Two Choc Lit Authors shortlisted in the RoNAs!

stos_coversmallChristina Courtenay and Sue Moorcroft have dald-100x150each been nominated for a RoNA

‘The RoNAs’ is the name given to the Romantic Novelists’ Association‘s Romantic Novel Awards.

Christina’s Silent Touch of Shadows lines up in the Historical Romantic Novel category against Charlotte Betts, Kate Furnivall, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley and Mary Nichols.

Sue’s Dream a Little Dream is up against Katie Fforde, Veronica Henry, Mhairi McFarlane, Monica McInerny and Polly Williams for the Contemporary Romantic Novel.

The other categories are: Epic, Romantic Comedy and Young Adult. At a glitzy awards event at the RAF Club in London’s Piccadilly the winners of each category will be announced and the winners receive elegant crystal trophies.

Then those winners go forward to the Romantic Novel of the Year at the RNA’s Summer Party in May.

Discussion Topic – Sue Moorcroft’s covers

Coming November 2013!

Coming November 2013!

One thing that most novelists hold strong opinions on are their covers.

‘Never judge a book by its cover’ is an ideal rather than a realistic goal. Readers DO judge books by their covers, especially if they haven’t read that author before, so what we all want is a cover that makes readers reach out and pick the book up, or click on it if they’re online buyers. Ideally, we want to love the cover, too, and think it says something about what we’ve written on the pages.

On the right is my new cover for IS THIS LOVE?, and I love it. Tamara Rix does wear spike heels and a short skirt and she does display a bit of attitude sometimes, so her silhouette is exactly right. And that she and Jed aren’t always seeing eye-to-eye … definitely.

Choc Lit authors are fortunate in that their feedback is always taken into account, so I’ve never heard of one ending up with a cover she hates.

When our books are sold into other markets, we don’t have any control – but for me that’s OK, because I don’t have sufficient understanding of other markets that would make my opinions useful, anyway. So, just for fun, here are some of my covers from other countries.

Starting Over in Portugal

Starting Over in Portugal

Starting Over in Turkey

Starting Over in Turkey

Want to Know a Secret? Turkey

Want to Know a Secret? Turkey

Something that can’t be seen here is that the Turkish titles have unusual (for the UK) covers, in that there’s a fold-back section to both front and back covers, a bit like a hardback dustcover. Part of this fold-back is a bookmark, perforated for the reader to detach, with all the details of the book on it. It’s really neat.

So – what do you think of my covers?

The Fantasy Christmas Dinner Guests of Choc Lit Authors

So, the gifts are wrapped, the turkey is defrosting and our larders are groaning under the weight of vegetables, bread sauce, cranberries and nice round puds. (Or Swedish meatballs, nut roasts, shrimps to put on the barbie … we’re an eclectic lot, the Choc Lit Authors.) We’ve all worked so hard that as we ready our tables for our Christmas dinner that we’ve each been allowed to lay an extra place – for a fantasy guest. Here’s who’s coming to fantasy dinner:


William Shakespeare ...? (Richard Armitage version)

William Shakespeare ...? (Richard Armitage version)

Liz Harris begins:My fantasy dinner guest would be … William Shakespeare.

I’d save myself an awful lot of time thinking about what to write next if I was sitting next to Will.  I could pick his fertile brain for brilliant ideas.  At the same time I could slip him an odd question or two, asking about controversial textual matters, and I could then relay the answers to the masses, thereby earning me the undying gratitude of students, teachers and theatregoers alike.  Their gratitude would prompt them into thanking me by buying the book I wrote with the idea given to me by Will :-)

We’re not sure exactly what he looked like, so I’ve attached a pic of how I imagine him to be.  It’s courtesy of Wikipedia.

Kate Johnson: Since my usual answer is off promoting The hobbit (and I really should come up with something new) my fantasy Christmasneil-finn Dinner guest is Neil Finn. Who? My favourite singer/songwriter, probably known best from Crowded House. Quite ridiculously talented, with a wonderful off-beat view of the world and a lovely sense of humour, he’d be fun to talk to during the meal and if you could persuade him to get his guitar out afterwards, so much the better. And since he once wrote a song about his beloved Dalmation, I’m sure he’d even get along with the Demon Puppy. Perfect!
Linda's dad

Linda's dad

Linda Mitchelmore: My Christmas wish-list guest would be my (late) dear old Dad. He had two stock phrases for Christmas Day that were as written in stone for our family as carols from Kings and the Queen’s Speech are for the nation. He would clear his plate of turkey etc, stopping just short of licking the plate. then he’d drop his cutlery onto it with a clatter and say, ‘That was a beautiful dinner, love. I always enjoy your dinners because they don’t give me the wind the way your mother’s do,’ This, of course, kicked off a rather lively discussion between my parents – every year! The, er um, compliment was totally wiped out when it came to cutting my Christmas cake (dark, rich, moist, laden with booze) at 4 p.m. ‘Cor blimey, love,’ Dad would say, ‘this cake could double as a pudding. Better give me a spoon and a dollop of cream.’ All the above used to see me with clenched teeth and lips pressed together. But oh, how I’d love to hear him say it one more time.

And here he is as I have in my first memory of him.

Chris Hemsworth

Chris Hemsworth

Christina Courtenay: My fantasy Christmas guest – I don’t know whether to be frivolous or serious here as we seem to have a mixture. If it’s frivolous, I’ll stay true to form and would like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Ironman (Robert Downey Jr) from the Avengers to come as their banter is sure to liven up the discussion around the table! (Yes, I can count and I know that’s two, but I’m cheating, ok?)

If you want serious, then please can I have Leonardo da Vinci – I think he must have been one hell of an interesting guy! Or if I can’t have him, Nostradamus – I think we’re in serious need of some new predictions, hopefully positive ones!


Sarah Tranter: Father Time. Looking like a kindly old soul rather than the grim reaper complete with scythe. After softening him up with food and copious amounts of alcohol, I would proceed to petition him for an extension to the 24 hr day.

Legolas played by Orlando Bloom

Legolas played by Orlando Bloom

Margaret James: My fantasy guest would be Legolas the Sexy Pixie from The Lord of the
Rings. He would certainly be able to appear as if by magic. He might
even bring along something elfy for the rest of us to eat.
Evonne Wareham: My Xmas guest would be JRR Tolkein. I’d love to talk to him about writing an epic book – and find out what he thinks of the film versions of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. And perhaps he could teach me a few words of elvish?
Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp
Jane Lovering: I’d like to have the glorious Johnny Depp at my Christmas table.  He can get his guitar out and give us all a Christmas song after dinner, and, as a bonus, I’d be so busy staring at him that I’d forget to eat, and therefore not gain the customary four stone.
The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama

Henriette Gyland: My fantasy guest would be His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. His message of peace, harmony, and welfare would be welcomed, I’m sure, in many parts of the world where, sadly, it’s in very short supply. He’d certainly be a much treasured guest at my table.
Photo courtesy of the official website of the Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela

Mandy James: My dinner guest would be Nelson Mandela because I am inspired by his determination and sense of fairness. If he could to stick to his guns in a jail cell for 27 years to achieve his goal, then I think I can keep writing, even when it isn’t easy!

Joe McFadden

Joe McFadden

Val Olteanu (one half of Isabella Connor): My fantasy Christmas dinner guest would be Scottish actor, Joe McFadden, an all-round nice guy, with a great sense of humour – and ridiculously long eyelashes. I’m a terrible cook, though, so Joe would have to get to work in the kitchen. Apparently he makes a wonderful spaghetti bolognese with a whole bottle of wine. Liv and I are dedicating our debut novel to him, so we’d have a wee dram of Laphroaig whiskey to celebrate that. Then hopefully Joe would give us a song – top choice would be ‘The Parting Glass’ which he sang to perfection in “Cranford.” Then it’d be Christmas crackers, tangerines, and watching “Casablanca” on TV.

Could somebody please make this happen for real?


Liv Thomas (the other half of Isabella Connor!): Mikhail Gorbachev, so I can ask him how he felt when the Soviet Union broke up – I’m sure he wanted democracy but not at the expense of the Union. Did he feel guilt, or shame, or was he philosophical about it.


Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford

Han Solo, played by Harrison Ford

Sue Moorcroft: I love all the Star Wars movies but none compares to the original, when Harrison Ford played Han Solo, space adventurer. He could take me for a spin in the Millennium Falcon. No, the rest of you can’t ride along. It’s just us. Sorry.


Margaret Kaine: My fantasy Christmas guest would be Mary Poppins. She could snap her fingers and the table would be beautifully set with fresh flowers as a centrepiece. Another snap and the first course would miraculously appear – dainty, colourful and bringing oohs of admiration. Wine would be chilling in an ice bucket or breathing on the table. Every course would be perfectly cooked – no chance here of gravy being spilt! As the hostess, I would be cool and serene, not red-faced from the kitchen. And afterwards bliss – one more snap of her fingers and everywhere becomes immaculate. Now if only before she leaves she can teach me a little of her magic . . .

Juliet Archer would like a modern Mr Darcy – here’s one already wrapped for Christmas:

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The Choc Lit authors wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year. (And someone fascinating at your Christmas dinner table.)

choclit-logoxmas-copy-copy

Wow, it’s publication day Wednesday!

dald_v122-revise-copyIf you’ve been following my posts on here or my own blog, you’ll know about my research into the rare sleep disorder, narcolepsy. My hero in Dream a Little Dream, Dominic Christy, was diagnosed with the condition ten months before the book opens. And it affected everything in his life.

I asked for help on the www.narcolepsy.org.uk messageboard, saying my hero was called Dominic, in his thirties and had narcolepsy. I received a few kind replies – but from people the wrong age or gender. Then one that began, ‘My name’s Dominic, I’m in my thirties and have narcolepsy with cataplexy.’ And that person affected everything in my book!

To help me celebrate today’s launch of Dream a Little Dream in paperback and to answer a lot of questions that readers have asked, Real Dominic has agreed to be interviewed about how the research process felt for him.

Q When you saw my post on the Narcolepsy UK messageboard, what did you think and what made you respond?

A I thought everyone would volunteer. When I read yours was a contemporary romantic novel it became really interesting, because it’s not what I read. Because of the phenomenal coincidental similarities between myself and Dominic Christy I had to drop you a line even though your post was over a month old. I assumed I’d get turned down because others would have already contacted you but it was an unusual opportunity and I don’t want to be the kind who sits at home thinking what I’d like to do and not doing it.

Q Do you visit the site or the messageboard often?

A No, but it’s useful and I’d be distraught if it disappeared as it’s the only one I know that’s properly useful and constantly updated. I’m hesitant about forums because so many people use them to complain or be unpleasant. This one doesn’t just breed negativity; there’s lots of stuff I’m interested in.

Q What misgivings did you have?

A Narcolepsy can be used as comic relief. It seems acceptable in the media to use it as a joke and it’s difficult for people to understand how hard the life of someone with narcolepsy is. I wouldn’t have wanted involvement if that had proved to be the case. If you’d turned out to be a complete moron it might have been awkward to extricate myself.:-)

Q Incomplete moronic tendencies aside, how long before you decided it would be OK?

A Probably after our first meeting. Or maybe even before that because I like to think I’m a hard worker and committed to my job so if I let the emails take up chunks of my time then it was an indication of my interest.

Q Have you had any similar experiences with writers or journalists wanting information about narcolepsy?

A Overtures, but never followed up by the journos.

Q Did your family or friends show interest that you’d become the research source of a novelist?

A Some people didn’t believe me, but most were generally interested or amazed. Mum quietly mentioned I should make certain not to get misrepresented.

Q What a lovely mum! As you gave up so many hours of your time, answered so many (often long) emails and read my manuscript for me twice, presumably you gained some positives from the process?

A It didn’t feel like giving up my time. It was a singular experience. Your interest was so open that I was able to talk with greater freedom than I have been able to with anybody else. It allowed me to understand how narcolepsy affects me and compare myself to how I’d be if I didn’t have narcolepsy. It allowed me to evaluate decisions and practises, ways of dealing with things, things I should have looked into and hadn’t. And who doesn’t like talking about themselves? drw-1-1012-crop-copy

Q Were there any ways in which being under my microscope made you uncomfortable?

A No. It became obvious quite quickly that I could trust you. Without that it would have been a difficult process, as I would have had to mentally edit before speaking.

Q We communicated via email, in person and on the phone. Which did you prefer, and why?

A Definitely face-to-face. It’s my preferred method of communication and you’re nice to be around [Aw, shucks …S] and we have a good night out. I liked the phone least – years of managing a sales team for a bank has given me a distaste. Email’s good because I had a record of what I’d said and I could consider my – often quite emotive – thoughts. I could draft and rewrite for accuracy and communicate what I wanted to.

Q I was persistent in my quest to represent the frustrating and fantastical life of a person with narcolepsy. Did you see the results of your responses as the book developed? Was that a positive feeling?

A Yes, definitely, and it was positive. It’s difficult to explain the problems and frustrations so to know I’d got that across and been understood was incredibly reassuring. When people ask, I explain, but often they don’t quite get it. They’re looking for a specific answer and if I don’t give that, or reveal something sensitive, they’re a bit taken aback.

Q Although there are remarkable similarities between Dominic Christy and you in factual terms, did you ever feel that you came out as the same person?

A Definitely two distinct and different people. He’s a guy of the same age with narcolepsy so I know he’d understand my fundamental issues but DC’s more sensitive and there are differences in the way we relate to women. He reacts with his heart whereas I’ve learnt to be more pragmatic. I empathise completely with him, though. Not just the narcolepsy stuff but everything he went through. Most of us have had an intense relationship go bad. Or, if you’re lucky enough, met someone and experienced instant chemistry.

Q There’s a danger that family or friends who read the book will assume that Dominic Christy is you. How will you deal with that?

dsc_5357-copy-loA I’ve been honest about the coincidences because it’s one of the most interesting and strange facts about the whole process. A lot people have completely ignored me and will believe what they want to believe. Most people are supportive.

Q It didn’t make you feel exposed?

A No. And it doesn’t worry me

Q When you read the book, how did it make you feel?

A Certain things related to my experiences and I felt emotional. Partly because of the memories evoked because you’d got not just the literal sense of what I’d been telling you but also part of my emotional make up that I’d never really spoken to anyone about because I didn’t think I could adequately communicate it.

Q Having worked with you for over a year I’m confident that I have a greater understanding of narcolepsy than before I began writing DALD. I hope that readers will have a greater understanding when they’ve read it. Comment?

A What I like about the book is that it isn’t about narcolepsy. It’s about what happens between the two main characters and in some ways it’s more valuable than a documentary because it presents what it’s like to have narcolepsy in a realistic and normal environment People can relate to it and hopefully understand. It doesn’t focus on the truly awful aspects or the sort of things that happen that get a Channel 4 executive interested in doing another documentary – made to get ratings, and, understandably, focusing on that rather than what genuine issues are. Often it’s the more subtle, less shocking things that cause me to be unhappy or frustrated.

Q Would you like narcolepsy to gain more visibility?

A Yes. The more coverage it gets the better people’s understanding might be, or they might be more careful and considerate about jumping to conclusions.

Q In what negative ways would you hate?

A I get very very angry when narcolepsy’s used as the butt of a joke. Some comedians and reporters are massive hypocrites. They do things for disabled charities but won’t see a problem in belittling someone suffering from a disability.

Q I also have some idea of how hard it can be to live with an invisible disability. You usually look the picture of health. How do you deal with lack of sympathy or lack of understanding?

A It would be great to be able to ignore it but that means I’m not standing up for myself or for others with disabilities. At work, I’ll try and help the person to understand the issue but if they don’t take the point I won’t hesitate to make my feelings plain, saying that they’ve undoubtedly just breached the dignity at work policy and several employment laws. That usually gets their attention. Outside of work? I’m 6’3 and do kung fu, so not many people think it’s a good idea to have a bit of a joke.

Q For any other writers reading this, do you have some tips about how to work with someone who’s kind enough to help with research? Especially if it involves a sensitive subject?

A Gain trust first. Be open and honest about what you want and how it’s going to be used. Respect the subject’s wishes. Don’t assume something sensitive is on the record unless it’s agreed that it is.

Q Anything you would have liked done differently or for the result to have been other than it is?

A No, not at all.

Q Any benefits, expected or otherwise?

A I was hoping for a free book or two … No, I did it for the experience. It was a unique opportunity and I can’t understand why you weren’t flooded with offers of assistance. After a while you became one of my best friends and it’s a natural part of life to go out for a drink and have a chat.

Q Just to give people some idea of what narcolepsy is, what it means to you, can you give me some bullet points?

A It’s a massive part of my life that I can’t afford not to be aware of.

o Relationships … on a one-night stand I might fall asleep at an awkward moment.

o A long-term partner will have to come to terms with narcolepsy and deal with it.

o No matter how hard I try it will affect my career as I don’t have the capacity to work as long or as hard as others, and may even have to look at alternative jobs.

o As with anything that affects so much it’s an easy trap to fall into feeling sorry for yourself.

Thanks for the interview, Dominic – and, again, for the research. I couldn’t have written the book without you.

Why we love editors – Sue Moorcroft

Hmm. A lot of people reading this post may be saying ‘DO we love editors?’ and rolling their eyes. I’ve swapped blog dates with Sarah Tranter today specifically because she’s working with her editor to complete tweaks to her next book and finds herself up against the deadline. But I completely understand why she’s clearing the decks and concentrating all her efforts on her edits.
Why?
Because good editing makes the book better. And we all want to produce the best books that we can. Bad editing can make us all feel like chucking ourselves off tall buildings, but that’s a different story …
Editors employ all their training to pick up the problems with our books, the problems we may not have seen ourselves, because we’re too close to the book and have read it too many times. They can see when pace slackens or when Tuesday comes the day after Thursday, they can see that extending a scene would provide reader satisfaction or identify the scenes that readers will skip.
They ensure that names are spelled consistently, that eyes that begin the book blue don’t somehow change to hazel, that two-year-olds don’t sound like fifty-year-olds and that the writer’s pet phrases don’t dominate the book.
They query that facts are factual. And they bring the book in on time.
When I worked at a sports newspaper, there used to be a sign up: ‘The editor may not always be right, but he is always the editor’. What does that mean? At the time, I viewed it as, ‘The boss may not always be right but he’s always the boss’. In other words, suck it up if you don’t care for what’s said to you. You’re not important.
dald_v122-revise-copyBut, as a novelist, it has come to mean something subtler. The editor may not always be right. But s/he is there for good reason, to try and make certain that your book is the best it can be. If s/he’s not right, discuss it with her or him. Listen to the other point of view. Be honest! If you don’t agree, explain.
Personally, I’ve always taken the same approach with editors as I did with my children: if I can say yes, I say yes. But when I say no, they have to understand that I mean it. :-)
And all this is a thinly-disguised reason to bring to you attention a gorgeous review from The Book Bag of Dream a Little Dream – a book that my editors had their effect on when they helped me make it as good as I can. This review has made me as happy as any review ever has – because the reviewer, Sue Magee, ‘got’ the book. I always thank the Choc Lit team in my acknowledgements for a reason. They deserve it.

Happy days are here again – Sue Moorcroft

dream-in-a-box-copyHappy day 1:

Last Thursday, when I received my author copies of Dream a Little Dream. The delivery guy probably thought I fancied him because I gave him a beaming smile and signed his machine with a great big flourish. (He may have just thought I’m out of touch with reality, which is also true.) (I didn’t fancy him.)

dald_v122-revise-copyHappy day 2:

Today! Dream a Little Dream has just gone live on Kindle! I feel as if my baby is taking its first steps in the world.

Happy day 3:

Still to come, on 7th November 2012 – Dream a Little Dream will come out in paperback

Happy day 4:

Or maybe it should have been number 1, because it actually happened a couple of weeks ago. A novella in the Choc Lit Lite line, Darcie’s Dilemma. Novellas are increasingly attractive to readers, as they can provide all the plot and emotion of a full-length book, but they’re shorter. Darcie’s Dilemma is about one third of the length of one of my books – and it’s gaining positive feedback already.

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Hi Honey, I’m Ho-ome!

A view over Grand Harbour, Malta, from the Upper Barrakka Gardens

A view over Grand Harbour, Malta, from the Upper Barrakka Gardens

I’ve just enjoyed a gorgeous week in Malta. I spent nearly five years of my childhood on the island and a piece of my heart will always be there. (Especially when I come home to very British weather after a week of 30c Maltese sunshine.)

I had some brilliant snorkelling and so wished I’d taken an underwater camera when I spotted a ray. I’ve never seen one in the wild, even when I was scuba diving. It was about 10″ across with tails extending to around 3′. It didn’t seem at all bothered by my presence and I accompanied it on its circuits of the seabed at Ghar id Dud for about twenty minutes. It was such a privilege. I went right down to within a foot or so of it – then remembered that some rays sting, so backed off again. I’ve looked it up since I came home and it looks as if it was a marine ray of the type often referred to as skate, less likely to have a sting than some of its cousins. Amazing experience.

One of my favourite places in Malta is the Upper Barrakka Gardens on the edge of Valletta. You can see from the pic what the attraction is. The view of Grand Harbour is awe inspiring. I can stand there for hours.

The Auberge de Castille, Valletta, Malta

The Auberge de Castille, Valletta, Malta

The other pic shows the nearby Auberge de Castille et Leon. It’s the official residence of the Prime Minister of Malta now but in the Sixteenth Century was the auberge (lodging house) of some of the Knights of Malta – those of Castille, Leon and Portugal.

More importantly, it’s where my dad worked when he was attached to British Army GHQ. And those canon? They were put there for me to sit on to wait for him to come out at the end of the working day.

W is for Wonderbabes!

theromaniacstagsmallWhat Wonderbabes?

The Romaniacs!

Both as a writer and a creative writing tutor, I love the idea of writing groups. My attention’s been caught by The Romaniacs, a group that’s all about romantic fiction, made up of writers from the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, all of whom are pretty intent on their goals.

Another thing I love is getting somebody else to write my blogposts for me. So I’ll let the Romaniacs tell you about themselves:

Every writer knows how hard it is to keep going when your mind is as blank as the page you’re staring at. That’s where finding a group of like-minded people comes in handy. For us, we believe the strings of fate brought us together.

We share aspirations, and a determination to ‘get there’. We offer a bonded support network, day and night, that isn’t just limited to our writing but is personal, too. We work together to form pieces for the blog and other sites/magazines who request it from us.

Regarding our individual writing goals, we offer feedback, critiquing, and motivational talks to each other to help better our own and each others’ careers.

Via our blog, we highlight our highs and lows to those who follow us. We’re at the beginning of our journeys and offer an in-depth account of the true road to publication. There are lots of people yet to find writing groups and buddies for themselves so our aim is to put a huge Romaniac arm around their shoulders and include them in the writing world, keeping them informed of the technical side (writing tools, interviews with authors/agent/publishers, details of competitions etc) along with the fun side of writing (the friendship, lighthearted posts and the like.)

We met through social networking – Facebook and Twitter – and over the course of a few gatherings, our friendships began to blossom and grow. As Sue Fortin aptly put it, ‘We were conceived at the Festival of Romance 2011, born at the RNA winter party, crawled around New Year and took our first steps into the big wide world in February 2012, when we launched ourselves upon the unsuspecting literary folk.’

Laura James says, ‘There is no jealousy, no selfishness and no one-upmanship. We give and receive support and encouragement, which strengthens our sometimes-fragile self-belief; we bolster each other when our foundations are rocked and keep our communications honest. Above all, we have complete faith and trust in one another.’ Jan Brigden adds, ‘We are nine different personalities, with just one voice.’

Celia agrees. ‘Personal support is a vital part of what we do – I type this whilst sitting next to a beautiful vase of flowers, delivered to me from the others after announcing the loss of my father.’

It’s the strong friendship that builds the foundation of The Romaniacs, the key to making it work.

That, and the crazy streak that runs through us all!

The Romaniacs aren’t looking for new members but are a great example of how a writing group, whether it takes place in a community centre or via the Internet, can help everybody in it.

theromaniacsgroupsmall

London Book Fair – Sue Moorcroft

lbfLast week, Christina Courtenay and I helped on the Choc Lit stand at the London Book Fair, and Juliet Archer joined us for a while on Wednesday. For anybody who doesn’t know, the LBF is a huge trade fair, currently held in Earls Court, London. Lots of deals are done and rights are sold, there. The function of we authors was to man the stand when the others were in meetings, handing out chocolates and Choc Lit catalogues, taking the cards of people who’d like to know more and writing down details.

I also drank a lot of peppermint tea, but that wasn’t mandatory.

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Christina Courtenay

For someone who spends much of their working life on their own in a room, creating a fictional world, to be in the middle of the book fair in proper office clothes is quite a culture shock. But I really enjoyed the buzz and the fact that I was doing something different. And we met all kinds of people – a Scotsman in a kilt with a whoopee cushion tucked behind his sporran (to entertain kids, apparently), a man who said he had the cure for cancer, and agents and publishers of all nationalities.

Here’s Christina, with her bowl of chocolates. (I’m afraid we had to keep testing them – they were milk chocolate hearts in pink foil – just to check that nobody would be harmed as we gave them out.

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Sue Moorcroft

And wow were my feet aching at the end of three days!

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Sue’s Wednesday hottie

My interest in Formula 1 racing isn’t new (or news) so it’s not that surprising that I know a little bit about the drivers. Here is Timo Glock, who drives for Marussia. He’s one of several German drivers currently lining up on the Formula 1 grid on Sundays. Marussia is a new team and I hope that if they can get moving up the grid, they’ll take Timo with them.

One of the things I like about him is his smile and the twinkle in his eye, but in this pic he’s looking a bit mean and moody. Which is also a good look …

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