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AWARD WINNING AUTHOR

Writing in the Sunshine. Writing in the Shadows.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Taking Snaps in London

On my recent trip to London I did a little research for a book that I really want to write - it's the one that harks back to the war, so it really has to be done soon, or one of the essential characters will be over 100! but it's not fully on the radar yet.  It's a romantic suspense - what I call a treasure hunt book and I know that it is going to feature locations around London, which gives me a chance to go out and prowl around the city in the name of research. 

St Stephen Walbrook
I made a modest start in The City, with one of my favourite churches - St Stephen Walbrook, designed by Wren, which I found by accident many years ago when sheltering from a sudden rain storm. There was a choir practising, and the whole thing sent shivers up the spine.
The other church I wanted to look at was St Mary's Woolnoth - which is a Hawksmoor church - not one I have looked at before, although it is only around the corner, but it has a
particular feature that I want to use. And no, I'm not telling you what that is. 

St Mary Woolnoth

I took pictures of both, which  will be useful when I finally do get the book in my sights. That area of London is dotted with churches, often on sites that have been used for some form of worship for a very long time. Despite being such a busy area, to me it has an underlying spooky feel. And in the evenings and at weekends when the offices are closed and the place is quiet that feeling is accentuated.  But that may just be the novelist in me surfacing. I also wanted to see the ruin of the Temple of Mithras - that one goes back to the Romans - I told you the area had been used for worship for a long time. I couldn't find it - I think it is part of a large construction project on Queen Victoria Street. Hopefully it is and  it will have emerged again by the time I want it - that is for yet another book that is in my head, and partially down on paper.

I'm hoping that taking pictures will store information in the memory banks that the subconscious will use to feed the plots of both novels, as they are still in the planning stage.    

Not the same colour as the one in Dr Who. And not as big. 
Whatever use I make of it, it was a pleasant morning. I also took a picture of an old police telephone box, - not the Dr Who kind, but similar.  I couldn't resist it.  A relic of the days before landline phones were commonplace, let alone mobile phones, and the police needed a way of communicating.  No idea what I might use that for, but maybe something will turn up.   

It's all research. 


Wednesday, 24 May 2017

On the road

Last week was a busy week, and a lot of fun. To London for the RNA Summer Party, at which the 2017 Joan Hessayon winner was announced - sadly not one of the 3 Choc-lit debut authors who were in the line up - but a win for a Welsh publisher! Kate Field was awarded the trophy for The Magic of Ramblings published by Accent.

It was a fab party, I got to stroke the trophy - all the past winners come over a bit 'precious' when in it's presence - it's hard to believe that it is 5 years since I won it!!!

I renewed my card for the British Library - looking forward to spending some time there later in the year, and did a bit of research, book related, not for the day job, but more of that next week.

The lovely Lusana from Choc-lit, sizing up
the room for the best layout 
Then it was down to Southampton for the second Choc lit road-show. An afternoon of talking, quizzes, chocolate and  a lot of laughter at Southampton Library, in the company of an enthusiastic audience of readers and a few hopeful writers who had the chance to pitch a book to Choc-lit as part of the proceedings. And all the attendees got a goodie bag to take away. I did manage to snaffle a bag, but not the contents - and I did sneak some of the chocolates, so that was probably a win:)

Goodie bags and book stall, waiting for the audience. 

I had a lovely time with Jan Brigden, Liv, who is one half of Isabella Conner, and Laura E James. Luckily the audience seemed to enjoy themselves too, so it was was worth the trip. The next show will be up north, Stockton on Tees, as part of their literature festival, and there is a whisper about a date in London in the autumn, If there is, I hope I'll be there. I took a few pictures, so you can get the idea of how it all went.
My fellow panelists
The chance to talk about yourself and your books - what's not to like? And it was good to start doing some book related things again and to tell people about the new summer book that is in the pipeline. coming soon, I hope.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Are you ready for this?

No, it's not a cover reveal, but I did think it was time I told you the title of the new book. As I've said, often, it is not romantic suspense. No dead bodies in this one. (You'll have to wait until Christmas for more of them) It does have a mystery in it, which is what gets the hero and heroine to the Riviera, chasing a couple of crooks. I had in mind all those romantic comedy films from the 40s and 50s  - glamorous settings and sunshine and fantastic scenery and beautiful people and luxurious villas and fast cars. And food. There's quite a bit of that too. It's a summer book. A holiday sort of book and I hope that it's going to be the first of a series. It had to have a holiday type name and after a meeting with my publisher at the London Book Fair, it got one. Very simple, but sums up everything about the book.

So, now, drum roll, please - It's going to be called Summer in San Remo and that's exactly the sort of mood I was after.

And the series title? Ah, now that was suggested by the lovely Kath, from The Nutpress, right here on the blog. The whole series will be  Riviera Rogues. All of them will have a mystery, sunshine and a holiday feel - and the rogues won't all be just the villains. Some of the heroes have a way to go before they win their heroine. Starting with Jake ...

I'm looking forward to a bit of lighthearted fun, in amongst the darker stuff, and I'm already thinking of all the places that can be categorised as 'Riviera'.

Oh, and that cover reveal? It will happen, I promise.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

There's a word for that.

I couldn't find a 'word' picture,
but this one is pretty.
New words. As a writer I'm always curious about those. I used to make up words as a child and had to explain to my puzzled Mum what I was talking about. Now, not so much.

But I am interested when I happen on something new. I'm not talking about those political constructions or the contractions of a person or a couple's name or names- usually involving celebrities - that often seem rather ugly, but the new inventions that can be useful to a writer, usually involving some kind of emotion.

The latest one I've come across is hangry. Which means, apparently, getting irritable because you are hungry. I found it in a book and thought at first it was a misprint, or an attempt to portray some sort of accent, until the context explained it. And then a couple of days later I was in a meeting and someone used it, and I was very pleased that I know what it meant. You can get a lot from book, not just the story.

Another one which I discovered and I've used in a book (which is part written and might some day see the light of day)  is ghosting - ending a relationship by simply fading away without explanation. It fitted exactly what I wanted to convey about the heroine's clearly now ex-boyfriend. The hero who is about to come into her life is a much better bet, even if he does have emotional and physical baggage and the sort of job ... Well, actually, he could end up ghosting her too. But he doesn't. At least I don't think he does. When I finish the book, we'll all find out. But I'm wandering, as usual.

My last new  word isn't that new, but has come to prominence recently because of The Archers. Gaslighting - emotional manipulation to isolate a partner and make them think they are losing it, big time.   It's a concept that's been in my rummage bag of ideas for a while but not surfaced yet. There is one partly ploted that might be classed as a form of gaslighting, so maybe it has surfaced, but not in the conventional form?

Anyway, that is for the future.  By then there will probably be more that I want to get my teeth into.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Being able to read

I was in a stationery store the other day. Writers, stationery - it's a thing. Anyway, there was a gratitude diary with pages to record things you were grateful for, with a series of questions to answer. I didn't buy it - such restraint, but it did make me think. And that got coupled with reading a short story from Veronica Henry. It's called The Apple Orchard and it's currently free on Amazon with a large chunk of her next release, The Forever House in the back. The short story is a bitter sweet one, a bit of a tear jerker, actually, and features a character who is unable to read. I don't think that's a spoiler, as he says it on the first page.

It made me think about being able to read, and how life would be if you couldn't, and all the things I have read, in the last few days, starting with that short story


  • Red Herrings - the magazine of the Crime Writer's Association
  • Part of the Waitrose Food magazine, the Boots Health and Beauty magazine, The Garden - which is the monthly magazine from the Royal Horticultural Society and The Romance Writers' Report, which is the magazine of the Romance Writers' of America.
  • Various sell by dates on items in the fridge and the instructions on the chicken I cooked yesterday.
  • The train information screen at the station
  • About 150 e-mails, and who knows how many tweets and F/B and blog posts
  • Screeds of my handwritten notes about Cardiff in World War Two
  • The first few pages of what  I hope will be the Christmas Novella - (just started to transfer it to type)
  • The side of the soya milk carton to confirm that yes, I had inadvertently picked the sweetened kind
  • About half of Tessa Dare's Do You Want To Start a Scandal?
  • The local free newspaper
  • Various party political literature for the up coming local elections, junk mail , my bank statement and credit card bill. 'I owe you how much?'


The list could go on.

The power to be able to read, and it is a power.

Something to be grateful for.