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Archive for March, 2009

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…so say researchers from Mindlab international consultancy at the University of Sussex. According to their tests, losing yourself in a book for six minutes is a more effective way of reducing stress than listening to music, taking a walk or having a cuppa! Any type of book is effective, apparently, as long as the reader can become engrossed in it and enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness.

This research ties in with a test undertaken by Daisy Goodwin during the 2008 BBC4 programme on romantic fiction, Reader I Married Him. Daisy showed that reading romantic fiction, even for a short while, lowered stress levels.

I find immersing myself in a romantic read very relaxing 🙂 You can read more about the Mindlab Consultancy research here. It was commissioned by Galaxy chocolate to launch their book giveaway campaign.

Talking of good romantic reads and giveaways ;0) today is publication day for my short story collection, Midsummer Eve at Rookery End! Check out my web site for the chance to win a copy of Midsummer Eve AND my Regency romance The Paradise Will, published by Robert Hale.

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edwardcullen

I didn’t realise until recently that Stephenie Meyer had done a partial draft of a new story in the Twilight series. It’s known as Midnight Sun and it’s Edward’s view of the events described in Twilight.

This resonated with me as I love writing from the hero’s point of view! Unfortunately, however, this partial draft of Stephenie’s is unlikely to make it into print – for reasons which Stephenie explains on her website (see Midnight Sun, under Twilight Series).

I really hope she publishes Midnight Sun one day, even if it’s not this particular version. Quite a change for people to read Edward’s thoughts – it’s usually the other way round!

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E-scape Press are proud to announce that their first two titles are now availble to buy from our website www.escapewithabook.com.

Love Engineered by Jenna Dawlish and Midsummer Eve at Rookery End by Elizabeth Hanbury

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Go grab a copy now!

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I’m Georgia Hill and I write sexy contemporary stories with fun loving heroines and realistically flawed but delicious heroes.

 

I was delighted to be asked to contribute to FRR but then the reality sank in. What on earth could I actually write about? So, I began to think about why I write at all … and how it all started …

 

I was one of those children who always had their nose stuck in a book – I even read as I walked home from primary school! Enid Blyton was a favourite but along the way I devoured Rosemary Sutcliffe, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and the lovely Flambards books. When slightly older I borrowed Mum’s Mills and Boon and relished the exotic locations like New Zealand and Madagascar and mentions of flowers like frangipani. To a girl whose idea of heaven was a caravan holiday in Lyme Regis, this was exoticism indeed.

 

And then as a teenager, I discovered Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice is still my all time favourite novel. My love for it survived even being read aloud in class by a bunch of bored thirteen year olds. How we giggled at the mention of ‘social intercourse’!

 

So far, so unoriginal. But what makes an avid reader like me turn into a writer?

 

I’ve always scribbled down disorganised jottings and at one stage in my life I was lucky enough to travel widely and always wrote accounts of my holidays. I’ve never, however, knowingly come across a frangipani flower! Then, during one of my many house moves (once every six months at one point), I lost my notebooks. I was devastated! How was I going to write that zeitgeisty novel set in Thailand? (Too late Alex Garland got there first!) How could I remember all those little character sketches and notes on snatches of overheard conversation? What had happened to the (mostly execrable) poetry I’d written? Disaster. I’d hit my forties, had lost my notes for The Great Novel and realised that if I didn’t have a go at writing I never would. A crush on a tall dark actor appearing in a BBC costume drama gave me the … erm … final tweak of inspiration! So I began to write – secretly, in snatched moments, when my husband thought I was working. It was a shock to discover my natural writing voice wasn’t very Austen-like. It was more Austen-lite. But I wrote and wrote. The words poured out. Real life didn’t get a look in. I simply wrote. I remember it felt as if I had fire in my belly. And still I wrote. 35,000 words later and the story was complete. More Mills and Boon than Dostoevsky but none the worse for that. While I wasn’t going to change the world with what I’d written, I knew I could tell a story, had an ear for dialogue and had a good feel for what makes a hero sexy! Writing it was the easy part though, giving it to people to read was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Coming clean to my husband was quite funny. I’m not at all sure he thought it would be any good!

 

I still have moments when I get that same fire in the belly but now realise there is a lot more craft involved than simply getting the words down. Editing is my own special nightmare!

 

And what became of that very first 35,000 word story? It’s been re-written and changed completely. It will be my first published novel.

 

So, why do I write? Because, like that ten year old walking home from school, I still love to be completely absorbed in a story. It’s just that nowadays I escape into a world I’ve created. It’s amazingly satisfying. And occasionally drives me demented …

 

And I still don’t know what a frangipani flower looks like!

 

 

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I visited today a lovely National Trust property just outside Tiverton in Devon.

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This is a Victorian estate and house given to the trust in 1976.

The house is a richly decorated and designed by William Burges. (Annoyingly as usual, no photos allowed!)

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This is the stable block, and is designed to match the house.

The house was built from money from a rich textile entrepreneur – John Heathcote. He had the largest lace making business in the world at that time.

The gardens are spectacular too, with a fully working walled garden.

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If you like Victorian estates like this, why not buy a copy of my novel “Love Engineered”. Set in the Victorian period, it has it’s very own Devon estate, similar to this one.

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Love Engineered is released on 31st March and can be purchased from my publishers website: www.escapewithabook.com

Jenna
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I had a real ‘woohoo’ moment on Thursday.

Browsing on Amazon for information on Georgette Heyer audio books, I discovered by chance that there is new CD audiobook of Sylvester being released on 1st July.   Fabulous news for a Heyer fan like me, but there was even better to come….the reader on this edition is Richard Armitage!

I couldn’t quite believe it.  THE Richard Armitage.  No, not that bloke who used to be US Deputy Secretary of State, but the actor Richard Armitage.  I’ve been a fan of Richard’s since 2004 when he appeared as John Thornton in the BBC production of North and South.  Those of us thrilled by his fantastic performance as Thornton – a hero to die for – deluged the BBC messageboard, which went into meltdown some weeks later when Richard himself posted a message of thanks.  Since then Richard’s career has gone from strength to strength.  He’s appeared in the Vicar of Dibley, Robin Hood and Spooks, among other things, and recently topped the ratings in the Romantic Novelists’ Association 2009 Valentine’s poll, beating top Hollywood stars to the number one spot.

By coincidence when some of us saw Richard as JT, we could see the resemblance to Sylvester – both are intelligent, rich, tall, dark and handsome.  Tick.  Both are proud, haughty and remote but beneath their tough exterior lies vulnerability and a passionate nature. Tick.

Richard/JT even had Sylvester’s eyebrows!

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC adapation of North and South

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in the 2004 BBC adaptation of North and South


And now Richard is going to read Sylvester – my favourite chocolate-voiced actor, reading one of my favourite Heyer books.  Utter bliss!

Christmas is coming early this year…on 1st July to be exact 🙂

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Andy Warhol once said that in future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. In my case, it was only five – although it felt like fifty!

Yes, Friday 13th March was my radio debut: Author of the Week on BBC 3 Counties Radio – The Afternoon Show with Lorna Milton. (My daughter, who has the attention span of a teenage gnat, thought I was on the national radio station BBC 3 – bless!)

Listen to the interview here (I’m 2 hours and 10 minutes into the show).

It was also Comic Relief Red Nose Day, so I turned up sporting a fetching little Sainsbury’s number which I had the presence of mind to remove before I went on air. Otherwise I’d have sounded uncannily like Janice from Friends (without the accent).

I got to the studios in Luton in good time. Mind, even I had no problem finding a building with what looked like a spaceship on its roof. I announced myself at the intercom – lo and behold, the front door opened automatically and a voice directed me up the stairs to Reception, where I sat in splendid isolation for 15 minutes listening to – believe it or not – The Afternoon Show with Lorna Milton. Then – at last – a friendly human called Coral appeared and took me down to The Studio Next To Lorna’s.

Staring through the window at Lorna, I realised that there was no escape. I also realised that I felt underprepared. All I knew for certain was that she was going to ask me about myself and my book and that I could read an excerpt (max. 1 page). I’d rehearsed answers to some specific questions, but would they come up? 

Fortunately, I’d had excellent advice on handling radio interviews from Melanie at the Romantic Novelists’ Association. So, when I was summoned into The Actual Studio for a quick briefing with Lorna and heard The Actual Questions she was going to ask, I didn’t panic! I went into that interview smiling, Melanie, I really did! (Apparently, even though no one can see it, a smile comes across in your voice.)

The next five minutes were a bit like having a check-up at the dentist’s: I opened my mouth at the right moments and it didn’t hurt – but, boy, was I glad when it was over! Lorna was very good, very professional, and everything seemed to go smoothly. I even managed to mention my next two local book signing events.

I’d just like to say a big thank you to all those who sent me positive vibes beforehand and congratulations afterwards – it definitely helped.

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