Saturday, June 30, 2007

Kate Hardy's 25th Book blog party

Kate Hardy is having a stupendous blog party to celebrate the pbulication of her 25th book for M&B. That is 25 books in five years. I think I shall sit down now because you also have to add in her nonfiction In short, I am not sure how many she has written with her various different hats. The woman gives Isaac Asminov a run for his money.

There is a prize per day to be won. It is mostly commenting to be drawn out of a hat. Very simple. My own contributuion will be up at some point and I have offered a signed copy of The Roman's Virgin Mistress.

Because of problems with Bravenet, Kate has just transferred to blogger. And you can find her posts at

Dear Author Review

The review for The Roman's Virgin Mistress is up on Dear I received a B which means that Jayne really liked it, despite the title. LOL.
Personally I like the title but there again I had a rapid awakening to the power titles. As a newly bought M&B author, I asked my Mother-in-law's next neighbour to tell me some of her favourite M&B authors and I would try to get some signed books for her. This is a woman who inhales M&B novels. Her reply was that she didn't have favourite but if there was Virgin or Mistress in the title, she bought the book.
I have little to do with titles or really cover art or back cover copy. All of that is the providence of the marketing department and the editors. They work very hard to give books a certain feel. My own humble opinion is that my editors do an outstanding job. I let them get on with the job. It is my task to provide the content that goes between the covers. And if I do that well enough, my customers will be satisfied and will come back for more. Or at least I hope so.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


My little cluster map has changed. I think they renew the map on a yearly basis. Anyway, the old dots have all gone from the small map and I have started collecting new ones. By 25 June, I had had 28,000 visitors which is fairly good going. Hopefullly I will have somewhere near the same total this year.

The photo is of Henry Brett, England's current polo captain. He is also the new face of Geo Trumper's cologne. And has the right look for my new hero. I understand from the Equestrian article that he is very hard working and any reputation as a bad boy is thoroughly undeserved. However as Trish was filling my ears with tales of how wonderful polo is...I still think he leads a pretty glam life.
I have officially started my latest book. Or at least I have done the preliminaries. As I said yesterday, the more you write, the harder it can become because you have picked off your easy fruit. You have chosen your favourite names. You have used your best settings. It is one of the reasons why research and continuing to look at the world in different lights is so important. I am also aware that the last time I was at this stage, I ended up throwing out most of my book and starting again. Hopefully this time, I will avoid the 3k per day requirement. However, it may be that I work better under pressure....the proof will come when I hear back from my editors.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Rome tonight

The BBC in its wisdom has decided to show Rome on two nights per week. In some ways, this is very good as then I get to see more episodes and in others, I have to remember the day!
James Purefoy is definitely worth watching as Mark Antony. And as the whole Antony/Octavian relationship did shape the future of Rome, it is good to have two such strong actors in the pivotal parts.
When I was speaking to the journalist from the Evening Chronicle, we spoke about tv series helping to make a time period more accessible. In other words, more people are interested in the time period because of the series and because they can see that Romans were in most respects people like us.
My prepartions for the e-harlequin workshop do continue at pace and I will put up worksheets on my website. I will also be offering a critque to one lucky (or unlucky) winner from my newsletter.
I have also started my Regency duo -- or at least made a folder for the first one and started to think about the characters. One of the problems when you have written several books is that you have to think up new situations and reasons. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of repeating themes and situations. Sometimes, a theme can take more than one book to explore, but it soon becomes like Twyla Tharp about scratching for ideas in the same place and your work starts to be stale.
I want my work to be improving and that means constantly looking for ways to polish and add more.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dear Author, photo shoots and water

First of all The Roman's Virgin Mistress was reccomended as a July read by Dear Author. This is a tremendous honour and thrill. I have a lot of time for Jayne who is one of the main reviewers. She gives very honest reviews and reviews which make me stop and think. So this made my day.
Today, I also did a photo shoot for the Evening Chronicle and prentended that I was a glamourous author. Luckily/unluckily the photographer saw through my act and pointed out that I had a tendency to look like a scared rabbit in the headlights. Sigh. But I suspect the photographer is very good and look forward to seeing the photos and the piece.

Yesterday saw my husband down in Hull where he phoned several times about the bad weather. At first I thought he was exaggerating, but then heard the slight panic in his voice as the water started to lap the car windows as I was trying to discover if the M62 was actually open or not. Thankfully, he drove through and eventually managed to make it back home. The strangest thing was that other motorists were busy trying to take photos as they drove, one very nearly went into the deep water and then a wave washed in the car and apparently put an end to his phototaking...

Monday, June 25, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

It has only been a few days since I turned in my latest and already I am starting to feel the tug of not writing. I am want to be immersed in a story again. I suspect this is because I hate housework, and now have no excuses. My dh has been making noises about the dust covering and the cobwebs...
I am thinking about my next two books. They are a duet. This means that there is a slight over arching story but that the books must be able to stand alone. It is a challenge. I enjoy challenges -- this is one of the reasons that I think my editors enjoys giving them to me. they are also going to be set in the early 1820's when locomotive fever was at its peak in the North East. It was a thoroughly exciting time and many of the advances paved the way for the age of steam.
The books will appear in the schedule -- one month apart. It means my delivery time has to be spot on as well.
At the moment, I have a number of ideas floating around in my brain. The fun part is that for the first time this year, I am not working with previosuly mentioned characters or worlds, so I get to create a new one.
I also need to sketch and make up worksheets for the workshop I will bew giving on Goal,Motivation and Conflict over on e-harlequin at the beginning of next month. I want it to be a really imformative, intersting workshop that other writers can get a lot out of.

I also have to write my blog for Kate Hardy's blog party. She and her fellow guests are giving away books and I have promised a copy of The Roman's Virgin Mistress. I just have to come up with a suitable topic.

Weatherwise -- today is a day more suited to ducks. They keep finding new pools to swim and dabble in. It is just disconcerting when they start swimming around the car!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Career Novelist and advice

As I said in my last blog, the very lovely Anne McAllister sent me a copy of The Career Novelist by Donald Maass. The book had been on my I-need-to read-this list ever since I first learnt of its existence.
If you are looking for a how to book on writing, his Writing the Breakout Novel book and workbook are excellent, but this book is primarily aimed at the novelist who is just starting her publishing career. It did not disappoint.

Parts of it are now dated and this is why I suspect that it has been allowed to go out of print. But to the discerning reader, there is still plenty to be gleaned.

It is sort of a question of where to start with his good advice. One piece advice that is applicable to every writer is that the ultimate transaction is with the reader. They are the consumers of your product -- give them good value, bring out your new product regularly to encourage repeat purchases and they will make you successful beyond your wildest dreams. You should remember that ultimately your group of fans is unique to YOU. They are discrete subset of readers who want YOUR settings, YOUR characters and to be immersed in the world of YOUR Story. YOUR readers will know your writing more intimately than probably you do. Thus where you should spend the lion share's of your time is crafting stories that allow your readers in.
It is the most important relationship in the business -- author and reader. By giving her best, the author strives to fulfil her part of the bargain.
If an author is going to write a cross over type novel, she needs to think where her main body of readers will be found. That is her primary market.
Self-promotion does not always work and in order to promote, one must first have a product. Again, trust the reader to respond to your writing.
Some publishers can be career-killing. Authors should study the market and be wary. Rights can be difficult to reobtain in the advent of bankruptcy, despite what contracts say...
Maass makes the point that it takes at least FIVE books to become established and an overnight success. Sometimes, it takes longer. Think Patrick O'Brien. The vast majority of huge best sellers came from mid list authors who broke out or already established best selling authors. It is highly unusual for first time authors to hit the jackpot as it were.
Huge headline advances are not what they seem -- they are a marketing tool so that sub-rights can be more easily sold. If a book does poorly, the author might not get the whole advance. In fact, even if it does well, it might be years before the author sees the whole advance as headline grabbing advances are often multiple book contracts with various provisions.
Authors should not think about quitting the day job until their ROYALTIES can support them -- not their advances but their royalties. The real money in this business is made through the sale of sub-rights -- IE when the book is printed in other languages. A writer can quickly get into trouble if she treats her advance cheque as a pay cheque.
The sales figure you want to know most is the sell-through ratio -- how many books are sold versus number shipped. A high ratio is good. It means the publisher is making money. Huge print runs can place pressure on the sell through ratio. Books can be easily reprinted these days. Every publisher has their own rules about reprints and when they happen. Backlists are important to publishers and to writers alike.

I could go and on. After reading it, I do feel that I have a far better understanding of the industry. My only wish is that Maass would update the book.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Fox and ducks

Yesterday morning was fun and games when my youngest looked out of the window and yelled 'There is a fox in the garden."
It has been about two years or more, since we have had to deal seriously with Mr Reynard -- hence our rather large population of ducks.
Luckily this was a young fox whose idea of hunting was to chase the Motely Crew round and around. We let loose the dogs. And while the Border collie is useless, Chile the labrador is quite up for fox hunting and set off at a great pace. Mr Reynard exited stage left.
My bright idea was that we needed a bonfire as foxes do not like the smell of smoke. Unfortunately, due to the rain, it was very hard to get going and my husband decreed that it had to be immediately...even though he had to go to work. An hour later, covered in smoke, I decided that it was enough and retreated.
The ducks who were being Late Night Party ducks and who possibly wanted to rock to Quackennbury or another duck festival all decided to be sober honest hard working ducks who go to bed nice and early.

I have just finished reading The Career Novelist by Donald Maass and it is one of the best books I have read on the actual industry of publishing and I will blog more about it tomorrow. The book is hard to get hold of in Britain, so I am eternally grateful to Anne McAllister who sent me her copy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rome -- series 2

Rome started last night on BBC 2. The second episode is on SUNDAY!!!! So while there is not long to wait, I do have to remember the date.
The episode was packed full and I was thoroughly engrossed. It was reasonably accurate as to the main events -- although some of the subplots were slightly dubious. For example -- could Pullio really kill that many men in tavern without basically having a scratch on him. And also why is he sporting a beard? The vast majority of Roman men were clean shaven during this period. And I keep trying to decide which Pullio I liked better...And what was with the strange custom of the Romans wearing belts at funerals -- the whole point was that during the mourning period, you were supposed to go unbelted. But it did hold me within its world.
I wonder if Livia will make an appearance in this series, and if they are going to show Octavian shadowy first wife whom he divorced to marry Livia.

I see that the Roman's Virgin Mistress is now published and available for purchase on I suspectthat will mean that it is out in the bookstores there as well. It will be out in the UK bookstores officially on 6 July.

As far as I know the piece about me has not yet appeared on ITV News North East, but every night lately I have been watching with the video at the ready...

I turned in my latest ms and now I will start doing my prep work for the next two as they are a duo. I also have a stack of admin plus blogs for other people to write. And the dust in my house has reached epic porportions...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bits and bobs

My head is down and I am busily working through the last of my edits on my current wip. The fact that I really like it means that there will probably be tons of revisions, simply because I am far too close.

I did the draw for my June contest -- Noemie and Jane have been contacted and next time I go to the Post Office, the books will winging their way to them. Many thanks to all who entered.

My next newsletter goes out on 1 July (or thereabouts). Because I am doing a workshop on E harlequin about Goal,Motivation and Conflict -- Upping the stakes, I will be giving away a critque for the first three chapters as having my usual contest for a book...

The current mother duck is an awful mother. She was one of those animals who enjoyed sitting on her eggs far more than the reality of having ducklings. She has a tendency to preen while the ducklings run wild/get into difficulties or simply get lost. She also wanders off leaving the ducklings asleep or eating .They then notice, and run after her cheeping furiously. It is all rather nerve wracking. She started with about 10, and is now down to five...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Filming for TV

On Friday, despite the terrible weather, the man for ITV News North East (aka Tyne Tees) came to the house to do a feature. The piece will last about three minutes and he was here for about three hours!
It was at times nerve wracking, exhilerating and throughly exciting. The producer was fantastic to work with. Very professional. Very calm and easy going. Even the sun room springing several leaks failed to phase him -- although he did gently suggest that we do the readings elsewhere.
He did have to remind me that it was not a cookery programme and so not to speak while I did my Roman cooking demo. This was very difficult.
I also managed to do drop spinning without sending the spindle bouncing across the kitchen floor. I was impressed as every time I had pracised it that morning, the thread broke.
I also did two readings of The Roman's Virgin Mistress. Fingers crossed that it went okay. He is doing the editting of the piece next week and it should go out at the back end of the week. I am hoping to video it -- although I shall probably watch behind the sofa, cringing.
After it was done, I discovered I was brain dead and so did not get as much done on my wip as I would like. I am now however in the editting phase and will get the ms to my editors this week -- although not Monday as I had orginally planned. This is my favourite part of writing, truly.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Janet MacLeod Trotter's Book Launch

Yesterday evening, my daughter, Anna Lucia and I braved the wet North East weather and went to Janet MacLeod Trotter's book launch for A Handful of Stars.

Jan's book is set in 1931 Newcastle and looks at fascism in the North East. She wrote the book because she felt compelled to. She wanted to explore the problems and to show that on the eve of World War II, life was not so simple. People were not universally opposed to Hitler -- something that Jan once argued with her agent about. There would have been Quislings in Britain's midst just as there were in Norway's. As dreadful and awful as that may seem to us now.

Her book follows the trials and tribulations of Clara Magee as she battles poverty, her family and eventually finds true happiness.

Jan as ever has crafted a fine novel and one that creates an authentic Newcastle. She is a worthy heir to Catherine Cookson.

The book launch was very well attended. Not a spare seat and the books appeared to be selling very briskly after the short speech and the readings.

there was also a chance for a quick gossip with some of the other RNA Northumberland writers. Jen Black had just returned and so did not have much to add on the Triskelion situation. the best place to read about it is Dear Author or Smart Bitches. It does go to show that the world of publishing is never dull.

A good time was had by all.

My TV interview thing has been postponed until tomorrow -- so hopefully the rain will have stopped. My wip continues and I can see the end. Always a good sign.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Kate Walker's party

I am back from Kate Walker's party. Lots of photos were taken, BUT I left my camera in the hotel room as my dd thought it would be best. Kate Walker has plenty of photos as will Kate Hardy. Kate Hardy did send me photos but the transfer failed. Or rather this is my excuse. Natasha Oakley will be delighted to know this as I was excused of pointing out her photo at the Savoy was on Fiona Harper's blog...
Lincoln was lovely. The trip down -- easy except for the congestion around York. This was to the World Nude Biking Riding championships. There were no nude riders on the A1 however. And I suspect that the watchers of the race had much more fun than the people stuck in the congestion...
We arrived at the White Hart Hotel, and a truly fabulous place it was too. The staff were excellent and totally exceeded my expectations.
My dd and I dumped bags and then headed for Ye Olde Tea Rooms where we met Anna Lucia and Julie Cohen. After a quick bite to eat, we did the Lincoln Cathedral area things. I knew about Steep Hill from ages past and did not bother going down to the shops.
Later I discovered the evidence that many of our party did not know about the Steep Hill as bodies were strewn around the lounge, waiting for restorative cups of tea.
Trish Wylie has a new admirer in the form of my dd. they talked horses while my dd tucked into one of the largest afternoon teas for one that I have ever seen.
The dinner was fabulous. There was a wonderful atmosphere and Kate Hardy was busy behind the scenes making sure no last minute glitiches happened to our special surprises for Kate Walker. It was very glam as editors, authors, journalists and Kate's other guests mingled. The editor I share with Kate W was looking partcularly fabulous.
After the poetry readings, Kate Walker made a lovely speech and in her very generous way, she honoured people who had been helpful to her as well as writers who she had helped in the early stages of their career when she served as coordinator for the RNA conference virgins. I was particularly delighted to see Anna Lucia receive a heart from Kate.
Then the Big Surprise from the authors and Kate Walker was totally stunned at the gifts. 50 yellow roses were among them.
My dd swore that I was a Late Night Party Duck as she was relieved from babysitting duties until gone midnight. I understand others were even later as the authors were doing what they tend to do -- talk!
Kate Walker's 50th book is fantastic. My dd read it all on Sunday morning as I slept.
In other news: my wip goes along. It is due next week.
And I should be being interviewed for a tv news features tomorrow -- so my glam author's life continues. More about that later.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

ROME tv series

I saw on the BBC last night that the new series of ROME starts on the BBC on 20 June. This is utterly fantastic news as I understand that the second series is even better than the first. And of course TheRoman's Virgin Mistress is out in the shops in the UK at the beginning of July.
In case anyone is wondering, my senior editor has no connection with the BBC and my book was scheduled over a year ago. However, scheduling is a black art akin to witch craft. But I hope it means a very good serendipity for me.
For me, it is always interesting to see how they handled the time period and where they put the emphasis. There are so many ways of looking at a time period, that the only thing one can hope is that it rings true to your reader.

Off to the party

My very dear friend, Kate Walker has her 50th book out. this is an amazing achievement. Kate is not only having a lovely blog party on her blog where you can win many different books. Each blogger has contributed her own special something to the party. I am not sure when my blog will be up. But she is also having a real party which I have been invited to.
So it is down to Lincoln to raise a glass in her honour.
She has been an inspiration. I am taking my camera and will report back about the glam. Apparently the hotel are very excited at having all these authors staying there.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

On being a squiggle

After seeing this on Sela's blog, and Kate Hardy's blog, I thought I would take the test. I thought I would end up as triangle. Or possibly a square, but no I ended up as a squiggle. And green. How did this happen?

The results suggest you are a Green Squiggle.Squiggles are creative, witty and impulsive. Squiggles are quite eccentric, do not thrive on routine and are very quickly bored. You are spontaneous and fun, always looking to the future.Squiggles are extremely extrovert and love new people and new experiences. You are intuitive and popular in social situations and can normally be relied upon to bring a party to life. Your extreme right-brained approach means you always need new challenges which can be both exciting and exhausting for those around you. This also means you are not always very predictable or dependable.In work, squiggles thrive on change and new situations. However, you have been known to drive colleagues crazy – you are easily distracted and need to learn to focus on tasks and see them through to their conclusion. On the other hand, your inquisitive nature and propensity to ask “Why?” can generate new and exciting big ideas and stimulate debate.Don’t give up on the big ideas and the dreams, but don’t be surprised if those around you simply can’t keep up with you.Your colour is green, which gives a degree of pragmatism. Green symbolises people who are forward-looking and determined to make progress. It reflects a very positive side to your personality that is really attractive to other people, and helps to put them quickly at their ease, and takes the edge off your rather impulsive nature. On a personal level, you look after yourself well and your positive outlook means you try to make the most of things even when you are not feeling great.Celebrity squiggles include Jonathan and Jane Ross, Russell Brand, Chris Moyles, Ozzy Osbourne and Elton John.

I am not sure how true this is. I do like routine. I just keep changing my routine. And I do see things through to the end. And I adore the past.

TD is coming along nicely and I am really enjoying it. I shall enjoy it much more when I have finished the first draft and even more still when I have my editors' thoughts.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Editorial lunch

Yesterday was for the most part lovely.

I flew down to London and the flight was painless, the underground relatively straight forward and then I went to the HM&B offices -- getting slightly lost only once.

The receptionist was v kind and asked if I was one of their authors. I duly explained and she asked if I had written the Gladiator one which she apparently liked very much. As I was basking in the warm glow, my editor appeared.

My editor now looks slim and goregous. Most of the office was out on reading days but I did get to see my senior editor who also looked her lovely self.

I got to meet my new editor. At the moment, I have two editors but the current plan is to move me over to Lydia sometime in the next year. Lydia is lovely and it is good to have afresh pair of eyes looking at my work. Equally it gives my current editor a chance to concentrate on her growing stable of authors.
Anyway, Lydia impressed with her knowledge and love of romance books. So I am a very lucky person. having gone through revisons with her and my current editor, I think they both have very good editorial eyes and I like working with both of them.

I have been offered a four book contract.YAY! VC is accepted and everything is to be determined. The next three of my current one, and a duo to be set in the Northeast during the 1820s. I am very much looking forward to doing the duo as it will be a challenge. Then I think the option books are two more Vikings.

My journey home was less straight forward -- wrong turns, stretching security queues, and finally when the plane arived back in Newcastle, being stuck in Arrivals as the door wouldn't open and the fire doors were all locked. Dangerous anyone? Claustrophobic anyone? According to fellow passengers that it is often happens with that flight.

My copies of Taken by the Viking arrived today and cover is even more yummy in the flesh as it were. I have been very lucky with the cover fairy.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Time for glamour

Tomorrow I get to go down to London to lunch with myeditors. Actually I am rather nervous about this, but also tremendoulsy excited. I had a great time last year and it is fantastic to speak to them. I get to meet my new editor -- Lydia Mason for the first time. I am currently back on two editors.

Then on Saturday, the real glamour happens -- Kate Walker is having a 50th book party. I get to go and the evening is going to be studded with HM&B stars -- all coming out to honour on very Big Star indeed. It should be tremendous fun. I shall be reporting case anyone is interested. It is the sort of thing that I used to think authors always went to. Kate is also having a blog party and has lots of giveways and prizes to be won. I have done a blog for her and am giving away a copy of Sold and Seduced and The Antonakos Marriage as that was Kate's book that gave me the idea. Today's blog giveaway is from my critque partner --Donna Alward and is her two Windover ranch books. Marriage at Circle M made me pull out my hankie when I read the draft and as well as when I

And finally on 13 June I am going to a book launch for my friend Janet MacLeod Trotter as her book Handful of Stars -- a saga about 1930's Tyneside is being published by Headline. Jan writes very much in the vein of Catherine Cookson and is a thoroughly lovely person. that evening should also be populated by authors. And I will try to do a report for that one.

Somewhere in and amongst this glamour, I shall be finishing my book. It is going well -- I think. I hope. Anyway, I like it.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Contest for The Roman's Virgin Mistress

My latest newsletter has gone out. A bit late but I hope everyone will forgive me.
The contest is for a hardback copy of The Roman's Virgin Mistress. The second prize is for one of my backlist books.
The question that needs answering is:
What are the names of the hero and heroine of The Roman's Virgin Mistress?
Please email me with TRVM contest in the title. I will be drawing the winner on 18 June.
Please note that if you enter and do not belong to my newsletter, I will send you an invitation to join. In addition to info about my upcoming books, my newsletters has writing tips, facts about my research, and recipes.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Roman's Virgin Mistress on sale

The Roman's Virgin Mistress is a July release in both the UK and the North American markets. This means it goes on sale on Mills and and e-harlequin today, a full month before it appears in the shops.

It is also available as an E-Book. All Harlequin Historicals are in the e-book format, so if you want to read it that fashion -- you now have the option. The e-books are published in the three most popular formats.

I know I need to send out my latest newsletter which will have details of my contest and how you can win a Hardback copy of The Roman's Virgin Mistress. It should be going out today or tomorrow.