Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The (not quite) end

Scotland May 2010

Here's a change from all the snow shots ... I've been remembering the year, and this was Scotland on a beautiful day in late May.  It's hard now to remember how green it was then!   

I’m sitting here waiting to hear from my editor about revisions on the book I handed in at the end of November and not looking forward to it, frankly.  I have a sinking feeling there may be some work involved from some cryptic references to ‘notes’ and ‘cross referencing’.  Just when I’d succeeded in putting the entire book from my mind too, and was hoping it would slip through unnoticed to mark the end of the year.  Ah, well.   You can’t win with a ‘fabulous, putting it through acquisitions asap’ every time, and on the whole I can’t complain about this year, which has had some downs, but an awful lot of ups too.

Oh-So-Sensible Secretary finds new readers in Madrid!

After much sucking of teeth and poring over weather forecasts in an attempt to predict where the snow will be, I’m planning a dash across country to Scotland tomorrow so will have to wait and see whether I can get the revisions done by tonight or will have to come home to them after Christmas.  In the meantime, I’m closing down operations until the New Year. 

... and goes to Sydney

Are you a maker of resolutions?  And a breaker or a keeper of them?  Mine don’t usually last more than a couple of days into January, but I did better this year, having vowed to get away more and have a better time.  And I do, indeed, have lots of good times to look back on in 2010 (hence the photos):  Easter in Somerset, Scotland in May, visiting my niece in Madrid, Lincoln, walking the West Highland Way and, of course, six fantastic weeks in Australia where I met up with old friends and made lots of wonderful new ones at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney.   It’s going to be hard to top that in 2011. 

The West Highland Way Sept 2010
 I’m going to have to lash myself to my keyboard next year, and my New Year resolution for 2011 is to be more self-disciplined, on every front.  If I think about everything I’ve committed myself to next year, I start to hyperventilate, so I am going to have to work a lot harder on those time management skills.  Not such an easy resolution to keep as having fun, but I will do my best … and hopefully squeeze in some more good times too.

I’ll be back in January, when we’ll see just how well I’m doing on the self-discipline front, but until then, may I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very, very happy New Year.


Friday, 17 December 2010

The Posara Prize

Now, here’s something to inspire you over the Christmas holidays … Write a short piece (no more than 2000 words) with the underlying theme of “A Foreigner in Italy” and you could win yourself £1000! 

The Posara Prize has been set up by Lois and Bill Breckon, who now live in Italy and who run The Watermill at Posara, renowned for its painting and creative writing courses.   

The Posara Prize is a creative writing competition open to everyone.  Here's what Lois and Bill say about it: 

We're looking for original, unpublished pieces of no more than 2,000 words, with the underlying theme of 'A Foreigner in Italy'. The work can be fiction or non-fiction: the important thing is to capture the emotion of Italy, as seen through an outsider's eyes.

You can write about the people, the countryside, art, architecture, food and wine – in fact, anything that makes Italy interesting, inspiring, exasperating or even frightening.

The winner will receive a prize of £1,000.

For more details and an entry form, click here.

There is so much that is inspiring about Italy, and it is such and interesting and romantic country that you don’t need to have been there in order to write about it – that’s what the imagination is for, after all!  I’m one of the three judges, with Sharon Kendrick and Anita Burgh, and I'm really looking forward to reading the entries. 

So what are you waiting for?  Get writing!

And this might be a good time to remind you, too, that I'll be teaching a course at the Watermill next September.  From the Slush Pile to the Shelves: Writing Fiction that Sells does what it says on the tin: it's designed to help you get your manuscript up to publishable standard.  If you're thinking seriously about writing fiction for a living, this is the course for you, so if your loved ones are scratching their heads about what to give you for a Christmas present, why not refer them to the Watermill website - and there's £75 off if you book before the end of the year!  

And there's a generous £200 off all Watermill holidays and courses for a 'non-participating partner' so while you get to grips with the course, your partner can enjoy the unique charms of the Watermill and Lunigiana.  It's a beautiful area, and there's lots to see and do!


Wednesday, 15 December 2010

List making

I’ve been away for a funeral and it’s been an emotional few days, but now I’m home and trying to get to grips with real life again.  Step one is to write myself a ‘to do’ list.  I am a great list maker (spot the Virgo), although I’m not sure my technique is quite as effective as I tell people it is. 

My current list reads like this:

**outline new M&B – have brilliant idea**
***Write new M&B***
Do something about boiler!!!
New FB page????????????????
Replace light bulbs – electrician?
NB website
****  renew virus protection **** DON’T FORGET ABOUT THIS!!!!!
Or replace computer???
Pay credit card (aaaarrghhh)
*Editing/Image list*
Eat sensibly
Finish time slip
**Promote teaching courses**
Menu New Year

And so on (and on, and on)

Sadly, I keep changing my mind about what should go at the top of the list, which means rewriting it, which in turn means that rather than achieve anything, I just move things around and panic.  Although, as you can see, UPDATE BLOG, has briefly settled at the top, and I am seizing the moment to strike one thing off at least. 


Fired up by this success, am ready to tackle Christmas, which obviously involves a whole subset of lists to write involving cards/presents/food etc.  Am just off to find myself a pen and a clean sheet of paper …

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Thrills and terror

After the very sad news of my beloved aunt's death, a car that won't start and a boiler that decided it couldn't cope with -9 degrees and broke down yesterday, there is the reminder that life is never one thing.  The Bookseller today has an announcement about the book I have been talking about for years and have finally got around to writing under my real name, Pamela Hartshorne:

Hitting 50 years and 50 books for Mills & Boon seemed like a turning point.  Time, I told myself, for a challenge.  Surely I could combine the story-telling skills I've acquired over 20 years of writing romance, with the research I did for my PhD on 16th-century York?  I would have a go at a single title. 

Challenge it certainly was, and there were times when I wished I'd never thought of stepping out of my comfort zone, but I submitted the first third of Candles in the Dark (working title) in September to my wonderful agent, Caroline Sheldon, and she rang me about three weeks ago to tell me of Macmillan's offer.  Much boasting and celebration ensued, although I couldn't tell anyone officially until the Bookseller announcement.  Now all the self-congratulation is done, I'm going to have to get down to some hard graft and actually finish the book. I am thrilled and terrified in equal measure!

My plan is to continue writing romance as Jessica Hart, although I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to fit it in with editing, teaching and a major history writing project.  I suspect I'm going to have to take a leaf out of other hard-working authors' books and work on my time management skills in 2011.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Snowy York

Still snowing ...

This has been a very sad week for my family, so rather than try and blog, I'm just going to put up some pictures of York in the snow. 

It hasn't been much fun for those trying to get anywhere, I know, but I think it's been beautiful, and the city looks so different under a blanket of sparkling snow - needless to say, I haven't taken pictures of the slushy roads! 

Holy Trinity Goodramgate
Museum Gardens
St Mary's Abbey

Snowman in Minster gardens

Chapter House Street
View from my study
View up the street to the Minster
Lady Row
City walls on Lord Mayor's Walk
Icicles in Ogleforth