You Googled WHAT? Part 2

Some time ago, I wrote a blog post on the search terms that led people to view The Romaniacs blog. It was interesting to say the least, it’s safe to say not much has changed! Once again I’m ignoring the common ones and sharing the top ten most random search terms.

1) Images of Romantic Handcuffs

Now is it me, or is that an oxymoron?

2) Garage flowers

And I thought the handcuffs were killing the romance.

3) trisha aunty sixboys video full

Erm…

4) email and text from boss end with a kiss

Ah the etiquette of kisses at the end of a text. I’ve told Laura off about lack of kisses before. Sounds like your boss should be told off for the opposite xxx

5) best four letter word

This sounds like a contest no four letter can win.

6) i love my twin daughters

Yeah, me too. Okay, this is in because I’m soppy.

7) i kiss my sister-in-law on the lips

Hmm… by accident? On purpose? Come on man, we need more info in your search term!

8) writers stories of struggle to get published

Oh yes, we’ve all been there, done that. Am yet to get a T-shirt.

9) hot & sexy images of hot sizzling & spicy girls

So you’ve seen our profile pictures. It’s true… we’re smoking!

10) sex.nic

I want to remove the dot. Sexnic. Some recreational fun followed by food. Food. Where did we put the cake?

Your Agony Aunt,

Catherine x

Winning Ways With Words

There are lots of writing competitions out there for short stories, and unpublished novels, etc, often with an entry fee. They are well worth entering and any success that may come with them will really add to your writing CV.

I love entering competitions to the point I’d class it as my biggest hobby and I’m not just talking about writing competitions, I’m on about all sorts. I can pinpoint the exact moment I found out filling out forms and entering was really worthwhile. It was back in 2007 when we went to a wedding fair. At a budget talk they mentioned trying to win wedding prizes to try and save money. I went home, looked up wedding competitions and came across a website that linked to prize draws. I spent a few evenings entering. Six weeks later, I had a phone call, which to this day, I’m still stunned by. First the radio station rang to check I was available to answer the phone and reminded me I’d entered to win a holiday to Australia, and that could I wait by the phone because they would ring me back within ten minutes to let me know if I’d won! When they did ring, I was so sure they would ask me a question which I would get wrong, I was stunned into silence when they told me I was off to see Gwen Stefani in concert in Sydney. (Silence: Not the greatest sound on radio!) That was the first of many great experiences entering competitions has bought me. For that particular competition, I had to tell them why I should win so it involved a small amount of writing effort.

Creek

It was later on I found out any competition involving any kind of effort, be it writing, photography or creative effort, it will attract less entries. So even if they may not bring the same accolades as winning a short story competition, as they don’t have an entry fee, I enter competitions that require some writing effort and I’ve won some amazing prizes as a result.

The top one has to be a car. Yes, you read that right, A CAR! Now this was slightly unusual in that it required you purchased a car in order to go into the prize draw and then you needed to write 150 words as to why you liked that brand of car. We’d upgraded our car when I found out about the competition, and as it required effort, I pushed the boat out and wrote a poem. When the garage called me to say I’d won, I did remember to scream (not too loudly) about it this time!

Car

Of course not all prizes are that big, but even a smaller win can be a real boost. Back in July last year, I was in hospital for two weeks after the birth of the twins and I received an email letting me know I was the runner up in a princess for the day competition. The main prize had been a £500 shopping spree in London, on a specific date, and if I’d won that I would have had to turn it down. The runner-up prize was perfect as it was £50 worth of Palmer’s goodies and as I was rather run down at that point it was a wonderful pick me up. And it all came about because I’d taken the time to write in about how Catherine Miller’s and Catherine Middleton’s pregnancies had differed, and that all mum’s needed to be treated like a princess.

IMG_0457

I haven’t updated my writing CV in a while, but when I do it will include being a mum to twins and winning a car with a poem. Perhaps not traditional items to have on your CV, but certainly talking points. So when you next enter writing competitions, don’t forget to consider non-conventional writing effort required competitions as well. You never know what you might win, and if you twist my arm enough, I’ll share my secrets about how to find out about them.

Roving Romaniac: Writing a Romantic Novel with WriteStars & Sue Moorcroft

The lovely Choc Lit and Writestars ran a competition to win a place on Sue Moorcroft’s Write a Romantic Novel in a day course. The entry involved answering a simple question and saying why you deserved to win in 150 words. Below are the reasons I gave:

1) I LOVE Sue Moorcroft!
2) I need to learn more about my craft & Sue’s course is perfect for the tools I need to finish my work in progress.
3) My first chapter has been shortlisted twice for the Romance Festival New Talent Award and was runner up in Miranda Dickinson’s Future Stars competition. Now I need to make sure the rest of the book lives up to the start.
4) This year I gave birth to twins. It means I am entirely capable of writing a novel in a day. If only I could get the day off. Winning this would mean I get a special day pass for a nappy free adventure!
5) The course is the same week as my birthday. If I won, you’d be whisking me off to a mystery location! That’s as close as I’ll get to romantic weekend away for a while.

As you can imagine, I was absolutely delighted when Choc Lit emailed to let me know I’d won!

20140421-214026.jpg

The setting for the course was kept a secret until a few days before, when we were told it was at the opulent setting of the RAF Club in Piccadilly. WriteStars added some romantic touches as well to make the day extra special.

20140421-214615.jpg

Sue is an excellent tutor. Not only is she a contemporary fiction author, she has also penned Love Writing, a non-fiction book on writing romantic fiction. The day was based on this book and it was great having Sue go through all the elements of writing a romantic novel.

20140421-215304.jpg

I was able to discuss my current novel with Sue and the other writers attending. It was great to have feedback from a group on the various aspects of my storyline. The day catered for whatever stage of novel writing everyone was at. Since returning home, I’ve managed to fill the beautiful notepad that I was given as part of the course, and I hope I’ve also fixed the potential pitfall that Sue identified.

20140421-220532.jpg

To end the day, we did what all reasonable people do, and did a selfie. Well, there was no one else about to take the picture! A big thank you to Choc Lit, WriteStars, Rachel from WriteStars, and to Sue. It was an great day and I’m already putting the advice into practice.

20140421-222802.jpg

Introducing Roma and Nia – The Romaniac Twins!

They arrived in style on 4th July. The first (Amber) via forceps delivery and the second (Eden) via emergency C section after some complications. After a short while on neonates Eden is doing really well and after 11 days in hospital we’re now getting used to family life at home! The twins will always be known as Roma and Nia on here after the Romaniacs decided they were good names. I do think that takes branding to a somewhat extreme level. Here’s the Romaniac twins and the reason I haven’t/won’t be about as much in coming weeks…

20130727-211200.jpg

How it should be …

20130727-210247.jpg

How it is …

20130727-210226.jpg

Tuesday Chit Chat with… CONTRACTED AUTHOR, OUR VERY OWN LAURA JAMES

Sorry for shouting. It wasn’t the aggressive shouty type. More of a town cryer style because Hear ye, Hear ye we have some fantastic news for you today. And without further ado, we’ll get on with asking the lady herself…

Author Pic Brighter

We’ve noticed at Romaniac HQ that Laura hasn’t been eating her cake of late. We know this means something is on her mind. So, tell us Laura, what’s occurring?

You know me, stomach’s always the first to give when anything major happens in my life.

Don’t leave us guessing, Laura! You are being interviewed by a lady who is heavily pregnant with twins. I’m not in a position to be left in the lurch. What is the MAJOR thing that has happened in your life?

Sorry, Catherine. Hang in there.

I should warn you, I’m liable to spontaneously combust at any moment, and that’s something even I can’t plan for, so it might be best if you take cover somewhere.

I am exceedingly happy…no…make that ecstatic…to tell you the lovely people at Choc Lit , under their new Choc Lit Lite imprint, have said yes to my first novel, ‘Truth or Dare?’ *dowses self with cold water* And I’m going to have a cover! *Reaches for the jet-wash*

Jan, Jan! Where is the honk-o-meter? We need to offer up our biggest congratulations to Laura.

Jan: Yeeeeeee Ha!! To all of it! HONKS of gargantuan, major league, A1, epic, fantabulously titanic proportions!

I knew Jan would sum up how the rest of us Romaniacs feel. Knowing how much hard work you’ve put in, Congratulations didn’t quite cover it.RNA Summer Party Romaniacs Name Badges

Fantastic honking, Jan :-) Thank you, my wonderful Romaniac chums. What would I do without you? You have been and continue to be my pillars of strength. If pillars were built from laughs, you’d be that, too.

Right, time to calm you down for a moment and ask what is ‘Truth Or Dare?’ about?

Chesil. Portland. Dorset.

Chesil. Portland. Dorset.

In a nutshell, which, as you know, is quite a difficult state for me to achieve, ‘Truth or Dare?’, as it currently stands, is a gritty, twenty-one year story, (is that split-era?) revolving around the influence of past events on the present and future. There is a romance at its heart, a family I’d love to visit for holidays, and a shed load of moral dilemmas, as the title suggests. And for the most part, it is set in Dorset, a county I adore.

Did you know there is a law against taking the pebbles from Chesil Beach?

We can’t wait for the moment it’s available, but we know you have lots of hard work in the meantime. But for now it’s time to celebrate so what have you got planned?

Eating properly. Maybe getting a little sleep. All the things I’ve failed to do over the last few weeks. And, since it’s a special occasion, I might even hug a few people.

In my head, I’m dancing with wild abandon. In my kitchen, I’m singing Paloma songs. With gusto. And you know it.

Love you :-) xx

When I was young...

When I was young…

We love you too, Laura ;-) ‘Tis quite worrying, I’ve never known you to be this gushy and huggable. And we’ve got through this announcement without my waters breaking or you fainting. Just, if the other Romaniacs don’t mind, maybe we should ease off on the group hug so Laura and I can collapse on the sofa. And as it’s Romaniac HQ, I’d like to raise my glass (of lemonade, the rest of you have something more fancy) & HONK a toast to Laura and her much deserved success.

The ‘Bring A Dish’ Party

Here at Romaniac HQ we have not one, not two but three March birthdays! Has there ever been a better excuse to throw a party?

3 girls

The Birthday Trio – Laura, Sue, & Catherine

Now parties don’t normally come with rules apart from when they do. To join the party you have to bring something with you, as the title suggests. As host of this party, I need you to bring FOOD, lovely imaginary FOOD! If you are anything like me your social media will be filled with people on the 5:2 diet, so if that’s you, imaginary food will be just what you need. As for me, I’m on the eating for three diet. This involves expanding your waistline massively whilst adhering to a list of forbidden foods. No alcohol, no goat’s cheese, no soft boiled eggs – the list goes on.

So here is the deal: please come along and celebrate our birthdays with a bottle or dish in hand. Perhaps share a recipe with forbidden ingredients so I can drool and dream of the day when I can once again eat such delights. Or if you’ve given up something for Lent, bring the dish you plan to eat at the end of the 40 days. Or if you are on a diet then bring something highly calorific. There is one other option. Of course ‘a dish’ could be interpreted as a handsome date so feel free to bring one of those with you.

Here is my contribution. I discovered its total awesomeness yesterday. It’s called a Cherpumple. What’s that you wonder? It’s three pies baked in three cakes to make one big cake! If you want to know how to make one and to see it in all its glory, head here: http://vittlemonster.com/2011/09/07/how-to-make-a-cherpumple-successfully/ Go looksie. Your life will be better for it… promise.

Catherine x

Now let’s see what the other Romaniacs are bringing to tempt you to the party…

Laura: Excuse me whilst I reinsert my eyes – they popped out at the sight of the pie cake. MAGNIFICENT!

I like salty nuts. Especially the jumbo ones. I’ll supply some rather expensive macadamia and cashews, to go with a bucket of buttered popcorn.

Mmm. Salted, buttered popcorn.

Mmm. Salted, buttered popcorn.

Ooo – I just thought of maple brazils, which are quite possibly the sweetest thing my tongue has ever experienced. Who wouldn’t enjoy the sensation of the golden fondant melting in the mouth, exposing the firm body of a naked brazil?

And I could be talked into supplying Baileys.

And a hot tub filled with Maltesers.

Which I might bathe in with Johnny Depp.

Jan: Red, White or Rose? Oh, what the hell! I’ll bring all three (in abundance) with, hmmm… let me think…ooh, I know… a CHOCOLATE platter. Oh, yes! Milk, Dark, White, Nutty, Fruity, Rum-laden, Honeycomb, Minty, Orangey… Shall I go on? And to help me stagger along under the weight of this delectable choccie delight? Well, if Mr Penry Jones is free and in the party spirit, he can come along for a nibble :)

This is a picture of a Romaniac fridge – get the idea?

wine

Celia: Well, obviously I’ll be bringing cake – the one in the picture isn’t for the girls, none of them are 90 yet…or so they say…anyway, there will be a splendid birthday cake oozing with fruit and all things sticky, with marzipan and icing on top and all their names in a row. I will also throw in some stilton and home made oatcakes, a couple of jars of anchovy stuffed olives and a magnum of champagne (plus some apple juice for Catherine). And Roger Daltrey. He’s for me, not for the birthday girls. Just saying.Cake

Sue : Well I would have to bring cup cakes. I know Celia has done a lovely birthday cake, but I’d bring the cup cakes for the party bags at the end. I’d also bring party hats, party poppers and balloons – if anyone could invent some edible ones that would be fantastic.

cake

Vanessa: Okay – so we’re covered for cakes and chocolate (not covered in cake and chocolate, that’s a whole different party…) and Jan’s bringing the wine… So I think I’ll contribute the CHAMPAGNE! At least a dozen bottles as we have so much to celebrate this year – birthdays and Romaniac twins and book deals and competition wins… And maybe something substantial to soak up the alcohol and balance out all the sugar – fish and chips for all!

Debbie: Oh, I do love a good party. Happy birthday to my friends in advance. It’s lovely to have something to celebrate!

I shall be doing what we Romaniacs do best – drinking wine and eating cake! And I’m afraid, with regards to bringing something to the party, it’s more cake from me. As well as being the Queen of wine; red, white, rose (I don’t care as long as it isn’t German or a Chardonnay,) I’m also domestic Goddess in the Lemon Drizzle Cake department. I have a recipe if you’d like it?

As for a date; I don’t need a man! Cake, wine and my Romaniac buddies…what more could a girl ask for?

Having it all?

It’s no good, I want it all. I want to be a multi-tasking, never-ending ball of energy that writes a book every three weeks and still has time for a manicure and the gym. How is it possible for someone to tweet so well about the three tasks they are carrying out when I can barely manage to tweet, let alone tweet whilst doing something?

I’ve come to the conclusion these multi-tasking people must have some tricks up their sleeves. Here are a few of my theories:

  • They have far whizzier brains than me. They know what to do to get all the info to all the places all at once. I’m sure I could figure it out, if only I had the time!
  • They must have a PA making up for the time that seems to disappear into the ether in my world.
  • They don’t sleep. How else are they fitting in the gym and manicures?
  • It’s all lies. I’ve seen lots of pictures of costa coffee drinks whilst people are waiting to do something exciting. Who’s to say it’s not the same cup over and over again? They’re just making out they’re waiting on the cusp of glory whilst I’m sat on the sofa in my PJs wondering why I’m not enjoying the glory of a coffee outside of the house.

OK, I admit it, I’m jealous. It’s just I want to be the all powerful, taking on the world woman, but I may be forced to admit that she’s gone. Only temporarily, mind. For the past few months I’ve been taken over. My only priorities in life have been eating, drinking, peeing and sleeping. What’s caused such a change? Well, these two…

2012-12-19 10.40.34

Romaniac Twins

So even though my brainpower has disappeared, my concentration is out the window as soon as I see a food advert, well, I don’t mind a bit. As my other Romaniacs have told me, the writing can wait and we’ve also decided the blog will be a bit quieter as I become accustomed to my new life as a mum of twins (due same time as the Royal baby) and the other Romaniacs get on with their WIPs.

I know, you’re excited as I am to discover how long it takes me to work out how to pop on my make-up, deal with shitty nappies and tweet about it at the same time. Okay, I lied. I won’t be using any make-up FOR MONTHS. But you’ll never know. I only plan to tweet pictures of costa coffee cups and if you twist my arm, some cute twinnie photos!

Catherine x