mole

The mole is back and digging tunnels around the traps.
It really adds insult to injury to see this happening. We have just reseeded the lawn...

No bees yet. Several beekeepers in the area have promised if they get swarms/have to divide colonies, they will let me know. All the beekeepers that I have spoken to are anxious not to bring in bees from the South. We have fewer problems up here with viruses etc. But losses are still great. Having seen the BBC programme on Who is Killing the Honey Bee, I think the theory about pesticides weakening the bee has some merit as does the whole transportation of bees and mono agriculture theories. It is probably a combination rather than one cause. But what is really needed is more research. The little honey bee is so very important to sustaining life on this planet. It is not a machine but a living creature. I am hoping to get some more bees soon. The hives are out in case any wandering swarm happens by, but I am not optimistic.
On 10 May, I am going to another Hexham beekeeping meeting which is at an apiary so at least I can my fix that way... But I want more bees in my garden, buzzing about and visiting the flowers that we planted.

No new kittens. I saw a advert for kittens, wrote down the number and then thought -- no I am not ready. I can however look at cats and kittens without a pang in my heart so this is good. It will be when the time is right. In the meantime, the dogs are enjoying the extra treats...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Age of Unbelieving

As Jane H left a comment on the more about Narnia codes post, I thought I'd write about the Susan problem as I see it.
One of the Big Betrayals in many female eyes is the transformation of Susan. In The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, many female readers (including my daughter) identify with Susan, but by the time The Last Battle rolls around, Susan has forgotten about her time in Narnia and wants to be a grown up. She prefers discussing nylons and lipstick to talking about past adventures. She is also not involved in the train crash. And the whole episode leaves a bad taste. So much so that many of the Susanites refuse to re-read the books.

Some people go through this stage where they openly mock childhood pleasures. I can remember my brother doing the same thing as a teenager. We used to play various long and complicated imaginary games but then one day he grew up and then mocked. It hurt at the time. When he was suffering from his final illness in his late twenties, my brother had the grace to say that those long ago childhood days were some of his happiest and he took great pleasure from the memories of those games.
It is the Age of Unbelieiving where it is cool to pretend that you were never interested in xyz. You actually open mock and deride the thing. You want to be a grown up and to be thought to be grown. Therefore, childhood pleasures are not what is required. How long it lasts depends on the individual. It can be argued that it is a necessary part of growing up. But it also is terribly sad. To be so desperate to be thought of as big that you have to deny the pleasures of your childhood self. With maturity comes the realisation that you can take pleasure, even if you can't revisit.

To be fair to Lewis, he never says that Susan will not reach Narnia again. Aslan simply refuses to tell her story. In The Horse and His Boy, Aslan says he only speaks of an individual's story to that individual. And what ever happens, happens out the scope of the book.

So does Susan get out of her own age of unbelieving? How does she cope with losing her two brothers and her sister? Does she have children of her own and then tell them stories about Narnia? Lewis never reveals this. Given her age at the start of the books, it is possible that Susan could still be alive and telling her grandchildren or great grandchildren the stories. There again, she could have become bitter and twisted. But I like to think the former. And after a long fulfilling life, Susan is reunited with her past. once a queen in Narnia, always queen. It is just the pathway back was somewhat longer. (Or at least this is what I tried to explain to my daughter)
There again I write romance and like happy endings.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Regency dress


Today is my children's high school's Charity Day. The money raised goes to a worthy charity -- this year is going to support a charity chosen by the family of a sixth former from the school who died of cancer eariler this year.


The theme is historical figures. My eldest is going as a raisin (an easy costume and as he says something that has been around since time immemorial). He would not let me take a photo as he said that I was laughing too hard. The costume consists of two bins bags.
My youngest wore the Confederal General's jacket that I made for a long ago Halloween for my husband and his school trousers. He refused to do up the jacket and also refused to have his picture taken.

My daughter wore the Regency dress. I am proud of it. I dragged my sewing machine out yesterday and completed it -- including ribbon placements on the sleeves and hem line in one day. A lot of cursing did accompany it though when I discovered that I had no choice but to rip a few seams. Still it is the finished product that counts... She had no choice but to pose. This is her Haloween etc costume for many years to come. She is NOT getting the mid Victorian day dress that she has her eyes on....
She is also wearing a scent box necklace (I should find out the correct name). They were poular in the 19th century. You put a dab of scent on some cotton and put it in the box/medallion and then as the warmth of your skin heats the metal, the scent is released. My aunt gave it to me years ago. The reticule belonged to my great great grandmother.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More on Narian codes

The author of the Planet Narnia book left a message in the comments of my earlier blog. He felt that perhaps the BBC programme did not show his theory off to its best advantage.
Having dealt with television and knowing that 3 minutes tv time came mean three hours real time, I had a look at his website. I also only watched until the discussion about the planets ruling the days -- which is something I had come across before in my research for the Romans.
The website did confirm what I thought -- namely Mr Ward has never written fiction for publication and that he has never had to construct a world which exists over a series of books. Equally he has not had to deal with the editor/author relationship when you are speaking about commercial fiction. Sometimes, it can be difficult to say when various themes are decided. The entire revision process throws new connections up and thus it would be improbable that he could do a code to that extent over 7 books and not have his editor know that he was up to something. Also Ward does not mention (it could be in the book) Lewis fighting to keep some imagery in that has no relationship to the story and that he would have only fought for IF he was doing this code. It would be in the editor/author relationship that you would see this happening rather than in his relationship with his reading group. Editors are very powerful beings in the commercial world, particularly in the 1950s.
In the FAQ, I learnt that Lewis held critics who searched for hidden meanings in contempt. Thus, I would doubt that if he had put a puzzle or riddle into each of his books, that he would have done so to the degree that Ward suggests. Also he would have been targeting a single person/specific group of people particularly with the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It could be that the correspondance has not survived.
In addition to Father Christmas, this book is the book where the world most reflects English values -- umbrellas, books in a library, sewing machines are all mentioned in this book but not again. It was also geared towards the Christmas book market and someone may have felt that including Father Christmas would help increase either the chances of publication or sales.
You can tell there was some discussion with his editors about order etc and that Lewis lost the argument. This is because he turned in books in a different order to the publication (Horse and His Boy was sent in fourth and published fifth), and indeed apparently began the books in a different order. Although knowing what I know about world building etc and discussions with editors, the later point is not necessarily significant but the sending in of the manuscripts is.
Editors have a habit of saying -- well we would like you to... or can you possibly think about writing this one first. Then they may change their mind.
I know there is a question about the order in which to read the books. I started with Prince Caspian as that was the book my mother bought for my brother. I then borrowed the rest from a neighbour. So because they are stand alone, in one sense the order does not matter. In another, they were edited (and therefore revised by Lewis) in a specific order. Going by order of publication, this puts Voyage of the Dawn Treader third which if you believe Ward's theory is dedicated to the Sun. Sunday is also the Lord's day and this is the first book where Aslan specifically goes on at the end about being Christ. The Christian allegory is a bit clunky at times imho. and as a child, I skipped over it in my rereadings. But because of the trinity and the importance of three, plus the use of sun imagery, you could say that it helps prove the publication with The Lon, The Witch and The Wardrobe being first.

But Mr Ward and I do agree one important point -- Lewis created a magical world that stands the test of time. And he had the right to create the world however he wanted, and not to the dictates of Tolkien.

I am a writer and not a literary critic. I create worlds for my books. But ultimately the most important thing is the story and the story dictates all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Revisions in

I have turned in my latest set of revisions. They weren't hard and once upon a time, I would have done them in 48 hours. I took 2 weeks. Why? Because I wanted to take the time to go through the manuscript and increase the intensity. I wanted to examine what I'd written and to see if I could make it tighter. I finished putting the revisions on the manuscript yesterday and today, I read it out loud. Again hoping to find mistakes and hoping to make it better. For it is not about what you did on the last book but what you do on this one.

I learnt a few things. Save conversation. Keep the tension. Save the Cat! Some of which go to make the next book even better.

But now I have to sew my daughter's dress as that deadline approaches...tomorrow and it is all in pieces!
Oh and the mole is back. I put the traps down and the mole dug around one -- covering it with a molehill as he created a diversion in his tunnel. New traps have been laid. We just reseeded the lawn as well!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

codes and Narnia

First of all, Ashes to Ashes was really fun last night. They have given Alex Drake hope that she might be saved. And they have made things more complicated. It looks good.



On Sunday night, I finally started to watch The Narnia Code. I adored the Narnia books when I was growing up and was interested. About half way through, I turned it off. The theological Phd student Micheal Ward who *discovered* this code obviously has never written a fictional novel, particularly not one for children. Neither did he bother to read CS Lewis's letter to his stepson -- the one which says that he never set out to write seven books. He started with one and they grew. It is difficult to have an overarching code where each book is devoted to a planet if you didn't intend to write Narnia as a set of seven. It would meaning starting out, then writing a sequel (Prince Caspian) and then the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And then seeing that ah, I have done this, so I will continue. That is very difficult on a subconscious level. If it is on an overtly conscience level, why was the Planet code not discovered in his notes and papers?

Also, because in these books, the story is paramount, it would be very difficult to weave in that amount of symbolism where each book is devoted to a different planet (planet as defined by medieval cosmology). The stories, particularly the later stories would have felt forced, particularly the imagery. The Horse and His Boy which is one of the last ones that was published is at its core an adventure story. You get more overtly Christian symbolism with the final two books.

Equally, if he had done that, Lewis would have had a precise ordering to the books. There are two different orderings. Lewis himself is on record as saying that it does not matter in which order the books are read. Given Lewis's deeply held Christian beliefs, if he did have a code, then he would have made sure that the one devoted to the Sun was the first book in one of the orderings. This is because the seven planets are also related to the seven days in medieval cosmology. In the Christian calendar, Sunday is the first day of the week. It is also called Dimanche (or the Lord's day) in French. It is easier to see the correlation between the days and the planets if you use a Latin based language rather than English.
And why choose to start this code with Jupiter and Mars? Because if you believe Lewis, he had only started off to write two books.

As an aside, apparently one of the clues that Ward to his conclusions was in the picture of Mr Tumnus carrying Christmas parcels when he first meets Lucy. This shows a deplorable lack of knowledge about British shopping habits in the early 20th century. As a visit to the Co-op at Beamish Museum shows, ordinary shopping was wrapped up in brown paper and tied with string. They did not use paper bags...Equally I am not certain how much control Lewis had over the pictures. Authors often have far less control over such things than readers imagine.

And then Ward mentioned the trees moving and the fact that the moving trees only appear in Prince Caspian. Actually, they also appear in The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe. Going from memory, Mr Tumnus says to Lucy that some of the trees are on the Witch's side. The Magician Nephew also has something about the trees, and the tree that Digory planted moving along with some of the trees in Narnia. It is out of this tree that the wardrobe is created. Personally I always figured that Tolkien and Lewis both were drinking from the same well with the trees.



Anyway, interesting theory but I doubt it. it is looking at stories from the outside in rather than inside out As McKee makes clear in his book, Story, this sort of analysis does not really start until the early 1970s/late 1960s. Lewis worked on the books in the late 1940s/1950s when the literary theory about structure was paramount. So he would have been thinking about plot, structure, conflict rather than the language.

And people should just enjoy the books rather than searching for third meanings.

Literary theory should look at how storytellers write stories before pronouncing on codes. Attempting to give order to randomness can lead to false assumptions.
Browning's statement about once Browning and God knew the meaning of the poem but now only God knows always has struck me as an accurate representation on how writers work.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Ashes to Ashes the second series starts


Ashes to Ashes the second series starts tonight at 9 pm. In honour of this, I have done a post about Philip Glenister for the Pink Heart Society's Male on Monday. Why does he appeal to women?


Now the papers have been concentrating on Keeley Hawes, the woman who plays Alex Drake. Apparently she had some terrible criticism for the last series. Actually, I thought she was fine. It was more the writing and the problems with a Buddy Love (professional love) scenario and introducing a new half to an already working partnership.

Buddy love is the term Blake Snyder uses to decribe the genre -- it is the Buddy Cop. And no matter what the sexes, you do have to build that relationship. It is also the genre that emcompass romance so I know it well. Incomplete protagonist, a coutnerpart and a complication.

In Life on Mars, in some ways, it was a two hander -- both the John Simms and Philip Glenister characters grew and changed. Gene Hunt grew to respect John Simms within the first series. With Ashes to Ashes series one, you had less of that. So Alex Drake was not changing Gene Hunt's perception as explicitly as she could have. Hopefully, the writers will have worked on the relationship and will have ensured that underlying chemistry that is so necessary for a Buddy cop series is there. But I will point out that it was always going to be difficult, simply because of the success of Life on Mars.

So Keeley Hawes had her work cut out and the script writers were less comfortable with a woman as one half of the buddy cop scenario. Hopefully this time the series writers figured out the problem and have actually turned this more into a two hander. Alex Drake needs a reason to stay in the 1980s, but also the audience has to feel that she might be able to get back to her time.

Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing the series. It is one of the best things on television at the moment.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reviews and the Hexham Book Festival


I opened my email today to find a lovely note from Julie Bonello of Cataromance as well as the Pink Heart Society review. Now that the problems with her computer are fixed, Julie has been able to do a review of Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife. And it was well-worth the wait. Regular readers of this blog will know that Julie has reviewed every one of my M&B historicals and that I wait to see what she thinks.

With cataromance she gave Impoverished Miss 5 stars and said:

Michelle Styles is a must-read for readers who are bored to tears of reading hackneyed, clichéd and highly unoriginal wallpaper historical romances. In Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife, her writing is crisp and effortless, her evocation of Regency England superb, her characters believable and authentic, and her ability to tell an emotionally satisfying love story absolutely breathtaking.
Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is not your typical run-off-the-mill Regency, but a beautifully rendered tale of hope, sacrifice, tragedy and the everlasting power of love.

You can read the full review here.

The Pink Heart Society review said -- Michelle Styles' latest is a beautifully-told, wonderfully written and utterly absorbing historical Regency that I defy anyone to put down once they've read the first page. Imbued with so much style, emotion, humour, charm and intense romance, Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is outstanding historical romantic fiction at its best!

You can read the rest of the review here.

Both reviews will be printed out and used to combat Crow Attacks. Like most other authors I do suffer from Attacks of the Crows of Doubt. Keeping a scrapbook of good reviews and readers' letters does help.

I know how much time and effort Julie puts into her reviews and thre are reasons why her reviews are so well respected in the romance community.


A reader emailed to say that she could not find me listed on the Hexham Book Festival Programme. Part of the problem is the way the programme is listed and that you have to click on the different times, rather than it being by date. Anyway, here is the blurb and I understand that tickets do remain available. Contact the Queen's Hall box office for more details.

Saturday 2nd May
2.30 - 3.30pm – Mills and Boon panel
Theatre
What could be more universal to the human experience than the thrill of falling in love? There are reasons why the romance genre has consistently proven to be commercially successful. But timelessness does not mean unchanging. As Mills & Boon enters its second century of publishing, three authors, Michelle Styles, Sharon Kendrick, and Natasha Oakley discuss the challenges and pleasures of writing romance in the 21st century with editor Sheila Hodgson

Cost £5.


You can see the full programme on the Hexham Book Festival site.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Contest winners and more articles

My daughter has been drawing contest winners.
From my newsletter contest -- It was Penny W and Pat (Shreky Shrek) Emails have been sent.

With Totebags -- It was Lori Patterson and again an email has been sent.

My sister sent me an article from National Public Radio about Harlequin and romance. I was pleased to see my friend Sarah Mallory's book -- The Wicked Baron getting a mention. US News and World Report lists bodice rippers as its number 3 recession beater. Top was home gardening and Hollywood. I know for some the term Bodice ripper grates like finger nails on a chalk board, but at least it conveys fun escapist reading. And I suspect they wanted to make sure that people did not think it was romance in general but the romance genre in publishing.
Hopefully though people in the media will start taking the genre seriously rather than simply dismissing it.

Personally I never mind bodice ripping as it conveys something that is fun and light. Far too many people treat historical fiction as heavy weighty tomes and are frightened to pick one up. Bodice ripping means that it is accessible. The fact that the history in my books is reasonably accurate and that I hope my books will make non historians interested in history is beside the point. First and foremost, I write good page turning stories. And if the only way to get that across is for some to call them Bodice rippers, then so be it. I suppose Escapist Women's Fiction doesn't have the same ring.

The big question they ask is why, and the answer is obvious. Page turning reads which fulfill the Harlequin promise to its readers. People read these books again and again because they feel emotionally satisfied at the end. There is nothing wrong with escaping for a few hours and at the end feeling like the world is a brighter place.

Still doing my revisions and trying to increase the intensity of characterisation, plus refereeing between stressed out children who are revising for exams...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nightline on Romance


My aunt emailed me about the piece and then the very lovely Margaret Moore had a link to the video. ABC's Nightline (the US equivalent of the BBC's Newsnight) did a piece on Harlequin.

The CEO, Donna Hayes, was brilliant but then having met her, I wouldn't expect anything less. If you want a role model for a highly successful woman, look no further.

Harlequin is doing very well out of the recession and the US media is just starting to realise (the deadpan readings of the various book not withstanding)


I think the presenter was surprised when Ms Hayes dismissed the need for men as a target audience. Harlequin Enterprise is focussed on women's fiction. It sees no need to change.


I was pleased to see historical mentioned.


Go Harlequin! Escapist Reading is great fun!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bank holiday Monday

Why are Bank Holiday Mondays always overcast? You would think there would be a law, but no. Almost evey single Bank Holiday I can remember has grey skies and horrid weather. Or maybe, I am so busy enjoying myself on the other Bank Holidays.. Actually the weather was glorious on Saturday and Easter Sunday so I have nothing to complain about...

I am in the midst of revisions so it is physical emotional reactions at times of intensity. In other words, bleed on the page. I do know what is there. The other bit is more repetition. You would have thought that I could have picked up on some of this...I mean it needs to be on the page and not just in my head. SIGH.

And it is Julie Cohen's birthday today. She has a lovely pictore of David Tennant with a kitten. Julie still has a David Tennant fetish. Personally I noticed the kitten more, but that just means I need to get more cats...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Revisions, positive articles and hot cross buns

My very lovely editor sent the latest revisions for the Governess yesterday. She was apologetic as it is Easter weekend. I was very happy. It was then it struck me -- writing for most authors is a vocation. We do it not only because it pays the bills but because we love it and we believe in our characters. If someone gives me the chance to make my story stronger and better, I look on this as a gift and not a chore. And with her thoughts, I am certain that the book is going have more intensity of characterisation etc plus I can trail the now agreed sequel. Hooray for revisions!

Courtesy of the lovely Carrie Lofty, I discovered a very positive article about Romance in the New York Times. As with an severe economic turmoil, the romance genre is proving resilient. It remains to be seen though if the other maxim holds true, and society morals start becoming more conservative... The Blake Snyder blog from a few weeks ago still intrigues me. How the full frontal nudity of the 1920s films went to separate twin beds for married couples in the 1930s films.

And because it is Good Friday, I have been making the Elizabeth David recipe for hot cross buns. It is all well and good to buy the loss leading hot cross buns at the super markets (Tesco has 6 for 30p) BUT there is a certain satisfaction about using fresh spice, yeast and making your own. This means I can put in nutmeg and freshly ground cloves, raisins and mixed peel instead of currents And I get to have fun rolling the dough into snakes to make the crosses. Both my daughter and my youngest have already asked to help with the making of the crosses.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Blogging today at Totebags

I am blogging today at Totebags and to celebrate Impoverished Miss being published in the UK and An Impulsive Debutante being published in Australia, I am giving away one of my books.

I am also talking about the problems of living in two worlds -- the every day world and the world of my imagination. And how sometimes, when I am trying to make the switch, unintended things happen.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Sometimes you just need to knit

Over the past week, the desire has been growing -- I want to knit. The last time, I knitted was when I finished my sister's cardigan back in 2005. But with the cats going, I wanted to do something with my hands as there was no longer a cat to stroke.



Yesterday, I gave in; purchased more wool and new needles; casted on and began a cardigan for my husband. It is amazing what the fingers remember. There is something satisfying about knitting. And right now it fills a need.







My eldest is back from Russia. He prefers St Petersburg to Moscow. Despite the lovely towers, St Basil's was stripped bare inside by the communists. He came back with among other things -- War & Peace in Russian. Interestingly, Tolstoy wrote bits in French. The Russians can read more than one language. I have pointed out to my son that perhaps he ought to learn French as well as Russian!

The clock in the picture was stopped when the October Revolution happened. It has never been restarted. My son found the Hermitage museum to be absolutely fascinating. He enjoyed seeing the various paintings etc. He also found the various memorials interesting. The memorial to the victory over Napoleon is modelled on Trafalgar Square. The guide in St Petersburg had been one of Putin's translator and was very good. The guide in Moscow was very Russian and things had to be done to a time table. While in Moscow, the group went to see the ballet of Sleeping Beauty at the Kremlin. My eldest decided that it was not one of his favourites as there was a lot of pointless dancing at the beginning when the various delegations arrive. He prefers his ballets to have more of a story.
Anyway, he is hoping to return to Russia someday.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Mills & Boon Community live

Over the past month and a half, it has been my pleasure to help be a beta tester for the new Mills & Boon community, a place for UK readers of M&B to come together and discuss all manner of topics. It is run pretty much along the lines of eharlequin. Everyone is welcome, so if you love M&B and want to interact with like minded readers and authors why don't you come along? You can find the Community here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Viking's Captive Princess

Ivar's story has finally been titled -- THE VIKING'S CAPTIVE PRINCESS. The title really works for the story so I am pleased. I can't wait to see the blurb my editor works up either. And eventually the cover... It will be published in the North American market in December 09. There is no word on when it will be published in the UK but I am sure my editors will let me know.

My editor has also said that the Governess needs a few more tweaks. As I really want the intensity of characterisation to be there and also because we agreed a linked book AFTER I turned in the revisions, I am pleased to have another go and will take the opportunity to make it really sing. They are supposed to arrive before Easter. So I am keeping myself busy with the paranormal which refused to go away. But my deadlines do whisper to me...

Friday, April 03, 2009

The last parent teacher conference

I attended my last parent teacher conference for my eldest son (despite his being in Russia). The deputy head had sent a note to all the parents saying how important the conference was. It was all about making sure he revises for his A levels and various different strategies, plus reminders about revision sessions. I heard lots of good things but bottom line he needs to study more as nothing is in the bag until you get the final results back.
It is a strange moment when you see all these parents who you can remember as young parents with toddlers doing the rounds for one last time, earnestly discussing their children who now tower above them. The chairs are uncomfortable as ever, the hall just as loud but there is a certain air of poignancy about it.
My youngest reminded me when I got home that I have four more years with him, so I can go back to complaining.
The house still fills quiet. I keep going to pet the cats and end up stroking the breadbin. My daughter and my youngest are resolved to get new kittens sooner rather than later.

Oh and Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife is officially published today so that means I should go and see it at Tescos. There is a certain something about seeing your book on the shelf. It is even better IF you know a couple of copies have been sold...

Thursday, April 02, 2009

It's all Greek


Donna Alward let me know that Viking Warrior, Unwilling Wife was in Greece last month. I was very pleased to see that the Greeks used the inside cover from the North American version of VWUW as the front cover. I happen to really like that picture.

Because there is now a functioning Greek Harlequin site, I can offer up the Greek version of the blurb.

Η Επιστροφή του Πολεμιστή
Νορβηγία, 794 μ.Χ.Ο ήχος από τα τύμπανα του πολέμου πλημμύριζε τον αέρα και το σκληρό βόρειο φως στραφτοκοπούσε πάνω στα ακονισμένα σπαθιά καθώς η Σίλα στεκόταν στην ακτή και κοίταζε με δέος τα πλοία που ανέβαιναν στο φιόρδ. Ήταν γεμάτα πολεμιστές, άγριους άντρες που αδημονούσαν να ριχτούν στη μάχη και να δοξαστούν.Όμως δεν ήταν η απειλή της κατάκτησης από τον εχθρό που την έκανε να τρέμει σύγκορμη. Ήταν ο τρόπος που σκιρτούσε η καρδιά της στη σκέψη ότι σύντομα θα αντίκριζε το περήφανο πρόσωπο και το καλοσμιλεμένο κορμί του γιάαρλ Βίκαρ Χρούτσον, του αρχηγού των εισβολέων. Του άντρα, που πριν από λίγα χρόνια ήταν σύζυγός της…


I can get a few words like *the*, *and* and *Norway* but the remanents of anceint Greek is woefully inadequate. It is still thrilling though!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Better today

Thank you all so much for the lovely comments and private emails. I do appreciate them. The one great thing about the ROmance community is how many people are pet lovers. And if you have had pets, you do understand about grieving when you lose them.

It is quieter. But things are settling. ANd eventually in time, I will save another few cats. Out there, some where there will a cat or two who needs me and my family.

Right now, I am getting back to writing etc. as that is what I do. Although yesterday for the first time in absolutely ages, I wanted to knit.