Festival Of Romance 2012

I’ve just been reading Louise Allen‘s “Seduced by the Scoundrel” (Mills and Boon). A shipwrecked young lady finds herself naked and defenceless on a beach in the midst of a mob. Ooh, I now know just how she must have felt. On Saturday I ended up in a terrified state of emotional nudity in the  Harpur Shopping Centre in Bedford. All I had to do was to read from my book to passing shoppers. Having never been shipwrecked or had to read aloud in a shopping mall, I think I would have gone for the shipwreck if there had been a choice! At least I would have been trembling with cold as opposed to terror. 

The occasion of course was the Festival Of  Romance. This was my first time at such an event. There I was, not even a dairy maid on the Milky Way or a knobbly asteroid in the Romance Universe. Around me were all manner of authors, some of whom I knew only as names on the covers of books I had read. My greatest impression of the whole show was that everyone was so friendly, helpful and willing to share their experiences. 

You know who you are (I hope)

The festival was organised by Kate Allan and it was a triumph of hard work, logistics and enthusiasm. I think everyone involved in the organisation should be really proud of the result.

I’ll be coming back to different aspects of the weekend over the next few blogs. One the highlights for me was Mandy Baggot from the “Love a Happy Ending” group picking up the prize for Innovation In Romance at the prize giving ball. The frocks were fabulous too.  I shall never forget Nicky Wells performing an ad lib singing performance of “You Give Love A Bad Name” at the Rock Star party. Oh for that kind of confidence!

I had some lovely table mates at the book fair so thanks to Cara Cooper, Caroline Bell Foster and Gilli Allan. Dear old Oscar was there too because he knew I would never be able to construct my poster display without his help. He is my favourite poet and some of his poems aren’t too bad. He is a knight of the cable tie and a Prince of masking tape. 

I had a lovely lovely time meeting all the other writers. I’ll be coming back here to digest some of my more technical impressions of the business from my  independent viewpoint. In the meantime….thanks for having me, it was wonderful to be had. 

Emma thinx: Sisters are doing it for their shelves. 

Roboscribe puts her love on the line.

Production line

It’s coming isn’t it. Just as I get to be a writer, the geeks come up with Roboscribe. Just as I got good enough with a glass of wine and a cleaver to be a TV Masterchef, the genre starts to fade. One Foodmeister gets arrested for stealing cheese and wine and another gets kicked out of his job with Sainsbury’s. Probably the only thing left is to be the first Romantic novelist in outer space. Come to think of it though, there are already plenty of weightless novels.

This little tirade was brought about by a message in my inbox inviting me to buy some software with which to write and perfect my novel. Wow – now all I’m waiting for is a programme to do the typing and print it out. I was a little worried by the typos in the advertising blurb, but perhaps they did not use their own stuff – or worse, maybe it was wrote by a human bean. I will confess that there is a little devil in me that is tempted to spend my £9.99 ($15) and have a go……should I? I have tried working with Mills and Boon/Harlequin editors so I have walked on that wild side without shame……and publication. How did I know they would not run a book where the female heroine drove a double decker bus? One day a multi billionaire gorgeous Italian guy gets on, brushes her cheek with a wad of erotically scented cash and asks to be swept away. She stops her bus, rummages in her locker for her dustpan and brush and tells him with a knowing wink she is the woman if that’s what turns him on….Can you imagine how I felt when I got that rejection letter?

Oh – how terrible it is to be a famous author. This is often the complaint of old school angst and closet writers. Just imagine how ghastly it is to be constantly in touch with your customers! Well, actually NO! As a mere worm in the pantheon of scribbling I love to hear from readers. A couple days ago some folk got in touch and told me they had done a review of my book.  I would like to say thanks with all my heart and to assure the reading world that I just love to chat with them. 

Emma thinx: There’s no formula for love. It’s chemistry Stupid!

Typewriter Types

When I was a kid (by the way, beware of anyone who opens like this), the great fear was the advance of the machine. The world was mechanical. Most watches still ticked in clockwork measurement of time, so that to me it seemed that time did “Tick away”. Common London vernacular described the human heart as your “ticker”. Now the beep and the arty bing bong form the punctuation of time. The electronic calculator arrived as I was at primary school and its been a one way street ever since. A few days ago the final bridge to that past was blown. The last typewriter factory in the world closed down. Now let us think about that. The works of F.Scott Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Shakespeare were all qwertyd out by ribbon and roller sweat. (A deliberate error is included to keep you awake). I hit the keys during the 70’s as a teenager and I still have my old friends at my side. These machines beat out novels and poems that were rejected by some of the greatest publishing brands in the world. Words pounded into the paper on these keyboards sat unread in slush piles of Faber and Faber, Mills and Boon, Poetry review and True Love magazine. Some of them are still there. Who knows, some work experience kid on a 10 year internship hoping for a job before she/he dies might be reaching for the next yellowing bundle on the !980 pile. What bothers me is what do we do when all the power goes off? Has anyone come up with the clockwork powered lap top?

A recent survey has revealed that “most people” feel insecure and vulnerable if they do not have their mobile phone with them. I suppose I should poo poo this idea but actually I think this is true. Firstly I think that folk feel insecure and vulnerable anyway as their jobs and life-style lose stability. Secondly I think that the cult of individual grasping for self that has created our societies, has eroded the notion of community. The mobile phone represents a kinda friend and a connection to our own network, where folk just might be more kind or care. 

Unemployment among the young is a record levels and soaring. More and more old timer steam and clockwork guys are clinging on to their jobs, while kids who teethed on X box and have degrees are queuing for a job flipping burgers. I know it takes a while to turn the tanker around, but is there anyone on the bridge?

Emma thinx: In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is under contract to the bank.