Here's a pic of me and the Belles on the hottest day of the year so far at Wroxeter roman city. The wall behind us is the remains of the bath house wall. Originally the bath house was the size of a cathedral. The other picture shows the underground heating system which would have been out of sight and fed hot air under the floors of the various steam rooms and plunge pools.
Well, San Francisco anyway. It's the RWA conference so the romance world is quiet. I've been doing lots of research for Crystal Clear. My thanks to Fliss who I met on the train going to the RNA conference who put me in touch with a wonderful lady called Kate Tomas. I'm hoping to get the (shudder) evil tax thing done this week sometime. Hate having that hanging over me and you know how much I love numbers and how much they love me. I haven't managed to find an accountant yet and to be honest I don't think the money will run to it so I'll borrow my eldest belle's scientific calculator and see what comes out.
Sorry all, I've been away for the weekend and couldn't get any net access. We spent the weekend at Chirk - one of my favourite places, we visited the NT gardens at Conway on the Saturday and then the belles came to join us on Sunday. Yesterday we went to Wroxeter to see the Roman ruins and then into Shrewsbury on the afternoon where my eldest belle decided she was getting her ears pierced. The two younger ones had theirs done ages ago but this is my chicken belle. They look very nice btw. Last night saw the most fantastic thunderstorm - it started at 7 and finally finished around 2am. Mother Natures fireworks at their best! Hopefully I'll get some pics up later this week.
Oh and Becka the beast went from Big Bro! Yes! Punching the air - now to see what happens this week - it's all getting very interesting.
So, I confess I love reality TV and I love Big Brother. I'm especially enjoying this year as the psychology kicks in. Becks making out with Luke because she's up for eviction. Darnell's mounting paranoia. Rex who pokes away at all of them getting them riled up. Poor annoying Sara with the funny nose who looks all dejected at being in Hell. Lisa with the wierd eyebrows, Katreya who looks like she's losing weight. Rachel, who I think is so nice. I could be friends with Rachel. Stuart, a man so in love with himself it's untrue. Dale, not the brightest bulb in the box and Mikey - boy is he annoying. Mo, eating everything in sight and Maysoon, the invisible woman. Fab - loving it! Who do you think will go - my money is on Mo unless Darnell does something really stupid. I'd like Becks to go as she's a whingy, whiney, waste of space and incredibly manipulative but I think she'll stay for entertainment value.
The weather has been really sticky today, no sunshine just humid. Today was a work day and the traffic is always so much lighter when the kids are off school. It took me 25 mins today to get to work, usually it takes between 30 and 45 mins depending on the time of day - less if there no roadworks. I love my new job, I have a wonderful job share partner and a really good team of people. Lots of people have asked if I miss my old job and I do miss the clients, my Mom's and babies but I really don't miss the stress, the beaurocracy and the frustrations. I especially don't miss having to do my own job and someone elses and teach and support all at the same time. I'm also working at becomming less Weeble like so you can expect updates as to how thats going. My lovely friends at Romance Diva's are going to be watching me so hopefully there'll be less chance of me slipping into bad habits. I'm hoping once I start the physio that I need for my hip that my mobility will improve so then I can walk more and do more exercise as that seems to be my biggest problem.
I abandoned the cleaning for a few hours to finish another chapter of Crystal Clear. I've decided that the problem with making one room nice is that all the other rooms now need deep cleaning too. Before they all looked scruffy so I didn't notice - I am so not cut out to be a housewife. I have finally managed to stick a whole load of stuff into my scrapbook.I'd got a little heap of press cuttings, congratulations cards and nice things to do with my writing that I wanted to keep. It's good to look at on those days when the crows descend and you decide that everything you write is crap. Next job looming on the horizon when the cleaning jag is finished is that time of the year I hate most - Taxes - sigh.
Today has been my day for tackling some of my chores around the house. It's much easier to do these when Mr Nell and the belles aren't around, otherwise nothing much seems to get done. My bedroom is now shiny and so is the ensuite bathroom. I've done four loads of washing and drying so far thanks to the sun finally shining. Anyone I owe a parcel too, I went to the post office so watch your letterboxes. I shopped and bought food that might help me lose some weight. Mr Nell took some very unflattering pics of me while we were away - I look like a weeble on most of them. Do you remember Weebles? They were a kids toy advertised with the song - Weebles wobble but they don't fall down. That's me - Mrs Weeble. So now I'm tackling the laundry mountain and the belles rooms. If I don't reappear by tommorrow send a search party.
The belles have gone to the Isle of Wight with their grandparents this week so Mr Nell and I took the tourer to the Cotswolds. I swear if I am ever in need of a tasselled cushion, candle shaped like a pea pod or a Georgian side table with lamp then I'll know where to go. Here's Stow on the Wold and one of Mr Nells pet hates - Morris Dancers.
We visited Stow church which had a wonderful flower festivaland was themed around the saints. St Crispin with shoes, St Luke with medical apparatus etc. This gorgeous display was for St Edward
These are representing Our Lady.
And more flowers, Jess sent these beautiful blue roses to celebrate the release of Blue Remembered Heels - aren't they gorgeous?
My thanks again to my good friends at The Black Country Bugle for this piece. The sinking of the Titanic will go down in history as one of the most unlikely disasters of all time. On the night of 14th April 1912, the unthinkable happened when the magnificent, reputedly unsinkable White Star liner struck an iceberg and within four hours lay 12,000 feet below the surface of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Since the wireless cry for help (an SOS signal picked up by the Cunard liner Caronia) was transmitted for the first time across the length and breadth of the North Atlantic at 10.25 on that fateful night, the Titanic has become as big a leviathan in history and legend as it was on its one and only voyage to America. Here in the Black Country, a region as far away from the ocean as almost anywhere else in the country, the only claim to fame we have regarding the Titanic story has been the legacy left by the makers of the ship's great anchor and chains. It was in the great forges of the Black Country that the Titanic was eqipped with its giant anchor, beaten to precision by gangs of men, toiling blood, sweat and tears to earn a modest crust. But their efforts produced an anchor fit for the finest ship ever built at the time, something that is now legendary in these parts.
Recently we were invited to watch a silent, ten minute film, courtesy of Jack Beard, Chairman of the Sandwell Society of Film Makers. It was shot in 1920, eight years after the fateful sinking of the Titanic, and shows the men at Noah Hingley's in Netherton making an anchor in exactly the same way as they would have produced the one for the great ship. The reel of film was found by pure chance a few years ago by members of the Netherton History Society. It was enclosed in a tin with a brief description of the contents, but was in no state to be viewed. Jack got involved, once again through a chance meeting at the canal festival at Bumble Hole, and from that moment on fate played a winning hand. Over a period of time Jack enlisted the help of Carl Chinn and the might of the BBC technical staff, and they managed to process the ancient 35mm reel of film and adapt it to be shown on modern equipment. The result is a staggering record of the life in a foundry in the early twentieth century of the chain and anchor workers. The accompanying picture, which Jack kindly gave us, shows the final hammering of the mighty anchor by a team of men, not dissimilar in age, forming a circle and bashing the hot metal, one after the other in a synchronised wave of industrial ballet. The picture is the dramatic conclusion to the film that Jack hopes to show to a wider audience in the near future. As we watched the film in its entirety, Jack suggested that the men doing all the hammering were probably the same chaps who made the anchor for the Titanic eight years before. These gangs of workers had to work as a well oiled machine when in the process of crafting such giant ship accessories, and it was quite possible they had worked by the side of each other for years. The man in the middle of the foreground with his back to the camera was late starting in the final hammering sequence, but almost like a machine himself, he joined the hammering to perfection after two or three rounds, confirming the astonishing ability of these men under the most arduous of circumstances, to work in absolute harmony. All the national newspapers, and many more besides, were quick to report on the demise of the Titanic. It was a national disaster that drew a huge wave of sympathy from the bottom of society to the very top. The Weekly Dispatch newspaper, printed in London, issued a special edition which was published on Sunday April 21st 1912. For many years a copy was kept in the safe keeping of the late Monica Bennett, a old friend of the Bugle's, and for many years our gardening columnist. Although she was only two years old when the Titanic sank, Monica was always one for keeping important memorabilia, personal or otherwise, and her son Bruce has now inherited this amazing collection. To celebrate the Titanic's 93rd anniversary, he has kindly lent us the copy of The Weekly Dispatch from which we have extracted just a few moving details from the events that eclipsed a nation all those years ago: "The cable ship Mackay Bennett, chartered by the White Star Co. to go to the scene of the Titanic disaster, has sailed from Halifax. In the hope that some bodies may be picked up, coffins are being taken, and several undertakers and embalmers will be on board the ship. The Mackay Bennett is also taking over 100 tons of ice, and long lines of carts filed down with the ice to the pier, where the coffins were piled 10 foot high." "A strange feature of the disaster is how the Titanic came to run into an iceberg at all, for she was warned against the ice, not only once, but twice, once by the Hamburg-Amerika liner Amerika and once by the liner Touraine. The Amerika's warning came only a few minutes before the disaster." "Passing through the stricken streets of Southampton a journalist chanced upon a neat little woman standing at her tiny front garden gate in York-street, and she told him of many neighbours and friends whose men-folk had gone down in the Titanic. York-street is the centre of Northam, which provided nearly all the trimmers and firemen of the lost liner, and as the little woman talked she nodded sympathetically to wives who had suddenly found themselves widows. There was a woman in Bevois-street who had given birth to twins a fortnight before, and she died of shock when she heard of her husband's death. Mrs May lost her husband and eldest son, one of fifteen families in York-street alone who are grieving at the loss of at least one loved one." "Crossing the road the journalist caught sight of the elder Mrs May. "Yes it is true", she said "husband and son have gone and left eleven of us. It was the first time that Arthur and his father had been at sea together, and it would not have happened if Arthur had not been out of work owing to the coal strike. Hr tried to get a job ashore but failed, and as he had his baby and wife to keep, he signed up on the Titanic as a fireman." There are many babies in Northam who will never remember their fathers, and there will be many who will never have been known by their fathers." "Another day and another night passed, and another hopeless dawn broke over Southampton to find hundreds of hearts heavier and sadder." Trawling through the columns of stories, comments, quotes and statistics relating to the great lost ship that appeared in the copy of the Weekly Dispatch on April 21st 1912, there was only one clear reference to anyone from our part of the world. In amongst lists of passengers, some of whom had perished, and others who were listed as survivors, was the name of a man from West Bromwich. "Among the survivors are ... Mr Alfred Davis of West Bromwich, married two days before the boat left. He was accompanied by his two brothers and his brother-in-law."
Thanks to Abbey and Charlie for hostessing the party. I've wrangled the goodies back from Charlie and should get everything in the post by Monday. Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to visit the blog, come to the signings, bought the book and sent me wonderful emails - most of which accuse me of keeping them up at night. I appreciate each and every one of you. Jessica sent me the most amazing bouquet of blue roses. I've taken pics and if I can find the cable to the camera I'll post a pic tomorrow (Mr Nell, my personal techno wizard is at work and you all know I'm a doofus with computers) Tonight I went to the eldest belles school to see her recieve prizes for her school work and tomorrow I go to see Boo at her leaving service from primary school. This year seems to be flying past at a scary rate. The belles are all off on holiday next week with their grandparents to the Isle of Wight, this means me and Mr Nell are sprogless for a week!! wow! Technically this should mean I write tons and watch crap adult tv all week. In reality it'll probably mean I get to deep clean/fumigate their rooms and watch Big Brother to my hearts content.
Hi, I'm Charlie, Abbeys sister and Nell asked me to stop by and say thank you to everyone who came along yesterday to help celebrate the release of Blue Remembered Heels. Abbey would have come back herself but she's too busy these days snogging the face off that policeman who kept following her around. I mean, I'm only here because my fiance, Phillipe, (he's a footballer)has a pre season meeting with his agent. Not that I don't want to be here of course, I'm just saying - that's all. It was a good excuse to get dressed up. Anyway, winners - ahem, Nell decided there were so many great confessions she'd give away two signed copies of Blue Remembered Heels so Terra 57 - the potty story and Judy Jarvie - the polo mint accident you win. Door prizes of a selection of goodies goes to Janice and Ellen. Nell says can you email your addresses to helen@ nell dixon.com (without the spaces) and she'll get them in the post. I wanted a door prize, there are some really cute nail files and notepads and stuff - I like stuff Well, thanks for coming, hope you enjoy the book. love Charlie Gifford xx
Hi, I'm Abbey Gifford and Nell asked me to be here to tell you all about Blue Remembered Heels. It feels a bit awkward if I'm honest - oh wait - I have no choice but be honest do I? Ever since that lightning bolt hit me I've only been able to tell the truth. I still haven't figured out what happened with the whole lightning thing. I mean I wasn't out in a storm, or under a tree, or in the middle of a golf course when I got hit. I was standing on the pavement outside Debenhams looking at this really nice top in the window. There was a few rumbles like when your stomach growls really loudly and then wham! Next thing I knew this old smelly bloke was slobbering over me while I lay flat on my back feeling like I'd spilled boiling water all down the side of my neck. I remember people staring at me and the paramedics but then nothing. I woke up in hospital with Charlie and Kip, that's my brother and sister sitting next to me and a nurse calling me Henrietta. oops, I got a bit sidetracked there, this is supposed to be a party. Nell said she has some cool door prizes and she'll pick a few people from the comments for those. She's also giving away a signed copy of Blue Remembered Heels for the person who confesses to the weirdest/funniest thing that ever happened to them. Personally, I think being hit by lightning is going to be hard to beat but Nell said I wasn't eligible because I'm a fictional character. She can be such a drag. She got stuck on a rope suspension bridge once on an army assault course and had to be rescued by this army cadet instructor - she doesn't like heights apparantly. So come on in, leave a comment and tell me and Nell what happened to you. Oh, and Nell said Blue Remembered Heels is available from Amazon and most good book stores - visit HERE and click on the new releases tab to read an extract.
Top pic - Phillipa Ashley - whose book 'Just say Yes' is out soon, me and my good friend Faith, who Blue Remembered Heels is dedicated too - Heck, this poor girl shared an office with me for over nine years and is still relatively sane. Allison - brilliant historical writer and my coffee buddy! Me - trying to look authorly. Special thanks to all the staff at Waterstones, Merry Hill, Josie, Jo and Emma who were so lovely and organised and totally fab! Hugs and thanks to everyone who came along today - you all rock!!
In line with celebrating the release of Blue Remembered Heels I thought I would share another superb piece from our friends at the Black Country Bugle. I write contemporary romance but this article shares the writings of a Black Country Vicar writing in Victorian times.
Charles Dickens brought vividly to life the plight of the urban poor of London and the south-east in the nineteenth century, Elizabeth Gaskell did the same for the workers of the northern towns, and Thomas Hardy took the reader right into the world of the agricultural labourer of the south-west.
As far as the working folk of our part of the world are concerned, Arnold Bennett's stories recreated the north Staffordshire Potteries, and Francis Brett Young used the Black Country as a backdrop to his novels, but despite being born in late Victorian times, the latter two were twentieth century writers. But just because few authors, or works, spring readily to mind, we shouldn’t assume that the Black Country was ignored by the writers of the eighteen-hundreds. Walsall historian Ian Bott has put our way a small but vital collection of rare works published during Victoria’s reign, some of which capture those times and some which hark back even further. Over the coming weeks, we’ll delve beneath the dusty covers of each one; and we’ll begin with a work by an anonymous author: Down in Dingyshire, published in 1873. Subtitled ‘Sketches of life in the Black Country’, this copy of the book bears a plate on its inside front cover, which explains that it was originally presented to a Robert Henderson for attendance at Dunipace Free Church Sabbath School during 1886. Dunipace, it seems, is a Scottish town, so it is possible that the mystery author was a Scot - all that he gives away is that the book was written by a vicar from outside our area, and is based on observations of his Black Country flock, no doubt during the 1860s and early 1870s. The author pulls no punches in his opening chapter. He freely admits that his first sight of his new parish filled him with dismay, describing the scene which greeted him as ‘the face of Nature, battered like the countenance of a drunkard’s wife’. There are no real clues as the precise location of his parish, and most of the descriptions fit most of the Black Country’s towns. He tells us how canals pierce his parish and honeycomb it with reservoirs; how fog, shot through with vast sheets of flame, blankets the entire area, and how the throb of pumping engines is punctuated by the crash of steam hammers. The parish’s inhabitants mostly live in long lines of brick-built cottages, all identical in size and dinginess. The author explains how he came here, quite literally, as a man on a mission: “The clergyman on the look-out for a small population, good society, the neighbourhood of a market town, a spacious house on gravelly soil with a south aspect, and access to a little choice fishing, would not regard it with a favourable eye ... in fact, no one should dream of voluntarily coming here, except from a desire to find a harvest of souls, and to take an earnest part of an earnest work for Christ amongst a thoroughly practical and earnest people.” After a less than promising start, it’s becoming clear that the vicar has genuine respect for his new flock; but he won’t be drawn on where they actually live: “Now, I am not going to tell its name; but I will tell you that we are ‘all the sons of one man’ in other words, we are all the employees of one great Company, whose mission is to convert the iron and the coal of our district into money.” There were dozens of large-scale landowner/employers in the Black Country in Victorian times, but the above description would probably sit most comfortably on the shoulders of the Earl of Dudley. Frustratingly for us, that doesn’t narrow it down a great deal, as Lord Ward’s ‘Company’ took in a vast area including several towns and villages. Within ‘My Parish’, the author continues, half the forge men work by day and half by night. Furnaces and forges are alive with flame the whole night through, having not been extinguished for years, and the noise of the blast engines is constant. Even on a Sunday these hellfires raged, ‘though happily nothing else woks on Sunday, and neither public-house nor shop is open on God’s day from one end of the place to the other.’ There then follows a detailed description of the average family’s home, which, assuming it hasn’t been given too much of a positive spin, sounds pretty comfortable. Every cottage has its own garden plot, and many have a pig. It acts, the vicar asserts, as a great social agent, filling up the summer evenings, and teaching each family the virtues of prudence and patience. The layout of the houses and gardens also had a particular effect on the social lives of the residents. As each garden lay in front of each of the terraced houses, the only way to the front door would be via a path through whatever grew there, but, making the most of every inch of what little space they had, most gardeners were reluctant to waste any. So every front door remained locked and access was invariably via the back door. As a consequence, everyday life went on in the rear of the house, with the front room becoming a little-used ‘best room’. In these little museums, the vicar writes, you might come across the relics of a dead pet or two, stuffed and mounted in a home-made case. The furniture would usually include the likes of a two-pound-ten mahogany table, there would often be a cheap piano, and an easy-chair only used on Sundays: “On the walls of this sacred chamber, among the stuffed dogs, hang various framed documents; the certificate of merit presented to the eldest boy by the Dingyshire Association for the Promotion of Scriptural Education; the last sampler done by the eldest daughter, now in service; the funeral cards of the grandfather and grandmother, and perhaps of a child or two; the card of membership in the Honourable Society of Queer Fellows. Here also may be occasionally encountered pictures in an early and highly florid style of art, and mostly of a Scriptural tendency. Finally, an elaborate fly-trap hangs from the ceiling, and a collection of impossible crockery crowds the mantelpiece. Such is the front room, not for human nature’s daily food, but exhibited only as a luxury to visitors from afar, and to those who are admitted to the intimacy of close friendship, amongst whom, I am glad to say, my parishioners count their parson.” The exclusive use of the back door also had a bearing on relationships between neighbours. Two back doors would always open into one shared yard, yolking neighbouring families into partnerships. But just as with married couples, to use the author’s analogy, one party will usually emerge the dominant one after a period of settling in and testing of boundaries. The process begins with ‘armed neutrality’, advances to a ‘flying skirmish’ and and finally to ‘open war’, the sticking points being anything from one woman’s use of the rain water to the other’s mistreatment of her neighbour’s children. But things will usually settle down after coming to a head, with the paired-off families often becoming as close as one, and marriage between neighbouring children often the outcome. With an air of calm now settled on our sample dwelling, the vicar takes us indoors to meet the typical family. It’s a priceless description of how our ancesters would have lived: “We observe, as we enter one of the yards, that sanitary measures are carefully attended to. Each house has its copper for washing, and some have a tidy scullery in a little out-house. We knock at the door, and a very dirty girl admits us. ‘Is mother in?’ ‘Yes, walk forward;’ which means, ‘Come in’. “So we walk forward, and find ourselves at once in face of the family at tea. A tremendous fire keeps the room at fever heat, a strong smell of onions enriches the atmosphere, a couple of dogs bark on a ragged hearth-rug, and on a wooden settle lies the outstretched form of a sleeping man, with hands and face all black. This is ‘the master’, whom we have come to seek.” The master of the house is called Thomas Langley, a miner who, health permitting, gets eighteen shillings a week all year round. In summer, when his working hours are lessened along with the demand for coal, he may supplement his income by gardening for some of the better-offs. He has ducks as well as his pig, which add a little to his income and provide him with a few eggs. He has five childen; the eldest lad works with him down the pit, the eldest girl lives in with another family as a ‘universal drudge’ for eighteen pence a week, and the remainder are at school, which takes 8d a week out of Thomas’s wages. His rent, for which he gets the front and back rooms and two bedrooms (he calls them chambers) costs him just over two shillings a week. He grew up being beaten with his father’s strap, and has been working since the age of nine - his mother would often have to carry him home from work, and he would be so tired that he would go straight to sleep rather than eat. But this would have been during the late 1840s. Since then he has learned to read a little thanks to his wife, and, to the vicar’s delight, brought himself and his family into the fold of the church. It’s when he manages to convert the likes of Thomas Langley that the vicar remembers why he came here in the first place: “I often think,” he writes, “as I come from a chat with my collier friend, that he has a direct lesson for some of us. ‘Work in the Dark’, that is his lesson. It is easy to work in the light of a big parish, a flourishing congregation, of a select circle of Christian friends, of a happy and refined home, of a large and well-organised society. But here is a man who earns his living and his children’s in loneliness and darkness, and who spends his little leisure on one of the lower classes in a Black-country school; and who is probably appreciated by no other human being but myself. But here, all unknown to him, I commemorate him in a few unworthy words, which he will never see.”
Blue Remembered Heels is officially out today! Thank you to those of you who've read it and sent me such lovely comments. I have more interviews out, over at singletitles.com with the lovely Julie and at myfavouriteauthor with Phoebe. You can also ask questions and find out a lot about the background to my writing at Jessica Hart's blog and you have till the weekend to post a comment over at Liz Fielding's blog to be in with the chance to win a signed copy. Blog party here on Monday and anyone remotely near Waterstones at Merry Hill on Saturday 12 til 2 is more than welcome to come and keep me company!
Wet, this global warming isn't it? The eldest belle is away this week on a residential arts course so the house is relatively quiet. It's the usual end of term madness with the added excitement of the book launch for Blue Remembered Heels on Saturday. I'm also planning a party here on the blog on Monday - well, you can't ever celebrate good stuff too much can you? I now have dozens of things to obsess over and help me procrastinate instead of typing up the conference notes or working on Crystal Clear. I mean, I have to check my Amazon ranking and then I really need to talk to the lovely readers on Facebook who bought my book, and I must just go read everyones blogs about the conference and admire all the gorgeous pics. Sigh Inspired by everybody's lovely clothes at the conference I've bought two new tops and two pairs of trousers for work and a lovely pretty top to wear at Waterstones on Saturday. That way even if I'm lonely I'll at least look good.
Where did I get to? Oh, yes, Saturday night's gala dinner. The menu was mushroom and hazlenut pate - luckily for me Kate Walker found out what it was before I tasted it and I got a plate of prawns instead - otherwise I might have been spending the night in A&E. Then we had duck with vegetables and a nice lemon pudding but no after dinner coffee which was abit of a let down. The food at Chichester was a bit mixed. Breakfasts were good but the rest was a bit meh. This years winner of the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy was Imogen Howson! yay! and our table was doubly chuffed as Brigid Coady came third. The wine flowed very freely. I had a most enjoyable chat with the Babe Magnet - as we fondly call Kate Walker's husband. Steve shares my passion for history especially the gorier bits so we always get to talk ghosts and hangings quite happily. We then adjourned back to the bar where I had a lovely time talking and laughing with Kate Hardy. Sunday saw some very hungover looking people at breakfast. Catherine Jone's talked about all the projects the RNA has planned for the fiftieth celebrations and then Jane Wenham Jones gave her talk which was so funny it brightened everyones morning. I missed the sessions that followed as my train was early. When I decipher my notes and type them up I'll post some snippets on here. Be warned I am rubbish at notetaking so I may not have anything sensible.
In other news I went to Merry Hill today and my book was on the shelf in WH Smiths - squee!!! Under D for Dixon, looking like a real proper book. Wow!
Now I'm feeling a bit more coherent I'll attempt to talk about the conference. First though, I'm guest blogging at another of my writing heroine's blogs this week. So as well as the lovely Liz Fielding allowing me to visit you can also catch me HERE This is where I go all fan girl because you know I adore Jessica Hart's books. Anyhoo, The Conference! We kicked off with questions to a panel of writers all working in different subsections of the romance genre. Kate Johnson, who writes paranormal, Kate Harrison, who writes chick lit, Kate Hardy, medicals and modern heat, Anna Jacobs, Saga and contemporary and Nicola Cornick, historical. That was very interesting to hear the news from all the different aspects. I met up with Imogen Howson, who writes for Drollerie press, Immi, who is a lovely person, disgustingly slim and pretty and a fab writer to boot, was also my editor at samhain so we had lots to talk about. Anyway, workshops. I went to one by Mark Thornton, from Mostly Books, based in Abingdon who talked about what to do and what not to do if you want a bookseller to stock your book. Then I went to hear Anna Jacobs talk on polishing a manuscript, this was interesting to me because although there were similarities in how she polishes and how I polish, she is an over writer who pares down and as you all know I'm an underwriter who adds in. Then came a session for the New Writers scheme readers. After lunch came Midas - the PR company talking about the secrets of a successful publicity campaign. This fascinated me as I only ever see the American model on the net so to hear a UK agency talk about how they work was quite eyeopening. A brilliant talk followed by Sue Moorcroft on writing short stories for womens magazines. I used to write a lot of short stories many years ago and I'm just starting to think about getting back into it again so it was nice to get some tips from such a successful writer in that field. We then had a wonderful talk from Jill Mansell on how she writes. She also very bravely fielded questions. The evening bought the gala dinner and the Elizabeth Goudge contest but I'll blog about that tomorrow.
I'm back. I'm completely knackered, slightly hoarse and a little tinsy winsy bit hungover. I looove the RNA conferences. So, who did I see? Lots of my friends and I appologise if I forget to name chack anyone - Julie Cohen, Anna Louise Lucia, Biddy, Immi, Liz Fenwick, Fiona Harper, Kate Hardy, Kate Walker and the lovely babe magnet, Lynne Connelly, Kate Johnson, Stephanie, Julie D, Sahndre, Anne,and loads more people. I met some wonderful new people who were first timers at conference so a special wave to all of them. I promise I'll be back tomorrow with the hot gossip and what I learned on my weekend. A special hi to the lovely man running the conference bookstore who not only had managed to get early copies of Blue Remembered Heels but then sold out!!!!! I bought Julie Cohens new book the Honey Trap and read it on the train home - go buy a copy. Likewise I have a copy of Anna Louise Lucia's Run Amongst Thorns - again go buy.
My nails are painted candy pink so it must be that time of year again when I get to wear make up and pretend to be human. Yes, it's the RNA conference! Yippee, a whole weekend of talking writing with other writers - how fabulous is that? Lots of old friends to see and new ones I'm meeting with for the first time. Some friends are unable to go and I promise we'll raise a glass to you - well actually if it's anything like usual that would be several glasses in fact. I'll be back with all the goss and news. In other cool news, my local paper has a nice piece in it about my book signing and a good plug for the RNA
This week is so busy. Today I had a really busy day at work and tomorrow and Thurs are shaping up the same way. Tomorrow night I have to go to the High school with Boo to meet her new form tutor and her buddy who'll be looking after her for the first year. She has a school trip to the safari park tomorrow too so she'll be pretty tired. Friday, I go to the RNA conference, Boo has a full taster day at high school and Shaggy sits another business German exam - eek! Not quite sure when I'm supposed to shop, clean house and pack.
Nell is an award winning author living in the heart of the Black Country with her husband, three children, a tank of tropical fish, a crazy Cockerpoo called Teddy and whatever is left of her sanity. Welcome to her world...