My Latest Book, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now!

UK cover From Wallflower to CountessMy second Regency romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon, From Wallflower to Countess, is out now as both a paperback and an ebook.

I first met the hero, Richard, the Earl of Stanton, many years ago when he was a drop dead gorgeous secondary character in my first ever attempt at writing a Regency romance. That attempt has not yet seen the light of day, but I always knew Richard would have his own story one day. I had no idea which lucky lady would share his journey until, one day, he ran up the stairs in his shirtsleeves and came face-to-face with an unprepossessing but sparky spinster who had absolutely no intention of ever getting married.

One year on from that meeting, Lady Felicity Weston’s fear of unrequited love is as strong as ever, but her circumstances have changed. She begs her mother to find her a quiet, unremarkable gentleman with whom she might be content, little realising she will end up with Society’s most eligible bachelor.

Here is an excerpt:

‘This is ridiculous. You are right. If we are to wed, we need to understand one another. And, I admit I have doubts. Not about you. Well, that is…’ She paused, her brows drawn together in a frown. ‘No, that is untrue. It is about you, but it is about me, also. You and me. Together. You see, I hadn’t thought…I never presumed to be presented with such a…such a…catch, if you do not object to my calling you that?’

Richard bit back a smile. He had been called a catch many times, he was aware, but never to his face before. And never by an earnest-faced female who appeared to believe herself unworthy of a ‘catch’ such as he.

‘You may call me what you will,’ he said, ‘as long as you promise not to use such insultingly offensive terms that I shall be forced to take umbrage.’

She laughed, revealing a glimpse of white teeth. ‘Umbrage? I always thought that to be a state applied to elderly dowagers. Do you sporting gentlemen consider it a fittingly masculine trait, my lord?’

This was better. The spirited girl he remembered from last year had surfaced, her face alive with laughter, her eyes bright.

‘Perhaps umbrage does not quite convey the precise meaning I hoped to convey,’ he conceded. ‘Which word, in your opinion, should I have used, if I am to portray a suitably manly image to my future wife?’

Disquiet skimmed her expression, then vanished. Had he imagined it? Was it the bald reminder that she would be his wife that had disturbed her? Her countenance was now neutral, but her eyes remained watchful and she made no attempt to answer him.

‘Would you have preferred me to use “offence” perhaps, or “exception”?’ He leaned closer to her, and said, ‘I do not, you notice, suggest “outrage” for that, I fear, would not meet with your approval any more than “umbrage”. It is too synonymous with spinsters, would you not—?’

Felicity stiffened. ‘Do not make fun of me, sir. I may be a spinster and, therefore, in your eyes, a poor, undesired thing, but I have feelings and I have pride.’

‘Felicity, I promise I intended no slight. The thought never crossed my mind that you might think I was making fun of you. I was…I was… Oh, confound it! Come here.’

He had run out of words. He clasped her shoulders and drew her close. A finger beneath her chin tilted her face to his. He searched her eyes. They were shuttered. She was rigid in his arms. Was she scared? Had she never known a man’s kiss? The thought, strangely, pleased him: knowing his wife had never experienced another man’s touch. But he must take care not to frighten her. He lowered his head, slowly, and put his lips to hers.

He almost recoiled in shock. He had expected ice. What he felt was fire.

The Prologue and Chapter 1 can be read by clicking on My Books/ From Wallflower to Countess /Prologue and Chapter 1 from the menu at the top of the page.

Working with an Editor, Part 2

Last time I blogged, I had just submitted the manuscript of my third Regency to my editor and I was wondering how many, and how onerous, the ‘tweaks’ might prove to be. As it happened, I needn’t have worried as I’m pleased to say no major changes were required, just the fairly customary request to bring more emotional depth to the story. When I read my editor’s comments I was actually pleased to realise that she had picked up on a few aspects of the story that I knew, subconsciously, had become rather lost in the action.

With a series romance for a publisher like Mills & Boon, the story is driven much more by the inner conflicts of the hero and the heroine than by any external plot. I tend to do a lot of work on the back stories of my characters before I ever start to write so I know there is enough emotional depth to sustain the story. I also learn how they are likely to react in different situations – although they do sometimes surprise me! The problem is, I decide on something in, say, the heroine’s past that will stand in the way of her ‘Happy Ever After’ with the hero, but I then fail to make that ‘barrier’ seem important enough to her. So a gentle reminder from my editor that this is a strong part of her emotional conflict then prompts me to bring it to the fore.

Fortunately, my editor approved my revisions and the manuscript has already been line edited and is now with the copy editor. The last time I see it will be for the Author Alterations (AAs), when I will read it through carefully and make any final changes. It is expected at this stage that any changes are minor, and I treat this as a final proof read before finalisation.

The book has been retitled Return of Scandal’s Son, and it will be published in October 2015, meaning I’ll have two books published this year, which is great. I’m hoping that, with the change of title, there will be a hunky hero on the cover! I can’t wait to see who they choose!

Meanwhile, the publication date for From Wallflower to Countess is drawing ever closer, and I have a deadline of July 1st for book 4 – not only, as yet, untitled but also (apart from 3000 or so words) unwritten.

Yikes! I’d better get writing!

 

Working with an Editor

Book number 3 has left the building! By that, I mean I have submitted the ms of my 3rd Regency, The Baroness and the Black Sheep, to my editor and, no doubt, it will shortly wing its way back to my inbox with a list of ‘tweaks’, as editors seem fond of calling their suggestions.

I’m still in the early stages of my writing career, and I’ve been pondering the whole ‘working with an editor’ process. I have been through the process twice now, each time with a different editor.

I don’t think it was my fault my first editor left, but who knows 😉 ?

My 1st book, Mary and the Marquis, had been through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme, and I had revised it with the help of the feedback from an experienced Mills and Boon author, so perhaps the edits weren’t as extensive as they might have been. After one pass at it, the book was accepted. With my second book, From Wallflower to Countess, the edits were more onerous and it took, I think, two passes. It might have been more. Perhaps, like childbirth, the process appears less painful from a safe distance.

It can be disheartening: you slave over your book; produce the very best work you can; you submit it with trepidation, hoping your editor will like it (who am I kidding—you’re hoping she’ll love it!). From Wallflower to Countess came back with several suggestions for improving the book. I read them through and, after the initial resistance and some denial, which I think is normal—it’s my baby, after all!—I began to see that the suggestions would improve the book.

All bar one.

Now, I said at the beginning of this blog that I haven’t much experience with working with an editor. I was still in the mindset that whatever the editor wants, the editor gets. But the change she wanted me to make to one secondary character would have altered the whole story. It would not be the same book. I would have to rewrite the whole thing! Cue despair, and sleepless nights whilst I tried to work out how I could incorporate that change without starting almost from scratch. After a few days of mindless panic, I suddenly thought ‘No! This is my story, and Harriet (the secondary character in question) is who she is’. I responded to my editor, and said I would carry out the edits, but I didn’t agree with the change she asked for in Harriet’s character, and could we discuss?

My editor phoned me. I explained my predicament, and my strong belief Harriet shouldn’t change, and my editor said… ‘Oh, all right then.’

All that angst! I am still of the belief that most changes asked for by your editor are valuable in that they will improve your book. I now know, however, that the editor’s word is not law and that I can argue my corner if I disagree with an editor’s suggestion. That’s a weight off my mind as I await my editor’s response to The Baroness and the Black Sheep.

No doubt some amongst you have decided I’m a wimp for not stating my case sooner – it’ll be my name on the cover after all – but I am what I am. I’m not comfortable with confrontation, which is why I agonised over the changes first.

I’ll let you know how I get on and, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your experiences (good and bad) of editors.

I think I’ve been lucky. So far!

Gagged by the elephant in my room!

I approach this particular post with mixed feelings. There is shame that I haven’t blogged since last August, and that shame is mixed with a sense of failure, plus a whole heap of embarrassment when I see that my last post was entitled ‘Very Inspiring Blog Award’!
You what???
But it’s true that, even then, I was struggling to blog simply because I couldn’t mention the thing that dominated my life. The elephant in the room.
Let me explain.
This last year – 2014 – should have been fantastic. I became a published author! Shouldn’t I have been shouting it out from the rooftops? Doing happy jigs? My cup should have been brimming with joy. And, at first, it was… despite the fear of now having to write book 2; of proving that Mary and the Marquis was no fluke; and the absolute terror of having my work out there, for real people to read and comment on.
But my problems weren’t about the writing.
Real life… sometimes, it just gets in the way.
Just before my book was due in the shops, my husband was made redundant. For the second time in two years. And even that wasn’t the main issue. Yes, it was horrible. It was worrying. No matter what you are doing, it’s there, chewing away in the corners of your mind. At least this time, though, I continued to write, working on book 2 and, more recently, on book 3. Last time, I barely wrote a word for 6 months.
But I discovered something about myself in the latter part of this year. And it is this. I could continue to tell stories, and lose myself in them, but what I could not force myself to do was to blog, and to pretend that everything was hunky dory when it wasn’t.
I found it impossible to ignore that elephant in the room, but my OH (quite understandably) didn’t want everyone knowing his business. He didn’t even tell his family for a few months. So I couldn’t mention it. Even in passing. And it was like being gagged. The feelings were there, bursting to come out, but somehow the damming of those emotions stopped me from writing authentically about anything else going on in my life. And the longer it’s gone on between posts, the harder it’s been to start up again! (or that might just be my normal procrastination at work!)

So, here we are, almost at the end of 2014. I am determined to look forward, in the expectation (not just hope!) of a brighter new year. And so I have decided to acknowledge this particular elephant because I can’t allow it to hold me back any longer. My OH has a new challenge in store* and I’m afraid that, if I don’t post this, that bloody elephant will continue to haunt me.
Book 2 – From Wallflower to Countess – has been written, edited, accepted by my publisher, edited some more, and proofread. It will be out in April 2015, and Mills and Boon have offered me another two book contract. I haven’t blogged my way through those processes, as I had intended, because I simply couldn’t.
And now you know why.

*If you’re interested, and are still reading, my OH still doesn’t have a job. He’s reached the last 2 or 3 a few times, but lost out at the end. Ageism? We suspect it has something to do with it (he’s 57) although, of course, no one would ever admit that! He was a sales manager. He was good at his job. He was made redundant this second time because he had increased business by so much his firm would have to invest in more laboratory space in order to handle it. They chose to make him redundant instead, and employ an administrator to handle the business my OH had brought in.
Redundancy is something we never imagined could happen to us and now it’s happened twice. We have both come to the conclusion we wouldn’t ever feel secure again ‘working for the man’, even if he did get another job. So he is now working for himself, having invested in a franchise. It’s a huge leap of faith, but at least his future is now in his own hands, not at the whim of some numpty know-naught!

Very Inspiring Blog Award

inspiring

I’m thrilled to have been nominated for a Very Inspiring Blog Award by Julie Stock, whose wonderful blog My Writing Life can be seen here. Thank you, Julie!

Here are the rules of the award:

  • Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
  • List the rules and display the award.
  • Share seven facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  • Optional: follow the blogger who nominated you, if you don’t already do so.

Right, seven facts about me. I’m going for the random approach here:

  1. As a teenager I bred and showed guinea pigs
  2. My debut novel is being published at the age of 58. It really is never too late!
  3. I love chocolate
  4. I drive a bright red sports car
  5. I was in Wyoming on a ranch holiday on 9/11  
  6. I’m a late convert to the music of Led Zeppelin (courtesy of my husband)
  7. I have played midwife to numerous cows and sheep

And now for my 15 nominees:

  1. Sally Jenkins – A Writer on Writing
  2. Morton Gray – Morton S Gray
  3. Linda Chamberlain – Naked Horse
  4. Tora Williams – Tora Williams
  5. Bella Osborne – Bella Osborne Writes
  6. Rachael Thomas – Rachael Thomas Romance Writer
  7. Jessica Gilmore – Sprig Muslin

The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice I have only nominated 7 other bloggers. I’m not too hot on maths, but even I can see that if every blogger nominates 15 others we will shortly run out of bloggers. That’s my excuse anyway, I hope I will be forgiven.

First kiss – excerpt from Mary and the Marquis

If you like Regency romance, or just romance in general, here is a passage from Mary and the Marquis in the hope of whetting your appetite. Chapter 1 can be read by following My Books/Mary and the Marquis/Chapter 1 from the menu above.

 

One dark brow lifted. He’s testing me, she realised, a slow blush heating her skin, unable – or unwilling? her inner voice teased – to tear her eyes from his. As she froze, his gaze focussed and intensified. His eyes gleamed and his sensuous lips curved as Mary, still bent over him, remained transfixed, her pulse racing as his masculine scent assailed her senses and pervaded her very being. She felt as she imagined a mouse must when confronted by a crouching cat, fearful of twitching the tiniest muscle lest it prove the wrong move: the move that would trigger the pounce. Every nerve of her being quivered, every sense was on heightened alert. The stillness of the house weighed heavily, the only sounds the soft crackle of the fire and the ticking of the clock.

The slow movement of his hand broke the enchantment for a brief moment, before he enmeshed her further in his spell.His finger touchedlightly at her temple, traileda path down the side of her face and followed the line of her jaw to her chin. It then lifted to caress her mouth, tracing the width of her trembling lower lip. Mary’s lids fluttered closed as his hand cupped her chin and urged her closer, ever closer. His breath whispered across her sensitised lips as he feathered a kiss across her mouth. Desire snaked through her as his hand slid round to cradle her head. The moist heat of his lips as they moved against hers was an impossible temptation. Without volition, Mary’s hand lifted to his cheek and she leaned into the kiss, lost in the moment, her whole body awakening and responding, every nerve tingling, anticipation flowing from a tiny pinpoint deep inside until it flooded every vein in her body. She trembled, the craving for more near overwhelming her, until the distant sound of a door banging roused her from her trance and, with a gasp of horror, she wrenched her lips from his. She scrambled away, her face a-flame, her hands flying to her cheeks in a vain attempt to cover her shame.

‘My lord…’ she gasped.

The heat in those ebony eyes was undeniable. He smiled at her: a slow, seductive smile that set her quivering with desire. Her heart was pounding and she could feel the pulse jump in her neck. How had he captivated her so very quickly? How had one kiss resurrectedthose feelings she had thought dead and buried long since?

She stiffened, angry and ashamed that she had become so mesmerised by the touch of this stranger’s lips that she had responded in a way no decent woman should. And she was furious she was now unable to conceal her embarrassment. Why should she make such a fuss over a stolen kiss that was no doubt a mere passing fancy to a rake such as he? She dragged in a deep breath to steady her nerves. It would test her ingenuity to its limit, but she must disabuse him of any notion she might be available for any sort of dalliance. Taking a moment, she smoothed her hands down her skirts. She then looked him in the eye, raising her brows in a way she hoped would make her appear unconcerned.

‘Well,’ she said, willing her voice to remain light and unconcerned, ‘I cannot pretend you did not catch me off guard, or I would not have allowed that to happen. However, although your kiss was pleasant enough, my lord, I shall be obliged if you will restrain your…  more basic urges in the future. I have no wish to be constantly on my guard if I am to assist in nursing you over the next week or so. As a gentleman, I am sure you will accede to my wishes.’

‘Ah… but can you be certain I am a gentleman?’

Mary raised her chin. ‘I make no doubt you were raised as such,’ she said, ‘and, no matter what direction your life has taken since then, I would urge you to remember that. I am here to nurse you, Lord Rothley, and that is all.’

If you’d like to find out more about Mary and Lucas, there is a link to Amazon on My Books/Mary and the Marquis above.

The RNA Conference 2014 and dubious medical practices

This time last week, I was dogging Katie Fforde’s footsteps around a table. We were compiling bundles of bookmarks and postcards for inclusion in the goody bags for the delegates due to arrive at the 2014 Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. The conference was held at Harper Adams University, a former Agricultural College, near Telford in Shropshire. I’m told the smell was all-pervading. I wasn’t sure whether or not to be grateful that I’ve no sense of smell. Having lived for so many years on a farm I would no doubt have felt right at home.

The venue was great; the food superb (the meat, raised on the farm, was mouth-wateringly tender); and the company, as ever, stimulating and joyful. As we are only an hour’s drive from Harper Adams, my friend, Morton Gray, and I planned to arrive early and help with the bags, which is how I came to be following Katie Fforde (president of the RNA, no less) around the table. It’s what is so great about the RNA, everyone pitches in.

Of course, the main reason for attending the conference is the many brilliant sessions on offer. Not the wine, the food, the chat, the laughs, meeting old and new friends. Honest! There were 34 sessions to choose from, usually 3 for every one hour slot. It was so hard to choose which to attend and inevitably there were sessions I regretted missing.

Of all the sessions I went to, the one that really stood out for me was Melanie Hilton and Jan Jones: Into the heart of the past. All about romantic fiction research, it was particularly apt for me. It was fascinating to hear how these authors carry out their research. There were wonderful slides to illustrate the talk, including some of Melanie’s vast collection of original prints. A few original artefacts were passed around the audience, and it was a privilege to handle, amongst other things, a genuine Norwich shawl: to see the size of it (huge, since you ask – full length) and to examine the workmanship up close. I learnt many fascinating facts (all of which I religiously recorded!), including that it was possible to make love in a park drag, which is a gentleman’s sporting vehicle built to look like a stage coach.

We also learned of some of the pitfalls in using language in Regency times. For instance, the word fiancé did not come into use until the 1850s. Before then they used betrothed or affianced wife.  Also, in 1801, the word debutante referred to a female stage actress. It was not used for a girl coming out into society until 1817. That’s definitely one to remember!

A challenge was set for the audience at the start of the talk: to identify the purpose of what looked like a pair of wooden bellows, complete with the usual tapering nozzle and with an additional short tube-shaped inlet at right angles to the nozzle. This instrument raised a laugh at the end of the talk when it was revealed as a Tobacco Smoke Enema Device for Reviving Drowned Persons. Yes, it was inserted into some poor half-drowned soul’s rectum and smoke from a pipe was directed through the inlet and puffed up the victim’s bottom! We didn’t learn if anyone had actually been revived by this method, but it seems somewhat doubtful.

My only quarrel with Melanie and Jan’s session is that it clashed with two other talks I would have loved to attend. C’est la vie.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference in London. Special mention here to Jan Jones (organiser extraordinaire), Roger Sanderson and Jenny Barden for making the conference such a success.

 

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.

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

Firstly, I am delighted to have been invited by Chris Stovell to take part in the ‘My Writing Process’ blog tour: thank you, Chris. You can find out more about Chris at her blog: http://homethoughtsweekly.blogspot.co.uk/

The idea of this blog tour is to answer four questions about your writing process and then to tag three or, in my case, two (what can I say? Failed again!) writers, who will reply to the same four questions in their own blogs on May 12th, 2014.

What am I working on?

The Earl’s Reluctant Bride, my second Regency romance for Harlequin Mills and Boon Historicals. It is the story of Lady Felicity Weston and Richard Durant, Earl of Stanton, whose marriage of convenience challenges their preconception that marriage is for practicality and love is for fools.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Every writer is unique, with their own style, their own voice, their own vocabulary and their own life experiences that inevitably inform the stories they write. In that way, no two writers would write the same story, even given the same basic idea. Although I write Regencies, I try to use a light touch to invoke a flavour of the era without including swathes of historical detail, preferring to concentrate on the characters. I am constantly fascinated by the way messages from childhood influence people’s thoughts and behaviour, and the way they view themselves and the world around them. I like how my characters’ understanding of themselves changes as they negotiate the path to true love.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve loved Regencies ever since I first discovered the novels of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer in my teens. After re-reading all the Heyer novels I could lay my hands on in the late 1990s, I moved on to the numerous contemporary novelists who write Regencies. Occasionally, though, I would finish a book, and the fateful thought: ‘I could do better than that!’ would pop into my head. I have no doubt that similar thoughts have prompted many a writer to set pen to paper over the years!

How does my writing process work?

My handwriting is horribly untidy and even I struggle to read it at times, so it is something of a chore to wade through any notes I make. I use notebooks to jot down ides but, to write, I mostly work at my computer. I try to write something every day – I find the mornings most productive – even if it’s only a few hundred words.I begin with the hero and heroine – and the reasons why they should never fall in love with each other. Once I have my characters – and a good understanding of their pasts – I think about their journey to Happy Ever After (a must in the category romances I write), and I begin to write.

Every day when I sit down at my computer, I read through what I wrote the previous day, changing and correcting as I go, before moving on with the story.Writers are often told the most important thing is to get the first draft of the novel finished and to resolve any issues during the editing process. I find I can’t work like that. Maybe, in time, it’ll get easier but, for now, there are times when I can’t seem to move forward at all, even when I know where my characters are (or should be) going! After some quiet time away from the keyboard, I usually realise it’s because I have taken a wrong turn and, somewhere deep in my subconscious, I know it. I try to persuade myself I can fix it later, after the first draft is complete, but it’s akin to dragging an anchor behind me. When that happens, the only thing I can do is go back – sometimes right to the beginning – and resolve the issues that are bugging me.

Slow but steady, that’s me!

When my first draft is finally done, I leave it a week or two, then print it out. That’s when the fun really starts – pulling it apart and stitching it back together with the help of post-its, felt tip pens and scissors – until I feel it’s the best it can be. Of course, that’s a delusion and my editor inevitably wants even more changes. But at least by then I feel I’m on the home straight.Well, that is the end of my ‘My Writing Process’ blog. Thank you for staying with me thus far.I’d like to express my gratitude to writers and fellow RNA members Linda Chamberlain and Carol MacLean, who have agreed to continue the tour.

Linda Chamberlain

Linda lives in Sussex with her family and two horses. She’s been a journalist most of her life but is no longer letting facts get in the way of a good story. She’s turned to fiction and is seeking a publisher for her historical novel about one of England’s first vets. It’s a blend of fact and fiction looking at issues of disability for both horse and rider. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and so of course it has a happy ending but be warned…it’s going to be controversial.

Linda’s blog about horses and writing can be found on: –

http://www.nakedhorse.wordpress.com/

Carol MacLean

Carol lives on the west coast of Scotland with her husband, two children and three cats.She has always enjoyed writing and her first story, written at the age of ten, was about a girl called Mhairi who lived with her nine siblings on a small Scottish croft, getting involved in all sorts of adventures. Luckily she’s since lost this masterpiece.

Carol’s interests include hillwalking and enjoying wildlife and nature, along with a passion for reading in all sorts of genres.

http://carolmaclean.blogspot.co.uk

http://thepocketeers.blogspot.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carol.maclean.524