Wednesday 28 November 2012

But it's all romance

When you write romance, you get used to hearing the stereotypes - bodice ripper probably being the favourite. I have to say that no bodice has ever been ripped in one of mine. Attending the Festival of Romance, and listening to large numbers of authors reading from their books, prompted me to think about the wide variety of work that comes under the heading of 'romance'. Some of the extracts were comic, some were about families and relationships, some were gritty, some were scary, some were sexy, some were sweet, some were set in the past, some were set on a different planet ... you get the picture. I would guess that if you asked the authors what made their book a romance the words 'Happy ever after' would probably feature, but other than that, the variety of setting and circumstances was huge.

This is something that interests me about categories for awards and competitions. Most awards for romantic fiction sub divide as a minimum into historical and contemporary. But such wide groupings mean that a book set in the Medieval world can be placed alongside one set on the Titanic. Or one that is about a woman leaving a life she has outgrown, or a failed relationship, can be matched against the none too serious adventures of a group of friends who are looking for Mr Right. And all that gets even more complex if any of those involved just happens to be a vampire. Or a serial killer ... 

What am I writing?
American contests tend to have wider groups of categories. Over there what I write is called romantic suspense and usually has a category of its own. In the UK, where everything is on a more compact scale, I'd simply be in the 'Contemporary' section - as a romantic thriller - and where you might also find those paranormal stories, and maybe one or two taking place on another planet, or a parallel universe, alongside the ones set in a big city cocktail bar or a country village. A good book is a good book, but I don't envy contest judges trying to untangle all that. A bit like trying to compare apples and pears? 

Categories are exercising my mind at present as I am in the process of editing my second book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind. My first, Never Coming Home, mixed a love story with an extremely high body count. Those of a delicate disposition will be relieved to know that OSOM does not have quite so many bodies - but it does have a paranormal twist, as both the hero and heroine read minds. So now I have a paranormal romantic thriller/romantic suspense on my hands. Talk about trying to fit a square peg, with bits sticking out and one side side shaped like a triangle, into a round hole.

I can never make things easy for myself, can I? 

But it does have a happy ending. 

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Fun at the Festival

It's official - I had a great time at the Festival of Romance. And I make faces when I read aloud. And sometimes at other times also. Unfortunately I have the photographic evidence to prove it :) The Festival was a whole weekend of celebration of romance - involving parties, readings, talks, courses and awards. Congratulations to Christina for winning best historical and Choc- lit for publisher of the year. And big thanks to Kate Allan and her army of helpers for the organisation, and the people of Bedford for being so welcoming. Quite what the population in general made of an invasion of romance writers I'm not sure, but those I met seemed to be enjoying themselves. I was only there on Saturday - sturdier souls did the whole three days - but it was a hectic day, with lots crammed in. And I have photos. Hence knowing that I pull faces!

My first appearance was at the Coffee and Cake morning - where authors read aloud to guests who had bought tickets to eat cake, drink tea and coffee - and listen to authors read to them. Interesting evidence that inside a lot of writers is an actress trying to get out. The cakes were good and the reading were a complete mix - funny, creepy, sombre, thought provoking, romantic - not all at once. Thanks to Lizzie Lamb for the photo. And we did not drink all the bottles lined up behind me!

I did a stint on the Choc-lit bookstall over the lunch period with Christina, Liz, Sarah, Jane and Sue appearing and disappearing as events called them away. Then it was the Readathon at the Shopping Centre. Authors reading bits of their books to unsuspecting shoppers. Not sure what most of them made of it - but the Mills and Boon Stall was doing a brisk trade in ladies who wanted to feature as part of their cover art and yes, I did have a go. I can't remember who took the piccie on my camera (I may also already be featuring on M&B's Facebook page!!!!!) but thank you, and thanks to poet Oscar Sparrow who read from his work and who took the photo of me reading from Never Coming Home.

Then it was all over, for me anyway, and back on the train to London. I had a lovely day. Look out Bedford, we will be back.

My photo gallery appears below.

Photo gallery. At the Festival of Romance

Reading in the Harpur Centre. Why are there shoppers running away?

Being a cover girl - pity about the blonde fringe!

The ceiling of a function room at the Corn Exchange. Taking this was an accident, but when I saw it, I liked the balloons. 

Sarah and Liz on the Choc-lit stall, and Liz Fenwick minding the RNA table next door. Lots of goodies, books - and Chocolate.
Oscar reading his poems. Thanks for taking the photo.
Reading at Coffee and Cake, at the Lane. Thanks Lizzie Lamb, author of Tall, Dark and Kilted, for taking the photo. See that I'm wearing my Kiss of Death Badge? Romantic suspense chapter of the Romance Writers of America.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

The chance to be Romantic - for a whole weekend.

This weekend Bedford is going to be the the romance hub of the UK. Authors of romantic fiction will be descending on this unsuspecting market town from all corners of the country. There's a lot happening, and all of it fun. I'll be there on Saturday. First there will be a morning of authors and readers meeting over coffee and cake. Readings and refreshments- I'm the last to read. That's an event that requires a ticket, but there is plenty going on that is free, and the chance to buy books too. I'll be at the Choc-lit bookstall in the Corn Exchange at lunch time, and then I'm taking part in the Readathon in the shopping centre at around 3pm.

... the Millennium Centre  
Reading at ...

I've read my work in public before, notably in the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay, but a shopping centre will be a new experience.

If you are in Bedford, please come along. You'll be very welcome.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Keep Talking

The popular image of an author is someone sitting in a rather nice study, probably lined with book shelves, alone with their muse, creating novels. This might be true, but there are just as many being typed on kitchen tables, scribbled on trains, in cafes, on buses. And authors don't spend all their time alone with their muse, either. We are allowed out sometimes, to talk to people. As my nearest and dearest never tire of informing me, I'd learnt the concept of sentences, and conversation, by the time I was eighteen months old, and I've not stopped talking since, so I really enjoy that part of being an author. Last week I had a chance to indulge myself - twice.

The Caldicot Writers' Group, who meet regularly in Caldicot library, invited me to talk to the group and I spent a very enjoyable morning with them chatting about becoming a published author and telling the story of how Never Coming Home made it into print. They are a lively lot, and I had a good time. I hope they did too. And we had a very nice lunch at the pub afterwards.

The next day I was in Ross on Wye. Another pub, another lunch, this time with the Wye Chapter of the Crime Writers' Association. As I write romantic thrillers I'm able to be a member of the CWA and the Romantic Novelists' Association. Twice as much chance to socialise, and twice as much chance to gossip!

On Saturday 17th November I shall be at the Festival of Romance, in Bedford, with the opportunity to talk my head off. The Festival has a number of events where readers and authors can meet, with the emphasis on readings and conversation. I'll be having Coffee and Cake, and reading a bit from Never Coming Home, on Saturday morning, and doing a stint afterwards on the stalls that Choc-lit and the Romantic Novelists' Association will be running during the day at The Corn Exchange. There's a rumour that the Choc-lit stall may have chocolate and other goodies to share. There will be books to buy - and plenty of information on books and authors. There is also a Readathon, taking place in the Harpur Shopping Centre, and I think I may be involved in that too. It's going to be a hectic day. Will I be hoarse at the end of it? Possibly. But I'm sure it will be fun.

If you have the chance, do come along. Some of the ticketed events are sold out, but there will still be opportunities to meet authors, and hear their work, around Bedford during the weekend. You'll be very welcome, and it will be a chance to do some early-ish Christmas shopping. With the variety of novelists attending, there will be plenty of books to chose.

And you get to hear an author talk.

Monday 5 November 2012

Never Coming Home - a look at the locations.

Just a quick reminder that the Never Coming Home location tour can be found by clicking on the pages link above.