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!

Blurb

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

Picture_014Bio

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.

 

Nine Essential Elements of Romance Fiction – Catherine LaRoche

NINE ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF ROMANCE FICTION

Catherine LaRoche

Catherine LaRoche1

I spend a lot of time thinking about romance fiction.  My mom reads the books, and I picked up the love of the genre from her when I was a teenager.  She always had a tottering pile of novels beside her bed that I’d rummage through for something to borrow.  Now I write historical romances and, in my day job, I’m a college professor of gender studies and cultural studies.  For the past several years, I’ve included romance fiction in my teaching while I’ve been writing an academic book entitled Happily Ever After: The Romance Story in Popular Culture (forthcoming in mid-2015 from Indiana University Press).

My students choose romances from a big box that I bring into class and write responses on them.  We do cut-up exercises with the novels to create alternative storylines.  We write a collaborative online romance with scenes ranging from suspense to spicy erotica.  I’ve set up a romance lending library in my office; my eight-year old son decorated a poster for borrowers to write down comments about the novels they check out.  As I draft my academic book, I workshop chapters with the students in order to get feedback.

I’d like to invite similar feedback from readers here, on some of the book’s conclusions.  I propose that romance novels have nine essential elements.  (I’m playing off Dr. Pamela Regis’s work in her wonderful 2003 text A Natural History of the Romance Novel.)  What do you make of my list so far?  Do you agree or disagree?  Am I missing anything?  All comments welcome!

The nine central claims made by the romance narrative:

  1. It is hard to be alone. We are social animals. Most people need and want love, of some kind. Amid all the possibilities for love as philia (friendship) and agape (spiritual or selfless love), the culture often holds up eros or romantic partner love as an apex of all that love can be and do.
  2. It is a man’s world. Women generally have less power, fewer choices, and suffer from vulnerability and double standards. They often get stuck looking after men or being overlooked by men.
  3. Romance is a religion of love. Romance entails belief in the power of love as a positive orienting force. Love functions as religion, as that which has ultimate meaning in people’s lives.
  4. Romance involves risk. Love doesn’t always work out. Desire can be a source of personal knowledge and power but also of deception and danger. Romance fiction is the safe, imaginative play space to explore the meaning and shape of this landscape.
  5. Romance requires hard work. Baring the true self, making oneself vulnerable to another is hard. Giving up individuality for coupledom requires sacrifice.
  6. Romance facilitates healing. Partner love leads to maturity. Love heals all wounds. Love conquers all.
  7. Romance leads to great sex, especially for women. Women in romance novels are always sexually satisfied. Romance reading can connect women to their sexuality in positive way.
  8. Romance makes you happy. The problematic version of this claim is that you need to be in a romantic relationship for full happiness. Here, romance fiction can be oppressive if it mandates coupledom for everyone.
  9. Romance levels the playing field for women. The heroine always wins. By the end, she is happy, secure, well loved, sexually satisfied, and set up for a fulfilling life. The romance story is a woman-centred fantasy about how to make this man’s world work for her.

Further information about Catherine can be found here: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Catherine-LaRoche/407531852

and here: http://popularromanceproject.org/professors-writing-romance/

Thank you so much for the great blog, Catherine, and we look forward to reading your results.

 

Beer, Jane Jackson and a cracking good read

Today the Romaniacs are welcoming Jane Jackson to tell us about her latest novel Crosscurrents. There’s beer too! Do help yourselves, but the big tankard is mine. Cheese straw, anyone?   janejackson

 

Book Blurb: Santo Innis  is developing a revolutionary new engine to counter the lethal effects of high-pressure steam. His backer is Richard Vaughan, heir to Frederick Tregarron, owner of Gillyvean estate. Following the tragic deaths of his wife and baby son, Richard immersed himself in work.

But his world is turned upside down by the unexpected arrival at Gillyvean of Melanie Tregarron, a talented artist and Frederick’s illegitimate youngest daughter. Desperate to prove the viability of his invention, Santo persuades Richard to let him fit one at Gillyvean’s brewhouse. But when Bronnen Jewell – worried about her mother’s suffering at her father’s hands – arrives to brew the harvest beer she’s horrified, fearing loss of the income on which she depends. As the lives of these four become entwined, a shocking revelation shatters Bronnen’s world; desperate for money Santo makes a choice that costs him everything; Melanie fears she will never be free of her past; and Richard has to face his deepest fear.

 

 

crosscurrents

 

Excerpt:

Bronnen stood up. Instantly Santo was on his feet. She touched his arm lightly.

‘I have to skim the beer. The first head has a lot of bits in it and resin from the hops.’

He followed her to the fermentation vessel and watched her work. ‘You do that every three or four hours?’

She nodded. ‘Then what?’ ‘When the beer is cool enough I’ll rack it off.’ Setting down the skimmer she picked up the lantern, led him to an open doorway at the rear of the brewhouse and held it high so he could see casks lying on their sides on top of a timber framework with a gutter running down the middle. ‘When it’s piped into the barrels it carries on working and I collect the yeast to use in the next brew.’

 

Returning the lantern to the wooden staging by the mash tub she swallowed a sudden yawn and glanced away, hoping he hadn’t noticed. But he had.

‘I should go. This ’ave been a long day for you.’ She didn’t want him to leave, but couldn’t ask him to stay. He had his own work. She wiped her palms down her apron.

‘I’m glad you stopped by.’

Taking her hand he raised it to his lips. In the soft light his gaze met hers, held it. ‘Bronnen,’ he murmured and drew her closer. She knew if she resisted he would release her. But she didn’t, couldn’t. As he bent his head she raised her face to his.

His mouth touched hers and her breath stopped. His kiss was gentle, light as a butterfly. It lingered. Her lips softened, parted under his, and she tasted his sweet warmth. She rested her hands on his chest, not to push him away but to steady herself. His heart beat against her palm, hard and fast like her own. Drawing her head back she took a shaky breath. His hands slid from her shoulders to her hips as he rested his forehead against hers.

‘I never – I didn’t expect this, you.’ ‘Nor me.’

 

Tilting her chin, he gazed at her as if he was dying of thirst and she was cool water. ‘Bronnen, I – please?’ ‘Yes,’ she whispered. His mouth covered hers in a kiss that deepened from tender to passionate. As her head swam she gave herself up to the delicious sensation of his mouth on hers and the tidal wave of yearning it unleashed. Her arms slipped around his neck as his enfolded her, drawing her close. When, too soon, he lifted his mouth from hers they were both breathless.

She swayed, disoriented. ‘God, Bron, I’m –’

She pressed her fingers against his lips, shutting off the words. ‘Don’t,’ her voice was unsteady, her heart still pounding. ‘Don’t say you’re sorry. You aren’t, are you?’

‘No! Never! But I shouldn’t have – I didn’t expect –’

‘Me neither.’ Her laugh was shaky. ‘We already said this once.’ Holding her hand between his he pressed his lips to her palm. ‘I’ll go.’ His voice was rough, abrupt. ‘I don’t want to. But –’

‘I know,’ she said softly and stepped away from him. ‘I will see you again.’

His gaze was stormy and the fierceness of his expression betrayed an inner upheaval that matched her own. ‘Soon?’

Looking up at him, awed by what had happened, she reached out and lightly touched his cheek with her fingertips. ‘Yes. Soon.’

 

Now for some background information:

 

The brewhouse on a country estate was usually situated in a courtyard some distance from the main house. This ensured the family wasn’t disturbed by the heady smells and noise of necessary night time work. Two storeys high, it had a slatted lantern in the roof.

These slats could be opened or closed to control the temperature. Just below the lantern a tank or cistern held water pumped up from the well in the yard and gravity-fed down to the copper mounted on a platform 10-12 feet above ground level. Copper sizes varied from 40 gallons in a farmhouse to upwards of 85 gallons in a large country house.

A domestic copper used for laundry was a simple U-shape.  But the bottom of a brewing copper was like a rounded W, the best shape to achieve a rolling boil of the wort, and to ensure the copper could be completely emptied via a tap. Experienced brewers – on farms and in country houses these were often women (known as ‘brewsters’) whose skills were passed down from mother to daughter  – knew that a wood fire was far quicker than coal to bring a copper full of water to the boil.

 

Beer contains only four ingredients:  water, malt, hops and yeast. It is the quality of these plus the skill of the brewster that decides the superiority of the finished product.

 

Water:   Brewsters on farms and in country houses claimed rainwater was best. If it would lather soap it would make a good brew.

 

Malt.  The best barley – a long-eared variety raised on rich soil – made the best malt which would be known by its light fragrance, mellow taste, full flavour and a thin skin that was sweet and crisp.  The barley grains were steeped in water two or three times over two to three days until they began to germinate then transferred to the perforated wood malting floor and constantly turned to air-dry them. Then they were kilned or roasted to the desired colour and ground by hand in a mill like a coffee grinder. It took skill and judgement to crush the malt to just the right consistency.  Once ground it was best used within seven to ten days. Left any longer it might absorb moisture which would affect the heat of the mash.

 

Hops:  the best were bright green in colour with a sweet slightly oily scent.  For a keeping beer a rule of thumb was a pound of hops for every bushel of malt.  Beer that was drunk soon after brewing – e.g. small beer for harvest workers – needed only half the amount of hops.

 

Yeast:  The best yeast was gathered from a strong brew when it bubbled out of cask bungholes and was collected in channels called stillions.  It was kept in cold water – changed every other day – somewhere cool. Private brewers could, if necessary, buy yeast from commercial brewers. Strong beer needed 2 pints of yeast per 40 gallons.  For small beer: 1½ pints per 40 gallons. Once a brew started it took at least two days with only a few hours’ break between various stages so the brewer needed a comfortable chair. Another necessity for brewhouse and cellar was a solid door with a strong lock and key.

 

Buy links: Ebook:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00L9CIS66/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00L9CIS66&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=SKMOU3OLOI2V4D2Z   Paperback: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1634&creative=19450&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelthouse-21 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/190962439X/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=190962439X&linkCode=as2&tag=lucyfelt-20&linkId=A56RJWDEZCVJEC3Q

 

Author bio: Jane Jackson has been a professional writer for over thirty years, and twice shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award. Crosscurrents is her twenty-eighth published novel. Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall most of her life, finding inspiration for her books in the county’s magnificent scenery and fascinating history. She enjoys reading, research, long walks, baking, and visiting Cornish agricultural shows where her husband displays his collection of 28 (and counting) restored vintage rotavators.

 

Website: http://www.janejackson.net Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/JaneJacksonAuthor Twitter:  https://twitter.com/JJacksonAuthor http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/jane-jackson/

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.

blog picture pen

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.

Blog post refresh

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

x

 

 

In Training for Telford

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie's summer house.

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie’s summer house.

In Training for Telford

The Romaniacs are roving big style this weekend. We are off to Telford for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference, leaving our loved ones to defend our castles.

It’s a weekend packed with friends, fun, food, workshops, pitching of manuscripts and wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Some of us are hoping to make it to Romaniac Debbie’s house on Thursday, before booking into the conference centre on Friday. Some of us have already packed. Some of us have already bought the Prosecco.

It is going to be a fantastic weekend and we look forward to seeing lots of romantic novelists, editors, publishers and agents in Telford. And possibly everyone in the Midlands, as we wend our way there and back :-)

Prep for the weekend.

Prep for the weekend.

Here are some crucial items we’ll need for the weekend. Are you ready?

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Always cake.

Always cake.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn't been fermented.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn’t been fermented or distilled.

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections ...

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections …

Don't forget the paracetamol.

And don’t forget the paracetamol.

Book Launch – The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

Today we wish bestselling author Lisa Jewell a “Happy Publication Day” in celebration of her latest novel: ‘The Third Wife’ 

LJ

 

In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus.

A tragic accident? Or suicide? Her grief-stricken husband, Adrian, is determined to find out.

Maya had a job she enjoyed; she had friends. They’d been in love. She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they’d all been one big happy family.

But before long, Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life.

Because everyone has secrets.

And secrets have consequences.

Some of which can be devastating… 

 

LJ Press

3 July 2014 – Published by Century

The unforgettable new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author

 

Lisa Jewell had always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact, she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. Ten bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done.

Get to know Lisa by joining the official facebook page at www.facebook.com/LisaJewellOfficial

or by following her on Twitter @lisajewelluk.

And visit her website at www.lisa-jewell.co.uk

For more information please contact

Najma Finlay Cornerstone Publicity 020 7840 8614 nfinlay@randomhouse.co.uk @najmafinlay