Sunday, 19 December 2010

Fantastic Competition

Could you write about being a foreigner in Italy? That's the theme for a great new competition run by The Watermill at Posara and all the details are on their website. This is a wonderful place to have a creative writing or painting break. It really is as good as it looks, that's why I'm booked to go again next year for Sharon Kendrick's course.

It is so peaceful and quiet, what could be better for writing and the scenery is stunning for those who paint.

What could be more perfect than views like this?

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Competition News

Finally the snow and ice has gone and daily life on the farm is normal again. Over the last few weeks the freezing conditions have created so much extra work. Its been hectic keeping water flowing to the cows and keeping them all warm, but at least the sun is shinning- for now!

One of the things I enjoy doing is entering writing competitions and I recently had the results back from the Romance Writers of Australia's High Five contest. I was really pleased with my result of 91% and 12th out of 75 entries. This is a big improvement on last years mark.
The competition required the opening five pages of a novel aimed at Mills and Boon and the feedback from the judges is well worth receiving.

Also I won a signed book from Kate Walker's Advent Calendar Giveaway. This competition is going on daily until Christmas and you can enter by visiting her blog.The book I won is Bound by Blackmail.

For my Australian readers here's a picture I took when the snow started two weeks ago. I'm sure readers in UK are fed up with the stuff.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Christmas Fair

On Saturday, despite the Arctic-like conditions, I went to the Christmas Fair at the University of Wales, Lampeter. Together with other members from my local writing group, Cwrtnewydd Scribblers, we sold copies of our new anthology, Of Cakes and Words.

This is the second anthology the group has published and this year the Co-operative very kindly funded the purchase of ISBN numbers through their Community Fund. Each member of the group has contributed poetry or short stories. The book costs £3.50 and 50p from each book sold is going to the Air Ambulance.

If you wish to purchase a copy please click here.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Blenheim Palace

Blenheim Palace is a place I've longed to visit for years and last week I finally managed to do just that. Together with two friends, Jo and Andrea we had a lovely day at this wonderful palace.
Work was started on this magnificent building in 1705 for John Churchill and his wife Sarah as a reward for his victory at Blindheim on the River Danube in Bavaria.

Blenheim also recently became a film set for Gulliver's Travels, the new movie to be released on Boxing Day. You can find out more about that here.

The Column of Victory stands in the vast and magnificent grounds, which I just have to go back and explore in the summer. You can just see the Column in the distance in this photo I took from the house.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Winter Party

Last week I attended my first RNA winter party. I had no idea what to expect, but really enjoyed the evening. As an aspiring writer the best bit was being able to talk to the editor who last read my work.

The party took place in the the Library of the ImechE, but being too busy talking I only have this one photo of Jan Jones.
More can be seen on the RNA's blog.

As I left, I just couldn't resist doing the tourist bit and took this photo of Big Ben on a drizzly November evening.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Still Here!

Last month was busy. One of those months where I couldn't do as much writing as I wanted, but on Thursday last week I met up with writing friends in Nantwich. I went there in September for a talk given by India Grey at the Library as part of the New Voices competition. It was such a lovely town, full of black and white Tudor buildings that I really wanted to go back.

What I hadn't bargained on was the misty and wet driving conditions. This is a photo I took when I stopped on the way and if the mist hadn't been obscuring the view across Wales it would have been stunning.

Another reason for wanting to go back to Nantwich was the gorgeous cake shop Homemade. It is a quaint little shop that also have a cafe, but the cakes are amazing. I just had to take a box home!

We had a lovely lunch and talked so much about writing I couldn't help but come home feeling so refreshed and revived. Between now and Christmas I have several competitions to prepare for and a new submission to Mills and Boon as well as more days out with writing friends.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Best Bit

The best bit about following my dream of becoming a published writer has got to be all the wonderful people I meet - both in person and online. Email makes it so easy to stay in touch, but meeting up again is so much better, and that's what I did last weekend in London. We met up at Victoria and Albert Museum to see the Grace Kelly Exhibition, which was really good but sadly photography was not permitted, so I took a quick photograph as we left.

Harrods was the next stop, where we browsed the food hall, perfume department and used the famous
Egyptian Escalator.

As we all met in Tuscany on Sharon Kendrick's course at the Watermill, we finished the day off in a Tuscan Restaurant.
I travelled home on Sunday through picturesque Costwold villages and stopped at Broadway Tower, a Folly built in 1799 for George William, the sixth Earl of Coventry.

I climbed the narrow stairway to the top and had a spectacular view of the surrounding countryside. A plaque at the top told me I could see the Black Mountains fifty miles away, which I would later pass on my way home.

View to Black Mountains

Friday, 10 September 2010

New Voices

Competition fever has gripped every aspiring Mills and Boon writer I know - myself included. So yesterday I travelled to Nantwich for a talk given by India Grey, offering tips on writing for Mills and Boon and those all important tips on creating a successful competition entry.

Nantwich is a beautiful town, full of lovely little shops that sadly I didn't have time to explore, but I hope to put that right another day. The buildings of the town are old, some lovely black and white ones and St Mary's church dominates the town with its magnificence.

The talk took place in Nantwich Library and was full of helpful tips on writing for Mills and Boon and entering their New Voices competition.

These are some to the tips I came away with.
  • Get the Hero and Heroine on the page together as soon as possible.
  • Show don't tell.
  • Use dialogue
  • Keep it pacey, don't put in lots of back story in the first chapter.
The afternoon ended with tea and some fabulous cupcakes India had brought with her and the sunshine disappeared just as I made my way back to the station and it poured with rain.

With India's advice and tips fresh in my mind I read again my entry on the train journey home feeling both nervous and excited about uploading my entry at the weekend.

Just some of the lovely buildings in Nantwich.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Poetry Success

It's hard to believe that in the small village in which I live there is a thriving writing group and within that group we are celebrating more publication success.

Brenda Old's first publilcation is titiled Late Blackberries. I love that title and the poetry she's written.

Sue Moules has just been nominated poet of the month with her latest publication, The Earth Singing.

As a group we are in the process of preparing an anthology which will be available next month. This will be our second such publication and will be called Of Cakes and Words.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Gorgeous New Covers

Avid readers of Mills and Boon will know that all the lines are having cover makeovers. As a subscriber to the Reader Service offered by Mills and Boon I recently received the Modern Releases for October - complete with gorgeous new covers.
Here they are. I really like them. What do you think?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Submissions and Competitions

If, like me, you want to write for Mills and Boon, I'm sure you have heard about their fantastic competition, New Voices. It opens on 6th September and today I am working on my entry. It will be a really exciting competition as all entries for the first chapter will be available online for comments.

Earlier this month I heard about my second submission to Mills and Boon. Unfortunately it wasn't what they were looking for, but the comments and advice given to me about my work were so positive, that I feel full of enthusiasm to continue with my current story and submit it later this year.

The New Writers' Scheme, organised by RNA closes at the end of this month and last month I sent in my submission. This is a brilliant opportunity for unpublished writers to gain feedback about their work.

More competitions for aspiring romance writers are offered by Romance Writers of Australia. These are brilliant for gaining feedback on your work and this year again I shall be entering some of my writing.

So, if you are an aspiring romance writer, there is lots out there at the moment to enter. Good luck!

Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Tourist Bits

Two weeks ago I was in Greenwich for the RNA conference. It was a fantastic weekend, the sun shone and we all had a great time indulging our passion for writing romance. Here we are at the Gala Dinner.
Whilst I was in London I also took a bit of time out to be a tourist. I had a lovely few hours on a river trip from Greenwich to Westminster.
This is Tower Bridge.

This is Big Ben.

Another visit I made, was to the Fan Museum. This lovely pair of town houses, dating from 1721 and lovingly restored, is now home to one of the finest collections of fans in Europe.

At the back of the museum is the Orangery, a lovely oasis of calm where you can enjoy afternoon tea on a Sunday. Unfortunately it wasn't Sunday when I was there, but here I am in the peace of the Orangery.

My final tourist trip was to The Royal Observatory, where there was a massive queue just to have a photo taken on the Meridian line. I cheated and stood behind, but still on the line,then went to have tea and cake!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

RNA Conference

Last weekend, as London basked in beautifully hot sunshine, I attended the Romantic Novelists' Association annual conference. Greenwich was the setting - and what a setting!

As usual the conference was full of brilliant talks and workshops, but this year the RNA was celebrating its 50th anniversary. A Gala Dinner was held on Friday night where we all dressed up. Once again shoes were a big focus and photos can be seen on the RNA blog.

For me, the most important event of the weekend were the editor appointments that were being offered. The chance of having an editor read my work and offer advice was by far the best part of the weekend for me. Everything else comes in a close second.

Also announced is a brand new competition from Mills & Boon called New Voices. For more information on this

This final photo of the conference venue was taken from the Greenwich Observatory, where I spent a bit of time being a tourist.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Ups and Downs

Life is full of them and last week was no exception.

On Tuesday I spent a lovely day in the historic city of Hereford with my Mum. For many years I have driven through the city, wondering what secrets it had, but I had never taken the time to stop.

The Cathedral is magnificent. This is a picture of the North Transept, which was reconstructed during the reign of Henry III.

It was the Stanbury Chapel that really caught my attention, the detail was incredible and was popular in the fifteenth century.

By far the most exciting find was The Old House, set right in the middle of big shops is this black and white house which bears the date 1621. If only it could talk!

Now for the down. My poor dog, Tara, had to have an operation to her hind leg on Wednesday. It was a very painful procedure and would have meant at least a month in hospital for a human. She was very sorry for herself for a few days, but is now improving and starting to use the leg again. Everything looks good, so not such a down in the end.

This is my faithful friend, Tara, who loves to sit next to me when I'm writing, especially if I have biscuits with my coffee.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Stocking up

The last few days have been busy here on the farm as we have harvested the first crop of our silage. I thought I'd blog about it as some people have been interested enough to ask exactly what silage is.
So for the non-farmers out there here it is.

Firstly the fields are mowed, then raked up into furrows of cut grass. After that the grass silage is picked up by the forage harvester and blown into trailers.

Next the grass is taken to the silage pit, where it is rolled to compact it to release unwanted air. It will then be covered by black plastic sheets and kept as winter feed for the cows. And they love it!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Back in Time

At the weekend I visited the gardens of a local mansion which was having an open day. The sun shone and everything looked lush and green, complimenting the provision of colour from the a wide range of flowers. This one caught my eye and when I stood close it smelt divine. Not being a very good gardener (although I try) I asked what it was - an Azalea. Now I just need to find out exactly which one and whether it would stand up to being in my garden.

On my walk around the garden I saw many interesting things, like this eighteenth century bath house. Not quite as bathrooms are today.

It was the stables that interested me most. As a horse lover I can just imagine these full of horses. The date on the outside of the building was 1810.

Then I found this oven as I peeped into an abandoned cottage. I wonder who used it last and when?

I just love going to places full of history, I can't help but think about all the people who have lived and worked there.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A Week of Writing in Tuscany

It's hard to believe that this time last week I was in Pisa, about to join a fabulous group of women for a course on writing romantic fiction with Sharon Kendrick. The group consisted of two ladies from New Zealand who were just starting a tour of Europe, one from South Africa who currently lives in Madrid, one from Lithuania who is now living in the UK, one from Canada, and five of us from the UK. We we all brought together by a desire to write romance and we had a brilliant time.

Before joining the group I spent a day in Pisa, a city that captured my imagination when I was very small. I have always dreamed of visiting it and going up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. These photos show it from the plane and the view of the old city wall from the top of the tower.

I also visited the Cathedral and the Baptistery, both magnificent,
but the detail inside the Cathedral is amazing.

The streets of Pisa are full of stalls selling all kinds of souvenir gifts, from models of the tower, t-shirts and hats, to leather handbags. Everywhere you go in the streets around the tower, people are possing for photographs that look as if they are holding up the tower.

On Saturday, we all met at the airport and were taken to The Watermill, Posara. A truly wonderfully quiet place to spend a week. The weather was a bit wet, but we didn't let it dampen our enthusiasm to have fun getting to know one another and enjoying the first of many delicious meals.

Each morning at seven the church bells would ring, and then again each hour. This is the church of Posara and a view of the main street through the village. It's just so peaceful and quiet.

The group soon got down to the serious matter of writing, as we worked through plotting a book with Sharon. First deciding together who the hero and heroine were and getting to know them as well as possible before working our way bit by bit through their story. As we did this we uncovered all sorts of pitfalls and problems, which should help us in our own writing.

On Wednesday, we all had a day off from writing and travelled by
train through magnificent countryside to Lucca. There we all had lunch then set off to explore and shop. This photo is a view of Lucca from the Torre Guinigi and then the tower from the street. It is famous for having a tree growing on the top!

This is Sharon and I in the Piazza Antifteatro, a vast oval piazza, where we enjoyed a coffee.

On the last day we went to a wonderful restaurant surrounded by mountains, this photo shows the clouds around them, but the sun soon broke through.
It was a wonderful holiday, so good I've booked to go again!

More information at

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Back and Catching Up

I returned from Italy on Saturday to find that spring is well and truly here. The leaves are much greener and the sun is shinning.

In the hedgerows flowers are out and my favourite, bluebells are now splashing their colour everywhere.

The cows have gone out after the long winter months and they like nothing more than to lie in the sun.

I'm still frantically trying to catch up with household chores and farm paperwork, so once this is done I'll be back to tell you all about the week I spent in Italy, at the Watermill with a wonderful group of women on Sharon Kendrick's course.

I'll leave you with a photo which captures all I love about spring, the new green, bluebells and the cows enjoying the sun. What do you like most about spring?