Sunday, 7 October 2018

Wow, I'm 7 today... A brief fly past of those seven years

I just can't believe that seven years ago on this date, my first book was published.

Wallflowers Don't Wilt.

Regency, two women and a man and I had so much fun writing it. 

The story came about because a group of us were chatting in our Fb group one day about what to write. This idea came out of the blue, and the others said, 'go on then'.

So I did. Everyone helped me polish it, and decide where to send it. I sent it to the late, lamented and I miss them, Breathless Press, who answered in three days. It was a yes.

And Raven was born. My name isn't a secret, but nor is it romantic so I chose Raven (because it's the bird that brings news and there was one in the garden during those three days I was waiting to hear,) and McAllan, because it is a play on probably the best whisky in the word.

When I read back over Wallflowers I can see how my writing has evolved and hopefully got better.

I don't just write Regency these days, although there's rarely not a Regency brewing in my mind. I've got my Kera Faire dark romance, my YA as J Lilley and my latest creation, Katy Lilley for rom com. Yes lots of 'hats', but it seems to work for me. Gets me into the right mind set.

When I look back at all the books I've been lucky to have published over the years I'm stunned. I have to give a lot of credit to Justyn Perry and the team at Breathless Press all those years ago for letting me swap genres to see what I was capable of. They gave me the confidence to try new ideas. My present publishers (Totally Bound, Evernight Publishing and Manatee Books are equally as supportive of me dipping in and out of one area to write something different. Thank you everyone.

Of course it doesn't stop there with all the hard working team at the publishers. I was lucky in that Doris O'Connor and I 'clicked' ad we do what we call rediting on each other's works before we send them in. That's short for red penning. Berta reading. Telling each other what we think and why. We are we both admit, each other's harshest critics. Even so mistakes get past us. The trouble is you tend to read what you know should be there.

Most of all though this is a thank you to you, the readers. Without you, I'd be all on my own, rereading everything myself.

And on that note, back to edits, but first, just to show you...

(From Wallflowers Don't Wilt)

London, 1817

“The last time, thank goodness.” Arabella, Lady Dunsmuir, smiled at her companion as they took their seats among the wallflowers at Lady Hersingsham’s Annual Ball.
The wallflowers—those unfortunate young women who, due to age or appearance, took little part in the festivities at a ball.
Serena, Lady Saltsey, nodded in agreement as both settled their dresses around them, their ankles covered as polite society decreed. Their fans were retrieved from the ribbons, which secured them in elegance on to their skirts, and readied them for use if they deemed necessary. They could choose to dance or to be content to sit, watch, and discuss the latest on dit being furtively whispered among their peers. Furthermore, they also chose to only wear the finest clothes, the most up-to-date-designs, and wear them with elegance and grace. In addition, they ignored the put-downs, pithy comments, and snide re- marks said loudly enough for them to hear, and treated them with the contempt they felt they deserved. They were two very strong-willed, self-assured young ladies, determined to lead their lives as they so desired. Damn the consequences.
Arabella was the more forthcoming of the two. Many times, her outspokenness had earned her harsh words from parents, governess- es, and even at times Serena.
Serena, her opposite in most things, was ever a peacemaker, but could be as equally outrageous when she chose. She chose, however, to do so in such a manner that the parties involved were never quite sure what act of rebellion or sheer stupidity had occurred.
There was the time they had wished to see the fireworks on the Thames. Forbidden to go, Serena had donned the footman’s breeches to facilitate her escapade. Or the occasion it transpired that her new ball gown had been inexplicably festooned with “moth holes,” be- cause to her mind it had been totally unflattering. Serena largely got away with her excesses.
Poor Arabella had to face her punishments. As she always felt whatever misdemeanor she had carried out had been successful, punishment seemed a small price to pay, especially when shinning down the ivy from her bedchamber was so easy to accomplish.
As she gazed around the room with interest, Serena answered Arabella. “At times I thought this day would never arrive. Now we have only this last ball to endure, and tomorrow we can say farewell to all this.” She waved her hand around the ballroom at the laugh- ing men and women, the pitying glances from those dancing, and the looks of despair from those seated nearby.
Arabella found her other hand and squeezed, smiling as their pinkies linked, entwined, and made silent promises.
“Tomorrow, Serry, just one more night before we are together.” 


And from my latest (as Katy Lilley, New Beginnings for Bryony Bennett)

which you can still buy from Amazon...


Present Day...

It was darned hard not to punch the air or run around the room like a demented hen when you’d just been given the good news she had. Instead she rose—oh so dignified, and totally at odds with her normally less than sedate image of long skirts, floaty blouses and hair that didn’t look tidy for more than three minutes at a time - and glanced across the desk to the man who sat there.
Let’s hope my knees don’t give way. Not the look I’m aiming for. Did he really say what I think he said?
He stared back impassively, and for once she didn’t hate the prim, work uniform suit she wore. She had gone straight to the solicitor’s office when she finished her shift and hadn’t found time to change into something less constricting. Now she was glad of that.
Bryony Bennett forgot all the nasties of the last year. The replacement boiler she’d purchased to the detriment of her new car fund. The aborted holiday, when Matt the rat showed his true colours, and allegedly forgot to remove his other girlfriend’s knickers from his pocket. Bryony had slapped him hard enough to see her hand print on his cheek, looked downward and said in a scathing tone, ‘I would knee you somewhere delicate except it’s too tiny to find’, before throwing his car keys into the canal and storming off. Although, with hindsight, the knicker scenario might have been on purpose, they’d been arguing a lot in the previous weeks, and several months later she was relieved it had happened when it did. Especially when she heard from a friend of a friend of his that the other girlfriend had ditched him. He’d be sniffing around like a truffle hound in autumn if he knew of her good fortune. And she knew however hard she tried to keep it quiet, somehow the news would get out. Things about money seemed to be absorbed by osmosis and shared.
 If she added the week in the rain she had in Suffolk, instead of a week of sun in Tenerife after she’d torn up her ticket and thrown it over him like confetti, and he’d rebooked the seat for his new girlfriend, she had a right to be satisfied things had turned out as they did. Bryony had heard from the same friend of a friend of his that the woman had overdone the sun on their first day and had spent the rest of the week moaning. Was she a bitch to be secretly pleased?
Probably and I don’t care. Milly would be happy he’s gone. She never rated him.
Somehow Bryony even managed not to well up as she thought of her fun loving, outrageously dressed godmother, who died in her sleep after what she’d called the best day ever. A tandem parachute jump with a twenty something hunk called Antonio, followed by a ride in a speedboat, and a dance with her heartthrob—and current lover—an impossibly handsome Cuban salsa dancer called Juan-Carlos Orguiza twenty years her younger.
 That made her think of something.
‘You mean?’ She daren’t put it into words in case she jinxed it. Just say it. ‘All of it?’
He nodded. ‘After expenses of course, which I assure you are modest. Your godmother was a very forward thinking lady.’
She had another thought. ‘What about J-C O?’ Her godmother’s nickname for him.
‘He was unable to attend, but his share has been accounted for, a very substantial share. The rest is yours.’
‘Pinch me, will you? So I know it’s not a dream.’
The grey haired, stereotypical solicitor beloved of nineteen twenties novels shook his head and almost smiled. ‘No need, you are indeed awake.’ He steepled his hands and rested his chin on them. Was he going to offer a cup of weak Earl Grey and some seed cake next?
‘Apart from Mr Orguiza’s bequest, your godmother left you everything. To be precise, her savings, her house and all her assets, after all bills are paid. You are, if I may say, a very wealthy woman. I do hope you will let Struthers, Startwell and Stott advise you.’
Were all solicitors carved from the same block of wood? At least, if they were over fifty? Having been introduced to all three members of the firm she would swear they were interchangeable. This one was Startwell… she thought. He actually smiled on occasion, or at least looked less grim than the other two.
 ‘Oh, you may say it,’ Bryony assured him. She’d ignore the rest until that bit sank in. ‘Twice if you want.’ A thought struck her. ‘Ah, what’s wealthy exactly?’
 He frowned. Had she committed some solecism she knew nothing about? Surely it was okay to ask? After all, if it was a couple of hundred thousand that would be rather nice, but not go a long way once she’d paid her mortgage off—if she could pay her mortgage off—and babied her aged sports car to last another year.
‘Well, now. It seems Miss Millet dabbled.’
‘Dabbled?’ She thought Milly more into pottery than paints. ‘You mean, painted or something?’ Did she sound as confused as she was?
‘Or something. She played the stocks.’
The slang sounded wrong coming from him, and Bryony wondered if she had heard him correctly. ‘Er, did you say stocks or slots?’
‘Yeah, that’s what I thought you said.’ A picture of her octogenarian godmother, in a flowing skirt, oversize butterfly sunnies, and platform heels, playing a machine somewhat like the pinball wizard in the rock opera Tommy, had flashed into her mind with the thought of slots. She’d just watched the film for the umpteenth time the week before and had a wee weep afterwards. It was a favourite of both her mum and Milly. Aged hippies if ever there were any. Their attitude had rubbed off on her. ‘Was she any good?’
 He smiled, and looked half human, not a robot. ‘Well, now let me just say, at a very rough estimate her estate after tax is in the region of two million, six hundred and fifty thousand pounds. Give or take. I’d call that very competent.’
The butterflies in her stomach did a war dance, goose pimples jumped on goose pimples and the room swayed. Bryony swallowed and hoped to hell she wasn’t going to pass out or throw up.
Give or take what?


Happy reading,

love, Raven xx

ps, better mention the lovely hubby with whom I travel to so many places and get ideas for my stories. Thanks hon xx

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