WorcsLitFest: Romantic Novelists’ Panel

This time last week I was in Worcester, at the Worcester Literary Festival. I had never visited Worcester before but there was no time to explore this attractive city, so I have promised myself another visit in the near future. The festival ran from 20-29 June, with the theme this year of the 1st World War, to mark the centenary.

After lunch with my writer friends Morton Gray, Ellie Swoop and O’Dwyer_author we visited the Authors’ Fair at the Guildhall. There were several local authors with stands and we were pleased to meet fellow RNA member Sheryl Browne.

My main purpose for attending the Festival on Saturday, however, was the Romantic Novelists’ Panel which was held in the lovely St Swithun’s Institute. Alison May, a Worcester author and on the far left of the photo below, chaired the panel which comprised, from left to right, three prolific romantic novelists:  Sue Moorcroft, Liz Harris and Christina Courtenay, all of whom – together with Alison – are published by Choc Lit. The three panellists all had copies of their books for sale, and I couldn’t resist buying a book from each of them, and getting them signed! Somehow, I don’t think HMRC would view those as tax deductible. Shame!

WorcsLitFest - Romantic Novelists' Panel

The audience was small, consisting mainly of writers or aspiring writers, with at least one blogger/reviewer (see later!). It proved to be an informative, fun session, with Alison very ably leading the panel through a series of questions before taking questions from the audience. The panel coped admirably with the very real danger of strangulation by the microphone lead and both informed and entertained us with anecdotes from their writing lives, along with interesting snippets about their attempts to get their first publishing deals. On a personal note, I was interested to hear that both Christina and Liz started out with the ambition of writing for Mills and Boon but found that it was not as easy to get accepted as they had thought!

It was fascinating to hear the  different plotting, writing and editing processes discussed. It goes to show there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to write a book. If a process works for you, then it is right! I was particularly interested in the discussion about setting. Christina, having lived in Japan, used that knowledge to good effect in some of her books, including The Scarlet Kimono; Sue has invented a fictional village called Middledip – with other surrounding villages and towns –  which she has used in Starting Over, and several other novel; and Liz recounted her efforts to find something unique for her first book, and how she discovered a place called Ladakh in India, which provided the setting for The Road Back.

The session finished with coffee and truly scrumptious cakes; much kudos to whoever made the to-die-for brownies!

It was lovely to meet some of the other members of the audience, including Sarah Broadhurst, who is a prolific blogger and book reviewer (Sarah’s Book Reviews) and who very kindly accepted a copy of Mary and the Marquis to read and review! I was also delighted to meet Georgia Hill and Elizabeth Hanbury, both of them published authors and members of the RNA and both of whom I ‘know’ online via Facebook, but had never met in person.

It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, and I left feeling both uplifted and inspired. I do hope Alison (who put much time and enthusiasm into this event) will have the energy to organise a similar panel next year. I, for one, will be sure to attend.






‘Meet my Main Character’ Blog Hop

I’ve been away on holiday and haven’t blogged for a while, despite all my good intentions. So, thank you, Alison May, for tagging me to continue in the ‘Meet My Main Character’ blog hop. It’s put a boot up my backside, and here I am! If you would like to read Alison’s blog, or know more about her and her debut novel ‘Sweet Nothing’, here is the link: http://alison-may.co.uk/

So… please meet Mary, from Mary and the Marquis:

What is the name of the main character? Is (s)he real or fictitious?

Mary Vale is the heroine in my soon-to-be-published debut novel: Mary and the Marquis. She is fictitious but, at the risk of sounding a touch precious, she became very real to me whilst I was writing the book.

When and where is the story set?

It’s set near the small, fictional village of Rothley, Northumberland, just south of the border between England and Scotland.

What should we know about him/her?

Mary is a widow with two young children: Toby (5) and Emily (2). She is quiet and pragmatic and, at the start of the story, somewhat inhibited, having spent much of her life suppressing her feelings and opinions.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

When her husband dies, Mary contrives to earn enough to keep her and the children in their rented cottage but, after the death of her kindly landlord, his son makes intolerable demands and Mary sinks into debt. Eventually she is forced to leave the cottage with Toby and Emily. So, her life is messed up even before she meets the hero, Lucas. When her hitherto unsuspected passionate nature starts to emerge, it is in direct conflict with her maternal instincts and responsibilities.

What is the character’s goal?

Mary’s overriding goal throughout the story is the safety and wellbeing of her children.Whilst nursing the injured Lucas, however, Mary’s feelings for him grow and, before long, she is yearning for his love.

So, if you’d like to know more about Mary – and what happens when she comes across Lucas in a wood, you can read all about her in Mary and the Marquis, published 1st August 2014 (but, I’m told, available in the shops from 18th July. Go figure!)

And now, to carry on the blog hop, I am pleased to invite the lovely and talented Morton Gray, who is in the throes of completing her 2014 New Writers’ Scheme submission to the RNA. You can find out more about Morton here: http://mortongray.blogspot.com/ and the equally brilliant Jessica Gilmore, whose 2nd novel Summer with the Millionaire is released this month. You can find out more about Jessica and her writing here: http://www.jessicagilmore.co.uk/

I’m looking forward to reading all about their main characters. Look out for their posts next week.