Monday, 30 July 2012


.......well, for me it's discipline....and I can only hope more success will follow.
Getting a first novel published when I already had a bus pass in my handbag has been a wonderful feeling, but nothing prepared me for the follow-up.
I used to be a wet-weather writer. If the sun was out then there were always better options to pursue than writing - gardening, or walking, or coffee with friends to name but three. I could catch up with writing in the evening, couldn't I? Except evenings are not my best time for writing......alas that little ruse didn't always work. But no matter - I didn't have deadlines then.
But now I do. When TO TURN FULL CIRCLE began to be put out there on the web it was billed as the first in a trilogy. I had suggested to my publisher, Choc Lit, that my characters could run to a trilogy and that I had, in fact, begun a sequel. Good, they said, we love trilogies. And then to my delight, I read on the Kindle version of my book that the sequel was due out in June 2013.
I think I must have been the only person in the entire country punching the air with delight when it rained day after day after miserable day all through June and into the first half of July! It meant I had no trouble at all getting my bum on the swivel seat, and staying there. And the words piled up very nicely. First draft, you understand - so a way to go yet.
I wrote THE END on the first draft just as the wet spell finished and the sun came out - and then some. It's been a bit phew! here. I could slope off into the garden now, couldn't I? Pull a few weeds and trim a few things early in the morning before the sun got too high and too fierce? But as the keen gardeners amongst us will know, there's no such thing as a few weeds or a few things needing's like the Forth Bridge - always just the next bit needing doing.
'I haven't seen you for weeks,' friends wailed. And I began to feel guilty so I met up for coffee or lunch and sometimes both.
And all the while I was aware that while I'd got the plot down and the emotional lead of the sequel down I had work to do - lots of it - getting the historical feel to it; all the little references an historical novel needs so the reader knows it's 1912 and not 2012.
Now, we've all heard about that big name writer who no longer has to write synopses? The same big name writer who gets her settings handed to her/him on a plate? 'We want your next book set in the world of ballet/flying schools/skiing/the diamond industry'. As much as I might dream about it I am a realist and know I'm not going to be one of those writers. And I am not much of a synopsis-writer either. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer.
But book reviewers and readers - and indeed my publisher - made very loud murmurings about a secondary character in TTFC - we love Matthew, they all said. We do hope he will feature more in the sequel.
He has. But is it enough?
Well...the sun is out now, so I've pulled the curtains so it doesn't lure me out there. I've got a healthy dose of discipline this fact I think I might be becoming addicted....:)

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Five Things I Learnt At Penrith

Last weekend I attended the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association conference, held this year at Penrith in Cumbria.  It involved far too much talking (and drinking) and far too little sleep, and was - therefore - great fun! 

I had wondered, having attended these conferences for a number of years, whether I would learn anything new, or whether I was just there for the company.  It turned out it was possible to be there for both!  

In addition to having a very good time, I learnt:
- there is a computer programme which allows you to check your writing for the over (or under) use of words.  It can be found at
- there is no definite agreement on what (or who) constitutes the perfect romantic hero, but Johnny Depp was definitely highly-rated.  Worryingly, so was Leonardo DiCaprio, and I really don’t get DiCaprio
- e-books are no longer the poor relation to their paper counterparts, with the US e-publisher Samhain regularly having books in the main as well as the ‘e’ US best-seller list.  Samhain also publish print copies 9 to 12 months after the e-launch, for books over 50k words in length, and find the two versions complement one another
- if you’re stuck for inspiration you can trawl your family history to find not only some amazing names and some even more amazing incidents (but you might not be able to use some of them - they're really too unbelievable)
- I need to watch more films!  Keeping abreast of current trends and/or studying the plot lines is essential for a romantic novelist.  We do have to suffer for our art.

I'd be interested to hear from anyone else who was there of other tips they'd like to pass on.

And I also learnt, when I got home, that my family can clean and tidy the house to an impressively high standard.  Unfortunately, some of the things they tidied away may never be found again…

Gwen Kirkwood, Janice Horton and Rae Cowie
 Here are a couple of pictures of some of the Scottish contingent, looking very chic at the Gala Dinner on Saturday evening.   

Joan Fleming, Jenny Harper, me and Rosemary Gemmell

They must have been taken on the rare occasion when we didn’t have our mouths open, valiantly trying to talk loud enough to be heard over all the other noisy novelists.