Friday, 6 December 2013

The Final Three

After what seemed like weeks living off the adrenalin of So You Think You Can Write, the winner was announced this week. I'd waited by the phone - just in case. I'd be a liar if I didn't admit to that!

The winner was Tanya Wright with her entry, If Only and I think it might be a good idea to grab a box of tissues before clicking on this link!

As for my entry, well I've still got my fingers crossed that an editor will like my story and want to work with me.

During the last few weeks life took on a surreal feel. I attended the RNA Winter Party, met with editors and authors from Mills and Boon, who all seemed excited by my Top 10 entry. Which leaves me with hope!

With Liz Harris

I also did something that has been on my wish list for a long time. I went on the London Eye, which was almost dreamlike again, as it was a guided trip with just two other people. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time!

Sunset behind Big Ben

I am a good way into my next story and hope it proves to be as successful as Behind the Scandalous Façade. I'd also like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has supported my through all the stages of this competition. I couldn't have done it without friends like you!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Shattering the Silence

Have you ever had to keep a secret you were just bursting to shout about? It's hard, let me tell you.

At the beginning of last week I got a telephone call to say that my entry into So You Think You Can Write competition had been selected as a Top 10 finalist. I was just about stunned into silence at that point, but to be told to keep it a secret for a week, until the announcement was made on the website, was torture.

I tried so hard to get on with normal life and working on my latest story but I just couldn't settle to anything, not with a secret like that bubbling away inside!

Then finally it was the day, which meant keeping the secret a bit longer until the beginning of the day in New York when the website was updated. Once that was done it was time to tell everyone and anyone.

I have been assigned an author mentor, Maisey Yates, who will be reading my book and helping me to promote it. Also Laura McCallen, a Presents editor is championing my book too and you can find her on the 50 Editors page of the website.

I have worked hard towards the dream of becoming a Harlequin Mills and Boon Presents author, attending courses with Kate Walker here in the Wales, organised by Writers' Holiday and with Sharon Kendrick in Italy, organised by The Watermill.

I have met some fantastic people and made wonderful friendships through my writing and would love to push that dream to the limit and become published through this competition. If you'd like to be part of that dream you can vote each day for my entry Behind the Scandalous Façade until 25th November and my complete book is there for all to enjoy.

If you want to read and vote you can do so HERE!

Happy reading and voting!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Brainstorming Weekend

On the first day of November I left for a weekend of writing with two writing friends. We have found a lovely holiday cottage in the heart of the Welsh countryside. Once we'd arrived and stocked up the cupboards with delicious food and of course bottles of wine, we lit the fire and got started. We read over our work in progress and offered feedback, ideas to improve and even brainstormed new stories, depending on what stage we were at with our stories.

Over the course of the weekend, when it wasn't raining, we headed out for a walk. Often talking over our stories as we enjoyed the beautiful views. This is one such view from our Sunday morning walk. Stunning, isn't it?

As it was also the start of NaNo, which I signed up for at the last minute, I thought it would be a good boost and help me on my way to the target of 50,000 words in a month. I have to confess to being just a bit behind, but I am writing. It should also keep me busy this month!


Friday, 18 October 2013

TOP 50!!!

Last month, on the second day of the So You Think You Can Write competition I submitted my entry Behind the Scandalous Façade. I then watched as each day more and more entries went up on the site. The number must have been around 650 when the deadline came around. Could my chapter catch an editors eye? I certainly hoped it would, but with so many other brilliant chapters out there, I wasn't so sure.

On Wednesday I was at my writing desk, armed with lots of coffee and chocolate, when I saw the twitter announcement that the editors had started emailing the Top 50. My phone flashed to tell me an email had come through. I opened it and nearly dropped the phone. My entry had made it through to the Top 50.

To say I was excited is an understatement! I am so thrilled to have made the Top 50 and would like to thank everyone who has read, commented, tweeted and liked my entry. A massive thanks to you all for the support.

So what next? Well my full manuscript was sent to the editors yesterday so it's a case of waiting to hear who makes it through to the Top 10. I'm just so thrilled to have made it this far.

I'd also like to offer all those writers who didn't make it through a big hug. I know what it feels like to be there, but you should all be proud of yourselves and keep writing!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Remembering Senghennydd

On the morning of October 14th 1913 my great great grandfather Charles Frederick Hill started a new job at Universal Colliery, Senghennydd. He lived with his wife Lillian in Caerphilly and was not a miner, but a tailor and in hard times had taken the job in the mine.

At ten past eight that morning an explosion ripped through the mine, killing 439 men and even boys as young as fourteen. My great great grandfather was among them and was the 237th casualty to be recovered from the mine. He was just 37.

Whilst my mother was researching our family tree this terrible story came to light and she was fortunate enough to be able to talk to older relatives about the disaster and was even given a book The Valley of the Shadow by John H Brown about the disaster in 1913 as well as a previous one in 1901 in which 81 med died.

Today at 12.25, a memorial is being unveiled to mark the centenary and remember other Welsh mining disasters. More about this story can be found here.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Busier than a Bee

The last few months have been hectic. The lovely summer we've had has meant lots of work on the farm as harvests were brought in. After the previous wet summers it was so much easier to be able to do this when the sun was shinning. It also seemed a busy time with lots of cows calving, adding to the already full days.

My daughter was sitting her A levels this year. A tense time for all. So when the results were finally in we were all thrilled with her results, which meant she could go to Bristol University to study Physiology. In between all that we managed to squeeze in 18th Birthday celebrations.

So with all this going on you might think I haven't had much time for writing, but somehow I have managed it. After receiving a really encouraging feedback from the editor appointment at the RNA conference in July I knuckled down and wrote the remainder of the book. Then in a spur of the moment  decision, entered it into So You Think You Can Write.

So if you fancy a read of my first chapter of Behind the Scandalous Façade! You can also leave a comment and even tweet and facebook like it. I'd love to know what you think!

Friday, 19 July 2013

RNA Conference

It's hard to believe that this time last week the RNA Conference was just beginning in Sheffield. A whole weekend of talks, workshops, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones. And of course the food and wine!

The digital revolution seemed to be one of the hottest topics, with loads of opportunities in this fast expanding market. It's amazing how the industry has changed since I joined the RNA and attended my first conference in 2008.

The good news announcements at the start of the conference weekend featured so many more first books. And as for the goody bags, they were positively bulging this year and helping to pack all 180 was quite a job.

There were workshops and talks all weekend on everything from beating procrastination to writing hot scenes. The sun shone all weekend and the air conditioning failed, which left me wilting by Saturday afternoon, but I rallied in time for the gala dinner!

Finally on Sunday afternoon, feeling revived and full of enthusiasm it was time to make the long drive home. During which I just had to stop to take this shot of 'the long road home'.

Can't wait for next year's conference!

Friday, 3 May 2013

Another Badge of Honour

Well, I've just received my latest badge of honour - my latest rejection that is.

I'm sure that every writer, both published and unpublished knows how I feel right now. When I started submitting my work I was told I'd eventually paper a wall or two with rejections. So I've got some way to go!

I suppose it's like riding a horse. Sometimes you fall off. Another feeling I know all about. Just when you think you're going well, you get chucked out the side door to land with a thud on the floor. Only this time I held onto the reins and managed to scramble back on board.

I just need to become tough and fearless, like these stunt riders I saw at Aberaeron's Festival of  Welsh Cobs last summer. So dusted off and back in the saddle I've started on my next story, because even if previous ones have been rejected, I just can't stop. I have to write.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


I've never actually climbed a mountain, but I know it's not an easy thing to do. Lots of preparation and hard work happens before the top is reached. I spent many of my childhood years walking up the Malvern Hills in Worcestershire and I know how it feels to push on, thinking you've reached the top, only to find you haven't, that more hard work is required.

A few weeks ago I received the reader's report from my New Writers' Scheme submission. It was good, full of brilliant advice, but I knew I hadn't reached the top. I hoped I was getting close, but I'm not quite there yet. Like the above photo of Switzerland, I know that whilst everything below is small and the clouds are seemingly close, the peak I really want to reach still requires lots of hard work.

So onwards and upwards I go. I so want to reach the top of that mountain, which for me is becoming a Mills and Boon author. It's hard work and may take some time, but I'm determined to keep trying - and have fun in the process!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

My Name on a Book

Seeing your name on a book must be a wonderful feeling and that's just what I did during my weekend away. The only problem - this book was edible!

I arrived in Fishguard on Valentine's Day, and my birthday, for a weekend course with Kate Walker on writing romance. Whilst other diners where having quiet moments the early arrivals to the course were singing Happy Birthday to me. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise.

I saved the cake to share with the other romance writers in the group and on Saturday afternoon we had enjoyed a piece of the book.

It was an intensive weekend, with all aspects of romance writing covered. The group was fantastic and it was lovely to meet new writers as well as catch up with friends. Going to The Fishguard Bay Hotel and taking a course with Kate Walker each February has become something of an annual event. One I always learn from and enjoy immensely, but this year it had that extra special feeling. So thank you Kate for such a lovely cake, all your hard work to make such a fantastic course and thank you everyone who was on the course for making it the best weekend course so far!
Finally a big thanks to Writers' Holiday for organising the weekend. Can't wait for next year!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


Finally hints or spring are around. Snowdrops are flowering and the daffodils are pushing their way up with the promise of sunny yellow flowers.

As for me, I feel like I've been hibernating over the winter months. I may have been quiet, but I haven't been asleep - honest! My latest story has just been completed and submitted to the New Writers' Scheme, run by the Romantic Novelists' Association.

So with the beginnings of spring I'm ready to start a new story, but first I have my annual trip to Fishguard, where I'll be attending Kate Walker's romance writing course at the weekend. I'm so looking forward to catching up with friends and meeting new writers.