The HarperCollins Romance Festival is taking place this weekend. Here I am being interviewed on their blog. There are lots of other authors to check out too.
Yesterday I was gloomy owing to my day job. Today I’m not so I want to share the title for my next book.
It’s the story of Eleanor and Will and is called A Wager for the Widow which I think has a great alliterative ring to it. It comes out in July (just in time for my 40th birthday so that should take the sting out a bit) and it’s being released electronically and mass market paperback in North America and the UK and as a paperback duo in Australia.
Here’s the blurb:
“I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?”
Widowed Lady Eleanor Peyton has chosen a life of independence. Living alone on her rocky coastal outcrop, she’s cut herself off from the world of men — until William Rudhale saves her life and demands a kiss!
As steward to Lady Eleanor’s father, Will knows the desire he burns with is futile — but he’ll still wager he can claim Eleanor’s kiss by midwinter. Yet when the tide turns Will realizes vulnerable Eleanor is far too precious to gamble with. Can he win his lady before it’s too late?
I don’t have a cover yet as I’ve got all the fun of describing characters and settings still to come, but I’ll be sharing that as soon as I do. In the meantime, if anyone wants to be super organised and order it the link is here.
‘The big ginger cat of London likes eating fish and climbing the curtains.’
‘the enormous marmalade coloured cat of london likes munching his way through mounds of salmon and whizzing up and down the curtains like a yoyo’
Which sentence is correct? Which sentence is better?
According to the new National Curriculum for Year 1, the first is better because the child has achieved the objective of using capital letters for names of places. Never mind the use of descriptive language, we’re not interested in that today. Vocabulary choice isn’t even on the curriculum for Year 1 (5-6 year olds for anyone not from England) and our objectives should be based on the new curriculum and the key skills.
Let me make it clear, I have absolutely no problem with children developing these skills. I think they’re hugely important. As a teacher I work hard to raise attainment in my pupils. I want them to write legibly and grammatically. Children should be able to
write sentences by:
saying out loud what they are going to write about
composing a sentence orally before writing it
sequencing sentences to form short narratives
re-reading what they have written to check that it makes sense
discuss what they have written with the teacher or other pupils
read their writing aloud, clearly enough to be heard by their peers and the teacher
leaving spaces between words
joining words and joining clauses using ‘and’
beginning to punctuate sentences using a capital letter and a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark
using a capital letter for names of people, places, the days of the week, and the personal pronoun ‘I’
But surely there is more to writing than that? There is but I decided against cut and pasting the Transcription part of the document. The above was the Composition element. If we all work really hard we might produce a generation of children with accurate grammar and perfect spellings but will we produce children who want to write?
The new curriculum that was taken from came in this academic year. Last year I taught the same topics so had a look through my planning to see what had changed and if I could reuse any ideas. Last year when we wrote poems about the sea, we looked at imagery, we played around with adjectives, wrote sentences on strips of paper, tore them up to change the word order and looked at what happened to the sentence. We watched short films and music videos. Enya’s Orinoco Flow was a favourite as was this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1mX8ptsmBM We created characters and sent them on journeys. One day, when I figure out where he ends up, I’m going to write the pilot’s story myself.
The child who wrote amazing sentences on a wanted poster for their invented pirate got recognition for that even if they had forgotten to capitalise ‘seasick jane, the terror of the west indies’. This year, even with all my best endeavours to make the lessons fun it feels like some of the joy has gone out of it.
As someone who also loves creating stories and images and making a reader feel for a character it all makes me rather sad. Of course I want my writing to be accurate (though I know my lovely editor will pick up on my mistakes and won’t even keep me in at playtime) and wading through an otherwise engrossing book full of typos can be a labour of love, but checking the accuracy is something that comes afterwards. Once my hero has admitted he was too proud and cold to admit his feelings and the heroine has fallen sobbing into his arms after an emotional fight then I’ll go back and check for stray capitals. If all my reviews on Amazon concentrated on the accuracy of my commas I’d probably give up*.
Today Nicky Morgan, the Minister for Education, has announced a war on illiteracy and innumeracy, which is great, because we like funding wars. I just hope she’s planning to fund this war as well as the one on Terror or against places that might affect our oil supply because schools could sure as hell do with the funding! If schools fail to get every child through the tests they risk being turned into academies (taking them out of LA control and giving them to private companies to run) and Headteachers risk being sacked. This is not going to encourage teachers to allow children the freedom to explore language and creativity, or Heads to let them.
Last year I used to get little stories or poems brought in from pupils after the weekend. Not all of them were brilliantly spelled or had the right capitals and full stops but they were fun and showed a genuine pleasure in producing ideas. This year they proudly show me their alphabets written in cursive writing. To me that speaks volumes and none of them have happy endings.
*I won’t- writing is the only plan I have to get out of teaching that doesn’t involve leaving in a box (thank you to you all if you’ve bought my book, if you haven’t please do, I can’t take much more waiting for OFSTED to descend).
I love Brian Cox and it is a continual disappointment to me that, despite driving past Jodrell Bank twice a day, three times a week, I’ve not yet bumped into him.
Maybe as I’m driving that is a good thing.
Stop Press : Apparently Prof Cox is aware of the drinking game. So by not participating, not only will you be letting yourself down, you’ll be letting him down too. Do it. You know it makes sense.
Take 1 finger of drink when Prof Cox says:
- “1st law of thermodynamics“
- “Chandrasekhar limit“
- When ever Brian shouts at us from a moving vehicle. (Double for a flying vehicle – h/t @Markgfh)
- Whenever you see time lapse footage of the sky or clouds (like this) – h/t @MrMMarsh
Take 2 fingers of drink for:
- “2nd law of thermodynamics“
- Any use of props (like salt and pepper shakers) or drawing in the sand with a stick (ht Rob and @carolwhead)
Take 3 fingers of drink…
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One of the best things about this writing business is getting boxes of books through the post. Who doesn’t like getting parcels, and filled with books. What could be better.
Oh yes, getting a parcel filled with books with my name on them!
These turned up today completely out of the blue which makes it doubly exciting because I wasn’t expecting any.
I secretly wanted a brooding hero on my cover so Zachary Black is the next best thing. Later I’m going to prop the books up next to each other and make him and Aline talk to each other.
I know I have blog readers in Australia (hello, I love your country, haven’t been for years)so if you’ve seen this on the shelves I’d love you to let me know. If you’ve bought it, even more so.
A very short post because it’s been a long week. In my other job I’ve had a lesson observation and am in the throes of rehearsals for the Christmas play (insert all the traditional cliches about 5 year olds in Nativities- they’re all true).
On my non-school days (I hesitate to call them days off) I’ve been working on my revisions for my second book. A couple of days ago my editor emailed to say she loved them and we’re there with it.
I wondered if the thrill of having a manuscript accepted would wear off but if anything this feels even better than the first time around because it shows me I wasn’t just a one hit wonder. It’s also important because I’ve proved to myself that I can write to a deadline rather than taking my time over a few years with no real timescale as I did with the first one. Now I’m looking forward to the next stages of the process, which I didn’t even realise existed before FFHC was bought. Hello art sheets and browsing the internet for pictures of my hero to send the cover design team – such a trial. We shall not mention Word document track changes at this point…
To celebrate my sale I’m running a giveaway on Goodreads for a copy of Falling for Her Captor https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/117401?utm_medium=api&utm_source=giveaway_widget It’s UK only this time and ends next weekend in time to beat the Christmas postage mayhem so might make someone a fab present(and you don’t have to tell them it was a freebie) so spread the word.
I always said I would never read reviews if, and when I got published. I also said I’d stop biting my nails, exercise every day and only ever eat chocolate at the weekends.
Yeah, right. That was always going to work.
A few kind friends offered to vet them for me first but I can’t help myself so every so often I head over to Amazon and Goodreads to have a nosy. As a first time author I wasn’t sure whether getting bad reviews would be worse than getting none but as Oscar Wilde said ‘There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.’
I handed my revisions for book 2 in today so have got a bit of headspace to think about what book 3 is going to be, and reading reviews is a good way to focus my mind on why I write. There is something wonderful about knowing that something I’ve done has given people some enjoyment. If I had feedback like this in my other job then writing end of year reports would be much more fun!
I’m collating reviews from different places here so I can find them again easily and for anyone else who wants to have a look. Some of them were written by people I gave copies to but asked for their honest thoughts. What really pleased me about those was a couple of them admitted to not being the target audience but liked it anyway. One is from an author which makes it extra special. none of them (as far as I know) is from my mum.
I’m very excited by this one below because it is on a blog by someone who reads a huge number of books and who knows a lot about what she likes. She’s tough to please so I read it through my fingers but came out smiling at the other side.
Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go do a press-up and eat a Malteser.
I’m in the process of working through revisions for my second manuscript so thought I’d share the first meeting of my heroine and hero as I said I would share an excerpt when I had more Facebook likes.
‘The horseman cursed and wheeled his mount around. He galloped away from the water’s edge then turned. With a sudden bellow he cracked the reins sharply and sped back towards the river. As the horse reached the edge, the rider spurred it forward. The horse leapt through the air with ease to land on the deck alongside Eleanor. The ferry bucked, the far end almost rising from the water. Hooves clattered on the slippery wood and the animal gave a high-pitched whinny of alarm. It was not going to stop!
As a cumbersome looking saddlebag swung towards her Eleanor threw herself out of its way. The railing caught her behind the knees and she stumbled backwards, her ankle turning beneath her. Cursing, she flailed her arms helplessly, unable to regain her balance as the river came up to meet her.
The soaking never happened. Something stopped Eleanor with a jerk. Her feet slid on the deck and her head snapped back. Cold spray splashed over her face, her plait dipping below the surface of the water. Blinking rapidly, she raised her head to see what had stopped her fall.
The horseman, still mounted, had twisted across his saddle at what seamed an impossible angle. He leaned almost horizontally over the platform, the neck of Eleanor’s cloak bundled in one gloved hand. Eleanor found herself staring up into a pair of blue eyes half hidden in the depths of his hood.
With ease the man pulled Eleanor back to her feet. Still holding her he threw his leg back across the saddle and dismounted gracefully. As she stood upright a spear of pain shot through Eleanor’s ankle. She gave an involuntary gasp and her knees buckled. With the same speed as his initial rescue, the rider’s arms found their way round Eleanor’s waist, catching her tight and clasping her to him before she slipped to the ground.
“I’ve got you. Don’t wriggle!”
The man’s hood fell back and Eleanor saw him clearly for the first time. He was younger than his voice had suggested. A long scar ran from the outside corner of his eye and across his cheek, disappearing beneath a shaggy growth of beard at his jaw. A second ran parallel from below his eye to his top lip. His corn-coloured hair fell in loose tangles to his shoulder. Close up his eyes were startlingly blue.
Footsteps thundered on the deck as Eleanor’s coachman appeared. It struck Eleanor suddenly that the man was still holding her close, much closer than was necessary, in fact. She because conscious of the rise and fall of his chest, moving rhythmically against her own. Her heart was thumping so heavily she was sure he would be able to feel it through her clothing. As to why it was beating so rapidly she refused to think about.
“You can let go of me now,” she muttered.
The horseman’s eyes crinkled. “I could,” he said, “though I just saved your life. There must be some benefits to rescuing a beautiful maiden in distress, and holding her until she stops shaking is one of them. I suppose a kiss of gratitude is out of the question?”
“You didn’t save my life. I can swim,” Eleanor cried indignantly. It was true she was trembling, but now it was from anger. “I am most certainly not kissing you!”
The man’s forehead crinkled in disbelief. “Even though I saved you from a cold bath?”
Eleanor’s cheeks flamed. “It was your fault in the first instance, you reckless fool. You could have capsized us all. Your horse might have missed completely.”
The horseman laughed. “Nonsense, it was perfectly safe. Tobias could have cleared twice that distance. If you had stood still none of this would have happened. You panicked.”
With an irritated snort Eleanor pushed herself from the man’s grip, contriving to elbow him sharply in the stomach as she did so. She heard a satisfying grunt as she turned her back. She headed to the carriage but her ankle gave a sharp stab of pain. She stopped, balling her fists in irritation. The horseman leaned round beside her. “Allow me,” he said. Before Eleanor could object he had lifted her into his arms and strode the three paces to the coach. With one hand on the door-handle he cocked his head. “Still no kiss? Ah well, it’s a cruel day!”
“There are no circumstances under which I would kiss you!” Eleanor said haughtily, sweeping her gaze up and down him.
His face darkened and Eleanor took the opportunity to wriggle from his arms. Biting her lip to distract herself from the throbbing in her ankle she swung the door open herself and climbed in, slamming it loudly behind her.’
What do you think?
Some great seasonal stories here.
Today on Twitter is the Historical Romance Network’s Fall Back in Time event
Now, I love a good historical read and have done ever since I was little. I remember spending a coach trip to the Lake District with my nose stuck in a Jean Plaidy (Murder Most Royal I think) and barely seeing the scenery.
I’m also a sucker for dressing up whenever I can. I date that back to being in Year 5 (aged around 9 or 10 for people thinking in old money) and being chosen to try on the crinoline on a school trip to the Castle museum. There’s something wonderful about putting on a costume and being transported to another time.
Here, for your amusement are a few of the times I’ve had fun dressing up. The one medieval outfit I’ve worn I don’t seem to have a photo of which is a shame. It was a lovely green dress (maybe that’s why Aline wears green) with huge sleeves and I like to think me hero wouldn’t have been able to resist me.
I encourage you to try costumes on whenever you can. Who knows where it might lead.
Or course some periods are more flattering than others..