Monday 25 January 2021

The Romance of Wales

 Happy St Dwynwen's Day!

I'm blogging a little early this week in order to be part of the St Dwynwen Day celebrations with fellow members of the Cariad Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association. St Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. If you want to know more, see last week's post.  As with St Valentine, it's a day to do romantic things - give cards, flowers, gifts, cook a special  meal, tell someone you love them. 

When I was thinking about something that was distinctively Welsh, beautiful and romantic, one of my first thought was the landscape. Something that makes Wales unique in the world is having a waymarked Coastal Path that runs for the whole coast of the country and that passes close to St Dwynwen's church on Anglesey. In January and in lockdown making a visit is probably one for the bucket list at the moment, but we can still daydream.  I'm lucky - I was born and brought up by the sea and the local stretch of the path runs very close to my home. 

On the way around Wales the path traverses wild areas, cityscapes, traditional seaside resorts. It has wonderful unspoiled beaches, castles, poetic connections, wildlife, churches, Neolithic tombs, seabirds and islands. It's not just the sea either, there are vast expanses of open sky. Walking on the beach at sunset, or sunrise, has to be one of the best romantic scenarios - those photo shots of two sets of footprints in the sand - how romantic is that! The only thing Wales doesn't have is the perfect weather - although the sea has it's own charms in fog or storms, as long as you remember  to stay well away from dangerous locations in high tides. Like the tiger at the zoo, beautiful to observe from a safe distance, but don't get too close. The ideal place might be a cosy pub, if you can find one, or a hotel. I'm planning to create one of those for a future book.  A boutique hotel, with a Martha's Vinyard feel, gourmet food and a resident ghost. That's the big thing about being an author, if it doesn't already exist, or it's not in the right place, you're free to invent it. If you want to know more about the real thing, this is a link to the Visit Wales Site HERE

I've raided my photo archives for some pictures of bits of the path, which I  think show that Wales can be just as as lovely as any other parts of the British Isles, and a fine setting for romance. Most of them were taken when it was misty though - so you will have to add your own sunshine. It's a good setting for thrillers too - but that is another story. 

Enjoy St Dwynwen's Day. 

Jackson's Bay

Barry Island from Nell's Point 

Nell's Point from the Promenade 

The Dock breakwater and Jackson's Bay

Tenby Harbour - in the rain

One of Tenby's beaches at dusk

View over  the sea from Barry town 

The funfair at Barry Island

Wednesday 20 January 2021

Romantic Wales

Everyone knows that St Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, but you don't have to wait until 14th February to make a romantic gesture. If you have connections to Wales, or even if you don't, there's a chance for romance on 25th January, which is St Dwynwen's Day.

St Dwynwen is the Welsh equivalent of St Valentine. Her shrine is on the Isle of Anglesey. You can find out more about the saint and the legend on the Visit Wales site, which is HERE

How do you celebrate St Dwywen's Day? Exactly the same way as the more famous St Valentine's Day - cards, flowers, a romantic meal, gifts, maybe even a proposal? 

The Cariad Chapter of the Romantic Novelists' Association is marking the day as a celebration of Wales and romance and highlighting romance writers who live in Wales, or have Welsh connections, and/or set their books in Wales. There will be greetings and blog posts. There is romance in the hills and in the valleys and on the coast and these writers are out to prove it. 

The Cariad Chapter - the name means love, but is also used as an endearment, like darling - covers South and West Wales and has members who are still working towards publication as well as those who are multi published in a variety of genres. Published novelists in the chapter cover everything from war time sagas to romantic thrillers, contemporary romantic comedy, sweet romance, M/M romance, historical romance - it's all romance. Some are set in Wales, some in other locations, even imaginary ones. There's something for everyone, whatever their taste in  romantic reading matter, all with a love story and most with a happy ending. 

Watch out on Monday 25th January on social media to see members of the Chapter wishing you  Dydd Santes Dwynwen Hapus - Happy Saint Dwynwen's Day. 

And how about surprising the one you love with a greeting on this special Welsh day?  

Wednesday 13 January 2021

Holiday Blues?

January is traditionally the time for heavy advertising for holidays. I can remember when I was a kid the adverts on the TV on Boxing Day were always holidays, and there were pages of adverts in the Christmas TV papers too. In those days it was more likely to be Butlins and Blackpool rather than trips abroad. Yes, I am that old. With a new year, a few brave brochures trickling through the letterbox, intense fedupness with the same four walls and the prospect of vaccinations as a tiny speck of hope on the horizon, I've been thinking about my bucket list. It won't be for a while, but I am sort of making plans. Or maybe thinking about making plans? 2022 Maybe?

I have to say, I am a little worried about the big world, not having been much further than ASDA for nearly a year, not even into Cardiff! I expect I shall get used to it. So - what's on the list?

Cardiff first - baby steps!

Then in no particular order - 

Bristol - for my favourite fish and chip shop and the Egyptian galleries at the Museum - research for the book after this one. 

Bath - my second favourite fish and chip shop, the theatre and shopping

Oxford - I have my eye on the Pre-raphaelite exhibition at the Ashmolean and made a tentative date with a friend for viewing and afternoon tea, but really not sure if that will happen. Probably a bit too soon for jabs and relaxation of rules.

London - for theatre, bookshops, museums galleries, concerts - you name it - and events for the Romantic Novelists' and Crime Writers Associations. My London trips have been one of my greatest lockdown losses - I usually make at least half a dozen a year. The last time I was there
was 29th February 2020, at the National Archive in Kew, doing a last minute sweep for references for the PhD. I had a  lovely day - archives being one of my catnips. And then the world turned upside down. I miss it.

I also want to go to Scotland - I've never been and I have a family pilgrimage I want to make, I'll tell you about that another time. And Cornwall, ditto - but no pilgrimage. 

The trips abroad would fill a page - but the Riviera, of course, is top of the list and I do have a holiday paid for and 'banked' as it were, so I do hope I can make it. The other place I have a hankering for is Paris. When I lived in London I sometimes used to hop on the Eurostar and go for the day, but that was a long time ago now. I have a whole list of things to see from the Pere Lachaise Cemetery to the Cire Trudon shop selling specialist scented candles. I could get them here, but somehow the idea of buying them in Paris has taken hold. I also want to go to some of the places mentioned in Eloisa James's memoir of her year spent living in the city, Paris in Love. That would be following in the footsteps of my heroine Nadine, who did the same thing in A Wedding on the Riviera

Will I make it? Who knows? Maybe not this year. But soon? 

I'm also interested, if anyone would like to comment - what's on your bucket list? 

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Peaking too soon?

 I'm on the home stretch with the first draft of the WIP - at least, I hope I am, but I have a dilemma - have I placed 'the dark moment' too early?

The dark moment, as you might guess, is when all seems to be lost - in romance it's usually a big emotional bust up  where the love affair is heading for the rocks, - before it all gets sorted out  for the Happy Ever After at the end. I have a few threads going on with this WIP - romance and suspense of course, but there is a secondary mystery as well to sort out about the villa that the heroine has inherited and some romantic poetry written by a contemporary of Byron and Shelly. That bit is totally invented, although it is plausible, as Liguria was a favourite place for the Romantic poets. It was there that Shelly drowned, a little further  down the coast at La Spezia.  But I digress.

I've put the dark moment for the romance first, followed by the mystery solution. I'm also happy to say that I've worked in excursion to Nice for Megan and Gideon, to be guests at Nadine and Ryan's wedding. How's that for cross referencing! I have another 'dark moment' right at the end, but that is the suspense one, with the final confrontation with the villainess. Really there is probably nothing darker than someone trying to kill you. (I'm not giving anything away mentioning the villainess, by the way, as in this book you know who she is from the start.)  It feels like the right order now, but I originally intended to solve the mystery bit first, so I am wondering if I have got it right. 

Actually - as I am writing this, I've thought of a slant that will give something extra for the suspense moment, if I can make it work. Blogging can loosen the brain cogs. 

I dare say that if she doesn't like the order my editor will say so, if and when it gets that far, and I can shuffle it around again. If I don't decide to do it myself in the next draft. 

It's a complicated  business, this writing lark