Publication day, Writing life, Writing news

Double publication day!

Thrilled to say that today is publication day for my Medical twin doctor duo – Second Chance with her Guarded GP, and Baby Miracle for the ER Doc. (Click on the links to find out more about the books.)

Ollie and Rob are twins; and when Rob has a burst appendix that goes wrong, gives him severe blood poisoning and wipes out his kidneys, of course Ollie offers him a kidney.

They’re complete opposites – Ollie is calm and organised, and Rob is restless and a chaos magnet.

And although neither think they’re looking for love, while they’re recuperating from the operation they meet the women who will change their lives…

 

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’, 17/8/21 part 2

 

One of the joys of summer in Norfolk is a poppy field.

So I wanted to include a poppy. It’s another from a cross-stitch magazine, designed by Joanne Sanderson. I enjoyed the richness of the colours in this one, and the outlining made a huge difference.

 

Next: a swan. This motif does several duties: memories of feeding swans with my parents as a child, the swans at Stratford-upon-Avon, the Yeats poem (which is one of my favourites) and Swan Lake. This is a Maria Diaz design, and again the outlining made a huge difference.

Next is one of my favourite places: the Globe. This symbolises my love of theatre and particularly Shakespeare, and I’ve been fortunate to see several productions here (Mark Rylance as Iago was a standout), as well as to an amazing production of Faustus in winter by candlelight in the Sam Wanamaker stage here. Going to the theatre/gigs was the thing I missed most in lockdown — streamed performances just aren’t the same. Best Shakespeare ever: for me that’s Ian McKellen in King Lear.  The design is from a Bothy Threads Shakespeare sampler; my son bought me the kit for Christmas and I’m looking forward to stitching it later.

 

Finally on this section, a guitar — another Maria Diaz design, though I changed the colours a little bit to make it slightly more like my own guitar. This one symbolises my love of music. (I couldn’t fit a piano and cello as well!)

 

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’ 17/8/2021, part 1

Ouch – three months since I last posted! In that time, I have done some other projects – a wedding sampler which I’ll post after the wedding, and a sampler for my daughter’s 21st, which I’ll post later.

But updates on the big project.

Righty.

I’ve always been fascinated by peacocks, and I really enjoyed stitching this one. It’s a Lesley Teare design from a cross-stitch magazine, full of complicated fractional stitches and those backstitched swirls.

Next was the rose – I adore roses, and have quite a few in my garden. I remember my dad trying to grow a blue rose (Blue Moon); my mum’s favourite was a very deep red (Deep Secret). My late agent bought me a beautiful Brother Cadfael when my dad died, and I’m not allowed anywhere that sells David Austin roses without adult supervision, because they just come home with me. (Madame Hardy – well, obviously that had to be there. And Darcey Bussell. I have my eye on Emily Bronte and The Mill on the Floss. Of course it’s an arty garden!) This is another Lesley Teare design – ‘vintage rose’, and I loved the shades in this.

 

Next, the stained glass window. This represents my love of church-crawling – I did want to stitch my favourite view of Norwich Cathedral spire here, but couldn’t make it work. So instead I used a Bothy Threads (Derwentwater) design; the ‘panes’ of glass are in single rather than double thread, giving that lovely quality of light coming through.

I definitely wanted bluebells. A bluebell wood is one of the deep joys of spring; my favourite is probably Blickling Great Wood (because we can take the dogs), though I also love the ancient woodland at Foxley. And it took lockdown for us to discover that we had a bluebell woodland roughly fifteen minutes’ walk from our back door… This one’s from a cross stitch magazine.

 

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’, 24/5/2020

Finished the next ‘line’ of the sampler, so I need to do a chunk of fiddly border before I start the next set of motifs.

The ballet dancer is a Lisa Reakes design (from a magazine), and represents my love of ballet and dance in general. I prefer dance aerobics and Zumba to any other cardio, and loved learning ballroom; Gerry and I were utterly hopeless at the waltz, but we enjoyed the quickstep, samba, rumba, jive and our absolute favourite was the cha-cha-cha. Sadly his arthritic hip meant we had to give up lessons. I desperately wanted ballet lessons as a child, but didn’t get them because I was too clumsy and round. However, I always loved the music of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker. I finally got to see Swan Lake a couple of years ago, and the theatre sent me an email asking if I’d like to try adult beginner ballet classes. I did – and it’s the best decision I ever made. Absolute joy. I love the music, I love the movement, and I come out of class feeling as if I’m floating. It’s been very good for my balance, and during lockdown zoom classes the dogs have joined in! I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed workshops, and the one where we danced to the Sugar Plum Fairy was utterly wonderful.

 

The teacup is a Lesley Teare design (from a magazine), and I chose this one because it’s very close to the Royal Albert ‘Old Country Roses’ design of my mum’s posh china. It’s also a nod to afternoon tea at the Assembly House in Norwich (aka a special treat). My tea of choice is either Passionfruit and Orange, or Cornucopia (mixed fruit, quite heavy on the blueberries). A book and tea in a pretty cup is such a good combination. The gold thread was meant to be the DMC ‘light effects’, but it wasn’t very nice to work with and refused to lie flat, so I unpicked it and used the same gold as the lighter one in the border. The outlining is a bit looser than I’m used to, so it was fun to try a slightly different approach. (I do like Lesley’s designs, and the one I’m doing next – in shades of teal, blue and orange – is also one of hers.)

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’, 17/05/2021

Slight hiatus while I did a wedding sampler 🙂

Back on the big project: continuing the side borders as I go, and doing the first line of motifs, shown underneath a ‘leaves and flowers’ border (in suffragette colours!).

 

The spaniel is a design from Fido Stitch Studio, a Christmas present from one of my best writer friends. I did a larger project which was the spitting image of Archie; this spaniel has a slightly wider blaze, but is still much more like Archie than like Dexter (I do intend to stitch Dexter!).

 

The typewriter is a nod to my childhood; I’d always written stories in notebooks or on lined paper, but what I really wanted was a typewriter so I could be a PROPER writer. So I badgered my parents. (No, I didn’t want a doll’s house. I wanted a typewriter. And more books. Lots more books. There is no such thing as too many books.)

Eventually, on my sixth birthday, I got a Lilliput typewriter. It came in a hard case, and I can still remember the thrill of opening the case and seeing a proper typewriter. Metal, not plastic; and it was turquoise and white (so when I saw this Diane Machin pattern, it was clearly the right one for my sampler – though the turquoise I remember was more on the teal side). It didn’t have a proper carriage return lever – you had to push it from the side instead – but I’m fairly sure it had little metal buttons you could press and slide to set the margins, and gave a warning ‘ding’ when you were five characters away from the margin.

Oh, and the wedding sampler? It’s on parchment-coloured Aida; the design is from the Historical Sampler Company, and the bees were great fun to stitch. I’ve ordered a second (different) sampler kit from them, for an event later in the year.

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’, 26/04/21

More progress this week, to the point where I’m about a quarter of the way through. (I’m taking it off the stand later today and sneaking in another project.)

The border is quite time-consuming and fiddly (it needs concentration as it’s very easy to go astray on the backstitch), so I’m doing the side borders as I go; plus it means I won’t have to keep scrolling through the sampler.

 

This week’s additions: finished the alphabet, added the quote, and two butterflies.

The quote is one of my favourites because it’s so uplifting. It was written by Julian of Norwich – from chapter xxvii of Revelations of Divine Love, the earliest surviving published book written in English by a woman, and the only known book written by an anchoress. In 1373, aged thirty and a half, Julian fell seriously ill. The night she thought she was on her deathbed, she received sixteen ’shewings’ (visions); she recovered, wrote her book and spent the rest of her life as an anchoress (i.e. she withdrew from secular life to concentrate on religious observance). I’ve modernised the spelling (though I was very tempted to keep to the original!). Stitched in Anchor 162 (surf med), and the attribution is in DMC 413 (pewter grey dk).

 

The blue butterfly is a Madeleine Floyd design (clipped from a magazine – I loved the feeling of movement). I’ve always been fascinated by blue butterflies, ever since I was a tiny child and saw the Margaret Fountaine collection at Norwich Castle museum; there are lots of chalk hill blues at Warham Camp, which I used as a research location for my book ‘A Will, a Wish and a Wedding’.

The swallowtail is from littlebeachhut.com; although we didn’t actually get to see any swallowtails during our research trip to Wheatfen Broad (same book!), we saw plenty of peacock butterflies. And I finally got to see a swallowtail at the Horniman Butterfly House in London (along with a blue morpho).

Stitching, Writing life

Kate’s ‘big stitching project’, 19/4/21

Started the ‘my favourite things’ sampler on 7 April 2021. Pleased with how it’s looking so far.


The top and side borders are based on a Textile Heritage design, though I’ve changed the colours of the jewels. Originally I wanted a border in green, white and violet (suffragette colours!) but couldn’t find one I really liked. This one is more of a medieval knot type, corresponding with one of my favourite literary periods, and the dog design at the corners (taken from a Celtic internet page) reminds me of the little dogs you see at the feet of a knight on an alabaster tomb (ticking another of my interests).

Close-up:

Notional details:

Borders and dogs, using DMC threads:

* dark gold 832 (golden olive)
* light gold 834 (golden olive vy lt)
* red 326 (rose vy dk)
* green 700 (green bright)
* purple 333 (blue violet vy dk)
* blue 3839 (lavender blue med)
* black 310 (black)
* white BS5200 (snow white)

The alphabet is from a DMC pattern – I really liked the font, and I also liked the idea of having flowers round them (similar idea to the lettering in medieval illustrated manuscripts, and the shape of the flowers is closely connected to the ‘jewels’ in the border).

The letters are stitched using Anchor – 168 (surf blue lt) for the main body and 169 (surf blue med) for the outlining. The flowers are stitched in DMC: petals 600 (cranberry vy dk) and centres 726 (topaz lt).

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing life

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 79: the one with the First Birthday

Dexter: Arch, Arch, it’s my birthday! I’m one today!

Archie: I know, Pipsqueak. Happy birthday.

Dexter: What did you get me? Huh? Huh?

Archie: It’s round and squeaks.

Dexter: A ball! Yay!

Archie: Mum’s going to make you a birthday cake. Except you got so excited that she has to mop the floor first.

Dexter: Mum, hurry up and make my cake. Pleeeeeeeeease.

A short while later…

Dexter: Is that my cake? Is it, is it?

(Much impatient waiting for it to be cooked and for the mashed potato ‘icing’ to be made.)

Meanwhile: birthday chews!

Dexter: Arch, you have to sing to me now.

Archie, sighing: Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday dear Pipsqueak – now shut up and let’s have cake! Yummy!

(They did save enough for the neighbours’ dogs to have a slice. But it went very quickly…)

Dexter: Arch, I’ve had a lovely birthday. Now I need a nap. Be my pillow?

Publication day, Writing life, Writing news

Publication day – Surprise Heir for the Princess

 Today’s publication day for Surprise Heir for the Princess.This started life in my head years ago, when I wrote the Penhally vet book. Readers asked me if I’d write the sister’s story, but because Penhally was a Medical Romance and the sister was a princess, my editor and I couldn’t make it work.

I still wanted to write the princess and the paparazzo. I asked. A lot. (My editor’s standard reply is ‘hahaha – no’.) So then I thought about tweaking it a bit.

Now, I love Audrey Hepburn. And I got to thinking about Roman Holiday. (I know, I know, Gregory Peck is a journalist… but bear with me.) Audrey’s princess takes a day to live an ordinary life and be a tourist in Rome. How could that work in today’s world, when everyone has a phone in their pocket and can instantly upload a pic that can zoom round the globe in seconds?

I thought about it a bit more. I wanted a photographer hero. My princess was going to be Italian(ish) – hence the fictional Mediterranean principality. (Sort of based on Capri, which I loved visiting.) And the setting? Partly in London – but they escape to the place of my heart. And the pics below show you a bit of the inspiration behind the book. Wells-next-the-sea, Hunstanton, and Blickling Great Wood.

Writing life, Writing news

Winning the RNA Shorter Romantic Fiction Award 2021

Still thrilled to bits this morning.

Yesterday morning, I was frantically finishing my latest book, had to do an emergency dash to buy mascara (having learned that not touching it for a year makes it dry out, cough), and was feeling a bit flat because on a normal RNA Awards day I’d be on the train to London, meeting up with my mates for a cup of tea, then lunch with editors and fellow shortlistees, and the group photographs with fellow shortlistees in our categories, and then talking way too much and drinking bubbly.

Lockdown? Nope. Nothing like it. We did have a zoom party for the finalists, and I’m very grateful to the RNA for organising that, but my wifi decided to be temperamental. Y’know where everyone’s pixelated and sounds like a robot? That. Add my hearing difficulty and… just no.

Posh swish lunch? Um, that would be scampi, shared with the dogs.

The flat feeling was back. Along with a large dose of guilt about feeling that way, because other people have had so much worse.

Scruff of neck time. I’d been shortlisted for an award with my 90th book for M&B, in my 20th year of being published by them. Lockdown or no lockdown, that deserved celebrating. Cue opening a bottle of rose Prosecco.

Then the awards do started. I so enjoyed the green room with my fellow shortlistees. We talked about books we’d loved, about how to deal with Lockdown Chins (yeah, OK, so when we were on the screen I forgot everything we’d all said about angles and clever use of hands), and we had a glass of wine ‘together’.

Technical difficulties were overcome — and I’m hugely grateful for the technology that allowed us to still have our awards do (including a ’green room’), and share it with friends and family.

I wasn’t expecting to win because all the books on our shortlist were fabulous.

So when Larry Lamb opened the envelope and said that the Liberta Books award for Shorter Romantic Fiction went to Kate Hardy…  This was my reaction!

 

A Will, a Wish and a Wedding – aka the butterfly book, set partly in my beloved Norfolk – won the award. And I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Thank you to the RNA – an organisation that’s been part of my life for a quarter of a century and introduced me to many good friends; to M&B, my publisher of two decades; to Liberta Books, for sponsoring the award; to my editor, Julia Williams, whose editing is very wise indeed; to my fellow shortlistees on the night (it’s the nomination that counts, and we are ALL winners); to my husband Gerard and children Chris and Chloe, who’ve always been my staunch supporters and to whom the book is dedicated; to my edit-paw-ial assistants, who make me leave my desk and also keep my feet warm; and to my readers, because without you I couldn’t do the job that makes my heart sing.

Thank you.