(No, its not a spelling mistake)
Its only a couple of months since my last blog update and, after an amazing Christmas and New Year, a good time for another batch of musings.
It was a momentous holiday season for us is many ways – the first in our new home, with all the family, and DD1s partner with us for Xmas Day. Nobody fought or argued, all the food was excellent and it was, in short, one of the best Christmases for many years.
It has been a momentous New Year as well, so first, a bit of history.
A couple of years ago, I was having a twitterversation with some friends during an episode of Strictly (Dancing with the Stars to friends overseas) and a pair of new voices appeared. They both seemed keen to chat, and interesting in themselves. They were both, back then, unpublished authors in the romantic genre. One thing leads to another and I found myself chatting not only with these ladies, but also with their friends – who all seemed more than ready to chat with your humble servant (old, semi-crippled retired straight bloke). At the time these ladies, all members of the Romantic Novelists Association, were heading up towards their big annual award event, and I'm thinking – 200 competitive lady novelists?? Bitch-fight!!!!
Err.... No, as it happens. As I got to meet more of them I found myself in the middle of one of the nicest bunch of people you could meet. Encouraging, unbelievably hard working and mutually supportive almost to a fault – and all this for very little financial reward.
The upshot of all this is I now find myself a member of the RNAs New Writers Scheme, having been convinced to “give it a go myself.” This largely because of the amazing amount of encouragement and support I have had, including from other male members of the RNA. (there are a few)
Now Romantic fiction has got a bad press over the last few years; everyone thinks in terms of Barbara Cartland being force-fed chocolates on a pink sofa covered in Pekingese. There is a large sector which does remain locked in a world of fantasy, but – hey – they are published, which is more than I am. The pond is big enough to find other – to me, more acceptable – genres, especially in the contemporary or historical sectors.
There is also the added attraction of reading books by people you know! It really makes a difference.
Regarding Twitter - as many of you will know, its a popular custom to send a #ff message out on Fridays, to encourage friends to follow each other. About a year or so ago, I started sending a #ff series of tweets to my followers, depending on their area-of-interest. Note: I don't gather followers willy-nilly. If you follow me and we have no shared interests, you will find yourself blocked!
Also, just sending out a bald #ff message is – frankly – boring, so, as being boring is NOT good, I started putting an alliterative or (allegedly) amusing tag with it.
The list grew, as these things do, although I only allowed followers after we had met, or at least chatted on line. The list now stands at over 200 names – and I find myself having to come up with a new tagline every week. It seems that my followers love it. I shuffle the list, so people are not in the same batch of seven or eight every week, and quite a few will use their batch for their own #ffs.
For my Hash House Harrier friends, I can tell you – my author friends would make excellent hashers – convivial to a fault, and rarely seen without a wineglass in their hands.
Talking of Hashing – after a brilliant Beer Odyssey in Brussels I finished up the year with a great party with old London H3 friends, and then over in Brussels for a final get-together and Xmas party there. Its always great to see old friends, and, as I age and find myself less mobile, I am still going to try to keep going to those two events. It really IS about keeping contact with old friends.
To that end, I am taking Pam to her first actual Hash Weekend in Ireland when we go over to Galway for Interscandi. Apart from meeting yet more old friends there, I'll be doing some research for the “Work-in-Progress”. I've got a lot of old family history to comb for plots, scenes and situations, so we will be staying for about 10 days in Ireland.
Old Hash Friends can also expect to see me at Belgian Nash Hash, Eurohash and UK Nash Hash. I do have to keep popping over the channel or the beer cupboard will run dry, and that would NOT be good.
For us, we are enjoying retirement. The bungalow is finished – the builders managed to finish the Conservatory before Christmas, much to our surprise. The village we chose to live in, Haxby, continues to delight.
Now, if I could only throw off this chesty cough................
Mandy James on Facebook @akjames61
Liz Harris on Facebook @lizharrisauthor
More friends whose work I like:
Hash Friends will be able to find me at:
Belgian Nash Hash http://www.bmph3.com/BNH/2015/
UK Nash Hash http://nh2015.ukh3.org/nashhash/
Manchester H3 3rd Birthday http://www.manchesterh3.co.uk/