Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm H..A..P..P..Y

Anita Loughrey has been staying with me for a couple of days. Our throats are sore from so much talking.
Anita’s timing was good. She chose the week that a group of local writers meet up for lunch. We go to Puccini’s in Friar Street, Worcester where the food is excellent, the staff are brilliant and the vanilla-pod icecream with hot chocolate fudge sauce is addictive.

We are a mixed bunch, including several novelists, a writer of Westerns, a writer of M&B Regency romance, an educational writer, playwright and short story writers. And me. We may mention what we are working on, we might ask for help but mostly we chat and laugh and have a great time.
After those eight years in West Wales, it’s wonderful to be back home,  among friends and fellow writers and always with the Malvern Hills in the background.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

We met at The Boston Tea Party

We met at The Boston Tea Party. No, it’s not a title for a novel. There’s a cafĂ© with that name in Worcester and that’s where I arranged to meet Abigail Williams.  I told her I’d be carrying a lime green handbag and thought about the rolled up Times (I’d use Take A Break) and a pink carnation (don’t do pink). I left it at the bag. We had a wonderful time. Non-stop chat. And I’ve found a lovely new friend.

Wonderful Wednesday continued when I got home to find a copy of That’s Life! Fast Fiction on the mat. How lovely of Anthony, the editor, to include a signed compliment slip. And lovely to see so many friends in the magazine – cyber-sister Glynis Scrivens, Doug McPherson, Diane Fordham, and I’d include the rest of you but it would mean getting up and going downstairs to find FF.
So how did I continue this lovely day? I visited Betty who’d bought some ‘hair string’ from a shopping channel. You rubbed this cream between your palms, pulled your hands apart slowly et  voila ‘hair string’ appeared and then had to be gently rubbed into Betty’s hair. By the time I’d finished she looked like Dolly Parton (from the neck up). We congratulated ourselves and went for a cuppa, and as we drank it I watched her bouffant slowly sink. And we topped our teacups up with tears of laughter.

As you can probably tell by now my favourite word of the day is Lovely!  So I’ll end on another lovely offer. If you enjoyed or are enjoying Jane Jackson’s A Place of Birds then you can download The Iron Road which is free for four days from today. Then The Eye of the Wind is free from 19th to 23rd September. Go on. Be lovely and tell your friends.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Red tomatoes help you write

The phone rings. It’s Betty. ‘I hope I haven’t disturbed you,’ she says. She’s a writer too (Elizabeth Moulder whose stories will have made you laugh out loud if you read them in Woman’s Weekly.)
‘You’re not writing, are you?’she asks.
     ‘No. I’m in-between Pomodoras,’ I tell her.
     ‘Beep, beep,’ says Betty. ‘What the hell is a Pomowotsit?’
     ‘It’s Italian for tomato,’ I tell her. ‘I’ve got a red plastic one. A kitchen timer thingy and I set it for 25 minutes and have to work for that time. Then I get a five minute break. You’ve caught me on my break.’
     ‘And does it work, this stop/start method?’
     ‘It’s working for me at the moment. Not too sure if I was writing a novel and got in the flow.’
     I don’ tell her that I read about this method and stopped working until I had my kitchen timer. The LSO went in search of one but could only find white. It had to be a red tomato and, a few days later, we found one in one of those cheapo warehouse places.
     If you want to know about the Pomodora Method, Google it. There’s a 45 page book on how to do it which is a helluva lot of pages to say work for 25 minutes, then have a break for five. It’s interesting though and free to download.
     I’m not just a butterfly writer, flitting from one subject to another. I’m a butterfly worker, happy to try out any new methods I chance upon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Jane Jackson, my guest

I love Cornwall, Cornish cream, Cornish history I’m a fan of author, Jane Jackson.  Jane makes Cornish history come alive in her books. I have asked her to be a guest on my blog, so here she is.
Ladies and Gentlemen, (imagine trumpet fanfare here) allow me to introduce the talented, gorgeous and kind Jane Jackson. She also has a free gift for you. Told you she was kind, didn’t I?

 Hi everyone. It's a real pleasure to have this opportunity to talk about the source of my inspiration – Cornwall. I live in a village at the head of a creek that flows out into the third largest natural harbour in the world. As children we used to go blackberrying in an old stone quarry half a mile along the creek. We swam off the shingle beach along from what was then a working dockyard dating back to Nelson's time, but is now a yacht marina. After our swim we would build a fire from driftwood and cook dampers made from flour and water wrapped round a twig then stuffed with jam. In late autumn we went to the woods and collected chestnuts, opening the cases with our feet to avoid the prickles.
The village is surrounded by footpaths across farmland, through woods, beside the creek and around the coast to Flushing. I do a lot of my plotting while walking paths that have existed for hundreds of years.
Though Flushing was where many of the captains chose to live, Falmouth – across the river - was the base for the first packet service. These ships carried mail to every corner of the world, dispatches to theatres of war, and ransom money to free the wives and daughters of merchants captured by Algerian pirates. They brought back bullion from sugar plantations in Jamaica and silver mines in South America. The roles of the packet ships feature in Dangerous Waters and Tide of Fortune. In Eye of the Wind, a boatyard building a packet ship, and the woods supplying the timber, are background to a story of espionage, treachery, courage and love.
Of my 27 published books, 16 have either been set in Cornwall, or the story has started there before events send the characters on a journey both physical and emotional.
When people think of Cornwall's history they often think of tin mining and fishing. I have never used tin mining as a background. Because other authors have done so to excellent effect, I chose to explore different backgrounds and settings: Cargo broking; C19th medicine; building a railway; granite quarrying; ship-building; woodland management; packet ship (1) carrying ransom money to Tangier; packet ship (2) work of a ship's doctor; work of a local justice; smuggling; port development.
I'm thrilled that my books are now available on Kindle and other ebook readers. Accent Press has already published ebook editions of Dangerous Waters and A Place of Birds. Eye of the Wind (shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award) The Iron Road and Tide of Fortune will follow over the next few days.
From Sept 9th to 13th A Place of Birds will be free of charge so why not download it?
I hope to have my latest historical romance, Winds of Change, finished before Christmas as the next story is already bubbling in my head demanding to be told.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Post NAWG Festival

I must be getting old. It’s that or the HRT isn’t working properly because after one night at the NAWG Festival in Nottingham I returned home exhausted.
It was a good weekend and I’m sorry I didn’t get to spend more time there. An awful lot of work is done by very few people in order to keep the festival going and, year on year, it seems to improve. Even when you think it can’t get better.

I was there for the Gala dinner where the prizes were presented to the winners of the NAWG competitions. These are always free to enter and you’ll find information on the website.
After the prize presentation Jane Wenham-Jones took to the stage – her natural habitat – and entertained the audience. Then we all retired to the reception area where everyone was given a chance to sparkle for four minutes. Even the total newbies had a go and, I think, were pleased with the reception their work received. Finally I sloped off to bed, just after midnight. An early bird. So many of the others stayed up and Steve Bowkett must have a portrait in his attic because no way should he have looked so bushy-tailed the next morning after partying until after 3am.

If you belong to a writers’ group and they don’t belong to NAWG, ask them why? It’s a good organisation to be part of. I’ve always thought writers groups should get together more often.
And now I’ll shut up but leave you with the promise of a few guest bloggers arriving here in the very near future. First up is Jane Jackson. Watch this space.