RNA Conference, Sheffield 2013

I had a great weekend at the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual conference,this year held in Sheffield.

Sheffield Edge building

Mandy Baggot was my co-driver for our road trip

Move over Thelma and Louise, here come Velma and Daphne

Sheffield going home car

It was lovely to  meet up with some of the Romaniacs

(L-R) Vanessa Savage, Me, Debbie White, Laura E James, Celia J Anderson

Sheffield Romaniacs

And Linn B Halton from Love A Happy Ending Lifestyle Magazine

Sheffield Linn Mandy

Fab goody bags awaited us all!

Sheffield goody bag

I attended some great presentations

Julie Cohen‘s talk on ‘theme’ being one of them

Sheffield Julie Cohen

Sue Moorcroft’s talk on ‘hot’ scenes

Sheffield Sue M

Fiona Harper gave a fantastic talk on structure in a novel.

Talks from the publishing industry were very interesting too

Anna Boatman, Editor, Piatkus Entice

Sheffield Piaktus

A fabulous gala dinner, which involved a lot of laughter and possibly a drop of wine!

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Sheffield Laura Rhoda

Sheffield Debs Linn

Sheffield cheers

But plenty of time to relax and chat

Sheffield Sue Celia Kitchen

Sheffield Laura Vanessa

My 6.30 morning strolls with Mandy Baggot took us via the duck pond

Sheffield ducks

It was a fantastic weekend – thank you Sheffield University and the RNA.

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Kicking that list!

It’s been a busy week for me. I started off with the longest list, ever, of things to do and at one point thought I was going to have some sort of meltdown. However, I’m pleased to report meltdown was avoided and embracing my new mantra of ‘Fearless’ (some of you might have read my Fearless blog post) I attacked the list in true Bruce Willis fashion. Yippee-ki-yay!  Not much of a list left now – go me! 🙂

I won’t bore you with all the tedious things on that list but there are a couple worth a mention.

The week started off very civilised with a RNA lunch in Southampton. I met Mandy Baggot, Laura James and Catherine Miller for a quick coffee and a catch up before enjoying a nice lunch with about 15 other members. Lots of laughter and food – I’m not sure why they put us on a separate table…

Mandy & Sue

Also this week I’ve finished the first draft of my novella ‘Closing In’ . This is about to be sent off for proofreading and editing, meaning I’m still on target for my release date of 14 March.  I’ve also finalised the cover and blurb.

Closing In cover final

Ellen Phoenix is running from her past, but her past is out running her.

A new job. A new identify. A new life. She thinks she’s safe.

The quiet coastal village  of Middleton-on-Sea seems the perfect sanctuary for a person who doesn’t want to be found.

However, it appears someone has other ideas. Who knows her secret? Who has betrayed her? Ultimately, who has the most to lose?

Also noteworthy, I’ve had a very short week at work, just one day (today) and one hour tomorrow :-), I’ve finished reading ‘Orion’s Gift’ by Anneli Purchase (will be posting my review on Monday) and have officially registered for the London to Brighton bike ride in June.

And finally, as it’s Valentine’s Day (you seriously didn’t think I was going to ignore this, did you?)

I’ve treated myself to some chocolates

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and now all I need to do, is to decide which of these films to watch tonight

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Will leave you with a song appropriate for today by the great Dionne Warwick

Have a lovely Valentine’s Day

Sue

x

An Audience with an Author … Christina Courtenay

I am delighted to have Award Winning ChocLit author, Christina Courtenay with me today. I’ve always loved Christina’s books and her latest The Gilded Fan was no exception. I asked Christina if she could talk about the Far East influence.

TheGILDED_FAN_frontThe Gilded Fan is the sequel to my novel The Scarlet Kimono (although it can be read as a stand-alone), and both these stories were inspired by the Far East in general and Japan in particular.  It’s a fascinating part of the world and whenever I’m lucky enough to go there, I fall in love with it all over again.

I can’t really explain why I like it so much and it wasn’t something that happened overnight.  In fact, the first time I went to Japan I cried for days because I didn’t want to be there!  That may sound crazy, but if you consider that I was a teenager at the time (just turned sixteen) and had left behind my very first serious boyfriend in order to move with my family halfway across the world, it might be more understandable.  As it happened, I soon forgot all about him.  The three years I lived in Tokyo turned out to be the best of my life!

Looking back, I think the Japanese culture slowly seeped into me and I began to appreciate all the great things about it.  Most of all, it’s a beautiful place steeped in history – not the skyscrapers perhaps, but the little traditional buildings squeezed in between them, the parks, the temples and the shops and markets.  Even food is always displayed in an attractive way, tempting you to eat far too much!

So this then is the country in which the heroine of The Gilded Fan, Midori, has grown up.  Imagine her feelings when she has to leave it behind and travel back to Europe (my journey in reverse, you might say).  It’s not something she wants to do, but she has no choice – it’s either leave Japan or die.  I totally empathised with her as I didn’t have much choice either, but I didn’t have to travel alone!  It’s lucky for Midori that she’s a lot more stoical than I was and that she meets a sea captain willing to protect her …

One thing this story doesn’t have is a dog – my characters usually always have one as I love them myself, but for this particular story it wasn’t practicable for various reasons.  We, on the other hand, were crazy enough to bring our dog along when we moved to Japan.  A big rough collie, he looked so much like Lassie that whenever we walked him we were stopped by people thinking he was the canine movie star.  He took it all in his stride (he probably thought he deserved all the adulation) and didn’t mind being called Lassie.  And I never let on either, as my grasp of the Japanese language wasn’t up to it.  So there may be people over there who think they’ve met an icon, who knows? 🙂

Many thanks for having me as your guest, Sue!

Blurb:-

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

Links for Christina Courtenay

'Promote Me!' portrait

Available in ebook and paperback format AMAZON UK link  and AMAZON.COM link

Website www.christinacourtenay.com

Facebook : christina.courtenay.9

Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay

Choclit Publishers

My Week in Pictures

Festival of Romance, Bedford, 16th – 18th November

Bedford, The River Ouse

Laura E James (my roomy for the weekend) and I, just heading off for the FoR Awards Dinner

Party Room – The Romaniacs were put on a table at the back of the room – I wonder why?

My turn as Quiz Master

Goodnight Bedford

Hello London!

Wednesday 21st November, RNA Winter Party

Entertainment on the Tube Wednesday Afternoon

The new Romaniac hotel

RNA Winter Party
Institute of Mechanical Engineers

Bush Tucker Trials

The Romaniacs

Have spent a very quiet weekend recovering

RNA Southern Chapter Meeting

I had a really nice Romantic Novelists’ Association Southern Chapter meeting yesterday, Monday 24th September.  I got there a bit ahead of time to meet up with fellow Romaniacs Laura E James and Catherine Miller so we could have a quick coffee in Costas and catch up.  Although we ‘speak’ to each other practically every day, it’s nice to actually be able to meet in person from time to time.  I had also arranged to meet Mandy Baggot at Southampton station as this was the first time she had been.  Costas had the added advantage of being right opposite the station so when Mandy texted to say she had arrived, all I had to do was to stand up and wave through the window to her.

The Chapter meeting itself was well attended, I think there was about 17 of us and, as always, everyone was very friendly and welcoming.  We all  took our turn to talk about where we were with our writing and publishing. It was really interesting to listen to all the different approaches, not just by the authors but by their publishing houses and agents too.  Lots of food for thought, some really useful information and advice.

The day was rounded off by another Costa visit (can you have too many Costa visits?) before the drive home, in much nicer weather conditions than when I set off, thankfully.

Thanks everyone for a most enjoyable day.

Me, Mandy, Laura, Catherine