Assertive characters

Assertiveness is something that I think is undervalued in current society.

The book Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend describes assertiveness and setting boundaries as:

‘When to say yes, and how to say no.’

Not being aggressive, but being firm about what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to your boundaries.

Pride and Prejudice - Assertive Characters - Philippa Jane Keyworth

We might love to complain and moan to our friends, but often, we fail to grow the backbone needed to address something head-on with the person it concerns. We feel safe when we complain to those who we know care for us, but if we confront someone who doesn’t have that vested interest they might reject us.

Worse, they might think ill of us.

‘I cannot bear to think that he is alive in the world…and thinking ill of me.’

– Elizabeth Bennet in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

They might think we’re horrid. We’re a cow or… bull!? (is that the male insult?). They might think we have no integrity or values. Or they might just think we’re plain wrong.

Pride and Prejudice - Assertive Characters - Philippa Jane KeyworthThat’s why often, we so love assertive characters in books. We watch them word-spar and defend themselves as we wish we could. They say exactly the right thing, at exactly the right time, almost as if it were perfectly and minutely crafted…

I, for one, can never stand a push over in a book. And that is not because I cannot be pushed over sometimes. Back when they were all the rage, I read the Twilight books, and the one thing I really remember vividly when looking back is the whiny nature of Bella in the second book. Man alive did she complain, and worse, she didn’t do anything about her situation. She didn’t choose to move forward or fight for more. I CANNOT stand a character who sits and grumbles. I can’t invest in them. I begin to stop sympathising.

It really comes down to the fact I can’t admire them. And the Lord knows I love to admire a character in a book. Preferably the main character. Even if they don’t always do the right thing, I like to see that backbone, that willingness to fight another day, to overcome. That spirit.

I once described my female characters to my husband, saying they were kick-butt heroines both verbally and physically and he chuckled, saying,

‘Basically you want to be them.’




An assertive excerpt from Fool Me Twice:

“Lord Avers!” Lady Rebecca responded with the same warmth she greeted every friend. “And who is this gentleman with you?”

Caro was immediately and acutely aware that it was not the voice of Lord Avers that had made her stomach turn. It was not his voice that had spoken of sweetmeats and Bergamot ices, and it was not his voice that sounded again, this time far closer to Caro’s ear.

“Oh!” continued Lady Rebecca. “It is Mr. Felton!”

“Lady Rebecca,”—the other gentleman bowed, his hat creeping into the corner of Caro’s vision—“I have been dragged here most unwillingly to order some kind of pastry for Avers’ mother’s ball, but now I see you here I am quite pleased I relented in my protestations.”

Caro turned then, using all her strength to break out of her statue-like trance. A closer inspection of the gentleman confirmed her worst fears.

“How delightful it is to see you again!” said Lady Rebecca, oblivious to her friend’s discomfiture. “I had no idea you were back from your Tour.”

“Ah, yes, the weather of Europe is nothing in comparison to that of England. I quite missed the rain, you know?” The man’s voice was full of amusement, so like it had been last night when he had accosted Caro while she played the role of another.

“Are you still a scoundrel?” One of Lady Rebecca’s fine dark brows rose, her characteristic truthfulness challenging the man playfully.

“My long-suffering parents will confirm as much.”

Caro breathed rapidly, dreading the moment that Mr. Felton would turn towards her. She reminded herself that she was not Angelica Worth today, but the fair-haired Caro. He would not recognize her—others did not. She must not panic. All would be well.

“Lord Avers, Mr. Felton, may I present Miss Worth to you both.” Rebecca stretched a hand out, gracefully indicating Caro, and both gentlemen turned their attention to the golden-haired woman dressed in dazzling aquamarine.

“Miss Worth,” Lord Avers bowed and smiled affably, “An additional pleasure to find you in the company of Lady Rebecca once again.”

“Miss Worth.” Mr. Felton, being the nearer of the two gentlemen took her hand and bent over it in a perfunctory bow.

That same boyish face Caro had seen by candlelight was before her now. By the light of day, Mr. Felton’s face still held the handsome, careless, amused expression that had captivated her for a brief moment last night. But the same face in the morning’s light was more worrying than captivating. Her legs began to tremble beneath the full skirts of her gown.

When Mr. Felton’s head lifted, he caught Caro’s eye, and the look that appeared on his face sent ice running through her veins. It was recognition.

“I say,” he said, repeating his customary exclamation, “how intriguing.”

His green eyes ran quickly over Caro’s face. They paused on her hair for a moment, his brow furrowing and then clearing, and then they returned to her brilliant blue eyes once more.

“Am I remiss? Have I not made your acquaintance before?” His brow was furrowing again. He was trying his hardest to place her face. She was praying her hardest he would fail.

“I do not believe so, sir.” Caro removed her eyes from his, desperate to keep away from his intent stare, desperate to steer his mind away from remembering.“I am sure of it, I would not forget those eyes anywhere, or….” Mr. Felton stepped back a little, looking down at her skirts as though expecting to see through them. To anyone else he looked as if he were only trying to gain a better view of the woman he thought he recognized, but Caro knew exactly the memory that was being conjured up in his mind. “You look very much like a woman I have already met.”

She colored.

“I dislike excessively to say it, Miss Worth,” said Mr. Felton, a boyish grin resuming mastery over his shapely lips, “however, I believe if we have met before as I suspect, it was in quite different surroundings.”

Clearly, he thought he was being subtle, but Caro knew the irreparable damage he could do to her. Tongues were already wagging where Caro was concerned, and his attempts at the finer arts of concealment were poor. Caro was overcome with a desire to strike him again, wishing to destroy that amused smile on his face that so carelessly put her future at risk.

“I don’t know what you mean.” Caro’s body stiffened, her voice containing the same rigidness reflected in her frame. She suppressed her urge to react and instead resurrected the feeling of satisfaction she had gained from slapping him last night.

“That exact turn of phrase,” he murmured again, still staring at her.

His words were far from proper, even to those whose minds could not fully understand what their ears were hearing. Caro was aware that other guests in the confectioner’s shop were leaning in to hear the unusual conversation from the loud young gentleman.

Both Lady Rebecca and Lord Avers had been staring at the interchange, confused—however, the latter was rapidly catching up to his friend on the gentleman’s path of assumptions.

“But that hair….” Felton murmured to himself.

He was looking at her gold curls, trying to reconcile them with the raven hair he had seen, with the wig that sat on her dressing table at home. He recognized her face, her eyes—but the hair remained her one defense.

“Yes, I do not powder my hair. My mother always told me not to because of its fine color.” At least there could be a little truth in her life of falsehoods. “I dislike the way you stare, sir,” Caro used her severest tones, trying to break through the mesmerized state the gentleman seemed to be in.

“Felton.” Lord Avers stepped forward, attempting to stop his friend before more damage was done. But his friend carried on like a runaway horse pulling away from its pursuer.

“I have never been so sure and so unsure. Are you not the lady I met last night at Mr. Russell’s?”

Again she blushed, and taking her blush to be confirmation, Mr. Felton gave her a saucy wink.

Caro shot up from her chair in a surge of red hot fury. “Sir! I must ask you to desist!”

“Mr. Felton,” he corrected, not in the least perturbed, the curl of his grin still evident on his mouth.

She was trying her best to ignore those lips, the ones that had uttered the word “pleasure” in such a fascinating way last night. She hated how his careless attitude at once riled her and intrigued her. Her anxiety was laced with a desire to meet this gentleman on the word-sparring field…but she knew better. She shook off any vestiges of her ridiculous humor. Now was the time to draw the line between her identities in indelible ink before he had a chance of furthering this course of inquiry.

“You are mistaken, sir. I can guess which surroundings you refer to, and they are the haunt of my father’s illegitimate daughter.” If the house of cards was to fall, she would be in control of its destruction, not some impertinent cad.



The Creative Psyche needs sleep

It’s amazing what sleep does for one.

The Creative Psyche needs sleep

It can be entirely too easy to dismiss the qualities of decent sleep. When we’re in this busy, fast-paced, always-connected world, sleep can often be consigned to when we’re dead.

I kind of get this mentality. As a person who loves a to-do list, to plan, to make the most of the time I have – though I’m not immune to a Netflix binge of the Shannara Chronicles – it can be easy to think,

‘Well, if I stay up for that extra hour and a half I’ll have so much more time for activities.’

True, but after keeping a mood diary for a few weeks, I realised the impact that lack of sleep has on my next day. I wake up cranky, sometimes with a headache, I have no zeal for the day, I’m irritated by everything including sunshine, and all I want is to sit down and veg-out. Suddenly that next day becomes wasted time, the wasted time I was trying to avoid the day before.

One of the clearest impacts it has is on my creativity. If you are a creative, someone who likes to paint, draw, write, craft, DIY or innovate, then you probably know what I’m talking about. It’s hard to have a stimulated, excited mind, roving over possibilities and making them into reality when your brain is half asleep.

And yet I rationalise the staying up late as making the most of time, or because I’m too busy to go to bed, and I rationalise the lack of creativity as,

‘I’ve just been too busy.’

‘I don’t have the creative mind-space.’

‘I needed a break to recharge my creativity.’

And all it really came down to in the end, was going to bed on time. If you’re a tired creative, who wants more time to do creative things, then get some sleep. You’ll find you’re more on point, make more use of the limited time you have, and feel more satisfied at the end of the day. The bonus is, you’ll often be tired enough to go to bed on time.

The Widow’s Redeemer Audiobook

The Widow’s Redeemer

has been released on Audible!

The Widow's Redeemer Audiobook - Narrated by Alex Lee
Available on Audible at £18.29 or FREE with a 30 day trial

I’ve been enjoying rather a long break away from online activities. It was partly for the ‘having a break’ thing and partly to give myself some creative space. Everything’s so busy and buzzing and instant these days, and I confess to not always being able to shut out the noise of everyday life long enough to take a step into my fictional worlds.

Thankfully, while I have been enjoying a sabbatical of sorts my publisher, Madison Street Publishing, has been hard at work behind the scenes working on the creation of my first audiobook!

The Widow’s Redeemer, my original Regency Romance novel has been transformed into a wonderful audiobook narrated by the talented Alex Lee.

Alex is a lovely lady who has worked tirelessly to bring The Widow’s Redeemer with its indomitable widow Letty Burton and its wealthy but scandalous Viscount to life!

“I was thrilled to audition and be given the opportunity to narrate The Widow’s Redeemer and also Fool me Twice both written by Philippa Jane Keyworth for Madison Street Publishing.

I loved the Georgette Heyer Regency romances which I read when younger and love the genre. Pip’s books transport you back to that wonderful era and I have loved narrating these stories.”

– Alex Lee on narrating The Widow’s Redeemer

Listening to The Widow’s Redeemer being narrated has truly been a pleasure for me. I find that once I complete a story and it comes out in book form I’m already onto my next one. My head has moved on and so one can forget exactly what has come before.

Listening to my first novel, read so beautifully by Alex, was so enjoyable. To remember the characters I had left behind, Letty with her quiet determination, Major Deveril – humorous yet honourable – and the complexity of a wealthy Viscount who bears emotional scars. I’d forgotten that world, and staring through a window of narration to remember it was perfect.

Pick it up today at Audible.

A sip of morning coffee

StourheadOne of the things I enjoy most in my life is the first sip of my coffee in the morning. And I’m not just saying that because it seems popular or like something a person would write next to an Instagram post of a super-fancy-over-the-top-latte. Let’s be honest, what we see on social media is not the whole story. We see fragments of a shiny diamond, and we feel as though it out-does us, yet the rough, uncut and unpolished aspects don’t see the light of day. To be honest, I’m not sure I would want to see them, or share them myself. But being aware we’re only seeing part of life, perhaps makes us more likely to go off and live the other parts of ours rather than wasting it ogling what other people are doing.

Anyway, getting back to that coffee (I’m on my second now), it really is one of my favourite things. I think lots of life is in the small things and it’s good to focus on the little pleasures, or what happens is the bigger things, which can sometimes be a little pants, are likely to obscure anything great that’s going on. Like when that first sip of velvety, bitter-sweet coffee, with the right balance of milk to black nectar, hits the tongue and then the back of your throat. That moment you choose to lean back against the kitchen side, the battered work-top pressing against you reassuringly, and stare out the window at your neighbours’ houses.

Kingston LacyYou’re not really looking, but then the neighbour’s dog just coming back from a walk catches your eye and you can’t help your mouth turn up in a quick smile at the cuteness. And your mind, free and open trips over the things you’re doing that day, what needs to be done, what’s realistic, what can wait. The good bits of the day coming up and the pants bits. And because you’ve taken this moment to consider the opportunities of a new day – and if you’re like me (when I remember) you pray about them – Hatfield Houseeverything seems to fall slightly more into perspective. You smile, because nothing’s really too big, nothing too far, nothing too hard. Then you smile again because you’re being soppy and will probably still have a melt-down when things don’t work out later. But you’ll still have much to be thankful for, you’ll still be able to giggle at something silly and enjoy the life you have. Then you finish your coffee and you plunge head-on into the fray.

Of course, all this is made far better when my husband brings me the coffee and I can be lazy about making it. Ha! But it’s one of my favourite things. There really is nothing that tastes quite like that first sip of coffee. So, what will I be up to this year story-wise?

Well, last year saw the launch of my first fantasy novel, The Edict. This was so exciting for me as I wrote the first draft of the novel when I was 17 and I’ve finally been able to share it with everyone! It’s received some great reviews so far,

The Edict…is in a class of its own. Fantasy is a genre I find I am increasingly drawn to & in this fictionalised re-telling of the history of Esther, consort to King Xerces, the author has developed something really special. The characters in the novel are extremely well crafted, especially the heroine, Kiara, who certainly knows her own mind, and heart.

I can’t wait for Book 2! This book was read in 2 sessions & comes highly recommended.’

– Maureen Wright, Amazon reviewer

Romance and magic against the backdrop of war; The Edict has all the ingredients of a great fantasy. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but the author is brilliant at building tension, I was hooked; especially towards the end. Now I just have to wait patiently for book two!

– Victoria Jones, Amazon reviewer

The plot of this story is hard to predict, and the same can be said of the well thought out characters. This makes for a thoroughly gripping read…One word of WARNING: Don’t read this book on your holiday unless you don’t want to do anything other than read…!

– Joe Leach, Amazon reviewer

Initially drawn in by the unfolding adventure, I found that the author’s trademark intelligent writing style gave real weight to the individual characters, particularly Trevisian (dark, mysterious, moody, flawed). By underpinning this fantastical world with a fiery romance and many plot twists along the way, Keyworth keeps her reader hooked to the very last page, delivering both a satisfying ending – and promising more!

– An Amazon reviewer

So thank you to all the readers – you make my job possible! And this year I’ve got lots of plans. I rarely stick to schedule, such is the life of a creative writer, if I did I’d have 30 books out by now…if only! However, I don’t think there’s harm in telling you I’m working on a sequel to Fool Me Twice!!! It’s so exciting!!! It’ll be my first Historical Romance series and I can’t wait for you to meet the new hero and heroine. They’re great – the heroine is wonderfully eccentric and funny, and the hero a reserved gentleman – so you can imagine the conversations… It’s going to be easy to read as a standalone, so you won’t have had to read Fool Me Twice, but if you have it’ll be fun for you to see where this new hero and heroine fit in, and also to see several of your favourite characters again, further on in their stories. It’s something I’m enjoying, writing romances that don’t just end in ‘and they walked into the sunset’, but rather continue on, like they do in real life.

Then there’s the second book in The She Trilogy, which is obviously on the cards. I’ve done some initial foraying back into that fantasy world and it’s going to be exciting meeting up with old characters and seeing some powerful new ones come to the fore. That’ll probably be worked on more definitively later in the year.

A sip of coffee in the morningI also started some time ago an 18th century romance adventure set in Cornwall. This one has been so enjoyable for me to get my teeth into as it’s involved plenty of research, especially into King Arthur and smugglers! Then there’s been the actual site visits I’ve undertaken. Like visiting the inn that my main character frequents and examining the local smuggling beaches. As is my passion, it’ll have a love story at it’s core but there will be plenty of adventure and perhaps even room for more than one story. It allows me to sate my appetite for Cornish culture and that beautiful West Country, so I’m a happy bunny.

Finally, it’s exciting to be able to say that there should be some audiobook versions of my novels coming out during the year and into the following few. It’s been wonderful to work with a narrator who’s really bringing my stories and characters to life and it means that if you’re a busy bee and struggle to find the time to sit and read without feeling guilty or rushed, you can fit in some wonderful stories while you’re going about your business, in the car during your commute or gardening, walking or cooking! More on that to follow in the coming months.

So, there’s lots going on, and we’ll see how it goes getting all these stories up on their feet and out the door into the big wide-world. Whatever goes on I am determined to enjoy myself doing it 🙂

The Kingdom of Emrilion

I got carried away. It was one of those days I have dedicated to writing. I woke up and instead of picking up a keyboard or lined paper, I picked up a sketch-pad and pencils. I’ve always enjoyed a bit of doodling and sketching. In fact, you might be interested to know that the faces of the characters from both my historical romance and fantasy books are residing between the leaves of several sketch books.

It’s a funny thing when authors draw out their characters as I imagine they don’t always line up precisely with what you have in your head when you’re reading. Anyway, I’m getting off track, because it wasn’t people I was drawing at all, you see. I spent my whole writing day trying my hand at fantasy cartography.

Fantasy cartography

Yes, it’s a thing. I had no idea until I started googling fantasy maps. I wanted some inspiration and not just that, some visual know-how for how to draw hills, mountains, lakes all those sorts of things. How did I draw them and get them to look the right way in for a map? It was all a bit trial and error, quickly sketching a practice hill on one piece of paper and then drawing it properly on the map I started.

People actually do this for a living. I guess artists, illustrators or designers, or a bit of all three. What a cool job. I wonder if they have to read the books to know where everything is? Well, for me I already had the equivalent of a stick-figure map from when I had been writing The Edict. It was in my edits that I couldn’t remember whether the characters should have been travelling west or east to get somewhere. I realised I needed a map.

It’s an old habit

Drawing that basic one (and laminating it, because I’m a geek), took me right back to when I was a kid. I used to LOVE drawing maps. I drew them all the time, usually of made up places, not even related to stories. I don’t know why I love it so much but I did, and suddenly as a grown woman I was like, ‘yeah, that’s right, I’m using my part-time author job to draw a map’. It was sweet, as you can imagine.

So, there I was drawing it all and, although I wouldn’t say it’s a master-piece, it’s legible. And it really added that last bit of something I was missing from the book. Every fantasy book I’ve enjoyed has had a map, the sort that makes you turn the book sideways and upside down to read all the names and figure out where your characters are or are travelling to. And it was as if the final piece of creativity for this writing project was finally completed 10 years after it started.

The Kingdom of Emrilion

Stretching from the Northern Moors south to the Tao Desert the Kingdom of Emrilion is made up of many races ruled by the conquering Reluwyn. Bordered by it’s neighbour Castir to the east and the Western Sea to the west Emrilion is home to forests, moors, plains, deserts and mountains and of course to characters you’re going to meet…

Map of Emrilion - The Edict - The She Trilogy

First Copy of The Edict!

It arrived a few weeks ago but I couldn’t share it until now because of loads of other things needing to be done! Self-publishing really is a busy business! Anyway, it arrived so quickly when I ordered the first copy.

So nervous

It came like any other book ordered online in an inconspicious brown box and I held it so excitedly…and nervously. What if I opened it and all the cover and text were half running off the page? What if I’d missed out half the book? What if it just looked downright awful?


I was so nervous in fact that I proceeded to procrastinate. Ah, the friend of the faint-hearted! I had arrived home from work and found the parcel, so now I told myself I should probably tidy the kitchen before sitting down to open it. And gosh, I was gasping for a cup of tea, so I put the kettle on. And didn’t those sofa cushions need plumping. And perhaps I should just check my emails?

Then my husband arrived home and he eyed the package saying, ‘is that your book?’ I replied in the affirmative and explained I had not wanted to open it yet and for some pathetic reason I felt I could if he was there. I grabbed it with both hands and hesitated only briefly to say, ‘I hope it’s not rubbish’ or words to that effect, and then tore it open.

Finally opening

What came out into my hands was, well, beautiful:

I was so happy with this and although this was for final proofs, and not the final, final, final copy (my exhausted author brain was crying at the thought), it’s everything I wanted it to be. I have to apologise for the dodgey photo-taking. I’m not the most artistic photographer at the best of times and the glee at seeing it wasn’t a pile of illegible print meant I didn’t use any of those fancy-filters or…err… focusing…

I have now finished the proofs and final bits and piece (with much gnashing of teeth – just look at my Twitter), and have the final, final, final copy arrived LITERALLY (very punny) today…

The Edict Paperback | Fantasy Novel | The She Trilogy | P. J. Keyworth


A fantasy world

I’m looking forward to sharing with you the world in which The Edict takes place soon. You see, because it’s a fantasy, it’s not like historical romances where the world existed and you just have to get to know it through research (I use the word ‘just’ in humour, research is jolly hard work!), with fantasy you have to create your world. It grows in your imagination into this living, breathing thing where your characters live and learn to be a part of different cultures, places and races. Soon I can share some more of that world with you…

The Edict Cover Release

I am so excited to finally be sharing more with you on the run up to the release of The Edict in December! The cover of The Edict starts with an old friend. Venetia and I go way back. We’ve been friends for several years now and she’s easily one of those people I describe as lovely inside and out.

When I first met her I said, ‘One of my favourite authors called Georgette Heyer wrote a book called Venetia.’ She promptly replied that the very same volume was one of her mother’s favourites and her namesake! I mean – it was like a meet-cute for friends.

When I started my journey towards becoming a hybrid author (both published through a publishing house and self-published) I came to Venetia to talk cover design. We’d chatted years earlier about the idea of it when we worked in a shoe shop together in between aggy customers and trying on shoes under the counter. I knew she was a graphic designer and had been working with an independent publishing house so it was perfect. Just a few years in the making.

First design meeting

When I started planning out The Edict (read the blurb here) project and had my manuscript sent away to the editor I asked to meet with Venetia to finally talk about that fabled cover. We met in Costa and talked about the project over hot chocolate and coffee (or something of that variety). She was so enthusiastic from the outset, she let me rabbit on about the story, the project timelines, what I envisioned for the cover. All the time she listened and actually told me it was so much more helpful talking 1:1 with the author about the work and I really think this collaboration is why the cover became such a clear embodiment of the book.

Talking styles

We talked colours, styles, themes, elements and while she let me talk she also dropped ideas in here and there which I would never have thought of and which really started to tie the whole thing together into a fully fledged concept. We worked out the timeline and payment arrangements and parted ways with her promising an initial design.

She started working on individual elements first and then came up with the full front cover. The best part was, when I asked to meet to discuss the initial designs, Venetia came with a gift! I was asking her how she managed to create the seal on the front cover, she said, ‘it’s funny you should ask that…’ and proceeded to pull an unassuming little cardboard box from her bag.

The seal

She handed it to me saying it was a gift for me and when I opened it lo and behold, Venetia had not only imagined a wildcat from the world of The She Trilogy she had commissioned a real seal to be made and it came complete with sealing wax, candles and teeny wax pouring spoon!

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It was AMAZING! Here in my hand was a seal like those I imagined they used in my book. The wildcat is a creature specifically from Emrilion, the kingdom in which the story takes place, and Venetia had listened to my descriptions and created it! The seal is a really important part of the book. In The Edict believe it or not, there is an edict, a few actually, a type of law and they are sealed with the royal seal, the one you see appearing on the cover of the book. It’s one of these edicts that forever changes the life of my heroine Kiara so you can see why it’s a central aspect of the cover. Keep an eye out for up-coming giveaways on the run up to The Edict’s release, because you might just be receiving a copy of The Edict sign, sealed and delivered!

The initial designs

I’d told Venetia about the richness of the Reluwyn people in the The Edict. They’re originally nomadic tribal peoples who have become a settled nation and risen up to rule an empire. They enjoy feasting and fighting and it’s this lavish lifestyle which is brought out by the deep reds, jade and almost golden yellows. It’s the colours of the cover which make it so exciting.

The finished cover

After tweaking and amends and getting it just so, we ended up with a cover that Venetia did an awesome job of making and which I’m so chuffed with. You can see it here:

The Edict - Fantasy Book - P. J. Keyworth

The Edict - Fantasy Book - P. J. Keyworth


Venetia Jackson

If you’re looking for a designer for your covers whether they’re fantasy or another genre, I can highly recommend Venetia. She’s friendly, professional and enthusiastic. She’s just as keen as you are to give your book the cover it deserves. You can find her on Facebook & Instagram.


I’m looking forward to sharing with you the sneak peak of the VERY FIRST copy of The Edict, which is my proof copy. There’s nothing quite like holding your book in the format of a book (not on a computer or in A4 print-out versions), for the first time and this one was extra special because I had seen it from the first tiny idea I had when I was 17, right through to print…

New things, old things and free things

Some of you might have been wondering where I’ve been. An occasional glance at my blog may have made you think, ‘gosh, it’s a long time since she’s posted.’ You might have even been thinking, ‘she’s not really been on FB and Twitter much! She’s been really quite quiet online.’

Others of you might be thinking, ‘what on earth is she going on about? I haven’t noticed anything’. Well, to both of you I thought it was high time I came out of the woods of writing. You will all know that upon occasion I disappear into them. When I’m trying to finish a first draft, going through edits or working on proofs. Of course, the day job doesn’t help with this, I’m always rather tight on time! But this time it’s a bit different.

Yes, I have been doing all three – I’ve been in the woods of writing, editing and proofing. Yes, that’s right,

I’ve been working on a new book!

It’s all very exciting actually, and some of you may have picked up on it. The reason it’s different is two-fold, on the one hand the genre’s different to what I’ve published before, it’s a fantasy novel in the style of Lord of the Rings and Narnia (for adults, although I still LOVE Narnia, and as far as I’m aware I’m a grown up). On the second-hand I will be self-publishing this novel.

Fantasy, you say?

To my loyal readers, let me just quickly take the time to say that I am still writing historical romance! Have no fear on that count, that genre’s going no where from my writing loves and agenda, but you see, I’ve always enjoyed writing fantasy. In fact, I’ve written it since before I tried my hand at historical romance. The book I’ve been working on was first written when I was seventeen, a decade ago, and revisited over a year ago. It’s a story I loved writing the first time round and have truly enjoyed editing. It is called, The Edict (click here to read the blurb), and follows the story of a courageous heroine called Kiara, a brooding Prince, a damned race and conniving courtier…

And of course, there’s love, a great love story. So for those of you who read my books because you love the love stories then The Edict could be your next read.

Self-published, hmmm…

There might be a few of you who cringe at hearing that. Truth be told, I used to cringe at the thought of it. But a lot has changed over the last ten years and now some of the best authors I read and know are entirely self-published (also known as independently published). New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, winners of Readers Choice Awards, B.R.A.G.G. indie author medallions and book cover design competitions. The honest truth is, that there are so many quality authors out there, the traditional publishing houses can’t keep up with them, and the opportunity to publish quality books, with access to Print On Demand companies, free eBook Conversion tools, formatting guides and freelance cover designers & editors, is better than ever before.

I’ll be honest with you, I sent The Edict to every Literary Agent I could find listed in the Writer’s and Artists Yearbook and a number of publishers, but it was all to no avail. It’s making me cringe writing that (apparently I cringe a lot), but I think it’s worth being honest, because there’s a lot of you out there who have had to suffer through literary rejections and I’m sure that’s not my last. It’s funny, because in my arrogance I thought it would be easy if I already had a publisher with three books published, but it wasn’t. The fact is, I love the story, and I’d already had several friends read it who loved it and were so encouraging with their feedback, and it was a book, just sitting there in my draw, waiting to be shown the public light of day. It seemed silly to keep it there.

So, naturally, I was frustrated that no one wanted it from the traditional publishing world, but I had always thought to myself, if I can’t find an agent I’ll release it myself. It’s not like it’s easier, to be honest, it’s LOTS more work, more investment both in terms of time and money. But it’s one of those things I felt compelled to do. I just want to share the story with everyone. So that’s what I’m going to do.

When’s the next book out?

So, if you’ve read this thinking you want to find out when my next book The Edict will be coming out then watch this space. You’ll be hearing more from me on The Edict in the coming weeks and months…

What can you read now?

Fool Me Twice - Historical Romance - Philippa Jane Keyworth
Fool Me Twice – Free on Kindle

But for now, why not pick up Fool Me Twice for free on Kindle? That’s right, for FREE!!! Wohoo! Grab it while you can as the offer’s only on for a few days.

Reviews are my friends

And if you do read Fool Me Twice then you could support it by reviewing it on Amazon. Reviews are so important, not just because it’s great to hear when you’ve enjoyed the book, but because it gives credibility to the book in both readers’ and Amazon’s eyes! If you think it would be something others would enjoy then please review it!

That’s all for now, I hope it gets you excited for my next book. More to follow…



Things to do in 18th century Bath

It amazes me that sometimes, in my internet wanderings, when I am trying to find little nuggets of fact amidst the fog of the past that might embroider my novels with authentic detail, Google presents me with nothing exact. I mean, it’s rather obvious that Google and Wikipedia and all other random, non-authoratitive sources, might present one with unexpected ‘facts’. Sometimes they present one with outright lies, and this is often the cause of amusement.

Only today I was amazed to see someone on the internet declaring their casting off of pleasure driven pursuits such as drinking and eating bad food as they had decided to, ‘pursue a more hedonistic lifestyle’…I mean, there really is no answer for that except a pained inward groan. Then one allows oneself a little titter of amusement…until one makes a similar blunder and realises we all make mistakes and one ought to get down off one’s proverbial high horse.

Anyway, I am becoming distracted. What I am meaning to talk about is Bath. You see, I am in the throes of writing another book, which I have been enjoying immensely, and after taking a breaking because of, well, life, I have come back to it. I was getting frustrated because I had forgotten what I had already written, and felt as though I had lost the firm grasp on my characters I had. So I spent this morning re-reading what I had already written, remembering who I had created and where they dwelt, and thinking onwards onto what I wish to write next, and I was considering what activities my character might take up. They’re staying in Bath, you see, the first time one of my books has taken place in this beautiful watering hole of the 18th century, and so I did what any modern-day historical romance writer might do (but not admit to of course), I went to Le Google. I typed in the most pragmatic of phrases, ‘Things to do in 18th Century Bath’ and was greeted with, well, not much – nothing exact, you see.

You’ll be happy to know, those of you considering planning little trips away in 2017 already, that there are a plethora of guides on what to do in modern day Bath. But, believe it or not, in the onslaught of online information, no article matched my expectations. So I’ve written one. I do that with books too, if I can’t find what I want to read in a bookshop, I’ll go home and attempt to write what I am desiring instead. Sometimes it even works.

I did the same with my Things to do in 18th Century London post. I wanted to find activities that took place during the daytime that a man and woman might both attend. After all, despite what many historical romances might teach you (and I love them all), it wasn’t just about balls and gaming hells in London. And neither was Bath confined to taking the waters and the Assembly Rooms. 

It took me some time to piece together things from online articles sourced at reputable sites. You see, I don’t have easy access to my books and must sacrifice my intellectual self on the pire of the collective online brain. So, here is a wee list of things one might do in Bath to entertain oneself in the 18th Century:

1. Afternoon Tea in the Bath Assembly Rooms

That’s right, it wasn’t all about the nighttime Assembly’s in Bath with the dancing and light suppers presided over by Beau Nash, master of ceremonies. Oh, no, during the day one could enjoy an afternoon tea in respectable surroundings with relatives, friends or even potential lovers. Visit Bath is keen to establish that Jane Austen herself enjoyed afternoon tea at the Assembly Room’s, so there really is no arguing with that, is there? And for those hailing from countries where afternoon tea isn’t tradition, it usually consisted of tea, the drink, and light refreshments of both the savoury and sweet kinds.

The Assembly Rooms, Bath - National Trust
The Assembly Rooms, Bath – National Trust

2. Lover’s Lane in Bath

It wasn’t just Vauxhall and Ranelegh in London that could provide lovers with a useful tryst spot, Bath had a few spots of its own. Lover’s Lane, common parlance for the Gravel Walk (some of you might remember from the touching final get-together in Persuasion’s film adaptation), was a handy walk often used by those under cupid’s sway. And of course, Bath wasn’t short of gardens in which two young people, or older for that matter, might become lost. Sydney Gardens, situated behind Jane Austen’s Bath abode (though it must be stated she wasn’t fond of the city unlike myself), was a case in point.

Sydney Gardens, Bath
Sydney Gardens, Bath
Lots of these gardens not only had lovely little winding walks, but also bowling greens and lots of little things they could o.

3. Promenading along the Royal Crescent, Bath

The Hyde Park of Bath, this place was ideal for showing off one’s gladrags, perhaps obtained from Milsom Street, the popular shopping street in Bath, and overlooking the beautiful grey/yellow bath-stone city. For those unfamiliar with Bath, the Royal Crescent is a stunning panoramic crescent of matching Bath stone terraced houses in a palladian style overlooking the city. It’s aesthetics are beautiful for their uniformity, classical lines, and prominent position. 

Royal Crescent, Bath
Royal Crescent, Bath

My favourite part of these buildings is the modern-day birds-eye view which shows the higgeldy-piggeldy backs of these houses where successive owners have made their own changes and extensions to the properties without harming the matching fronts.

4. Bathing in Bath

It wasn’t just the Romans who chose to bathe in the warm waters springing from the Somerset earth. Bathing in Bath was considered beneficial for health complaints including rheumatism and gout. It was something generally, though not exclusively, taken advantage of by the elderly in Bath, and took place in any of these three baths on offer: the Cross bath, the Hot bath and the Minerva baths. In fact, if you are a modern day visitor, you can always visit these at the Thermae Bath Spa who describe the city thus,

‘Bath and its waters have a long association with well-being and the word SPA is related to the Latin phrase ‘Salus Per Aquam’ or ‘health through water’.’

Thermae Bath Spa

Thermae Bath Spa give the best history of bathing and the medicinal qualities of the waters at Bath that I could find online on this page of their website. The key piece I found the most helpful/interesting I have quoted below:

‘Princess/Queen Anne visited Bath regularly to take the waters seeking a cure for her gout and dropsy, which prompted the renaming of the New Bath to the Queen’s Bath. These visits and aristocratic patronage set in motion a period of development in which Bath became ‘the premier resort of frivolity and fashion’ and led to the great rebuilding of the city to produce the 18th century layout and architecture of today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.’

5. Taking those Bath waters like a pro

Funnily enough, 18th century people weren’t all that foolish as we might like to think in our modern state. They really were onto something with the water – containing 43 minerals, it certainly has a tangy taste (I’ve tried it) and some health benefits too. 

Taking the Waters in Bath
Taking the Waters in Bath

The Thermae Bath Spa list the highest proportions of what the water contains below:

Mineral Expressed as Concentration (Hetling Spring):

Sulphate mg/l 1015 

Calcium mg/l 358 

Chloride mg/l 340 

Sodium mg/l 195 

Bicarbonate mg/l 193 

Magnesium mg/l 57 

Silica mg/l 21 

Iron mg/l 0.5

Taken from the Thermae Bath Spa’s website.

6. Sham Castle – the Folly at Bedhampton

For those who have been to Bath, you might have remembered looking up above the city and seeing a medieval castle, a shell of bygone days, looking down on the predominantly Georgian city. Perhaps you even thought, ‘Oh, jolly good, I’ll get my medieval rocks of while I’m here and pop up to those ruins.’ Well, you’d be out of luck. The castle is a sham. Sham by name, sham by nature, this folly was constructed on local gentleman Ralph Allen’s estate to add some glam to the place, in fact, it was pretty common practice in the later eighteenth century to ornament your gardens with extra, more ‘picturesque’ bits and pieces like follys and rotundas (the latter sees a good example at Petworth House in Sussex). Some even went as far as getting in a hermit to live in their grounds and drag them in for a hot meal when conversation at dinner was a little slow…I kid you not.

Sham Castle, Bath
Sham Castle, Bath

So that’s a small list of what genteel people might do to pass the time while staying in Bath. I’m going to keep reading around the subject and I’m sure it’ll be easier to find out more when my books are to hand, in the mean time, my characters will make do with some of these activities. And of course a few of them will be riding out into the Somerset countryside too (I can never resist a good horse ride), in fact, it’s quite amazing just how dramatic and delightful a ride out can be with the right people…