Category Archives: events

Noir at the Bar : crime, alcohol, the ideal mixture?

Noir at the Bar, I’m told, first appeared in Philadelphia in 2008.

The full story is here.

Brits, not slow to adopt anything that takes place over a drink in a pub, quickly caught on. It’s now a popular pastime for crime and mystery writers all over the UK.

Crawley Festival of Words

Elly Griffiths, Barbara Nadel and Derek Farrell at Crawley Festival of WordsCrawley, my nearest big town, has a month-long Festival of Words in March and it includes a very popular crime weekend.

There was a crime panel hosted by Derek Farrell – author of the Danny Bird Mysteries — who was talking to Elly Griffiths and Barbara Nadel.  Caroline Green gave a workshop on writing “killer characters”. Spooky readings were the Saturday night treat in the ancient cloisters. The culmination of the weekend was Noir at the Bar, held in an oak-beamed pub called the Old Punch Bowl.

Was I nervous?

Crawley Crime Weekend ProgrammeWhen I received an invitation to appear at Noir at the Bar and read from one of my own books, I leapt at the chance. Who wouldn’t? I’m new to this genre and I need the exposure as a “crime” writer. The terror, the why-did-I-say-I’d-do-this regret would come later…

I’m applying the same technique to a couple of gigs I’ve signed up for at CRIMEfest next month. I have never moderated a panel before, but they say that doing something that scares you is a good thing… Continue reading

Women’s Fiction Festival 2023

I promised so many people I would report back on this inaugural festival of Women’s Fiction. My apologies for not doing it sooner, but here we go:

The first  Womens Fiction Festival was held over two days in early October.  It was a celebration of popular women’s fiction and the line up of authors was very impressive. This was women’s fiction in many of its forms – historical, feel-good and rom-com, to name a few.

The weather decided to do its worst. Rain disrupted trains and flooded roads that  weekend, but it didn’t deter a great many  women’s fiction fans from making their way to Morningside. They turned up in force to listen, learn and enjoy the varied programme put together by the organisers.

Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city was impressive, too, despite the rain. Continue reading

Romance Reading Month

I suppose it was inevitable that February should become Romance Reading Month. There’s St Valentine doing his bit on the 14th to remind the world that romantic love is a) universal b) important and c) can be awkward. The material of good stories, in fact.

It seems to me that Valentine’s Day gets increasing attention every year. Partly this is because Bloggins’ Aniversary And Activity Day has long been the jobbing editor’s lifeline to fill an blank column or an empty four minutes on broadcast magazine programmes.

Clearly there’s even more and more slots to fill these days, what with social media ‘n’ all. And, frankly, St Valentine doesn’t face many candidates for rival celebration attention in the shortest month. Ground Hog Day anyone?

Spring in the Air?

Continue reading

Red Boots and Bow Tie (or RNA Awards Ceremony)

Hello again. I’m back about the RNA Awards…

Recently I was here with Louise Allen, chatting about how it felt like to be shortlisted for the RNA Awards. Now the Awards are over, and I’m back to tell you all about it.

RNA Awards invitation

Romanceland has been buzzing about the RNA Awards

Continue reading

Apologies, Real Life and Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day, Chelsea Pensioner in uniformToday’s blog is not only late but also shorter than usual — just apologies, a brief explanation (real life!) and a bowed head for Remembrance Day.

This picture is a photograph I took some years ago, of the West Gate to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea. This wonderful building by Sir Christopher Wren was built at the instigation of Charles II as a home for old and injured soldiers. And so it is still.

The two people in the photo are a serving policeman, and a resident Chelsea Pensioner. The latter is wearing his famous scarlet coat. When I bump into them in the local supermarket, they are generally equally smart but slightly less startling in navy blue.

I am really fond of that not very good photograph. I took it on a day in November — mist in the air, trees turning to gold before they started to lose their leaves. Very like today, indeed.

Real Life (Mine)

The reason the blog is late is that I have new member of the household.

After my dear Tom Kyd died in July I heard him about the house for weeks.

But then I began to smile more and weep less, when I thought about him. Then I started to feel I wanted to share all that love we generated between us.

The obvious course was to adopt a cat who had somehow lost their own family. So I have, thanks to the rehoming programme at the wonderful Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. Continue reading

Romance Conference Diary by Liz Fielding

Liz Fielding, multi-award-winning author, celebrates her arrival in the Libertà Hive with a Romance Conference Diary, after Joanna’s blog about the RNA Conference. Welcome, Liz!

Liz is just back from Denver, where the Conference in question was that of the Romance Writers of America — and where her lovely Sheikh’s Convenient Princess was short-listed for the 2018 Short Contemporary Rita® Award.  

LIZ’s ROMANCE CONFERENCE DIARY — Monday

Romance Conference Diary - suitcasesPacking for Conference is ridiculous. You have no idea how cold the hotel is going to be. You do know it’s going to be steaming hot outside, so you pack twice as much as you need. Plus conference “swag”.

I checked in online and printed my boarding card. Tick. Car delivered me to Heathrow in good time. Tick. Bags dropped. Tick. Through security… Er, hello Border Control. I was drug swabbed! I mean, could it be any more ridiculous? Noticeably all the swabbees were women. The lady in front of me had a scented candle. I hadn’t taken the plastic pouch with my toiletries out of my hand luggage before it went through the x-ray machine. Slapped wrist. Don’t do it again. Continue reading

Never stop learning : inspiring working authors

RNA conference reception with goody bags, coffee, bookstall

Goody bags for delegates, tea, coffee, bookstall
Just what arriving delegates need (possibly + wine later?)

Last week, the Libertà hive was buzzing round the annual conference of the
Romantic Novelists’ Association at
Leeds Trinity University. 

In Yorkshire.

God’s Own Country, I’m told.

And here was I thinking it was Scotland 😉

open courtyard for RNA conference delegates to relax in

Leeds Trinity’s courtyard where RNA delegates relaxed

It was a fantastic few days — as it always is — with dozens of inspiring workshops to choose from, old and new friends to meet, [many, many] glasses of wine to drink… Continue reading

Georgette Heyer Study Day

Georgette HeyerThis week I spent a day with Georgette Heyer. Billed as The Nonesuch Conference, this was at a hybrid gathering at London University, offering a selection of papers from accredited academics together with reader/writer participation from people labelled in the programme as independent scholars.

Clearly, and heartwarmingly, most of the speakers I heard were also fans.

Georgette Heyer regency invitationIt was preceded by a writing workshop the day before. And there was a Regency Soirée in the evening after the conference, which sounds like a lot of fun.

Sadly, I couldn’t make either of these events. For one thing I’m still convalescent. (My energy gives out unexpectedly, so I didn’t want to push it.) For another, the programme was really full. Academics seemed to be supercharged, cheerily steaming from session to session, enthusiasm still at white heat.

When I read my notes I was astonished at the sheer volume of ideas I had noted down for further consideration. Continue reading