Monday, January 23, 2006


I’ve been tagged by both Ally Blake and Trish Wylie to play Sevens. Never loathe to take up a challenge, here are my lists:

7 things I cannot do:

1 Sit in the sun
2 Eat offal
3 Iron without listening to the radio (preferably “The Archers” omnibus)
4 Sing
5 Make pastry
6 Write fast enough
7 Get excited about housework

7 things to do before I die:

1 See Naples…
2 Take a flight in a hot air balloon
3 Learn to tap dance
4 Plant a wood (not a little one, I’m already working on that, but acres of native, deciduous trees)
5 Visit India
6 Write a classy thriller
7 Give up chocolate (but only about five minutes before I die…)

7 things that attract me to men:

1 A slow, sexy smile (Harrison Ford does one that is just about perfect)
2 That he can work with his hands as well as his brain
3 A sense of humour
4 Integrity
5 Kindness
6 Patience
7 The fact that he’s always pleased to see me walk through the door

7 things I say most often:

1 Hi, sweetheart
2 What do want for dinner?
3 Excellent!
4 Turn that down! (Can someone please tell me why TV adverts are always twice the volume of the programmes – don’t the idiots know that the first thing you do when your eardrums are blasted is reach for the remote and hit “mute”?)
5 What ... now?
6 I must have those shoes.
7 Oh, I shouldn’t …

7 books or series that I love:

1 This Heart of Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
2 Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
3 The “Burglar” books by Lawrence Block
4 Sophie’s Bakery for the Broken Hearted by Lolly Winston
5 Anything by Katie Fforde, Dick Francis or Anne Tyler
6 The “Phryne Fisher” books by Kerry Greenwood (I’d buy them just for the wonderful Art Deco covers)
7 Venetia by Georgette Heyer

7 movies I can watch over and over:

1 Master and Commander
2 It Happened One Night
3 Ghost (well the potter’s wheel scene, anyway)
4 The Princess Bride
5 Anything with Jeremy Northam
6 Don Juan di Marco with Johnny Depp (okay, anything with Johnny Depp)
7 While You Were Sleeping

And I tag our newest Tender author Fiona Harper

Saturday, January 14, 2006


As I get older, I find I get more and more like the car; like the Ford I need regular maintenance. I’ve just had my six monthly check up on the eye, after surgery to ease the pressure when I suffered an attack of acute glaucoma a couple of years ago. (Everything is fine, thank you.)

My eye specialist, Dylan Jones, is a fellow author. Advised to try golf as a winding-down exercise, he found it boring, so instead of wielding a mashy niblick on his days off, he writes gruesome thrillers that have been adapted for television, instead.

We once shared the stage at the Llanelli Writer’s Group. He told them proper writerly things, such as “…never change viewpoint in mid-scene…” –- oh, dear failed that one then. With nothing that sensible to offer, I addressed the oft-asked question, “How did you start writing?” with a show-and-tel, holding up early published efforts such as “Nurse Nancy” and “Tessa’s Toybox” in D C Thomson’s “Twinkle” – a picture paper for little girls. (Believe me, telling a story in five sentences teaches you a lot about writing tight!). There were also the predictable magazine pieces of the personal experience type; how to make Christmas tree decorations; giving birth in a foreign country...

I'd also taken along the pile of complete manuscripts I’d submitted to Mills & Boon (who knew about "proposals", or submitting the first three chapters back then?) along with the rejection letters that had swiftly followed.

The most important lesson I had to offer was the value of perseverance.


Last Saturday, novelist Louise Doughty started a series of articles in the Daily Telegraph called A novel in a year. She had so many eminently sensible things to say about writing; I particularly liked: --

“…we all have something to learn. Even Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood still have something to learn, and the reason they are great writers is because they know it, and work incredibly hard on each and every book.”

Just over half way through the wip, I can assure her that they are not alone.

Louise invited would be novelists to take up a pen and notebook and write one sentence, beginning with the words, “The day after my eight birthday, my father told me…” You have a few more days to post your effort on the Telegraph website.

This week she incites would-be writers to read contemporary authors, suggesting that you can learn just as much by learning from bad writing, as good. Bearing in mind that authors are a product of their time her watchword is “contemporary”; she believes firmly that reading Hilary Mantel or Graham Swift would be more useful to the novice than, say George Eliot or Leo Tolstoy.

That pre-supposes that you want to write literary fiction of course. If you want to write popular fiction, become a bestseller, you might be better employed reading Katie Fforde or Tess Gerritson or Val McDermid. The reason I’ve given you two blood and gore thriller writers to one romance writer is because it seems to me that the amount of books you sell is in direct proportion to the amount of blood spilt.


It's time to vote for your favorite romance novels of 2005 at the Cata Network. Any romance from 2005 can be nominated at each of three sites.

For your favorite Single Title romance (and subgenres including chick lit, novel with romantic elements, and women's fiction) visit

For your favorite romance ebook (and subgenres) visit

For your favorite series romance, ie, Tender, Harlequin Romance, Harlequin Presents, etc, visit


The Romantic Novelists' Association is having a vote on their website: Which heroine would you most like to slap?

It's also a contest to win tickets for the 2006 FosterGrant Romantic Novel of the Year award ceremony at the Savoy, so click on the link and take your pick.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Say hello to the Dancing Pink Heart, emblem of the Pink Heart Club founded by my colleague Trish Wiley. I haven't quite got the hang of getting the little chap dancing, but I'll get there. Thanks Trish!