Eggs, chocolate, books, Lent – What’s happening this Easter?

Easter is upon us, a bit on the late side this year, but here nevertheless.

At Romaniac HQ, we’ve been chatting about what we have planned for the next week or so, what we’re reading and what we’re looking forward to. I think it’s safe to say a fair amount of chocolate will be involved.

Sue : I promised my daughter I would read ‘Divergent’ so I can appreciate all her geeky references and I will also be doing the annual Easter egg hunt.  I’ve done this every year since the children were small but last year, I didn’t do it for the older ones, thinking they had grown out of it. How wrong was I? They were most put out. I will have to try and think up some new clues. I can’t have ‘What goes up and down but never moves’ as a clue every year!

Jan : I love the Easter weekend. We always have a family get together, usually on Easter Sunday, where apart from feasting on chocolate, we play games, make up a fun quiz, or like. I’m just hoping the weather holds as it would be lovely to sit outside amongst the blossoms and daffodils. As for what I’m reading, well I’m ping-ponging between Mel Sherratt’s ‘Watching Over You’ (a tense psychological thriller) and re-reading Lisa Jewell’s ‘Before I Met You’ (dual time frame romance with plenty of added mystery) both of which I’m loving. Can’t be bad, can it?

Celia: Shameful confession here – I haven’t read ‘One Day’ yet. Started it this morning and am totally hooked already. David Nicholls – I am terribly keen on you. Over Easter I will also be finishing off all the books I’m part way through due to pressure of work and stuff. I’m going to Norfolk too – time out with daughters and bloke to appreciate the long, almost deserted beaches and eat crab sandwiches. Ok, and chocolate.

IMG_2695

Laura: Ah, Sue – I think I promised to take my daughter to the cinema to watch ‘Divergent.’ Last year, we were in Florida for Easter, and much to our son’s delight, the Easter Bunny tracked him down. This year we’re in Blighty, and I’m reading and enjoying Sarah Tranter’s ‘Romancing The Soul’, with Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Memory Book’, lined up next, and I have edits to complete for ‘Follow Me, Follow You’. There will jollity, certainly an Easter egg hunt, and the end to my self-imposed ‘no eating chocolate for Lent’. Let Easter commence!

Debbie: Oh, Sue, how I miss Easter egg hunts. Sadly, my youngest, now thirteen, has decided he’s too old to partake, although he’s still happy to eat them all!

For me, Easter, like Christmas, is a ‘proper’ festival and celebration. The main day is spent in much the same way; opening Easter cards and sharing eggs before a trip to church, preparing a turkey and all the trimmings for lunch, followed by an afternoon walk (or snooze.)

This year the Easter holidays are mapped out with day trips and teenage boys coming for sleep overs. However, in between, I’ll endeavour to spend as much time as I can in my summer house, watching the birds, enjoying the garden as it springs into life after the long winter’s slumber and writing. By night, next on my kindle ‘to read’ is, Tracy Chevalier’s, ‘The Last Runaway.’

Catherine :  Easter? Who said Easter? It can’t be, I haven’t recovered from Christmas! It will be the twins first Easter & we’ll be spending it with family. They’re not quite up to Easter egg hunts yet, but next year they will. And to get into the chocolate theme, I’ll be reading Sweet Proposal by our very own Celia. I should have read it ages ago but these little girls are getting in the way of my reading time! Maybe with all the extra relatives I can sneak off somewhere!

 Vanessa: Well, for some reason, I decided the Easter holidays would be the perfect time to edit a first draft and send it off to my agent, get new carpets laid in the house and move offices. In between that madness, it’ll be Easter egg hunts, picnics on the beach (if the weather stays sunny!), big family roast lunches and reading Judith Kinghorn’s The Memory of Lost Senses.

We also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continued support, we really do appreciate it. Wishing everyone a very happy Easter.

daffs clump

Romaniac Shorts – Out There For Everyone To See

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Now the Romaniac blog is 2 years old, we’re toddling around in Shorts.

Our cover depicts each Romaniac. Can you guess who has which shorts?

*

*

*

Laura: This is stuff of fantasies, so I chose the red Daisy Dukes, 6th on the line. Remember Daisy from The Dukes of Hazard? I’m never going to get away with wearing tight shorts, so I’m dreaming the dream, baby. Oh yeah.

Jan: An easy choice for me. Turquoise is my favourite colour. Proud to be flapping on the Romaniac line … 

Sue: I opted for the pretty green flowery ones. Whenever I’m thinking up plot ideas, I always doodle flowers, so it seemed the obvious choice.

Lucie: I’m a red head … so naturally I went for orange shorts!

Debbie: It has to be the plain green ones for me, to go with my old green wellies for when I’m ‘at one with nature.’

Celia: Mine are the denim cut-offs – one of my friends’ mums once asked me if I was dressed by Oxfam when I was wearing my best pair. Um … yes, actually …

Catherine: Mine are the yellow polka dot shorts for two reasons. 1) Excellent for the cabaret shows I perform for the twins. (The most effective way to keep two girls happy.) 2) They disguise the milk deposits.

VanessaMy daughters helped with suggestions when I was colouring up the shorts on the cover and they chose the red with white polka dots for me!

Did you guess correctly?

Romaniac Shorts is available as a download from Amazon, at £1, here. We hope you enjoy our briefs ;-)

xx

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief.

There has been much excitement at Romaniac HQ, but in keeping with today’s title, we’ll be brief.

Next Thursday, 13th February 2014, our blog will be 2 years old, and we have a very special celebration planned.

Romaniac Press has gone into production, and we are releasing our first anthology:

Romaniac Shorts

It’s a diverse collection of short stories and flash fiction, ranging from romance, to crime, to fantasy,  and we are thrilled to see one of our early ideas finally come to fruition.

Romaniac Shorts will be available as an eBook, through Amazon.

All profits from the sale of Romaniac Shorts will be divided between Dyslexia Action, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association .

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have received guidance, advice, and friendship from the writing world, and we always aim to give something back. We hope this goes a little way to saying thank you.

Please enjoy our briefs.

*

*

*

Romaniac Shorts Cover

2014 – No More Butterfly Reading – and that’s a promise!

Leaf B

The Romaniacs have decided to give up on the usual resolutions this December and focus on what really matters – books. Who wants perfect nails, a 22” waist and a healthy liver anyway? And my problem this year has been a nasty case of Butterfly Reading (stolen from our old friend Liz Crump’s Butterfly Writing issues which started the ball rolling for us so long ago) i.e. flitting from one thing to another, reading magazines in the bath and generally not getting through all the great offerings that are out there.

So in honour of the fast approaching 2014, here are the three (or more if we can’t stop) books we are dying to read in the New Year. They’re not things like War and Peace or the entire works of Keats; they’re not books that we feel guilty for not having already soaked up – they’re just our three personal must-reads. Please tell us yours too – there are always spaces for more on the list!

Hunger Games

Celia: The first of mine was going to be the third in the Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay – but I don’t know if I can wait that long – I’ve read the other two in quick succession and the third’s waiting on my Kindle … and it’s calling … My next is a re-read really but also a new one; our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare. I’ve been saving it for a quiet couple of days but then the Hunger Games sneaked in. I loved the first draft so the polished version is going to be wonderful. And the last on my list is whatever Kate Atkinson or Elizabeth George write next. Either is fine, just hurry up, ladies. And anything by Terri Nixon and Mandy James. I could go on.

Sue: Mine are The Sword of the Templars by Paul Christopher, The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Someone To Save You by Paul Pilkington.

sword of temp

Lucie: Here are my three choices – Miranda Dickinson – Take a Look At Me Now, Persuasion – Jane Austen, Wish Upon a Star – Trisha Ashley.

Catherine: My three books I want to read are Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman, Is this Love? by Sue Moorcroft & Sweet Proposal by our Celia. Would have read it already, Ce but these little girlies are so demanding! And I love sleep way too much!

Sarah Tranter Romancing

Laura: My chosen list is Romancing The Soul by Sarah Tranter, A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell, and To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. And thank you, Ce xx

Vanessa: Only three?? Well, I got How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern from Santa so I’ll read that one first. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (loved the tv adaptation last night with Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave) and I’m looking forward to the new Stephen King later in the year (think it’s called Mr Mercedes). There’s a new Jojo Moyes out in Feb too: The One Plus One. And I’m definitely going to read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson because I missed it in 2013 and forgot to put it on my Christmas list.

Life After Life

Over to you … Happy New 2014 Non-Butterfly Reading :)

Carols? Crackers? Chestnuts a Roastin’? What fuels your festive glow?

At HQ, we’re well and truly into the Christmas swing. The tree’s up, adorned with sparkly baubles and yummy chocolates (well … empty wrappers …) we’ve mince pies and mulled wine galore and plenty of yuletide music on to sing along to while we work.

What really sparks that Romaniac festive spirit?

Jan: Well, I could probably fill a sheet of A4 with my reasons for loving Christmas, but what really creates that magical feel for me is when I hear the loft hatch creak open, followed by the rustle and smell of tinsel as Mr B hands me down the bags of decorations. It’s then a case of the more festive faces on show, the better … Love it!

Celia: I’m the same as Jan with my long lists of reasons why I heart Christmas but three of my favourite things about the season of goodwill are the school and church plays, (although I’m just at the point when I’ve nearly had enough of sheep and camels) buying just the right tree, and of course, the vegetables of choice  – the ornamental parsnip and the delicious brussel.

parsnipsBrussels

Laura: For the past three years, it’s been the November Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party. The trip to London, and the cab ride from our hotel to the venue has me oohing and ahhing, as you girls will testify. I love seeing the Christmas lights. I used to live in Watford, a twenty minute train ride from the big city. A quick trip on the Underground to Knightsbridge, and I was in Harrods, on floor three, revelling in the beauty of the sparkling decorations. I went this year for the first time since my twenties, and I am pleased to report the childlike wonder is still there. IMG_4871

When my children break up from school though, that’s when I know it’s Christmas, and I love, love, love spending those days with them, and Gajitman, watching Christmas movies, sharing chocolates, and playing daft games.

 

 

Catherine: It has to be a good bit of Christmas music! That’s when I get excited. But this year is really special as it’s my twin girls’ first & they’ve been getting in the spirit as well.

1455187_10153566529290386_1246082727_n

Vanessa: I love Christmas SO MUCH! Always have – even before the children came along. But now, there’s more of us in the house to start getting excited about the visit from Santa. I always start making lists in November, which always gets me in the Christmas mood – festive food lists, helping the girls with their lists for Santa, Christmas present lists for the family. Then, as soon as December arrives, it’s Christmas EVERYTHING – the Christmas CD goes on in the car, seeing the reindeer parade and the big light switch-on in my village, watching my daughters in their angel costumes in school concerts, wrapping presents late at night while watching Love Actually and eating After Eights … turkey, stuffing, sprouts, champagne, chocolate, mince pies and Christmas pudding!!

Sue : I love decoration spotting. Whilst my youngest delights in spotting them, myself and my older children are filled with a mixture of wonderment, awe and, sometimes, disbelief at how far people go with their outside decorations. This is a neighbour of mine, one of the more reserved ones we’ve seen this year. :-)

Decs house

Well, there are some of our favourites … We’d love to know what gives you that special Christmassy feel?  xx

Roving Romaniacs – 6 Go To London

We’re getting about lately, the other week it was the Festival of Romance and last week, en masse, six of us attended the RNA Winter Party.  As always, lovely to meet up with each other at a Kensington hotel which is rapidly becoming our London HQ. The only downside was that our lovely Jan and Catherine weren’t able to make it this time.  

It was great to see so many people at the Winter Party but, as is usual at these events, never enough time to speak to everyone. We also realised that we need to get the camera out a bit more – so, watch out at the next RNA event, we’ll be snapping away and trying to get as many of you as possible for our blog post. 

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

lizzie lamb

Lizzie Lamb

Brigid Coady

Brigid Coady

 

RNA winter 13

IMG_4887

Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

harrods

Beautiful

Putting on The Ritz

Putting on The Ritz

A blustery walk to the tube

A blustery walk to the tube

 

Thank you to Jan Jones and everyone at the RNA for a lovely evening.

Remembering …

Just a short blog today on the theme of looking back over your shoulder. It’s a day when children in schools all across Britain will be silent for 2 minutes (and that doesn’t happen often!) In different places throughout the country, people will pause. They’ll think about wars and the tragic waste of life that goes with them, but they’ll also have their own memories. Here are some of ours.

Celia: My much-missed Pa, about to give me away for the second time. Unbelievably, he is wearing the same suit! He said it wasn’t worth buying another one as this one still had years of wear in it. You can’t go wrong with beige, can you? Except if there’s tomato soup involved.

Wedding

Sue : My Grandad : Frederick Rowland  (1908-1982), Craftsman, REME, Served in North Africa and Italy

Grandad Rowland

Catherine : My Grandad

Catherine's Grandad

Laura: I was thinking about my Great Uncle Reg, who was part of the team that flew gliders to secure a bridge during WW2. Sadly, he passed away in 2005. A true hero.

I’m also thinking about my lovely mum and step-dad. Heroes of a different kind. My heroes.

Fanfare for Sue Fortin and United States of Love

USL HI

This is a terrifically exciting day for our very own Sue Fortin (and consequently for all the rest of the Romaniacs too, as we bask in reflected glory and slap each other on the back a lot. I slapped Laura so hard she fell over earlier…she obviously needs to eat more cake.)

Anyway, Sue’s contemporary romance novel ‘United States of Love‘ is released in digital format by Harper Impulse on this very day, with paperback to follow shortly, so we thought we’d celebrate our lovely Sue’s success by giving you a few thoughts on our favourite subject – love. We hope you’ll add yours too, but for now, crack open the virtual champagne and help yourself to a scone.

Champagne

Celia: Love is:

Lighting the candles even though it’s only soup for tea.

Being told off by your daughters for laughing too much in bed (don’t ask).

A hand to hold in front of the fire when Downton gets serious.

Fire

IMG_4309Laura : Love is:

Being given a daily limit by your mum as to how many times you can speak the name of your new man.

Supplying Minstrels and making coffee to help maintain the writer.

Pretending to be ill in the honeymoon hotel bidet, whilst your newly-wed wife is bent double over the loo, because ‘We’re married now, and we do everything together.’

Sue : Love is :photo (94)

Not having to worry about the state of your legs quite so often during the winter months.

Being able to name all the players in your beloved’s beloved football team, what positions they play and how many goals they’ve scored. Not only that, but you find yourself attempting to discuss the off-side rule with some degree of authority.

Your partner not batting an eyelid when you call him by the name of your fictional hero.

Morning SnugglesCatherine: Love is: Double diaper changes without a nose peg.

Eating Christmas pudding in October because your OH loves it.

Morning snuggles with two babies nestled in between you.

Lucie: Love is: Giving you free reign over the biscuit tin, and not saying ‘diet’s going well then?’, when you are emotionally drained from that last scene you wrote.

Not calling you crazy when you pull the car over just to write down that all important idea that simply cannot wait five minutes until you get home.

Understanding, and accepting, that if you try and talk to me when I am writing, you are more than likely to either be given a one word answer, get a completely random response or, if you’re lucky, be totally ignored. 

Vanessa: Love is: Bringing me a cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday morning and leaving me to sleep even when it’s really your turn for a lie-in.

Never doubting for a second that one day I will get there with my writing…

Making me laugh until I cry.

Jan: Love is: Gamely stomaching your beloved’s first attempt at French onion soup when he’s clearly confused his teaspoons of salt with tablespoons (or rather, ladles!) 

Never complaining when my characters get more attention than you…

Not being able to imagine my world without you in it…

Debbie: Love is: candyqueendesigns

Being in charge of the remote control.

Not having to get out of bed to turn out the light.

Finding the one who makes your heart smile.

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.

~ Mother Teresa

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

~ Sophocles

Love is friendship set on fire. ~ unknown

Sue Fortin: author of 'United States of Love'

Sue Fortin: author of ‘United States of Love’

HI logo

Lightbulb Moments

IMG_3828

Paloma Faith. Bournemouth June 2013

Laura: One of our recent group blogs focused on which songs assist us when writing hot scenes.

As I was adding my humble offering, I was reminded of songs that have helped me solve plot problems, and wondered what other inspirational moments have happened that moved your writing on.

Now, this is a little tricky, as I can’t give away the plot that Paloma Faith solved for me, as it is part of the final scenes in Truth or Dare?, but as a huge fan of the brilliant lyricist, singer and performer (can you tell I’m a little obsessed?), I listen to Paloma’s albums with teenage regularity. It was as I was listening to Black and Blue, from Fall To Grace, that the plot issue was solved. I wonder if you’ll work out which line it was…

In my current novel, Follow Me, I was in the car when Money, The Flying Lizzards played on the radio. The line about the best things in life being free leapt out at me, and suddenly, I had a believable solution to a plot problem I’d been trying to resolve for a couple of months.

This must happen to writers everywhere, not just with music, but maybe your neighbour said something, or your child brought a picture home from school that made you think, ‘That’s the answer!’

We’d love to hear about your lightbulb moments. What or who flicked that switch?

Laura x

Hello Gorgeous.

Hello Gorgeous. Yes you, with the beautiful smile and sparkling eyes. I’d really love to know you. Email me – we could start a wonderful relationship. Message me your phone number …

Choc LitLaura: There’s been plenty of discussion lately on Facebook, about that message file named ‘Other’. From all the statuses and comments I’ve read in the last week - and I don’t dispute this fact – we writers are the best thing since sliced bread. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone has been told that, too.

I delete my messages, but I always read them first – they brighten my day. Is that wrong? My messages are all about the smile …

Here are some of the ‘other’ lovely compliments we’ve received:

Lucie: Well apparently I have ‘beauty beyond words‘ and quite a few people want ‘to get better acquainted,’ oh and I have even had a couple of offers of becoming ‘soul mates‘. It is lovely, really it is, but it is not the reason I am on Facebook. My profile quite openly states that I am married and

I don’t believe I ever put out statuses of the ‘would like to meet‘ genre. However, some of these messages that we all get may well be genuine, but some may not. With the ever growing world of trolling and viruses, you can never be too sure of who you are speaking to. So I generally delete the messages I am unsure of. Like Laura, I read every single message that is sent to me, I love chatting to people, but if I am unsure of the source, I will delete.

Another massive pet hate of mine when receiving these messages is when the person gets my name wrong. I don’t have a difficult name, really, I don’t. Yes, I know I spell my name slightly differently to the normal ‘Lucy,’ but you would not believe some of the variations I have had in the past. It doesn’t bother me when people write ‘Lucy‘ as it is still my name – and was actually the name I was born with, until I changed it in my teens! – but when you start calling me completely different names, it doesn’t incline me to accept the friend request.

But thank you for taking the time to tell me I’m beautiful – that never gets old! :-)

Sue Fortin profileSue :

My recent one, which I later to found out was received by several other Facebook friends (Oh, the two-timer!), said I was more beautiful than Venus. Why, thank you, kindly stranger from the ‘Other’ message box.  Ten out of ten for originality.  This rates alongside the message where the sender wanted to swim in the sea of love with me.  

I find them quite amusing, if I’m honest, but then I do have a warped sense of humour at times!

Pub   Celia :

This one’s my favourite this week – the Venus man passed me by, sadly.

“Hello Pretty, The world is a beautiful place with the shinning of the morning sun which makes the day. But this world is incomplete without the presents of beautiful ones like you to make life complete. Without someone like you around in the world i thinks life is incomplete. Please if you don’t mind can we be friends and get to know each other slowly. Are you single?”

I would love to say the shinning practice had been successful but the drainpipe was slippery, and anyway, I was too busy looking for my presents. i thinks life is incomplete without presents.

Jan: Well, I humour myself by imagining all our super-friendly “other” contributors have graduated from the  ‘flannel & supposed flattery’ academy - where they’ve either attained level 1 status (hopeless case), level 2 (shows promise)  level 3 (extraordinaire). My level one experience went something like… “Hello lufly lady, you are beautiful and simple…” Cheers, pal! Level two made slightly more effort, “Hello Queen, What a nice and sparkling smile. I wouldn’t trade that smile for anything. I don’t know you, I was searching for an old friend, when I stumbled on your profile. I got entangled in that wonderful smile…” Entangled? Level three did ‘the academy’ proud! “Your eyes shine like bright stars, your smile warms me like the sun, your beauty is unmatched. I live in hope that you will see me as more than a friend and allow me to share your beautiful world. Please be single for me…” I ask you, could I possibly feel any more special? ;)

Debbie: And here’s me, thinking I was the only one getting these types of messages! I wish I’d kept some of them now as I’ve had so many I’ve forgotten some of the cheesiest lines and believe me, there have been some very cheesy ones; ‘You have the most amazing eyes,’ ‘Just looking at you makes my heart sing!’ and I’ve even had two marriage proposals. I presumed I was attracting the wrong type as my status is divorced but then it occurred to me (and I’ve checked and double checked my privacy settings) no-one, except FB friends, should be able to access my profile and definitely not my photos! Quite how they can see me and approach me I’m not sure. I’ll be honest, if I’m messaged now by a ‘suspect’ male, I don’t even open them any more. This lady is nobody’s fool and after being through a divorce and round the block a few times, I can spot a man looking for a British Passport a mile off!

Catherine: Quite frankly, I’m miffed. All this talk of ‘other’ men in their lives. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong – maybe it’sCatherine Miller and the Girls having a baby on each shoulder – but I’m not attracting the same level of unwanted attention in my ‘other’ inbox. I seem to get them once in a blue moon and when I do they are Romaniac cast offs. For example, I have a friend request at present who I know was chatting up my friend Debbie some months ago. MONTHS! Imagine how many women he’s attempted to chat up since! Off to check my other inbox… Sweetness, you are so fly, the goddess Venus, seems to be less beautiful. Wait an effing minute… It’s only the same bloke that emailed the ‘other’ girls before me. What does a gal have to do to get some unwanted attention?

Don’t be shy. We’d like you to share your ‘other’ messages, and tell us what it is that draws these people to you. xx