The Magic of Romance at the Bradford Literature Festival

When my romantic comedy “Who Does He Think He Is?” was published back in December 2016, I had no idea that just over six months later I would be appearing as a bona fide author at the Bradford Literature Festival. IMG_3773I was invited to be a member of the panel at the Magic of Romance event alongside Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson and fellow debut author Sonya Lalli (look out for her romcom “The Arrangement”, out in August – I loved it!)

FullSizeRenderThe Bradford Literature Festival started in 2014, and in just a few years it has grown into a huge annual celebration of all things reading and writing, with over 50,000 people attending this year’s Festival. With events covering everything from comedy to crime, Manga to mythology, there is genuinely something to suit everyone. If you’ve not visited, what are you waiting for?!

Events take place in venues throughout the city, and you only have to be in Bradford for 30 seconds to realise how much support there is for the Festival. There were banners everywhere, people wandering around with books in their hands, and a pop up book shop right in the heart of Bradford City Park was doing a roaring trade.

I have to admit I was rather nervous about appearing at my first literature festival. I’ve been to plenty as an audience member, but it’s rather different being up there on the stage! Fortunately my nerves disappeared when I met my fellow authors and our wonderful event chair Jodie Matthews. After all, what could be better than talking about romance and writing with other enthusiasts!

The event took the form of a panel discussion, with lots of input from the audience as well. We talked about our writing influences, what makes a good hero (there was definitely some swooning over Jane Austen’s Captain Wentworth) and how we set about writing a book.

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The Magic of Romance panel from left to right: Jodie Matthews, Milly Johnson, Sonya Lalli, me!

It was really interesting to hear from my fellow panellists and to compare our different approaches to our work. It definitely made me think in a more analytical way about the genre as we discussed what factors make romance magic for us. We also laughed over how being a writer can sometimes make you seem rather crazy, for example when a character you’ve created does something completely unexpected and takes you by surprise!

The hour just flew by and I thoroughly enjoyed every second. And the icing on the cake was to see my books for sale alongside Milly Johnson’s and doing a book-signing at the end of the event. Thank you so much to the Bradford Literature Festival for inviting me along.

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RNA Summer Party and the Joan Hessayon award

The Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party….well, as it had ‘summer’ in the title, it was of course raining! As I splashed my way from Covent Garden to the party venue at the Royal Overseas League, I was extremely glad that I’d been organised enough to bring a pair of emergency shoes for the party.

It was my first time at the RNA Summer Party, and it was all the more special as I was attending as a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award. The Joan Hessayon Award is a prize for authors whose books have gone through the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. It is awarded in memory of the late Joan Hessayon, who was a huge supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme. This year there were eleven finalists, including myself, for the award, and I was very proud to be among their number.

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The Joan Hessayon Award 2017 nominees

We finalists arrived early for our official photo, and to have a chance to have a proper chat with each other. It was really nice to compare notes about our journeys to publication and to talk all things writing. Before long, the party was in full swing. As you can imagine at an event for romantic novelists, the room was full of interesting and lovely people. I was nearly hoarse by the end of the evening from all the chatting! I’m beginning to think this is just standard at RNA events (see my blog post after attending the RNA Winter Party.)

The Joan Hessayon Award ceremony was held early in the evening when everyone was armed with a glass of bubbly to toast the nominees. It was really wonderful to hear such nice things said about my book ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ and I’m so honoured to have been a finalist. The overall winner was Kate Field with her novel ‘The Magic of Ramblings’, which I’m very much looking forward to reading.

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I had a thoroughly enjoyable time catching up with old friends and making new ones. Thank you so much to the RNA committee for arranging the event, and also thank you to Dr David Hessayon for kindly sponsoring the award in memory of his wife.

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A day out at Harewood House

The birds are singing, lambs are playing in the fields and the big yellow thing in the sky has actually deigned to put in an appearance. I think spring might actually be here, gasp! To celebrate that very thing, my mum and I went for a day out at the beautiful Harewood House in West Yorkshire.

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Harewood House

Harewood House has always been one of my favourite places. When I was little, I loved playing on the amazing play equipment (seriously awesome slides!) As a slightly more grown up person (well, in theory) the stunning house and grounds at Harewood have captured my imagination. Daydreaming about what it must be like to live in such a place helped inspired my debut novel, Who Does He Think He Is? Unfortunately for my heroine Lady Aurelia, her estate Leydale Park couldn’t be more different from Harewood House, as it’s more of a pile in a state, than stately pile! But Harewood House and my fictional Leydale Park do have something in common in that they are both used as TV and movie locations.
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Serious bookshelf envy!

Harewood House has most recently graced our screens as one of the major locations for the ITV drama series, Victoria. Queen Victoria herself visited Harewood House in 1835, although she was just a princess at that time, so it seems appropriate that the house is featured as a double for Buckingham Palace in the TV series about her life.
I was delighted to discover on my visit that the house is hosting an exhibition inspired by Victoria. There’s lots to learn about life at Harewood during the Victorian era, but also on display are costumes from the Victoria TV series, along with a behind the scenes look at the filming of the show. The costumes are works of art in themselves, and they look very at home in the ornate surroundings of Harewood’s State Rooms.
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Some of the beautiful costumes worn by Jenna Coleman in the title role of Victoria

Another claim to fame for Harewood House is that it has played host to the delectable Mr Darcy not once, but twice. It featured as Pemberley in ITV’s series Lost In Austen (all about a 21st century woman who gets whisked back in time and meets Mr Darcy – lucky her!) and scenes for the BBC murder mystery series based on PD James’ book Death Comes to Pemberley were also filmed there. As you can imagine, my mum and I had great fun playing spot the location on our visit!
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We also enjoyed exploring Harewood House’s beautiful gardens and parkland. They were designed by Capability Brown and I confess I filled quite a bit of my camera roll with snaps of the myriad pretty flowers.
No day out would be complete without a spot of cake, and I’m pleased to report that Harewood’s lemon drizzle is particularly scrumptious! All in all, we had a lovely visit, and I’d definitely recommend it as a great trip out for everyone.
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Something to eat and something to read!

Countdown to publication day

Oh my, it’s only 4 days, yes that’s right, just 4 days until my debut romantic comedy ‘Who Does He Think He Is?‘ is published. Now it’s got to this stage, I confess the excitement and the fear are about level pegging. The thought of my book, which I’ve worked so hard on, going out into the big wide world seems very real and dare I say it, rather nerve-racking. Will people buy it? Will people read it? What will people think of it? Gulp!

It’s one thing writing the book, but selling it is an introduction to a whole new world. As a bit of a shy creature at heart, it’s not really in my nature to stand up and go ‘Look at what I’ve written, buy my book, buy my book!’ Obviously, that’s what I’m hoping people will do, but I’m very aware that if readers don’t know it exists, they’re not going to go out and buy it. I’ve therefore engaged Full On Courage Mode and have been bravely getting in touch with folk to try and spread the word.  I’m very grateful to all the lovely people out there who have been supporting my efforts by tweeting, Facebooking, blogging and generally chatting about my book. It means a great deal to me.

Now, moving on to some very exciting news. This week I was thrilled to find out that ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’  will be out in paperback at the same time as it’s published in e-book. I also got to hold the very first actual copy of it. (Check out my huge grin below!)

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So yes, that’s me this week. And if you want to find out more about ‘Who Does He Think He Is?‘ here’s the blurb along with some nice things that people have said about it. If you’re looking for a Christmas present for yourself or others, the answer’s below!

image2-1“An enchanting story, guaranteed to leave you with the feel-good factor. Emily Kerr writes with a light but assured touch in this heart-warming read.”
Sue Fortin, bestselling author of The Girl Who Lied and Closing In

“A classic Jane Austen love story with a twist. It feels like you’re sitting at the local coffee shop with Lady Aurelia herself telling you her story.”
Mariel Gonzalez

Lady Aurelia Osbourne-Lloyd has long wished her bank balance was as big as her name. But her home, Leydale Park, is more of a pile in a state than stately pile, and with her father off ‘finding himself’ in Thailand, it’s up to her to turn the family fortunes around by entertaining demanding tourists.

When – thanks to her father’s interference – a Hollywood production company chooses the estate as a location for a Regency movie, a whole new level of chaos enters Aurelia’s life. Her quiet days shattered and privacy non-existent, she has no choice but to go with the flow and let them take over.

Never mind the added distraction of dishy leading man, Xander Lord, who may have an ulterior motive for wanting to get close to her…

Can Aurelia keep her cool in light of all the upheaval?

 

Hello December!

Oh my goodness, it’s December! How did that happen? I know the shops have been full of Christmassy stuff for ages, but now they seem to be playing the Christmas tunes and shoving the tinsel in people’s face with serious intent. I’ve got the advent calendar out (you’re never too old for an advent calendar, right?) img_2767It’s made me realise that actually there’s not all that much time before the big day to get in all the shopping, card writing and sorting of stuff that I need to do, gulp. I’m starting to have to make lists of my ‘to-do’ lists!

However, I don’t mind as I love this time of year. There’s always something magical in the air, and the glittering lights and sparkling decorations make even the most ordinary scene special. img_1448My own tree and decorations are somewhat on the modest side at the moment, but they’re work in progress, and at least I don’t have  a huge sprawling mansion to decorate, unlike the main character in my book ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ The lovely Aurelia lives in a manor house called Leydale Park. It’s a grand Regency home, but it’s more of a pile in a state than a stately pile. The poor girl is at the end of her tether trying to keep the place from falling apart, but I do like to imagine that at this time of the year she might get the chance to put her feet up for a little bit. After all, Christmas decorations can hide all kinds of cracks in the floors and damp patches on the walls. Alas, chaos has a habit of following Aurelia around…

Party and pre-ordering time!

It’s a good thing I’m typing this post rather than having to say it out loud as I am rather hoarse after attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association Winter Party! I’m not sure what the collective term for a group of romantic novelists is, but it should definitely be a word which conveys both how welcoming everyone is, and how chatty they are. I would have illustrated this post with lots of pictures of the party, but I was too busy enjoying myself to take any!

I was delighted to attend the event, but it was made even more lovely because I had been invited by my reader on the New Writers’ Scheme.fullsizerender-5 For those who don’t know, the New Writers’ Scheme is a marvellous thing whereby established authors read manuscripts from new writers and provide a report with lots of useful help and guidance. My debut novel ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ went through the New Writers’ Scheme, and I am hugely grateful to my wonderful reader for the advice she gave me. fullsizerender-6

When she heard that my book was being published by Crooked Cat Books, she got in touch and sent me a ticket to the party to say ‘well done’. I was absolutely delighted to meet her, and chatting with her gave me a huge boost as I count down to publication day.

And the count down is definitely on, as ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ is now officially available to pre-order on Amazon at the bargain introductory price of just 99p. Eek, exciting times! If you want to find out more about it, check out the blurb below.

image2-1Lady Aurelia Osbourne-Lloyd has long wished her bank balance was as big as her name. But her home, Leydale Park, is more of a pile in a state than stately pile, and with her father off ‘finding himself’ in Thailand, it’s up to her to turn the family fortunes around by entertaining demanding tourists.

When – thanks to her father’s interference – a Hollywood production company chooses the estate as a location for a Regency movie, a whole new level of chaos enters Aurelia’s life. Her quiet days shattered and privacy non-existent, she has no choice but to go with the flow and let them take over.

Never mind the added distraction of dishy leading man, Xander Lord, who may have an ulterior motive for wanting to get close to her…

Can Aurelia keep her cool in light of all the upheaval?

 

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Remember, remember the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot!

Ah, Bonfire Night. The evening where we all gather round fires and set off fireworks to celebrate the failure of what I guess would nowadays be termed an attempted act of terrorism. With the increasing popularity of Halloween, I fear that Bonfire Night is becoming rather overshadowed. But then again, judging by the barrage of explosions currently echoing around the valley, it would seem that in my part of Yorkshire at least the tradition is still going strong.

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The most famous of the Gunpowder plotters was a Yorkshire lad. Guy Fawkes was educated at St Peter’s School in York. Although the school has its own fireworks display every year, it never puts a Guy on the bonfire. Well, I guess it would be considered rather bad form to burn an effigy of an alumnus!

However, elsewhere in the country, there have been pretty impressive Guys created, including one of Donald Trump in his underpants. Got to love a bit of political comment on Bonfire Night!

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This year I attended my local firework display where I learnt that however stunning the fireworks are in the air, they nevertheless look pretty rubbish when I attempt to take a picture of them. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was spectacular and well worth the hour and a half we spent standing around in the cold.

Now that Bonfire Night is nearly done, I guess the countdown is on to the next big event of the year….Christmas? Oh yes, well there’s that of course. But before that is the 15th December, otherwise known as Publication Day of my book ‘Who Does He Think He Is?’ Exciting times!