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


Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa



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.

Having it all?

It’s no good, I want it all. I want to be a multi-tasking, never-ending ball of energy that writes a book every three weeks and still has time for a manicure and the gym. How is it possible for someone to tweet so well about the three tasks they are carrying out when I can barely manage to tweet, let alone tweet whilst doing something?

I’ve come to the conclusion these multi-tasking people must have some tricks up their sleeves. Here are a few of my theories:

  • They have far whizzier brains than me. They know what to do to get all the info to all the places all at once. I’m sure I could figure it out, if only I had the time!
  • They must have a PA making up for the time that seems to disappear into the ether in my world.
  • They don’t sleep. How else are they fitting in the gym and manicures?
  • It’s all lies. I’ve seen lots of pictures of costa coffee drinks whilst people are waiting to do something exciting. Who’s to say it’s not the same cup over and over again? They’re just making out they’re waiting on the cusp of glory whilst I’m sat on the sofa in my PJs wondering why I’m not enjoying the glory of a coffee outside of the house.

OK, I admit it, I’m jealous. It’s just I want to be the all powerful, taking on the world woman, but I may be forced to admit that she’s gone. Only temporarily, mind. For the past few months I’ve been taken over. My only priorities in life have been eating, drinking, peeing and sleeping. What’s caused such a change? Well, these two…

2012-12-19 10.40.34

Romaniac Twins

So even though my brainpower has disappeared, my concentration is out the window as soon as I see a food advert, well, I don’t mind a bit. As my other Romaniacs have told me, the writing can wait and we’ve also decided the blog will be a bit quieter as I become accustomed to my new life as a mum of twins (due same time as the Royal baby) and the other Romaniacs get on with their WIPs.

I know, you’re excited as I am to discover how long it takes me to work out how to pop on my make-up, deal with shitty nappies and tweet about it at the same time. Okay, I lied. I won’t be using any make-up FOR MONTHS. But you’ll never know. I only plan to tweet pictures of costa coffee cups and if you twist my arm, some cute twinnie photos!

Catherine x

Notebook Confessional

This is a confession of infidelity.

notebooksI have two shelves full of notebooks – and none of them are full. Some of them are completely empty. Yet I can’t walk past a stationery shop without looking for more … always seeking the elusive perfect notebook; The One that will end up containing the perfect stories, as if the notebook itself can produce words.

Each time I buy one, I think this is The One, the one I’ll love forever, the one I’ll keep writing in until the bitter end… but something always goes wrong. We fall out of love and before I know it, I’m back in Paperchase, flirting with a shiny new one.

It’s always been a problem – in school, I’d start every term in love with my beautiful exercise books, all covered in wrapping paper, or carefully decorated with cuttings from magazines … then someone would sit next to me with their books covered in something prettier, sparklier and mine would look dull in comparison, and I’d spend the rest of the term coveting the books next to me.

This year, I’m trying to stay faithful to one notebook at a time – well, maybe two; one small one for small bags and a bigger one for big bags. And maybe one for my desk at work and one for my desk at home. I wouldn’t want to get caught short when THE idea strikes, would I?

Now it’s time for my other Romaniacs to ‘fess up – are you one notebook women, faithful to the end? Or are you spending half your income each week on lovely notebooks and pens and paper and folders and more notebooks and… mmmm….

Vanessa x

NotebooksLaura: I have a secret stash. I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. Need a quick fix? Whatever colour, whatever size you want, I’ve got it. Clean, fresh, virginal pages, lying between exotic covers, waiting to be inked on. I have several on the go at once, but all for different reasons. I fill them to my satisfaction, home them, and then delight in the thrill of starting something new.

Celia: I was going to say that I’m not much of a one for notebooks but then I looked in my desk drawers! The one I use most is the fabulous big gold and dark green one that lives on a shelf right next to the desk. It was a present from my daughters, and last May I started writing down competition entries or anything writing-related that I was doing or had achieved. It’s such a pleasure writing in this book  with my Christmas pen – thick cream pages, decorated edges and clasps to keep it shut. The smaller green and gold one is my diet diary and it doesn’t have much in it. Sadly, this is not because I don’t eat much but because I’m  usually too busy eating and drinking to write in it. 

Catherine: I’ve never really had to buy notebooks because since I was young my family and friends have brought them for me. My problem lies with not being able to get rid of any of them. When you’ve spent your life jotting in notepads, when you look through them you think there’s gold in that there notepad. And that one. And that one. Shame I’ve never found time to go through them all. 

notebook[Stands up and takes deep breath] Hello, my name is Sue and I’m a notebook junky – [smiles at the nods, hellos and encouraging clapping from others in the group] I’ve been addicted to notebooks for many, many years. I can’t get enough of them. Any shape, size, colour, I love them all. Sometimes, I go into stationery shops to admire them, to stroke them, to hold them in my hands, to flick through the untouched virgin paper, to breathe in the smell of newness. The urge to claim it as mine and hand over the last pennies in my purse can be overwhelming. Oh God, just talking about it and words like Paperchase, WH Smith, Waterstones race through my mind. [rushes out of meeting to stroke current favourite]

 Jan: I confess I’d be sitting right beside Sue at that ‘notebook junky’ group. Mr B often tuts and rolls his eyes when I veer off to purr at the stationery when out shopping. I dread to think how many notebooks share our flat with us; big ones, tiny ones, bright ones, patterned ones, you name it… If we Romaniacs lined them all up side by side, I reckon we could fill the floor here at HQ.  Our very own notebook carpet. There’s a thought…

Debbie: I give up with notepads. Like the others, I have piles of them but interestingly the only ones I use are of the ‘value’ or ‘homebrand’ variety. Following an Arvon writing course I did invest in a couple of moleskin ones which come out if I’m attending a writing course or any RNA events but otherwise, the trouble I seem to have with notebooks is that most of them are gifted ones and far too beautiful to write in!

About five years ago, a friend gave me a beautiful silk notebook. The cover is a rich, reddish-brown, almost the colour of polished copper, with a ‘framed’ panel of sinuous, vertical meandering flowers and acanthus leaves embossed in the middle of the front outer cover. And for the five years since acquiring it, it has lived on top of my piano alongside my metronome. It stays there, gathering dust, each parchment page as virginal and empty as when it was hand bound.  It wasn’t until a conversation with a friend, that I realised why…

Apparently, her sister has a gift for writing poetry and in an attempt to encourage and inspire ‘F’ bought her a luxurious notebook for her ideas and notes. After a few weeks, she discovered her sister hadn’t used it and when asked, her sister told her it was because it was “too lovely to write in…” Following lengthy discussions with her sibling and others, F concluded that her sister didn’t feel she was ‘worthy’ of the notebook. It was as if somehow, it was ‘too good’ and too beautiful for her to write in; that her writing did not measure up to the paper.

I smiled at my friends conclusion. It struck a chord. Perhaps it’s a trait of the ‘wannabe’ writer who hasn’t quite made it that I feel ‘unworthy?’ but I could see some truth in her words. And I still struggle to ruin a perfect blank page or beautiful silk cover with my scribbled musings. So for now my collection of notebooks sit forlornly in my study and look beautiful, gathering dust, until one day…

Lucie: I think it comes with the job! I don’t think any writer would be without at least one trusty notebook – or several hundred in Sue’s case :-) – to jot down their musings. I have a few notebooks. Mainly I have a purple one that goes in my bag for when I am out and about, one on my desk which isn’t as pretty and a few stored in my desk that are all half written in. I don’t think I’ve ever filled a notebook. I’ve always been teased away by another before getting quite to the end. I do find it hard to go into places like WHSmith, Paperchase and Staples and not be drawn straight to the stationery section. 

Come to think of it, I think I’m due a new one…..

You googled WHAT?

When researching a storyline it’s not uncommon to google something peculiar and not in keeping with your day to day life. Baby Number Two is my current WIP and from the title you can already imagine there will be some interesting google searches during its completion. What really fascinates me though (’cause I’m a bit sad like that) is what search terms lead people to The Romaniacs blog. There are of course the sensible ones, but you don’t want to hear about them. I thought I’d share the Top 10 random search terms that have brought people here:

1) Robert Pattinson body hair

Erm… we haven’t stolen it, honest!

2) Young sperm

This was a cleanish search term. Just to let you know – mention sperm on your blog and you get extra hits as a result.

3) What the world needs is a group hug

I’m inclined to agree and I’m very glad when someone was looking for a group hug they found us.

4) This girl said we are kindred souls

One of The Romaniacs? They are so fickle.

5) Sainsburys singles night

I’m itching to add apostrophes. I do want to know more about this. Do they have an allocated time when you all meet in the pizza aisle?

6) grange hill sausage

I don’t even know what to say about this. Just why? And what?

7) is your name yasmin chat up line

I don’t think it was The Romaniacs they were after. Unless… anyone been putting on a husky voice to fund their writing endeavours?

8) should i get spanx or m & s underwear

Good question. Doubt we helped with the answer. Personally, I have M & S suck it all in pants.

9) subliminal messages to get someone to marry you

Hmm… this has to be a girl asking this, right? In which case, boys don’t do subliminal. Make it obvious or it won’t work. Take them shopping and gasp at gorgeous diamond rings when you pass window displays. That should do the trick.

10) just ate big bag of cadbury buttons !!

You are my kind of person. This is exactly the kind of behaviour The Romaniacs encourage.

Of course, I have skipped over some search terms, but judging by the majority, we could set up an agony aunt column answering all the questions that arrive here. Although each answer would involve reading a good book.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to look up on the computer? And what strange search terms have you discovered on your blog/website? Any questions that google hasn’t helped with and you want The Romaniacs to tackle?

Your Agony Aunt, Catherine x

Sound the Trumpets!

We’re many things here at Romaniac HQ: Zany, Dotty, Forthright, to name a few. We’ll let you add your own description below, but we have another to add to the list. And this one deserves capitalisation. ‘Cause here at Romaniac HQ, it turns out we’re TALENTED! Last Friday we found out that not one, not two, but SIX of us have been shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. We’ve been slightly blindsided by the whole thing. We’ve started talking faster than usual, carrying out spontaneous bursts of dance and repeating using Victor Meldrew’s line: ‘I don’t believe it!’ Here are our shortlisted first chapters. We’re adding them here in the hope it’ll sink in:

Little Boxes by Celia Anderson

Once Upon A… Secret by Sue Fortin

Follow Me by Laura James

Baby Number Two by Catherine Miller

The Perfect Life List by Vanessa Savage

Smiling Through The Pain by Debbie White

Celia, Laura, Sue, Debbie, Catherine & Vanessa

We’re all delighted to have been shortlisted and looking forward to cheering on the authors from the other grown-up categories as well as cheering on the New Talent winners.

If you’re interested in setting up an online group like this one, The Romaniacs will be giving a talk about it on the Sunday at The Festival of Romance. Our group sprung up from the FOR last year and I think we can safely say the support and encouragement we give each other seems to be working.

We’d also like to make a disclaimer. If perchance one of us does get selected for a mention at the gala dinner, we cannot be held responsible for our actions. We’d also appreciate it if you could withhold from video recording the fainting/crying/whooping/fainting again and placing it on You Tube.

Fingers crossed until then,

Catherine x

PS: We’re scraping modest from our list of qualities. Well, it’s not often this kind of thing happens!

Roving Romaniac: Vintage Tea at the Little, Brown offices with author, Vanessa Greene.

I’ve been out on a covert operation and managed to infiltrate the little, brown offices. Well, ok, I was invited, I didn’t just break in. I was there for a special event – a vintage tea – to celebrate The Vintage Teacup Club by Vanessa Greene.

I promised the other Romaniacs that I’d get a few pictures of the offices so we can all drool over them and dream of the day when we get invited there as one of their authors.

It was every bit as grand and I was hoping. It was shiny, with massive sofas and books galore. I would have liked to live there for a week to carry out a sponsored readathon, but my giddy smile would give away the fact they’d have trouble kicking me out.

So instead I tried to act as sensibly as a Romaniac can. I didn’t once go up to someone sitting innocently at a computer and ask if they wanted to sign 9 nutty, but lovely writers. Instead I found myself sharing a lift with Vanessa, the author of The Vintage Teacup Club and by the end of the event convinced her to join us on the blog to answer a few questions.

Q: If you could take afternoon tea with any celebrity, who would it be and why?

Benedict Cumberbatch would make a pretty gentlemanly tea-date, don’t you think? I developed a bit of a crush on him in the recent series of Sherlock, and then Parade’s End sealed the deal – he has a really magnetic, quirky charm. Alternatively (and so my boyfriend doesn’t get miffed) a nice natter about books with Mariella Frostrup over cake would make for a great afternoon.

Q: If you could visit any era for 24 hours, which would you choose and why?

It would have to be London during the Blitz. I’m so curious about what the reality of wartime life was like – what did women like us find to laugh about, how did they help each other cope? What was it like falling in love then, when your world could change in a moment? On a lighter note, I love dancing, so I’d definitely seek out an underground party I could swing at!

Q: Is there anything that you collect? Vintage teacups, pretty hardback books and antique postcards.

Q: What value do you place on history and how does this relate to the book?

I think our past, and also our family histories, are an important part of who we are, whether we realise it or not, and so that is one of the themes of the novel.

In The Vintage Teacup Club all three of the women – Jenny, Alison and Maggie – are confronted by aspects of their past, and their village’s past, that they haven’t properly understood or dealt with. Together, they are able to work through those hidden histories and truly move on in their own lives.

In a way that’s true of my family history too. My father was German, and my mother is English – so during World War II my grandfathers were, essentially, fighting each other. As I was born in London and feel English, I used to find it difficult to understand how my German grandfather could have fought on Hitler’s side. But when my German grandmother died, and we went through the letters her husband sent from the front line, you could see how much he loved her, and how delighted he was at the news that he was going to be a father. Sadly, he was killed before he had a chance to meet his son, my dad. I realised reading those letters and seeing photos that both grandfathers were human first, and soldiers second – both were doing what they felt was right.

Q: Milk in first or second? Now this one’s far easier! I like to surprise myself by varying this. Simple pleasures.

Q: Do you have a favourite tea advert?

It’s not an advert, but I loved the bit in the series Homeland where Carrie almost blows her cover by mentioning Brody’s liking for Yorkshire Gold tea. It’s my favourite brand (my boyfriend, who’s from Yorkshire, introduced me to it) and I went straight out in the ad break to make us a cuppa!

Quick Fire:

Cup or Mug? For special occasions I can’t resist a vintage teacup – but at home I prefer my tea out of a mug. I have a mug from New York, with an illustration of a dog walker walking every possible type of dog. Tea always tastes best out of it.

Paris or Rome? Rome – it’s the lure of pasta and ice cream. I also love the Audrey Hepburn film Roman Holiday and it would be fun to retrace her steps.
Tea at the Ritz or a West End Show? Are you offering? Tea at the Ritz please! I’ve always wanted to do that.

Cupcakes or Cookies? Cookies are better for dunking in tea, I find – so they come out on top.

Bargain Hunt or Dickenson’s Real Deal? I can’t resist Bargain Hunt. As I work from home I try to pretend daytime TV doesn’t exist (far too much temptation), but I sometimes make an exception for this, in the name of ‘research’.
Champagne or Chocolates? I love a bit of fizz – it turns even a small event with friends into a real celebration.

Thank you for answering all of our questions, Vanessa. The Vintage Teacup Club comes out tomorrow. Just enough time to pop out to the shops, buy some cake and join Vanessa on publication day!

Belgian buns, that’s vintage, right? Off to the shop to go and get some. Maybe if I take some to the little, brown offices they’ll let me in again?

The Vintage Teacup Club can be purchsed here and you can find Vanessa on twitter: @VanessaGBooks

Catherine x

A Celebration Of Writing Companions

Do you have someone or something that keeps you company while you tap away at the keyboard? Today we thought we’d celebrate our writing companions. Meet the pets/mascots that keep The Romaniacs in check during their writing day:

Laura: Apart from a selection of animal toys my children have scattered on my desk, I have two real-life cats, Ringo and Daisy. They are not the sort of cats to sit on my desk when I am writing, but the blanket of fur covering my keyboard and printer each morning suggests they are moonlighting.

Ringo is the white and black cat and Daisy is the black and white cat. They decided to live with us, Daisy moving in a year before Ringo. He wasn’t keen on the idea of being snipped and chipped.

We adore them, they make us laugh and they keep me company late at night when the other humans have gone to bed and I’m getting some words down.

Celia: I’ve also got cats but only one of them – Arthur – is relaxing enough to write alongside. Just looking at him spreadeagled on the floor (or the table if he can get away with it) is usually enough to make me feel quite mellow but ready for work. 

Here he’s pictured in party mood and  reclining while he decides what to watch on TV. I also have a wonderful mouse mat with a picture of a Bavarian meadow and a cloud-topped mountain – it reminds me of a great holiday and inspires me to write settings involving German sausages and foaming pints of beer – food porn?

Liz: Four years ago, I accidentally bought a cat. Luckily
for me – it was one of my best accidents.  I’d visited a
pet rescue centre to look at kittens and there were lots of them but one in particular caught my eye. He was a little bundle of fluff with big furry ears and bright frightened eyes, shaking in the corner as a dog sniffed around him. Without thinking I scooped him up and the moment I felt his little heart racing inside his shivers, I knew I had to
take him home. So I did.

I didn’t have anything prepared for him and it was late at night so after shooting to the local supermarket and
discovering they didn’t sell litter trays, we had to improvise.  And that’s how Ralphus the cat ended up peeing in a bright red ceramic roasting tray for the first few days of his new life.

Ralph makes me laugh all the time and the little adventures of his life, like the one above, always inspire me to write.

Jan: I don’t have any pets (apart from Mr B, of course!) but I am surrounded by lots of fluffy and some not so fluffy writing buddies who’ve witnessed me whooping with joy when the words flow, to slumping, head held in hands, when they don’t.  I’m sure if they could talk, they’d have a few stories to tell ;)

  These three trusty companions (or gonks as my niece calls them) reside on the base of my PC. Everything has a name in The Brigden household (I’m not really a big kid. Honest! )From left to right : Bella Ladybird (lord knows why, it just seemed like a good name at the time) Kiki, my little fluffy Koala who an ex-boss brought back from Oz for me, and Fluff, who is, well, an orange stripey ball of fluff!

Then there is Dougal, who hangs on the back of the kitchen door, who I can see from where I sit at my PC. My neighbour brought him back from Scotland for me. He’s supposed to be a carrier bag holder but I’ve never used him as such.  So, none of them pets exactly, but still loveable…                 

Trevor & Arnold

Catherine: I’m with Jan on this. I love the idea of having a pet and we’ll have one in the future, but for now it’s fluffy companions that keep me company. In the picture are the travelling companions: Arnold the travelling hedgehog and Trevor the travelling wombat. They came all around the world with us when we went travelling for our honeymoon. Here they can be seen with a friend they made: a camel in India. These days they stay at home and keep me company along with Binky Boy, Bertie the Bee, Ted the Puffin and so many more!

Sue : I wouldn’t necessarily say that my dog, Tess, is my writing companion but she certainly keeps me company on our daily walks. She is slightly mad, but then most labradors are. However, at over nine years old, she really could do with acting her age, which in dog years I make that 63.  She has her posh Kennel Club name of Kilmiltry Belle Dame but at home she’s plain old Tess (although she answers to pretty much anything, ‘Stupid’ being a particular favourite).

Lucie : My writing companions are my pets, Dame and Jerry. Dame is an English Bull Terrier and we have had her since she was 6 weeks old. This June, she turned 7! Dame hasn’t always been a writing companion as I used to work upstairs in the spare room, but since I have had a shift of rooms and moved downstairs into the conservatory, she has taken up residence under my desk.

Jerry was an Easter present for my daughter last year. She had been asking for a kitten for so long and we finally caved in April last year and got a teeny tiny black and white kitten who was about 4 weeks old – and a mischievous little thing! Nearly 18 months later and Jerry isn’t so little, but is twice as mischievous!  He also decided to take up residence underneath my desk …

Luckily, they are best friends so Dame doesn’t mind sharing.

Vanessa: We got Fred earlier this year after we lost out lovely grey cat, Trevor. We went to the cat adoption centre determined to get another girl cat (yes, Trevor was a girl) and definitely a kitten. No grown-up boy cats for us. But they didn’t have any kittens and they made us walk past all the grown-up cats… and Fred chose us. He was so friendly and pretty we couldn’t say no, so we came away with a one-year-old boy cat. They warned us it could take him a while to settle, that he might be wary, he might hide under furniture and be scared of us for a good few weeks. This photo is Fred at the end of his first day with us. I think he looks fairly relaxed…

But is he a good writing companion? Hmmm… the problem with Fred is he likes sitting on my laptop. It gets nice and warm and he seems to find it a very cosy place to settle. Several times, I’ve found pages of random letters and gobbledygook in my writing – whether it’s his attempt to communicate or just some accidental typing as a result of bottom shifting, I’m not sure. He’s a lovely cat and none of us can imagine the house without him in it – and if he works on his typing skills, he may end up very useful as a writing companion…

Debbie: In January we had to have our old boy, Simba, put to sleep. 

Simba was my constant writing companion and used to attach himself to my feet like my sloppiest, comfiest pair of slippers. 

Oh, how he used to smell. But I didn’t mind his smell…or his snoring. He snored marginally less than my ex (and never betrayed my good nature!)

It was hard to imagine any dog could replace the gaping hole he left…

However, we’ve been blessed. A dear friend’s dog had pups and she approached me about a year ago to ask whether I’d be interested. My ex wouldn’t let us have a second dog and I knew Simba probably wasn’t long for here so we went for it and got ‘Bruno.’ For a few short months, Grandpa Simba showed him the ropes and protected him. In return, Bruno tormented his mentor, mercilessly hanging off his ears, clambering all over him and not allowing him to sleep. But Simba never complained, right up until the end… :-( 

It may sound silly – they were very different dogs; different body weights, different colours etc and it may be just Labrador traits, but it sometimes feels as if Bruno is Simba re-incarnated. He has so many of Simba’s characteristics and little ways. Yet if anything, Bruno is even more sensitive to my moods and foibles as he keeps me company at the laptop and when I walk, mulling and musing over plots and writing projects.

I still miss Simba terribly but thank my lucky stars every day that we found Bruno boy who has brought us so much joy these last months, and whom I know will continue to support me through my writing journey! 

So what about you? Do you have a pet or otherwise that keeps you company whilst you write? If you do, please tell us about them…

Why Writing Should Be Like Sex!

Yes, it’s true, we should be at it like rabbits! If you’re a writer, it’s instinctive and you’ll be at it at every opportunity. The writing that is.

I came up for the title of this post when I was considering writers’ block. It’s not something I’ve ever suffered from and it made me wonder why? Well, first and foremost, I don’t believe in it! But then I know of lots of writers who have at some point been affected. So what is the difference? How are some people affected and others not?

It struck me that it’s to do with how you approach writing. I’m never short of something to write and the reason I’m productive is mostly to do with not trying to be perfect. I write a lot of twoddle. Twoddle you will never have the displeasure of reading because what I start out with is just an idea, not the finished product.

So where does the sex come into it? Well, when I was thinking about it I realised it’s best to approach writing a bit like your sex life!

  • Don’t over think it, do what comes naturally.
  • Do it for the fun of it.
  • If you find yourself thinking about your shopping list midway, then you need to concentrate, focus on the task at hand!
  • Perfect your technique, find out what works best and do it again!

I could go on… talk about innuendo at its best but I haven’t even scratched the surface!I know this because when I spoke to two Romaniacs (namely Sue & Laura) at that point I only had the title without having written the post. They’d already tried to guess what it was going to be about… they wondered if it was about pacing or climax or things that I couldn’t possible repeat in this post!

So if you have any other thoughts on the subject (much like Sue & Laura) do please add a comment about ‘Writing is like sex because…”

Starting Book Number Two

It’s only taken the best part of twenty months and two rewrites, but I pretty much done with Novel Number One. I’ve sent it into the NWS for a second time and whilst I wait for the verdict, I need to start thinking about Novel Number Two.


So far I have the title, the main character and the problem she faces, but in order to not take twenty months over this one, I’m hoping I’ve learned a thing or two from the first.


I thought I’d share how I plan to approach novel number two.

  • Set a goal for the number of words I want to achieve. Generally, I try for at least 1,000 words a day.
  • Write them, even if they’re rubbish.
  • Complete character profiles before I start writing.
  • Avoid earthquake plots. See an earlier blog to find out what I mean.
  • Plot at least an outline of where the story is heading.
  • Research ahead of writing.
  • Stick with it. It’s so easy to get distracted by smaller projects or the housework. The only way it will get finished is if it remains my main priority.

I’m hoping with the experienced I gained from writing the first, I will manage to complete this one in a much shorter time frame. Of course I haven’t allowed for the days where I’ll be pulling my hair out. I mean, honestly, look what’s happened over those twenty months:










If you have any tips for how to approach book number two they’ll be much appreciated.

Catherine x

90,000 words – Done!

The above is to be said in the style of Gordon Ramsay. You know, like it was easy. Like the blood, sweat and tears your creation took didn’t drive you to the ends of your capabilities and back.

So, 90,000 words – Done! Do I sound cool? Do I sound like it’s not really been too much bother?

I reckon working with GR would be similar:

Inspiration – You have an idea for a new recipe. You’re sure people will like it, you just know they will.

Initiation – You still have that great recipe idea, but you need to do something with it so you investigate what you need to do to get it in GR’s restaurant.

Preparation – Turns out you need to have some kudos to get in with GR, so you spend some time learning the craft of cooking.

Motivation – Learning the craft takes longer than you thought. Three years until they take you off washing up duty. Is it really worth it for one recipe that might not even end up on the menu?

Presentation – They let you work on the starters. After years of hard work you’re getting somewhere, don’t screw it up with overdoing your sprig of parsley.

The Pass – Head Chef, GR, is in and he doesn’t like what you’ve produced. He tells you to dump it and start again.

Botheration – I’ll give you F’ing, Mr F’íng, F’íng GR. What do you mean you don’t like it? Do you know how long I spent on that!

See, on the telly they make it look easy to produce a wonderful, divine, effortless dish. Same as it may seem easy to come up with an idea to write a book, but it’s SO much more than that.

It’s great that I can say I’m done with my rewrites, but that still sees me only part way through the process. I still have to work on the presentation, get it ready to send to the NWS, and then into the wider world.

Writing a novel is a hard process to endure. It takes guts, sweat, and determination. You need motivation in bucketloads and they don’t even sell them on eBay.

So, if you wondering what the Romaniacs look like when they are busy working at their keyboards, well – sweaty chefs.

Catherine x