Monday, 19 December 2011

Getting in the mood...

For some reason Christmas seems to have taken me by surprise this year - no Christmas cards written yet, presents not organised...But on Saturday I had a trip to London and the combination of the lights in Sloane Square, a couple of hundred Skating Santas (yes, you DID read that right) and an early Christmas present of the loveliest boots I've ever owned has got me in the mood.

If anyone is looking for a Christmas read I've been listening to The Jewels of Manhattan and can thoroughly recommend it. It's the kind of book that makes you itch to write and I'm hoping the fact I'm going away for a week somewhere I'll be looked after means I'll be writing again soon.

All I want for Christmas is to finish my book... Although I have to say the boots were rather nice too ;-)

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Down a rabbit hole and being Kwirky

I've been a little quiet lately because the house moves wiped me out. Well that and a few unfortunate accidents involving a lamp plug that left a hole in my best jeans and, ahem, in my nether regions, several packing boxes lurking and deliberately tripping me up and a fall down a rabbit hole that has left me needing to use a walking stick. Really, those damn rabbits should remember to close their front doors ;-)
I've also been busy getting my craft stuff ready to sell at some upcoming Christmas markets but once that's all done intend to get down to some serious writing again.
These are some of the things I'm taking to the events. For news of events see my other blog - Kwirky Design
Also you can get a sneak preview of my Facebook store - Kwirky Kaleidescopes

Friday, 7 October 2011

Glamlit v. Chiclit

A while ago now I mentioned the rise of the glambuster. Several months later and the National Press are onto my trend (Okay, maybe they already knew but I like to think I was the first to recognise the migration over to glam ;-)

Glam is selling but Chic isn't so well. Personally I understand it - Tasmina Perry, Jo Rees and Tilly Bagshawe have captured my loyalty and my imagination. Reading about a world outside of my own is so much more mind-expanding!

You know that old saying about monkeys writing Shakespeare? Well take a look at this, personally I think it's hilarious :-)

Good luck to all NV entrants. Thankfully I am distracted this year by trying to arrange a house move and empty my house in Scotland as well. I should resurface from the Highlands in the middle of next week but I'm crossing my fingers I'll see names I know in the finalists' list!

Thursday, 22 September 2011


My New Voices entry this year, 'Confessions of a Chalet Girl', is about feeling guilty. It's personal to me because I've had to delve into the complexity of guilt and the irrational human emotions surrounding it over the past few years. My brain injury was an accident but it was caused by my husband. I know it was an accident, he knows it was an accident but that hasn't prevented a few dark moments for both of us.
So my story is exploring the issue and set in a place I love - Switzerland (well I had to justify those drives over to Verbier for 'research purposes'. Really I have to get published just to justify the travel ;-)
If you have time to read it I would value your comments. If the link comes up before I leave to fly to Corfu I'll add it in, if not then please bear with me!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Mad busy/Mad crazy

I've been a little busy since I last posted - I've bought a house, booked a holiday and arranged to fly up to Scotland to pack up my house there. I only have a few weeks to go but in the midst of all the packing boxes I am trying to improve the rusty writing of my New Voices effort. At this rate I will be uploading my chapter from Corfu although the lovely sunshine will be a great distraction from watching my roses grow and shrink (and possibly shrivel back into the ground if last year is anything to go by!).
After New Voices 2010 I promised myself I would absolutely never enter any competition again but concentrate on the traditional route which seemed to be going better for me. Not quite sure what happened to that resolve...Still I'm hoping entering will let people realise I am (a) still alive and (b) still serious about writing.

I'm also hoping I will manage to stay sane and serene this time (who said 'Fat chance?'???)

Anyone else lurking in the shadows clutching a possible competition chapter?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

New Beginnings (and this time I mean it!)

Anyone who has known me for a while (and if you've stuck around you have my thanks for your patience!) will know that for the past few years I've been going through a particularly gruelling insurance process following a brain injury.
Thankfully on Wednesday this came to an end in a highly pressurised game of Deal or no Deal that lasted 7 hours in a windowless, underground room. I could take the bankers offer and run or I could stick it out for another two years during which I was promised (threatened?) things would get much nastier. As they had already been pretty nasty - being followed by private detectives, having my post box rummaged through at 3 am, being forced to try treatment that made me worse, having every aspect of my medical and personal history raked over, being squeezed financially to the point of homelessness and being unable to afford food, being lied about, threatened and even blackmailed - my mind boggled as to how things could get even worse.
So, with great relief I decided to take the money and run, or in my case stagger, home. I've been so shattered I can barely take it in but finally it's dawning that all the energy I expended on the insurance reports and rehabilitation can now be channeled back into writing and that, more than any amount of money, is what is making me happy :-)
Now I can finish that requested full (finally!) and maybe even dip a toe in the waters of New Voices. Just for fun though as I've been way too sick lately to sign myself up for the kind of rosemania that swept the internet waves last year ;-)

And in case you were wondering what I've been up to all this time, well even though I've been unable to face a computer screen my creativity still insisted on finding an outlet and these are a few of the things I've made this year. It's patchwork but not as my nan would know it...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

#MarryingCadeWave Stop Six

It’s launch day for Sally Clements’ new book, Marrying Cade, and to celebrate, she’s having a Mexican wave of excerpts! You can keep up with the wave’s progress on the twitter hashtag #MarryingCadeWave – and add a tweet with the hashtag to chat with everyone else who’s reading along!

Here’s how to do it…these are the stops, just call in to these blogs to read each excerpt (they start at stop one, and finish at stop ten). Alternatively, start wherever, and click on the next stop link at the bottom of the excerpt. Or just click on the buy link, to get your own copy of Marrying Cade!

Stop One – Talli Roland’s blog

Stop Two – Maya Blake’s blog

Stop Three – Nas Dean’s blog

Stop Four – Joanne Coles’s blog

Stop Five – Romy Summers’ blog

Stop Six – Lorraine Wilson’s blog

Stop Seven – Joanne Pibworth’s blog

Stop Eight – Suzanne Jones’ blog

Stop Nine – Lacey Devlin’s blog

Stop Ten – Sally Clements’ blog

Stop Six’s excerpt…

Ciao, Cade.” Her low voice caressed his name. Her eyes rose to his and jolted him with a bolt of blue.

It was Melo, all right. He’d know those eyes anywhere.

She leaned toward him, proffering her cheek for the customary kiss.

Cade’s lips grazed the smooth skin of her cheek, and his nostrils filled with the intoxicating scent of her perfume. His fingers smoothed over her upper arms, feeling the shiver snaking through her. She had a tiny mole above the outer curve of her mouth, something else he remembered from the Melo of old.

He stepped back, needing distance.

“Hi Melo. You look great.” The scratchy croak was just about all he could manage. Rosa’s sister had blossomed into the most stunning woman he’d ever seen. Twelve years ago, the gangly tomboy had been the perfect companion for a boy on holiday. They’d done everything together. Well, almost everything. Now he was tongue tied around her, and that was new.

Read a review of Marrying Cade at Madeline Ash’s blog…

Before you go on to stop seven, tweet this to help get the wave going! Now, continue on to Stop seven here!

CATCH ME A CATCH - July 2010, The Wild Rose Press
BOUND TO LOVE - February 2011, Embrace Books
NEW BEGINNINGS - February 2011, A collection of short stories
MARRYING CADE - upcoming 2011, The Wild Rose Press
LOVE ON THE VINE - upcoming 2011, The Wild Rose Press

Monday, 4 July 2011

Wake me when it's over...

Sadly I haven't been absent for the past few weeks because I've been sunning myself in Monte Carlo, ensconced on the yacht of a gorgeous billionaire. Instead I've been having unpleasant things done to my spine and neck that have turned me into a pain fuelled, hobbling harridan.
I'm the first to admit I'm not much fun to be with at the moment and having to miss the RNA conference this year because of some doctor's desire to poke at my nerve endings with sharp implements has made me a tad...grumpy.
Still, I've been getting through the enforced rest by listening to as many audiobooks as I can get my mitts on and the dogs are wisely sleeping through my recuperation (and are a great source of unconditional cuddles!).
I was really pleased to find a new Heidi Rice audiobook has been released on - Public Affair, Secretly Expecting.
I'm hoping that by listening, listening, listening I can not only distract myself from the pain but also learn and grow with my own writing so this needn't feel like such a wasted time.
If you're going to the conference have a great time and good luck to those of you with editor appointments. I will see you all there next year :-)

Sunday, 5 June 2011

The new buzz word at HMB Romance HQ

Unpredictability is apparently the new buzz word at Mills and Boon headquarters, to quote Editor Flo Nicoll "Unpredictability is literally all we can talk about". At last year's RNA conference the theme of the Mills and Boon Editor talk was 'new twists on old themes' so this is clearly something anyone trying to write for Harlequin M&B needs to be thinking about. I'm going to be interested to find out the results of the Unpredictability Task Force - what are readers sick of, what do they want to see more of etc. If you want to read the Editor blog post in full or find out what on earth I'm on about then click here.

How to be fresh and new and yet fit the category line? It's a very interesting question, answers in a comment box will be welcome ;-)
While you're thinking about it have a slice of cake:

Monday, 23 May 2011

Riva Bag Giveaway

Just a quickie to let you all know the Riva bag I designed for the Mills & Boon Competition is this week's prize on the Minx blog so get over there and get commenting (and sign up to follow the blog while you're at it) and the bag could be yours!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Reporter Minx

Check out the Minx site today for photos of Minxes at the RNA party. I was determined to get to what would be my first RNA event of the year and despite the pain and tiredness it was most definitely worth it. I got to meet Sally Minx for a start, which was lovely :-) It was also fab to chat to friends old and new and to feel that buzz, and the corresponding internal thought "I am a writer and I will write despite everything". Unfortunately I haven't had the pain relieving injections into my spine yet so I just want to set the record straight - if you saw me slumped against a wall it wasn't because I was sloshed ;-)

Thursday, 5 May 2011

News and the science of heroes...

I don't know if you've all heard about it and I'm trailing behind but in case you haven't - Amazon are branching out into publishing romance novels, both print, ebooks and audiobooks. Read about it here. An expanding market can only be good news I think :-) If I find out more about submissions I'll let you know...
Other news - After analyzing 15,000 Harlequin books, neuroscientists Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam have compiled a list of the top 10 most popular professions for heroes in romance novels. They are: 1. Doctor, 2. Cowboy, 3. Boss, 4. Prince, 5. Rancher, 6. Knight, 7. Surgeon, 8. King, 9. Bodyguard, 10. Sheriff.
Interesting but number 3, Boss, covers quite a lot of professions really!
Do any professions turn you off a hero? Or alternatively turn you on???

Friday, 29 April 2011

Out of mothballs...

I've taken myself out of mothballs and have dusted myself down to blog over at the Minxes of Romance today. So if you're looking for some light relief from the mundanity of royal wedding commentary, have any interest in marrying a hot-yet-still-single prince or just want to say 'Hi' please pop over :-)

Yeah, yeah, you're coming over to support me, I know, the promise of a hot, single prince doesn't interest you in the slightest ;-)

P.S. for any eagle eyed viewers of "Guilty Pleasures" I did not in fact appear in it, it was my evil crone clone (who should not be allowed to trim her own fringe while tired, that's all I have to say on the matter). Thanks Suz for alerting me to the dreadful imposter :-)

Friday, 8 April 2011

Not so guilty pleasures

On Tuesday 12th April TV viewers in the UK will be able to watch the Channel 4 documentary made about Mills and Boon - "Guilty Pleasures" (More 4 at 10 pm). It promises to examine the "allure of the fantasy world created by Mills & Boon".
Escapism, fantasy, glamour and the promise of an ending that will leave you feeling upbeat...well personally I don't see it's that complex a puzzle or anything to feel remotely guilty about.

The last month has been pretty horrid but as everyone around me seems to have subscribed to 'The Secret' I will weed out the negative ;-) The most positive part of the past few weeks has been discovering new authors writing what I would call Glambusters - they all capture the essence of what I would love my writing to encapsulate - glamour, passion and emotion. I'd recommend without hesitation Tilly Bagshawe, Jo Rees and Tasmina Perry as fantastic Glambuster authors. I also managed to catch up on "Kissing Mr Wrong" by Sarah Duncan and last year's Romantic novel of the year "Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts" by Lucy Dillon and I'm grateful to all these talented authors for getting me through a very difficult time and distracting me from pain during sleepless nights.
I hope that some of their skill may have rubbed off on me by osmosis as I am itching to write again and thankfully my voice to text software is now working again on my computer :-) I've also missed my lovely writing friends and hope to catch up with you all soon...

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

A sight for sore eyes

I blame the painkillers. How else could I have missed Michael Weatherly returning to the screen in a new series of NCIS?Or Simon Baker with the re-start of The Mentalist? Or fail to spot a new legal drama starring Rupert Penry Jones - Silks. Okay he's playing a bastard but he's still easy on the eye and I can even forgive the glaring errors of the programme's researchers (I used to work in that world, in another life).

I've missed being in touch with my writing friends too. If I haven't emailed you back it is definitely NOT personal, I think I'll have to do an inbox trawl to see what I've missed...
Being able to sit and lie down is nice (yes, injured nerve in back still mucking me about) but being too zonked and sick to write isn't. Nor is having an allergic reaction to anti-nausea medication and the strapping holding my kneecap in place.
Stopping the drugs wasn't a great idea either as I now can't sleep and have become so irritable with the pain that I managed to get a cold caller to hang up on me (and I wasn't rude to her, I promise, just a, scathing). I've been medicating/distracting myself with episodes I've missed and scouring Youtube for things to make me laugh. Are there any programmes that have you glued to the remote? Please let me know, I need more material for the sake of the innocent bystanders and cold callers (actually I'm not so bothered about them).
It's not a completely dead period for me creatively though - I've been getting so many ideas and thoughts I'm keeping a special notebook of "things to do when better" because thankfully the fall down the stair injuries will get some point and then I'll just be back to the brain injury which will feel like a treat in comparison!
And I will be sending my full to Mills and Boon, there is no injury on earth that is going to stop me. If Jean-Dominique Bauby could write The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking (read about it hear if you are interested) then I am blinking well going to do it!

But if you lose me for a week or so it's because I've had to give in and try an opiate patch. I promise I'll be back and once more go a blog trawling...

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Minx in a Muddle

I don't normally need help to get into a mess. Since my head injury I frequently reverse things (hot instead of cold, up instead of down etc). This can lead to mild confusion i.e. when I say I've injured my left knee instead of my right. Or complete chaos when I write a message asking someone to do the exact opposite of what I want them to do, then misread a text message by reversing one word and omitting another... Confused yet? Try being me for a bit ;-) Better still try writing a book and having to laboriously check everything a million times.

However someone up there must be bored and has decided to assist this week in upping the mayhem quota - resulting in an x-ray technician x-raying the wrong part of me ('Computer says do what's on the form' never mind the human patient in front of you telling you it's wrong) and being given a faulty TENS machine which emitted random, unexpected surges so powerful they made my muscles jerk. Quite difficult when you're trying to talk to people and they have no idea you're hooked up. Funny? Well not if the electrodes are attached to you it's not, no...

Even my dogs have decided to lend a paw. Two nights ago Poppy (left) managed to lock me out of my house. It seems mildly amusing now she was able to shoot the bolt across the kitchen door, leaving me trapped in the garden room but I assure you it wasn't so funny at the time. Daredevil in a splint was on the other side of the door (up to goodness knows what circus antics) and I was shoe-less, phone-less and in dire need of the loo.
As my keys were still on the inside of the front door my initial plan of waiting for someone with a key to turn up and rescue me was pointless. Instead I had to traipse through the mud in my socks, climb through a hedge into next door's garden and try not to look too deranged when I knocked on the door. Thankfully the neighbour is a forensic police person who managed to break open the door and then replace the lock without any visible sign that the door had been forced. It's a little worrying someone can break in and replace the lock without me noticing but for the moment I'm merely relieved I didn't have to ring the fire brigade. Otherwise I would now be in the 'stupidest reasons for callout' book.

Enough is enough. I'm taking a deep breath and putting an end to the recent spate of bad luck. At least I have my Mills and Boon 'Make a Bag out of a Book cover' comp win to cheer me up (my entry is below). Although the email address I was given to claim my kindle prize doesn't seem to be working... Perhaps I need to take another deep breath ;-)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Getting in the mood...

If you're looking for inspiration and want to get in the mood (to write of course. What else? ;-) both the media and Selfridges are doing their bit. Grazia and The Daily Telegraph have had big splashes about the Mills and Boon workshops given by Heidi Rice last week. It was certainly a fab day on Friday, made all the nicer by the fact the London Traffic gods were kind to me, making me early so I bumped into Heidi and Abby Green in the Yellow Cafe (see below).
If you weren't able to make it to a workshop click here for a link to the Daily Telegraph article
For anyone who hasn't already heard - if you have a UK address you can get a free taste of Riva, either by buying The Sun on the 18th February (and going to WH Smiths or choosing a free download) or by visiting the Date with Mills and Boon webpage

There is more good news to celebrate - Minx Sally has a new release out, available to download to Kindle tomorrow and in paperback very soon. Congratulations Sally. Click here to see her gorgeous cover :-)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Getting back on Track

Thank you for all your good wishes, both human and canine (waves to Elissa's Tillie!). Pip is home and doing well except for a very swollen foot. Now I just need to keep him from moving on the leg so the plate and screws stay in place... Ha! If Pip had only one leg working he would still find a way of getting around and getting places he shouldn't.

So I am now less distracted, although I am drugged up to the eyeballs (legally I hasten to mention), on permanent dog watch and dealing with crisis after crisis. Determined to turn the tide I have cadged a lift and a dog sitter for tomorrow so I can make it to Selfridges to see the lovely Mills and Boon artwork and of course have fun at one of Heidi's workshops. I may be a little zonked but intend to pick up inspiration by osmosis so that when I finally have five minutes peace I can think about the points raised by the Editor in her request email and maybe feel like a writer again!

Monday, 7 February 2011


I've just dropped Pip off at the vets for a major operation and can't settle to anything. In fact I didn't sleep last night and the expression on his face when I handed his lead to the vet clutched at my heart.
What upsets me most is that this operation isn't down to natural causes or even an accident - his previous owners who abandoned him by tying him to a sign post also left his broken leg untreated for years so that it became malformed and has caused him constant pain. He's having a plate put into his leg and the leg completely refashioned and while I know he's in safe hands at the veterinary hospital I can't help feeling very sick :-(
I chose this photo of him even though it's not a 'good' one because it's him very happily receiving a tummy tickle and it reminds me how happy I've been able to make him.
The op is this morning, please send your positive thoughts/vibes/prayers his way, he really does deserve to have his happy ending...

Saturday, 5 February 2011

News, or 'A watched inbox never pings'

I've been waiting since August to hear back on the partial requested by M&B and during that time I moved from mildly pleased with my story to utterly convinced I had messed it up. I'd been keeping an eagle eye on my inbox and with an ipad and iphone it was never too far away. But for some reason yesterday I just didn't check my email until the evening, preferring instead to do a stork impression at the Doctor's surgery, standing on one leg and begging for better pain relief (hadn't been able to sleep in a bed for days and had slept in the bath instead, waking up cold and very wrinkly!).

And so the Editor email sat in my inbox unread for a good 7 hours, in fact I almost missed it, skimming over my list and selecting a stressy one to read first instead. It's a modern take on the old wisdom - watched pans take longer to boil, if you take your umbrella out with you it doesn't rain, you only find object A when you are looking for object B...

What did the email say? It was a request for the full ms, my first full request and the nicest thing to happen to me for quite a while :-)

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Getting hot under the collar

Since my last post Modern Heat has made it onto (Hooray :-)

It's good timing - A fall down the stairs before Christmas has left me with nerve, muscle and ligament damage in my back and knee which a doctor cheerfully told me last week would take 3 months minimum to heal. The irritated nerves are stopping me from sleeping and as the bath is the one place I can unclench my teeth I spent last night there (yes, the whole night, very glad of the combi boiler!), listening to Heidi Rice's "Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition". Thankfully Heidi managed to distract me with the sizzling interaction of her characters :-)

As the injury is just one of the unpleasant things being thrown across my path at the moment after "The End" of the audiobook and in the interests of not going stark raving mad I progressed to series 4 of Brothers and Sisters which arrived on my doormat with perfect timing (yes, I have come late to the 'Gilles Marini in his swimming trunks party' but better late than never ;-)

Also I have had a go at making a bag from M&B Riva covers - they are so fab it's not hard to make them look good! Click here to see the other M&B bags.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Take one book nightly...

I've always used books to self medicate against stress, the greater the stress the 'nicer' the book I prescribe myself. During my university finals I had a pile of my old Enid Blyton's and pony stories under the bed and as 2011 has been more than a tad stressful so far perhaps it explains my recent foray from Heat over to Sweet in listening (yes, listening! M&B audiobooks have returned to the UK :-)
Listening to Jessica Hart charmed and soothed me as much as any trip to a magic land at the top of a tree. In "Cinderella's Wedding Wish" the heroine likes dogs better than men and her dream is to renovate a dilapidated cottage in the middle of nowhere and to live in isolation. Now why does that sound familiar?
On a completely different note below are some pictures of my dogs and the house I renovated, er... Although I have to say when I was hanging off a ladder painting the guttering no handsome millionaire swooped in to catch me and offer to help with the DIY.
Ah well, we can live in hope, which I'm thinking is rather the point...

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Hopeful New Year

May your Requests be Full,
And your 'R's be Revisions.
But most of all may 2011 be the year of 'C's -
Calls, Contracts and Congratulations all round...

Whether you're multi-published, aspiring or an avid reader I wish you all a very hopeful and happy new year :-)