Just life, Writing journey

Awards, Afternoon Tea and Friends

As many of you know, I am on the New Writer’s Scheme (NWS) with the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) and it has been an invaluable experience this year. Last Saturday was the annual York Afternoon Tea with the announcement of the winner of the Joan Hessayon Award at the stunning Merchant Taylor Hall. After meeting new friends at the conference in July, I had been looking forward to this event for weeks. There was a moment when it looked as if I would not be able to attend but to my surprise offers of lifts soon arrived. This is the kindest organisation I have come across. Everyone is warm, friendly and supportive. Many are willing to step out of the box to help. Going to one of those events is like coming home, you are greeted with hugs, wonderful food, encouraged to tell your news, and achievements, however small they are in the scheme of things, are celebrated and any falls commiserated. You also want to spend longer there than planned to soak up the love. I truly have found my tribe.

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Food Glorious Food

 

The spread of food was amazing and the macaroons were divine. While drinking lots of cups of tea I caught up with all the positive news from friends old and new. I am proud of all of them and excited that the conference and RNA has boosted their work and confidence too. Watch this space as I believe they will be up for the Joan Hessayon Award in the next couple of years.

The author’s of one of my favourite books, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker was nominated for the award. The Joan Hessayon Award is for published books by new writers. Jenni Keer’s books always make me smile with the subtle strands of magic running through them. Her warmth shines on the page making them ideal snuggling under the duvet. The mutual love of teacups is also a draw. My review for this is here.

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Alison May, Lorna Cooke and Hannah Begbie

There were fifteen contenders and more books have been added to my TBR list.  The worthy winner was Lorna Cook with The Forgotten Village. I am looking forward to reading this as soon as I can. The speech from last year’s winner Hannah Begbie with her novel, Mother, was inspiring and emotional making me more determined to write.

Other News

My NWS report from the RNA is back; it was positive and my novel, A Blend of Magic has promise. The readers comments were upbeat and encouraging so along with the weekend’s event I have a boost of energy to finish this latest draft.

Researching A Blend of Magic has reignited my interest in the paranormal, magic and witchcraft. What better way to learn more on these subjects than to enrol as an apprentice at my own The Enchanted Emporium. My journey as a rookie witch can be found here.

NanoWriMo is fast approaching and I have plans if A Blend of Magic can be rested in a drawer. Watch this space!

Thank you John Jackson for the use of the photos.

Happy writing!

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

All about Books, Just life, Writing journey

Hello September or Where the heck did Summer go?

It’s September already, another month has gone by without a peep from me on here; I still haven’t told you all about the RNA conference and there was much I could say. My plan was to blog about it while there or at least, give a round up the following week but nope – life had different ideas. My draft box was checked in the hope I could redeem myself by sharing one I had not finished but all that came up was this:

 

Summary of RNA conference

 

It is not quite the detail I had planned but it sums it up. It was an amazing weekend. I highly recommend it to all romance writers; the knowledge, support from speakers, authors and fellow newbies and the friendships made are priceless. The one to one appointments I had with the two agents and editor boosted my confidence, helped mould my proposed ending of A Blend of Magic into something more fitting and encouraged me to keep writing.

I met authors of books I have read and loved, all were lovely and encouraging including magical Jenni Keer and Sarah Painter, and the wonderful Dorothy Koomson. It was hard not to be starstruck when Katie Fforde talked to me, never mind when she bought me and friends a drink.

I also met fellow writers and bloggers I talk to online and they are all as lovely in person as they appear behind the computer screen. Watch this space for when they finish their books and their talent will be available for all to read. They include Kate Baker (https://violableu.com) , Emma Wilson (https://www.glasshousemagazine.com) , Jenny Kennedy (https://jekennedy.co.uk), Sandra Forder and Julie Morris (https://alittlebookproblem.co.uk).

Excuses, Excuses

My excuse for not being active blogging is I have been juggling having my in-laws to stay, frantically writing my manuscript to meet the New Writers Scheme deadline and dystonia flares and fatigue. Dystonia was always going to fight back and  I’m grateful it waited as long as it did.

I only submitted a partial rather than full manuscript to be critiqued by readers for the RNA. My in-laws were supportive at the beginning of their month long holiday but they soon became bored of seeing me type, dream or talk about my fiction. I am happier with my WIP than before I started to edit/rewrite it but I need to know if I am on the right track or if the magic element too much, too boring or the plot is just blurgh. Their advice will gratefully received however devastating it may be. Meanwhile I’ll keep plodding on with the knowledge that at least 3 people at the conference liked my first couple of chapters.

Books, Bookshops and little Gems

Last month, I read some wonderful books including The Lost Daughter by Sylvia Broady, The Unlikely Occultist by Isobel Blackthorn and the phenomenal The Woman in the Photograph by Stephanie Butland. Their reviews can be found on my book blog From under the Duvet.

I also discovered a wonderful new independent book shop,  The Little Book Emporium  in Driffield, East Yorkshire. This tiny store is full of old and new delights, literary surprises and is dangerous for the budget. Who needs to eat if you can have an unusual book? I have found this gem:

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And these:

How wonderful and useful will these be for witch research?

Enough rabbiting for now, it is time to write my next chapter while the house is quiet (apart from 3 Jack Russell snores from under the duvet).

Happy writing!

Love

Bye bye 2018 and hello 2019
Just life, Writing journey

Bye Bye 2018, Hello to a new writing year

After a very quiet Christmas, 2019 is insight and it is time to say goodbye to 2018. This year has been emotionally difficult but I have survived thanks to my writing. I am looking forward to starting a fresh page in the chapter of my life.

Farewell to my 2018 goals

Looking at the plans I made in January’s post there are some which will roll over into 2019.

  • I am still disorganised, with notes in different places but they are more contained and with a new planner  I am hopeful I can change.
  •  the first draft  for The Elfaenian Journals has not been finished because I got sidelined by Willow’s story. On the plus side,  it does not hide in a dusty file on my PC forgotten but always in my thoughts. By writing Willow’s world, it is evolving too.
  • a visit to Whitby for a research and chips is still needed

But I did achieve some.

 

  • I met up with the delightful Jennifer Gilmour for a hot chocolate after speaking to her online.
  • I have written more book reviews on From Under The Duvet – Books, Cards and a Wobbly Life, the new name for Duvet Dweller Books and made sure I added them on Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I have read books on writing and learnt lots from talking to the writing community on Twitter and Facebook

Other things I did this year which surprised me were:

  •  winning books for my book shelf and TBR in Twitter competitions
  • starting a new project with my favourite character so far Willow Anderson
  • completing NaNoWriMo thanks to winning coaching with the lovely Megg Geri

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The aim for 2019 is simple –  write, read and enjoy.

Happy New Year.

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

P.S Percy is still alive

Discovering Charles Dickens
All about Books, Just life, Writing journey

Discovering Charles Dickens at Christmas

I love A Christmas Carol and part of the joy of the run up to Christmas is reading taking my copy off my forever shelf for its annual read as well as binge watching the movies from Disney’s cartoon starring Jim Carey, the Alastair Sims to the best version The Muppet’s Christmas Carol. This year I had the luck of reading Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye which is a beautiful read and complements the original perfectly. It is a warm, heartbreaking tale but has thread of hope throughout. It will be added to collection to read every year as will the film The Man Who invented Christmas.

Have you seen it?

I love it for the festive and book theme, the era and acting but mainly because it gives a glimpse into the creative mind of Charles Dickens. It tells the tale of how under pressure to produce a book readers will love he produced A Christmas Carol in only six weeks. I am sure it skims over the negative aspects of his personality to produce a high energy fantasy with an insight into the writer’s mind when they suffer writer’s block, find inspiration and how they act when characters appear.

It also shows how he decided to self publish and his battle with plagiarism which are relevant topics for today’s writer.  I wonder what his tweets would say if he was in the situation today.

As many of you know I am lot a great fan of classic books but this and Miss Marley have encouraged me to find out more on this enigmatic man beyond snippets I have picked up along the way – I doubt Dr Who Christmas special from a few years ago is the most reliable source of information. The book the film is based on by Les Standiford is on my TBR for next December and I am also going to  attempt to read at least one Charles Dickens novel next year. Maybe then, I will not feel as much of a dunce at writing group when they discuss literature. Any recommendations would be great.

I hope you had a lovely Christmas

Love

Kate Kenzie's Blog

 

 

Just life

The Joy of being Grateful

This morning for no particular reason I feel grateful. I did not plan to think about the good things in my life when I sat down with my cup of tea with only the Christmas tree for company but with its lights shining and the house silent I felt a glimmer of calm. For that moment, the worries about bills, health, relationships and how to stretch a shoestring budget over Christmas fell away. I could see the good I have and achievements made this year.

My grateful list:

  • The morning hug I will get from my daughter
  • Waking early to see the stunning night sky
  • The welcome from my dog as I have left him for five minutes
  • The taste of the first cup of tea and this time of year
  • The parts of Christmas which matter the tree, music, friends and family.
  • My home
  • Old friends and new ones
  • The arrival of Christmas cards
  • Opening the advent calendar – you are never to old for one
  • Winning nano – that feeling will keep me going for a while
  • Winning NaNo coaching from Megg
  • An unexpected lottery win of £25
  • The book I won from Erin Green The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm

The moment of calm has grown with my list, life is good and I am ready to fight another day. When life’s problems have snowballed and triggered an avalanche of emotions, it is easy to forget the good, the tiny things or incidents throughout the day which if given care are seeds of strength to get you through the crap.

What are you grateful for?

Just life, Writing journey

For the love of trees and solitude: Forest Bathing continued

Reading Forest Bathing Retreat has made me long to be surrounded by trees, soak up the atmosphere and hear the sound of the woodlands; the bird song, the trickle of a nearby stream, the creak of a branch, the rustle of leaves as they dance in the soft breeze and my breath as I inhale deeply the fresh air. I dream of sinking to the base of a large tree shaded under its extensive canopy and write in the dappled green light. I miss the solitude of being able to write in nature alone; the oneness I feel and the creativity it encourages. It is one of the top things I miss since losing my mobility and independence. Herbie, my trusted scooter is lovely. He takes me out of the four walls into the countryside lanes to see and hear the world outside but the true places of interest, those off the beaten track away from cyclists, zooming cars and trundling tractors remain inaccessible. They are tantalizing close. I can see them over the bridge wall or rickety stye and it is hard not to think if only.

If out, I also rely on others to accompany me; gone are the days when I could leave a scribbled note on the side declaring I will be back soon. I dream of being left in a wood for a few hours or even an hour with some goodies – a flask of coffee and cinnamon roll will do, a notebook, a phone to type on and just be.

Be happy

Be creative

Be me.

And mainly be alone.

 

Writing in solitude without interruption is when I write my best work. My mind is free to grasp the thoughts and words without competition of conversation, expectation and general activity. Sentences flow easier and the clarity of images and dialogue are stronger. The only battle I have is from my own distracting thoughts but add nature into the equation and it is easier to block these and allow creativity in.

I miss the days when as a child, I would grab my notebook or novel and sit by a brook near my home in the shade of trees hidden from view. No parents, arguing siblings or frantic pets. I did not care it was on a public footpath nor that the silence was interrupted by the roar of a busy A road 100 yards away. To me, it was a little bit of heaven and the seeds of Ellfaen were planted.

Now, I must leap into my imagination and allow Amber to amble through the forest. I will focus on bringing nature into my writing room, snap photos of trees I can get to and peruse the web for images to create a forest on my laptop for inspiration and cyber forest bathing.

Do you have a favourite place to write, read or be? Let me know in the comments below. Even better, if you visit or see some wonderful trees and nature on your travels share the joy tag me on Instagram.

Happy writing, reading and if you are lucky a walk in the trees.