Friday, 29 February 2008


My dh never takes flattering pics of me! But I have to say this one makes me laugh. You must be wondering what I was doing... well, the last walk of our 3-day break in Ullapool was along the banks of the Kirkaig River not far from Lochinver. We set off in sunshine and got caught in a rain/sleet/wind storm. The path was wet when we walked up it, but when we came back we may as well have been walking in a stream, so wherever the water headed for the river, I helped it by channelling (with my stick) a deep groove to hasten the water on its way from the path to the river.
The delightful orange garment is my emergency poncho - purchased the day before for a mere £2. No, I am not peculiarly formed. The poncho covers head, body, arms and haversack as well.

We had a great time, and I'll reveal more photos over the next few days.

We stayed at the Caledonian on Quay Street. I booked an Easy-break online, and we got dinner, bed and breakfast for £41 per night, for three nights. That's not per person, as it usually is in the UK. An amazing price.
£20.50 each! The only thing we could complain about was that try as we might we niether of us could get hot water out of the shower. Since there was a full size bath, we had hot baths instead.

We had a great drive up with the roads all to ourselves. Left home at nine, arrived 4.30. We found the CAl-Mac ferry tied up at the landing as the wind was too high to allow it to sail to Stornoway.
Because the ferry didn't sail that day, or that night, Ullapool was crammed with juggernauts. All the big trucks that take groceries, furniture, you-name-it-they'll-take-it from the mainland to Lewis and Harris were chugging up the hill outside the hotel from 2am on, all expecting to get the 6am ferry. It didn't sail then, either. The hotel was full. People had to find a bed for the night, or sleep in their cars - not a pleasant prospect in February with the wind howling through the streets, the rain slanting down and the temperature about 4.5C.

Sunday, 24 February 2008


If anyone is ever in doubt about the Romance genre and what it is, there is a huge discussion going on here The basic question of whether it is the correct term for the genre that hides beneath it brought out some interesting responses.

So, what is Romance?
Out of curiosity, I checked my dictionary and found some surprises:
An atmosphere or tendency characterised by a sense of remoteness from or an idealisation of everyday life;
Sense of wonder or mystery surrounding the mutual attraction in a love affair;
A literary genre with romantic love/highly imaginative or unrealistic episodes forming the central theme;
A medieval tale of some hero of chivalry;
An exaggeration or picturesque falsehood;
The languages descended from Latin, regarded collectively;

I think that about covers it!

A tighter view might cover category romance: the meet between h/H;
their mutual attraction; the barrier that keeps them apart; how they overcome the barrier; how the reach the Happy Ever After ending.

That's it in a nutshell, I think. The variety of 'em depends how much adventure, sex, humour you want to put into the journey to HEA. Some authors have a great sense of humour that comes through in their writing . Louise Allen does it for me. Others are rather more serious, like
Juliet Landon. Others forget reality altogether and go for pure adventure.

Friday, 22 February 2008

India and M & B

Mills and Boon - which has nearly three-quarters of the romantic market in its home country of the UK - is now launching in India. Their books are already popular in the country because they have been unofficially introduced from abroad.

However much critics and reviewers slate and revile Mills & Boon, the company happily goes on selling. Personally I think the critics do M&B a favour - all publicity is good publicity! A woman will read what she wants to read, not what the critics tell her. Women like the happy endings. It is reassuring in these days of violence to know that however difficult the route may be, true love always prevails in the end.

Modern Indian women say they want the M&B heroes to be modern Indian men - they're not looking for Maharajahs. A combination of Bollywood actors Hrithik Roshan and Shahrukh Khan, businessman Anil Ambani and industrialist Sunil Mittal would do nicely!

If you want to read the article, click here

Thursday, 21 February 2008

I'm not off gallivanting again. Today has been so miserable, wet, cold and windy that I wanted to remind myself of some nice warm weather so I chose this long shot of Aphrodite's birthplace in Cyprus.

Today I finished off a revamp on Shadows and sent it off to a publisher. It is shorter than my usual stories but perhaps that is good for e-publishing. Doing it brought back more nice warm memories, this time of France in the summer months. I hope that when I write my readers get some sort of feeling for the locations. I use places I know, somewhere I've been, usually more than once - and obviously, places I like. So far I've written of Scotland, Dublin, Aydon, Banff and the Dordogne and I'd recommend all of them. I had a good time re-visiting. Now I wonder if I can work up a tale of the other places I've been? I spent nearly 8 weeks in Australia not so long ago, surely there must be something there? H'mmm. Puts on thinking cap.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008


This morning the world was a magical place for every tree, hedge, blade of grass was coated in frost down to the last twig. Against a dark grey-blue sky, it looked wonderful.

My wip is up to 52,000 words. I'm almost up to the great Black Moment. I shall have to really get down to it now, however painful it is to write.

I posted off another partial submission yesterday for WsB. That's what professional authors say we must do - keep on sending 'em out.

Sunday, 17 February 2008


I discovered the combination that unlocked my e-mails so I'm back in business again. I can't tell you how awful it felt without them!

Now I must get down to some serious work after all the time wasted searching passwords and user names. I'm up to chapter Fourteen in the current wip and I've decided I want to race on and get to the end. Then I shall go back to Chapter Fourteen and expand, layer, add in all the detail. Right now, though, I want to sort this couple out. I want to know exactly how they're going to get through the bad times ahead and come out triumphant.

I tend to keep my headhopping to a minimum - I only swop when a scene or a chapter changes. I know M&B allow lots of headhopping but I find it very easy to get confused when reading a story with constant hh'g. I've been reading some of the new historicals out since Christmas, and after about six titles found I wanted something different - not better, not worse, just different - and I chose Ian Rankin's first Rebus story Knots and Crosses.

Couldn't be more different! But it gave me the change I needed. And today I want to write a really good synopsis for another publisher. I looked back at my notes taken at RNA conferences and found that knowageable people differ on what makes a good synopsis. I think a good deal depends on which publisher you aim for, and the synopsis must be tailored to that particular publisher.


I really should not complain as my writing is steaming ahead even though the characters are getting themselves into an awful mess, e-mail has gone straight down the plughole and I feel bereft.

I don't know what I did, or even if it is my fault. It could be the server that's down, in which case I probably shouldn't mess with the settings on my pc. (Cringes - I have been messing with them) But if anyone has been trying to reach me and is not getting a response, bear with me.

It is amazing the time it saves for writing. Perhaps not having e-mail is a good thing?

No, of course not. Couldn't possibly be.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008


Spring appears to be here. This is the second day when we've had cloudless blue skies and sunshine - warm enough to walk without a coat. Seems very strange this early in the year.
Yesterday we walked in Hawthorne Dene, where a stream runs down to the sea and the wooded banks are littered with snowdrops. The North Sea was calm as the proverbial millpond, and not a breath of wind.

I don't know why, but I'm suspicious of such good weather in early February. Both Bill and I have been bitten by midgies this week. If it gets too much warmer in the UK, we may see over here the huge flying bombers of insects they have in France.

We walked with Sandra, Brian and Mishka. We couldn't let the dog off the leash because she is about ready to come into season and we dare not let her mis-mate herself. There are plans for her to have a litter, but a carefully selected stud will do the task - not some ragamuffin from the local farm! There's a photo of her somewhere in archives.

As for writing, this latest wip is going like a train. I should do some work on the last one, and add more plot to the one before that, but I don't want to stop!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

90 years ago

90 years ago yesterday - women over the age of 30 who owned property got the vote. Women under 30 who did not own property had no right to vote. At the same time, more men were given the right to vote. From 1918 men aged 21 and over who had lived in a constituency for over 6 months received the right to vote.

It took another ten years before women's rights matched those of men.

So short a time, and yet society moves at such a pace that today a good many women never bother to use their vote. I wonder if there would be an outcry if the right to vote was taken away from them?

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Everyday things

A bright blue sky day for a change - a pleasure to be out and about meeting friends in Hexham at Mrs Miggins coffee house.

Now back to the desk for a couple of hours before we go out again to visit Matfen Hall for a meal. We plan to go earlyish, say 4pm, so that we can walk a little before settling down to eat. We'll probably go into the Keepers Lodge - the golf club house, rather than the hotel proper. See here.

We went into the Library for a formal dinner when the kids were visiting from Oz a few weeks ago, and they thought it was beautiful. I think it's beautiful, too, but it's a tad expensive for everyday visits!

I am getting carried away with my latest wip. I'm really pleased with the way it is shaping up at 40,000 words. This time I've kept my H/h together most of the way, and I think there is lots of internal conflict. Whether HM&B will agree with me is another matter!

Taking a Risk

  Poised on the cliff edge about to take the leap! No thoughts of suicide - oh no! Or perhaps only in terms of covers for my e-books. I am a...