Lilian Darcy has now picked the winner of last week's competition, Carol from New Jersey, and her prize is whizzing on it's way across the Pacific even as I write. Many thanks to everyone who made her so welcome last week and a huge thanks to Lilian for being such a star!
I can't believe so many fabulous writers have taken time out of their busy lives, suspending the rush towards tight deadlines, to help me have so much fun this year. Already the line up has been stellar, but I cannot tell you what pleasure it gives me to welcome my next guest.
Jenny Haddon -- who has also written more than forty wonderful romances for Harlequin Mills & Boon as Sophie Weston -- knows more about books, authors, writing, than just about anyone I know. Add to that her generosity, her hospitality, her organisational ability (she was Chairperson of the Romantic Novelists' Association) and the sheer fun of being in her company (just think of impetuous trips to the Ritz for tea) and you begin to get a flavour of this extraordinary woman.
Happy Golden Anniversary, dear, dear Liz, and thank you so much for inviting me to celebrate your half century. Imagine me jumping about and clapping the flippers here. Here’s to the next 50.
I’ve always gobbled up books and I enjoy a lot of skilful and stimulating writers - in category romance and other genres too. But finding a writer you really love is rare. Actually, I think it’s chemistry. You need all the left brain stuff to be satisfied but it’s that right brain instinctive non-analytical stuff that says, ‘This one’s for me’. So it’s rather like a coup de foudre or knowing when you’ve come home. And that’s exactly what I felt when I read my first Liz Fielding.
Her books are total joy for me – except for one single, teeny tiny hiccup. Recently I was writing a book whose heroine was Gabriella. Yes, that’s right, Gabriella. As in The Secret life of Lady Gabriella. (Great minds, and all that . . . ) I bought Liz’s book – and laughed and sighed and beamed my way through it. And thought, ‘No problem. Lots of people have the same names. My book will come out ages after Liz’s. Everyone will have forgotten.’ Except – I didn’t forget. I had a Gabriella in my head now. I knew her. I loved her. And she wasn’t my heroine. It would be like trying to call one of my own heroes Hamlet.
Actually, Hamlet might be easier, come to think of it. Hamlet Twistleton Twerp would surely be a guy with his Life Issues all bright and shining before the novel began, justified resentment of his parents among them. As another of my favourite authors would say, ‘By Jove, Jeeves, rum work done at the font.’
So there followed a short hiatus for rechristening of my heroine. Of course, that meant that I had to think again about the overall landscape of names in the wip. All I can say is, thank God for Search and Replace.
Anyway, my Not Gabriella has now recovered and is just dancing her way through to the end of her book. It is a new venture for me, longer than category, and bulging with minor characters, including a ramshackle stately home. Can’t wait to see what other people think of NG and her mates.
Another new venture for me has been writing GETTING THE POINT, a guide to punctuation, with fellow novelist Elizabeth Hawksley. We set out to help people who regularly asked us for help – authors, readers, colleagues, godchildren, the man who came to read the meter, saw my laptop on the dining room table and sat down for a chat on the apostrophe . . . But we ended up giggling like lunatics over the exploits of the characters in our examples. Casanova gives advice on curing spots; aspiring writer, Belinda Bubblewit tries her hand at Diana in the Dessert; the dragon authoress of Egg-Laying is a Feminist Issue goes head to head with the patriarchy. The book was fascinating to research and a blast to write – and now that it’s done, I can use it to check my own punctuation. A real bonus, that!
But, as we say in GETTING THE POINT, the best way of learning to write good style is reading good writers. Which is yet another great reason for hoping that Liz Fielding will spit on her hands and get writing the next 50.
Many congratulations, Liz. Party on!
Oh, Jenny, I’m so sorry about your Gabriella’s forced name change, but I can’t wait to read her, whatever you’ve called her. It’s been too long since the last Sophie Weston. And I’m sure I’m not going to be alone in rushing to Amazon to buy Getting the Point just for the joy of reading all about Bubblewit’s trouble with spelling and getting to know the dragon authoress of Egg-Laying is a Feminist Issue. Punctuation as fun. Brilliant.
But before I do that I have to tell everyone about the very generous prize you’ve offered. A set of the Sophie Weston cousins trilogy: The Independent Bride/ The Accidental Mistress/The Duke's Proposal.
Here's the bit where you have to do the work if you want a chance to win. Here's Jenny's challenge:
Which hero or heroine has the most unforgettable name for you? (Lady Gabriella doesn't count because, as you will know, it's more of a nom de plume!)
I think we’ll do this one on the comments page, Jenny, so that we can all enjoy the answers. Tell us your unforgettables and Jenny will pick a winner after the weekend and, in the meantime if, like me, you can't wait to check out Belinda Bubblewit, you'll find her here at Amazon, UK