Creating characters: do babies count?

Creating characters. Do babies count? Thanks Jenny!

Take Five Authors

booteesIt’s been a funny few days. Just over a week ago, my world was turned topsy turvy by a phone call from my son to tell us that his wife had gone into labour – eight weeks early – and was about to have an emergency C-section. Cue panic, a rush to the hospital and a call six minutes later to tell us we were already grandparents!

Since then, understandably, it has been a bit of an anxious time. The wait to be sure that mother and baby were all right (they were), a great many checks to find out why the wee one decided it was the right moment to come into the world, and the day-to-day rollercoaster  of monitoring progress, waiting by the incubator and simply watching, have been all-encompassing. So my mind hadn’t really been much on writing this week – but when I sat down to pen this…

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Win up to 18 Novels in the General Fiction Giveaway!

Just a quickie today as we can’t let this week go by without letting you guys know about this fabulous giveaway.  Free to enter!

Win Up To 18 General/Womens/Historical Fiction Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks!

(18) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Keeping our fingers crossed for y’all!

Pam and Lorraine (Ellie Campbell)

Into the wilds of Mongolia

Well, I promised I’d report back on my Mongolian trekking trip and, yes, it was quite the fantastic adventure.  From Ulaan battar, the capital, we travelled 2 and a half days overland, passing Erdene Zuu Monastery along the way.img_6149

The first two nights we stayed in tourist camps where we were accommodated in gers (yurts) and and bathed in a communal washing blocks, our last showers for quite a while.  This was our pink palace with wood-burning stove.  We also got entertainment the second night – you haven’t lived until you’d heard famed Mongolian throat singing.mongolia-pink-gerThe next day we arrived at our horse camp in the Zavkhan province, 1,104 Km from the capital. We had a day to get used to our chosen mounts and from there our sturdy, tough and half-wild Mongolian horses took us over 120 miles (200+ km), through bogs and rivers, across the wide open steppes and over snowy mountain passes, a lot of which looked surprising like Colorado.  Only without the hikers and joggers.
mongolia-horses-grazingWe visited nomadic families in their gers, tried such local delicacies as milk curds and mares’ milk vodka brewed in a home-made still. Yum!mongolia-ger

We slept in tents, camped by rivers and lakes, basked in gorgeous sunsets and woke to a thick layer of morning frost.  Zavkahn has some of the coldest winter temperatures in Mongolia, having been recorded as low as as low as −52.9 °C (−63.2 °F) but luckily this was September and we only had one day of snow.mongolia-rainbowFood, you ask?  It was mutton for dinner.  Yep, every night.  With vegetable curry for the non-meat eaters.  Our wranglers killed a sheep on the first day of our trip and its carcase provided our main meal with nary a bit wasted.  Here it’s prepared with hot rocks. mongolia-lamb-dinnerEverything cooked on an open fire or portable stove, even our delicious bread.mongolia-stove17 days of no technology, bathing in chilly rivers (for those so inclined) and rustic bathroom facilities.toilet-mongoliaWe met bands of roaming horses, got chased by a jealous stallion, heard wolves howl, encountered eagles, marmots, deer, and of course herds of sheep, goats, and yaks.  In 2005, Zavkhan was home to 2,1 million head of livestock, among them 1,03 million sheep,  861,000 goats, 107,000  cattle and yaks, 101,000 horses and 6,300 camels (of the two-humped Bactrian variety).  What didn’t we see?  City lights, roads, or tourists.mongolia-camelsAnd I fulfilled my dream of galloping across the Mongolian steppes,  thanks to my small but feisty ex-racehorse that I christened Snowflake.  Stopping was a different challenge.14344869_10154144625392182_7645542630260860595_nAnd then when our adventure was done, they turned the horses loose, to fend for themselves, wandering free in this unfenced land that seemed to stretch forever.  And we returned to civilization, thankful to Zavkhan Trekking for organizing an amazing trip.



The editing cave

All about editing. Janet Gover’s great post 😀

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I’ve been in my editing cave for the past three weeks. It’s sort of like a bear being in their hibernation cave… except bears tend to lose weight during hibernation. There is a shared reputation for being cranky when disturbed though…

Writing The End on the last page of a manuscript is NOT the end. It’s far from it. Every writer’s process is different. There’s no right way or wrong way, there’s just the way that works for the writer. So I thought I’d give you a bit of a look at my editing process… which explains my absence from Twitter and Facebook and the kitchen. It doesn’t explain why my office is messy though – my office is always messy.

Editing needs both old and new technology ... and many cups of tea. Editing needs both old and new technology … and many cups of tea.

I tend to do a lot of editing as I go, so my first draft of…

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Win Up To 40 Romance Novels!

Win Up To 40 Romance Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL eBooks (sweet or spicy!)!

+ Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)!

Share At Your Own Peril?

Take Five Authors


Friendships with authors should carry a warning: anything you say or do risks ending up in print and should be shared with caution. I mheartburnentioned in my last blog post that my early magazine stories were often inspired by my personal romantic disasters. Changing humiliation to triumph and inventing nasty fictional misfortunes on London lotharios who dumped me was hugely satisfying to my wounded pride, much like Nora Ephron who got revenge on her unfaithful husband, Carl Bernstein, with her bestselling novel Heartburn. But when your nearest and dearest start prefacing conversations with ‘If I tell you this, promise you won’t use it in a story’, even a fledgling writer has to learn discretion.

Writers turn to real events all the time for inspiration. Stuff happens to people that your imagination couldn’t make up even if you squeezed it through a juice press. Alice Sebold used a young…

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Historical fiction: alive and kicking in Oxford

Want to know what happens at the Historical Novel Society Conference? Jenny Harper fills us in on Take Five Authors blog

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Friday 2nd September saw me clambering on a train headed for Oxford, and my first Historical Novel Society Conference. This was my third writing-related conference this year (first Scottish Association of Writers, then Romantic Novelists’ Association), and I was not at all sure what to expect or whether I would be wasting my time.

Held in the modern and well-appointed Andrew Wiles building, which houses Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute, I quickly discovered I knew a great many writers there, and made a number of new friends.

fay Fay Weldon (centre), with sessions chair Carol McGrath (left) and author Jo Baker.

We were thrown straight into proceedings with a panel discussion between Jo Baker and the inimitable Fay Weldon. The following day Lord Melvyn Bragg delivered an excellent keynote speech centred on his novel, Now is the Time. And on Sunday, we were treated to a delightfully self-deprecating speech by one of…

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Win up to 40 Cozy Mystery Novels in the Mega Giveaway!

Win Up To 40 Cozy Mystery Novels!

(2) Grand Prize Kindle “Gift Baskets” of ALL 40 eBooks!

(35) Winners of Individual eBooks (randomly selected titles)

Professional courtesy

Take Five Authors

Recently I was asked what I meant when I termed something a ‘professional courtesy’ so I’ve decided to use my spot on Take Five Authors to explain it.

The News Building small Professional courtesy especially useful with your publisher

I’m an author. I consider myself a professional and I try hard to act professionally. In the course of my work I’m in contact with readers; publishers; agents and rights managers; promo and PR team members; bloggers; writers; conference, event and course organisers; booksellers; librarians; writing organisations; journalists and presenters; and a huge number of social media users. Obviously, all of these people can help or hinder my career but I’m not professionally courteous to them just because they’re useful to me – it’s because anything else would mean that I’m not doing my job well.

But the fact is that making myself easy to work with is advantageous to my career.

It’s surprising how…

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The Clock is Ticking….

Sale now on!

Today and tomorrow we have an offer on our first novel, How to Survive Your Sisters. Yay.

Ending tomorrow, in 19 hours 10 minutes to be precise, this contemporary romance novel is on sale in Canada and India and on Kindle Countdown in UK and USA.

A brief rundown:

Uptight perfectionist Natalie MacLeod is under the fond illusion she can micro-manage a flawless wedding to her stuffy conventional fiancé, Jeremy.  But that’s without factoring in an alcoholic father, an outspoken eccentric mother and Natalie’s three feuding sisters.

Can workaholic Avril lose the chip on her shoulder and overcome her grudges long enough to acknowledge her drinking problem and stop running in panic from her soon-to-be-divorced lover. Will Milly’s dramatic unorthodox solution to being fat, downtrodden and almost forty wreck her family, her health and ultimately her life?  Will Natalie be able to surmount her own guilty past and discover where her heart truly lies?  And will Hazel be able to forgive the cruelest betrayal of all – a shocking revelation that threatens to overturn her entire world and even her identity?

Because when push comes to shove – or name-calling turns to hair-pulling – who can really hurt you or be there for you and support you like a sister?

Buy from Amazon

We’d love you to check it out!  Currently in the top 50 on for Romance and women’s Fiction, so we’re thrilled.

In other news, Lorraine’s moved on from China and is still out in Mongolia somewhere riding horses across the plains, while I’ve just returned from an amazing backpacking trip to Finland, Russia, Latvia and Estonia.

We flew from London to Helsinki, train to St Petersburg, another train to Moscow, another plane to Riga in Latvia, coach to Tallin in Estonia then boat back to Helsinki – all in 12 days. How’s that for a round about route? My hubbie doesn’t believe in backtracking (or planning). Tiring but fun. When I get my act together and Lorraine returns, we’ll put some pics up on the blog. And if anyone’s making their way over there and wants to chat about it, just drop us an email.


Amazing St Petersburg and the mind-blowing Red Square in Moscow

And below in lovely Riga. You need to touch the noses for luck. Got as far as the dog. Let’s  hope How to Survive Your Sisters hits the high time!

That’s all for now folks! Be back in September sometime.

Pam and Lorraine (Ellie Campbell)