The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

Welcome to Church Stretton

Welcome to Church Stretton

The weekend of December 12 – 14 saw the first Romaniac Sparkle event – two and a half days of work-shopping, writing, cultural visits and tons of Romaniac fun and laughter.

Hosted by the lovely Debbie Fuller-White and attended by five more Romaniacs, with Celia and Jan holding the fort at HQ, we put together a new, fresh and exciting Romaniac agenda for 2015.

For now, we present our Romaniac Sparkle Christmas Album, with more to follow next week.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury

'Cheers, to Jan and Ce!'

‘Cheers, to Jan and Ce!’

Sue & Laura

Sue & Laura

IMG_8432

Catherine, Lucie, Vanessa, Laura & Debbie

 

Vanessa & Lucie

Vanessa & Lucie

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

IMG_2389

A great evening meal at Housmans, Church Stretton

 

 

Laura secret santa

Laura’s Secret Santa gift

vanessa secret santa

Vanessa opening Secret Santa gift

Lucie dancing

Lucie showing us her dance moves

 

Sparkle walk stream

Lovely countryside

Sparkle walk ponies

Wild ponies

 

IMG_2394

Vanessa & Catherine

IMG_2392

Sue, Catherine and the sock puppet

sleeping

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY  NEW YEAR!

Auto-Timer Success

Auto-Timer Success

 

 

 

 

Christmas Jumper Time (with added sparkle!)

We’re all very excited at Romaniac HQ as this weekend our virtual world will be real! As writers, we don’t have an office, but we chat to each other every day thanks to the internet. So it makes sense that we get together for a writing retreat/pre-Christmas Sparkle weekend.

There’ll be chatter, merriment, gluten-free Christmas cake, and SPARKLE! What more could a girl want? A Christmas jumper, of course. We’ll all be wearing one and it just so happens that today is Christmas Jumper Day organised by Save The Children. A day of celebrating the Christmas Jumper for a good cause, what could be better?

IMG_1260.PNG

We’re all going to be texting TEAMROMANIAC to 70050 to donate £2. We’d really appreciate if you would like to do the same. The more donations we get, the more photos we’ll be willing to share from our SPARKLE weekend. Lucie might even crack out her gruffalo impression, so go on… Good cause & the potential of us sharing our lunacy with you!

Christmas Past.

James juniors, many years ago.

James juniors, many years ago.

With my daughter and son growing ever closer to independence, and with Christmas drawing near, I find I’m in a reflective mood.

This time last year, I was gearing up for wrist surgery, knowing I’d be spending several weeks in plaster, including the entire festive season. I was called into hospital at short notice, and didn’t have time to do much in the way of preparation for the Big Day, but I needn’t have worried. Gajitman and one of my lovely friends made a beautiful job of wrapping presents, my daughter  baked an incredible gluten-free, vegetarian pie for my Christmas dinner, and with her dad, cooked the entire celebratory meal. My son made sure I was comfortable, and on the day, helped me unwrap my gorgeous gifts.

IMG_5139

I remember our daughter’s first Christmas. She wasn’t old enough to furniture cruise, but had learned to stand and lean. My parents bought her a walker that year. With a crash course in how to use it, she was soon pushing it around the living room. A few years later, it was passed to her baby brother, who was more interested in the mechanics of it. However, not long after establishing what the wheels were for, he was zipping around, careering into sofas, and belly-laughing at his new found, if a little hazardous, sense of freedom.

S

 

I love my children for who they were and who they are now, and wouldn’t want it any other way, but seeing photos of when they were younger evokes strong emotions in me – immense delight and happiness, tinged with a touch of melancholy.

It is a little like being taken back by the ghost of Christmas Past …

07-03-06_1616

Laura x

 

 

 

 

Want to go Skating At Somerset House?

As some of you may be aware The Romanaics all met through the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and we are all members of the RNA in one form or another. We have met some lovely writers through the RNA and there’s always a special bond with fellow new writers. Nikki Moore was one such new writer and last year her debut novel Crazy, Undercover Love was published by Harper Impulse. Today, the first of her #LoveLondon series comes out – Skating At Somerset House – so it’s a big Happy EPub Day from us!

skating at somerset house

The first short story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore!

There’s nothing Holly Winterlake loves more than Christmas and skating, so working as an Ice Marshall at London’s Somerset House is a dream come true.

Noel Summerford hates the festive season and is a disaster on the ice, so taking his godson to Somerset House is his idea of the nightmare before Christmas!

Things are bound to get interesting when these two collide…

With a forty foot Christmas tree, an assortment of well meaning friends and relatives, and a mad chocolate Labrador, will this festive season be one to remember … or forget?

(Available to download from Amazon)

Multi Genre Writing with Debbie Johnson

Hi Debbie and welcome to the Romaniac blog, it’s great to have you here. It’s been a busy few weeks for you, normally I would congratulate someone on the publication of their book, but, with you, I have to say books – emphasis on the ‘s’. Not one but two books published within a few weeks of each other with two different publishers. That’s quite an achievement.

023

How does it feel to have two books published so close together?

I think the best word would be ‘insane’! I didn’t plan it like this, honest – one was planned well ahead, and the other just kind of leapfrogged ahead of it…I think it’s a dastardly plan by my publishers to shut me up!

Cold_Feet_at_christmas_(2)Your books, Cold Feet At Christmas (Harper Impulse) and Fear No Evil (Maze) are very different to each other, one being a romance and the other a suspense and, as if that wasn’t enough, you have also written an urban fantasy, Dark Vision (Del Rey UK, part of Random House) with a follow up, Dark Touch, due out in 2015.

How do you juggle writing in these very different genres?

In all honesty, I don’t find the writing of them that hard. I mean, I read all kinds of different genres; I love crime fiction and fantasy and romance. I think all kinds of different things, my life is varied and rich. My brain is – to put it politely – an eclectic mix! I like different aspects of all of them – and possibly I have quite a short attention span! But on a semi-serious note, I do think too much pigeon-holing goes on – not just in writing, but in life in general. I think readers are smart people – they’re capable of liking more than one type of book!

Some authors use different pen names for the different genres they write in – is this something you considered and what influenced your decision on this?

I did consider it, and in all honesty it may have made life easier. But in this day and age with all the social media, and the importance of that, it would be very difficult. That does leave me in the strange position of having a cute Christmassy chick-lit cover and a scary crime cover on my twitter page! I think it may have been easier if you’re already successful in one – like Nora Roberts creating JD Robb.

Do you think it is easier these days to write in different genres? Is it more acceptable in the publishing world or have you come up against any barriers?Fear_No_Evil_final_(2)

I think it’s harder. My agent, Laura Longrigg, told me about her father, who was a well-known author called Roger Longrigg. He wrote more than 50 books, in all kinds of genres, using a handful of pen-names. These days, as I said earlier, people want you to be one thing or another. Publishers are, understandably, looking for books they can easily package and market – things that straddle different genres are harder to sell. Fear No Evil, for example, took ages to find a publisher – because it mixes crime with the supernatural, which is more accepted now, but caused problems when it was first being submitted. It’s nice to have found an editor at Maze willing to take a chance on it. Then, as well, there’s the social media – you want your potential readers to identify with you, but that’s not so easy when you write fantasy, and romance, and crime! I just need to figure out how to clone myself and it will all be fine.

Have you got any tips for anyone else thinking about writing in different genres?

Apart from stock up on the vodka, you mean?? In all honesty, I am just starting out on this adventure. It may or may not pay off. One genre might be much more successful than another, I don’t know. I suppose that from my own perspective, I’ve written in genres I truly love and read myself – I’m not doing it to be contrary, it’s because my interests have taken me in different imaginary directions! So if you are going to span different genres, make sure you are passionate about all of them. And be prepared to get slagged off in all of them as well – you need a thick skin to be an author, no matter what genre!

Thank you so much for chatting to us, Debbie. Wishing your books much success.

Thank you very much for having me!

 

The Fear. What Does It Mean to You?

DSCF2621I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to write this post, for two reasons: I’m concerned it could come across as an exercise in tooting on my trumpet, which isn’t the intention, and I’m admitting to something I’m not sure I want to type out loud. However, as a committed Romaniac, and a person who has gained valuable insight from other writers’ honesty, I’m going to put it out there.

I’m listening to Lily Allen’s The Fear, a song from a few years ago, and I’m interested in the thoughts behind the lyrics. Like most cleverly-written songs, it will mean something different to each person, depending on their individual experiences. To me, Lily Allen’s song is about the fear of being sucked into the world of celebrity and materialism.

I’d heard writers talk about the fear, but never understood what it was? Was it a worry the words would dry up? A deep concern the book wouldn’t sell? That your mojo’s having way too much fun sunning itself on the deck to consider returning from its winter cruise?

There’s another option: All of the above. And more.

At the beginning of September, my second Choc Lit novel was sent out into the big, wide world, as a paperback – my first. Follow Me Follow You, an issue-driven romance, went on tour courtesy of my publisher and through Brook Cottage Books.

It was a fantastic, positive experience, with the book receiving incredible reviews which blew my socks off. Follow Me Follow You was selected as an editor’s choice on Lovereading.co.uk  and was one of their featured books for September, Tome Tender Book Blog left me speechless with their wonderful words, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the Amazon reviews.

The book was and is out there doing exactly what I’ve asked of it.FM_new flat front 300dpi

Now, before this starts to look like the exercise I mentioned earlier, (although in reality, it would be a recorder, not a trumpet) let me explain.

As I sat at my desk, in the corner of my kitchen, fingers poised above the well-used keyboard, determined to continue writing book 3, I was hit by the fear. Only, I didn’t know it was the fear. It wasn’t like Lily Allen’s song – I wasn’t concerned by materialism or celebrity – I was hit by a truckload of ‘what ifs?’

What if I’d used all my best ideas in Follow Me? What if I’d already used every last drop of emotion I could muster? What if I couldn’t capture the reader’s imagination? What if I couldn’t find original ways for my characters to express themselves? What if I repeat myself? What if book 3 is rubbish?

And the biggie: What if I let the reader down?

I removed myself from the corner of the kitchen, plonked myself down in the living room and allowed the ‘what ifs?’ to zip round my head like they were driving the wall of death. After a while of getting nowhere, other than dizzy and anxious, I called upon my lovely, supportive Romaniac friends.

‘I think I’ve been gripped by the fear,’ I said. But I didn’t really know, because it wasn’t something I’d grappled with before.

Their individual and collective advice was, as ever, sound, sensible and solid. And, as ever, they made me laugh. I was instructed to get something to eat and take a little time out. My nose had been to the grindstone, and I needed a break. They were right. I had to ‘refill the well’, as the fab members of the RNA say.

Later that day, I spoke with Gajitman, who offered a considered and practical approach, and kind reassurance that none of all of the above was going to happen.

The next morning, I met with a friend for coffee, who hit the nail on the head, putting the fear into a succinct five-word statement. ‘You are afraid of failing.’

And there it was. I was afraid of failing. Failing the reader, failing my publisher, failing my family and friends, and failing myself.

I’d never experienced this. I’d been brought up to always do my very best and that was the reward, regardless of the outcome.

I will do my very best – it’s who I am, it’s in my DNA, but what if my very best isn’t good enough? What then?

And that’s my fear.

IMG_6127It was scary out there for a while, but I have settled back into writing book 3, and I’m pleased and relieved to say the fear has passed, and now I know the signs, I’m better equipped to tackle it should it dare to show its ugly face again.

In the same way we all take something different from song lyrics, I suspect the fear is different for each and every one of us.

What are your experiences of the fear?

Laura x

Letter to an Aspiring Author

We are delighted to welcome Samantha Tonge back to Romaniac HQ. With her latest novel, Mistletoe Mansion, looking like another fab read, here’s a letter Sam, the published author, penned to her unpublished self.

Mistletoe_Mansion

Dear Samantha Tonge (as she was, a few years ago!),

So… you want to be a published author? I applaud you for following your dreams – but not too loudly because, my lovely, you seem to think that you’ll soon be admiring your books in the local bookstore. Brace yourself… It could take around ten years  – during which time you will learn your craft. The publishing business is no X Factor game show, where the most unexpected contestants may shine. Without connections or celebrity to help you, there is only one way you reach the point of selling books and gaining a loyal readership, and that’s by writing, writing, writing, until you discover your voice and know which supposed literary “rules” to break or follow.

I think it was Hemingway who said you needed to put one million words to paper (or computer screen) before landing a deal – so that’s around ten novels away for you. Don’t set your goals so high – make your first resolution just to finish a book, not to land a top agent or contract with Penguin or Harper Collins or to become an overnight, self-published success. Don’t make the mistake of cloaking yourself with a sense of entitlement – yes, finishing a manuscript is a huge achievement, but one accomplished by thousands of other aspiring authors. You need to work hard enough, and persist, to make yourself stand out – take courses attend writing conferences, join online literary forums, read how-to books and read, read, read of course.

Plus set yourself up on Social Media NOW. Start networking and finding your way around Facebook and Twitter. That way it won’t be such a shedload of work when you do sign on the dotted line, because if your first deal is digital-first, or you decide to self-publish, you will have a huge amount of promotional work to plough through.

Plus listen to your writing friends, who will tell you to start writing short stories as well. This will make you focus more than ever on each word you write, and improve your chapter structure and ability to write in different voices.

Most importantly, try not to forget why you first went into this business – the reason you write is because you love to tell a story and craft words together. This is hard to remember when yet another rejection pops up in your email box. Just hold onto this: the main difference between an unpublished and published author is that the latter didn’t give up.

Easy to say, isn’t it? But rejections aren’t personal – publishers and agents aren’t waging a vendetta against you! Try to see each unpublished novel that gets slipped under the bed as one giant step closer to success. No writing is ever wasted.
Now, get to it! Oh, and a word of warning – all those writing snacks really won’t do you any good in the long run :-)

Mistletoe Mansion

Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.

When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.

So, newly single – and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…

Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?

About the Author

Picture_014Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Its fun standalone sequel is From Paris with Love. Mistletoe Mansion stars a new set of characters and is for fans of cupcakes and Christmas!

Links

Links

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Doubting abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

AmazonUK :  Here 

 AmazonUS : Here