TUESDAY CHIT CHAT with SUE FORTIN: An Author with HarperImpulse

Sue Fortin profile

Laura: How do, Mme Fortin. So. You’ve been busy then?

Sue : Busy? So it would seem. :-)

I heard YOU HAVE A BOOK CONTRACT!
Massive congratulations. This is fantastic news because it means chocolate cake will be abundant at Romaniac HQ ALL WEEK!

You must be so delighted.

Sue : Thank you! I am absolutely thrilled – I can’t wait to eat all that chocolate. Oh, and there’s the ‘small’ matter of the book as well – I am, of course, absolutely thrilled about that too!

Laura: How was yesterday, when you were ‘announced’?

Sue : It started off feeling ever so slightly surreal, then when it was actually announced, it was very exciting and then when I had to sit in the waiting room at the dentist, it was back down to earth with a bump. Didn’t my dentist know I was an author and had lots of authorly things to do?! (I think I may have just made a word up there.)

Laura: United States of Love will be your first book released by HarperImpulse. What can you tell our readers about the story?

Sue : The blurb probably sums it up better than I can …

Since splitting from her husband, single mum Anna Barnes is enjoying her new found freedom and independence.

However, she didn’t bank on working for Tex Garcia – or the sparks that fly between them. The gorgeous American chef is getting the locals hot under the collar and not just because of his culinary prowess!

One problem: Tex can’t commit and women pass through his life like dishes going out to service! Will it be the same with Anna? One thing’s for sure, this All American man is determined to break her self-imposed rule of never mixing business with pleasure – and add some spice into the mix…

USL HI

Laura: What else do you have lined up?

Sue : At the moment my current WIP has the working title of ‘Closing In’. It’s a mix of romance and crime. I’ve been calling it a ‘Cri-mance’. Did you see what I did there? Clever, huh?

Sue, we are so happy for you – each and every Romaniac is bursting with pride. (Whoever burst last, please clear up your mess.)

Vanessa: You are such a talented writer and I know United States of Love is going to be a massive success – I’m so proud and thrilled for you, Sue and I can’t wait to read it! xxx

Lucie: Massive congratulations to you, Sue. I am so so proud of you. It is a fantastic book and I wish you all the success in the world – you deserve it! Lots of love and hugs xxxx

Catherine: Sue’s writing is as bubbly & bright as she is! Wonderful news and very well deserved. I’m looking forward to this and Sue’s future books. xxx

Jan: A gem of a read by a gem of a writer! Thrilled to bits for you, Sue. As is our trusty HQ honk-o-meter. Massive Congratulations! xxx

Celia: Oh, wot they sed, in spades. So excited, proud and happy about this news – well deserved; a Romaniac star in the making, and a lady who knows how to live life to the full too. Holding up my glass to you, Sue (and hoping that yours will be held up even higher today). Much love xxx

Laura: Excellent work, Mme Fortin. :-) xxx

Sue : Merci beacoup, mes amis. Thank you so much for all your support my lovely friends and, yeah, clear that mess up – you’re worse than the children! xx

United States of Love is available to pre-order from Amazon here.

Tuesday Chit Chat with Elizabeth Moss

elizabeth moss colour photo copy

With a flourish of my hat and a swirl of my cloak, I say welcome, welcome, welcome Elizabeth Moss, to Romaniac HQ, and congratulations on your debut Tudor novel, Wolf Bride. We have all sort of tasty treats for your delight – Celia’s famous chocolate cake, Hobnobs, strawberry milkshake – but what would a lady from the Tudor era be offered?

Thanks for the foody welcome. I’m not averse to some chocolate cake! But for a Tudor lady, I suppose some gingerbread might be offered, still warm from the oven, or a tasty egg custard or rice pudding liberally sprinkled with nutmeg.

Oo – I love rice pudding. We’ll go with that, shall we? I’ll put the order in.

I notice Wolf Bride has an interesting Twitter hashtag. Would you like to explain?

Yes, we’ve chosen #feelupthebodies as the Twitter hashtag for the whole LUST IN THE TUDOR COURT series. Since WOLF BRIDE has been likened to an unholy trinity of Hilary Mantel, Sylvia Day, and Fifty Shades author EL James, #feelupthebodies is just a little bookish fun to help people grasp what my book is about, i.e. sex in the Tudor court!

Please tell me more about the book.

It’s essentially a romance, but a highly erotic one, set against the decadent, intrigue-riddled last days of Anne Boleyn’s reign. The stern Lord Wolf comes to court to claim his promised bride, Eloise, one of Queen Anne’s young maids of honour. He’s a soldier, a bit rough in his manners but highly regarded by King Henry, and Eloise has no choice but to marry him. But that doesn’t mean she has to love him or even trust him. As her husband, Wolf holds absolute power over her, and Eloise knows it. Her vulnerable position as his wife is further brought home when Anne Boleyn is put on trial for adultery, and Eloise is summoned to give evidence …

I’m looking forward to reading Wolf Bride.

And what of Elizabeth Moss are you prepared to divulge?Elizabeth Moss Wolf Bride

I also write rather less steamy Tudor fiction as Victoria Lamb, and poetry and literary fiction as Jane Holland. This is no secret. But since my writing is very different as Elizabeth Moss, I try not to tangle the reins too much on social media. My late mother was the romantic novelist Charlotte Lamb, at whose prolific knee I first learned the word ‘hero’.

I currently live in Cornwall with my large family and spend too much time on Twitter! Readers can chat with me there as @ElizabethMoss1 or @VictoriaLamb1, as they prefer.

Which is your favourite genre a) to write, and b) to read?

For both reading and writing, Regency romance is my constant favourite amongst ‘grown-up’ fiction, and close behind that, children’s or teen fantasy fiction. I write the former as Elizabeth Moss and the latter as Victoria Lamb.

What’s next for you?

More LUST IN THE TUDOR COURT, of course! REBEL BRIDE is book two, and I’m partway through that now, only slightly knocked back by a current case of RSI. I’m a fast two-finger typist, so the dreaded pain does strike from time to time.

I hope the RSI settles down. As a writer with rheumatoid arthritis, I empathise.

Now for a few quick-fire questions:

Favourite Torchwood character? Captain Jack, natch.

Summer Nights or You’re the Only One That I Want? You’re the One.

‘Nanu Nanu’ or ‘You plonker, Rodney’? Rodders, every time.

Petticoat or slip? Petticoat. (See my Petticoat Club stories!!)

Tragedy or comedy? Tragedy. I find comedy harder to enjoy.

Pop or classical? Pop, pop, pop. I have no taste.

Cat or dog? Dog. Though I have both. And a bunny.

Chicken or beef? Chicken.

Henry VIII or Elizabeth I? Gloriana, of course! Henry VIII was a Bad Man.

Thank you so much for joining us today, and many congratulations on the release of Wolf Bride.

Thank you for having me!!

You can find WOLF BRIDE on Amazon UK here

Elizabeth Moss website: http://www.elizabethmossfiction.com/

Elizabeth Moss on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizabethMoss1

Tuesday Chit Chat with Cara Cooper

Cara Cooper

Hello, Cara, and a warm welcome to Romaniac HQ. The weather’s been so nice, we’ve had the windows open and we’ve aired the joint. It’s so much more pleasant. Iced tea? Cheesecake? It’s got flaky chocolate on top and a Hobnob base.

Thank you, any kind of cake is my downfall but as this is a special occasion I’ll have two slices please.

In recent months, you’ve been posting advice on your blog about writing a magazine serial. Please tell us about your pocket novel and serial writing.

I guess I’m an object lesson in slow and steady wins the race!

I researched many magazines and publishers and decided as The People’s Friend is dedicated to fiction I’d try and write for them. I studied the magazine from cover to cover – they know what their readers like. They produce sweet, feel-good stories with a clear narrative. After a number of attempts, I managed to have around five short stories accepted. I always feel you should try and go up a notch so then read a number of the PF pocket novels which at the time were around 50,000 words. I had half a dozen pocket novels published by The People’s Friend and My Weekly: Safe Harbour, Healing Love, Tango at Midnight, Leaving Home, The Sanctuary and Take a Chance on Love. I was then approached by PF who said, ‘you can write short and you can write long, so would you like to try a serial?’ I believe in always grasping opportunities even if they scare you to death so I’ll never say no. The result was an 8-part serial called The Lemon Grove set in sunny Sorrento.

Serial writing is tough in that you have to wait for each episode to be approved by the editors before going on to the next. Maybe for more experienced serial writers they get it right first time but I had revisions requested for each instalment. The most important elements are to have enough characters to carry that many episodes. PF is a family magazine so I included all ages from teenagers to a beloved granny. You also need a cliffhanger every week. This can be dramatic – one of my characters gets lost at sea – or more low key but it does need to contain enough intrigue to make the reader want to buy next week’s mag. Whilst I was writing each episode I always had at the back of my mind the ending scene. I’ve put some tips on writing serials on caracoopers.blogspot.com.

How did The Sanctuary come about? How much of an animal lover are you?

It was prompted by many idyllic visits to the Isle of Wight and is set in a beautiful cove by the sea. I also set Safe Harbour by the sea, being a city girl I have fantasies about living next to the tranquillity of water. I love animals and am besotted by our beautiful black cat, she came from Battersea dogs and cats home and gives us endless joy.

I love both the sea and cats, Cara.

Some authors write whilst listening to music. Although I love music, I need silence in which to write – I tend to get carried away if music’s playing. Is music important in your life?

I’m married to a musician! However, like you I need total silence to write or else I can’t concentrate on the story.

The first time we met, you were giving a demonstration of the Argentine tango. It was very cool. This is the dance I love watching on Strictly. Please tell me about your dancing. And the glitter. There is glitter, right?

Oh my, there’s glitter with salsa and loads of shimmy and shake. Argentine tango is far more reserved but there are split skirts and fishnet stockings….

What’s next for Cara Cooper?

Safe Harbour and Healing Love are being released by Accent Amour, a new romance imprint. I’m also working on a full length crime novel with a smouldering romance.

Cara Cooper Safe Harbour

Now for our Romaniac Quick Fire Questions:

Salsa or Tango? Salsa.

Classical or rock? Hmmm, tough but on balance classical please.

Beach or countryside? Beach every time.

Ice cream or ice lolly? Ice cream from my favourite ice cream and coffee shop in Soho or from Italy (but Soho’s nearer!)

Hot and spicy or sweet and sour? Either please.

Alhambra or Cavatina? I’ve heard my husband play both a million times and never tire of Recuerdos de la Alhambra.

Cara, thank you so much for dropping by Romaniac HQ. It’s been wonderful getting to know a little more about you and your books.

Thank you a million for asking me, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.

You can follow Cara at caracoopers.blogspot.com and find her books at these links:

Safe Harbour here

Healing Love here

The Sanctuary here

Take a Chance here

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Christina Jones…

Hi, Christina, a huge Romaniac welcome to you. It’s so lovely to see you here at HQ today. A little light refreshment before we start? Tea? Coffee? Slice of one of Celia’s mouth-wateringly fantastic cakes?

Ooh, Jan, it’s lovely to be here, thank you so much for asking me – and yes, please, coffee would be lovely… Ooh, and cake too! Fabulous! I’ll never say no to cake…

CJones

 

We know you’re busy working on your next novel ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’ (FAB title, by the way!)  Any chance of a cheeky little preview?

Thank you for liking the title – one of my own this time, not one of my editor’s umpteenth suggestions! –  and a cheeky sneaky preview? Of course.  Well, this is the current blurb with a bit added on…

“The Berkshire village of Daisybank has held a traditional summer fete for as long as anyone can remember and twenty-eight year old American Diner waitress Tiggy Dunmore can’t think of anything worse. Having been dumped by her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, Tiggy needs something to take her mind off her heartbreak, and as she and her friends, Scarlett and Cordelia, discuss the ‘fete worse than death’ over coffee and doughnuts in the diner, they come up with an alternative idea. Instead of the fete with the same old tombola, bric-a-brac stalls and raffle to win a hamper of almost-on-sell-by tinned food, why not have a music festival? Just a little one, of course. Nothing like Glastonbury. Oh, of course, nothing like Glastonbury… Surely it can’t be that difficult to set up a stage and find a few bands, can it? As the months roll on towards the last weekend in July, and despite furious opposition from Daisybanks’ movers and shakers (i.e. the original fete committee), the Daisybank Music Festival begins to take shape, and things really start to look up when the gorgeous Liam Maxwell, ex-boyband member and now the guitarist in The Red Hot Rockers, agrees to get his band to play. Tiggy begins to discover that a broken heart can mend quite quickly when a black-haired, blue-eyed rock guitarist is involved. OK, so he’s engaged to the pneumatic and mainly plastic reality telly star, Lolly Latimer, but that’s only a minor hiccough, surely? As the hot and sunny festival weekend dawns, life for Tiggy and Daisybank, will never be the same again.”

What inspired the idea for this novel and how much research has been involved?

I came up with the idea because it had to be another summer book, and summer is festival time and I was a big festival-goer in my youth – you know, back in the days when it wasn’t all glamping and a million quid for a ticket? You just went and sat in front of the one and only stage and amazingly famous (and infamous) bands turned up and played all day and night and you got muddy or scorched or both, and ate nothing but brown rice for three days and didn’t sleep and stank to high heaven and it was utterly blissful.  We’re also into high village fete season too, and these are fiercely organised by the same-old committees doing the same-old things – and I just thought what if one of these very traditional village fetes suddenly morphed into a mini-Glasto…? Think of the conflicts! And the romance! And the research? Well, loads of happy memories of  what my husband refers to as my “groupie period” (I did have a bit of a thing for bass guitarists in my youth), plus the time I spent as a sort of music journalist for the teenage mags, and the bliss of being at the early Glastonburys, Isle of Wights, and Reading festivals… aaah, now I’m off in a purple haze of nostalgia… 

CJones Book Image 3

Clearly you love being a writer, but as your website bio states, you’ve had a wonderful array of previous jobs, blood-donor attendant and waitress being just two of them – some great (and not so great!) characters encountered there, no doubt? Have you worked a few of their traits into your novels and does creating the actual characters themselves, come easy to you?

I’ve had 27 Proper Jobs and been sacked from 19 of them (I think I’ve always been virtually unemployable, really. I’m not that good with authority…), and yes, I’ve met lots of “interesting” people in my chequered career and bits of the ones I’ve disliked most have somehow found their way into my books. All the officious, charmless, rather cruel ones (a certain office manager who had me crying in the Ladies EVERY day springs to mind here!) have merged to become the characters you love to hate. It’s great therapy! But most of my characters are totally fictitious – well, all the main ones anyway. Except, to me, they’re not. They seem to live inside my head, scampering around for ages, and are sometimes more real to me than real people… Sorry, I think that sounds as if I might be a little bit mad. Once they’re inside my head, they somehow emerge fully-formed on to the page, so, yes, creating characters does come easily to me – again, it’s a sort of happy insanity, isn’t it really, this writing business.

How exciting is the build-up to launch day? Talk us through the routine and how you plan to celebrate publication?

Oh! How I long to say it’s all rainbows and lollipops and cascades of fireworks! How I long to say I have book tours and back-to-back interviews and the entire media circus camped outside my front door.  Sadly, I can’t say any of that. These days my publication days go by without even a congratulatory  email from my publishing contacts – but I do have my own little hoolies. The local bookshop always does a lovely window display, and I usually have a signing session on the nearest Saturday morning with bunting and balloons (I’m very fond of bunting and  balloons) and all my friends come and don’t buy a book because I’ve already given them a copy but we all have a good gossip and sometimes total strangers wander in to see what the fuss is about and sometimes I even sell them a book! And my lovely husband always buys me an ornament of some kind that ties in with the book – I had a lot of little Hindu gods last time – I’m hoping for a small Fender Telecaster for this one! But honestly, I think the days of huge publisher launches have gone and are reserved only for the mega-famous authors. Sob!  

You did one of the Writers Bureau home-study courses ten years ago and subsequently became the face of their advert (I can remember your success and your lovely beaming smile being my inspiration to finish my own WB course!) Put into words its value and also the value of attending author events/workshops.

Oh – wow! Thank you! I don’t think I’ve ever been anyone’s inspiration before. That’s lovely – I might show-off a bit about that… Yes, I did the WB course 10 years ago because I wanted to learn how to write proper non-fiction.  I’ve made  no secret of the fact that I was already published (in fiction) when I signed up, but I was complete pants at non-fiction. I tended to drift off into the realms of “let’s pretend”. So, the WB course put me firmly on the right track, and I started selling my coursework to quite serious magazines and it was a revelation. I signed up for the comprehensive course, which included fiction, and I found new markets there, too. So the course was invaluable to me – it opened up many, many doors – which is why I was so happy to endorse the entire WB set-up – and became their cover girl – lol! (Well, I’m never going to be a cover girl any other way!). I also think that anyone and everyone, whatever stage of writing you’re at, can benefit from author events and workshops – mainly because writing is such an isolated business and  it’s so nice to hear what other writers do and know you’re not alone…   http://www.writersbureau.com/

As well as penning award-winning novels, you also write short stories and articles. How easy/hard do you find it switching between the three?

Short stories were and are my first love. I love writing them – I’ve written them and had them published since I was 14 – I can hear a snippet of conversation or read a newspaper headline or watch someone in the street and “ping” – there’s an idea for a short story.  I find them fun to write and quite easy really, and as I’m very, very lazy, to think I can finish a piece of work in possibly less than 2,000 words is a delight to my idle soul! And thanks to the WB I know how to get to the nub of a non-fiction story so can write articles quite quickly, too. I’m not showing off – honestly – I just find writing short pieces easier than long. I try not to write short stories when I’m writing a novel – but sometimes, if I’m asked by a magazine to provide a short story or article for a particular edition, then I just do it.  I don’t find it very difficult, I just have to get my head into a different place really – oh, sorry – does that sound precious? I’m not precious, honest! I’ve just been doing this for so long it all comes as second nature.

CJ Book Cover

And Chris, no visit to HQ would be complete without our famous Romaniac quick-fire round, so here goes:

Favourite fictional Cat? (we know you ADORE them!)  Orlando 

Dream dinner date? Jim Parsons

First celebrity crush? Keith Richards

Three things that make you belly-laugh? Peter Kay, my husband, The Big Bang Theory

Theme Park or Ice-Skating? Theme Park

Footie or Tennis? Footie

Rock concert or West End musical? Rock concert

The sentence which best sums up Christina Jones?  I’m an old-fashioned, optimistic, gentle Pollyanna wearing huge rose-tinted glasses.

Thanks so much for visiting us here at HQ, Chris, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you. Best of luck with ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’ :)

http://www.christinajones.co.uk

Bucolic Frolics @ http://christinajones-writing.blogspot.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_al2?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0FSYX3M1Q9GJHQFM4TX9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128533&pf_rd_i=468294

Connect with Chris on FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaJonesAuthor?fref=ts.

Also follow Chris on Twitter @bucolicfrolics

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Lisa Jewell

Today, we proudly welcome to Romaniac HQ, best-selling author, Lisa Jewell…

LJ image

Hi Lisa, thanks so much for joining us. It’s a huge week on the excitement front, with your eleventh novel, The House We Grew Up In, launching on Thursday. What sparked the idea for this story and can you give us a little teaser about what to expect?

I had been trying to write a psychological thriller for three months and had just come to the terrible realisation that I couldn’t make it work. I gave myself two weeks to come up with another idea and I spent most of those two weeks just walking around aimlessly waiting for inspiration to strike. On the last day of the two weeks I was walking past a mansion block on Finchley Road and noticed one of the windows was completely filled up with junk. I’d been watching TV shows about hoarders and knew that there was always some deep psychological trigger for the hoarding compulsion to strike and it made me wonder about who lived in that flat and why they had started hoarding and as I thought that, I suddenly pictured Lorelei and her big family and her scruffy cottage and I started writing it the next day.

HOUSE WE GREW UP IN TPB 2

In the book,  Lorelei likes to, how shall we say, “collect” things.  Are you a hoarder or can you de-clutter at will?

I am a disgusting hoarder. My problem is that because I live in a very big house it hasn’t quite hit me yet just how much ridiculous, pointless crap I have accumulated. If I had to downsize and fit it all in a smaller house I think I would be horrified. Unlike Lorelei, however, I don’t have an emotional attachment  to my crap. I would love someone to come along and get rid of it all for me. (Apart from my books – nobody touches my books!)

Just how busy has your pre-publication agenda for this novel been, and how will you be celebrating, come Thursday?

So far I haven’t had any pre-publication duties to attend to at all. But these things can sometimes be a bit last minute so we’ll see. As for celebrations, I have nothing official planned but have been invited out for – unconnected – drinks with some local mums. I shall use it as an excuse to drink champagne with impunity. It’s also my birthday the day after so I will be drinking champagne yet again. And then it’s the weekend, so, you know. More champagne.

You’ve held some fantastic author events and signings over the years, with some equally fab competitions. Any upcoming dates/features we should know about for our diaries?

Could I direct your readers to my blog in answer to that question? For some reason after years of being NFI I am suddenly very in demand for events and panels and I have a comprehensive list of everywhere I’m going to be for the rest of the year here: http://www.lisa-jewell.co.uk/blog

Your characters truly come to life on the page, Lisa, which is what makes them so memorable and, in turn, drives such great stories.  Are you a people-watcher? If so, where are your favourite places to pick up those ideas and snippets of gossip?

The book I’m writing at the moment was inspired in part by a feature I saw on the Jeremy Kyle Show. It was about two sisters who’d shared a childhood trauma so haunting I couldn’t shake it from my consciousness. Another strand of the story was inspired by old neighbours of ours. It was the husband’s third family and I was fascinated by the idea of how some people can go from family to family, children to children, and make it look so unremarkable. I wanted to look at all the painful moments that lay behind those decisions. 31 Dream Street was inspired by a crazy house I saw near my sister’s place and Toby was inspired by a man outside my local tube station holding a placard for a comedy night. Arlette’s story in Before I Met You came from an article I read on the net about a real-life jazz orchestra. Betty’s story was inspired in part by Meg Mathew’s arc from Guernsey girl to Queen of the Primrose Hill scene. So, I guess what I’m saying is that there is no ‘favourite place’. I don’t even have to leave the house sometimes to find inspiration! You just need finely-tuned antenna that can pick up on the gems within all the white noise and wallpaper.

If you could read an excerpt from The House We Grew Up In to an audience at any venue, worldwide, which venue would you choose and why?

For greatest effect I would actually like to read a passage from it whilst in a hoarded house, the audience maybe sitting on tops of piled up boxes and squashed between bin-bags. But if I were to be truly indulgent, probably on the beach at the Eden Rock Hotel in St Barths. Who’s coming?! (Room for nine, Lisa?!) LJ blog pic 3

The fabulous Eden Rock…

 

And finally, a few for fun …

Perfect day out in London?

I think I may have had this yesterday actually. I spent the morning on the South Bank with my youngest daughter, then had lunch at home in the garden with my husband and brother-in-law and our children, then I met my sister and a friend at Barbican and we sat in the afternoon sun in Postman’s Park. There’s an art nouveau tiled memorial there, each plaque telling the story of an ordinary person who sacrificed their life to save somebody else’s. It includes  lots of children rescuing younger siblings. There’s a whole novel contained on each plaque and every one is heartbreaking and fascinating. LJ blog pic 2

We then wandered up through to Farringdon and got the tube to Kings Cross to a cool canal-side bar called Shrimpys where we drank beer out of plastic cups and laughed till we cried.

Biggest writing myth?

I think the greatest misconception people have is that easy to read books are easy to write.  They are not.

Author  you’d love to interview?

JK Rowling.

Most unusual place you’ve ever seen or heard about anyone reading one of your books?

Someone once wrote to tell me they’d picked up a rather ragged copy of Ralph’s Party at a remote trekkers’ hostel in Mongolia.

Glastonbury or Notting Hill Carnival?

Neither, thank you!

Three words that sum up Lisa Jewell?

Lazy, happy Londoner.

Thanks so much, Lisa. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you. Best of luck with The House We Grew Up In ahead of its launch on Thursday, and Happy Birthday for Friday!

Available to pre-order : http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-House-We-Grew-Up/dp/1846059240?ie=UTF8&tag=randomhouse&linkCode=as2&camp=1634&creative=6738&creativeASIN=1846059232

Connect with Lisa on Facebook via:  http://www.facebook.com/LisaJewellofficial

Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisajewelluk

Author Joff Gainey from The Bookstop Cafe is with us today

Hi Joff, welcome to Romaniac HQ for a Tuesday Chit-Chat. Yes, you and I both know it’s Monday but this week we’re just messing things up a bit and having our Tuesday chat on a day early. Okay, that’s that cleared up.

Joff Gainey Bookstop cafe

Before we get down to business, must just say, I’m loving the waistcoat – do you always wear one?

I always wear my waistcoat when on school visits or special events…..it’s mine!

Now, where we were? Oh yes, questions…

Your novel ‘Sleeping on A Cloud’ was published last year – in one sentence, please sum up what it is about?

Twins with special powers, struggling to protect our Earth from a Dark evil adversary, who revels in our destruction.

joff gainey book cover 1

What or who do you consider to be your biggest influence where your writing is concerned?

The child that still lives strongly inside me. Mischief and adventure was always high on my list as a child. Now as an adult I use my writing to delve down and rekindle my childhood imaginings.

More recently, whilst still working closely with the written word, you’ve been turning your talents elsewhere – The Bookstop Café. How’s it all going? Are you hoping to expand it in any way?

The response from authors and customers to the venture has been fantastic. We receive new authors books everyday, more shelving required, and our customers do not want to leave. Many are doing exactly what we envisaged which is curl up on the sofas and read.

Joff Gainey bookstop cafe 3

Ideas we are aiming to develop are:

1. An hour at the end of the day, called Story Time, where parents can bring their children along and while the drink tea/coffee we will read/perform stories to their children.

2. Themed story nights. Ghost stories – around Halloween. Christmas stories. Crime/thriller  stories. Poetry.

3. Book signings.

4. Writing events/courses from visiting experts.

If you could have four dream authors in your café, who would you love to see walk through the door for tea and cake?

Gerald Durrell – I loved his adventures as he travelled around the world collecting animals for zoological parks.

Terry Goodkind – I have only recently locked in to his books. I like the strength and complexity of his characters, just when you feel you know them you learn something new.

Dan Brown – I enjoy the detail of the places and the fast pace of his books.

Enid Blyton – Because I thoroughly enjoyed the mischief and adventure that the children got up to. When I read her books as a child I would be engrossed for hours.

Joff Gainey Bookstop cafe 1

Quick Fire

Left or right handed?

Right.

Conformist or Maverick?

Maverick – but I look nothing like James Garner.

UK or abroad?

Uk – but use to be abroad a lot.

Car or motorbike?

Car – I’m not very good on two wheels.

Football, cricket or rugby?

Formula 1

Night in or night out?

Both – depends on my mood.

Kindle or paperback?

Paperback – the texture, the smell…and they are cuddly.

Thanks Joff, it’s been fun chatting with you.

Thank you for asking me. :-)

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.

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Amanda Egan

Today for a Tuesday Chit-Chat we have author, Amanda Egan, with us.  Amanda’s debut novel ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’ was  hugely popular and she has since gone on to write several more very successful novels.

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Hello Amanda, great you could come over to Romaniac HQ for a chat. How are you? Enjoying the summer or are you busy writing at the moment?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHi there and thanks for having me. Summer? What’s that then? I think we had a week of it back in April and that will be it for the year – we mustn’t be too greedy here in London though!

When I’m not squashing my nose against the window looking for sun, I’m writing, promoting and making ‘plot face’ (the look my husband says I get when I’ve disappeared into another world of possible characters and storylines).

You’ve had great success with your ‘Mummy Misfit’ books and your later books, ‘Completing the Puzzle’ and ‘Stilettos and Stubble’ – what do you think it is about your writing that hooks the readers?

I’m not really sure so I can only go by what my readers tell me. They seem to love the humour and the relatable characters I create. I’ve also been told that my books make people laugh and cry – these are the sort of books I love to read myself so that makes me one happy writer.

Did you have a clear idea of book covers or did you have someone design them for you?

All my images come from iStock photos and then I bully husband and teen son into designing the rest – title, font, back-cover etc. It’s such an exciting time when I see what my latest ‘baby’ will look like and it all begins to feel very real. I’ve been known to spend days looking for the right cover image but it’s the shop window to my words so I think it’s time well spent.

Amanda Egan books

You have a high profile on Twitter – what are your thoughts on social media as a tool for authors?

When my husband first set up my Twitter account, two years ago, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I honestly didn’t see the point. As far as I could see, I was talking to nobody – which, of course in the early stages, you are. It didn’t take me long to get hooked though and I couldn’t believe how much Tweeting affected my book sales. It was also lovely to make friends with strangers who seemed to be loving my work. As an Indie writer, without social media, I honestly have no idea how I would be selling my books.

As a successful self-published author, would you consider submitting to an agent or publishing house in the future?

No, I’ve been there, done that, got the T-shirt and written the book(s). If I was approached with the right offer, I’d bite their hand off but I wouldn’t submit to anyone again as I came so close to a deal from two major publishing houses in the early days and I couldn’t bear that disappointment again.

What advice would you give to anyone considering self-publishing?

Do it! But be prepared for a lot of hard work because it’s not just a question of writing a book and uploading it to Amazon – YOU have to sell that book in any way you can and it takes a while to build momentum. It’s SO worth it though.

Random Quick Fire

Left or right handed?
Right handed.
Blue Peter or Magpie?
A little bit of both but not a great fan of either.
Duran Duran or Spandau Ballet?
Cheating but the same answer as above.
Indian or Chinese food?
I love both! Depends what I’m in the mood for. Sorry!
Saturday night in or out?
Most definitely out (or in with friends!)
What animal would you liken yourself to?
A mouse! I’m scared of everything, love cheese and I’m not a very good swimmer.
If you could be anyone, in any book, who would you be?
Delysia Lafosse in ‘Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day’. Pure 1930’s ditzy glamour – heaven!

Thanks for coming in Amanda, it’s been fun talking to you. Wishing you every success with your new book .

Thanks so much for having me – it’s been great. ‘Lottie’s Luck’ is out at Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu on June 19th.

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Jean Fullerton

Hi Jean, it’s great to see you here at Romaniac HQ. How about a welcome cuppa? Tea or Coffee? Oh, and a slice of one of Celia’s legendary cakes (naturally…)

Tea, please, and just a sliver of cake. 

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We know it’s a hectic week for you (excitingly so) as your new novel Call Nurse Millie is being published on Thursday. Can you tell us a bit about Millie and her story?

We meet Millie on VE day in 1945. As the bombs stop and the troops begin to return home, the inhabitants of London attempt to put their lives back together. For 25-year-old Millie, a qualified nurse and midwife, the jubilation at the end of the war is short-lived as she tends to the needs of the East End community around her. But while Millie witnesses tragedy and brutality in her job, she also finds strength and kindness. And when misfortune befalls her own family, it is the enduring spirit of the community that shows Millie that even the toughest of circumstances can be overcome.

Through Millie’s eyes, we see the harsh realities and unexpected joys in the lives of the patients she treats, as well as the camaraderie that is forged with the fellow nurses that she lives with. Filled with unforgettable characters and moving personal stories, this vividly brings to life the colourful world of a post-war East London.

Although I’m a district nurse, I had a great deal of pleasure researching the equipment and techniques she used to nurse her patients, which are so very different from the ones I used during my time on the District.

Nurse Millie

How has the run-up to publication been for you? Can you give us a teaser about what’s involved?

In a word: hectic. All writers, be they with a large publisher like myself or self-published, need to do a great deal of promotion. My publisher handles the national press and trade publicity but since I handed in the second part of Millie’s story to my editor in February, I have written at least a dozen blogs and articles.  Over the past five years I’ve built up many contacts in local newspapers and radio and I’ve been getting in touch with them for feature articles and afternoon slots on chat shows.

Your knowledge and fondness for the East End of London shines through in all of your novels, Jean. What would you say are the main contributing factors behind their authenticity?

That’s very kind of you to say so. I think the main reason for my books authentic feel is that I know the area and the East End culture through and through. And not because I’ve read books and researched, which I have, but because it is the place where I was born and raised. It’s in my bones, and as I write long-forgotten snippets from my childhood. Stories told to me of what the East End used to be like drift back into my consciousness. In Call Nurse Millie, I draw on much of my immediate family’s history to bring the post-war Docklands alive. Also, and probably more importantly, I just love the place.

You clearly love English history but what in particular inspires you about the 18th and 19th centuries in which your books are set?

To my mind, the Victorians invented the world we live in today. Things we take for granted like railways, mass produced consumer goods, civil engineering, modern medicine and even bank and company regulation, started in the Victorian age, not to mention many revolutionary ideas such as social responsibility of the rich to the poor. It’s also history you can touch as most of us have old sepia photos of our own Victorian ancestors and thanks to the Victorians love of detail, we have the priceless records of the 19th century censuses to draw on for research.

Which genres do you enjoy reading?

Although Historicals always catch my eye, a book for me is always about the story but I try to read something I wouldn’t write, such as a juicy crime by Lee Childs or well-written women’s fiction by people like Carole Matthews or Julie Cohen. I find it difficult to read my own genre as I find myself turning from a reader into a writer and I start thinking ‘I would have done this or that’ and so it pulls me out of the story.

Describe a typical writing day for you, how it ties in with your day job.

I no longer work as a district nurse but lecture in nursing studies at a London University so my day-job hours are more writing friendly. Most days I’m home by 4.30pm so I reply to any emails that I couldn’t deal with in my lunch break then me and the Hero-at-Home prepare the evening meal together. We usually eat at 6.30 as he is often out to 7pm meetings.  I go up to my office at 7ish and write until 9.30 when I take a TV break for an hour or so, then most nights back up again from 11-12 midnight to read through and fiddle with what I’ve just written. We both have busy lives, so try to have Friday night as our time together, usually in a local hostelry. I also work Saturday and Sunday afternoons if the family- of three grown up daughters, son-in-laws and their offspring- aren’t around.

You’ve given many valuable author talks and conducted various successful writing workshops – what are the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of these?

The thing I love most about both my talks and workshops is meeting people, particularly if someone tells me how much they loved my book. That’s why I write, after all, to bring others into my stories. I also enjoy helping and guiding others as they learn the necessary skills to write their own page-turning novel.

Who or what (or both) would you credit with being the biggest influence on you as a writer?

That’s difficult to say but I suppose the writer who got me into this was Anya Seton with her fabulous book Katherine but the biggest influence has to be the wonderful Romantic Novelists’ Association who helped me learn my craft and encouraged me to stick with it.

Any other creative passions, Jean?

My dad was an amateur artist and I used to be quite good at drawing and painting but I don’t do it now, however, I am very visual so enjoy art galleries and exhibitions. I often use old photos of East London to help me when I’m writing.

How will you be celebrating Call Nurse Millie’s launch on Thursday?

Packing my suitcase for my well-earned Mediterranean cruise the day after.

And finally, as is customary here at HQ, a few quick-fire questions for you:

Favourite London Landmark? Tower of London

Charles Dickens or Jane Austen? Jane Austen

Celebrity you’d most like to be stuck in a lift with? Hugh Jackman- for the obvious reason!

Guilty Pleasure? Haribo Tantastics

Theatre or Museum? Museum

Dream Holiday Destination? Anywhere on a cruise ship.

Sunday Roast with all the trimmings or Fish & Chips? Sunday Roast.

Novel you never tire of reading? Katherine by Anya Seton.

Jean, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you. Best of luck with Call Nurse Millie.

You can connect to me on my website at www.jeanfullerton.com to find out about me, my previous books, and my East London heritage along with pictures of the actual locations I use in my books.

You can also find me on Facebook as Jean Fullerton and follow me on Twitter as @JeanFullerton__
To buy. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Call-Nurse-Millie-ebook/dp/B00BMUVRT0/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363208639&sr=1-1

Introducing Miranda Dickinson’s Future Stars… Part Two!

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This was too much of a marvelous post to cover in one day, so here’s part two of Miranda Dickinson’s interview with her Future Stars!

Q4: Tell us about what you are currently working on?

Neal: My first novel, Dan Taylor Is Giving Up On Women – the story of a guy who thinks he’ll never find the right woman, and then falls for the wrong one – is currently scaling the north face of England’s slush-piles. My work in progress is called Occupied. It’s the story of Rebecca and James, a couple expecting their first baby against the backdrop of a gay sex scandal involving Rebecca’s dad, which draws both sides of the family into controversy. It’s about coming to terms with the fact that parents are people too.

 Emily: The story that I will be working on during Future Stars centres on a young girl named Belle and a young man named Kip. It’s set in 1999 so there has been a fair bit of research, as I was only eleven at the time this is set! The research itself has been so much fun; looking up popular TV shows, music, fashion trends, clubs and so on has been educational as well as nostalgic – I think at one point I refer to the HBO show Sex and the City as “a new American TV show”, which considering it finished in 2004 made me chuckle. Belle and Kip meet by chance over the phone in one of those old red telephone boxes (a case of crossed wires perhaps…?) one night in London’s West End and strike up a friendship that neither one of them will ever forget. There are lots of twists and turns and I’m hoping the centre of the story will touch people. I would love to go a bit more in to detail but fear that might give the game away and I would like the reveal to stay a secret in the book for as long as is possible.

Dominique: The main story I’m writing sounds a bit crazy when I’m trying to explain it, but it’s actually a really simple plot. I’m going to try and not reveal too much. It’s about a regular young woman living in London and her life gets turned upside down. What follows is a medieval fairy-tale of sorts, with a heavy dose of alternative universe, a splash of arrogant prince and a lot of the main character asking what the hell is going on. I’m also working on two other projects. One is a story featuring the Greek God Hermes, set in modern times now that the world has kind of forgotten about the Immortals. And I’ve recently gone back to a short story I started last summer. This one’s about a sea merchant/pirate’s journey to find a legendary treasure. Romance is the main theme in 90% of what I write, but I tend to include a heavy bit of drama, a fight or two, the odd death, lots of cliff hangers, something supernatural or just downright weird, and maybe some deep-rooted family issue just for good measure.

 Millie: Simply, it’s a young adult fiction following a group of teenagers as they try to survive the Zombie Apocalypse. It’s written in first person from the perspective of a teenage girl. She becomes somewhat of the understated leader in her gang and makes the difficult decisions that arise on their journey. I’m trying to make it action-packed but also realistic, too.

 Emma: I have three main novels that I’m working on. Each is quite different from the other. One is about Rosaline, who can communicate with ghosts, sometimes at the most inopportune moments, and there’s a possibility I might like to make this into a series, but I’ll see when I’ve finished this one. Another is about a woman who has moved to L.A., running away from her problems at home, and on possibly one of the worst days of her life, a movie star spills hot coffee all over her and won’t leave well enough alone, especially when she has a past that she’d like to keep there. The third is about Gods and Goddesses of the Greek variety, only not the ones of myths and legends. This is the truth about them and how the vampire legend stemmed from them, too. The story centres on two of them to be precise and them helping someone who is more woven in their past, present and future than they realised or even knew.

 

Q5: What is your writing dream?

 Neal: I’d love to spend as much of my day as I can writing about all kinds of relationships, in a way that’s hopefully funny (and by that I mean it’s funny, and hopeful…). And it’d be even better if lots of people got to read it. I live in a world of my own half the time, it would be nice to have more people around to visit.

 Emily: I would be lying if I said my writing dream wasn’t to get published and get paid to do what I love to do all the time (although I am aware it is not always as glam as people think!). I cannot wait for the day when I see a book with my name on it in the Waterstones in Ealing, where I hail from. To have people read my stories and tell me they like them and / or could relate to the characters that I have created would be the most magical, rewarding thing and I hope with all my heart whether it is a product of Future Stars or something else, that this happens, and not just for me, but for all of us aspiring writers.

 Dominique: It’s a two-stage process. The first step is just completing a story to the best of my ability and knowing I’ve put everything I had to give in to it. Next is publishing. Which I realize is a massive goal to achieve, but I may as well aim high, right? I’m not going to lie and say I wouldn’t want my work to do well, but the overall dream would be to be able to pick up my book, my very own novel that I’ve put so much in to. That’s when the dream becomes a reality. If people respond well to it, then that’s fantastic. I would love for my written words to get under the skin of someone. Even just one person, and have them actually care about the journey of my characters and know that my little book is sitting proudly on their bookshelf.

 Millie: Ever since I was about ten years old I’ve always wanted to walk into a bookshop and see my name on one of the spines of the books there – to know that the words inside are my own, and the story written has stemmed from my own imagination.

Emma: The same as most writers really – to be published, to see my books on the shelf of a shop, to have people read and love what I’m writing and to have people be excited to see what I write next, like I do with my favourite writers. But what would completely make my writing dream is to have written a sentence that resonates with someone so much that they use it as a favourite quote.

 

Thank you Future Stars and Miranda!

Find out more about everything the Future Stars get up to, plus news about Miranda’s books and other courses and prizes here:

http://www.miranda-dickinson.com and http://www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com