The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

Welcome to Church Stretton

Welcome to Church Stretton

The weekend of December 12 – 14 saw the first Romaniac Sparkle event – two and a half days of work-shopping, writing, cultural visits and tons of Romaniac fun and laughter.

Hosted by the lovely Debbie Fuller-White and attended by five more Romaniacs, with Celia and Jan holding the fort at HQ, we put together a new, fresh and exciting Romaniac agenda for 2015.

For now, we present our Romaniac Sparkle Christmas Album, with more to follow next week.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury

'Cheers, to Jan and Ce!'

‘Cheers, to Jan and Ce!’

Sue & Laura

Sue & Laura

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Catherine, Lucie, Vanessa, Laura & Debbie

 

Vanessa & Lucie

Vanessa & Lucie

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

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A great evening meal at Housmans, Church Stretton

 

 

Laura secret santa

Laura’s Secret Santa gift

vanessa secret santa

Vanessa opening Secret Santa gift

Lucie dancing

Lucie showing us her dance moves

 

Sparkle walk stream

Lovely countryside

Sparkle walk ponies

Wild ponies

 

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Vanessa & Catherine

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Sue, Catherine and the sock puppet

sleeping

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY  NEW YEAR!

Auto-Timer Success

Auto-Timer Success

 

 

 

 

Christmas Past.

James juniors, many years ago.

James juniors, many years ago.

With my daughter and son growing ever closer to independence, and with Christmas drawing near, I find I’m in a reflective mood.

This time last year, I was gearing up for wrist surgery, knowing I’d be spending several weeks in plaster, including the entire festive season. I was called into hospital at short notice, and didn’t have time to do much in the way of preparation for the Big Day, but I needn’t have worried. Gajitman and one of my lovely friends made a beautiful job of wrapping presents, my daughter  baked an incredible gluten-free, vegetarian pie for my Christmas dinner, and with her dad, cooked the entire celebratory meal. My son made sure I was comfortable, and on the day, helped me unwrap my gorgeous gifts.

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I remember our daughter’s first Christmas. She wasn’t old enough to furniture cruise, but had learned to stand and lean. My parents bought her a walker that year. With a crash course in how to use it, she was soon pushing it around the living room. A few years later, it was passed to her baby brother, who was more interested in the mechanics of it. However, not long after establishing what the wheels were for, he was zipping around, careering into sofas, and belly-laughing at his new found, if a little hazardous, sense of freedom.

S

 

I love my children for who they were and who they are now, and wouldn’t want it any other way, but seeing photos of when they were younger evokes strong emotions in me – immense delight and happiness, tinged with a touch of melancholy.

It is a little like being taken back by the ghost of Christmas Past …

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Laura x

 

 

 

 

Coming through the airwaves : Nicky Wells

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

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

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

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

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

How did this role come about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here’s the blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Bits

Ring

 

The Romaniacs are brushing off the mince pie crumbs and thinking of a group hike today – it’s been an interesting week on the whole. The blocked sink is unbunged, thanks to the very nice man from AA home insurance (what a big pipe he’d got, but that’s another story) and the dishwasher man came today as promised. He wasn’t quite so nice, to be perfectly honest but he removed some cat fur and bits of broken wine glasses and now the washing up situation can go back to normal. Thank goodness – the others were about to go on strike and my Marigolds are in ribbons. Anyway, here are my best bits from Christmas 2013 – what were yours?

  • Surprise hit game of Christmas – an ancient Bagatelle that used to belong to Grandpa. The competitive spirit has surfaced big time. And some other games have gone up the charts here too:

BagatelleGames

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These special straws make drinking even more fun and give you that instant suave moustached look: sorry this one’s on its side but drinking has that effect on me …

Straws

And also a picture of the Silvertown Express and a collection of USA photos from the offspring were a lovely reminder of the great rail journey of the summer.

 

SilverUSA snaps

 

 

 

 

 

 

So those are my highlights, along with a lot of lovely mess, a great box set to look forward to in 2014 and some Christmas music to remind me of my dad.  The Romaniacs would love to hear about your Christmas  moments if you still have the strength to tap out a few words. Happy New Year!

Celia xxx

EpisodesMessiah

Mess

Gina Dickerson and her Special Christmas Tradition

Before handing the blog over to the gorgeous Gina Dickerson, we just want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS on the publication of Gina’s novella …

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Over to you Gina …

I adore Christmas time. As soon as those ultra-early Christmas decorations hit the shops at my local shopping centre, usually just before Halloween, I have to snap one – or three – up! There’s nothing quite like the feel of unwrapping the decorations for the tree and discovering old favourites, as well as some I may have forgotten about. This year I’ve been so busy with writing a festive novella I’ve only just put the Christmas trees up – I’m always super eager and want them up at the end of November!

Christmas was always a special time I spent with my mum, be it shopping, decorating, or looking for gifts. Many hours were stolen from us by the lure of festive goodies. Since my mum passed a few years ago I decided to begin a new Christmas tradition in her memory and write a Christmas novella every year.

Last year’s offering was a festive, romantic suspense tale entitled Unveiling Christmas with family secrets, a lost diamond ring, and a greed-fuelled killer. This year I have changed the genre entirely and The Pennington Christmas Curse is a paranormal mystery. It centres around two sisters, Iysobel and Ziema, and their fight as they discover a curse hangs over their family. There’s wintery magic, mysterious people, and, of course, romance! I wanted to reflect the coldness of the tale in the cover, and after several drafts, I think I’m happy with the final version! The novella is due out at Winter Solstice (22nd December) this year as this is a prominent date in the story.

One thing I’ve not yet done this Christmas time is bake. I saw Sue made some yummy looking reindeer cookies and will have to try the recipe. My son wants to make a gingerbread house. Our previous attempt was a little crooked! Unlike the main character in my new novella we’re hoping for a white Christmas. We have a Siberian husky who just loves diving into fresh snow and burying himself!

Snow_Pooch

About The Pennington Christmas Curse:

Something came for the Penningtons at Christmas time. On the same day thirteen years later, daughters Iysobel and Ziema are terrified by what appears in the mirror before them.

There’s a curse on the Pennington family but as eldest daughter Iysobel nears the truth, those she loves are threatened.

Can Iysobel fight the curse and save her family? This winter one thing Iysobel isn’t wishing for is a white Christmas . . .

GAbout me:

I live by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of Kent, in the UK, with my family and playful Siberian husky. I write romantic suspense with a twist, horror, paranormal and fantasy because my characters refuse to play nice and wind up with more than a few bone-rattling skeletons in their closets.

When I’m not writing, I like to amble along one of the many gorgeous Thanet beaches with my pooch, or rummage in vintage shops for even more weird things to adorn the house with. I adore shoes, fashion, photography, and baking. I hate people with bad manners, mushrooms (although I’m a vegetarian), big hairy spiders, and vacuuming – which, sadly, is a must with an overly hairy Siberian husky.

My blog :ginadickerson.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.ginadickersonwriter.co.uk

Goodreads: Gina Dickerson author page

Twitter: @GinaDWriter    Amazon UK: Author page     Amazon.com: Author page

Smashwords: Author page

Faking It – Christmas Fir or Not?

Every year when I decide it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, I have a moment of excitement at the thought but this is quickly replaced by a sigh, as I acknowledge the Krypton Factor like mental dexterity and The Cube like hand-eye coordination this will require.  And as I begin this labour of love, I can’t help but wonder if I should just get a real tree. Wouldn’t it be so much easier?

Dec tree bits

Annual Christmas Tree challenge

I wouldn’t have to sort out the colour coded branches of my artificial tree, where some colours are not that much different to others, and then match these up with the coloured strips round the ‘trunk’ of my tree. With a real one, isn’t it just a case of buying it, putting it in the right spot – job done?

Dec 1

I am pleased with the result and, as I stand back and admire my children’s handiwork of decorating it, I push back the thought that in a few weeks time it all has to be done in reverse.

What do you prefer? Fake or Fir?

Dec tree

Challenge completed!

Sue

x

Carols? Crackers? Chestnuts a Roastin’? What fuels your festive glow?

At HQ, we’re well and truly into the Christmas swing. The tree’s up, adorned with sparkly baubles and yummy chocolates (well … empty wrappers …) we’ve mince pies and mulled wine galore and plenty of yuletide music on to sing along to while we work.

What really sparks that Romaniac festive spirit?

Jan: Well, I could probably fill a sheet of A4 with my reasons for loving Christmas, but what really creates that magical feel for me is when I hear the loft hatch creak open, followed by the rustle and smell of tinsel as Mr B hands me down the bags of decorations. It’s then a case of the more festive faces on show, the better … Love it!

Celia: I’m the same as Jan with my long lists of reasons why I heart Christmas but three of my favourite things about the season of goodwill are the school and church plays, (although I’m just at the point when I’ve nearly had enough of sheep and camels) buying just the right tree, and of course, the vegetables of choice  – the ornamental parsnip and the delicious brussel.

parsnipsBrussels

Laura: For the past three years, it’s been the November Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party. The trip to London, and the cab ride from our hotel to the venue has me oohing and ahhing, as you girls will testify. I love seeing the Christmas lights. I used to live in Watford, a twenty minute train ride from the big city. A quick trip on the Underground to Knightsbridge, and I was in Harrods, on floor three, revelling in the beauty of the sparkling decorations. I went this year for the first time since my twenties, and I am pleased to report the childlike wonder is still there. IMG_4871

When my children break up from school though, that’s when I know it’s Christmas, and I love, love, love spending those days with them, and Gajitman, watching Christmas movies, sharing chocolates, and playing daft games.

 

 

Catherine: It has to be a good bit of Christmas music! That’s when I get excited. But this year is really special as it’s my twin girls’ first & they’ve been getting in the spirit as well.

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Vanessa: I love Christmas SO MUCH! Always have – even before the children came along. But now, there’s more of us in the house to start getting excited about the visit from Santa. I always start making lists in November, which always gets me in the Christmas mood – festive food lists, helping the girls with their lists for Santa, Christmas present lists for the family. Then, as soon as December arrives, it’s Christmas EVERYTHING – the Christmas CD goes on in the car, seeing the reindeer parade and the big light switch-on in my village, watching my daughters in their angel costumes in school concerts, wrapping presents late at night while watching Love Actually and eating After Eights … turkey, stuffing, sprouts, champagne, chocolate, mince pies and Christmas pudding!!

Sue : I love decoration spotting. Whilst my youngest delights in spotting them, myself and my older children are filled with a mixture of wonderment, awe and, sometimes, disbelief at how far people go with their outside decorations. This is a neighbour of mine, one of the more reserved ones we’ve seen this year. :-)

Decs house

Well, there are some of our favourites … We’d love to know what gives you that special Christmassy feel?  xx