Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Moving Chronicles VI

It's the last day before the packers arrive to put everything in boxes. The fridge/freezer went to a new home today. The washing machine has spun it's last cycle for me - we've been together for about 15 years. I'd like to say that I'll miss it, but actually I'm looking forward to a modern, energy efficient, quiet machine that doesn't dance across the floor when it spins.

I took the last load to the charity shop - well, hardly a load. It was the dh's jacket - worn once or twice, but he's lost weight and hopefully will never need anything that big again. I found it hanging behind the spare bedroom door yesterday.

And then there's the bag of the dd's soft toys. A whole bin bag full. Her husband said he'd divorce her if she took any more back to their house. I opened it, thinking I'd sort through them and... And the soft white bunny with the floppy ear was on top. The bag is coming with us.

Tomorrow is going to be difficult. I'm going to be in the way, I suspect. And I have one last painful duty before we leave.
I won't be able to take flowers to my parents little marker in the churchyard again, so I'm going to dig up some violets from the garden and plant them around the back of the stone.

It will take a year or two for them to establish, but I know from my own garden that in they'll soon spread and their lovely heart-shaped leaves and sweet flowers will be there every spring.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WRITING CONTEST

Do you dream of being a published romance author? If so, Harlequin and Mills & Boon has a great opportunity for you —  the  So You Think You Can Write online writing event and contest is back for the third year, and this time it’s bigger and better than ever!

This year’s So You Think You Can Write event is going worldwide.

Editorial offices in Toronto, New York, the UK and even Australia will be joining forces for the week-long virtual conference in September and writing contest where one lucky winner will get their series romance published! Readers can also get involved by voting for their favorite entries in the contest.

For more details about the event — including the official press release and some tips from  editors if you want to get started on your submission — can be found at soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com.


More updates and fun stuff will be posted in the coming months, too, and follow SYTYCW on Twitter at @sytycwglobal and with hashtag #sytycw2012, or on the new Facebook page for up-to-the-minute news.

This might just be the moment to  upload Liz Fielding's Little Book of Writing Romance from Amazon US, Amazon UK, for your Nook, or your Kobo!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Summer Giveaway!


A copy of my ebook edition of Eloping With Emmy is up for grabs during the SummerRomance Festival running from 25th June to 31st July.

There are two hundred books on offer so do join in the fun. And to keep up with the news of the Festival follow @Freado on twitter.



I'm also in the Spotlight over at Harlequin Romance Junkie today talking about beginnings and that sometimes your characters will tell you that where you think a story begins is way off beam.
Everyone who leaves a comment will go into the "Rafflecopter" for a copy of The Last Woman He'd Ever Date!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

New arrival!

Introducing Veda Mae...



... who looks exactly like her big sister, Cora Rose.


Which means she's going to grow up like this!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sophie Rodger

As details of this years Mills and Boon New Voices competition begin to emerge, this is a great moment to introduce a writer who has used the competition as a stepping stone to publish her novella. Welcome, Sophie Rodger!

* * *

Firstly, thank you very much to Liz for hosting my novelette on her blog. I am very honoured as I have been a fan of her books for years! So, without further ado- onto my novelette.

‘Yesterday and Forever is my first novelette that I self-published just because I wanted to see if anyone would like my style. More an experiment than anything else.

I started with the characters first which is unusual for me as I am more a storyline starter. Originally, Cassandra, my heroine was a secondary character in a story I submitted for the 2011 Mills and Boon's New Voices competition. It didn’t get through but rather than get upset, I decided to give it another go. When revising the MS, for some reason I found I was more curious about Cass’s story than my main hero and heroine and felt it had to be told. Luckily for me, as she was already a character somewhere else, I already had her STATs and her line of work. From there it was pretty easy to let a story grow around her.

As it was my first, I used that old adage that you hear from most writers which is write about what you know. Despite currently being a teacher, I used to work in offices in London, hence the descriptions of London and I did go to University, hence the University setting. As I had already decided it was going to be quite a short story (full time job time limitations) I knew I couldn’t start their adult relationship from scratch so they had to have met at university.

It was a challenge trying to figure out how to show the development of their relationship without the day-to-day descriptions so I settled with showing the start and then 3 years later at graduation. It was fun for me to show the growth of the characters from when they were 18 and 21 to 10 years later when they are 31. How despite the 10 years and being professionals in their careers they still reverted back to their younger selves when they saw each other again.

Here is one of my favourite scenes, when Cass first discovers whose office she has walked into...

She approached the desk. No silly flowers here though as she eyed the tall, thin vase of yellow roses. The blooms seemed to be drawing her closer to them, their scent wrapping itself around her senses.


“They're lovely aren’t they.”


Stopping abruptly, Cass realised she had been walking straight towards the vase and past the receptionist behind the desk. “Yes they are”, she murmured, dragging her eyes away from the flowers back to the receptionist. “I’m Cassandra Regence, from CC’s Bakery. This is the retirement cake that was ordered.” She placed the cake carefully on the counter as she unclipped the small electronic signature machine.


“They are ‘Midas Touch’ Roses. Very exquisite”, the receptionist continued as she scribbled her signature on the small machine.


“Midas Touch?” Cassandra repeated breathlessly.


The receptionist looked at her closely. “Yes they are. Mr Drake insists on having them fresh every week. I say, are you feeling okay? You’ve gone a little pale dear.”


Cassandra smiled shakily as memories, too painful even now, threatened to surface. “No, I’m fine. You said Drake. I thought this was ‘Moringdon Asset Management?” she queried, her eyes jumping from the face of the receptionist to the bright yellow roses.


“It is. Mr. Drake’s company owns this. It was a very recent takeover,” she explained, still peering at Cass as though she expected her to faint any second.


Cass noded. The air around her seemed suddenly stifling. She pocketed the machine and turned quickly to leave.


“I’m sorry to ask this”, Cass heard the receptionist call after her, “Especially as you don’t look like you’re feeling well, but the person due to set up the cake has had to run an errand. Would it be a bother to do it? The stand is in there and everything.”

Counting to ten and plastering a helpful smile on her face, Cass turned around. “No, no bother. Where shall I put them?”

She was lead down a short, tan hallway. The plush, beige carpet was bouncy beneath her feet. Expensive paintings were liberally mixed with certificates and press cuttings. All reflecting the face of the one man she never thought she’d see again. 

“Here we are.”

The receptionist pushed open a wide mahogany door and Cass let out a low whistle. The room was covered head to toe in balloons, banners, presents and flowers of all shapes and sizes. In the middle was a large, glass oval table covered in food and in the middle sat a tall glass cake stand. 

“Will this even be enough?’ Cass mused aloud, looking down at the cake.

“Well, that was the order,” the receptionist replied, smiling pleasantly before closing the door.

Cass walked slowly over to the cake stand. The bill for cleaning any of these carpets should a cake fall would probably be a months wages! Unpacking the cake gently, she looked up, her gaze falling over a long, framed photograph in the middle of the wall. The face of the man in that photo still held traces of the boy that she knew. Except now the coffee brown eyes of Luca Drake were harder, the smile tighter, as the hands held a ‘Businessman of the Year’ award.

She couldn’t look away.

The memories from that September day came flooding back as if they had happened yesterday and not 10 years ago.

I hope you enjoy reading my story as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Monday, June 18, 2012

She's arrived...


Our new baby granddaughter arrived on Sunday, 17th June, weighing in at 7lb12 ozs. Both Mum and baby are doing well. Daddy is ecstatic. The Aged Grandparent and Mamgu are grinning fit to bus.

Like her mother, she's a Sunday's child, which is special. She arrived on Father's Day and her great-grandparent's Diamond Wedding Anniversary (her Dad's grandparents). A young lady with a spectacular sense of timing.

Stand by for pictures and a name!

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Moving Chronicles V

The moving is … moving.

This week two burly men arrived and carried away furniture that won’t fit in the new house. A sofa, armchairs, a table. They took a carved teak chest that was made for us over forty years ago and we have carried around the world. It’s always had pride of place in the entrance of our home, wherever we’ve lived. Sadly, our new house doesn’t have a hall large enough for it and people. It’s time for someone else to polish the wonderful carving.

They also took an oak rocking cradle, a copy of the one at Monticello, that the best beloved made for me as a “project” when he was producing fine furniture as a hobby. It’s lovely, but heavy and takes up a lot of room. It’s time for someone else to cherish it, either as a decorative piece or to put it to the use for which it was intended. I’ll still have the beautiful Shaker sewing table, he made for me and the Arts and Crafts table and bookshelves.

I’ll really miss the sofa. I bought it in a sale and it was a true bargain. The covers come off and wash and it still looks like new. I’ve curled up on it with a book (the Kindle now!), stretched out on it to watch the television, fallen asleep on it after a hard day at the typeface. I know whoever buys it will be glad they did. (

There are big gaps now in some of the rooms.

It’s a little sad, but it’s exciting too. Moving day is getting closer.


PS As you’ll know, Mills and Boon have put the Riva series on hold over the summer while they redesign the covers.

Books have still been produced for the Mills and Boon Bookclub, and the export market (and they’re in the libraries, too), and a spare copies have been made available on Amazon.

If you’re missing your fix, you can find The Last Woman He’d Ever Date - but only on paper. I have no information when it will be available in retail or eBook format, but do watch out for news of the relaunch this autumn.

The book will be available in the US in July. (Or if you're in a rush, it's on sale on the Harlequin website now!)

Saturday, June 09, 2012

LOVE MY JOB

It's my pleasure to welcome fellow member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, Sue Moorcroft as my guest today.

Sue has written a handful of novels, including All That Mullarkey, at present on my Kindle tbr list. She is also a creative writing tutor and has written Love Writing, everything you need to know about writing romantic and erotic fiction (perfect for anyone with ambitions to follow 50 Shades of Grey into the bestseller charts, and is head judge for Writers' Forum Fiction Competitions. 


Here's Sue to tell you about her writing life:

Many readers are convinced that being a writer is fun.

And I think it is, too.

OK, I do spend most of my time sweating over my books, creating characters and plotting their lives, giving them conflicting goals, hurling them together, wrenching them apart. I polish, I research, I write blogs, Twitter and Facebook posts, I e-mail and do my accounts. I wear shapeless jeans and faded fleeces. Not all of this is fun.


But also ... I go to parties. Conferences. Meetings. I go onto radio shows, and journalists and bloggers interview me. Sometimes, I have my photo taken. (A double-edged sword - I like being made to feel like a star, but often I discover that the photographer hasn't quite got the idea of outrageous flattery.)

Recently, I went to the Romantic Novelists' Association's Summer Party, in the Royal Over-Seas League in London.

A party is a networking opportunity. It allows me to meet my publisher and the publisher's publicist, catch up on news from industry professionals, and, this time, to thank a friend who helped me with the research for my next book, Dream a Little Dream , by taking him as my guest. It meant champagne and canap├ęs and applauding madly when fellow Choc Lit writers took both the New Writers' Award and the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. (A bit difficult to clap with a drink in each hand, but I whooped, hollered and whistled.) The next day, I joined the Choc Lit team for pizza and fizz. One has to refill the creative well and writerly lunches feed the inner woman at the same time as feeding the physical one.

Research means more fun.

I set Love and Freedom in Brighton, on the south coast of England, and in Connecticut, America. Happily, my son lives in Brighton and my brother lives in Connecticut. My son walked all my heroine Honor's walks and rode her bus rides with me (he was hungover so I decided the roller coaster was a bad idea).

Like Honor and hero Martyn Mayfair, I spent hours on the Undercliff Walk between Rottingdean and Eastingdean (don’t look for the latter on a map but it exists in my head). I took hundreds of photos. I made notes on my phone’s voice recorder, because nobody thinks you're mad if you talk into a phone, even about imaginary people.

In Connecticut, my brother and sister-in-law drove me around the state so that I could chat to people and take photos and ride trains and boats and think and plot …

I think that’s fun. Don’t you?

Sue Moorcroft writes about dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes and her book Love and Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011. 

Find out more about Sue and her books on her website, friend her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @suemoorcroft

Sunday, June 03, 2012

SAVING GERDA


Today, it's my enormous pleasure to welcome Lilian Darcy to my blog. A few weeks ago, Lilian asked me to read her new mainstream title, Saving Gerda. This book is completely outside my usual reading range when I'm working on a book of my own. I usually go for crime, for humour and pre-Germany was not going to be a laugh a minute.

Lilian is a fabulous writer, so I began and was immediately drawn in, captivated by the her brilliant writing, her ability to take me to a place and time completely alien to both of us. Held by a story of two families at opposite ends of the social spectrum unfolding before me. I carried my Kindle with me everywhere, reading snatches in odd moments. Read in the bath. Didn't stop. Finished it in tears. Wish I had it still to read.

Here's Lilian to tell a little about her research.

Liz, in one of your emails to me about Saving Gerda, you asked, "How on earth do you know all that stuff?" and the facetious answer to this is just the writer's R word - Research - but of course it wasn't that easy... or that dry and boring... and I'd like to pull apart the process of it a little more, because I think it's one of the most challenging and yet satisfying things about going outside your comfort zone with the setting of a novel. I'm hoping this will be interesting to readers and other writers alike.
 
I had no easy ticket into this book, and the old writing adage, "Write what you know," did not remotely apply. Saving Gerda is set before I was born, in a country I've never been to, amongst people with whom I don't share a cultural background. Having grown up (so to speak) as a writer through writing Medical Romance without having any kind of personal background in medicine, however, I'd come to believe that, "Write what you know," has to count as one of the worst pieces of advice ever given to writers. My counter to it when teaching or talking to other writers is always, "You know way more than you think." And the R word has many different facets, too.
 
People are people. Wherever and whenever we live, we live and love in much the same way on an emotional level. We're brave or reckless or angry or giddily happy about different things, but the feelings are the same. All that research of character and behaviour and heart - the emotional research - writers can do everywhere and anywhere, every day of the week.
 
The factual research about the time period and setting for the book was more daunting. It's so important not to end up with dry background paragraphs that aren't really a seamless part of the story, and from the powerful emotional reactions people have had to Saving Gerda I think I've avoided that trap. The facts about dates and events have to work their way into the texture of the book, and in this I think my chaotic process helped rather than hindered. I just read and read and read. I took scattered notes, but not detailed ones, and certainly didn't organise them very efficiently. I learned by repetition, and when something stuck in my head it seemed like a signal that it was going to be important. I think if I'd tried to be more organised in the way I researched the book, it wouldn't have worked as well, because writers always need those chance discoveries. Very often, you don't know what you're looking for until you find it.
 
There's a third kind of research which I think of as "atmospheric," and I had to do so much of this that things became internalized almost like my own memories. I looked at so many photos, on a level of detail that was totally new for me. I read book after book of personal memoirs of the period. Some of them were self-published and not of the kind of quality that would have given them success with a traditional publisher, but in this case it didn't matter. Rambling memories, incredibly precious to the writer of the book, gave so much sensory detail on things like doing laundry in a pre-War Berlin apartment building or going out at night to a high society function.
 
You'll laugh - EBay was great, too! Sales of antique buttons and dolls and sewing machines and pencil sets... I pored over the pictures until I developed a strong emotional response to some of these objects. Sophie's dislike of her mother's sewing machine, the elaborate patterns on the metal buttons of Christian's winter coat when he was a toddler, Gerda's entrancement with the treasures in the family attics at her grandparents' richly endowed country house, all of these things came from just feeling my way into pictures found on the internet.
 
With all this wealth of pictures and memories and wandering Google searches, the research became so much fun and so enriching to the characters and story that I'm looking for an excuse to do it again with another book.
 
SAVING GERDA is now available here.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

JUBILEE!

Those of us of a certain age will always remember where we were on this day in 1953. Sitting around a newly purchased television (or someone else's) watching the Coronation in grainy black and white.

No adverts, only the calm voice of Richard Dimbleby quietly, reverently commentating on the event - explaining who all those people were, what was happening.

It was an unforgettable experience. And I still have my souvenir book of the day, filled with highly coloured pictures.

It was raining and one of the most memorable sights was Queen Salote of Tonga sitting in an open carriage, refusing to give in to the weather.

And after it was over it was out into the street for the party.

It might have  been raining in London, but we had sun.

Everything was decorated with red, white and blue bunting.  Trestle tables along the entire length of the street, everyone contributing food, bringing out their chairs. (This wasn't our, but it was just like that!)

We had a fancy dress competition (someone leaned in front of me just as this picture was taken, but that's my Dad in the background!)

It was hailed as the New Elizabethan Age, but this Queen Elizabeth hasn't had to don armour and rouse her troops. While she's had to weather some bumpy weather she's been a steady hand on the tiller, a quiet figurehead, rather than a warrior queen.

While politicians have come and gone, HM is in the remarkable postion of having met everyone, of carrying the secrets of an entire age that has ranged, in her lifetime from a world in which most people travelled on public transport and by ship if they went overseas, to moon landings. From a Cold War to Glasnost. From radio broadcasts - that memorable broadcast when, as a young woman, Princess Elizabeth dedicated herself to the nation - to twitter.

There have been ups and downs, moments when it could have all gone pear-shaped, and I know that this isn't a bright and shiny world for everyone. But today is a rare occasion - only the second Diamond Jubilee in our history - and it's a day for fun, for remembering who we were and who we are, but most of all for rejoicing.




HAPPY DIAMOND JUBILEE MA'AM!




Friday, June 01, 2012

Translation, translation, translation...

It's always fun to see a new translation of one of my books.

In this case it's two - Tempted By Trouble and Flirting With Italian have now been released in Dutch This is always a special treat because I love, love, love their covers.