What I learnt this week: 9th May 2019

Excitement in the Freeman house

Well, perhaps I should say in the Freeman study, because the only one getting excited on Tuesday, was me. For my husband it was another work day, for my sons – away at university – the day slipped by unnoticed. Publication of my first paperback book, Do Opposites Attract, they were all vaguely interested in. Publication of the 8th? Tumbleweed.

It didn’t matter though, because in my study, there was a celebration going on. Well, it felt like one, with all the good wishes being sent my way through social media. I gorged virtual cakes, swigged back bottles of virtual champagne and partied my way through the day.

And this was the reason – publication of Oh Crumbs in paperback, and in audio CD’s (available here and to order from all good book stores 😊).

And because it was my party, and I could do what I wanted, I stacked all my paperbacks together and took a proud photo.

It seems like only yesterday when, heart pounding wildly, I clutched a copy of the first, Do Opposites Attract. Eight books on, the heart does more of a quiet jig, but the joy, and the pride, is the same.

As is the desire to add to the pile 😊

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I learnt this week: 25th April 2019

Crikey – my latest book has been published

Tuesday was St Georges day. It was also, quite aptly, publication day for Crikey A Bodyguard. After all, St George is known for his strength and courage, though whether he did actually fight a dragon is debatable. Unless of course he lived in Westeros (if you’re not watching Game of Thrones, you’ll now be wondering what on earth I’m talking about it). Ben Jacobs, the hero of my latest book, also has strength and courage. He’s a bit of a wisecracker, too, which really helps scientist Kelly Bridge when they find themselves dodging bullets and kidnappers.

Ben was one of my favourite heroes to write, though I have to admit I’m very attached to them all. Over the years I’ve fallen a teeny bit in love with a carpenter, barrister, doctor, pharmaceutical industry director, racing car driver, ex tennis professional, accountant, architect, biscuit company heir and a marketing director.

Thankfully my husband is very understanding.

Now I can celebrate adding bodyguard to that list. So here’s to romantic heroes, who come in many guises. Please take a glass. Before I drink the lot 🙂

 

 

What I learnt this week: 18th April 2018

Who needs the beach?

Last week we went on holiday. Had it just been my husband and me, we’d have gone somewhere warm, sunny and with a beach. Not his choice, but I always book the holidays :-). However our two sons (now 19 and 21) decided they’d like to come with us – though only after I told them they could choose where.

So instead of watching the turquoise blue sea gently lap against the powder white sand, I watched this.

The first photo is from TD Garden in Boston, as we prepared to watch the Celtics, and the second is from Maidson Square Garden in New York, as we watched the Knicks. If you’re interested, the first was an excellent game because the Celtics are very good (apparently). The second was watched mainly by tourists, as the Knicks are rubbish and New Yorkers are, no doubt, fed up with them. None of which I knew before I went, but my basketball loving sons have enlightened me. If you’d asked me if I ever wanted to watch basketball live, I’d have said no thanks. But boy did I enjoy it. There is something about live sport, and the atmosphere it creates, that is really compelling – the two glasses of wine I drank while watching the Knicks no doubt helped my appreciation.

Aside from the basketball in Boston, we also had an (apparently compulsory) visit to the home of baseball, Fenway Park. Sadly the Red Sox season hadn’t started yet. That’s something for the next visit.

We did get out and about and visit the other delights of Boston, and though I didn’t get my beach, I did get sun and blue skies. Shame it was only about 12 degrees. We found ourselves trying to hide our British accent at the Boston Tea Party museum…

From Boston we took the train (4 hours; easier, and considerably cheaper, than the plane) to New York where we were immediately hit by the change of pace. Dirtier, noisier, busier but, once you’d got used to that, also more spectacular. We last visited New York during Superstorm Sandy – not the best timing, but it did give us a unique perspective – below is from the Top of the Rock, and you can see the lack of lights in Wall Street where the power failure lasted for days.

Though many sights were the same this time – like the craziness of Times Square – it was fabulous to see so many new (to us) sights. For example, we found the High Line – a 1.45-mile-long elevated walkway created from the former New York Central Railroad. Amazing to walk up high over the streets of New York and not have to keep stopping every block to wait to cross the road! We were also really impressed by the 9/11 memorial. At our last visit that area was still being built. Now there is an eye-catching new World Trade Centre, an absorbing (and at times harrowing) museum and two poignant memorials that represent the footprints of the original towers.

There is also the Oculus – this amazing dinosaur skeleton like structure that encompasses a shopping mall. It looks truly, as the Americans like to say, awesome, both above and below ground.

Finally, we managed to see her. After the storm, the harbour was closed and we missed out on one of the iconic sights of New York. This time we got to see The Statue of Liberty up close and personal.

A blog on New York wouldn’t be complete without a photo of a typical American breakfast. Yes, I ate it all. But only after my son had persuaded us that we should take a taxi to the top of Central Park and then run all the way through it (plus the extra mile back to our apartment). Five and a bit miles later, I can tell you, I deserved every calorie 🙂

 

 

 

What I learnt this week: 21st March 2019

Crikey the edits are finished

It’s always a satisfying, yet also apprehensive moment, when I press send on the email to my editor with the final edits on a book. Satisfying because wow, the book I’ve been working on for what seems like forever, is finally finished. I won’t get to make any more changes. or dither any more about whether that scene is realistic, or whether that part of the plot really works….and trust me, on this one, I’ve done a lot of dithering.

Which brings me to the apprehensive part, because, well, I won’t get to make any more changes. Now I just have to hope that between me and my editor, we’ve made the book as good as it can be.

I have to confess, Crikey A Bodyguard has been the hardest book I’ve written to date. Don’t get me wrong, Ben and Kelly were a joy to write. Pitting the brilliant scientific mind of Kelly against that of wise cracking, tough guy Ben was one heck of a lot of fun.

Well, until I had to add the plot.

And then the science.

I started asking myself why on earth I’d made Kelly a world renowned vaccine expert, working to develop a way to beat weaponsied smallpox. I’d clearly blithely assumed my previous life in the pharmaceutical industry would make it easy.

It wasn’t.

And then there was Ben, who was an ex soldier. I wanted him to sound authentic, but I know even less about the army than I know about vaccines.

Thankfully in both cases, I had friends, and friends of friends, who were able to help with the language. I particularly loved the list of military slang terms I was given, though I’m sorry to report that slop jockey and gonk bag didn’t make it into the book. Though they have made it into the photos below 🙂

What I learnt this week: 7th March 2019

I didn’t win, but I felt like a winner

Monday night was the Romantic Novelists’ Association Awards 2019 evening. And, for the first time in my writing career, I was among the shortlisted authors. What an incredible group to be rubbing shoulders with.

The event was held at the Gladstone Library in the Royal Horseguards hotel in London. A very fitting – and rather sumptuous, setting. The shortlisted authors were asked to go along early to have our photographs taken. And yes, for the first time in my life, for that hour I felt like a minor celebrity. Not only having my photograph taken, but talking to other authors whose names I’ve seen on books covers I’ve read and enjoyed (including the marvellous Jules Wake, aka Julie Caplin, and Fantasy Novel Award winner Jane Lovering). I was over the moon to meet Jill Mansell, whose books I was devouring long before I decided to try and write one, and who is one of the authors who inspired me. Of course I was far too giddily excited (meeting Jill, plus a glass of champagne) to get a photo of the moment, but here is me with the other nominees in my category: the shorter Romantic Novel Award. Jane Godman, standing next to me, won our category, so while I didn’t win, I did literally rub shoulders with the winner.

Following the photo session we went into the library itself, where there were canapés, more fizz (it would have been rude not to drink it) and tables set out with magnificent candelabras. The awards followed, presented by historical novelist, Alison Weir, alongside author and broadcaster, Jane Wenham-Jones.

If you’d like to find out who won each category, they can be seen on the RNA website. The photo above is of Isabelle Broom collecting her award for the best Contemporary Romantic Novel (One thousand stars and you).

At the end of the evening, when I stepped outside I was greeted by the glare of a hundred flashes as I had to squeeze my way through a crowd of autograph hunters and photographers to climb into my waiting limousine.

Okay, okay. At the end of the evening I headed back to the tube. But for years to come I will dine out on the memory that I Was There.

 

What I learnt this week: 28th February 2019

Crikey a cover!

Last week I was able to share the title of my next book with you. Now I can officially share the cover, and the blurb.

I always get so excited when my publisher sends through a few examples of potential covers for the next book. Despite the fact that I’d signed the contract for it over a year ago, and began editing it early this year, it’s only when I see the covers that it all feels real. I’m going to have another book published. How incredible is that? With the excitement comes a flurry of nerves. Will readers enjoy it? The nerves are even greater this time because this book is slightly different to my previous books. A scientist and a bodyguard on the run, it’s a story I couldn’t just use my usual ‘wing’ it approach to writing. Okay, I did try, obviously, but it soon became horribly obvious (when my husband read the first draft and laughed in the places he wasn’t supposed to) that I needed to plot it out. Something that was way more complicated than I’d thought. And that’s before all the research needed for the science elements.

Having said all that, it’s also a book I thoroughly enjoyed writing. Pairing a brilliant ‘geeky’ scientist with a macho ex-soldier kept me thoroughly entertained. I can only hope it keeps the reader entertained, too…

So, here it is:

The blurb:

She’s got the brains, he’s got the muscle …

When Kelly Bridge’s parents insist on employing a bodyguard for her protection, she’s not happy. Okay, so maybe not every woman is on the cusp of developing a vaccine against a potential biological terrorist attack – but crikey, it’s not like she’s a celebrity!

Ben Jacobs flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. But on a conference trip to Rome he finds things are worse than he thought. Not only is he falling for the brilliant scientist, he’s also become horribly aware she’s in grave danger. As they go on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers, can he resist his feelings and keep her safe?

Crikey a bodyguard is currently available for pre-order, and is out on 23rd April.

That’s providing I get my last round of edits back in time. Crikey, better get on with them.

 

What I learnt this week: 21st February 2019

The next book….

It’s getting exciting, here at Freeman HQ. Well, I’m getting excited, the rest of the family, not so much. The second round of edits have come in for my next book, which I’m hoping will be ready for pre-order soon, and published some time in April.

What can I tell you so far?

I have a title: Crikey, a bodyguard.

That probably gives you a pretty big hint as to what the book is about!

So let me introduce you to the key players. Dr Kelly Bridge is a brilliant scientist on the verge of finding a vaccine to counteract the latest bioterrorism threat. The last few nights she’s aware of being followed, and while she dismisses this as probably nothing, her family are worried for her. Much to her disgust – it’s not like she’s a celebrity – they insist on her having a bodyguard.

Ben Jacobs flunked science at school – actually, he flunked school, full stop. It didn’t help that he wasn’t there much. So he knows he’s in trouble when he’s asked to protect Kelly. What he doesn’t bargain for is finding the danger isn’t imaginary, it’s real.

From Rome, to safe houses in the English countryside, Ben and Kelly find themselves on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers. And their growing feelings for each other 🙂

Next week I’m looking forward to revealing the cover, and the official blurb, but now I’ll leave you with a few photos that conjure up the flavour of the book.

 

What I learnt this week: 7th February 2018

My second best writing day, ever

There are many ups and downs in the world of writing. The ups:

  • A publisher wants to publish your book!
  • Days when you know exactly when you want to say, and the words jump straight from your head onto the page
  • A good review
  • Your Amazon ranking takes a leap upwards
  • Someone tells you how much they enjoyed your last book
  • Seeing the cover of your next book for the first time
  • Publication day

The downs are there too, just to keep your feet on the ground

  • Rejections from agents and publishers
  • Days when you don’t know what to say, and even if you did, the words are stuck somewhere in your head, in a faulty box which won’t budge open.
  • A bad review
  • Amazon rankings are all down, down, down
  • You tell someone you write romantic fiction and they curl their lip, wondering why you don’t write something more challenging, like crime…
  • The short-lists come out for the Romantic Novelists’ Awards and yet again you’re not on it

But wow, that last bullet…I can now add the opposite, to the up pile. Because I finally know what it feels like to be short-listed – and it’s bloody amazing.

Now just before I get too carried away, I know I’m short-listed for the shorter romantic award, not one of the ‘big’ categories like contemporary romance or popular fiction. But nothing will take away this feeling of – whoop! A Little Christmas Charm, there among the short-listed books. Nestled alongside other authors I so admire.

Here’s the link to the RNA website so you can see the other short-listed books. Perhaps have a read of a few from authors you love but hadn’t realised they had a new book out, or authors you’ve not tried before.

Maybe, if you’ve not read it, you might want to try out that Christmas book in the shorter romantic novel award short-list…

PS In case you were wondering, the best writing day ever? The day I received my first book contract 🙂

What I learnt this week: 31st January 2019

The edits are in for my next book – ta da!

I love this part of writing. Okay, I love pretty much all parts of writing. Not the bits when I’m staring at my computer screen and the words are coming out with all the speed of a slowly dripping tap. Not the proof read stage when I’m reading it to check mistakes but actually getting ideas for whole sections I want to change.

Those two exceptions aside, I love writing, and I especially love editing. I think. Or maybe I equally love editing. Either way, this is the part that is real. The book I’m writing may never be published, but the book I’m editing, that’s on it’s way to being born. And now, with the help of a wise editor, I’m adding the gloss, making it stronger, sharper – better.

So it’s eyes down for the next few weeks as I immerse myself in the world of biological warfare, vaccines, bodyguards…and love 💘.

Here’s one of the books I’ve been using to fact check.

Yes, research for Oh Crumbs, the book set in the biscuit factory, was soooooo much easier.

And yes, I am now wondering why on earth I didn’t stick to writing a sequel for that, instead.

Then again, part of what I love about writing is the excitement of developing new characters, and new situations, so it was  worth a bit of research pain.

And hopefully you too, dear reader, will enjoy the change of scenery 😊

 

PS Crikey, a Bodyguard will be out in the Spring.

What I learnt this week: 25th January 2019

From windows to bannisters.

A few weeks ago we had new windows put on the front of the house. It’s a job we said would be the first thing we did when we moved here 19 years ago. But hey, at least we finally got round to it, yes?

It’s claimed they’ll help reduce the noise from the road, and the overhead planes, and reduce our heating bills, though considering the cost of the damn things, the latter is a bit of a stretch. They do look smart though, both inside and outside the house. What I hadn’t factored in, was how much work they would involve. Not the installation, that fell to the window fitters. Thank God. Rather them than me hanging out of the first floor bedrooms…

Inevitably though, the windows didn’t just slide in – ours is a hundred year old house, and nothing eases in, trust me. So now, having had 6 windows fitted, we have six rooms that need redecorating.

While we argue over colours, we thought we’d start on the front door. You see the new windows aren’t white, they’re off white. Yet the front door was white. So we painted it. And because we’d painted the outside, we thought we should paint the inside the same colour. Which then made us realise how shoddy the rest of the woodwork was in the hallway, so that had to be painted, too. Finally, our eyes were drawn to the bannisters, which had been white, once upon a time, but were now yellow. And definitely didn’t match the newly painted door.

Bugger.

Here’s me in action (I don’t believe in dust sheets, or masking tape. That’s what kitchen roll and wet wipes are for). The junk on the stairs is the front door furniture which we now realise is brass, and doesn’t go with the new off-white colour scheme. A nickel knocker and letterbox has been ordered…

Finally, that look of gritted teeth agony on my face? That is real. There’s a reason the start of the word painting begins with pain. Next time the bannisters need doing, we’re getting a decorator in. Or moving.