Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The d-words

Quick update: deadline = struggling, dentist = wonderful. No more work to do at present, and the scary letter from the sedation clinic was apparently because the ‘not turning up’ rate is horrendous. (Um… if they didn’t sound so scary in the first place, maybe more people would turn up?) Bad news is that she’s on maternity leave for my next check-up, but the good news is she’s coming back so I said we’re happy to wait for our next check-up. (The dentist we saw during her last maternity leave was scary. And I’m a wuss.) Rang the clinic and explained there was no way I could meet their timetable because of the school run and needing a responsible adult with me, so they’ve been nice and agreed I can turn up 10 mins before my appointment rather than 20. (My lovely best friend did offer to take the day off but it’s not fair to do that.)

Camera arrived and it’s fab. Pin-sharp. I’m itching to go take pics for the new book, but I’d better finish this one first! Also need to read the manual...

fab review

Had a really fabulous review from www.history.uk.com for How To Research Your House – am so pleased. This is exactly the reaction I wanted to get from readers. The review isn’t signed, but I’d like to thank the reviewer for really making my day. And this is what the reviewer had to say:

It would be hard to imagine a better book for the budding house historian.
Well written and crammed full of useful information but not a bit stuffy or

Okay, so I love my local history; but even so, How to Research Your House
really does have something for everyone.

Whilst reading this book I was taken directly back to my childhood as I
remembered reading on the back of a red exercise book (remember those?) about
how many perches there are in a rood (or Rod).

You can find out all about land measurements and lots more as you explore
this excellent and extremely well planned reference book that shows, by example,
what to look for when researching your house history.

Pamela Brooks is an experienced and competent writer and researcher who
will make house history hunting much easier for you. Enjoy.

Wales part 4 (aka home again)

Still on deadline… not helped by the fact I’m dying to start on the new nonfiction and the new MX and the Med duo has really taken shape in my mind. Need to focus on my Spanish doctor. Focus, focus, focus. (Had I not had the dental problem then I wouldn’t have been out of it and the book would’ve been finished before I was on holiday – because I’m officially en vacances for the whole of August, but methinks it isn’t going to be that way. Sigh.)

Saturday 28 July – Home
We travelled home via the motorways on Saturday – very smooth and easy journey back, and no queues. Dropped in to see my dad and stepmum on the way back and it was lovely to sit outside in the garden in sunshine instead of dodging showers. Home, did the unpacking, sneaked into my office - and then DH went all fidgety and hauled me out again. ‘We haven’t been to the seaside for a whole week. And we’re still officially on holiday.’ Madam’s face lit up. ‘Yes! We can go to the funfair!’ So we headed for Great Yarmouth. And, bearing in mind we were on holiday and hadn’t weighed ourselves at this point, we did indeed scoff doughnuts. DH and son went on the dodgems, and Madam insisted on going on the roller coaster. And as we were right next to the Nelson monument, I reminded DH that I have a bunch of pics to take for the new book. May have to go back and redo it because I think the new camera will be better: the full-zoom pic from this one isn’t really sharp enough.

Sunday 29 July – Dog home
DH picked up the dog from kennels in the morning. Byron was SO pleased to see us. I did wonder if he’d be in major sulk mode (because we’d left him for a week), but actually he spent the rest of the day trotting between the living room (where DH was reading the paper), my office and the garden, just to check we were all present and correct. (He has since settled down to normal.) Did some work; rang John Lewis and it seems Panasonic has underestimated demand. John Lewis in Norwich has over 200 advance orders and no idea when stock is back in, so advised me to try elsewhere. Sigh. Finished reading Michelle Styles’ The Roman’s Virgin Mistress and enjoyed it thoroughly – if you like Regency romance, you’ll love this even though it’s Roman, because of the setting. (As always, the setting is very vivid and beautifully drawn.) Definitely a hero to fall for.

Monday: did some work (DH took the kids to see his mum to give me peace and quiet). Also rang local camera warehouse to see if they had stock of the camera. They did indeed – better still, it was in the colour I wanted. Including extra 1GB SD card and new case and delivery charge, the total was still less than it would’ve cost at John Lewis, and the EEN photographer says they’re really reliable, so… it’s being delivered today.

Plan for today: work, dentist (check-up for the kids and me, and a polite query about just how scary the sedating dentists are), more work, and… if I do enough, play with new camera. Possibly location visit later this week. Might need to be super-sweet to DH as there are a couple I took last year that I’d like to redo…

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wales part 3

Still on deadline… so here are more Tales from Wales.

Thursday 26 July – Bristol

Poured with rain so we went to Bristol. DH loved going over the Severn Bridge – bridges are NOT my favourite things (and whenever I’ve had to drive across Dartford on my own I’ve chuntered to myself all the way across it – it’s suspension bridges I loathe, and I really don’t think I’d be able to cope with the Golden Gate bridge. Or the one up in Scotland that moves with the wind. Nononono). Anyway, I had to be brave in front of the kids, so I took a picture.

Bristol is currently a bit of a building site, so traffic was slow and heavy. (We heard later on the radio that the traffic in Bristol is the slowest-moving in the UK – yep, we can believe that.) Spent the day at the science museum, including a fabulous planetarium show and lots of interactive psychological tests. Very interested to see how well I did on the pitch test – especially as I’m deaf! The tests for scent were also interesting (I couldn’t smell pheromones at all – but I think my sense of smell is as dodgy as my hearing!). There was a screen where you could see yourself in terms of thermal readings; and another which measured your responses to pictures (i.e. the one you responded to most made your fingers sweat more). The pics weren’t the same every time; son reacted most strongly to the pic of the busty brunette blowing a kiss (for heaven’s sake, he’s TEN!), and he hung around to watch my pictures. ‘Mum, that’s a NAKED MAN! They can’t show that here!’ (Back view, face down on bed, good fodder for romantic novelists *g* but, um, shocking to a ten-year-old.) There was a picture of someone at the dentist’s, mouth open and syringe going in – that’s what I thought I would react to, given my traumas of the other week. But no: I reacted most strongly to the picture of a steeplejack right at the top of a steeple and you could see view all the way down to the ground below. ‘So you were lying, then,’ says son. ‘You ARE scared of heights.’ No. Just big bridges and open-tread spiral stairs, which is to do with a recurrent nightmare from my childhood. Son loved the ‘virtual volleyball’ and building a train track (following in Brunel’s footsteps, and this is where DH went a bit nerdy), and Madam loved all the Alice in Wonderland illusions; DH and I both liked the planetarium best.

Read Nicola Cornick's Lord of Scandal in the evening; as usual, she never disappoints. Great plot, great characters, fabulous dialogue. Regency romance at its best.

Friday 27 July – Caerleon, Newport and Usk

We had intended to go on a boat trip round Symonds Yat (view here to the left is from the conservatory of our cottage), but the River Wye was still swollen badly by floodwater and no boats were running.

So we headed down to Caerleon instead to see the only fully excavated Roman amphitheatre in Britain. Fascinating stuff - you can really imagine what it would've been like to be on a central stage there (though I have to admit Greek drama is more to my taste than Roman farce) or being a gladiator...

We would’ve visited the baths, too, but when we’d been round the town three times and failed to find a parking space, DH had had enough and instructed me, ‘Just direct us somewhere we haven’t been.’) So we went to Newport – the local museum was very interesting, containing Roman mosaics (and part of a leather shield) from the nearby village of Caerwent, tableaux of rooms from the late 1800s (lightbulb moment for me – especially the doctor’s surgery), and a nice gemstone collection. Newport itself will probably be lovely when the regeneration projects have finished.
Daughter decided she wants to learn Welsh and Latin. ‘Mum, you can buy a book and we’ll share it.’ Riiiight.

Then we went to Usk. But there were no signposts on the way out of the car park, and we found ourselves driving through narrow, steep (as in 16% gradient) and winding roads. Fab view, but we didn’t quite end up where we’d intended to go!

Sad to be leaving the area on Saturday. We’d really wanted to go to Hay-on-Wye and also Hereford Cathedral to see the Mappa Mundi and the chained library (i.e. books were so precious in the middle ages that they were often chained to the library so they couldn’t be stolen), but given the weather problems it wasn’t possible. No way would we be disaster tourists, there to gawp at the damage and getting in the way of the emergency services. My heart really goes out to those affected by the floods. And I hope that the government’s conscience is thoroughly pricked so they do actually help the people who’ve been affected. (Despite their stealth taxes there has been a major lack of investment in areas outside London – the rural flood barriers and defences are in an atrocious state - hmm, I said no politics, so take the rants about east coast erosion and the fact that the government ignores everywhere outside London as read.)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wales part 2

I’m on deadline and also trying not to think about yesterday’s post. Some is excellent – eg cheque, Italian copy of The Cinderella Project and apology for overcharging me and correct bill from accountant (this is the third year running I’ve had to query something – but you can guarantee if I change accountants the Inland Revenue will decide to investigate me and, although I’ve nothing to hide, I could do without the upheaval, so I’ll see how it goes next year). I also have proofs of The Doctor’s Royal Love-Child to do, and… OK. Am bricking it because now I have a date for my scary dental appointment; the stuff that came with it makes them come across as completely scary rather than kind. (Am torn between being very bolshy and very scared. Am certainly going to tell my lovely dentist on Tuesday that they are v intimidating.) So rather than think about that I’m going to distract you with more Tales from Wales.

Oh, and I nearly didn’t mention Welsh cakes. We had no ice cream on holiday (because we couldn’t find any!). But Welsh cakes… Daughter: ‘These are scrummy. Will you teach me how to cook them?’ Darling, I’ve never made Welsh cakes. What makes you think I know how to do them? ‘Because you’re the best cooker in the world and you can do anything.’ (Lovely compliment, but she’s also right in that at present I’m oven-shaped. Son and DH had the DVD camera and filmed me… so unfortunately now I know how many spare chins and spare tyres I have, and I can’t stay in denial any more. Especially as I weighed myself this morning… OK. When this book is delivered I’m going to schedule exercise into my day.)

Monday 23 July – driving through clouds
Went to the Big Pit (Pwll Mawr) at Blaenavon, the national mining museum of Wales, and on the way drove through a cloud, which was REALLY spooky – the equivalent of thick fog, narrow winding roads with a steep drop on one side, and sheep that just wandered out in front of the car. (Kids’ verdict: ‘That was fun. Can we do it again?’ DH, with very firm look at me: ‘No, Mum is going to navigate us a different route back.’) We had a tour round the coalmine; no batteries were allowed underground so we had to hand over all watches and cameras and put on the safety gear - which weighed 5kg. The lift shaft took us down 90m, and we were very squashed in the cage. The tunnels were so low we had to stoop (yes, even me), and our guide Llyn was excellent, telling us exactly how they used to do the various tasks in the mine. We could even see the seams of coal – I understand now why they’re called ‘black diamonds’ because the stuff really sparkles. (We had a coal fire when I was very young but I don’t remember sparkly coal.) Those poor pit ponies - even though the miners spoiled them - having to live and work in the dark for 11 months of the year... Am keeping politics out of this, but I do question whether closing the mines was the right thing to do. There's more than just money involved: there’s the life of the communities involved too. And given the mess our country is in right now, I believe that essential services (water and power and post) should be nationalised and run efficiently and effectively.

Read Milly Johnson's The Yorkshire Pudding Club and enjoyed it thoroughly - lively characters, made me laugh for the right reasons, and I will never look at Marmite in the same way again...

Tuesday 24 July – Raglan and Caerphilly
Went to Raglan, which must have been stunning in its heyday. There were 102 spiral steps to the top of the Great Tower, with stunning views; there was also once a very important library which was ruined by dearest Cromwell (so all the documents relating to Tintern Abbey were lost - am not sure whether I loathe Cromwell or Henry VIII most for the irreparable damage they caused: take rest of enormous rant as read) and the windows are all that remain of the library.

Then to Tredegar House; stupidly we didn't take the leaflet with us so we ended up driving round tiny villages and narrow roads with NO SIGNPOSTS anywhere to guide us - and the house wasn’t in the village of Tredegar (or even New Tredegar), it was in Newport. And it was closed on Tuesdays. Sigh. So we went to Caerphilly Castle instead. Very impressed by the leaning tower (apparently the degree of lean is 10 per cent - so of course I had to take the tourist pic of DH and son pretending to hold up the tower) and the water defences.

Read Robert Goddard's Never Go Back - enjoyed it, though had to pretend the characters were 20 years younger for it to work properly for me. Good plot, though. Also bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the way home and read it that evening - very satisfying ending. And not as much self-indulgence. Son was horrified. ‘You read HP in just one evening?’ Uh-huh. It’s only 600 pages ish. I’m a fast reader… If I’d told him that I read a book that morning before I got up, too, he would’ve freaked. Perfect way to unwind: DH brought me a cup of tea, just the way I like it (i.e. Earl Grey, very weak and milky), and I didn’t get out of bed until THREE HOURS past my usual getting-up time because I was reading, cuddled up to him.

Wednesday 25 July – Clearwell and Chepstow
Rainy so we decided to do something indoors, i.e. underground, and went to Clearwell Caves – iron had been mined there since Roman times. Interesting to read about the life of the iron miners (I think the coal miners treated the child workers rather better than the iron miners did – freaked son when he realised that had he been born in the 1830s instead of the 1990s he would’ve been working for two years now and only going to school for a couple of hours in the evenings). The caves themselves were a little disappointing, but that’s because I was expecting something more like the Blue John mines. No stalagmites or stalactites, but what you can see here is flowstone, which grows at the rate of 1 cubic centimetre per 100 years. (Yes, of course Nerdy Kate collected facts. That's where son gets it from...)
Then we went to Chepstow Castle; very interesting (and I bet it’s stunning when the river isn’t swollen and discoloured with flood water - the rivers were all the colour of melted milk chocolate because of the soil washed down off the hills and the rivers bursting their banks) but it poured with rain, and was very eerie when seagulls screamed into the gloom. Some lovely wallpaintings; also interesting to see the connection with home via Roger Bigod.

Read Adele Geras's Facing the Light - fabulous read and I'll definitely be buying more of hers. Reminded me of a cross between Judith Lennox and Robert Goddard at his best; excellent characterisation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Wales part 1

Back from Wales - had great time despite the weather. And as the SDP will probably be delighted to know I did NO WORK WHATSOEVER during the holiday - apart from keeping a holiday diary. So this is what we did (part 1):

Saturday 21 July - travelling
Late Friday night, we discovered that the motorways on our main route - the M5 and M50 - were both closed due to the flooding. Early the next morning (and I mean early, as in about 5.30 am) the news headlines said tens of thousands of people were stranded there overnight. So we sorted out a new route avoiding the motorways and just hoped we'd manage to negotiate the floods. All was fine until we got to Banbury... where it took us over an hour to crawl 2.5 miles round the ring road. (We did see Banbury Cross, but no white horses.) Stopped briefly at Stow, then on to Marstow. The A40 was littered with abandoned cars; although the road was flooded it was passable. I really feel for the people who've been flooded out.
Finally we arrived at the cottage. It's about 250 years old, and has the most incredible view of Symonds Yat from the conservatory - a real romance writer's haven. Went for a walk after dinner; the narrow lane to the cottage was flooded, and the local tributary of the Wye had burst its banks - wiping out the campsite at the bottom of the lane. The lane opposite was also flooded, and DH wondered how deep it was… but stopped just before it overflowed his wellies.

Sunday 22 July - Cardiff
Reasonably bright start to the day. Just in case the weather turned nasty, we decided to do the bit we knew son was looking forward to most – i.e. Cardiff. Spent a while in the science museum (here’s Madam playing the foot piano – I had fun on it, too – and the drums were fab), then went for a wander in the Bay area.
Son spent the entire time telling us exactly what we were seeing and which episode of Dr Who it featured in (down to the episode name and number – and I bet if pressed he could give the time as well). He was delighted with the Dr Who exhibition; he wore his pinstriped trousers and stripy shirt in honour of Dr Who, bless.
Then we took the water bus into the city (part of it was at speed, which we all enjoyed) and wandered round Cardiff Castle. Lots of narrow spiral stairs (but they weren’t open tread so I could cope – it’s open stairs that freak me).

Friday, July 20, 2007

off for a week

Which means no internet access and no computer for a WHOLE WEEK. (We don’t count the dinky little one in my handbag that’s the same size as my mini (Radley) filofax, do we? And that doesn’t have internet access because I am paranoid about computer viruses.) So I hope everyone has as nice as week as I’m planning to have – exploring Herefordshire and the Welsh borders, with a day in Cardiff. Dr Who, castles, gardens, ruins and museums. Yum.

And please remember that the competition to win one of five copies of Breakfast at Giovanni's is still ongoing. (I’m sure nobody’s going to enter and I’m going to feel a complete Billy No Mates when I get back…)

I’ll be glad when we set off. I spent today tackling the ironing (think Everest plus K2 combined), then DH lost his mobile phone (sigh – he’s found it but apparently it’s been through the washing machine at work so… he needs a new one), Byron cried when DH carried him to the car because he knew he was going on holiday (a whole week sans my dog – this is not nice, and right now I'm pretty near to tears), the kids have been squabbling because we’ve had torrential rain all day and they haven’t been able to go out, and…

OK. Time for glass half-full stuff:
  • my author copies of Disasters arrived, along with a note about my new book (which will be out in June 08, yippee);
  • one of my lovely friends sent me an unexpected emergency bar of G&B and the post arrived just when the kids were driving me demented (thank you very, very, much – you know who you are *g*);
  • Harry Potter is out tomorrow and I’m going to get my copy;
  • and DH is getting a takeaway tonight so we can chill out with a glass of wine and a couple of episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond.

Kate’s 25th party – first day of summer holidays and last prize(s)…

All righty. Today really IS the last day of my blog party. I had originally planned more guests – but as I’m on holiday tomorrow and won’t have internet access for a week, it would’ve meant a hiatus in the party. Which would’ve been a bit sad, especially as we’ve already had the hiccup of having to move blog providers in the first week! Plus things such as conferences, round the world trips, babies and life in general got in the way for some of my proposed guests, and time just ran out. (They know who they are. :o) But am I going to make them feel guilty? Course not. Given my week or so of being dopey on painkillers and toothache, I know what it’s like to be up against an impossible deadline. I’m sending them a hug instead.)

I would like to thank all the guests who came and took part, and let me borrow pictures of beautiful dogs (all right, Mrs Walker and Mrs Parkin, and two cats) and ducklings. And thank you to everyone who came and joined in, whether you posted a comment or were shy and lurked in a corner with the cyber-cookies. (Cookie recipe is at http://www.katehardy.com/recipes.html - ditto the cheese stars and the lemon cake.)

Remember we still have three competitions going on, to win books by Anne McAllister, Fiona Harper and me...

Actually, I hate the end of a party. I don’t mind the clearing up bit; what I REALLY don’t like is saying goodbye. (This is also the reason why I loathe writing the end of a book. I hate saying goodbye to my characters.) I’m disappearing to Herefordshire tomorrow, but please don’t go away! I will be back in just over a week with photographs and tales of our adventures with Dr Who. And in the meantime, I have the final competition of the party for you.

GIVEAWAY: Breakfast at Giovanni’s is my fifth Modern Extra. So I think an appropriate finale would be to offer five prizes of a copy each. You have ages and ages to answer this because I’m going to draw the five prizewinners when I return from holiday. (I know I keep mentioning the H word – it’s to stop certain people nagging me about overdoing things. As if I ever overdo things. And I’m going to prove it on the Pink Heart Society next month…)

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: What is it that draws you to Italian heroes? If you’re not swept off your feet by Italians, then please argue your case for Spaniards (I’d definitely argue for Mr Banderas) or Englishmen or Americans or Aussies - in other words, tell me what you look for in the hero of a romance novel. I’ll pick the winners when I get back.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

and a bit of good news

To my relief, my ed liked the revisions (and yes, I DO always worry about it; I also worry that my readers are going to hate my new book. However, this is a good thing because it means I have my readers in mind and I’m not trying to fob them off with something I know isn’t good enough – I want to make each book the best possible).

So my seventh Modern Extra will be out in March 2008. Sadly, I didn’t get to keep my working title of ‘In the Heat of the Night’; the new one is ‘Sold to the Highest Bidder’. I’m also very pleased to say that Breakfast at Giovanni’s is going to be on sale retail in the US – albeit under a new title (In Bed with Her Italian Boss) - in September next year. So I’m doing a little happy dance this morning. (And I’m also working on my Spanish doctor. And trying to convince the hero and heroine of my next book - another MX - that they can wait until I get back from holiday before jumping about in my head. Though at the same time I really appreciate having my muse back!)

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #25 – Fiona Harper

You know I said yesterday that Anne was my last guest? Happily, it wasn’t true! My final guest has just come back from America. She was going to do me a post before she went away, but due to deadlines and going to her first RWA conference (as a double Rita nominee, no less) she ran out of time. However, being a total sweetheart, she emailed me yesterday. ‘I haven’t forgotten your blog post…’ So I do indeed have 25 guests to celebrate 25 books – thanks to Fiona Harper for making it the magic number. (And if you want to know more about her adventures in Dallas, go to her blog.)

And yes, I met Fiona Harper at a party. Actually, the first time I met her, it was at the RNA Awards Lunch last year, and as I was one of the nominees for the Romance Prize I was a bit rabbit-in-headlights and I can’t remember a single conversation I had. I know she was sitting on my table, but that’s all I can tell you about that first meeting! I made up for it on the second – at said party, when we had a cup of tea together before the author lunch and compared PDAs (she’d told me about hers a couple of weeks before and I had a case of instant lust – so it’s all her fault I have this dinky piece of kit in my handbag). Unlike Fiona, I don’t have the flashy fold-out keyboard to go with it, but the PDA is just perfect for library research. And Fiona was also brilliant when I quizzed her about the voice dictation software she’d bought and whether it worked better than it did when I last used a similar system, ten years ago. (It does. I’m sold.) Given that she also shares a love of Suzanne Vega’s music with me, not to mention a love of chocolate (and I didn’t even MENTION the w-word… which has four letters and in my case is preferably New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc) I would say she’s a Thoroughly Bad Influence. (And I like her books. A lot.)

So here’s Fiona:

I first met Kate online not long after I’d sold to M&B’s newly revamped ‘Romance’ line. I also was a bit of a fan-girl and sent her an email after reading Her Honourable Playboy. [Edit from Kate: and I was so thrilled to get it. Like most authors, I suffer from Impostor Syndrome.]

There was a bit of a funny story attached to me reading that particular book. I like to read in the tub – probably the only place I get any peace and quiet – and I had sunk into a hot bath just before school pick-up time one afternoon with Kate’s book in my damp little fingers. Anyway, the ending had me engrossed and made me cry hard and, by the time I was finished, I had to clamber into some clothes and sprint to the playground to pick up my girls.

It wasn’t until I got home and glanced in the mirror that I had huge dark circles under my eyes from where I’d cried my mascara off reading the final few chapters of Kate’s book. I hold her entirely responsible for me going out in public with the biggest panda eyes in history.

Anyway, I forgave her. I’m sure I’m not the only one she’s reduced to a snivelling wreck in the 25 books she’s managed to write. So, congratulations, Kate! May you boost waterproof mascara sales the world over!

GIVEAWAY: For my giveaway I’m offering a copy of ‘Break Up to Make Up’, my August release, and a Fiona Harper pen as well.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: Well, since I seem to be my own Bridget Jones-type disaster area most of the time, I’d like to hear about some of your embarrassing moments. The one that tickles me the most will get the prize!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

and even more winners…

Lynne Marshall says that there were so many responses, she'd like to give an extra prize – so we have two winners of In His Angel’s Arms. (Thank you, Lynne!) And we have another beautiful dog involved; Lynne says, ‘This is Rogan, my Rhodesian Ridgeback and part time muse. After completing his meal, he chose my winners. Unfortunately, he got buttery paw prints on all of the entries.’

Rogan’s choices were: Nell - for her struggle with dyscalcula and getting the CSE math qualification; and Janie - with enough rejections to wallpaper a room!

And because I was impressed with the amount of people who posted, I too would like to offer an extra prize - Breakfast at Giovanni's - to Mona.

Congratulations, Nell, Janie and Mona – please get in touch with me so we can arrange your prizes. (Again – sigh – to defeat the spammers: please email me at myfirstname dot mysurname at btinternet dot com)

and yet another winner…

Jill Shalvis is back from the RWA and got gorgeous Ashes to pick her winner: Juliemt!

Congratulations, Julie – you win your choice of one of Jill’s backlist (see http://jillshalvis.com/book-list/). Sigh, you know the drill about my horrible email…

and another winner

Diane, on the other hand, got her kitten to choose. (And, just to amuse t'other Kate, the title of this pic is 'Scary Holly'.)

Clearly Holly is just as smitten with Hugh-in-a-towel as a lot of romance readers seem to be, because the winner of the scrummy Green & Black's chocolate is Liz Fielding. (Liz, read your email!!) And Diane adds that she loved Robyn’s answer so she’s adding a second extra prize. (Robyn… I'm still struggling with this email forwarder thing so please can you contact me? My email address (sorry to format it like this, but I learned the hard way about how to avoid spam) is myfirstname dot mysurname @ btinternet dot com – thanks!)


Milly Johnson said that her cat (whose photograph isn’t appearing here because Milly says he’s a Siamese who gets more than enough attention) didn’t even get a chance to chose the winner. ‘I read Becky’s and laughed aloud - it just is the clear winner!! And will you thank everyone please for the nice comments and “little stories” that I found really interesting (seeing “hard on” written down made me think how often I've said it - in a sleep context - and missed the opportunity to make a joke!)’ So well done, Becky – your prize is on its way!

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #24 – Anne McAllister

My final guest blogger also comes from America – and yes, she’s another romance author I met at a party… Actually, I sort of got to know Anne McAllister a little before we met, when Kate Walker said, ‘You know you and my husband never stop talking history – well, I want to introduce you to one of my friends. I think you’ll get on. It’s to do with the H-word.’ And so I met Anne – not so much at the lunch, where I was on a different table, but afterwards over tea in Fortnum’s. She was telling me about her genealogy research and I was telling her about my local history stuff, and we talked and talked and talked and… I found a new friend. We also have other things in common – chocolate, books, maps, and dogs. I love her books (she sneaks in as many secondary characters as I do, and her dogs are brilliant, too). So anyway, I’m delighted to introduce Anne McAllister, whose next book, The Boss's Wife for a Week, is out in September:
Twenty-five books? Well, yes. And that's just before lunchtime!No, it just seems that way to sluggards like me who consider two books a year a very substantial number to write! So, it suffices to say I am in awe not just of Kate's prolificity (is that a word?) but even more – they are books on my keeper shelf. I don't have all of them – yet. But I'm working on it.

The thing is, while I appreciate and admire and honor Kate's novels, it's her non-fiction books written as Pamela Brooks that I read first. Kate and I share a love of local history. And while I putter around with it, Kate (in alter ego form as Pam) does something about it – like writing books on house history and local history and streets of Norfolk. She's amazing. And those books are on my keeper shelf as well. Pretty soon I won't have a Kate Hardy/Pamela Brooks keeper shelf, I'll have a Kate Hardy/Pamela Brooks keeper bookcase – which is probably a prelude to a Kate Hardy/Pamela Brooks keeper room! (I draw the line at adding a wing to the house.)

So I'm lifting a glass to celebrate your accomplishment, Kate! It's enormous. And deeply admired. Congratulations. May you write many more (not much doubt about that!). And may you write many more as Pamela, too. I've got the shelf space saved.


QUESTION: Do you have a favorite Kate Hardy or Pamela Brooks book? Which is is? Can't narrow it down? Then tell me all of them!

GIVEAWAY: The winner (picked by my flatcoat, Gunnar, who is very good at these things and only coincidentally tends to prefer books with dogs in them) will get a copy of the first of my Greek Tycoons books, The Antonides Marriage Deal.

the D-word, or Kate as Hannibal Lecter

Went in to my appointment yesterday. Big smile from my dentist. ‘Hello. How are you?’ Nervous. ‘Ah, yes. I’m doing an extraction today, aren’t I?’ Um… I thought it was agreed I could have sedation for that? ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to do anything that’s going to hurt you. Change of plan – I’ll write you a referral to have the sedation done, and they’ll want a big x-ray – come with me.’ The x-ray was a full-face job. I felt like Hannibal Lecter, standing there with this thing in my mouth to hold me in position, and then this machine swivelling round me… But the important thing is that it didn’t hurt. (Wussy? Moi? You bet!)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #23 – Lynne Marshall

My guest today is from America: I’m so pleased to introduce Lynne Marshall, fellow Medicals author, who's also one of my shelfmates this month. She did actually give me her post ages back, but because of the RWA conference and jetlag and what have you, I swapped the schedule so she’d have a chance to come and talk!

So here's Lynne:

Congratulations on a job well done. You deserve a break today, so I thought I’d make a blog entry for you. LOL. Seriously, thanks for inviting me. Let me introduce myself to everyone. I’m Lynne Marshall and I write Medical Romance for Mills and Boon along with the amazing Kate Hardy. J I am currently completing my fifth novel and stand in awe of Kate’s achievement of 25 books in six short years. What have I done to compare? Well, I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 25 years, and I’m looking at my 25th wedding anniversary this September. Twenty-five of anything is no easy feat, and I am proud to say I’ve stuck with something that long! LOL. I remember wanting to quit nursing altogether the first week at my first big hospital assignment in California. Many times in that first year I found myself sneaking outside the ward to shed a few tears in private. Never in my life did I think nursing would be so hard and stressful. But I kept showing up for work, the days clicked by, I got better at what I did, I learned how to handle the always-surprising world of medicine, and before I knew it, a quarter of a century had gone by. Amazing. I look back over the many people I’ve helped through my job and smile. That’s definitely an achievement I’m proud of.

As a writer, there is a completely different sense of satisfaction knowing that I can take the sometimes-harrowing circumstances of medicine and create stories around them with characters of my making, lessons to be learned, love to be found, and above all, a positive, hopeful and happy ending. Who could ask for more? My current UK July Medical Romance release, In His Angel’s Arms, is about a nurse who, when tragedy strikes, must step in and care for a man who has always secretly touched her heart. He can’t deny her healing skills, or resist the temptation of his very special nurse.

GIVEAWAY: A copy of In His Angel’s Arms

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: Now I ask you, what have you stuck with much longer than you ever dreamed, and are proud to share with us? It doesn’t have to be 25 years, just something you have overcome the challenge of, prevailed, and became a better person for. I can’t wait to read your responses.

If you’d like to find out more about me visit my website: http://www.lynnemarshallweb.com/

a quick bit from Kate

More half-full-glass stuff – actually, I’d say it’s still overflowing. Yesterday’s blood pressure reading was the best it’s been in five years, and that’s despite what’s happening this afternoon. (Stressed about going to the d*nt*st? Moi? You bet – I had flashbacks about the failed extraction trauma. Not nice.) Both kids had excellent end of year reports (which we expected; and also we were v amused to note something under every single subject in son’s… look, the boy has ADHD. So we KNOW that concentration is a problem. And we also know he’ll talk for England if they let him sit next to his best friend). Had a lovely conversation with my M&B Meds ed yesterday and my schedule has been rejigged slightly.

Today I have a to-do list which can be zapped through in about 20 minutes (if I don’t let myself get distracted) and then I’m going to work until my d*nt*st appointment this afternoon (hmm, better remind DH he might be on picking-up duty, but then again I’m really hoping I can get away with an x-ray and a prescription). And I’ve just discovered that this jeweller I really like locally has a factory shop. This might actually be a Very Bad Thing (especially as I will have to pass it on the way to take pics for my next local history book and may very well be forced to go inside); then again, if my other ed likes my MX revisions and I get to keep my title, that means it’s my 30th M&B and that deserves a celebration, yes? (Oh - and gianduja is apparently back in stock at Hotel Chocolat from the end of next month. Good. Because I am getting desperate – latte chocs are nice but do not have quite the same effect.)

Monday, July 16, 2007

and yet another winner

The feline quotient says it’s very, very bored with all these canine pictures and has pointed out that felines are not so undignified as canines (oh, are they not, Sir Sid? I’ve seen those photos of the ‘phraud’). So Kate Walker’s cat, Sid, did the honours to pick the winner of her prize.

The winner is Becky and Kate says, ‘Sid and I are in agreement here as she's the one who added the largest number of names to my TBR list!’

and another winner

Everyone’s being very efficient about drawing their winners. Michelle Styles said, ‘As the ducklings decided not to cooperate, I did a random number thing…’ (I knew you’d want to see a picture of uncooperative ducklings, so… here it is.)

Jan Jones is the winner of Michelle’s prize.

another winner

Our second winner today is Becky, who wins Lilian Darcy’s prize – congrats, Becky! As with Rae-Anne, I’ve left a message on your blog, too.


Jenny Haddon has had major computer problems so I got my dog to do the honours. Well, actually, he lay down on the floor and waved his paws in the air, thinking he’d get his tummy rubbed and this is a specious excuse to publish another dog picture. The real ‘picking names out of a hat’ was done by my 6-year-old, who loved doing it and insisted on drawing all the names out of the hat and unfolding the paper and… I had to explain it was the FIRST name that won.
So congrats to Rae-Anne! (I’m continuing to have the forwarding problems so I’ve left you a message on your blog as well re getting in touch.)

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #22 – Diane Parkin

I’m having a run of ‘oop North’ guests – today’s is the fourth in a row. I met Diane Parkin via my blog (and we’ve met in real life, too – the nice thing about being friends with a fellow writer is that they KNOW the ‘lightbulb moment’ look and will give you space to scribble down some essential reminders when you’re sitting on a boat eating pancakes *g*). And we have a lot in common, particularly chocolate, music and books. (Not to mention the freelance journalism…) Diane has taught me how to listen to birdsong (hence the dedication in my previous Modern Extra, because my hero knew this sort of thing and my heroine and I didn’t: cue technical help and descriptions from Diane), been sat on by my dog, and been read to by my daughter… Anyway, I’ll let Diane tell you more.

I met Kate online – in blogland, in fact. I’d never seen her before or heard of her, and she didn’t know me either. But somehow, we hit it off. We had so much in common that we agreed if we knew each other in real life we would have been good friends. Since then we’ve enjoyed laughs together, fought over the same totty, argued over music (specifically Deep Purple – the Ian Gillan v David Coverdale argument, plus Smoke on the Water) [edit by Kate: solo stuff, DC wins for me, but DP stuff, has to be IG, and SOTW is dull dull dull - Lazy and Pictures of Home are much better on that album], given each other support, and held each other’s hands through the good times and the bad.

Kate is always there for me when I want a moan or need to pour my heart out. In March 2006 she threw open the doors of her house – and her family’s heart – to me when I needed a bit of a healing sojourn away from life. I’ll always remember that kindness.

Congratulations, Kate, on your 25th book for M&B. And in only 5 years? Blimey.

I’m not a romantic person by nature, but I do read Kate’s books – mostly because she sends them to me and I’m certain she’ll quiz me afterwards to make sure I have. [grin] I do have certain … requirements in a man, though. Here’re 25 of them I did for fun:

The man of my dreams would ideally ...
  • be single - or detach himself pretty pronto
  • have a full head of hair, long or short, any colour
  • be one of the water signs - pisces, cancer, scorpio - or an aquarius
  • enjoy music - most kinds
  • be loyal and faithful, honest and open
  • enjoy cooking and not mind housework
  • be able to do DIY
  • support me in everything I do
  • not be afraid to have an argument or discussion
  • like walking
  • be interested in wildlife and nature, enjoy travel and sightseeing
  • have a great sense of humour - dry is preferred
  • not be over sensitive or sulky
  • trust me and believe everything I say, especially when I say a football (soccer) player was offside
  • be able to talk to me about anything
  • love animals
  • be very sexy and sensual
  • be unafraid of OCCASIONAL romance
  • hold my hand in public and be a good hugger
  • be thoughtful
  • enjoy going out equally as much as stopping in, watching telly or listening to CDs, going to gigs (concerts) or the pictures (movies)
  • understand that a cuddle on the sofa can mean JUST a cuddle
  • love the sea just as much as the countryside or town
  • know when to give me chocolate, i.e. when I need it
  • be my best friend, ever.

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away one of my favourite luxuries – five bars of Green & Black’s organic chocolate, so the winner needs to tell me any flavours they already know they hate.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: In 25 words (or less), what’s your ideal partner?

A Kate bit - busybusybusy

Busy day today. If you want to know what kind of day ‘Scary Kate’ really has, go and have a look at Coffee Time Romance, because they’re featuring me today as part of their ‘day in a life’ series about Harlequin authors (thank you, Karenne) and you get a chance to win a copy of Breakfast at Giovanni's. I dunno what t’other Kate is on about because it ISN’T that scary… Really… :o)

Today’s list of things to do:
  • write blog for PHS (waves to Ally Blake)
  • see GP for routine blood pressure cheque (if it’s high will explain re dental traumas and visit due tomorrow)
  • write lots of my Medical romance (and maybe talk to my ed re schedule – a week or so on codeine/in pain wasn’t conducive to writing and totally stuffed my schedule)
  • take son to osteopath
  • put cheque in bank
  • quick and naughty Hotel Chocolat visit to see if gianduja is back in stock because I need to batter some crows
  • try and sneak in some more work while cooking dinner
  • governor meeting at school
  • maybe more work, depending on how tired I am (deadline ahoy)
  • write packing list for Friday (saves forgetting something and can cut-and-paste things to weekly shop list for Wednesday)…

And at this point I’m going to hide from the Slowing Down Police. (And which one of you lot nobbled my dad and my son, then? I was nagged yesterday. By both of them. A *lot*.) Perhaps this is where I should also mention that I am going to take a WHOLE WEEK OFF, starting Saturday morning… because it's our family holiday and the deal is that I Do Not Work.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

And three cheers for Barbara

The RWA conference is still going on in America, and the RITA winners were announced last night. I'm delighted to say that I know one of them! So three cheers for Barbara Hannay for winning the Traditional Category with Claiming His Family.

When you know several of the shortlisted people and you want them ALL to win (I so wanted Fiona Harper and Marion Lennox to bring a Rita back, but they were in the same category - why can't we have a triple tie?? - and I wanted Jill Shalvis to win in her category too as her books are fab) the results are always going to be a little bittersweet, but I'm really pleased for Barbara. (She's written a book in a trilogy with Liz Fielding and Jackie Braun that I just can't wait to read.)

Rest of the winners are up at the Pink Heart Society (link is directly to the post) so go and raise a glass to the winners.

Another winner

And we have another beautiful dog – this time it’s Bramble. Sadly, Bramble’s no longer with us, but Margaret McDonagh has beautiful memories of her: so much so that I was inspired to borrow her for my Cornish continuity book, The Doctor’s Royal Love Child, which is out next April (my vet book, which I so loved writing). Obviously I asked Mags's permission first - and then I was talking to my fellow Penhally authors about the kind of animals we were going to have in the village, and they started telling me stories I just had to use. So we have Maggie Kingsley's gran's parrot, Mags's neighbour's "turbo chick", Jennifer Taylor's daughter's cat rescue... (Did I mention that I loved writing that book?) But my hero REALLY needed a dog. What Mags told me about Bramble made me fall for her - a dog with the waggiest tail in the world. So here she is:

Cheryl is the winner of Margaret’s prize – as I mentioned below, technology is being uncooperative right now, so please check your emails, Cheryl…


I’ve been a bit slack about sorting this out this week – apologies, but then on the other hand it does give readers longer to post answers and be in with the chance of winning a book… (All right, I admit, I have a book due in on Thursday and my focus isn’t what it should be.) Anyway, I’ve shamelessly pinched a dog pic from Shirley (this is one of her dogs, Tilly, swimming) as part of evening up the canine-feline balance.

Shirley says, ‘I loved these answers, and isn't it strange how the unromantic gestures a) stick in your mind and b) are funny *after* the event? It was very difficult to pick a winner, but I've finally chosen Devon. Let's face it, it was a brilliant gesture on the guy's part. Who could ever forget being given an empty (it's the “empty” that makes me howl with laughter) peanut butter jar as a reminder of a guy? And they say romance is dead!’

I’m having problems with my email forwarder at the moment (sigh, technology) and because of my hideous deadline I’m not able to fix things until I get back from Wales, so I will be trying to email all winners between now and the end of the week.

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #21 – Milly Johnson

Milly’s a very new friend. She’s a fellow RNA member but it was actually on MySpace where we 'met' as I spotted her book cover. The Yorkshire Pudding Club was such an intriguing title, I wanted to know more. So I checked out her website and the blurb, thought it was a brilliant idea (and I wish I’d thought of it first!) and bought a copy for my holiday reading. (Yes, I know I have a TBR shelf or two. But that’s not the point. I’m going on holiday. I need books.) But the picture of Milly on her website continued to bug me, because I’m sure she looks like someone I know. Can’t remember how: could be work, could be Tumble Tots or playgroup or… In the end, I cracked, emailed her to say hello and asked her if she'd ever lived near me and we knew each other in real life (we don’t, so I’m clearly just having senior moments – though she does know people that I’m acquainted with locally), and we got chatting (as you do)… Anyway, I’ll let her tell you all about it! So here's Milly Johnson:

Kate and I hooked up on the net and it was an association I was very happy to have, given all those communal interests we share – writing books, Italians, Italy, chocolate, the love of a belting romance… oh and did I mention Italians and Italy?

What is it about the damned place? Is it the limoncello (that doesn’t do any harm!) the shops (give me a man in Armani and watch what I do once me muzzle’s off) is it the language? (he could be saying ‘My God, girl, you’ve got a backside the size of a small emergent nation’ but said in an Italian accent and I’m drowning in my own drool). I think, certainly this year, it may well have an added attraction of dry, hot sun. My Italian penpal (drop dead gorgeous) tells me that he’s so hot there at the moment. ‘I know’ I sigh and wonder how the weather is. It’s only natural that Kate and I have started to bond. She’s going to point me to some sites where I can learn some proper Italian. Stuff like Forse dovremmo smettere which means ‘Maybe we’d better stop.’ Then again, I should concentrate on learning stuff I actually intend to use.

Not that our Kate ONLY writes about Italy – but it was our big starting point and with 1 single book to my name I’m pretty in awe of having 25 on my backlist. No wonder there’s a party going on.

Kate - it’s a fantastic achievement and you must be (deservedly) so proud of yourself!
Our friendship is at the fledgling stage – just cracking out of its shell, in fact - but I’m stocked up with your books and they’re sitting in my suitcase for my forthcoming holiday (oh please just guess where I’m going – go on!) In this sometimes rotten world we live in, I’m so grateful to be whisked off in my head to sunnier climes with a big dashing hero forcing me to snoggenzi him. Maybe one day life will imitate art… (we live in hope). So, Kate old flower, here’s to the next 25. I raise a whopping great glass of grappa in your direction, (Italian for grope?) Salute!

GIVEAWAY: Signed copy of The Yorkshire Pudding Club

QUESTION: What’s the best joke you’ve heard about Yorkshire?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #20 – Kate Walker

I’m so pleased to welcome Kate Walker here today – she’s also celebrating at the moment, with a rather scarier number of books than my own: her fiftieth title! Over at her blog party, I explained how we met and how she’s become one of my closest friends in the writing world (her husband is lovely, too, and I was delighted to meet her son recently – and as I expected Kate and her husband get on really well with my husband and children). So over here at my party, I think it’s fair to let you hear Kate’s side of the story about that meeting:

Over on my blog party Kate has talked about the day we met. How we were sitting next to each other at a Mills & Boon Authors' lunch and we started talking. She says she felt lost and it was all very daunting - that's not what I remember. What I remember was how easy she was to talk to - and how enthusiastic about writing - and about her books and the books that everyone else had written and she had read. Even mine. I say even mine because T'Other Kate will be the first to admit that Alpha heroes - ok, a certain type of Alpha hero - are not quite her hero of choice, where an Alpha is very definitely mine. And Kate doesn't hold that against me.So I remember a warm smile, a soft voice, very bright eyes that were perhaps the only indication that she was a little starstruck. And an easy conversation that, even though this was far from my first M&B lunch, isn't always something I can manage with the person sitting randomly next to me. I came away thinking that I had met someone really nice, someone I could get on with, share a lot of interests with - beyond the writing of romances - and someone I was looking forward to meeting again. And when I met her again I felt the same only more so . . .

But that was before she morphed into Scary Kate.

Because Kate Hardy is not just a lovely friend, an easy conversationalist. No - OK - I'll tell the truth here - not just someone I can talk to - and talk to - and talk to… (sorry about the length of phone calls, Kate's DH) We can talk on almost any subject under the sun - and she can match my husband in his interests in obscure historical facts and - again sorry, T'Other Kate’s DH - she can also match him with his secondhand bookshop addiction. If the truth is told she also feeds that addiction by telling him about good books she's found, even, on occasions going back to shops for him and buying books he'd resolved to leave on the shelves. Thanks, Kate! Not only is Kate a busy Mum of two lovely children, a wonderful cook, a generous friend, a guitar and a piano player, works hard for her children's school - and an organiser of special secrets and special gifts that reduce those lucky enough to be her friend to tears (see my blog for details http://kate-walker.blogspot.com/2007/06/kate-bit-long.html) - but she writes books… all the time - she's a book writing tornado, a tsunami of publications - and all in a very short space of time.

And this is what makes her Scary Kate.

Yes, I know we're celebrating her 25th book this month - and I am celebrating my 50th title but this isn’t a case of pots and kettles. I'm proud of my titles but I was first published in 1984. There was a gap then and my second book came out in 1986. Admittedly, this was in the prehistoric pre-computer days but even so, my 25th title, Wife For A Day, didn't come out till 1998. 12 Years. I met Kate in 2002 - that means that Scary Kate had written those 25 books in less than half the time it took me to reach that 'silver' total. And she's written them for two very different lines, showing a range of writing ability as she does it.

Scary enough for you? Well, it doesn't stop there - if we add in the non-fiction titles, the local history, the How to Research… books, there are more than the 25 we're celebrating. And that's without including any Black Lace titles... If she keeps up this production rate, she'll match both me and the Babe Magnet - and out run us by a l-o-n-g way.

Now do you see why I call her Scary Kate? She exhausts me just thinking of all she achieves.

But the truth is that in person she's not scary at all and although it's the writer that I'm posting to celebrate, I'd also really like to celebrate the wonderful friend. In amongst all of those 25 M&B titles there is one very special one, that means more than any of the rest to me. The Modern Extra title Strictly Legal came out in July 2006 (it's being published as a Promotional Presents in August in USA as Mistress on Trial) and it carries a dedication to me. I treasure that book just as I treasure our friendship. And I hope it lasts for the next 25 books and beyond. (Though, knowing Scary Kate that will probably only be for the next - um - five years or so!)

Happy 25th, Kate, and here's to many many more.

GIVEAWAY: I have signed copies of the two books in my current 'Sicilian Brothers' duo - Sicilian Husband, Blackmailed Bride and The Sicilian's Red-Hot Revenge to give away.

If you could dedicate a book to an author to thank them for all the reading pleasure they've given you who would that author be - and why?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Kate’s 25th party, guest blogger #19 – Michelle Styles

I’m so pleased to welcome Historicals author Michelle Styles to the party today. I first met Michelle on the e-Harlequin boards… and we have so much in common. Had it not been for the fact that she’s American and I’m English, and there’s a two- or three-year age difference, I would wonder if we were long-lost twins. (Mind you, she’s also taller and slimmer than I am! And yes, um, I have met her. And partying was involved. So was tea at Fortnum's.) As well as a love of history, we’ve bonded over gorgeous heroes, music, baking and (cough) chocolate. She also has unusual hobbies – such as keeping bees – and the honey from her hives is just gorgeous. She’s also very sensible and level-headed, shares my sense of humour (as well as being my shelfmate this month), and if we lived nearer to each other we’d probably end up having way too many lunches in a foodie pub… one with Very Nice Puddings…

So here’s Michelle:

This blog is to help a very special person celebrate her 25th book. 25 books! I can remember when her first book came out. I had just started to make my own tentative steps towards publication and had started frequenting e-harlequin. Kate Hardy in her usual friendly way metaphorically put her arms about my shoulders and directed me towards the medical thread for a chat about recipes. She is also one of the reasons why I kept going after I had my first rejection. I can remember thinking – But...but I have to keep writing because I like spending time here.

Eventually we got to meet in person and she is very bit as lovely and comforting in person as she is on the web. More so, because she has the most wonderful laugh.

Kate Hardy let me choose the topic and although my youngest suggested that Warhammer or Dr Who would be really well read [edit: so did Kate’s eldest], I thought I would give my Queen of Carrot Cake recipe to help celebrate one of medical romance’s Queens. Hopefully she will be ultra efficient and put this into grams. [edit: yup :o) and thanks for the compliment]

Queen of Carrot Cakes
10 oz (285ml) vegetable oil
20 oz (560g) sugar
4 eggs
8 oz (225g) flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
6 medium carrots (grated)
4 oz pecans (115g) (chopped) (optional)
4 oz (115g) raisins

Preheat over to 325 F (160C). If using an Aga, put cake baker into warm in top oven.

Butter and flour one 8” x 13” oblong pan. If using cake baker, use the largest pan of the three.

Combine oil and sugar, mix until blended and then add eggs, beating for about a minute.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices – shift. Add dry ingredients to oil-egg mix. Blend well.

Add carrots, raisins and nuts. Mix until just incorporated. Pour into prepared pan.

Bake for about an hour if using a normal oven. If using a cake baker, it will take about 2 hours, but is well worth the wait.

Allow to cool and frost with a cream cheese frosting (8 oz (225g) cream cheese, 40 oz (1125g) unsalted butter, softened, 4 cups of confectioner’s sugar (or thereabouts) 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla – mix together, check consistency – add more sugar if runny, more milk if too thick.)

Note: This cake mixture can be divided into cupcakes, or made into a layer cake by using two pans. Adjust the baking time accordingly. A two layer cake takes about 30 minutes to cook.

GIVEAWAY: The winner will get a signed copy of The Roman’s Virgin Mistress, my current release. It gets to be shelf mates with Kate’s Breakfast at Giovanni’s.

GIVEAWAY QUESTION: What sort of cake do you like to have at your celebrations?