How Michelle Betham Wrote A Novel In Six Weeks

With November’s annual NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I’ve been considering taking part.  This has been partly inspired by the lack of output recently experienced here in West Sussex and partly by Michelle Betham, author with Harper Impulse.

Michelle has been a one woman writing machine this year – she got an idea for a book that wouldn’t leave her alone and in just six weeks completed her first draft.

I’ve been chatting to Michelle to find out more about how she did it and to find out more about her new release The Brotherhood.

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Hi Michelle

First of all, congratulations on the release of your book Revolution (The Lone Riders MC book 1 of the series). It looks a great read and having spent many hours as pillion passenger, I’m really looking forward to reading this.

So, the first question everyone will want to ask; did it really take just six weeks to get the first draft down?

It really did take just 6 weeks – give or take – to get the first draft down. Although, it has had a fair amount of tweaking done to it since that first draft was finished!

What’s your secret? What was your motivation?

What was my motivation? That’s an easy one to answer. I’d just started watching ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s an American drama series based around an outlaw Motorcycle Club), and because I’ve always had a fascination with that world, and because I’ve always been a bit of a frustrated wannabe biker chick, watching that show inspired me to write my own story based around a fictional Motorcycle Club – The Brotherhood of Lone Riders. And I also love that whole tattooed, long-haired, bearded thing as far as men are concerned, so to be able to throw myself into that world, and create my own group of bikers; to try and create some strong, feisty women to challenge the men living within that world, it was something I just had to do. And I loved every single second of writing Revolution. Loved it!

What sort of planning went into it? Did you have a clear plan/plot beforehand or did it evolve as you wrote it?

I had a very vague story in my head before I started the writing Revolution. I knew the characters I was going to create, and I knew the bare bones, if you like, of what their journey was going to be. But, as with every other book I’ve written, that story grew, changed a little bit, and evolved more as I kept on writing.

Have you got any top tips for anyone to getting the words down?

Just write them. Not all of them will stay, and a great deal of them may be messed around with, but as far as getting that first draft down, don’t think too much about it, just write those words! And that’s something I’ve learned as I’ve gone on over the years, because I used to over think first drafts way too much! But what I find so exciting about writing is that, sometimes, the characters you create will end up telling you where they want to go, and a lot of the time you just have to run with that.

So, can you tell us a little bit about Revolution? What genre does it fall in?

Revolution_cover_imageIt’s a contemporary romance, definitely, with quite a bit of action in this one, and I don’t just mean in the bedroom! Because it’s not just a romance – although, that is what’s at the centre of it all. It’s also the story of the Motorcycle Club itself – The Brotherhood of Lone Riders; the people who live within that world. So it really falls into the MC Romance/biker romance sub-genre. And it’s a real gritty love story.

The main female character, Lexi Hart, was born into the world of the Lone Riders. It’s all she’s ever known. But one mistake sees her banished from the northern Californian chapter of the club – a place she’s called home since the age of fourteen. She broke their rules. She gave them no choice. But after spending eight years back home in England, at the Lone Riders chapter her father is President of in Newcastle, she’s back in California. And not everybody’s pleased to see her return. Lexi, however, has come back to find answers. What happened in the past, the reason why she had to leave California, it had knock-on effects and consequences nobody could have imagined. And she needs to know the truth – she needs to find her own truth because, for far too long she’s been living someone else’s… And she needs one man to help her find those answers. Even if he’s a man she should never have gone near in the first place. But he’s a man she can’t stay away from… As dark secrets are revealed, and dangerous games start to be played, can the Lone Riders pull together to survive the storm that’s about to hit them…?

Did the genre have any influence on your decision to self-publish Revolution rather than through your publishers, Harper Impulse?

Yes, it did. Revolution is quite a dark romance, quite a dark story on the whole. And I just wasn’t sure it was the kind of thing my publishers were looking for. But I wanted it to try and stay true to the whole MC Romance/biker romance thing. Not everything is nice and pretty in those books. And the world of the Brotherhood of Lone Riders has a very dark and sometimes sinister edge to it, at times. But actually exploring that slightly darker side of romance, it was really interesting to write something quite different to anything I’ve written before.  I like to push myself, to explore the different sides of romance, and I guess I pushed a few boundaries with this one. But that’s exactly what I wanted to do!

And finally, what’s on the horizon, is there another six week novel in the pipeline?

Quite possibly! After I’ve finished my next book for Harper Impulse, I want to get on with book 2 in The Lone Riders Series – Retribution. And I’m hoping to get that one written, edited and out there by Spring next year.

Thanks so much, Michelle, it’s been great chatting with you.

Amazon UK link HERE

Amazon US link HERE

Michelle Betham blog HERE

 

 

Coming through the airwaves : Nicky Wells

Today, I’m delighted to welcome author and radio presenter Nicky Wells onto the blog.  Many of you will know Nicky through her Romance that Rocks Your World books, but more recently she has also taken on the role of radio presenter.

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Nicky, can you tell us a bit about your radio show, please?

Hi Sue! Of course I can, but first up, thanks so much for inviting me back to Romaniac HQ. It’s always such a pleasure to hang out here! Now then, my radio show. It’s called BOOKS ROCK, and it’s a show where books and their authors and readers take centre stage. Because, as you know, I love writing, I’m an avid reader, and I’m addicted to music. It seems the ideal combo to me! Every show features two authors and two readers, often bloggers. The authors talk about writing-related matters and their books, and the readers give their perspectives on the theme of the day—e.g. research, or point of view—plus their top reads for the month. So far, we’ve had authors such as Jill Mansell, Talli Roland, and Tracy Bloom on the show—plus of course, your good self! We also have a ‘reality radio’ segment whereby we’re tracing the progress of Karina Jackson, a local aspiring writer. You might say I’m putting her through a creative writing course live on air. Then again, you might say we’re simply talking about her progress. I’ll leave that up to the listener to decide, but the idea is to give idea and inspiration to other emerging authors out there.

BOOKS ROCK airs on Siren 107.3 FM at 11 am UK time on the third Saturday of every month (and then again the following Tuesday, usually about 7pm)—people in the Lincoln area can listen live, and the rest of the world can tune in at sirenonline.co.uk. Plus, of course, the podcasts are available from the Siren FM website. This is the bit where I get to say, ‘here’s one I made earlier…’ :-)

http://www.sirenonline.co.uk/archives/9589

How did this role come about?

Ah. Well. Please don’t laugh. *coughs* I had a dream. No, really. I woke up one morning with the concept for the show and a sample schedule for the hour-long programme all ready in my head. I went downstairs to my office to set the whole crazy notion on paper before it got away from me. And then, before I could think about it twice, I zapped the whole thing to one of the producers at Siren FM via email. I’d been involved in Siren FM through The Midweek Drive for about eighteen months by then, so it didn’t seem a big deal to present a crackpot idea—they’d either say yes or no. As it happened, they said yes—within about two hours of receiving the proposal. I was delighted, and now I get to make a monthly radio show. Awesome!

You certainly sound very natural on the radio and definitely put me at ease when I was a guest. Is it as easy as you make it sound?

Thank you so much for saying that! LOL! Is it as easy… now there’s a question. You see, I love it. I’m a chatterbox by nature and find it virtually impossible to shut up. I’m timid in person, but somehow the medium of radio, the one level of remove from face-to-face interaction, seems to take away the inhibitions—never mind that my ramblings go out live on air! I also have a professional background of interviewing senior business executives both in person and by phone, and I think it’s probably that which gives me the confidence to just ‘chat.’

Turning to your writing, you’ve certainly given us a lot of fabulous rock romance books over the past few years, which has been your most favourite one to write?

*laughs* Are you asking me to pick between my babies? I’m afraid I don’t have an easy answer for this one. I have a tendency to be in love with my most current work in progress, but I guess that’s normal. Here’s a few thoughts. Sophie’s Encore made my heart sing, if you pardon the expression, because I was able to give a perfect ending to the story that I’d dreamed up. Also I had found the courage to inject a lot more drama and a lot more heat into my writing, so I felt very grown up, as a writer, when I finished. Fallen for Rock, my fourth full-length novel, was a fun story from start to finish, and I found myself jumping up and down with excitement and punching the air in victory a few times on Emily’s behalf. So that’s a favourite! And right now, I’ve finished my next Christmas novella, and it’s such a sweet, warm and cheerful story that I feel all gooey and overcome, even though I wrote it myself. Seriously, if it’s goodwill and fairy tales you’re after, then watch out for my next release. Plus I’m seriously in love with the cover—it’s all dreamy and starry and just perfect, in my humble opinion.

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So, what’s on the horizon book wise? I’m crossing my fingers you have something lined up for us in the near future.

I do indeed! Let me tell you a bit more about the Christmas novella then. It’s titled Fairy Tale in New York.

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Here’s the blurb:

When rock star Jude gets stranded in New York with his family on Christmas Eve, he has no idea that he is setting in motion a chain of events that will turn their Christmas into the most magical one yet…

No good deed goes unpunished, or so it seems to Jude and Carrie on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. The previous day, they gave up their London-bound flights to someone in crisis. And now, a spectacular whiteout is grounding all planes, and Jude, Carrie, and baby Maya are stuck far from home.

Tired, hungry, and just a little panicked, Jude loads his family into a cab and returns to their hotel. But there’s no room at the inn, and not even a platinum credit card will make a difference. Snow is falling heavily, and the family is facing a very bleak night indeed.

How do you celebrate Christmas with no place to stay, no food, and no presents? Join Jude, Carrie, Maya and a cast of colourful characters in this fairy tale story of Yuletide in New York.

Fairy Tale in New York is available for pre-order from Amazon now and launches officially on 10 November. I can’t wait to share this one!!

Thanks so much for being our guest, as always, it’s a pleasure to chat with you.

Thank you, Sue, for inviting me again. Big hugs to you and all the fabulous Romaniacs, you totally rock, ladies!

Genre and Voice Part 2 : Joanne Phillips, Sheryl Browne

Welcome to Part 2 of the Genre and Voice blog posts. Last week, we had a great post from Louise Rose-Innes, talking about her switch in genre, you can read her post HERE. This week I’m so pleased to welcome Joanne Phillips and Sheryl Browne, who have both written novels under the romance banner and, more recently, in the mystery/thriller genre too.

 Joanne Phillips

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cupids wayI’’m often asked about why I chose to tackle a different genre (mystery) after being successful with romantic comedies. I think the implication is that my writing would need to be different – that I would have to find a different ‘voice’ for the mysteries. The answer to whether or not that is true turned out to be more complicated than even I expected! In many ways, my natural writing voice is the same in all my books – but of course, the characters are very different. My first two novels had first person narrators, so my voice was channeled through the filter of the main character – I’m not as funny or as interesting as Stella! The mysteries are third person, and here I feel authorial voice is more noticeable. But my writing style in general is changing as my writing improves. I’m studying for a Masters in Creative Writing, and I notice now that my approach to writing on the level of the sentence is very different to when I first started.

As for writing in a different genre, I think it’s great fun for authors to have a go at writing in any genre they enjoy reading. I love cozy mysteries; Iflora_v6__lighter_red_v5 had an idea for Flora Lively and so she was born. I also love reading contemporary romances – but I’m very a very fussy reader, and a romance has to have a lot of depth for me to enjoy it. That’s probably why my novels always have a more serious side, or explore serious themes – albeit subtly! My advice to anyone tackling a change of genre would be to study the expectations/structures of that genre and follow them, but when it comes to voice, to be yourself entirely. A new writer said to me recently that she didn’t like reading other fiction while she was working on her own first novel as she was worried it would affect her writing voice. I think this is a valid concern – we can unconsciously mimic writers we admire – but I advised against getting too hung up on it. It’s actually very difficult to copy voice, our own way of writing will always win out in the end. And that’s what makes us unique.

Joanne’s Website

Sheryl Browne

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When I first started out writing many moons ago, choosing to write in different genres it seemed was a bit of a no, no. Even before social media madness, where online promotion became as essential as breathing, advice from those in the know in the publishing world was to establish a brand or platform, i.e. to stick to your genre thereby fulfilling reader expectation. So have I bucked the trend in choosing to write psychological thrillers alongside poignant romance? Have I confused people in deciding to continue to write both under my own name? Judging by the reviews, for which I am hugely grateful, I think not. I’m quoting a pertinent snippet from one reviewer here: “The Edge of Sanity lives up to its psychological thriller tag, and Sheryl has definitely pulled off the switch in genre with this un-put-downable book!” Thank you, Donna at Room for Reading

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Whichever genre I write in, I tend to explore the fragility of love, life and relationships. If a character calls to me, I simply have to write his story. My books tend to turn around the family unit, looking at family dynamics and the tenuous bonds that hold people together, usually having a strong, but flawed, male lead. I think The Edge of Sanity, though most definitely edgy, does fall into that category. My ‘voice’ therefore, whether writing romance or thriller, or a combination of both, will always lean towards ‘poignant’ storytelling, in so doing, hopefully, delivering what the reader expects.

Sheryl’s Website

Genre and Voice Part 1 : Louise Rose-Innes

Sue : I’ve been asked quite a lot recently as to what genre my second book Closing In actually falls in, there have been mixed opinions by those who have read it as to whether it’s romance or thriller.  For me, it falls somewhere between the two, under the romantic suspense category. All this made me wonder about the placing of a book and if it’s possible to sit between genres successfully or to even write in a completely different genre. I’ve found it’s a topic that causes quite a lot of discussion and, as such, decided to ask around for other authors’ experiences and thoughts on genre and voice.

I had originally intended to do one post on this, but I received such great advice from the authors I approached,  I didn’t want to cut anything down and have it over three installments.

I’m delighted to welcome Louise Rose-Innes to the Romaniac blog today. Louise is probably most known for her romance novels, but has recently turned her hand to a more dangerous story line.

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I have a split personality. With books, I mean. My teenage reading list comprised of young adult romances, and progressed to Joanna Lindsay and Jilly Cooper fairly rapidly. In fact, I remember getting detention for reading the “naughty bits” from The Thorn Birds out loud to the boys in my tenth grade English class.

Running parallel to this was a deep-seated hunger for thriller novels. Sydney Sheldon was my all-time fave. His direct, suspense-laden style has probably influenced my writing more than any other author. Clive Cussler and James Patterson are close seconds. But then there’s also Michael Connelly and Robert Ludlum and of course the all-time spy-master, John le Carré…

Occasionally, I’ll read a Booker Prize winning novel for the literacy value, and because I feel incredibly guilty if I don’t, but other than that my personal book collection is fairly evenly spread between the romance and thriller genres.

Naturally, the same would prove to be true with my writing. When I began, I thought romance would be the easiest genre to master. I’m not convinced I was correct, but the ten years I’ve spent writing the genre have taught me a huge amount about character development, internal and external conflict and (the hardest part) how to write a good love scene. Because romances are character-driven stories, you need to understand your hero and heroine extremely well and develop them and their relationship throughout the story.

Thrillers on the other hand are primarily plot-driven. Planning is essential. All the various elements of the story have to be factored in at the right moment, from clues and red-herrings to action sequences and reveals. And this has to be done in such a way that the pace doesn’t falter, so the reader keeps turning those pages. No mean feat!

There are parallels. The lessons I learned (and am still learning) writing romance, are definitely applicable to thrillers. For instance, I found characterising my protagonist in my current thriller series fairly easy. His faults, his demons, his personal journey are all extremely well developed. The same goes for my antagonist. The depth of character that I’m able to reach in my thriller writing I attribute to the many rejection letters I got when I started writing romance. Those early submission editors saying my inner conflict wasn’t well enough thought out or my characters lacked emotional depth. Hurtful at the time, but beneficial in the long run. :-)

My latest novel, Personal Assistance (Entangled Ignite), is a romantic suspense set in a Middle Eastern kingdom on the brink of an Arab-spring type conflict. The heroine, an employee of the Arab prince, stumbles upon a highly classified document and is now on the run for her life. With the embassy shut, the only person who can help her escape is a disgraced SAS commander with a hidden agenda. But can she trust him to get her out, or will he sacrifice her for his own ends?

Personal Assistance is available now from Amazon and other online retailers. Read the first chapter here…

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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!

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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

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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.

 

A Year On From Signing My Publishing Deal

Next month will mark a full year since I signed a three book publishing deal with Harper Collins’ romance imprint Harper Impulse.

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It’s been an exciting year which has seen two of the titles published, both in digital and paperback format, book number three submitted and, as a group, The Romaniacs have also published a short story anthology. To say it has whizzed by would be an understatement, but I’ve taken a moment to pause and reflect on how the past year has been.

Fast. Busy. Stressful. Exciting. Frustrating. Enjoyable.  And every emotion remotely related to those. That’s how it’s been.

And it’s not just the range of emotions I’ve experienced, I’ve also learned a lot about myself as a writer and the writing process itself. Amongst many things, I’ve learned …

That I will love my edits, despite what I may tweet at the time of being in the  ‘Editing Cave’.

That Book 2 helps to sell Book 1.

That I will happy dance at good reviews.

That I will grow thick skin for the not so nice reviews.

That I will compulsively check Amazon rankings, despite pretending I’m only going to look for a book to read and that I’m not really going to look at mine and compare it with every other book in that genre.

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Would love to know how the past year has been for everyone else.

Have you had your book published? Have you signed with an agent?  Have you self-published? Have you joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme? Did you renew your NWS membership? Have you written another draft? Written an entirely new book? Decided to write in a completely different style or genre? Or anything else remotely related to writing …

Sue

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