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.

What I learnt this week: 17th January 2019

A birthday treat…a visit to something older than me

It was my birthday last week, and to ‘celebrate’ we went to the South coast for the weekend. By we, I mean my hubby and I because the boys are back at university. And by celebrate I mean I used my birthday as a good excuse to go to my favourite factory outlet, knowing my hubby wouldn’t be able to complain too much because, hey, it’s my birthday.

Money was spent – my birthday money – damn, okay, maybe a little more than my birthday money but with prices 70% off, it’s more look at how much money I saved. No? My hubby isn’t convinced either.

While we were there, we popped in to see something even older than I am. In fact, the world’s oldest commissioned warship. We last saw Victory in 2015, and she’s had a complete paint job since then. On the left is how she used to look, like a bumble bee. On the right is her new colours. More subdued. More elegant. More in keeping with the old lady she is.

 

During the restoration they discovered, in places, as many as 72 different layers of paint! But she’s now restored to what they believe is her true colours; those she was wearing during the Battle of Trafalgar.

How lovely she looks compared to her modern equivalents. Here is the Navy’s latest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Definitely not pretty, though I suspect that’s not what they were aiming at when they designed her.

A few more photos of Victory as she was looking so smart.

I would end with a photo of all the bargains I bought, but they’re already secreted away in my wardrobe. Not because I’m especially organised, but because if I hadn’t bought them, I wouldn’t have had a thing to wear this week…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I learnt this week: 10th January 2019

Happy New Year

Is it too late to say that? Too late to post a blog about Christmas? Damn. If I don’t, then really there’s nothing much else to report. The kids are back to university, the husband back to work, and I’m back to writing (both medical and romance) in a house that feels very quiet.

Well, except for the presence of the builders, putting in new windows. But hey, the sound of drilling, of banging and the constant blast of cold air is nothing compared to having my two sons under my feet for three weeks.

So, did I hear you ask me about my Christmas?

Oh, go on then, I’ll post a photo of my tree.

What did I get up to? It was wall to wall family up to New Year’s Eve, when we collapsed quietly in front of the television and only just made it to midnight. But it was lovely to have two different Christmas days. The actual Christmas was spent with the, let’s call them the more mature generation (my mum and my mum and dad-in-law). Still all sprightly enough that we could enjoy a few days out, including a walk in Marlow on Christmas Eve. Could have been summer, looking at the photos.

Our second Christmas was spent in Somerset, with my brother and his family of teenage girls. My sons have always called their cousins the pains, but at 14, 15 and 16 we now have the occasional glimpse of young ladies. When they’re not getting stuck in the mud on a walk. Or tackling the boys to the ground playing football.

They’re also very useful sources of reference. My middle niece, Tiegan, helped me out when I was writing A Little Christmas Faith, ensuring teenage Chloe was as authentic as I could make her. So of course I gave her the book as a Christmas present. A generous aunt, perhaps not, but a sneaky one, sure. That next generation of readers isn’t going to just fall into my lap 🙂

Happy New year to you all. May 2019 be kind and generous to you. And may you get the chance to read a lot of books (they don’t have to be mine…!).

 

What I learnt this week: 21st December 2018

From a run to the O2

They say running is good for you, so I dutifully plod around my village a few times a week. I do it not just for the health benefits, but for the side benefits. I can eat the crips, chips and chocolate I’m addicted too without too much guilt. It wakes me up, so I’m more productive at my desk. And if I’ve got a particular problem to mull over – particularly a plot issue – it gives me time to think.

Last month, the run had an additional benefit. It led me to The Ultimate Christmas Party in the O2 last night, in aid of Children in Need. You see when I run, I listen to Chris Evans, and that particular day he was doing his Children in Need auctions. The more I heard him and his guests (Tom Odell and Rick Astley) wind us all up into a frenzy over the party, the faster I ran (okay, this is me, fast is relative) so that I could get home and make my bid for a pair of tickets.

And what a night it was. Chris was in fine form (as were Tom and Rick), the O2 was packed, and the audience rocking…well, as it was a radio 2 audience, it was more a polite shuffle.

What I enjoyed most about the evening though was that everyone was in such good spirits. I’ve never talked to so many strangers. From the kind lady who ran after us as we left the restaurant to give me the scarf I’d left behind, to the people in the queue having a laugh about which would be fastest, to the person behind me who moved further away from the stage so a family could sit together. To the lady who accidentally stepped on my husband’s foot and couldn’t have apologised more. There were only smiles. It made me proud to be a radio 2 listener. And that was before I considered how much money had been raised for Children in Need by everyone in the audience.

So I think the moral of the tale is that running is good for you. Not just for the heart, but sometimes for the soul.

And on that profound note, can I wish you all a very Happy Christmas, and may 2019 be a wonderful year for both your heart and your soul. But it may it also bring crisps, chips and chocolate 🙂