Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Playing for Time

Time can be an issue for authors. I don't just mean getting time to write and do all the other stuff, but time as it appears in books. Even in Shakespeare it causes trouble. There is much academic debate about the fact that in the play Othello the short time span, only a few days and nights, does not allow for the wholesale infidelity of which Desdemona is accused. I always assumed that the play was just showing us scenes over a longer time-span, but what do I know?

Authors have to make decisions - is the time in the book going to be realistic or a little more, shall we say, fluid? And I don't mean the horror of your editor pointing out that you have just invented the week with three Tuesdays in it. Should characters age in real time? This can be a problem if you start something that subsequently becomes a long running series and your protagonist starts to get closer to retirement - or would in the real world.

It's slippery stuff too, when you have your characters travelling and you have to make sure they have sufficient time to do it. I've had fun with airline time tables and myriad notes on bits of paper on that one.

At the moment time is giving me pause for thought in two ways. I've hunted up the thriller I was writing in 2015, before life got out the sandbags, and I think I can do something with it. (Jacobean revenge drama, by way of Romeo and Juliet and Beauty and the Beast) But the time line is all over the place, so there is going to have to be some major re-organising before it goes much further.

The other time issue is a bit more subtle. As you know, I am really hoping that I will have a new rom/com novella out in 2017. And the novella I have just finished is next in series. It has a long way to go before it makes it to publication, if it ever does, but should it come out in say, 2018, there will be the matter of some characters carrying on with their lives in the meantime and the book being about 2½ years after the first one. You see the problem? As the plot is going to require a hefty suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader, I think the timing may have to go the same way.

But that's a challenge for another day.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Party time

We scrub up good!
(Thanks to  Lynda Stacey for the photo.)

I got out of the Ivory Tower again last week - this time for a trip to LONDON. (Squeals of delight in background.)

A little trip that included many of my favourite things:

  • Staying at a nice hotel (no bed making, full English breakfast and NO WASHING UP)

  • Wandering over Waterloo Bridge at dusk,  with all the new skyscrapers in the city lit up, and St Paul's lurking like a ghost in the background. (OK, yes it was raining, but the Xmas market was in full swing on the South Bank, so it felt cosy and warm, in spite of the weather.) 

  • Going to parties in posh places (Author Trisha Ashley's lunch time get together at the top of Waterstones in Piccadilly and the RNA Winter party, plus the annual Industry Awards, at the Royal Overseas League)

  • Getting together with other Choc-lit authors and hearing about some exciting plans our publisher has for 2017. (You'll be the first to know, I promise. 😍)

  • An exhibition at the National Gallery - Beyond Caravaggio. (Some memorable art, but also research. I know I keep threatening it, but there is going to be a book with a 'lost' Caravaggio in it one day, I promise that too.)

All in all I had a very good time, but am now very tired. Lots of sleeping going on. Back to normal next week, I hope.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Getting out of the Ivory Tower.

And we wore our Choc-lit tee shirts.

I spent last Thursday afternoon at Ystrad Mynach library, in the company of Christina Courtney and Chris Stovell, doing a Q&A session. We were there as part of the celebrations for the re-opening of the library after refurbishment. And very good it looks too.

Not the stuff of romance?
We had a lot of fun, so I hope the audience did as well. The downside of the job is that writers don't get out much, so any opportunity to see a bit of the outside world is a bonus. There was chocolate, and lots of  chat about writing books, from choosing genres to undertaking research. Christina brought some of the costumes that the heroines of her Japanese novels would have worn. Somehow I didn't manage to get a photograph. Probably too busy talking. Or eating chocolate. Chris Stovell also illustrated the type of gear her heroines (who are quite likely to be involved with sailing, in her fictional coastal town of Little Spitmarsh) might wear. In the British climate you can give up on romantic images of bikini clad girls reclining on the gleaming deck - you are much more likely to be battling the elements in waterproofs and life jackets. The skill is making that the stuff of romance. I didn't have any costumes or props, so had to talk about visiting museums and art galleries instead.

The audience was great, getting involved and asking questions. Kath from The Nut Press brought Sqizzy, the famous squirrel muse, along. That's him, in his kimono, sitting on Christina's knee. There were refreshments supplied by the library. And did I mention chocolate?

It would be lovely to get the chance to do it again sometime.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Library Talk at Ystrad Mynach

If you are around the area of Ystrad Mynach Library on 10th November and fancy an afternoon of books and romance, three Choc-lit authors will be there, talking about Heroes, Heroines and Happy Endings. That would be me, Christine Stovell and Christina Courtenay.
The event is part of the celebration of the refurbishment of the library and is from 2pm until 4 pm. It is free, but you need a ticket. To find out more contact the Caerphilly library service -01443 812988 or

 We'll be wearing our pink Choc-lit tee shirts and talking about writing books.

I expect Christina will mention her new time slip, The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight, which is partly set in Wales and features some of the history of Raglan Castle.
 (Christina also has a pocket novella out too, Marry for Love)

Chris Stovell has a new pocket edition of her novella, Only True in Fairy Tales just out, which is a contemporary romance.

Me? I don't have a new book to talk about. Awww! Not a published one, anyway, but I have high hopes for something in 2017.

Do join us, if you can. We'd love to see you.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Writing The End on a Manuscript

Well, people, this is a new book. Actually it might be a new novella - as you can see I write longhand, so word counts can get a bit slippery until there is a typed version. At the moment I think it is about 66,000 words, so it is a biggish novella.

But whatever it turns out to be, IT IS NEW WORK. The first since caring, bereavement, surgery and all the other joys that life can throw at you erupted and took my mind to other places.

It's not a thriller - I haven't been able to contemplate something dark for a while, although I have some partial manuscripts in the tin chest. Thanks to some lovely encouragement from the Romantic Novelists' Marcher Chapter at a recent workshop, I think one of them is going to be the next in the frame - thank you ladies. I also have to get back to the day job.

Right now, this minute, there is this romantic comedy, or whatever it is, currently titled  A Wedding on the Riviera, which kind of gives you an idea of what it might be about. It's a follow on from the light novella that has got gummed in the works (See above) but which I hope will be out some time in 2017.

As you can see from the picture, there is going to be some work going on before it is allowed out on it's own. If it ever is. I've loved keeping company with Nadine and Ryan, and had a lot of fun, and some angst, with them on the Riviera and in Paris, but I have to tell you that this is the one with the very outlandish plot. It may be that the powers that be decide that it is a bit too outlandish. We shall see.

In the meantime it has got me back to writing again, and given me the boost of finishing a manuscript, which I haven't had in a long time, so I will always be grateful to it.


Who knows?

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

You and not you.

Having your books translated into another language is a strange experience. Something that has your name on it, but which you can't read. So you don't know exactly what is inside. 

My books are already in Italian, with interesting but somewhat different covers from the English language ones. And different titles too. Never Coming Home is Disappearance and Out of Sight Out of Mind is Lost Identity.

Now my publisher Choc-Lit has teamed up with Norwegian publisher Cappelen Damm, who will be launching Choc Lit in Norway in 2017. Cappelen Damm will be releasing nine Choc Lit titles in 2017 with roll out in to 2018. And Never Coming Home is one of them. It's exciting and an honour to be one of the ones chosen to be part of this, and I'm really looking forward to seeing my first cover in Norwegian. Still won't be able to read what's inside though!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Visiting the Society of Antiquaries

The 'day job' can sometimes get me into interesting places, which is how I came to be at a seminar with other PhD students at Burlington House, which is the London home of the Society. It is an amazing place full of all sorts of treasures, and a wonderful library which I hope to be exploring further at some stage in the future. The Society also looks after Kelmscott Manor in the Cotswolds which is the former home of Pre-Raphaelite  William Morris - so I'm putting that one on the agenda for next summer, when the house is again open to the public. In the meantime, back to Burlington House. Apart from the library, the house is full of quirky treasures and paintings - things that have been acquired and donated by collectors since the Society began in 1707. The various lectures and talks we enjoyed during the day have given me ideas for my research and also the stirrings of what might turn themselves into thriller plots at some stage in the future. We shall see.

Serendipity was at work at the start of the day - I had an overnight in a nearby hotel and on the wall in the street outside was a blue plaque for Sir Mortimer Wheeler, an archaeologist who was a TV personality when I was very young. I vaguely remembered a luxuriant moustache. His name turned up an hour or so later, as one of the Fellows of the Society.  The kind of slightly edgy coincidence that gets the brain going - or it does, if you are a thriller writer.

Remembering my recent research into Richard III (See the post for 28th September) I was interested in seeing the earliest portrait of him, and the Bosworth Cross, which is said to have been recovered from the battlefield where it was used by Richard in religious services. Both are among the Societies treasures. I was expecting to have to ask nicely to see them but the portrait was on display on the wall of the room where most of the talks took place and the Cross was in a glass case in the foyer. Which rather sums up the kind of place it is - a building with fascination stuff on display on every floor.

I had a wonderful day - even though the journey home was horrendous as the Severn Tunnel is closed and on top of nearly an hour for an extra  trip around Gloucester the train was 40 minutes late.

While the Society's London premises are not open to the public on a casual basis, you can book to have a paid tour and they have an active programme of free public lectures on a wide variety of topics. If you are into history and archaeology, well worth a look. And you get a peek inside the building.

This is a link to their site, if you want to explore further. HERE