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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.

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing life, Writing news

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 78: the one with the RNA Awards

Dexter: Arch, Mum’s excited and she’s asking people on Facebook what she should wear. What’s happening?

 

Archie: It’s the RNA Awards today, Pipsqueak. Mum’s been shortlisted for the Liberta Book Shorter Romantic Fiction Award. It’s quite a big deal – it’s for her 90th book for Mills & Boon, and they first published her 20 years ago, when Chloe was the same age as you’ll be at the end of the month.

Dexter: So what’s that weird noise?

Archie: The hairdryer. She only uses it when she has to make her hair look really nice. Not like normal, when she just washes it and lets it dry while we’re out for a walk.

Dexter: And what’s that red stuff?

Archie: Lipstick. Oh, yeah, she hasn’t worn make-up since you were born and it’s all dried up so she had to go out and get more. That’s why we had scampi for lunch.

Dexter: Is lipstick as nice as biscuits?

Archie, laughing: Well, you can try licking it off her face. But not until after the awards do.

Dexter: It’s weird, seeing Mum dressed up. She’s normally as scruffy as you are.

Archie: Oi!

Dexter: Why do we have to sit quietly on the sofa with Dad?

Archie: Because it’s a Lockdown Awards Do – that means it’s on zoom, instead of her abandoning us to go to London.

Dexter: So we could go and leap on her and say hello to loads of people all over the world. After all, we are her Edit-paw-ial Assistants. She can’t write books without us at her feet.

Archie: No. Apparently there are technical problems. Let’s have a nap.

(later)

Dexter: Mum’s crying! Noooo! We need to be there and make her better!

Archie: She’s not crying because she’s upset. She’s happy! She won!

Dexter: And you were lying about lipstick tasting nice… Pah!

(Later)

Dexter: It’s all very nice, this rose Prosecco and that, but where are the biscuits?

Archie: All the excitement’s tired me out. Let’s go to sleep and dream of the biscuits I just know she’ll buy us tomorrow…

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing life

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 77: the one with the snow [video]

Dexter: Arch, Arch, what’s this white stuff?
Archie: It’s snow, Pipsqueak.
Dexter: It doesn’t smell. It doesn’t taste. But my paws are cold – and it’s skiddy!
Archie: The first time I saw snow, I was five months younger than you are now. And we had a trampoline. Snow’s fun.
Dexter: I’m cold. I’m going in for a biscuit and a cuddle.

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The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 76: the one with Side by Side


Dexter: I hate the Halti, Arch.
Archie: So do I, Pipsqueak. But it’s your fault. You will *pull* on the lead. (And you’re the one who lived with huskies when you were super-tiny. They clearly taught you something before you joined us.)
Dexter: You pull as well. Especially when there’s someone you want to say hello to.
Archie: Mum isn’t going to budge on this. When we pulled her so she skidded on that patch of mud, she told Dad she thought we’d pull her over — especially now it’s icy — and she’s worried she’d hurt her wrist again. So we’re on Haltis for ever.
Dexter: We could promise not to pull.
Archie: We could — but the first interesting smell, or another dog to greet, and you know we’ll forget.
Dexter: At least we’re together. Side by side.
Archie: Even if your ears are  inside out. Hey. Got a song for ya.

Oh, we don’t like porridge with honey
We’re very waggy and funny
And we’ll wa-alk along
Singing a song
Side by side.

Mum, she is mean with the Halti
Because our walking is faulty
But we’ll wag our tails
Cos she’s our fav’rite female
(Dexter, scandalised: Arch, don’t sing that in front of Chloe!)
Side by side.

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing life

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 75: the one with Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside the Seaside…

(With apologies to John Glover-Kind…)

Archie: We didn’t get our New Year walkies by the sea, Pipsqueak – thanks to lockdown and the weather. So let’s look back at last summer in our favourite place. We can sing about it…

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Every dog delights to have a doggy holiday
Down beside the side of the silvery sea.
We’re no exception to the rule, in fact, if we’d our way,
We’d reside by the side of the silvery sea.

But when you’re just a spaniel you can’t drive out to the sea
You have to wait and plead
Until the parents agree
You save up all your biscuits so you can have a packed tea
(Archie: Unless the cafe’s open and you can beg a sausage roll)
Then away they take you to Wells-next-the-Sea…

Oh! We do like to be beside the seaside!
We do like to be beside the sea!
Oh we do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!
(Dexter: Arch, there isn’t a prom, just endless sand and dunes!
Archie: Shh, Pipsqueak, it’s the chorus!)
Where the brass bands play, “Tiddely-om-pom-pom!”
(Dexter: Arch, there aren’t any brass bands, either! Just dogs.
Archie: All right, Pipsqueak…)
Where the other doggies say, “Woofity-wuff-wuff-wuff!”

So just let us be beside the seaside!
We’ll be beside ourselves with glee,
And there’s lots of dogs beside,
I should like to be beside,
Beside the seaside,
Beside the sea!

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing life

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 74: the one with the New Year


Dexter: Arch, Arch, what’s New Year?
Archie: It’s the first day of the year, Pipsqueak. Your first new year (just as this was your first Christmas).
Dexter: And?
Archie: Usually we go to the beach.
Dexter: Running around, playing with lots of dogs, jumping in the waves, then going to the cafe so the parents can get coffee and we get a hot sausage roll.
Archie: Yes. But not this year. We’re back in lockdown. So we’re home. Naps on the sofa. Oh, and we’re supposed to make resolutions.
Dexter: What are resolutions?
Archie: They’re things you try to do in future so you’re healthier and happier.
Dexter: That’s easy. More walkies — and more snacks.
Archie: I think Mum would prefer you only to eat food in future. Not the tea towels, not the corner of her favourite tablecloth you chewed this morning, and definitely no more scourers.
Dexter: You have to admit, it was great having chicken and mash three times a day.
Archie: Yeah, but Mum in worry mode is like the worst thing ever. We need to give her more cuddles to make up for it.
Dexter: Then that’s my resolution. More walkies, more snacks and more cuddles.
Archie: That’s a good one. I think humans ought to do that, too — well, when they’re allowed to hug again. Happy New Year!