Category Archives: a writer’s life

Christmas Reunion in Paris—a writer’s anxiety and joy

The beginning…

romantic novelist busy editingWriting Christmas Reunion in Paris was a curious mixture of fun and anxiety. Maybe it’s always like that. There are always tough moments when you can’t see an ending, when you sit and stare at the screen and the words won’t come. But, mostly, like childbirth, you forget the agonies when all is delivered safely.

It all started when my editor asked if I’d like to write the first book in a three book mini-series – Christmas at the Harrington Park Hotel. My fellow authors, Kandy Shepherd (in Australia) and Susan Meier (in the US) were old friends. I was delighted to team up with them to work on the books that were about three siblings, each with their own painful past.

The collaboration…

writer at laptop smilingEmails flew back and forth as we worked on settings. The boarding school that James (my character) and his twin Sally had attended. The Harrington Park Hotel. The backstory of their parents, a stepfather, the moments that fractured a once happy family.

That was the fun part!

Paris…we’ve done that…

Paris for Christmas reunion

My story takes place in Paris, in the run up to the holiday, so I grabbed the chance to go and do a little research which I wrote about a few months ago.

More fun.

It couldn’t last…

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What I Did On My Holiday : perils, pitfalls and Pratchett

Eton_Schoolboys,_in_ad_Montem_dress,_by_Francis_AlleyneThis is the time of year when school children up and down the land are required to produce an essay, project or even, God help us, art homework on the subject of What I Did On My Holiday.

They are supposed to have had some wonderful new experience to share with their grateful class mates. At least, I suppose that’s the idea.

Might be a bit of a damp squib this year, I’d say. For a lot of people, anyway. But for some of us it was always torture.

Not necessarily because you’d had a bad holiday, either. Just because of the impossibility of a) selection and b) giving enough context without boring the pants off your class mates. Ten-year-olds make a tough audience. I speak from experience.
Except once.

What I Did on My Holiday at Christmas

At my primary school one year we got the assignment when we went back in January as well. (My mother blamed the teacher’s Christmas-through-New Year hangover. Though she didn’t tell me that until after my 21st birthday.)

Me? I’d spent my holiday reading. Continue reading

Animals in books: cute, endearing. Risky?

When its eyes met mine…

cover Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie“On a gloomy March afternoon, sitting in the same high school classroom she’d been sitting in for thirteen years, gritting her teeth as she told her significant other for the seventy-second time since they’d met that she’d be home at six because it was Wednesday and she was always home on six on Wednesdays, Quinn McKenzie lifted her eyes from the watercolour assignments on the desk in front of her and met her destiny.”

Jennifer Crusie is famous for putting wonderful dogs in her books and this is no exception. Quinn’s destiny is a small black dog with desperate eyes and he isn’t a prop, a cute accessory for her heroine. He gets the opening line in Crazy For You, because he’s about to change her life.

Animals in books? Dogs, more dogs and a duckling or two

Georgette Heyer put animals in books, shown here with her dogGeorgette Heyer, seen here with her dog, was another author who used dogs, kittens, even ducklings to delight us. In a long scene in The Grand Sophy the ducklings escape, are recaptured and generally cause chaos. 

ducklings

Image by Adina Voicu from Pixabay

Venetia‘s Flurry flew to her rescue when, shockingly, Damerel kissed her. Unfortunately Flurry desisted the moment he was commanded to “sit”, recognising a master when he heard one. But he was enough of a distraction for Venetia to extract herself. Once she’d done that, she was more than a match for the man!

And Ulysses, the disreputable mongrel Arabella foisted on Beaumaris, is a joy. 

But writers beware!

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Missing the Beach? Try Little Piddling’s Beach Hut Surprise

writers working together, with wineBack in 2019, the Libertà Hive met over supper and the odd glass 😉 to plot the future. We decided to write a Libertà Beach Reads anthology for summer 2020.

We didn’t know back then, of course, that beaches might be off-limits for a bit. But there’s no ban on beach reads. Writing them—and reading them, too—can be great fun.

As the evening wore on, amid much laughter and scraping of plates, we discovered the joys of Little Piddling, its history, its inhabitants… We also discovered some of the skeletons in our seaside town’s metaphorical cupboards (aka beach huts).

Beach Read challenge

We challenged each other to write the sort of stories we’d never attempted before. And we’ve all really enjoyed meeting those challenges. We even roped in two long-term friends of the hive, authors Louise Allen and Lesley Cookman.

The result?fanfare of trumpets

Fanfare of trumpets please for the Libertà Books anthology: Continue reading

Jenni Fletcher guest blog : the writer in lockdown

Jenni Fletcher wins 2020 Libertà Books Shorter Romantic Novel AwardReality check:
was it really less than 3 months ago that we were in London, elbow-bumping at the RNA Awards? And cheering for Jenni Fletcher, winner of the Betty Neels Rose Bowl and the Libertà Books Award for the Shorter Romantic Novel?

Seems more like a lifetime, doesn’t it?

However, to cheer us up, and remind us that life really does go on, even in lockdown, we welcome Jenni to our blog this weekend.

Jenni is actually another Scot (yes!) from Aberdeenshire, though she now lives in Yorkshire with her family. She has published nine historical romances with Mills & Boon, ranging from the Roman to Victorian eras, and is currently finishing her thirteenth. She says that when she’s not reading or writing, she likes baking, eating the results of baking and cycling.

Judging from that willowy figure, she must do a lot of cycling 😉

Welcome to Libertà, Jenni, and congratulations again on your win. Over to you…

Jenni Fletcher remembers and reflects

A magic night…

Jenni Fletcher with Betty Neels Rose Bowl at 2020 RNA AwardsThe RNA Awards in March seem a really long time ago now. It was a wonderful night.

I was honoured when Libertà books invited me to write a guest blog, but at the time I was feeling a little too anxious to write anything upbeat.

Obviously a lot has changed for all of us since then. We’ve all had to adapt and find a new kind of normal.

For me, trying to write alongside homeschooling has been the biggest change of all, but it’s led to some positives, too. Continue reading

Celebrating THIRTY BOOKS! Giveaway from Sarah Mallory

Giveaway Update…..Giveaway Update…..Giveaway Update…

A big thank you to all those who commented on the post, the giveaway is now closed and the winner was drawn at random under the watchful gaze of Willow, chief scrutineer.

And the winner is…Sabillatul

Sabillatul, you can email me at author@melinda-hammond.co.uk or DM me via twitter @SarahMRomance and I will arrange to get your goodies posted to you!  Congratulations!

This month sees the publication of my 30th book for Mills & Boon

blush pink rose to celebrate thirty books

 

Am I excited about thirty? You bet I am.

Thirty Historical romances – that’s a full shelf!

Given the current state of the world, it is wonderful to have something to celebrate so I want to share with you my delight at reaching this milestone.

Thirty! Who would have thought it? So go on, raise a glass with me!

champagne to celebrate thirty books

How those thirty began

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Lockdown Recipes : Store Cupboard and More

A lot of you, like us, won’t be going out much or doing much shopping right now. When the family is cooped up together, food becomes extra important. And treats are even more special.

So we’ve asked members of the Libertà hive to share the kind of recipes that are easy to make and, preferably, can be made with ingredients you may already have.

Feel free to experiment.

And enjoy 😉

Libertà Recipes: #1 Joanna’s Tea Bread

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Earwigging, Active and Passive. And James Bond

The Listening Servant, Hubertus van Hove,
image courtesy of the Victoria & Albert Museum

I hooted over Joanna’s post last week. It made me remember a couple of earwigs of my own.

In the first, I overheard a memorable exchange. It came out of the blue, in truly exceptional circumstances. I’d use it in a book, if I could write one good enough.

In the other I was, as it were, earwigged. But I bet the earwiggers remember it. Both cheered me up enormously.

So I thought I would share.

Setting 1: the Exotic Holiday

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Earwigging : because writers do

Times are difficult, scary even, for all of us — especially the older or vulnerable ones — so I thought I’d add a bit of light-hearted distraction. To wit: earwigging.

I do it. Don’t you?
Doesn’t everybody?
Especially authors…

An Earwigging tale

Goblin Court typical English villageI was in a pub, on my own, having a quiet meal. There were four elderly gents — nattily dressed, clearly ex-military — sitting across the way, drinking various beverages and gossiping. They were not trying to keep their voices down, though they must have known other drinkers could hear every word.

One of them was even louder than the others, very keen to be heard. All The Time. And even when the others were trying to hold a conversation about something else.

Must admit that I took agin Mr Loudmouth.

Anyway, Mr Loudmouth told a joke Continue reading

I’m having a reading week…

Sofa days and reading…

I have just finished a book. Writing it, not reading it. It was Hard Work.

Nothing new there. No matter how sparkling the inspiration, how heady the enthusiasm to embark on this particular story, they are always a strain on the imagination, hard on the back and a slog at the keyboard. The reward is that moment of joyful relief when you’ve despatched it into the ether and it becomes your editor’s job to sort out mangled timelines, momentary slips into scatalogical dialogue and missing commas.

I have a busy writing year planned, but I seem to have spent the entire winter saying, “When I’ve finished the book…’

When I’ve finished the book I’ll get up to the V&A and take a look at the  jewellery department. I’ve been there dozens of times but have somehow missed it and I’ve been inspired to visit by the documentary series Secrets of the Museum. Also on the list is the local Arts Society. I’ve been wanting to join for ages but couldn’t fit in another thing until I’d finished the book.

Reading the TBR pile

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