Friday 29 July 2011

My Bookshelves...

This week I’m picking up on the bookshelf feature I started earlier in the year, where I talk about favourite authors and show off my prized collection of first editions and ‘keepers’ - as I like to call my most loved books. This time I’m talking about the fabulous author of six equally fabulous novels, Kate Fenton, whose humorous and witty tales of country life in the wilds of Yorkshire are written in a pacy distinctive style that I can hardly get enough of, which is a shame, as the lovely Kate hasn’t published a book since ‘Picking Up in 2002!’

Author Kate Fenton

I met Kate a few years ago at a Romantic Novelist’s Association conference. She is great fun, a real joker, and is as witty in real life as she is in her books. To my surprise, she laughed heartily while admitting that her recent lack of input/output on the writing front was down to her suffering from writer’s block. She said she was “deeply embarrassed, mortified, terrified, and stupefied by a sense of failure.”

On her blog, she says this of her predicament: “No, I haven’t written a new novel recently. By which I mean, nothing since ‘Picking Up’. I guess I experienced Writer’s Block, that scary phenomenon about which one reads with the ghoulish fascination inspired by tales of, say, poltergeists or a fatal addiction to slot machines, while smugly thinking such a dreadful fate could never happen to ME. Except it did. And I’m here to tell you it’s no fun.”

Kate has further apologised to her many fans, saying: “I’m sorry to say my books are currently more or less out of print. It’s all my own fault, natch. In this fast-changing retail world, a book has a shelf life rather shorter – in fact, much shorter – than that of a can of baked beans. And if authors fail to deliver new titles, old ones tend to get put speedily out to grass. Re-issues are promised if and when a new novel is published. Ho-hum.”

It apparently took Kate four years to write and finish her first novel The Colours of Snow (which is my personal favourite of her books) and three years later she produced ‘Dancing to the Pipers’. It took her two years apiece to write ‘Lions and Liquorice’, ‘Balancing on Air’, ‘Too Many Godmothers’, and finally ‘Picking Up’. So, despite the speed with which the plots in Kate’s books furiously race along, she has never really been a production line writer has she?

What sort of books are these, you may ask? Well, Kate herself says:  “Oh, I write about, birth, sex and death, really. Doesn't everyone? Also God, dogs, adultery, D-I-Y, suicide, Morris dancing, incest, murder - you know, everyday life in North Yorkshire. With jokes.  But I don't do moody, magnificent brutes, heaving bosoms and surging passions on moon-kissed Caribbean beaches. The odd chilly paddle in Llandudno, maybe.”

The good news is that Kate is still trying to write: she says (talking about herself in the third person) on her (sadly neglected) blog: “That’s right: it’s because she’s run out of excuses, jokes and even suicide threats, in trying to explain her ongoing failure to produce Novel Number Seven. Admittedly, she has been trying – in our view, very trying. You should see her, staring at the wall, muttering to herself, decimating the world’s forests with the manuscripts she so regularly chucks away with a manic cackle as she grows ever poorer, fatter and more morose.”

To me, Kate’s previous novels are a testament to the fact she is a great writer. I can read her books over and over and enjoy them all the more. If she (ever) manages to write another novel, I shall be delighted and it won’t matter a jot to me how long it took her to do it. It’s all about quality not quantity, right?

Kate Fenton Novels on my bookshelves

So here’s a question for you if you are a writer, what’s your opinion on writer’s block and have you ever suffered from it? If you are a reader, how long are you prepared to wait for another novel by a favourite author?

Please consider 'following me' so that I can follow your blog in return - and do leave a comment as it would be most appreciated. Thanks!

My previous bookshelf features:  Ruby FergusonJilly Cooper

Wednesday 20 July 2011

A Shout Out!

This week I’ve SO much to shout about!

After an intense week working on my next novel, Reaching For The Stars, I stopped writing to take a break and check my Amazon listing (as you do!) to see that Bagpipes & Bullshot had picked up a NINTH five star review!

I was so excited that I did a little shimmy around my study - so thank you very much to Audrey Hawkins of Bath for taking the time to post a review. I’m delighted you enjoyed reading Bagpipes & Bullshot as much as I enjoyed writing it. Yay!

Then, another lovely lady called Rea Sinfield, posted a photo on Twitter of her taking a tea break while reading Bagpipes & Bullshot on her gorgeous pink skinned Kindle!
Rea Sinfeild's Kindle
Somehow Rea managed to finish Bagpipes & Bullshot’s eighty thousand words in just ONE DAY and write a review. Thank you Rea. Double Yay!!

You can read Rea’s five star review here at Reabookreview Blog.

Don’t forget - if you don’t yet have a copy of  Bagpipes & Bullshot  you can download it at the very special price of just 90p or $1.45 from Amazon uk and dot com, Smashwords, or from any other e-reader catalogue.

If you don’t have an e-reader and would like to read Bagpipes & Bullshot you can download the free Kindle app from Amazon for your PC, Mac, IPad, IPhone or other mobile device.

Before you go - don’t forget to enter last week’s Book Giveaway (you can enter until midnight on 31st July 2011) to win a signed paperback copy of Christine Richards book ‘Whitewalls’.

Also: a very special and exciting event is going down at today (Thursday 21st July).

It’s Richard Holmes’ Angelic Wisdom Trilogy Book Launch. Please do take a moment to visit to enter into the spirit of the event, to take part in any giveaways, and generally show support by leaving a comment to encourage our new and exciting authors as they launch their work upon the world. Writers need readers and readers need writers!

Book Launch Event

The Interactive Reader / Writer Website and Blog

Friday 15 July 2011

Author Interview with Christine Richard

Christine Richard OBE is an incredibly busy woman with over twenty five years of experience of public life in Scotland. She is - or has been - a chair person, a presenter, a speaker, a politician, a magistrate, an executive, a counsellor, a consultant, a patron, a mentor, and an advisor to Government. She was awarded her OBE in 1992.

Christine’s leisure interests include her family, literature, art, music, theatre, food, wine, and as member of two racing syndicates based in Perthshire, horse racing. She is also a member of The Scottish Arts Club in Edinburgh.

With such a wealth of business experience and an intimate knowledge of hallowed halls, when I heard Christine had written a novel, I knew I wanted to read it.

Whitewalls is a contemporary novel set in Scotland and I asked Christine to tell us a little more about it.
“Whitewalls is a family saga, set in the present day.  The title comes from the name of the house which is at the heart of the book.  It is a Scottish Baronial house set on the banks of the River Tweed.  The story is about four generations of the Douglas and Bruce families over a Spring and Summer in the 2000s. As well a host of principal characters there are cats, dogs, ponies, racehorses, locations in Edinburgh, Burnmouth, Yorkshire, London, the Haute Savoie regions of France and back again.”

How much personal experience do you put into your novels and how much is research?
“I think, on the whole, I followed the adage "write about what you know" and I have followed the lives of families like this for a long time.  Indeed I have at times been involved personally although the book itself is a work of fiction.  There are some real people in the book, with their permission, and include James Thomson who owns the Witchery restaurant and Prestonfield House in Edinburgh, and Stephen Winyard, owner of Stobo Castle Health Spa where some of the action takes place.”

To plot or not to plot – as a writer how much of a planner are you?
“I sketch out each chapter so I have a starting point, though characters and events do take on a life of their own and I allow them to do that.  After all they can always be brought back to the original plan.  Although Schubert said, the hardest thing was not writing the music but dropping the unwanted notes on to the floor.  I know exactly what he meant!”

Do you have a favourite place to work?
“I generally work in my very messy study at home.  I call it my creative space but from time to time have a good clear out then piles of paper build up again.  I keep cards, quotes, articles in case they come in useful.  Another wonderful place in which to write is Cliff Cottage, a writer’s retreat, where one can go to stay and do nothing but write, eat, drink and sleep for up to a week at a time. Here I get great inspiration from sitting in a glassed-in veranda looking out to sea.”

Was there any particular author or book that made you want to be a writer?
“I was very impressed with Rosamunde Pilcher, who also understands family dynamics, and I met her at an RNA lunch I helped to organise at the Scottish Parliament, when she was presented with a lifetime achievement award.  In some ways I have copied her style of moving locations and concentrating on different characters or groups of characters before bringing them all together again.  Another writer who impressed me tremendously was Mary Wesley.  I enjoyed the darker side of her books.”

Can you tell us what you are working on now with regard to your writing?
“Yes, I am currently writing a sequel to Whitewalls, called Autumn at Whitewalls.  This is in response to a number of kind people who have been asking me what happens next. It should be published in time for Christmas. I also write articles and do art reviews for on-line magazine, Lothian Life, and more recently the glossy magazine, Edinburgh Life and Lothians.”

Whitewalls Giveaway!!!
Christine has kindly offered one lucky reader a complimentary copy of Whitewalls! All you have to do to be in the draw to win is to leave a comment on this blog saying why you’d like to read Whitewalls. The winner will be picked at random using a fair and impartial system. As usual, for those who have trouble leaving a comment, you can email in your entry to You can enter this giveaway between now and midnight on 31st July 2011 (BST). Good Luck!

Whitewalls is available to buy from and both in paperback and Kindle format or from most book sites, bookshops and libraries.

Interesting Footnote: Christine was once a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D’Acampo to cook her signature dish, ‘Posh Cottage Pie’. Currently she is working on a new proposed web-based TV station aimed specifically at an educated female audience.

Thursday 7 July 2011

High Days & Holidays...

Hi everyone, I’m finally catching up with you all after what has been a very busy week.

In my day job, as a legal secretary, I’ve been providing holiday cover and working extra hours. In my virtual job, as an associated author and editor at, I’ve done my first Review Chair interview which you can read by clicking the links on my The Review Chair tab opposite.

Last week I was giving away SIX copies of Bagpipes & Bullshot to celebrate the launch of the website, which took so many hits in its first few hours that founder and Editor-in-Chief, Linn Halton, actually thought the site might crash!

These are the six winners of an e-copy of Bagpipes & Bullshot whose names have now been forwarded to who will send out your Smashwords coupons. Thank you to everyone who entered!

The winners are : Margaret James. Susan Jones. Jessica Thompson. Jeryl Marcus. Dorothy Bush. Dina King.

Also this week, I was delighted and excited to receive THREE separate five star reviews for Bagpipes & Bullshot on Amazon.Com, Amazon.Uk and Goodreads. Thank you to my readers!

Over the next seven days I’m on a writers retreat - but actually staying at home in the cottage - as the kids are away and I have put aside some time to work on my next book.

Next Friday here on the blog, I’ll be chatting to Edinburgh author Christine Richard about her life, her writing, and her new e-book.

Happy reading and writing everyone!

Love, Janice x