Tag Archives: writing

I Write Therefore I Am by Jenny Kane

Jenny KaneIt’s pouring with rain outside- it often is down here in the South West of England. Even though it is only 8am in the morning, the corner of the cafe in which I sit and write every morning is filling up fast.

I’m a familiar face in here. I usually sit at the same table- although only because it has good light – I’m not precious about sitting in the same spot or anything. Consequently I am something of a fixture and fitting, and people that come to the cafe regularly see me here, writing away, every time they come through the door. There is even a rumour that I keep a rolled up sleeping bag and pillow under the table, and never actually go home.

“There is even a rumour that I keep a rolled up sleeping bag and pillow under the table, and never actually go home.”

The other regulars here often ask me – ‘Why are you always writing, don’t you ever get a day off?’

It’s a good question. One my husband asks pointedly every now and then.

The answer is simple- well ‘simple’ is probably pushing it!

I need to write.

Don’t confuse this with being the same as ‘I want to write.’ That is a different thing altogether.

Once upon a time I did want to write. I dreamt of completed stories, and maybe one day having a book all of my own.

These days it’s an addiction. An unstoppable, nail biting, obsession of disappointment and triumph. A roller coaster I can’t imagine ever getting off.

I used to fit my writing around my job and my life, now it is very much the other way around. As 9781783758050_FCa consequence of course I get massive hits of guilt. So, rather than giving my job less time, I give it more; as I live in fear of letting my employers down, and am frequently to be found processing spreadsheets late into the night.

Then comes the real guilt- when you find yourself only half listening to what your child has been up to at school because you have just thought of a killer line for your latest book and if you don’t write it down NOW, you’ll actually explode!

My children (who luckily for me are both very creative in their own right, and totally get the feeling of absorption which producing something unique brings), are wonderful. Whenever I apologise to them for being only half as attentive a parent as I should be, they tell me off for being daft. Telling me they are just fine thank you very much- and could they have a lift to karate, their friend’s house, the swimming pool now please…

Sometimes I look around at my undusted house, with the fluff on the carpet sometimes reaching epidemic proportions, and feel very sorry for my husband. He didn’t sign up for this. When we met 23 years ago, I was almost the complete opposite of who I am now. My home was cleaned and scrubbed to within an inch of its life. Dust was captured long before it had the chance to settle, and it was a rare day when there wasn’t a fresh cake baking in the oven. And somehow, alongside keeping our home spotless, I had 3 part time jobs and was doing a PhD.

My husband must miss that multi-talented woman, domestic goddess, and fellow academic. Sometimes I think he deserves a medal for putting up with me, because- to get back to the point of this blog- I have to write. Not because I have a maverick boss yelling at me, not because I am forced to- but because I can’t stop. I just can’t.

I have to write. Not because I have a maverick boss yelling at me, not because I am forced to- but because I can’t stop. I just can’t.

Okay, there are lots of deadlines to deal with, and there are times when I am genuinely very much up against it- but often I have to work because- well, I have to work! If I don’t I’m a ratty, fidgety, grumpy person who is in serious danger of losing my usually permanent smile.

And why wouldn’t I smile all the time- I am addicted to the best job in the world!!

So be warned anyone out here who hopes to write a book some day. You too could also be kidnapped by the world of the imagination- a world that is so much safer than the real one, because you are always in charge. You get to pick the words that shape the lives of everyone you invent- a powerful narcotic indeed…. (Oh- and if you do want to risk it and write-make sure you are married to a very very understanding husband or wife!!!)



Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval
time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s fourth full length romance novel, Another Glass of Champagne, will be published in 2016.

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl 

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255618.Jenny_Kane

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee.

kate outside studio 011

Where I Write by author Kate Glanville

Yes its true – my writing shed is a pig sty! Not the dirty, smelly, grubby kind of pig sty that might _HHQ1558immediately spring to mind (though there might be a few day old mugs of tea and apple cores lying around) but a building that was originally built as a pig sty. Now it is now a lovely sun filled shed that has been converted from its original purpose into a space where I can escape the day to day chaos of  three children , four cats, a large dog, three sheep and all the clutter and noise that accompanies them. In fact a pig sty is usually a good term for what I leave behind in my Welsh cottage when I walk down my garden path to go and do what I love best – to write. Writing is my treat, my passion, what I yearn to do as I spend most of my days running around being a mother and trying to run a small pottery business from home.

“My writing shed is a pig sty! Not the dirty, smelly, grubby kind of pig sty that might immediately spring to mind (though there might be a few day old mugs of tea and apple cores lying around) but a building that was originally built as a pig sty.”

When I started writing my first novel A Perfect Home (published by Penguin in the US 2012 and 9781783755509_FCAccent Press in 2014) I took any opportunity to write, often writing long hand in a note book while I sat beside my youngest son’s bed waiting for him to fall asleep at night or sitting in the car waiting for my older children to come out of school or standing at the cooker waiting for the fish fingers to come out of the oven for tea. So desperate was I to get the words onto paper I would get up at five am and write at the kitchen table willing three small children to stay asleep till at least six o’clock. Consequently I was usually exhausted, late to pick the children up from school, many fish fingers were burned and I was extremely thankful to early morning CBeebies for its ability to distract the children while I grappled with that last illusive sentence before the pre-school rush began.
By the time I started my second novel, Heartstones (published by Accent Press 2014) the children were a little bit more independent and I’d learned to type on my lap top using two fingers, usually sitting at my kitchen table or in the garden – Welsh weather permitting! In fact it was the weather or more specifically the rain that made me make that first step towards the pig sty. 9781783755493_FCA heavy shower disturbed an unusually prolific bout of writing and unwilling to go back into the chaos of my house I decided to try writing in the converted pig sty that for ten years had been my pottery studio. I have been producing hand painted pottery for over twenty five years, that was and still is my day job – though to write full time has always been my dream. I had moved from the pig sty to a larger purpose built pottery studio a few months previously, leaving the pig sty empty apart from one of my kilns. That wet afternoon I took my lap top into my old shed. It was warm and cosy from the kiln and as I sat watching the rain fall onto the Brecon hills that surround my home I realised I had found the sort of peace and quiet I had been longing for every time I started to write.

Now my old pottery studio has become my writing shed. Maybe that is why Heartstones is set in a pottery studio and revolves around the tangled romances and family secrets of two potters a generation apart. My new novel Stargazing is partly set on a Welsh hill farm, not too dissimilar
from the little farms I can see in the distance through my window. It has a Welsh character in it called Nesta who reminisces about the lush green landscape of her childhood and is really just describing the view from my window!

I try to write for at least an hour during the day – usually between putting my pottery kiln on at two o’clock and leaving to pick my children up from school at three thirty (I am still always late for that!). I then decamp into my kitchen to write after they go to bed – though now my children9781783757398.MAIN are fifteen, fourteen and eleven the time I start doing this gets later and later. When I do start my flow is often punctuated by one of them coming down stairs to inform me that they need the ingredients to make flapjacks at school the next day or that they’ve lost their games kit – again! As the lure of television or bed beckons I bribe myself to keep writing with the prize of a large G&T after so many words – or a biscuit or a slice of cake if the words seem especially difficult to find. I try to keep going till about midnight and promise myself I’ll go straight to bed but I have a terrible habit of turning off my lap top and sitting in a sleepy daze thinking about what I have written for at least another half an hour, sometimes making notes which are illegible in the morning!


My days of getting up at five am are long gone (I never seem to have the energy now!) but I still try to wake up early at weekends to write before anyone else is awake. In the winter there is nothing lovelier than crunching over the dark, frosty garden in my slippers (or this winter wading through the flooded garden in my wellies!) and going into my cosy kiln -warmed shed. As I write in the blissful silence I am aware of the dawn breaking over the hills outside the window and feel as though I have achieved something for myself before my day of running around after the children, dog, cats, sheep and painting pottery has begun.

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THE DREAM CATCHER…How it all started by Marie Laval

THE DREAM CATCHER…How it all started

by Marie LavalMarieLaval (2)

All my novels are very special to me, but THE DREAM CATCHER, my historical romance shortly to be published by Áccent, is extra special, not only because I loved the characters and the beautiful and wild setting of the Scottish Highlands, but also because it is the last of the series featuring a member of the Saintclair family. I say it’s the last, but I have had so much joy writing about the Saintclairs and their adventures that I might find another member of the family to write about one day!

THE DREAM CATCHER is the story of feisty and endearing Rose Saintclair who travels to the far north of Scotland to be reunited with the man she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers. Rose brings with her a very special object that once belonged to her father, Hugo Saintclair, a cuirassier captain in Napoleon’s army and the hero of my debut historical romance ANGEL HEART. Brave, proud and eager to carve his own place in the world and make his own destiny, Hugo was involved in the French defeat at Quatre-Bras two days before Waterloo. This is where he met a Scottish officer from the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, and where the plot for THE DREAM CATCHER was born… but I can’t reveal any
more here or I will spoil the surprise!


ANGEL HEART however is much more than a sizzling love story between a dashing, but 9781910939086hardened, cuirassier captain and Marie-Ange Norton, the young widow from England he escorts on a perilous journey across France. Marie-Ange must indeed recover a relic hidden by the Knights Templar which is rumored to give eternal life. With Hugo’s help, she unravels an old family mystery linked to the legendary Count Saint Germain, a man reputed immortal, and returns the cross to its original hiding place in the crypt of the chateau of Arginy in Saône-et-Loire, which is to the North of my home town, Lyon.


Hugo Saintclair eventually finds his fortune in the North African oasis of Bou Saada. Rose, and her brother Lucas are later born and brought up there. After ANGEL HEART I realised I wasn’t finished with the Saintclairs, so I wrote THE LION’S EMBRACE and loved every minute of it. The novel features Hugo’s son Lucas, a cynical, tormented and rebellious army scout who helps a young English woman rescue her father and discovers ancient treasures in the Sahara. And when I finished writing it, I still wasn’t ready to forget about the Saintclairs and I set out to tell Rose’s story! I wasn’t however sure about the setting until I came across pictures of the far North of Scotland, and Cape Wrath in particular. I knew straight away that the Scottish Highlands would be the location of Rose’s story and everything clicked into place.


DANCING FOR THE DEVIL is a trilogy mostly set in Scotland, and THE DREAM CATCHER is the first book in the series.


Can her love heal his haunted heart? – Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.

Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land. Discharged from the army, he is The Dreamcatcher FINAL
haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad. And he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn’s ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable – a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.
Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master – the man she calls McGlum.
Will she be reunited with Cameron McRae, the dazzlingly handsome aristocrat she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers, or will she risk her heart and her honour to help Bruce discover the truth about his past and solve the brutal murders committed on his land?

The Dancing for the Devil trilogy also includes BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE which will be released in January and March 2016.

THE DREAM CATCHER – mybook.to/TheDreamCatcher

ANGEL HEART – mybook.to/AngelHeart


5 Star Amazon Reviews

‘Angel Heart by Marie Laval is a stunning piece of historical romantic suspense, exquisitely written and lovingly told, against the backdrop of the close of the Napoleonic era in France. Although a few scenes take place in England, the story unfolds mostly in France.’

‘I found the book absorbing, with a nice blend of fast-moving thriller and passionate romance and with more than enough twists and turns to keep me guessing until the end. The politics of the time are nicely explained, and the inherent danger which confronts Marie-Ange is told in an imaginative mix of suspense and mystical superstition. The story thrives on danger and political intrigue, but, it is in the burgeoning romance between Marie-Ange and Hugo where the story starts to tug away at the heartstrings. I so wanted everything to work out for them, and with this forefront in my mind, I raced through the story with great enjoyment.’

Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, England, for the past few years. ANGEL HEART, her debut historical romance, has just been re-released by Áccent Press, together with award-winning THE LION’S EMBRACE. She also writes contemporary romance with A SPELL IN PROVENCE, which was published earlier in 2015. And watch out for THE DREAM CATCHER, another historical romance, coming soon at Áccent Press…

Janie Millman: The inspiration behind Life’s A Drag

‘It was these words and this eccentric annual competition9781783752379_FC that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag”
which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year’

“I want to travel the world and have as much rough sex as possible.”  This was the response my straight talking gritty Glaswegian husband gave many years ago in answer to the question of what he would do if he won the accolade of ‘drag queen of the year.’

Fuelled by several pints of beer and having completely forgotten that this was a family show my husband yelled these very words into the microphone.

The words echoed around the village green – our new village green – the village into which we had just moved.

The village – kids included – erupted with laughter.

It was these words and this eccentric annual competition that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag” which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year,

It took a while – I didn’t immediately put pen to paper but the germ was there – the idea slowly started to grow – gradually filling my mind – gaining momentum – the characters becoming louder and louder until I had no choice but to start writing.

I knew about life in a small rural village – we had lived there for several years but it soon became clear that I needed to know a bit more about drag queens.

So we planned a trip to San Francisco and spent two weeks inhabiting the world of the drag queens. It was a fascinating insight into an extraordinary life. We saw firsthand how much they do for their community – helping with the elderly – helping with the homeless – this was a surprising aspect and not something I had envisaged.

And of course we saw the shows – we were treated to some fabulous acts – some not so fabulous acts and frankly some downright disgusting acts!

We met with larger than life characters, each with their own story to tell. They were rude, they were bitchy but they were also kind hearted and witty and we had an absolute ball.

I would never have been able to write ‘Life’s a Drag’ without their support and input. That is why whenever anyone asks me if I think research is important I give a resounding YES.

Of course these days we can learn a lot from the internet and it is invaluable for facts and figures, but in my opinion it cannot replace a live experience. Often when I read reviews on the net about places I have visited I wonder if the reviewer and I are talking about the same spot!

Just before our holiday in San Francisco we had moved from the small Suffolk village to a new life in SW France. After a year renovating a large eighteenth century town house in a small market town on the banks of the river Dordogne our new business was born and Chez Castillon was launched on the world.

We host courses and retreats in Writing, Painting and Photography.

I have therefore been fortunate enough to meet many wonderful writers here and they have helped and encouraged me enormously. Listening to their tales around the dinner table, hearing about their own experiences, sharing anxieties and fears – it has been truly invaluable.

Writing is such a solitary occupation that I welcome any chance to liaise and meet up with fellow authors. I love learning from them. I love hearing how they write, what makes them tick and what their modus operandi is.

I write anywhere and everywhere – on trains, on planes, in cafes or bars – outside or inside – I’m not fussy – basically anywhere that has a seat!

We are also lucky enough to have a library and I guess if I’m honest that is my favourite place to write. I try and get up at six in the morning and get a thousand words done before breakfast.  Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t – our library looks out onto the street and I love watching the early morning life unfold before me – the noisy fruit and veg lorry, the quieter baguette delivery and the overpowering smell of freshly baked croissant. Occasionally these things are a distraction but mostly they inspire me.

I do think that it is important to establish a routine but because our days here are anything but routine I realise that I have to be flexible and fit the writing in as and when it is possible.

I imagine that is true for most of us.

My second novel is also has a dual location – Marrakech and SW France.

Obviously I have everything I need on the doorstep as far as the later location but maybe I need to start planning a holiday in Morocco soon – sorry – did I say holiday?

Clearly what I meant was a research trip and you know research can be very hard work!



Janie Millman author (FB)

Janie Millman @Chez-Castillon



Published by Accent Press

Represented by David Headley – DHH Literary agency


Alice Raine: Series comparison, Untwisted vs. Revealed

I love my readers, each and every one of you. Quite simply, you are the reason that I get to do what I love for a living, so a huge thanks for reading, and supporting me on my writing journey. This blog post is for you.

Alice x

Untwisted vs Revealed

As the build-up began to the release of my new Revealed series I started getting lots of questions on my Facebook page about the new series: “Is it similar to the Untwisted series?”, “Are the characters the same?”, “I loved your last series, is the new one them same genre?” I won’t be able to answer them all, but hopefully in this blog I’m going to address five of the main ones that I have received. I’ll also give you a teaser to whet your appetite for the 21st November release date.

Whilst I really hope that my new series will be as well received as the last one, I have made the deliberate effort to change the style just a little bit. Don’t panic, it’s still saucy, but the overall effect is perhaps just a little more light-hearted. It would be a bit boring if it was exactly the same as the last one, wouldn’t it?

Reader question: Is the new series a similar genre to the last one?

 Yes. Although I enjoy writing a variety of genres; youth paranormal, comedy, and romance to name just a few, for the new series I have stuck to erotic romance. It’s a perhaps a little lighter in tone, but don’t worry, there are still plenty of brooding, possessive alpha males around.

Reader Question: What is the theme of the new series?

I like to try and balance my books with a mixture of light and darker themes, and this new series is no different. Without wanting to give too much away, the general themes are love, romance, and the development of hope and trust. The darker, edgier themes are still present, but it would give the story away if I told you exactly what they are, so I’ll just say that there will be plenty of tension, and back stories containing angst, insecurities, and traumatic life events to give the plot some spice.

 Reader Question: I loved the fact that the Untwisted series had a British theme. Are the new books still set in London?

London is one of my true loves, I was born there, and have recently moved back to the area after many years living up North. I really enjoyed using it as the backdrop to the Untwisted series but I’ve decided to branch out a bit this time, so in the new Revealed series we start in the UK, but then venture across the pond to America. More specifically, Los Angeles. I’ve kept some of my British theme by having several strong English characters though.

Reader question: Does the new series feature the Jackson brothers?

The short answer is no, this series is completely fresh, with new settings, plots, and characters. Don’t panic if you were hoping for more from the Jackson boys though, because after this series I’m planning on a series linked to Untwisted, which will be set in Club Twist.

I don’t want to give too much away about the new characters, as there are a few surprises in book one that I don’t want to spoil, but here’s what I can tell you about the Revealed series characters …

Like the Untwisted series, I have decided to feature four main characters, two male, and two female. I enjoy the challenge of writing several intertwining relationships within one story, but more than that, I feel that this strategy allows readers to really immerse themselves into the thoughts and feelings of the characters. For me, it’s all about connection, I want the reader to feel connected and invested in the characters. It would be rather intimate to be a fly on the wall during a personal chat between best friends, wouldn’t it? So I use this approach within these new books, developing two female leads with a strong friendship bond, Allie and Caitlin, who frequently discuss their issues in confidence, thus letting the reader slip inside their personal world as if they too are part of the book.

Reader Question: Have you visited all the places in your books?

As a rule I try to set my books in places that I know, or have visited, so that I can attempt to covey the sights, sounds, smells and feelings accurately to the reader, but obviously this is not always possible.

Using Los Angeles as setting this time had its difficulties, an airfare was out of the question, so I had to rely on my memories of the place from when I was there in 2001. Obviously a sprawling metropolis like LA will have changed significantly in the time since I was there, so I topped up my personal knowledge with several days of internet research. I had a fantastic time putting together a file of road maps, hostel locations, pictures, restaurant menus, cocktail bars and so much more, and hope that this knowledge will make the read far more ‘real’ for the reader.

I hope that has whetted your appetite for the news series!

Alice xx

Small teaser from Unmasked, book 1 of my new Revealed series

This scene occurs just after the female lead, Allie, has become stuck in the countryside in heavy snow.


‘I’m not having your frozen corpse on my conscience. This is my spare room – dry off, warm up,Unmasked and when it’s safe to leave, you can. Not before. No more ridiculous stubbornness, and no more unnecessary risks. Understand?’ This stranger was actually rather imposing, I realised, as I took in his huge frame and steely eyes again. God, he was really tall. His tone and wide-legged stance didn’t really leave any room for refusal, not unless I wanted to get into a slanging match with him which I would no doubt lose. Besides, this warm, dry bedroom was an infinitely better option than my freezing cold car, so, being sensible for once in my life, I licked my lips and nodded cautiously.

‘I’ll turn your car off and lock it. The water supply here is fine because my pipes have frost protection so shower if you like, there are clean towels in the en-suite. I’ve left a hot drink for you,’ he informed me briskly, indicating to the bedside table where I now noticed a mug was sitting. Unable to look away from him for long, I left the drink untouched and turned my gaze back, predictably finding his eyes still on me.

He assessed me for several long moments, as that strange tension seemed to fill the space between us again just like it had when we first met. It felt like static electricity was bouncing between us as the hairs on my arms went into overdrive and stood to attention. Considering how he’d insulted and practically manhandled me earlier, I was still undeniably attracted to this man, and as a result I was now finding it quite hard to breathe as he just stood there, all tall and foreboding and staring at me in silence.

Surely it wasn’t normal for two people to just stare at each other like this? The stupid thing was, I was staring back too, but I simply couldn’t seem to drag my eyes away from him. It certainly seemed to break most of the rules of how to act in polite company, but then again, he wasn’t looking away either, so at least it wasn’t just me who seemed affected by the situation. And I really was affected. My heart was fluttering, I felt shaky, warm, and even a bit sick from the tumbling of my stomach. It was like I’d lost all control over my own body.

He was magnificent. A prime example of masculinity if ever I had seen one. But then he broke me from my wandering thoughts by making a sudden strange, dismissive grunt, spinning on his heel, and leaving. My eyebrows practically rose into my hairline. Charming. He didn’t say another word, just left me sat on the bed blinking at the now-closed door.


About Alice…

Where to start? I’m really a lot more boring and normal than my books might suggest. It 11174737_1583028105309777_2903921655150587639_omay disappoint some to know that I’ve never had an illicit affair with a domineering pianist, nor have I ever met or dated a man who frequented certain seedy clubs in London. I have however always had an overactive imagination, which may in part explain where my stories come from!

I was born and raised in London, and as such it holds a special place in my heart and is often used as a setting within my books. Some of my best times have been spent with friends wandering the markets of Camden or sipping beers in Covent Garden.

When I was eighteen I moved to Manchester to study, where I ended up living for over ten years. Originally I qualified as an archaeologist, but I soon realised that jobs in that sector were minimal and decided to put my enthusiasm to use by becoming a teacher. I taught for over seven years, but now I mostly spend my days engaging my wildly over active imagination by writing. I’ve lived in Manchester, Muscat (Oman) and briefly in France, but currently I’m in the process of moving back to London, a very exciting prospect for me. Where ever I find myself I live with my ever suffering, but hugely supportive husband, and our rescued street dog Ralph.

Connect with Alice:


Twitter: @AliceRaine1

Website: www.aliceraineauthor.com

Book 1 of my new Revealed series – Unmasked – is out on the 21st of November. You can find pre-order links here: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com

Caroline Dunford on her latest book (plus giveaway!)

Caroline at the launch of Playing for Love

Caroline at the launch of Playing for Love

My love affair with the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe Festival began in my early twenties. Like most good love affairs it has been filled with both intense passion and times when we did not speak at all. My novel, Playing for Love, is rooted in the joys and heartbreaks this relationship.

Having walked out of my first office job after three weeks I ended up working on a small community newspaper pestering every newspaper around for miles for a real job.  One letter landed on the desk of the arts correspondent for The Edinburgh Evening News, and as one of his reviewers had gone into hospital, he took a chance on me. I can’t even remember the title of the first play I reviewed, but it was followed by many more. And the Edinburgh Festival made its way into my life. As a student I had barely noticed it. But in those heady days newspapers did a vast amount of festival coverage and it wasn’t uncommon for me to see six plays on a festival day and to be phoning in my reviews at 2 or 3 am. (This, obviously before, the advent of the internet.)

I remember those days with great affection. The Festival Fringe wasn’t then the mighty throbbing beast it is today. Wandering around at 1am in the city centre I felt quite safe. I felt embraced by the  friendliness and vivacity of a city that had no intention of sleeping for several weeks as it celebrated the arts from all across the world. I prided myself on being a fair reviewer, so that when I eventually became a playwright myself I could hold my head up high. Although, to be fair, I have never put on a play during the Fringe. That takes a level of financial stability and insanity I have yet to reach.

Today, the festivals are enormous. As exciting as ever, but you need a distinct level of bravery to walk down the Royal Mile during festival time. In my novel, Playing for Love, Annie, who has been living an isolated life in the Cotswold, has a panic attack when she sees the massed throngs for the first time. She runs screaming through their midst and people part, partly to avoid being run down and partly because they think she might be doing some kind of performance theatre.

Into this story I have poured  all my love of the Edinburgh Festivals as well as exposing its more bitter-sweet nature. I have delved into my experiences as both a critic and a playwright and I hope brought to life a festival adventure that gives you a real taste of what it is like to be in the city at this time.

Now, Edinburghers like myself, are once more relaxing. Having your home city double in size (literally) brings a wealth of issues. We flee to the out of town retail parks rather than brave city centre traffic, but equally we elbow with the best to see the end of festival fireworks display.

My hope is that Playing for Love will keep the festival alive for those that are already yearning for next summer and for those who have never been, shed light on what is really a unique five weeks party celebrating the arts.




Fancy winning yourself a copy of warm-hearted new novel from acclaimed writer Caroline Dunford? We have an ebook of Playing for Love up for grabs!

Just email [email protected] with your answer to the following question.

Which festival inspired the book?


RNA “Ask The Expert” With Hazel Cushion

Here is Helena Fairfax’s fantastic interview with Accent MD Hazel Cushion on the RNA blog…

Today we welcome Helena Fairfax to the RNA blog. Helena is going to be bringing us a monthly blog interview with the ‘movers and shakers’ in the publishing world. Over to you, Helena!


It’s a great pleasure to welcome Hazel Cushion, Managing Director of Accent Press,
to the RNA blog today. Hazel and some of the Accent Press team were at the RNA conference in London this year, taking pitches as well as running one of the sessions. I also have fond memories of their Pimms party by Regent’s Canal. We thought an interview on the RNA blog might be an opportunity for those who weren’t able to attend the conference to find out more about Hazel and about Accent Press, and we’re delighted Hazel has accepted our invitation.

Thanks so much for dropping in, Hazel. Please tell us a little about the history of Accent Press and how you came to start it.
I started Accent Press in 2003 in my front bedroom when my triplets were seven years old. I was effectively a single mum as my husband worked in the Middle East and I wanted to start a business that would work around my kids. I’d just done an MA in Creative Writing and, as part of that, we put together an anthology of our work. Once I knew how to make a book I was hooked! The timing was just right too as desktop publishing and the internet suddenly made it all possible. Needless to say it quickly moved out of the bedroom and we now have offices on a business park north of Cardiff where I employ a team of twelve amazing people.

What do enjoy most about your job? And least?
Well, the very best bit must be making authors’ dreams turn into reality – when they get to hold their books and see them climbing the charts and on book shop shelves. That is always a magical thing. I also love employing young people and seeing them grow and develop their careers. We’re based in south Wales and there aren’t a great deal of opportunities for young people – I’m very pleased that we can offer permanent jobs to people in such a vibrant and creative industry.
The worse bit is that’s it a tough market and we can’t make it happen for everyone. Trying to sell one book by one author is incredibly difficult – it takes time to build a following which is why we no longer commission standalone titles.

What is it you are looking for when a manuscript lands on your desk?
Brilliant writing, realistic authors and books with commercial potential. I find it really depressing that we have to reject so many submissions because authors haven’t read our guidelines first.

Where do you find your new authors, and how?
Very often it’s word of mouth or by attending events like the RNA conference. We do use agents sometimes but are equally happy to take on unagented authors. We do also actively seek successful self-published authors who are climbing the Kindle charts.

For anyone who missed your excellent talk at the RNA conference, what advice would you give someone submitting to Accent?
Read our guidelines first! Make sure the book is a publishable length and is either a series or that you have or plan other titles. We no longer publish single titles as they are just too hard to get noticed.

What benefits do you feel a publisher offers an author over self-publishing?
Where it works best is when we work as a team with the author supporting them and allowing them the time to develop their writing career. We provide the editorial support and guidance to enable that to happen and also free them up from the business side of selling and marketing their books. Authors are usually happiest plotting, planning and writing, and tend to find the whole pushing and publishing side uncomfortable. These days everyone hopes their authors will engage on social media too but if authors hate it then we say don’t worry about it. Our job is to promote and sell their work – I’d really rather our authors were writing than tweeting!

Romance is the biggest-selling genre in publishing, and yet the one taken least seriously by the mainstream. Why do you think this is? And how do you think romance authors can address the negative perception?
Sadly a lot of publishing folk are ridiculously pretentious and I find that very tiresome. Romance is the biggest-selling genre because it provides brilliant entertainment and enjoyments to the most discerning of readers – women. They are also the largest book buyers, especially the 18-26 age group. Cynical me might say they enjoy romance because they are still naïve and hopeful – and older women love the escape from repeated heartbreak!

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
Wow – that’s a hard one. Can I cheat and say what my least favourite was instead? I think some of you may agree if I say the words ‘fifty’ and ‘grey’?

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most recently, and why?
To be honest I tend to listen to books rather than read them, either when driving or before I sleep. One I read though was All Change, the final part of the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m very creative and messy – I love painting and crafts. My latest thing is felting where I take vast quantities of beautiful and quite expensive merino wool and spend hours soaping, soaking and rolling it into completely unwearable or usable objects.

If you could describe your working-day in just three words, what would they be?
Varied, rewarding, fun.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers, Hazel. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.


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