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…

Publication day, Writing life, Writing news

Publication day for my 90th M&B!

I love butterflies. So I couldn’t resist writing about a butterfly specialist (gave me a good excuse for research) and an architect.

And it’s my 90th book for M&B!

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I can’t believe how fast that’s gone – 90 books in 19 years.

If you’d like to know more about the book, take a look at the book page here… and there are also buy links, should you wish to purchase 🙂

 

Archie and Dexter, Pipsqueak posts, Writing news

The Pipsqueak Posts, Episode 34: the one with Underneath the Archie… [video]

Dexter: Hey, Arch – I heard this song, the other day. ‘Underneath the Archie’, I think it was. And it’s given me a great idea for a game. You stand there and pretend to be a bridge. I’ll walk underneath you, carrying a tennis ball. And then I’m going Underneath the Archie… Hahaha! Geddit?

Archie: Oh, Pipsqueak…

Lockdown, Writing life, Writing news

M&B #91 accepted!

Thrilled to say that my latest M&B Medical Romance (my 91st book for them) has just been accepted. It was VERY tough to write during lockdown – given the events in the world, it felt as if my work was completely irrelevant and frivolous, and writing the book was like wading through treacle. I had no connection with my hero or heroine, but I talked to my editors and they reminded me that it’s better to edit a bad page than a blank page, so I sent in a book I was really not happy with. My editors said I wasn’t alone in feeling this way and that not only were other writers finding it hard, the editors were also struggling to read. Even though I work from home in normal s circumstances, it isn’t the same at all during lockdown.

While my editors were ploughing through it, I had a shift in mindset. Short romance novels like mine serve a very specific purpose: they entertain people, they have a definite happy ending so they help to lift moods, and maybe this is what the world needs right now. Love and happiness. And I needed to stop feeling miserable and bring the joy back. (I’d been doing that with Facebook posts including birdsong and my daily walk with the beastie and catching the sunrise – oh, wait, pictures!! Look at this!! More on my Instagram account.)

So my editors came back to me with comments, and I scribbled all over my manuscript (actually – maybe it’d be nice for you to see my writing in progress. One set of revisions, scribbled all over (it’s in track changes so I can see my editors’ comments, and I use a pink Pilot v-ball pen for my changes as it has a very fine nib and suits my tiny, scruffy handwriting). I usually have an Edit-paw-ial assistant sitting at my feet, but occasionally Senior EPA decides to sit on the dining room chair next to me. Pipsqueak obviously won’t be big enough to do that, yet, and I think he’d climb on the table and chew my pens at the moment!

Anyway, I’m delighted to say that Forever Family for the Midwife (the midwife, by the way, is a male midwife…) will be published in November 2020. You can find it on Amazon UK here (for transparency’s sake, that’s an affiliate link) and Amazon US here (not affiliate link). And I will do the proper page for it on my website soon 🙂

Publication day, Writing news

Publication day: Finding Mr Right in Florence

imageToday is the official publication day of my 84th book for Mills & Boon, Finding Mr Right in Florence.

It all started because I love the TV series ‘Fake or Fortune’ – actually, I’ve wanted to do an art mystery book for years (that probably owes a bit to an episode of the TV drama ‘New Tricks’).

And if it’s art, it has to be Florence, right? So we ended up in Florence, researching the location. I rather fell in love with the Duomo (the best bits for me were climbing inside the Duomo, and seeing the amazing Roman mosaic peacock in the crypt – not to mention 13th-century tombs that still had their colour – have I mentioned before that I adore church architecture?). We also visited a lot of art galleries – the Uffizi made me cry (Botticelli), but I really loved the ‘modern’ art gallery. Now, my taste in art is very much 19th century (Burne-Jones in particular) or medieval (so Florence was right up my street), but ‘modern’ in Florence is 19th century. I loved the Macchiaioli paintings, so I borrowed some of them for my book – but my Florence painter is completely from my imagination.

I wanted this to be called ‘The Girl in the Window’ (after the painting in the book), but I never get to keep my titles. But I did get to enjoy Florence. And the poppy fields – this one wasn’t far from me.

If you’re wondering what happened to publication day for book 83 – I forgot to sort it out. Bad Author. Rubbish at pubicity! So I’ll leave you with a card from my publisher for book 84: Happy Book Birthday to me 🙂

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