Thursday, April 30, 2009

All sorts

Back from Vietnam, with a souvenir I hadn't anticipated - the most ginormous black eye! Managed to get mugged on our last night there, and visitors to tonight's New Romantics launch will get a close-up, but I am quite proud of the many colours, so thought I'd share it with you...I'd asked my New Romantic colleagues to wear something pink or red to the event, and Jojo Moyes said I had taken it a bit TOO far...

Actually, the trip was brilliant - fascinating, inspiring, moving - especially the places connected to the recent conflicts. It's given me lots and lots of ideas for books, so watch this space.

In other news, the New Romantics launch tonight is now sold out, so please don't come along unless you have a ticket -it's going to be great fun, I think!

And if you're thinking of enrolling for the women's fiction course I am running with Louise Voss from May 18 to 21, then do sign up very soon as there are only two places left - see here for more information.

Right, off to experiment with cover-up make-up for tonight!

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Chuffed to little mintballs...

What a lovely day! Thrilled to receive a phone call from my editor this morning to say The Secret Shopper's Revenge has been short-listed for the Melissa Nathan Award for Comedy Romance.

Melissa was a very talented author of five novels combining love and laughter, including The Nanny and The Waitress. She died in 2006 of breast cancer, aged only thirty-seven, and one of her wishes was for an award to be set up for books which celebrate humour and love. I am so honoured to be on the list, especially as the other novels sound terrific. The winner of the award in 2007, its first year, was Marian Keyes and last year it was Lisa Jewell - both authors whose novels I love - so I am sure you can understand why I'm so excited to be nominated. 

The details of the short-listed books are below, but there's lots more to read on the award website, including the work of the Melissa Nathan Foundation.
The six short-listed books and authors are:

Bridesmaids by Jane Costello. Pocket Books

Recipe For Disaster by Miriam Morrison. Arrow

A Winter's Tale by Trisha Ashley. Avon

The Marriage Bureau For Rich People by Farahad Zama. Abacus

The Importance Of Being Emma by Juliet Archer. ChocLit

The Secret Shopper's Revenge by Kate Harrison. Orion


Saturday, April 04, 2009

Want to write women's fiction? Come on our intensive evening course.

I know a lot of blog readers are writing their own novels - it's one of the reasons why Sue Mongredien and I were so pleased that the Novel Racers took off and became such a terrific community - and now I'm teaming up with Louise Voss, author of To Be Someone and three other terrific novels, to teach a course on commercial women's fiction from May 18 to 21 2009 in London.

It's slightly unusual in structure in that we're holding it over four consecutive evenings, rather like a summer school. But because it's in the evening it's also suitable if you work within commuting distance of Kingston-on-Thames, around 30 minutes from Waterloo.

Here's the lowdown, but if you've any more questions, do post in the comments and I'll do my best to answer! If you do want to book, there's a discount for signing up before A[ril 17.

From light social comedy, to grittier relationship tales, women’s fiction titles sell in vast numbers and there’s a lot more to the genre than twentysomething chick lit. The vast majority of fiction buyers are women, and publishers are always looking for new voices to entertain, amuse and move readers. This is an intensive course, designed to give you the tools and knowledge you need to tackle this incredibly popular – and wide-ranging – genre.

Tutors Kate Harrison and Louise Voss are both best-selling authors with a passion for this area of fiction, and have published ten novels between them. These practical workshops explore the whole process, and are suitable for both new writers, and more experienced ones. The course will cover generating ideas, creating sympathetic yet complex characters, and approaches to story-telling. There’ll also be sessions on approaching agents and publishers, trends in this area of fiction, and an overview of the current publishing scene. As well as group workshops, there’ll be the opportunity for individual advice and feedback from our tutors and the opportunity to send a short excerpt from your current project for the tutors to read before the course starts.

The course runs over four consecutive nights, from 6pm-9pm, at Kingston University (30 minutes from Waterloo).

Cost: Full: £180 (£160 if booked before 17th April)
For booking and more info, call 020 8417 7790, email: or click here for more.

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Win free love for a year - competition closing date extended!

We've extended the closing date on our fabulous launch competition for the launch of the New Romantics until May 8 2009 so that guests at our free launch event (see the previous post to find out how to reserve your ticket) can also enter.
See our website for more information - describe your most romantic moment in 100 words, and you could win Free Love (in the form of great novels posted to your door) for a whole year.


Kate x

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Free literary event on April 30 by the Thames!

Oh, I have lots of news to report now I've emerged from my writing marathon...

You might remember that I've joined forces with six other fabulous writers (Lucy Diamond, Sarah Duncan, Matt Dunn, Veronica Henry, Milly Johnson and Jojo Moyes) to launch The New Romantics, campaigning for the best in modern romantic fiction.

Well, we're having a launch party event on 30 April 2009 in Richmond-upon-Thames and we'd love you to be there. It kicks off at 7pm and there'll be readings and stories from me, Lucy (also known by her real name, Sue Mongredien, the author of many fabulous children's books), Jojo and Veronica. There'll be free pink-themed refreshments, books to sign and lots of laughs along the way.

You can order a ticket online here (scroll down) and, best of all in these credit-crunched times, it's free!

Richmond is on the District Line or lots of rail routes, and the fabulous venue is very close to the Thames, about five minutes' walk from the station. Have a peep around all the lovely shops and pubs with Street View (the venue is down the side of the street past the clothes shop, and the huge green tree you can see ahead is on the river!) - it looks even better on a sunny evening.

Do come along, we'd love to see you!

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Friday, April 03, 2009

The beginning of the end or the end of the beginning?

So, it's done. For now. The Secret Shopper Unwrapped, the sequel to The Secret Shopper's Revenge, has been sent off to lovely editor and lovely agent this very evening.

It's the fastest book I've written - mainly because it had to be, as it has a wintry/Christmassy theme and therefore if it misses its publication slot in October, then we have to wait an entire year before we can try again! As a former TV journalist, I'm used to deadlines, but this one has been rather overwhelming!

So here are the vital stats:

Date started 1st draft: 6 January 2009 (though I had been thinking about it, oh, for an entire month before that)
Date finished 1st draft: 17 March 2009
Word count on 17 March: 95,740
Date started my own, self-editing 2ND draft (i.e. before showing it anyone): 19 March
Date finished own, self-edited 2ND draft: 3 April
Word count on 3 April: 105,789

Now I'm sure there used to be a way of finding out how many hours you'd spent on a MS via Properties on Word, but it's currently saying 28 minutes, which would be a record, even for a speedy writer like me. In truth, I've been staring at the computer screen for an average of eight hours a day, five or six days a week, throughout this whole process, probably more.

If that sounds like I haven't had much of a life, you're probably right. An external life, that is. In my imagination, I've been to Christmas grottoes, gangland pubs, luxury hotels, plastic surgery clinics, fun pubs and country villages. I've eaten pomegranates and figgy pudding and turkey (and I speak as a vegetarian of twenty odd years), I've drunk Cristal and egg nog and mint tea. I've had sex with three different heroes (actually, make that four), with varying degrees of ecstasy.
Who needs real life?

I've used Spotify as my new best tool, creating a Secret Shopping play list (which I will work out how to link to, soon) featuring a disproportionate number of Christmas songs. I've also resorted to the truly evil setting on Dr Wicked. I've watched programmes on shop lifting and expat life. And I've enjoyed it, most of the time...

But now the evenings are light, the weather's warm and it's time to emerge into the fresh air. For at least, oooh, a week, before I get the notes back from the Very Important People, and have to start on that third draft.

Wish me luck please!

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