Roving Romaniacs – 6 Go To London

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

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

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

lizzie lamb

Lizzie Lamb

Brigid Coady

Brigid Coady

 

RNA winter 13

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Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

harrods

Beautiful

Putting on The Ritz

Putting on The Ritz

A blustery walk to the tube

A blustery walk to the tube

 

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

Wannabe a Writer? Jane Wenham-Jones tells us how we can get there.

Wannabe A Writer TV Show Title Card

So you’ve written that novel that has been consuming your brain for years. Finally written it down and typed those magical words, The End. What now?

Or maybe you have written novel number 15, but still don’t have the courage to send it out to anyone for feedback.

Or even, you’ve written numerous novels, had other people read them and give you feedback, but still don’t know what to do with it.

If any of these scenarios describe you, then Jane Wenham-Jones is the perfect person to help you.

The very lovely, Jane Wenham-Jones

The very lovely, Jane Wenham-Jones

Jane has piloted a TV series called, ‘Wannabe a Writer.’ As part of this series, Jane takes an unpublished writer and introduces them to a top literary agent who reads their first three chapters and gives feedback. What an amazing opportunity! In the first episode, Delphine (the unpublished writer) is introduced to Carole Blake, of Blake Friedmann Literary Agency, and Carole offers some extremely important advice about Delphine’s manuscript. She highlights key points in Delphine’s story that are not working and tells her where it is going wrong. There is no sugar coating with Carole, but I loved that. As an unpublished writer myself, I don’t want to be blinded by happy smiles and ‘well done’s’ (although those are nice to have, too!) but I want to know how it really works. I want to be prepared for when I meet agents and be told just how blunt they may be. As Carole says in the film, she gets in excess of 20 manuscripts a day, so they don’t have time to think about how to say to someone that A,B and C needs changing in a nice way that wont hurt their feelings. That’s just the nature of the industry and that’s why every published author will say that you need to have the stomach for writing. So when I watched this first episode, I felt refreshed that it was putting forward an honest account of the writing/publishing industry.

Saying this, Jane does a very good job of making sure the writer feels supported afterwards. She is very encouraging and arranges a meeting with a bestselling author – I wont disclose who in case you haven’t seen the video.

Meeting the bestselling author was enjoyable to watch. She gave advice and tips to Delphine about her novel and answered all of her questions with expertise. I particularly liked the fact that Jane also got involved with giving advice and would throw in snippets as and when. So essentially you are getting two for the price of one! Fabulous!

Jane and Delphine

Jane and Delphine

The episode ends with Delphine returning to literary agent Carole Blake, with a revised opening chapter. Carole then gives her feedback on the new piece and is quite encouraging – showing that even though she was hard on Delphine at the start, it was all so Delphine could improve an already promising story.

Jane presents the programme extremely well. She is a very friendly person and this comes across on screen brilliantly. She is encouraging the whole way through the programme and makes the whole process relaxed and positive.

I do find sometimes, with things similar to this, that advice is sort of pushed upon you. You have asked for advice so here it is and you must listen. But with this programme, this is not the case. Advice and tips are offered constantly throughout but never at any time is it forced upon you. The bestselling author even says at one point about you having to use your judgement with the advice you’re getting and basically pick what is best for you and your work.

I absolutely love the whole idea of this TV series and I think it will do really well. There are so many people out there, like myself, who desperately want to break the barrier into being published and I think programmes like this are both informative and real and are exactly what we, as writers, need to help prepare ourselves better.

I asked Jane for a few words about her new venture and he is what she had to say…

It’s here! The fluffed lines, fits of the giggles and the marvellous moment where a certain best-selling author’s cat strolled into the scene, mewing, have been safely consigned to the cutting room floor and Wannabe a Writer – the TV Show is available on a youtube channel near you. This is a ground-breaking new concept I have been loosely billing as Come Dine With Me, meets Through the Keyhole with a dash of Britain’s Got Talent  – except designed to appeal to anyone who’s ever thought they might have a book in them, rather than those who want to sing or show off their carrot stroganoff  and  pecan pavlova.

We’re going to be pitching this to the TV channels this autumn, so we’d love you to watch, love you to comment, and love you to apply to come on a future programme (please also tell your friends).

This baby is the brainchild of me and my mate Steve – an ex- ITN TV producer– who I first met when he obligingly spilled the beans about how much tape Barbara Cartland used to hold her face up when she was being interviewed, for my book Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? (One way, for those interested, is to make news crews wait 24 hours while you bathe the room in pink light, get the florists on standby and use the aforementioned tape to hitch back your forehead.) Not that I am without sympathy, having seen myself in the opening shots, looking as if I have a particularly nasty hangover!

“I hope you’re bleaching out my wrinkles,” I’d squawk at Steve at regular intervals throughout filming. He appeared to ignore me  but was clearly listening. Hear that jaunty piece of music that plays as would-be author Delphine, and I board the train to London? It’s called “Botox Babe”…

To apply to be on the show, visit : www.wannabeawritertvshow.com

Thank you, Jane, we wish you lots of luck with it.

And here is the all important link to this fabulous show – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kJWTbsjbR4 - Part One

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ycfeR3Zze0 - Part Two

Lucie xx

Guest Post by Nic Tatano, Men and Sex – what they really think

I recently blogged about whether women could write sex scenes from a male point of view. (Click here for post) It caused a lot of interest and responses, mostly from women, although we did have one man join in the conversation.

Since then, I have been in touch with author Nic Tatano and he is here today, adding some light on the subject. Over to you, Nic …

So, the question was posed as to what men think about during sex. I can only imagine the eye rolls from those of you who may have had a relationship with a man who became molecularly bonded at the sub-atomic level to a reclining chair. (If you’re currently dating one of these human-furniture hybrid slugs, run.) But, as a guy who writes romance, I might be able to offer a little perspective.

Before said perspective, you should know the boundaries. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 24 years, and what happens between us will always remain private. But over the years I’ve come to realize there are two types of men: the relationship guys, and the sex guys.

You see, there’s a great dividing line when it comes to “guy talk.” Relationship guys never, ever discuss sexual details about the women they love. A relationship guy understands the sacred bond that goes with commitment and the fact that the woman he loves would not appreciate having her abilities in the bedroom plastered on the verbal equivalent of a bathroom wall.

Sex guys hold nothing back, because they don’t really understand the difference between having sex and making love. To them, the latter doesn’t even exist. (It should be noted that on rare occasions a sex guy can turn into a relationship guy when he gets through puberty and reaches the age of maturity, which is approximately thirty-five.) The sex guys think nothing of sharing the details of their own sexual prowess (which always approaches that of a porn star) and the attributes of the women they are dating (which always approaches that of a porn star.)

From high school locker rooms to college dorms to late night poker games, I’ve heard it all. While this chatter may loosely fall into the “kiss and tell” category, it lacks any romantic elements. Typical comments from sex guys are the following:

Describing a woman: “She has (wildly descriptive adjective) (body parts) better than (name of famous supermodel) and (other body parts) that won’t quit.”

Describing sex with said woman: “I tell ya, this woman could (service provided by prostitute) better than (metaphor possibly involving household appliance.)

Anyway, back to the original question. What are men thinking? Let’s get to the sex guys first:

TOP TEN THINGS THE “SEX GUYS” MIGHT BE THINKING DURING SEX:

1. Damn, her roommate is really hot. I wonder if she’d like to join us?

2. Did I set the DVR for the game?

3. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m with Nicole Kidman.

4. I think continental drift moves faster than she does.

5. You know, I always say I wouldn’t throw a woman out for eating crackers in bed, but I never knew getting salt in my crack would be this uncomfortable.

6. What was her name again?

7. I wonder if she has any beer…

8. I’m such a stud.

9. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m Henry Cavill.

10. She just called me by her old boyfriend’s name! Eh, whatever. I’m not gonna deal with it now.

As for what the relationship guy is thinking, there’s no answer. He’s simply in love with that special woman, eyes locked, the two becoming one for a few special moments, while the rest of the world does not exist.

But he still remembers to DVR the game.

winggirl

Nic Tatano‘s novel, Wing Girl was released by Harper Impulse.

Great post, Nic – I’m still working out if I feel enlightened or just had my suspicions confirmed!

Sue

:-)

Nicky Wells and Sophie’s Encore have the floor today …

Its’ time to Rock And Roll in earnest! Yes, Nicky Wells is here to celebrate the upcoming launch of Sophie’s Encore. Three cheers for the third book in her Rock Star Romance Trilogy!!!

Sophies_Encore

Says Nicky,

“I’m so excited to share with you, finally, this third installment in Sophie and Dan’s epic romance! Thank you for coming to celebrate with me. Read on for:

The Three Fold Cover Story

Never judge a book by its cover, or so they say. I think that’s a highly debatable position! Book covers matter. Here’s my cover story!

Authors and publishers alike expend considerable effort on creating eye-catchy covers that zzzzing! Evidently, I’m no exception. Each cover for the three books in my Rock Star Romance Trilogy was carefully designed. Individually, they’re awesome! But in their togetherness… WOW!

SE banner

I have to confess, I’m a little in love with how they work side by side. (Okay, a lot in love then. I admit it.) They show Sophie’s story in a nutshell. There’s a progression there, an evolution, that is quite deliberate.

Consider this. In the first book, Sophie’s Turn, Sophie still very much finds herself drawn to the glitz and glamor surrounding that rock star of hers, the dangerous and delectable Dan Hunter. But throughout the book, Sophie gets to know him—and herself!—much better than she’d ever dared dream, and this produces the ‘turn’ at the end.

In book two, Sophie’s Run, Dan becomes Sophie’s friend while she’s in pursuit of someone else. Quite unexpectedly, Dan finds himself in a position of unrequited love. He has to think up ways to keep their friendship alive. Their joint recording of his duet right there in his home studio is one of the key moments in the novel and eventually builds a bridge right into book three. So the sound recording equipment on the cover says, hey, look, there are rock starry things being done here! Yet it hints at the ‘detour’ Sophie’s life is taking and lays the foundations for the final book.

Enter the cover for Sophie’s Encore. There he is, Dan, right on the cover, toned bare arms and all, singing his heart out in all his delicious rock-star glory. The title promises us another go, an encore—but what will it mean, and how will it work? Will Dan and Sophie get a second chance? And what will Dan have to do to make that happen? Between you and me, Sophie’s Encore might equally have been titled, Dan’s Encore, for this book is about the both of them and whether they can bring their romance to a happy ending.

And there you have it! See what I mean about the Cover Story? What do you think?

Rock on!

The blurb! 

Her rock star is waiting in the wings, but will he get a second chance?

It’s all change for Sophie Jones—only this time, there is more at stake than just her happiness.

Rock star extraordinaire, Dan Hunter, has been her patient and caring friend through the highs and lows since her wedding day, but now he figures it is time for her to start over. By stealth, the rock singer draws Sophie into the behind-the-scenes work for his band’s latest album. Through the days and weeks spent together at the mixing desk, Sophie discovers whole new horizons for her life, yet before she can even begin to explore them, she faces the very real threat of losing her rock star for good.

Join Sophie and Dan in Sophie’s Encore to find out how their journey will end…

Sales Links

Amazon.co.uk Kindle | Amazon.co.uk Paperback | Amazon.com Kindle | Amazon.com Paperback | Barnes & Noble Paperback | Nook

 

The fantabulous giveaway!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 x signed Sophie’s Encore Poster
2 x Sophie’s Encore Mugs
1 x Sophie’s Run Mug
1 x $10 Amazon Gift Voucher (or equivalent currency)
2 x Sophie’s Encore Key Ring
1 x Sophie’s Run Key Ring
2 x “Swag Pack” featuring 2 postcards (1 signed) each for all three Rock Star Romance books, and 2 bookmarks each for Sophie’s Turn and Sophie’s Run

ENTER HERE: a Rafflecopter giveaway

The giveaway closes 30 September at 12 midnight BST.
Entrants must be 18 or over. Giveaway is open internationally.

About Nicky Wells

Nicky_NEWAuthorPic_April12_useforwebsite

Nicky Wells is your ultimate rock chick author. Signed to US Publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky writes Romance That Rocks Your World, featuring the rock star and the girl next door.

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a rock theme ~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill!

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C. Like her leading lady, Sophie, Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor to The Midweek Drive show on Lincoln’s Siren 107.3 FM. Rock on!

Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads| Pinterest

*Nicky waves*

Whoa! What a party! I hope you enjoyed yourself. Thank you again for stopping by today to help me celebrate. Happy reading and rock on! And don’t forget to say ‘hi’, I’d love to hear from you and I will come back to chat later!

Can Women Write Sex Scenes from Male POV?

Can a woman write a sex scene from a man’s point of view?

This is a question I asked myself recently when writing a hot sex scene between my heroine and hero.  I initially thought I would write it from the male point of view but after a couple of paragraphs I began to question my wisdom.

man thinkingDo I really know what a man thinks and feels emotionally when having sex? Does a man feel differently when having sex as opposed to making love? Is there actually a difference for men? Do men just have sex, regardless? Does my reader want to know what really goes through a man’s mind or does she want to imagine what she’d like him to be thinking?

I suppose the obvious answer would be to ask a man, or several, but I wouldn’t be sure if he was telling me what he really thought or what he thought I wanted to hear. I’m of the opinion, these are two different things and not only that, I could get myself into a bit of bother canvassing men to share their inner most thoughts on sex. Unless, of course, it was Richard Armitage … now there’s an idea [goes off to stalk him on Twitter.] What? That’s inappropriate? Okay delete that Tweet. Back to writing from a female point of view it is.

What are your thoughts on writing sex scenes from a male POV?

Should women attempt it or should they steer clear?

Sue Fortin profile

Sue

x

Letting the Pictures do the Talking RNA Conference 13

The RNA Conference in Sheffield last weekend was a most excellent occasion. Five of The Romaniacs attended and we all had such a great time.  It was lovely meeting up with old friends and making new ones. The talks and workshops were so informative, we all came away feeling very focussed and itching to get on with our writing. A BIG thank you to everyone who helped make the conference such a success, as always.

Here is the weekend in pictures …

Sheffield The Edge

Hello, Sheffield University!

Sheffield Romaniacs

All ready for the Gala Dinner

Sheffield goody bag

Great goody bags with lots of lovely gifts

D&J

Debbie and Jules Wake

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Alison Maynard, Mandy Baggot and Linn B Halton, join the usual suspects line-up

Sheffield Nikki Goodman

Nikki Goodman (she did really want her photo taken – honest)

Sheffield Laura RhodaLaura and Rhoda Baxter

photo_3No idea what was so funny!

Sheffield Julie Cohen

Excellent talk on ‘Theme’ by Julie Cohen

Sheffield Sue M

Another great talk from Sue Moorcroft on sex scenes

Sheffield Piaktus

 

Anna Boatman from Piatkus, just one of the several industry talks

photo_4 (1)Relaxing in the evening sun shine

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We found a lovely spot on the grass for evening drinks

Sheffield celia bottles

And we left it to Celia to carry all the refreshments ;-)

photo_2 (1)Another one of  those ‘what was so funny?’ moments

Sheffield Sue Celia Kitchen

Sometimes you just can’t beat a natter and a cup of tea!

Sheffield Celia tree

Sitting in the shade with a fab book – bliss!

Sheffield Edge buildingThank  you Sheffield and the RNA :-)

Sophie Duffy and the Exeter Novel prize

Sophie Duffy

Sophie Duffy

My journey to becoming a published novelist was a long one. In fact I have yet to meet a novelist who became an overnight success. I have yet to meet a published novelist without at least two novels secreted away like old love letters. Those first two novels are the practice ground where we learn about the craft of writing, a craft we writers continue to learn for the rest of our lives.

Sophie Duffy 3

But there may well be some novels out there that deserve to see the light of day. Do you have one of those? Or do you have the beginnings of one? If the answer is yes, I do, then dust it down, rework the opening with the helpfulness of hindsight and fresh eyes and enter it into the Exeter Novel Prize.

Sophie Duffy 2

Sophie, Cathie and Margaret

What is the Exeter Novel Prize? It’s a new prize for novelists, set up and launched this week by the trio that make up CreativeWritingMatters: Cathie Hartigan, Margaret James and myself.

Sophie Duffy GenerationWhy did we decide to do this? Because we believe in the importance of writing competitions. Cathie has won short story competitions,  Margaret has administered and judged writing competitions and my novel The Generation Game won both the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary. There are many short story and poetry competitions but only a few novel prizes. And the Exeter Novel Prize is, to our knowledge, the only novel competition open to both unpublished and published writers. As long as you are unagented and not currently under contract, you can enter the ENP with your first 10,000 words and a synopsis by October 31st.

Go to http://www.creativewritingmatters.co.uk for details.

We launched the prize on Thursday. It was a soggy evening so we were pleased to fill the room with writers who asked great questions. The atmosphere was positive and encouraging and we are looking forward to finding a shining star. The winner will be chosen from a shortlist by agent Broo Doherty. And who knows what will follow. You’ll never know unless you enter. Nothing ventured…

Sophie Duffy ENP Audience

Sophie  Duffy lives in Teignmouth with her family and other animals. She has two novels published by Legend Press. The Generation Game and This Holey Life.

Thank you, Sophie, for taking the time to write this post. This is a great competition and I wish you, Cathie, Margaret and all the entrants the very best of luck.
Laura x

Crimefest – A guest report from Evonne Wareham

100_0671As I write romantic suspense – a genre that can have as a high a body count as a kiss-count – I sometimes get to play on the shady side of the street. Which is how I came to spend a recent weekend in the company of assorted serial killers, drug dealers, spymasters, global conspirators and all round bad lots, and the lovely people who create them. Yes, this was Crimefest, the Bristol crime writing convention that brings together criminal elements from all walks of life  - and the sleuths who pursue them – from the cosy amateur, solving puzzles over tea and scones, to the adventurer on the trail of an ancient artifact with mystic powers, by way of the jaded cop with the bottle of whisky stashed in his desk drawer. It takes all sorts to make a crime wave.

When you attend an event like Crimefest you realize just how many varieties of fictional crime there are – and locations. Scandinavian and American authors are always in demand, but delegates set their mayhem in Africa, Alaska, Italy, the Greek Islands, Iceland, … the Isle of Wight. The on-site bookshop was bursting with titles from all round the globe, with the chance of having them signed by the author in attendance. And it’s not just exotic places, but also a variety of time periods – Roman Britain, the eighteenth century, the roaring twenties …

Panels looked at everything from the North/South divide, to mixing crime and comedy. There were discussions on writing about the cold war and authors who have become overlooked or forgotten, often unjustly. Fans of Dame Agatha squared up to those of Sir Arthur  …

And all that was quite apart from the enthusiastic after-hours discussion that went on in the hotel bar.

The convention mixes writers and readers and everyone seemed to be in agreement that the panels this year were better than ever. I certainly enjoyed the ones I attended – even the one I was on. This year’s big coup was the appearance of Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue of TV Sherlock fame – currently filming the third series, working round the availability of two stars who have suddenly become big cinema box office and determinedly ducking all requests to explain exactly how Sherlock is coming back from the dead.  It was a fun session, packed with enthusiastic fans – but I have to say that the personal convention high spot for me was the appearance of author Robert Goddard. He’s a great story teller. I’ve been a fan of his complex plotting for years. Fingers crossed that some of that complexity stuff may have rubbed off. I hope so, as there’s nothing I like better than a plot like a corkscrew.

It was a criminally enjoyable weekend.

Writing a Novella – is it any different to writing a novel?

Author Louise Rose-Innes is with us today, talking about writing novellas and her latest release, The New Year Resolution.

mfrw_profilepic

Take it away Louise …

The New Year ResolutionMy latest release, THE NEW YEAR RESOLUTION is about 35,000 words and is classified as a novella. Novellas are usually about 20,000 to 40,000 words. Anything shorter than that is termed a short story.

They’re punchier than category romances, often only in one POV, and usually with a single plotline (as the length doesn’t support multiple subplots).

Despite the shorter format, they still feature the normal goals, motivations and conflicts of a full length romantic novel.

This makes them fairly difficult to write, especially for authors who are used to a longer format. The trick to writing a fast-paced novella is planning. You have limited space so you can’t ramble or waste words. You need to be absolutely clear on your characters central conflicts, what drives them and how they react in different circumstances. This way you can outline your plot points and build your character arcs convincingly.

Novella writing is a good exercise for any author, as it forces you to focus on what’s important. It also forces you to up the tension of each chapter. A novella is usually faster paced than a full length romance, so you can play with sentence structure and length to keep it interesting all the way through. You can stick to one POV, or try writing in the first person.

Lee Child likes to experiment in his short stories. Stephen King thinks that all young writers should hone their skills on novellas.  He calls the novel a “quagmire that young authors stumble into before they’re ready.”

Personally, I struggle with traditional short stories (under 20,000 words). For me, the novella is a better format to work with. I like delving deeper into core conflicts and motivations and building a relationship between the reader and the heroine from the first paragraph. The novel itself, is a more complex beast, but it does give you more room to move and can be a little more forgiving.

As writers, we should experiment with all formats as we develop our skill, as this will make us more versatile overall.

The New Year ResolutionTHE NEW YEAR RESOLUTION is out now at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D7HXMDU

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00D7HXMDU

Blurb:

Last year, divorcee Nicole had only one New Year’s Resolution – to have a date for this New Years Eve – but with no strings attached.  One thing she knows for sure is that she isn’t ready for anything more complicated than a casual date.

So when eco-tycoon and international jetsetter, Ryan Jackson begs her to accompany him to a tropical island for a week, in order to impress his benefactor, Nicole categorically refuses. He’s way too hot and she’s way too vulnerable. Not a good idea.

Yet Ryan won’t take no for an answer.  It’s for a good cause. She would only have to pretend to be his lover. It’s a luxury island resort with all expenses paid. How can she refuse?

Under the tropical sun, things heat up and their pretence goes out the window. Nicole gets cold feet. She’s not ready for this kind of affair. It’s doubtful she ever will be.

But have they come too far? Distancing herself from Ryan will cause him to lose the funding he so desperately needs for his eco-project, but staying with him means she’ll lose something far more valuable… her heart.  And that’s a risk Nicole is simply not willing to take.

RT BookLovers Convention 2013 – Guest Post from Evonne Wareham

Those key cardsYou know you’ve arrived at a very special kind of convention when the key card for your hotel room features a book cover with a bare-chested man. And the RT Booklovers convention is very special to the (mostly) American readers who travel from all over the States to get their big romance fix – meeting authors and cover models, attending panels and parties, buying books and getting them signed at two monster signing sessions …

The convention is an annual event, hosted by RT Book Reviews magazine at a Choc-Lit bannerdifferent American location each year. This year it was Kansas City and it was the 30th anniversary convention. It was rumoured that more than two thousand readers and authors, mainly female, descended on the unsuspecting city for the hectic long weekend. And I was one of them, part of a group from Choc-Lit, intent on taking British-style romance to new audiences. It was exhausting and enormous fun. Those ladies know how to party and were focused on doing just that, from the morning mixers and breakfast events to the evening balls and parties. In between there were talks by authors – singly and in groups, quizzes, scavenger hunts, craft sessions and the chance for aspiring authors to meet agents and publishing houses, to pitch their manuscripts. The term ‘elevator pitch’ took on a whole new dimension while being practiced on the way down from the 29th floor. You could pick out the glow from the hopefuls who had just been asked to submit their manuscript from about ten paces.

Choc-Lit authors hosted a craft session on creating heroes, a chocolate tasting session, a Jane Austen celebration from CL’s Austen expert, Juliet Archer (which featured a guest appearance by Mr Darcy) and, captained by author Lynne Connelly, devised a fiendish quiz to test the participants’ knowledge of the British Isles. And yes, I was the one with the question that involved a sheep. I was specializing in Wales, after all. And wore the national dress, to prove it. I also forgot to give someone my camera to get a shot of me in it.

The BallThe hotel was fabulous, the free books on offer were amazing, the swag – gifts from authors and publishers of everything from bookmarks to letter openers – completely fascinating. You have no idea how many gew-gaws and gadgets can be printed with an author’s name. Actually I do, now. I brought home as many as I could carry. Some of the themed parties featured costumes – saloon girls to vampires – and the anniversary ball called for formal dress. The Choc-lit group rose to the occasion with sparkle and tiaras. I didn’t risk a tiara – I was afraid I’d end up wearing it as a necklace – or skewering someone’s eye, but I did have a snazzy pair of cream coloured elbow length gloves, which were admired by a gentleman I met in the lift on the way to the ball. His wife was very tolerant about it.

Signing Books

I had a really great time. It’s impossible to give more than the tiniest glimpse of the scale of the event here. The high-spot was probably being part of the huge book signing on Saturday morning, but the thing that made the most impact was the welcome and interest shown by American romance fans. The British (and Welsh) accents had something to do with it, but everywhere there were people keen to talk about books, writing and every kind of romance genre. Next year’s convention is in New Orleans and events are already being planned. And I’m already saving my pennies.

Evonne x