Just life, Writing journey

A Day of Celebrations: The RNA Joan Hessayon Awards

Yesterday should have been a day for digging out my make up, wearing the dress planned days before, to attend the RNA’s York Afternoon Tea and have hugs from my writing tribe after a year apart. We all should have been  sitting around a table full of delicious treats, clutching our wine and holding our breath for the announcement of the  Joan Hessayon Award winner. Our very own Emma Jackson was a nominee after her whirlwind of a year. She has published three books since the conference with the fourth ready before Christmas.  A Mistletoe Miracle was her debut. The nominees were:

RNA nominees

Instead, we were behind our computers and iPads in our own homes watching the proceedings online. Individual squares of nominee faces appeared on the screen with the introduction from the Chair Alison May. Everyone watched the delightful speech from last year’s winner Lorna Cook as she prepared to pass on the trophy. Katie Fforde announced the winner the shocked Melissa Oliver with her novel The Rebel Heiress and the Knight, Mills and Boon Historical.

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Congratulations Melissa!

The claps and whoops Melissa deserved were lost in cyber space. Technology is great and has helped connect us all during the pandemic but nothing beats the atmosphere of celebrations when people are together in reality. The excited buzz filling the room adds to the occasion and spontaneous, unique memories are be formed by one off chats, unexpected meetings and the chance to find new friends. Hopefully, next year everyone will have a chance to congratulate Melissa Oliver in person so she gets the recognition she deserved this time and we can also celebrate the RNA 60th birthday as planned with great company and food like last year.

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One of my dear friends in our writing group, Emma Wilson has signed up to Kate Nash’s agency so I hope we will have another good reason to celebrate if she is nominated for next year’s award with her wonderful heartfelt novel. Watch this space.

If you are looking for a spooky gripping read for the long chilly nights in the run up to Halloween grab Emma Jackson’s The Devil’s Bride. My review for it is here.

The Devil's Bride cover

More soon, stay safe and happy writing!

Love

just Kate

 

September is Dystonia Awareness month; I am taking part in the Dystonia Around the World challenge to raise funds and awareness for Dystonia UK. More info can be found here.

I'm taking part

Just life, Writing journey

Writing, Lockdown and June Update

I have written June update in the title but it should read 2020 update because this poor blog has remained largely untouched since the RNA Afternoon tea last year. Why, when I have exciting good news to tell you? The answer may not be what you expect. 2020 has been a dystopian year throwing life unimaginable challenges but the main reason I have been missing is I have been writing. Yes, writing, editing and The End has been typed on the last page of A Blend of Magic.

But first, a catch up of the year.

This Year’s News

  • Last year I won a free six-month mentorship with Alison May, which started in January. This has been a turning point in my writing, confidence and determination to finish A Blend of Magic and not hide it away in a drawer but send it out in the world. I just need to keep my fear of failure under control. Her advice and support has been invaluable.
  • I was given another bursary for the New writer’s Scheme at the Romantic Novelist’s Association. If you write any form of novel with a romantic thread, check it out. As with my mentorship, the warmth and support of the Association has had a massive influence in my writing. Or check out the speech from the Queen of Romantic Fiction Milly Johnson speech. She says it all.

 

 

  • Lockdown happened and I was placed in the shielding category. As I am usually at home not much changed except, I can not see my aunt or meet up with my local writing group on a Friday. It is amazing how much two hours a week of human company can be missed. Thank heavens for WhatsApp. As doom and gloom raged outside the bubble around me, I decided to hide in my imagination. I have surfaced to catch up with my writing friends and drink tea. This was the best decision as I have been productive and words have been written (except on here – oops).
  • I finished umpteen drafts of A Blend of Magic and sent it off to be critiqued with the NWS and within 3 weeks it was returned. The reader liked it and only a few tweaks are needed to improve it – phew!
  • For the first time I sent it off to an agent  (eek) and I have entered more competitions.
  • I have started a new project which I am so excited about. I wake in the morning wanting to connect with the characters and write their stories. Where they will take me? I don’t know and it is exciting to find out. I hope the enthusiasm lasts and does not dwindle the further I am into the manuscript as I am only 6000 words in. It is a step away from magic into the world of dance.
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All about the dance

The question is should Willow and Vincent make a fleeting cameo appearance or should it be set in a completely different world?

I hope you are all staying safe and as lockdown is easing you remain so. I have chosen to remain in my creative bubble a while longer and am grateful I am able to do so while others can not.

Take care

Love

just Kate

 

 

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