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

 

 

 

 

Divine Moments

At Romaniac HQ we’re fond of creative lightbulb moments. The times when an idea pops up and we can all sit down with a cosy cuppa and a slice of cake and discuss whether it’s actually a good idea or if in fact, one (or all) of us have finally lost the plot.

So when these arrived…

IMG_0900

We quickly shared them out at HQ and decided to share when our divine lightbulb moments occur:

IMG_0934Catherine: Mine usually occur when I’m doing housework. I think it’s the reason I’ll never be a domestic goddess. I only get so far before I have to get on with some writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Sue : First of all thank you for sharing that scrummy chocolate – it didn’t last long in our house, that’s for sure. My divine moments tend to be when I’m dozing off to sleep. I’m not one of those writers who keeps a pen and paper by the bed, although I should, as despite my best intentions to remember my great ideas in the morning, it doesn’t always happen.

divine chocolate

 

01fe95cca7358b824ab43ba271995d5ec459cde77cLucie: These went down very well in my house, and I didn’t even eat a single piece. Ok, well maybe a little piece. Well, OK, two squares. Ok, ok! I ate the whole lot! All in one sitting. Within a matter of seconds.

My lightbulb moments ALWAYS come when I’m driving. When I cannot safely write down anything. A couple of years ago I invested in a dictaphone for these exact moments. But I kept forgetting to use it and it just stayed in the pocket of the door. I must get back into the habit of trying to use it again, I really cannot keep pulling over just to write things down.

IMG_7764Laura: Catherine – what more can one ask of a friend? You shared your chocolates! Thank you, so much. I passed on the share – my children’s big, pleading, puppy eyes were too muchShower running Water to resist. My divine moments often occur in the shower. I heard it’s to do with positive ions provided by water – they stimulate the brain. It’s a little inconvenient as I have to then remember my thoughts until I’m dry and back in the bedroom. However, a friend of mine has suggested a solution to this problem – a shower-proof notebook. It’s on my Christmas list.

 

Debbie: Thank you so much for the delicious chocolates. However, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a photo as they went so quickly, thanks to my two sons! My inspired moments tend to come when I’m in the queue at the post office or sitting in a cafe or somewhere public, ear-wigging conversations. Failing all else, seeing the trees and hills around where I live are what makes my heart sing so if I’m in need of time out and to gain some inspiration, I’ll take my black Lab for a walk and be alone with nature, peace and the countryside. It never fails to inspire.

Vanessa: That chocolate was soooo delicious – thank you Catherine!! Sunday mornings for some reason often provide my lightbulb moments – it’s the only day of the week I get anything vaguely approaching a lie-in (sometimes until 8.30am!) But as is always the way, when I can sleep in, I can’t – instead I lie awake and a million plot ideas for novels and short stories buzz around in my head. I’ve learned to keep a notebook next to the bed so at least I don’t have to physically get up – and my lovely husband always brings me a coffee and feeds the children pancakes while I write.

 

  

When do your divine moments strike?

Open The Box. Open The Box!

 

Little Boxes by Celia J Anderson - 200

We are very excited at Romaniac HQ, as there is a new book to add to our sidebar, and we are helping our wonderful Celia J Anderson celebrate the release of her second novel, Little Boxes.

If you’ve read Sweet Proposal, Ce’s debut novel, you know you’re in for a treat.

Today, the 4th of November 2014, sees the release of Little Boxes, a story I saw come together when Celia and I spent a week on Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year. I cannot wait to read it. I love all sorts of boxes, but little ones intrigue me the most.

What would you put in a little box?

Little Boxes 2Here’s mine: I have shiny, red and gold, almost holographic boxes in my ‘special drawer’ in my bedroom. My mum was a lover of fondant flower sweets, which were incredibly hard to come by. I found a supplier, bought a bag, and then wrapped up four small parcels of two sweets each in tissue paper and placed them into one of the four boxes. I popped a tiny bow on top of each box, and they formed part of my mum’s Christmas present. The last little box I received contained hair dye …

Jan: Like Laura, I’m thrilled for Celia and, having  had a sneak preview of Little Boxes, I’m itching to see  it in print. You’ll love it, that’s for sure. As to what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my tiny keys to things like my jewellery box, home file, etc. I also have a sweet little miniature handbag box that houses various pins and buttons.  

20141015_112158

Sue: I can’t wait to read Little Boxes, I love the cover. As for what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my  lovely memories, such as, the smell of my nan’s Sunday dinners, Lincoln biscuits, the feel of soft baby skin and gentle breath, childhood holidays with cold waves of Cornish sea licking at my legs, the smell of saddle soap and leather from my horse riding days, the excitement of Christmas Eve, the taste of Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets, standing on the beach with the wind blowing my hair in a swirling frenzy and the feeling of contentment at watching your children sleeping peacefully.

baby hayley

Debbie: It’s so good  to hear ‘Little Boxes’ has reached publication day as I’ve followed the journey and how it has developed since Celia’s trip to Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year.

My little box would bulge with photographs of my two boys; all their first and significant events as they grow up so quickly, the green heart-shaped crystal my eldest bought me on a trip to Ironbridge and the necklace my youngest spent all his money on his first school trip to France. If I could, I’d also squeeze a small corner of the box for a selection of items that evoke memories and a ‘presence’ of my IMG_0366Nan like a packet of her Extra Strong mints, a bottle of her favourite perfume,  Helena Rubenstein’s, ‘Apple Blossom’ and a little glass ‘worry’ angel that I found in her glass cabinet when I cleared it out after she passed away. Finally, I’d put in the little figurine my mum gave me when we re-discovered each other after nearly forty years apart along with the ballet medals from when I was a little girl …

Lucie – I absolutely love the cover of ‘Little Boxes’ and I cannot wait to read it – how exciting. My ‘Little Box’ would contain special photographs of my family and my close friends, a pen and notepad, an ipod with all my favourite music and my special teddy from when I was a little girl. Ok, so my box isn’t that little, but those are all my favourite things that make me happy.

Catherine – I can’t wait to read Little Boxes. I remember first chatting with Celia about it in 2012 and so great to see it launched. Aside from the lovely memory type boxes the others have mentioned, my favourite little box holds within it small pieces of folded paper each with the name of a book I want to read. I’m rather enjoying this way of deciding what to read next! 

littleboxVanessa: We’re hoping to be moving house next month, so I’ll soon be packing a lot of very big boxes! But as I sort through, trying to be ruthless, getting rid of junk and rubbish, I’ve found myself opening a lot of boxes I haven’t seen for a while and getting lost in memories – lovely surprises as I find old photos I’d forgotten about, baby teeth left behind by the tooth fairy, the tiniest wellies I’ve ever seen ( I can’t believe my girls were ever small enough to wear them!). Time goes so fast so I’m going to re-pack those little boxes, add extra memories – cards and photos and notes – and plant them all over the new house: miniature time capsules to stumble over in future years.

I can’t wait to read Little Boxes – Celia is such a great writer and it’s been lovely sharing the excitement of her writing journey.

And what is in Celia’s Little Boxes? Whatever it is, I know we are in for an absolute treat.IMG_4073

Much love and many congratulations, Ce, on the release of Little Boxes. It is a book of gorgeous gems for every reader to treasure.

xxx

 

 

 

Coming soon – Laura E James and Follow Me, Follow You

Choc Lit

 

We’re all very excited at Romaniac HQ, because on Monday we’ll be able to interview our very own Laura and find out more about her brand new book. It’s in paperback! It’s amazing! We’re all reading it/have read it and without a word of a lie or an over-enthusiastic shout out for a good friend, it’s a really gripping, emotionally challenging read, with humour and deep family relationships at its heart. Do you get the impression we like it with a capital L?

FOLLOW ME_front highres

Anyway, enough waffling. Today I’m thinking about how the Romaniacs have got to know each other over the years. We’ve always been able to talk for Britain, and listing someone else’s good points is so much easier than blowing your own trumpet, so we often do each others bigging up to save our blushes. For this reason, it’s no problem at all to tell you about Laura – in fact it’s an absolute pleasure. I’m going to ask the others to add their own thoughts after this, but here are a few points to start us off:

  • Laura loves the colour red, writing, Kate Bush and hot chocolate in equal measures but her real passion is her lovely family
  • She’s an excellent singer
  • She’s recently discovered gin and tonic but her drinking skills are not fully honed yet. Just give me time …
  • Laura can make you laugh even when you think there’s absolutely NOTHING to laugh about
  • Her listening skills are top notch and she’ll always come up with sound advice for a friend in need
  • She has some very interesting boots
  • She is the queen of punctuation

Okay, Romaniacs, over to you. What have I missed?

Jan: Well, I’d agree with all of the above points, Celia, and would like to add that Laura’s enthusiasm is infectious. I’ve never known anyone who can have her finger in so many literary pies and give each one of them her ‘all’ with such gusto. She’s an inspiration to us all, a great friend and a super-talented writer who deserves all the success in the world.

Sue: Many dittos to all of the above. I’m in total awe of Laura’s enthusiasm, dedication and forward thinking;  she’s a real power house on those scores. For me, it’s knowing I can rely on Laura for pragmatic and, at times, succinct advice on all things, not just writing and, as such, I truly value her honest friendship. I’m also particularly impressed how she has embraced being hugged. ;-)

Debbie: Ahh, Laura. Just saying her name makes me smile. Her writing talents are obvious and I’m nodding at everything the girls have said. But to me, what’s most remarkable about Laura is, she’s what we call in Yorkshire, ‘a right character.’ Like Yorkshire folk she doesn’t sugar coat anything. There’s nothing Pollyanna about our singing writer and the original Mrs Dynamo! We can all learn a lot from her, both from her ideas but also her character. I value how she challenges, stretches my mind and makes me think. I admire her tenacity, her DOGGED determination, her boundless energy, especially given that she suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis (and she never moans or makes excuses.) Laura is solid and a real backbone of the Romaniacs. She’s strong and focussed. And you won’t find me far behind her at parties as she’s the best ‘mingler’ I’ve ever known!

Vanessa: I nodded along to all of the above – it’s been so wonderful to be able to share in Laura’s journey to publication because I know how hard she’s worked and she’s such a great writer, her books deserve to be a massive success. I’ve been lucky to have Laura to talk writing with – we have a shared affinity for the darker side of fiction as well as the lighter side and have often found similar themes and characters emerging in our works-in progress! And it’s important not to forget – she’s also mad as a box of frogs :-) (in the best possible way…)

Lucie: What a fantastic round up of our wonderful friend my lovely Romaniac ladies have done. I can but echo every point they have made – Laura is truly an amazingly inspirational woman who deserves every ounce of success she is no doubt going to achieve. I feel like I have known Laura all my life – as I feel with all the other Romaniacs. Laura is by far the most confident of us all. She turns into a beautiful social butterfly when at events, fluttering her way around the room spreading joy and positivity. It is an absolute pleasure to have such a talented friend and I wish her every bit of love, luck and success … not that she needs it, she has the determination to get there on her own credit.

Catherine: I LOVE LAURA. In five words she is QUIRKY, WONKY, WICKED, WISE and FEARLESS. (There was more to this, but the interweb ate it, then the girls covered most of the other bases.) She is a real talent and I hope right about now she’s blushing! 

So there you go – that’s Laura in, well, not quite a nutshell, more of a large bucket of joyfulness. Come back Monday and join us when Follow Me, Follow You is really out there. And I wish you all a wonderful Laura in your lives. If you can’t find one, we might just let you share ours …

Celia x

Oops! Typo Alert …

At HQ, we often cringe or have a giggle at various typos we’ve either seen or made. In some cases they’ve even been for the best. After all, our very own blog name derived from one and it’s hard to imagine us being called anything else.

Here are a few of our finest …

Jan : 

“Sweat ‘n’ Sour Chicken.” (Eeeew! Thanks but no thanks!)

“Brianstorming Session.” (Poor Brian!)

“Thanks for the fiend request.” (Ooh, you little devil, you!)

Celia :

“Blinty” is my all-time favourite Romaniac-page blooper. I meant to say “blimey” at the time but much prefer blinty these days. Also like the times when one of us gets a word wrong in a thread and then everyone continues to use the typo for weeks afterwards. As they say, you don’t have to be insane to be a Romaniac, but it certainly helps …

Laura:

Pooked. I have no idea what I was meant to be typing, but it ended up as pooked. I pook, he pooks, we pook, they pooked. Answers on a postcard please … One of my main typos is if, when I want it to read of. ‘Oh, what’s become if …?’.  When I was a wee, young thing, I’d often muddle things up. We read the paper news and put the vase on the sill window. Finally, slightly deviating, we had to correct our son, who mistakenly believed the attack on Pearl Harbor happened in Poole Harbour. STOP PRESS. Yesterday, as we passed the beach and noticed the traditional seaside puppet show, my son asked, ‘Who is Punching Judy?’

Clearly, it’s in the genes.

IMG_1034

Vanessa:

My most recent typos have been in emails rather than the work-in-progress – I sent an email to Dear Lousie instead of Louise. Funnily enough, I never got a reply…  I also wrote headlice instead of headline in another mail (luckily I caught that one before it went out). Hmmm… my typos seemed strangely related *scratches head*

Debbie:

I reckon I can trump Jan’s use of ‘sweat.’ My mum once wrote to me, ‘sweat dreams.’

And on this topic, there’s a quote that makes me smile:-

“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.” ― Jarod Kintz

 Sue:

Whilst I can’t think of anything specific, and there has no doubt been many, I do have one I regularly make. Since a child I have always had a tendency to get the letters ‘m’ and ‘p’ muddled, or should that be puddled up? Usually, I spot it straight away, but there has been the odd occasion when it’s got through. This doesn’t make for great reading when I’m trying to say something like, ‘She was missed.’ or ‘I miss you.’ or ‘He had been missing for a week.’  

I have to say, out of all the typos, ‘Romaniacs’ and ‘Blinty’ are my favourites.

 

 

What are the funniest, most toe-curling typos you’ve ever seen or made?

20140602_085033

Go on … you know you want to tell us!

 

 

 

 

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