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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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?

 

Welcoming winter…

What a difference a week makes! On Wednesday I woke to two startling things:  1. Donald Trump had been elected president of America, and 2. it had snowed. I know which of those two I was happier about! Thankfully I was in the fortunate position of not having to go anywhere until the evening, so I spent the day snuggled up and writing, what a treat!

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I know it’s only November, but I’m afraid the snow started making me feel a little Christmassy. And I’m not the only one. The shops are definitely jumping on the winter bandwagon with windows full of Christmas trees, and of course the Christmas ads are on the TV. The big talking point nowadays always seems to be the John Lewis ad and this year’s has certainly divided opinion. It may not have a deeper meaning like last year’s Man on the Moon, but it did bring a smile to my face. After all, what’s not to love about a dog bouncing on a trampoline?! I think I’ll have to make sure my dog doesn’t see it, otherwise he’ll be getting ideas about his Christmas present…
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Keep on running

This time last week I was running the Yorkshire 10 Mile to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. It was one of those things that you sign up for thinking “10 miles, how hard can it be?” and then when you’re actually pounding the streets, you realise, “Oh yeah, actually quite hard!”

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I definitely wouldn’t describe myself as a sporty person. In fact when I was at school, PE was my least favourite subject. On one memorable occasion, instead of watching the school tennis tournament, I sat and sneakily read my book! However, a few years ago at work a group of colleagues decided to do the Race for Life 10k together. After my first gasping training run, where I wheezed my way to the end of the lane and back again, somehow the running bug bit me. I was the only one of my colleagues to actually follow through and do the 10k, and since then I’ve done quite a few running challenges.

Without wishing to sound completely anti-social, one of the things I love about running is that it provides me with some vital thinking time by myself. As I run along, my mind is often busy mulling over ideas for my next book and working out niggly plot details. And as I have in a rush of enthusiasm signed up to do the Yorkshire Marathon in 2017 (gulp) the training runs will provide me with plenty of plotting time. Watch this space…

This just about covers it!

This week has been very exciting because the cover of my book ‘Who Does He Think He Is?‘ has been revealed to the world. In fact if you take a little peek below, that’s it there:
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So how did the cover come about? My publisher Crooked Cat really encouraged me to be part of the process which was brilliant. We talked a lot about how to make it bright and tempting to readers. I am very appreciative of how they were incredibly tolerant of the child-like sketches I sent them of some of my ideas. (Actually, most children can probably draw a lot better than me!)

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Early cutting and sticking job!

The sketches then graduated into some cutting out and sticking of pictures. I did a bit of brainstorming on a train journey to come up with the tagline, and then the marvellous Laurence from Crooked Cat worked his magic and produced the cover.

 

What do you think? I am so thrilled with it. Suddenly the book seems even more real and I can’t wait for 15th December when it is released….

Paws for thought

Oh heck, it’s autumn! In the last couple of days I’ve found myself digging out jumpers, zipping on boots and even contemplating putting the heating on.img_2565

But while I’m fighting the urge to hibernate, my dog is loving the change of seasons. Admittedly Humph loves all times of the year, but I think he’s particularly fond of autumn, judging by the way he dives into piles of leaves and drags me into the mud as he investigates all manner of interesting smells. He is the definition of exuberance, and his joy is contagious.

I can’t imagine life without a dog. After all, I was only 9 months old when my family got our first dog. So, it was only natural that dogs had to feature in my first book, ‘Who Does He Think He Is?‘ The heroine Aurelia has two dogs (lucky her!) called Morecambe and Wise who get into all kinds of scrapes. Like their namesakes, they take their role as entertainers very seriously. Aurelia may despair at their ability to drag her into embarrassing situations, but like me, she wouldn’t be without her doggy companions.
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And speaking of doggy companions, mine is looking at me with pleading brown eyes. I think it may be time for a W-A-L-K….

 

 

 

 

Writing, webinars and my 43 minute rule

I don’t know about you but sometimes it feels like there are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done that I need to do. I fit my fiction writing around my day job as a journalist. Actually, to be honest calling it a day job is rather misleading. As a colleague once said to me, journalism is more of a lifestyle choice than just a job. When news is breaking, things like lunch breaks tend to go out of the window! I love the excitement and variety of my job, but it can be difficult to fit stuff around it sometimes.

I was therefore curious to find out how other people manage to juggle writing and other work. This week I attended an online seminar run by my publisher Crooked Cat where a group of authors discussed our writing methods. It was interesting to hear what works for different people. Some people swear by the daily word target, but I’ve found that works for me is a little technique I’ve called the ’43 minute rule’ which I thought I’d share with you too.img_2552
I’m a big fan of Netflix (bear with me here, you’ll understand the relevance in a second!) Specifically I enjoy watching TV shows of the American cop variety. You know the sort – White Collar, How to Get Away With Murder etc etc. I find it’s all too easy to sit down on an evening and indulge in an episode or two. I realised that if I could sit and watch an episode of something on Netflix which normally lasts around 43 minutes, then I clearly did have a little bit of spare time.
I decided to ditch the 43 minutes of Netflix watching, and spend that time writing instead. I find if I turn my wifi off, put my phone on silent and really concentrate for 43 minutes, I can get a fair bit of writing done. And more often than not, I’ll get really into my story and carry on scribbling away even when the 43 minutes are up. So there you go, that’s my little ’43 minute rule’.
And before you ask, I haven’t ditched the Netflix altogether…img_1570