Catch the Moment

Feather

This isn’t going to be one of those annoying posts where someone pats themselves on the back for having some flowers in the garden and ‘the best husband in the world*’. At least, I’m hoping it isn’t. (If it is, feel free to send me a virtual slap. Or a real one if you only live up the road.)

It’s more of a follow up from last week’s blog where we looked at alternative ways to get the writing bug back in fallow periods. I was just picking blackberries in the sunshine, ready to make a crumble for the visitors who are coming later on, and it hit me that this was one of those perfect moments when everything was okay in my world. This was why:

  • The daughters have been on an adventure and I’m the world’s worst worrier when they’re travelling but they’re back safely in Brighton at last
  • There are loads of blackberries

Berries

  • And kidney beans

Beans

  • And a few really pretty sweet peas left

sweetpea

  • I’ve just passed the 50 000 word mark on my WIP after a really sticky bit, and get this – I know what’s coming next … ish …
  • My kind bloke is cleaning the kitchen floor (*sorry for the plug for him, but it’s really not my favourite job and it needed doing before the visitors saw it and realised I was a slut)

Ray kitchen

  • The grass was warm under my bare feet
  • I haven’t seen said visitors for ages; they’re going to get the full roast beef/Yorkshire pudding combo and I’m already hungry thinking about it
  • I found a white feather out there on the lawn

Of course, such bliss is fleeting – I came in and tracked grass over the newly hoovered carpet -not a good move – and then noticed I’d got blackberry stains down my front.

stain

But anyway, on this bank holiday weekend, maybe it’s time to catch the moment and then go off and write about it. I’m aiming for the 55 000 word milestone now, and there could well be blackberries in the next part.

So – what makes your own perfect inspirational writing moment? The Romaniacs, ever nosy, really want to know.

Happy holiday weekend,

Celia x

 

 

Chasing Dragonflies – Ten Top Tips

dragonflies

It’s that dragonfly time of year again – the time when there’s often a hint of autumn in the air, and the urge to buy a new pencil case and felt tips is irresistible.

Dragonfly time, for me, is when those thoughts that you want to get down on paper just keep flitting away. I’m in the middle of book number three, I’ve hit a snag and it’s time to grab some inspirations/distractions to get out of the mire. Here are my top ten ways to fire up the muse again:

1) Find someone to cuddle (see dragonfly picture – you may not want to go quite this far, especially if you’re in Sainsbury’s).

2) Get up earlier than usual, see the sunrise, make strong coffee/peppermint tea (recommend not having gin at this point, although later on it may be needed) and write something. Anything. To do list, poem, rant to newspaper, blog post, FB status with attitude, competition entry (see number 4).

Windows Photo Gallery Wallpaper

Sunrise

3) Have a huge, bubbly bath. This bath isn’t mine, sadly, but I have used it very happily. and it does the job well. Especially if a nap follows. (Also good therapy for writers’ block).

Bath

 

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 02.07.264) Enter a competition. It’s a great distraction, somebody’s got to win, and being short-listed gets your name out there.

 

 

553605_3856188518744_1913750779_n0

 

 

5) Meet up with friends; have a bit of a larf, some cheering hugs and some cake.

 

6) Relax, and read something that you’ve wanted to catch up with for ages. Even better if it’s funny.

H&B       P1030706

 

 

7) Go for a walk. Sea if possible, fields also acceptable.

Northumberland plus 226

2nd Somerset 012

poppies

 

8) Spend some time with a small person or two to ground you. Tip – always check with their mum first. I’m sure Catherine Miller would let you hug her babies if you ask nicely.

Babes

 

9) Make jam. (Substitute your food of choice here). Then have a party or a picnic to celebrate and eat lots.Jam

 

10) And if all else fails, open the best bottle you can find. Cheers!

car track 171

Celia x

Excitement at Romaniac HQ

It’s an exciting day here at Romaniac HQ as we all participate in some group happy dancing to celebrate the e-publication of Laura’s second novel

Follow me, follow you.

FM_hirespackshot_copy

Don’t you just love this cover?

Set along the beautiful Dorset coast, Laura’s home county, it’s a fantastic read and we wish Laura every success Follow me, follow you deserves.

IMG_6505

Dorset coast

 

Blurb

You save me and I’ll save you…

Seth_on_Chesil_Beach

Seth on Chesil Beach

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance.

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape.

But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria is as strong as when he was nineteen, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on?

With the risk of them breaking, will either #follow their heart?

Sales link Amazon.co.uk here

Author Bio:

Laura_Head_Shot_1

Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.

 

Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacs blog.

Laura was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweet appears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.

  1. lauraejames.co.uk
  2. twitter.com/Laura_E_James
  3. facebook.com/LauraE.JamesWriter

And if you’ve made it all the way down here – thank you! You’ve reached the link for book trailer.

Follow Me Follow You.

 

Let Them Eat Cake …

Let them eat cake….

(And we’ll have some too!)

JWJ spotlight hi rez

Jane Wenham-Jones, author of the revolutionary new eating plan 100 Ways to Fight the Flab – and still have wine and chocolate, explains why every successful diet still involves a slice of what you fancy…

No Cake for YOU….

If I told you that you could never have cake again, what would you immediately fancy? Yep, a great big lump of Victoria sponge, or a rich moist coffee and walnut gateau, or a gloriously chocolatey brownie, or perhaps a fresh cream éclair…(insert your own weakness).  You may not even like cake (you strange creature) but if your downfall is crisps (as mine is), pizza, or fresh crusty bread with lots of butter, and I suddenly tell you that if you want to lose weight, it has got to go – ? Well, you get my drift…

There are two big reasons why all diets/eating plans/changes of lifestyle (a lot of books like to avoid the word “diet” to try to pretend you can still eat things you like) eventually fail. And that is, that unless you have a will of iron and a very high tolerance to emotional and physical discomfort (in which case you are probably already as thin as a rake and will already have stopped reading this and be necking down the cake anyway) they all involve feeling either hungry or deprived or both. It is no wonder that nobody sticks to a diet for long and the overweight have a whole shelf load of books promising dramatic weight loss, have tried them all, and are still waddling round the house with a doughnut in each hand. Because it is pretty dispiriting for anyone to face a future in which there is a stark choice between waving goodbye to the notion of cake for the next twenty years or getting your jeans up past your knees.

And if you are a writer, and have already experienced the problem of Writer’s Bottom ( a phrase I take full credit for coining, in my 2007 book Wannabe a Writer? ), you may already be struggling with the zip. But if you can get round those twin problems of hunger and feeling that you’re missing out, you can be the weight you want for ever. And you’ll find it much easier to cope with either one of them, if you do have to, if you know that feeling will be short-lived. Weight loss is a question of attitude as much as what you put in your mouth – a case, if you like, of mind over large quantities of matter.

JWJ Flab9781909520929_FC-1

So – you want cake? You have cake…. And you don’t put on weight afterwards: Here’s how.

1. Call it Lunch. I recently did just that. A friend had given me a huge slice of homemade mocha cake and it was just what I felt like. So I munched the lot. And did I feel guilty or concerned? I did not. Because  it is all about balance. The carbs were consumed early so there was loads of time to burn them off. In the afternoon I played tennis (I lost). I had grilled halloumi, with tomatoes, basil, and a huge crunchy salad for dinner (low carb), a few peanuts with my wine, instead of crisps (protein!), and a bit more dark chocolate (it just sort of rounded things off) and then, as I do when I have any inkling that the podge might be settling in, I went for a longer walk round the block before I hit the sack.

The net result was? My weight dropped slightly. I’d had: wine, chocolate, cake, bread, cheese, and nibbles. As well as essential vitamins and minerals, some green stuff, and tomatoes.

What’s not to like?

2. Eat Carrot cake and call it one of your five a day. Eat a carrot too. There is a theory that if you lived all day on carrots and champagne, you would get all the nutrients you need. This may be true (tho probably isn’t). All I know is that I would talk too much, think I could sing, and then fall over.

3. Eat a chilli pepper nextThe hotter the better. Chillies (http://100waystofighttheflab.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/hot-tip-no-1-a-chilli-a-day-keeps-a-lard-arse-at-bay/ )raise the metabolism and the more fiery they are, the greater the effect. Experts estimate that one can expect a 15% increase in calories burned for about two hours after eating a hot chilli sauce. (If you can face cake with chilli sauce – you’re laughing!)

4. Count its calories. If it’s shop-bought cake, it will say on the packet, if you’ve made it yourself you can do the maths, if it comes from that darling little shop you can’t resist, you can probably look up approx values on the internet. Then simply adjust round it. If you bought a cake at 2,450 calories, ate a slice every day for a week, plus 1200 calories of other foodstuffs spread over three meals – including fruit and veg – you would be perfectly healthy and lose weight. (Alternatively you could eat half the cake in one sitting, eat nothing else all day and take a vitamin pill.)

5. Enjoy it! Happy people look gorgeous whatever their shape, and skip through life with an extra zing. This in turn releases endorphins, raises the metabolism and helps burn the calories. So have your cake and eat it and if you do overdo things (a slice is fine, the entire eight inch sponge probably isn’t), some extra exercise and plenty of protein and veg will put things right tomorrow… Bon appétit!

JWJ 9781909520929_Cover

For more creative thinking on how to eat the things you like and still only need one airline seat, see http://100waystofighttheflab.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/express-newspaper-features-100-ways/ or bite the (fat-free) bullet and got straight to

http://www.amazon.co.uk/100-Ways-Fight-Flab-Chocolate/dp/1909520926/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

http://janewenhamjones.wordpress.com/

Many thanks for a fab, flab-fighting post, Jane.

 

 

 

 

Just Say No – NWS Deadline

It’s that time of year when anyone on the New Writers’ Scheme who hasn’t yet submitted their manuscript, is wondering how on earth it can be August already.

When I blogged about the NWS deadline a couple of years ago here, Jane Lovering commented that “The NWS deadline is nature’s way of preparing you for the horrific task of hitting deadline dates …”. She was right. Although, I’m yet to master the art effectively.

I know several of The Romaniac girls are submitting their manuscripts under the NWS and a couple of us have publisher deadlines looming.  To keep me focussed on mine, I keep telling myself to ‘just say no’ (a catch phrase pinched from Zammo, for those old enough to remember him from Grange Hill). This ties in nicely with a picture I shared on Facebook of  a J K Rowling quote.

“Be ruthless about protecting your writing days, ie. do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential and long overdue’ meetings on those days.”

Not only that, but I often refer back to Nora Roberts and her take on writing. The whole clip below is very inspiring but it’s at 5mins 20secs in, where she talks about keeping you’re a*** in the chair, when I really take note.

And if that’s not enough, I would also add to J K Rowling’s quote, protect your writing time with the same ferocity you would protect the last slice of chocolate cake or last glass of wine.

Good luck to everyone and hope you all have great feedback.

Sue

From Paris With Love – It’s all about me says Samantha Tonge

From_Paris_With_Love_coverFrom Paris with Love is the standalone sequel to my debut romantic comedy, Doubting Abbey. It is also the second novel I have written in Paris. However, the first is FIRMLY under my bed! “Poppy Love” was the first novel I ever wrote, ooh, a few years ago now. What a learning curve. I eventually stopped writing it at 90,000 words (the length of your average chicklit novel) because at that point, there were still only four chapters!

I once read that when a writer starts out on their literary journey, they churn out a lot of, um, not-so-good autobiographical material – a bit like when you buy an old house, the tap water runs brown first of all, and you need to let it run a while for the fresh, clear water to appear. And sure enough, this first Parisian novel of mine was based on a time in my youth when I lived in the French capital and fell in love with a Parisian – a period of my life that I look back on with a warm, nostalgic glow. I set the story in the exact youth hostel I lived in. Due to the cringe-factor, I daren’t re-read it now. What a self-indulgent piece of work!

But I think it is important for a writer to go through this process – as the main plot/character ideas are in your head already (from you own experiences) you unconsciously concentrate, instead, on honing your writing skills. Then you are ready to tackle a novel using your imagination as well, with settings, plots and characters that aren’t directly linked to you.

Indeed, From Paris with Love has little to do with my life – I’ve never been chased by a hunky international spy, nor become friends with a hot, come-to-bed eyed rockstar. Although, of course, parts of my life, on a less autobiographical scale, are still in my writing – how I loved mentally re-visiting Paris, especially the atmospheric Père Lachaise cemetery, bustling Porte de Clignancourt flea market and romantic Sacre Coeur church. And being a foodie, I just had to write about the gastronomic delights bonkers aspiring chef Gemma learns to cook – mmm, the French patisserie, warm baguettes, rich stews and luxurious red wines… I must visit the French capital again soon.

So why not give From Paris with Love a try? It’s a fun tale of the continued rocky relationship between a former pizza waitress and stuffy but gorgeous aristocrat. Lord Edward has honey curls, an accent to die for, and as for his kisses… Mmm, thinking about it, what a pity this book isn’t autobiographical!

Blurb

Every girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade – there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…

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: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Paris-Love-Samantha-Tonge-ebook/dp/B00KYU49XK/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1404140133&sr=1-1&keywords=from+paris+with+love

AmazonUS: http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Love-Samantha-Tonge-ebook/dp/B00KYU49XK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1404140193&sr=8-3&keywords=from+paris+with+love

Picture_014Bio

Samantha 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, came out in November 2013.

 

Nine Essential Elements of Romance Fiction – Catherine LaRoche

NINE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF ROMANCE FICTION

Catherine LaRoche

Catherine LaRoche1

I spend a lot of time thinking about romance fiction.  My mom reads the books, and I picked up the love of the genre from her when I was a teenager.  She always had a tottering pile of novels beside her bed that I’d rummage through for something to borrow.  Now I write historical romances and, in my day job, I’m a college professor of gender studies and cultural studies.  For the past several years, I’ve included romance fiction in my teaching while I’ve been writing an academic book entitled Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture (forthcoming in mid-2015 from Indiana University Press).

My students choose romances from a big box that I bring into class and write responses on them.  We do cut-up exercises with the novels to create alternative storylines.  We write a collaborative online romance with scenes ranging from suspense to spicy erotica.  I’ve set up a romance lending library in my office; my eight-year old son decorated a poster for borrowers to write down comments about the novels they check out.  As I draft my academic book, I workshop chapters with the students in order to get feedback.

I’d like to invite similar feedback from readers here, on some of the book’s conclusions.  I propose that romance novels have nine essential elements.  (I’m playing off Dr. Pamela Regis’s work in her wonderful 2003 text A Natural History of the Romance Novel.)  What do you make of my list so far?  Do you agree or disagree?  Am I missing anything?  All comments welcome!

The nine central claims made by the romance narrative:

  1. It is hard to be alone. We are social animals. Most people need and want love, of some kind. Amid all the possibilities for love as philia (friendship) and agape (spiritual or selfless love), the culture often holds up eros or romantic partner love as an apex of all that love can be and do.
  2. It is a man’s world. Women generally have less power, fewer choices, and suffer from vulnerability and double standards. They often get stuck looking after men or being overlooked by men.
  3. Romance is a religion of love. Romance entails belief in the power of love as a positive orienting force. Love functions as religion, as that which has ultimate meaning in people’s lives.
  4. Romance involves risk. Love doesn’t always work out. Desire can be a source of personal knowledge and power but also of deception and danger. Romance fiction is the safe, imaginative play space to explore the meaning and shape of this landscape.
  5. Romance requires hard work. Baring the true self, making oneself vulnerable to another is hard. Giving up individuality for coupledom requires sacrifice.
  6. Romance facilitates healing. Partner love leads to maturity. Love heals all wounds. Love conquers all.
  7. Romance leads to great sex, especially for women. Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied. Romance reading can connect women to their sexuality in positive way.
  8. Romance makes you happy. The problematic version of this claim is that you need to be in a romantic relationship for full happiness. Here, romance fiction can be oppressive if it mandates coupledom for everyone.
  9. Romance levels the playing field for women. The heroine always wins. By the end, she is happy, secure, well loved, sexually satisfied, and set up for a fulfilling life. The romance story is a woman-centred fantasy about how to make this man’s world work for her.

Further information about Catherine can be found here: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Catherine-LaRoche/407531852

and here: http://popularromanceproject.org/professors-writing-romance/

Thank you so much for the great blog, Catherine, and we look forward to reading your results.