Welcome, David Nicholls …

 

Wow! What a way to start the week. We are thrilled and honoured that David has kindly taken time out to chat to us. 

 

 Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

David, can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?

At the time of writing, I’m just finishing the second draft of my fourth novel, ‘Us’, to be published in September. I’ve been away from fiction for a while – it has been nearly five years since One Day came out, seven years since I started writing it – and I’ve loved getting back to books. For years after One Day, I found it impossible, but this one has been a pleasure, and has come relatively easily; a little over eighteen months from first sentence to publication.

What are you most proud of writing?

At the moment, the new novel. I suppose there are some similarities to One Day – a love story, the same mixture of happy and sad – but it feels a little more grown-up. It’s about family and married life – the working title was ‘Married Love’ – and it follows a couple from their beginnings, through eighteen years of parenthood, to the relationship’s (possible) end. I’m 47 now, and was starting to feel a little foolish writing about twenty-somethings on dates. ‘Us’ is still a romantic story, but maybe a little tougher, more varied and mature in subject and tone.

I also loved working on The 7.39, the two-part TV drama that was broadcast in January. Unlike the solitary world of fiction, film and TV are entirely collaborative and while that has its pleasures, it can also be madly frustrating, nerve-wracking, stressful. The final product rarely matches the story you told in your head, but The 7.39 was one of those rare times when everything came together. I loved the casting, the production team, there were hardly any rows or feuds or walk-outs and I think some of that harmony came across on screen. The only other time I’ve been as happy with a show was when I did Tess of the D’Urbervilles for the BBC, about six years ago now.

And One Day too. I’ve come to accept now that it’ll probably be the thing I’m known for, and I’ll always be proud of it.

In ‘One Day’, we know that Emma makes some mix tapes for Dex, but which three tunes would definitely feature on David Nicholls’ mix tape?

Probably some of the same tracks that Emma chose. There’s a playlist here – Emma Morley’s Mix Tape– that contains a lot of the music I looked to for inspiration while writing the book.

Of those songs, I think you’d choose ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin, because of the incredible singing and the Bacharach melody, then ‘Protection’ by Massive Attack because of its sentiment, and finally ‘These Days’ by Nico, because it’s such a simple and beautifully bittersweet song.

Also in ‘One Day’, Dex is such a complex and interesting person, where did you get the inspiration for his character?

He was written as an antidote to the male characters I’d created in my first two books – rather modest, nice, arty, self-effacing men. I wanted to write someone who had an excess of self-confidence, a chauvinist, a philistine, but nevertheless someone who contained the seed of a decent human being. I used to be an actor, and a lot of the young men who started out at the same time as me had extraordinary success, and of course it affected them. They all became Dexter. I was a rotten actor, so never faced that dilemma.

 

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What is your biggest challenge when adapting a novel for screen?

The first thing you lose when you adapt a book for the screen is the character’s inner voice. Books are about emotion and thought as much as action and dialogue. In a screenplay, it’s all about what people say and do, rather than what they think or feel. Conveying that is the great challenge. Of course, actors help, but voice-over  on screen is useless, and how else do you convey an inner monologue? This was the great dilemma with Starter for Ten – all the best jokes were in the character’s head, and it made no sense to say them aloud.

Also, budget is not a consideration when writing a book. On screen everything costs a fortune so everything has to serve a need. You’re constantly being asked – do we need this scene? Do we need the rain? Does it have to be London? As a screenwriter, you’re spending someone else’s money, so of course you’re asked to change things. Books are ink on paper, and unless you’re being dull, no-one minds a little more ink.

Finally, accepting the loss of control is always hard. In fiction, there’s the novelist and no-one else. With TV and films, the writer has very clearly defined responsibilities – you’re not the designer, the composer, the casting director, the editor, you’re just part of the team. Trying to make the screen version look exactly like the story you have in your head is almost impossible. Sometimes the finished version might be better than what you imagined, sometimes not. But if you can’t accept that loss of control, then it’s best to stick to  books.

Can you tell us a bit about the readings you’ve given and what inspired you to start?

As an actor I was largely mute, which was just as well given that I was such a shocking old ham. But I do enjoy readings, though I find them very nerve-wracking and worry a great deal about being dull, or pompous or indiscreet. I still over-act, but I do love meeting readers, and to be reminded of why I wanted to do this in the first place.

What is your ideal writing space, and do you prefer to work in silence or with background noise?

I’m lucky enough to have an office that I go to each morning. I try to be at my desk by 8. If I’m sensible, I turn the internet off immediately and hide my phone in a cupboard. (The internet is the enemy of concentration, especially for someone with no willpower, like me.) I try and write until lunchtime, though there are inevitably distractions. I write on Word, but try to edit on pen and paper then type that revised text back in; it’s too easy to let your eyes slip across the computer screen. I read for an hour at lunchtime, then work on scripts in the afternoon, though I rarely do anything good after 4pm. I use to listen to pop music, then only Bach – solo piano or cello – but now have to have silence. But distractions – the postman, the phone call – are always hugely welcome.  

What makes you laugh?

Old golden-age Hollywood movies – Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges or Lubitsch. Walter Matthau films, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Wes Anderson, Dickens. My children.     

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given to date in your career?

I’m not sure who said it, but I once read that the secret to writing was to decide how you want your reader to feel, and then work out how to achieve it. Which is easier said than done I suppose, but I think that’s why One Day worked. I wanted to write something that would have the big emotional rush you get from a great pop song, something that would be both funny, then heart-breaking, sometimes on the same page.

Everyone tells you this, but I do think reading – and watching – as much as possible is invaluable. Everything I’ve written has been inspired by, or stolen from, something else. There’d be no Starter for Ten without Rushmore, Billy Liar and Great Expectations, no One Day without Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Hall and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (no, really). Inspiration can be found in all art, high or low, and you have to give time to sucking everything up. I set my alarm so that I can read an extra hour a day. Of course it means that I’m asleep on my desk by nine-fifteen, but at least I try.  

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Any other creative passions?

I’m an enthusiastic but rudimentary cook, and I’ve been known to snatch Lego out of the hands of my children.

Quick Fire

West End Musical or Night at the Opera?

Opera

Yorkshire Dales or Welsh Valleys?  

Both lovely, but the Dales

 

 

 

 

Three Dream Dinner Party Guests, past or present?

Billy Wilder, Cary Grant, Kate Bush.

Favourite London Landmark?

St Paul’s from the southern end of the Millennium Bridge.

Checkov or Shakespeare?

That’s the hardest choice. Shakespeare at a push, though The Seagull is my favourite play.

Thank you so much for being our guest today, David. We wish you the very best of luck with your forthcoming novel ‘Us’ and needless to say, we can’t wait to read it.

https://www.facebook.com/davidnichollsauthor

 

 

 

Follow Me, Follow You: Cover Reveal

Follow Me, Follow You

Helen Ellis Photography

Helen Ellis Photography

It’s a red letter day, as my mother used to say. The sort of day when she’d place a sticker on the page in her diary.

I am thrilled to announce that my second novel, a contemporary romance titled Follow Me, Follow You, is to be published by the wonderful Choc Lit, in both digital and paperback formats, and will be available in the autumn. This will be my first paperback publication.

In celebration, and to reveal the beautiful cover designed by Berni Stevens, I have created a short vlog. Take five, settle back and help yourself to tea and cake - our Celia’s been baking again.

Enjoy.

Laura x

Follow Me, Follow You:

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance. 

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape. But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria has lasted the test of time, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on? With the risk of them breaking, will either follow their heart?

Follow Me Follow You

You save me and I’ll save you

Teri Riggs and her Resolutions

Teri Riggs

Today, we are delighted to welcome to Romaniac HQ, Romantic Suspense writer, Teri Riggs.

Please come in and put your feet up. It’s very informal here. Earl Grey? Breakfast tea?

Breakfast tea, please with a pinch of sweetener.

As we settle into our chocolate cake, tell us about Teri Riggs.

I live in Marietta, Georgia, with my husband and have one daughter still living at home. My other two daughters live within five minutes of my home. Life is good. I have been writing for almost 15 years. Writing is my third career. First, I was a NICU nurse, and then a stay at home mom.

Please introduce the Romaniac readers to Resolutions, and fill us in on the hero, ‘Mac’.

Resolutions is about a strong-willed female DEA agent, Eve, who joins forces with her alpha male ex-lover, Mac, to stop a drug lord who has teamed up with a group of terrorists. Old feelings of love, and hate, resurface. They must learn to trust each other again in order to stay alive.

Mac is an alpha male driven to protect the woman he loves. His mother died while doing dangerous UN work and he tries to shelter Eve from harm until she finally reaches her breaking point and leaves him. Two years later, Mac has a chance to show Eve he’s changed—or has he?

Do you have a clear idea of your heroes before you write?

With Mac, I did. I wanted a strong, alpha male type. I had to have a hero Eve could butt heads with.

How do you then go about developing their characters?

I write a pretty detailed character description, both physical and emotional, and start there. I always end up adding to the list as I get deeper into the manuscript and the character leads me in a few more directions.

In terms of traits, what are your must-haves for your heroines, and why? 

I like my heroines to be strong and independent enough to play off the hero. But at the same time, I think they have to have some vulnerability. Without it, how would the hero ever get under their skin?

What draws you to the romantic suspense genre?

There’s nothing like a little suspense mixed with a good dose of romance to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Do you find writing a book is as exciting as reading one?

Yes. Writing is a lot more work than reading, but every bit as fun. Plus, I get to have the ending I want!

Quick Fire Round:

Opera or Rock?

Opera.

Ocean or lake?

Ocean.

New Year resolutions or anytime resolutions?

To keep perfecting my writing. I’d love to push myself to write a little faster and put out 2-3 books a year.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Teri, and congratulations on Resolutions. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Thanks for having me.

Teri Riggs Resolutions cover

Honor Guard Series

Resolutions

by Teri Riggs

DEA agent Eve Taylor has had her fill of alpha males. When Resolutions’ operative and former lover, Dillon “Mac” McKenna, threatened her hard-earned independence, she ran. On a mission to gather evidence against a Colombian drug-lord, Eve discovers the drug-lord is helping terrorists plan an attack on American soil. Before she can escape with the vital information, she’s captured and comes face to face with her mortality…

As a teen, Mac watched his family fall apart after his mother died doing dangerous U.N. work. The possibility of losing Eve to a mission ignited an overwhelming need to protect her. When he forced her to choose him or her job, she walked away. Two years later, it seems all his nightmares have come true and he’s tasked with rescuing her from a Colombian prison. Mac has never stopped loving Eve, but does he dare risk his heart when he’s so terrified of losing…

On the run, Mac and Eve must learn to trust each other again in order to stay alive.

Note: Resolutions is a private black ops agency specializing in the near-impossible extractions of kidnap victims, hostages, and all forms of intelligence other agencies have failed to retrieve.

Resolutions

Romantic Suspense

Honor Guard Series

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | Decadent

What Readers are saying:

“I love the sexual tension between Eve and Mac. The hot, steamy Colombian jungle makes a great backdrop for a love story that begins with two ex-lovers on the run.”

-K. Kishpaugh, Amazon

“The action and suspense were nonstop. Eve was believable as a tough and persistent female protagonist. And I liked how she and Mac’s characters developed throughout the story.”

-Marie, Amazon

“Nonstop action and plenty of sexual tension between the lead characters. A quick, suspenseful read. I would recommend this to my friends.”

-Lady A, Amazon

“A good read with plenty of action. I liked the gun battle scenes. They were well paced and for fairly accurate. Mendoza was played well and I enjoyed Mac and Eve’s determination to stop him.”

-Cooper, Amazon

About the Author:

Teri Riggs was destined to be a writer. As a small girl she didn’t read bedtime stories, she made up her own. Who needed Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs when there were so many great tales bouncing around in her head? When she grew up and became a mother to three little girls, she continued the tradition of making up bedtime stories. On the occasions she chose to tell conventional fairytales, Teri usually gave them a bit of tweaking here and there or added a new ending. Her girls loved it.
After her daughters had the nerve to actually grow up and leave home, Teri discovered she had a passion for writing and jumped right in. It came as no surprise she chose to write mysteries and happily-ever-after’s since that’s the genres she loves to read.
Teri lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, one of her daughters and two dogs that seem to think they rule the world. And some days Teri thinks maybe they do.

Contact Details:

Website: http://teri-riggs.com/

Email: teririggs@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teri-Riggs/329379907142621

Twitter: @TeriLRiggs

Blog: http://teririggs.blogspot.co.uk/

Enjoy the following excerpt for RESOLUTIONS:

Beefy hands wrenched Eve awake from a fevered sleep, pulled her from the cell, and shoved her into a musty-smelling hallway. I’m being moved? A guard pushed her with one hand, keeping a tight grip on an AK-47 rifle with his other.

Her shoulder throbbed in perfect cadence with the pains shooting through her broken wrist, and she had one badass headache from being punched in the face a few too many times. Using her good hand, she walked fingers across one cheek, then the other. The right side was totally numb. Her eye had swollen shut, and she couldn’t see a damn thing out of it. She ran her tongue across her teeth and tasted the tart, copper flavor of blood. Three teeth loose. Well, at least they’re still in place.

In spite of the relentless pain, she stayed determined to survive whatever Mendoza dished out. She wasn’t a quitter. No, sir. Duncan Falls, Iowa didn’t grow quitters. Eve ignored the constant ache in her ribs, courtesy of a guard’s overzealous kick, and took in a deep breath. She willed herself to stay alert, to keep pushing. Escape. Third times the charm.

Eve slapped the guard’s dirty hand. “Hey, Pedro, stop being so damned pushy. Where we going anyway? We got a hot date I’ve forgotten about?”

He looked puzzled then shoved her again.

“Don’t understand English, do you, Diego? Bet you understand this.” Eve drove her elbow into the guard’s face. Thick rubbery cartilage gave, and she whooped triumphantly.

Blood squirted from his nose and he screamed.

Eve stepped back. “Yep, I’m pretty sure you understand that.”

Unable to grab the guard’s assault rifle, she clutched her injured shoulder, and took off in a slow jog, no longer able to push any harder.

Her escape was short lived.

Price: 2.99

Resolutions was a finalist in the prestigious Daphne Du Maurier contest.

Romancing The Soul – Sarah Tranter

Sarah Tranter

Today is publication day for Sarah Tranter’s second Choc Lit novel, Romancing The Soul. This is one of the books I am desperate to read, and listed it in our recent Romaniac Reading Resolution blog, No More Butterfly Reading.

I am a huge fan of Sarah’s, and her debut, No Such Thing As Immortality is up in my top ten favourite reads. It stayed with me long after I returned it to my bookcase. It has a gorgeous cover too.NSTAI Cover

We have a little longer to wait before finding out what the sexy, kind-hearted Nate has in store, as Romancing The Soul is not part of the No Such Thing trilogy.

RTS is a story of past-life regression, soul-mates, and love.

There are people with whom one instantly connects – have you ever wondered why? Perhaps you’ve met in a different life? I was told my daughter and I were together in a past life, as mother and daughter. Apparently, it is extremely rare for two people to reconnect as family. I’m open-minded, and if nothing else, it’s a lovely and pleasing idea. I feel no need to test the theory. I can tell you we have a fab relationship, and often communicate without words. We simply know. Kudos to Sarah, however, who underwent a past-life regression in the name of research for RTS. That’s dedication. And I know it will shine through her story.

Sarah Tranter Romancing

I do have a theory that we are meant to meet certain people in our lives. Gajitman and I met in the early nineties. We were in our twenties, living in Bedfordshire. Early in our blossoming romance, we discovered our grandparents used to live in London, in the same road as each other. Not only that, they were but a few doors apart. Gajitman and I were toddlers then and didn’t know of one another’s existence, but I’m pretty certain we’d have met, as we both knew and played with the children who lived in that road.

But that’s a whole different story.

Sarah – wishing you enormous success with Romancing The Soul. I cannot wait to get my hands on the paperback. In fact, it’s on pre-order …

Laura x

You can follow Sarah on twitter: @sarah_tranter

and on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.tranter.73?fref=ts

The Blurb

Sarah Tranter RomancingRomancing The Soul:

Your Soul Mate is out there! Let a past life lead the way
Rachael Jones hasn’t exactly chosen an average career path. She’s a ‘past-life regressionist’ and is now hoping to help her clients find their Soul Mates through reconnecting them with their past lives. But despite her best intentions, there are problems. Rachael made the mistake of regressing her best friend, Susie Morris, who has since been haunted by events that occurred in her past life.
When Susie meets Hollywood actor, George Silbury in unlikely circumstances, she is completely unprepared for her reactions. There’s an intense mutual attraction that neither can explain nor ignore.
Can George help Susie to overcome the sense of desolation she feels as the result of her past-life regression or will history’s habit of repeating itself ruin all chances of her finding happiness?

2014 – No More Butterfly Reading – and that’s a promise!

Leaf B

The Romaniacs have decided to give up on the usual resolutions this December and focus on what really matters – books. Who wants perfect nails, a 22” waist and a healthy liver anyway? And my problem this year has been a nasty case of Butterfly Reading (stolen from our old friend Liz Crump’s Butterfly Writing issues which started the ball rolling for us so long ago) i.e. flitting from one thing to another, reading magazines in the bath and generally not getting through all the great offerings that are out there.

So in honour of the fast approaching 2014, here are the three (or more if we can’t stop) books we are dying to read in the New Year. They’re not things like War and Peace or the entire works of Keats; they’re not books that we feel guilty for not having already soaked up – they’re just our three personal must-reads. Please tell us yours too – there are always spaces for more on the list!

Hunger Games

Celia: The first of mine was going to be the third in the Hunger Games trilogy – Mockingjay – but I don’t know if I can wait that long – I’ve read the other two in quick succession and the third’s waiting on my Kindle … and it’s calling … My next is a re-read really but also a new one; our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare. I’ve been saving it for a quiet couple of days but then the Hunger Games sneaked in. I loved the first draft so the polished version is going to be wonderful. And the last on my list is whatever Kate Atkinson or Elizabeth George write next. Either is fine, just hurry up, ladies. And anything by Terri Nixon and Mandy James. I could go on.

Sue: Mine are The Sword of the Templars by Paul Christopher, The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell. Someone To Save You by Paul Pilkington.

sword of temp

Lucie: Here are my three choices – Miranda Dickinson – Take a Look At Me Now, Persuasion – Jane Austen, Wish Upon a Star – Trisha Ashley.

Catherine: My three books I want to read are Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman, Is this Love? by Sue Moorcroft & Sweet Proposal by our Celia. Would have read it already, Ce but these little girlies are so demanding! And I love sleep way too much!

Sarah Tranter Romancing

Laura: My chosen list is Romancing The Soul by Sarah Tranter, A Walk in the Park by Jill Mansell, and To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee. And thank you, Ce xx

Vanessa: Only three?? Well, I got How To Fall In Love by Cecelia Ahern from Santa so I’ll read that one first. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (loved the tv adaptation last night with Olivia Colman and Vanessa Redgrave) and I’m looking forward to the new Stephen King later in the year (think it’s called Mr Mercedes). There’s a new Jojo Moyes out in Feb too: The One Plus One. And I’m definitely going to read Life After Life by Kate Atkinson because I missed it in 2013 and forgot to put it on my Christmas list.

Life After Life

Over to you … Happy New 2014 Non-Butterfly Reading :)

P for Plotting, P for Polished, P for Enis …?

Today, we are delighted to welcome Jane O’Reilly to Romaniac HQ. Jane’s been managing without a P …

So you’ve (almost) finished nanowrimo – now what?

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If you’ve been writing for a while, you’ve most probably heard of Nanowrimo. It’s kind of like Movember for writers – instead of facial hair, Nanowrimo involves growing a book. Fifty thousand words, written during November, cut and pasted into the Nanowrimo site which will, once you reach that milestone, declare you a winner.

So you have your 50K words. Or maybe a few more (or maybe a few less). But what to do with them now? Having been on a tight deadline which required me to have not just 50K words, but 50K polished and ready-to-send-to-an-editor words by the end of November, I thought I would talk about my personal process of moving from a first draft to a finished story.

This started for me back in October, when I was asked to write 2 25K erotic romance novellas with a fairly tight turnaround (5 weeks). I had plotted the first, had no idea about the second, and had no written words of either. I got to work and wrote a lot of sex scenes in a very short space of time. Some of them were weird. But we won’t talk about that. More disturbing was the weekend I spent on writing retreat in Devon (with lots of other lovely writers) when the P on my laptop decided to stop working. For the first 5 thousand words of the second novella, my hero had an enis. It was distressing for both of us.

By 19th of November, I had my first drafts of both novellas. Phew. After a couple of hours of recovering from the weeks of panicking that I wouldn’t get those done in time, it was time to start panicking about revising them in time. This is a different sort of panic. It’s not a blank page, I have so much to do panic, more of a what if the story is insane panic. The only solution is to open up the document and read it, preferably somewhere private. People tend to think you’re a bit strange if they see you talking to yourself and crying. We’re often told to take a break from a manuscript before revising it, but my experience has been that if a draft is left for any length of time, it is very difficult to go back to, especially if you have started a new more exciting project. And once you’re on deadline, you won’t have that option. By all means leave it, but for a couple of days. Not for a couple of months (which can all too easily become years).

For anyone who has never revised a draft before, I’d like to start by saying this: revising is more than fixing typos. You do have to fix typos, don’t get me wrong – but a draft isn’t finished when that job is done, and it should be low down on your list of priorities. The first step, for me anyway, is to check that the three act structure is in place. At this point in my writing career, I am definitely a plotter. I didn’t start out as one, primarily because I didn’t know how to plot, but now it is vital. I write to the following structure – ordinary world, inciting incident, turning points 1, 2 and 3 (with a midpoint change that needs to occur exactly half way through the book), high point, black moment, darkest moment and climax. I also try to have the end of the book mirror the beginning as much as possible (so in the first of the two novellas, the book opens at a wedding, with the hero catching the heroine doing something she shouldn’t. It ends with the hero and heroine doing that something at their own wedding). Got all that? Good. If the idea of 3 act structure is new to you, I suggest taking a look at The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler. (Yes, it’s a tome. Yes, it’s worth it.) Alternatively, if you can get yourself on one of her courses, get the lovely Julie Cohen to explain it to you.

As well as a rough plan for the turning points, I also have a fairly good idea of what the book is about (the theme) and some sort of logline worked out before I begin, so that I know the conflict is enough to sustain the story. (For more on this, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain are both useful).

Even with a plan, however, it is still possible to take a wrong turn. Fix the structure first, and everything else will follow. Making sure the structure is right and that I have all the right scenes in the right order takes me through a second draft. Each of those scenes and the sequel that follows on from it also has to have structure – a character must enter a scene with a goal and fail to achieve it, and in the sequel that follows, the character must rethink and set a new goal. (For anyone looking for help with scene structure, I would recommend reading Scene and Sequel by Jack Bickham.)

The third draft involves making sure all the back story is coherent. You know, how the hero was her neighbour at the start of the draft and he was her best friend’s brother by the end. All those threads have to be tied together so that as you move from scene to scene, there is strong internal consistency. I also fix other inconsistencies I find along the way, like random changes of clothing and position, dialogue that doesn’t make sense, and the best friend who started out as Charlotte and ended up as Dave. Random animals have to be removed, together with any unnecessary Star Wars references and/or enises. At this point, I can also start to see where I’ve repeated myself and decide which bits to cut and which to keep. (Saying the same thing 8 times in a first draft is mandatory.)

At this point, I usually put the document on to kindle and read it on that. Changing reading format will give you a completely different view of the story – you will suddenly see the typo in a sentence that you’ve read a dozen times, see which sentences are clumsy and awkward, see where you’ve used the same word 5 sentences in a row. (Yes, you can fix the typos now. You mean you haven’t done it already?)

The final step, which takes me to 5 drafts, is to get the kindle to read the book out loud. More typos and sentences that need to be put down will make themselves known. Plus you get to imagine what it would be like if your sex scenes were being read out loud at a robot book club.

By this point, robot book clubs aside, chances are that you are completely fed up with your book. You may even hate it. This is the point at which to stop playing around with it and send it wherever it needs to go.

But before you do, I have one last task for you. Run spellcheck.

Jane O’Reilly writes contemporary romances for Harlequin Escape and erotic romances for Carina UK. Find her on twitter as @janeoreilly, on facebook at www.facebook.com/janeoreillyauthor or visit her website at http://www.janeoreilly.com/

Jane O'Reilly Cover Pic

Blurb:

When tabloid journalist Erica Parker is forced to take a holiday, she’s determined to make it the most miserable holiday she possibly can, but not even her impressive imaginative powers could have come up with sharing a tent with survival expert Nathan Wilde.    Nathan was a married man with a successful TV show before Erica got to work on his life. Now the hottest man she’s ever met is single, furious, and he’s got her alone in the wilderness for three long days…

Let’s Get Emotional with ‘Doubting Abbey’ author Samantha Tonge

A very warm welcome to Samantha Tonge on the Tuesday Chit-Chat slot.  First of all big Romaniac congratulations on the publication of her debut novel ‘Doubting Abbey’.  Today Samantha is getting all emotional – but in a good way.

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Let’s Get Emotional

Part of the reason I’m so thrilled that my debut novel, Doubting Abbey, is finally ‘out there’ in the big wide world, is that I have several unpublished novels under my bed. It’s been a hard slog, getting published – although a rollercoaster ride along the way, filled with disappointment, yes, but many highs, like the excitement of a new project; my first positive rejection letter; getting the full manuscript requested; finally bagging myself an agent.

In retrospect I can see what was wrong with the very first novels I wrote and one aspect only really became clear in the last year or two, thanks to an editor I worked closely with in the short story world. She said I needed to put even more emotion into my work. It makes sense to me now. Readers love a story if they care about the characters – to care they must feel what those fictional people are going through. Otherwise they might get to the end and ask “what was the point”?

So now when I write, I try harder than ever to put myself into the characters’ place and convey their emotions according to my own feelings. Nerves? Yes, a twisted stomach or sweaty palms. Fear? A dry mouth and racing heartbeat. Love? Flushed cheeks and a warmth spreading through my chest. Someone recently recommended a book to me called the Emotional Thesaurus and it is brilliant at listing such reactions.

Also, as the writer, you need to think of emotional actions, not just physical change. In Doubting Abbey, arrogant hunk Lord Edward is secretly a tortured soul. Hence the occasion when he’ll sit with his head hung in his hands. Pizza waitress, Gemma, who must pretend to be his posh cousin, Abbey, hates all the lies – which could be conveyed by a lack of eye contact and a wavering voice.

The emotional stakes can also be raised by particular storylines – in Doubting Abbey friends from the past are brought together. Reunions are emotional gold, making the reader care not only about the people in your novel, but also the plot and what happens – and not necessarily to flesh and blood. Lord Edward’s family must win reality show Million Dollar Mansion to save their beloved but run-down Applebridge Hall – a building I hope finds a place in readers’ hearts. With its cracked tiles and faded wallpaper, on the surface it’s just bricks and mortar – yet the family portraits from bygone centuries soon tell the tale of a place once filled with vibrant parties, kind-hearted residents, passionate love and unbridled laughter.

So next time you read a book, think about what moves you and makes you care. Have you laughed? Did your eyes well up? Did you fall just a little bit in love with the hero…?

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Swapping downstairs for upstairs… How hard can it be!?
Look up the phrase ordinary girl and you’ll see a picture of me, Gemma Goodwin – I only look half-decent after applying the entire contents of my make-up bag, and my dating track-record includes a man who treated me to dinner…at a kebab shop. No joke!
The only extraordinary thing about me is that I look EXACTLY like my BFF, Abbey Croxley. Oh, and that for reasons I can’t explain, I’ve agreed to swap identities and pretend be her to star in the TV show about her aristocratic family’s country estate, Million Dollar Mansion.
So now it’s not just my tan I’m faking – it’s Kate Middleton style demure hemlines and lady-like manners too. And amongst the hundreds of fusty etiquette rules I’m trying to cram into my head, there are two I really must remember; 1) No-one can ever find out that I’m justGemma, who’d be more at home in the servants quarters. And 2) There can be absolutely no flirting with Abbey’s dishy but buttoned-up cousin, Lord Edward.
Aaargh, this is going to be harder than I thought…

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Lots of sparkles on the blog today!

Happy Launch Day to Nicky Wells and her seasonal novella

Spirits of Christmas: A Rock’n’Roll Christmas Carol

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At one time, up-and-coming rock singer Jude had it all: a great band, a platinum record, a loving girlfriend. This Christmas, however, he is well down the road towards spontaneous self-destruction.

Unwitting at first, Jude has progressively alienated his band and driven away the love of his life. Tonight, the night before Christmas Eve, he has broken the final taboo during a disastrous gig. Yet Jude doesn’t see how badly his life has derailed, not until a ghostly procession of legends passes through his bedroom with a series of vivid and powerful wake-up calls.

Will the Spirits help Jude put the friendship, love, and rock music back into his Christmas?

Spirits of Christmas is a modern-day rock’n’roll adaption of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. This novella will enchant romance readers, rock lovers, fans of ghost stories, and everybody who adores the festive season.

Amazon.co.uk Kindle | Amazon.co.uk Paperback
Amazon.com Kindle | Amazon.com Paperback

Inspiration for Spirits of Christmas…

Writing this novella was a bit of an inevitability for me, all things considered. If you don’t already know me, you have to understand that I simply love rock music. Rock musicians are like Viagra for my soul. I’m also a sucker for romance and a good-old fashioned happy ending. Moreover, I love the Christmas season: the lights, the sweets, the laughter. Combining all those things ~ rock, romance, and Christmas ~ was one of the most delightful writing projects of my career so far!

The idea for this book came to me the very night after I launched my second book, Sophie’s Run, in February of this year. I was hyped up with excitement, I had finished writing my third book and was waiting for publisher edits, and I had already planned my fourth full-length novel. I was utterly and completely unable to sleep with everything that was going on, and quite unexpectedly, the whole story was in my head. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite Christmas stories both in the original and its many varied adaptations. I suddenly thought… why not bring it into the rock’n’roll domain?

My wonderful husband, Jon, was somewhat taken aback when I presented him with this plan the following morning.

‘I’m going to write a Christmas novella,’ I said.

‘But you’ve got another book launch in September, and you’ve planned your fourth book already—how’s this going to fit in?’ he responded enthusiastically, if pragmatic.

‘I’ll figure it out.’

And so I did. It took me just over a week to write the first draft in May 2013, and another few weeks here and there to tweak, fine-tune and polish it over the following months. But here it is. Spirits of Christmas. I hope you enjoy!

Portrait6About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Hi! I’m Nicky Wells, your ultimate rock chick author. My books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a rock theme ~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity ~ rock, pop, movie or other ~ you’ll connect with my heroes and my leading ladies!

Like my first leading lady, Sophie, I love listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When I’m not writing, I’m a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor to The Midweek Drive show on Lincoln’s Siren 107.3 FM. Rock on!

My books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

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

Truth or Dare? by Laura E James. Published! Play the game, if you dare!

There is much excitement at Romaniac HQ today; party hats are on, balloons blown up and plenty of cake and fizz to hand. We are so proud of our Laura – her gritty contemporary novel TRUTH OR DARE?, published by Choc Lit UK, is now available! A split era story where love is a dangerous game and, sometimes, the wrong thing is done for the right reason.

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To celebrate this, we’d love you to join in with a game of Truth or Dare?.  Here’s how to play:-

Choose one of the questions below to answer truthfully. Leave your answer either in our comments section or on Twitter using the hashtag #ToD.

If, however, you feel you cannot answer truthfully, then take the dare! Simply click on the curtain to reveal your dare. Again, leave ‘evidence’ of your dare either in our comments section or on Twitter with the hashtag #ToD.

We will be joining in too and can’t wait to see your answers.

Question 1

What is the worst excuse you have given for cancelling a date? 

TRUTH

OR

Dare 1

Question 2

If you had the chance to make one of The Romaniacs your slave for the day, who would it be and why?

TRUTH

OR

Dare 2

Question 3

What is the longest period of time you have gone for without either washing, brushing your teeth or not wearing any deodorant?

TRUTH

OR

Dare 3

Question 4 :

If you could go on a romantic dinner date with one of your colleagues, who would it be?

TRUTH

OR

Dare 4

Question 5:

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you, ever?

TRUTH

OR

Dare 5

HUGE congratulations, Laura.

Truth or Dare? is an absolutely fantastic read. Wishing you every success you deserve.

Choc Lit

Laura E James
Author of Truth or Dare?

ChocLit-logo2

Truth or Dare?

Love’s a dangerous game … 

Kate Blair’s sick of unrequited love. She’s quietly waited for Mickey for the past six years and finding a compass-carved heart, with their initials scratched through the middle, only strengthens her resolve: no more Mickey and no more playing it safe.

It’s time to take a chance on real love and Declan O’Brien’s the perfect risk. He’s handsome, kind, and crazy about her so it’s not long before all thoughts of Mickey come few and far between.

But old habits die-hard. Kate may have started to forget … but has Mickey?

 

Thank you to everyone who joined in with the fun. So you can still see the dares and responses, we’ve copied them all below : -

DARE 1

 

8 thoughts on “Dare 1”

Aggh – I chickened out on all the above, and now I have to riverdance in my kitchen! But my kitchen has big glass doors and outside that are three (hunky) builders putting up a conservatory for me. Please, I don’t have to do this in front of them… do I?! Later, she promises, when they’ve gone! Laura – I wish you loads of success and I’m really looking forward to reading Truth or Dare (much more than I am doing a river dance!).

  • The Romaniacs

24/10/2013 at 11:38 am Reply(Edit)

Thank you, Kate – you’ve made me lol in my kitchen, where there are no hunky builders, just a doorstop. I’m looking forward to seeing your dance  Laura xx

I’ve taken the dare! I blame The Romaniacs! #ToD @TheRomaniacs @sherylbrowne #lahe http://youtu.be/mLn6j8yq2VU PS. My postman thinks I am officially mad! GOOD LUCK, LAURA!!  xx

  • The Romaniacs

24/10/2013 at 11:41 am Reply(Edit)

I want you at every party I ever hold, Sheryl! Laura xx

I did the dare. Well I had to really, I’ve never cancelled a date (call me needy) and anyway the dog enjoyed it (the riverdance – not the date, what sort of woman do you think I am??) tsk

  • The Romaniacs

24/10/2013 at 11:44 am Reply(Edit)

Thank you, Cathy. Nothing like an early morning workout. Was it anything like an early morning workout? Just asking Laura

Still in bed at the moment and my teenage daughter would be too embarrassed to see me doing that so have to bottle out I’m afraid!

  • The Romaniacs

26/10/2013 at 4:48 pm Reply(Edit)

I bet you’d pull it off though, Cara  Thank you for popping in. Laura xx

Dare 2

DARE 2

2 thoughts on “Dare 2”

Why are there no pictures? Hmmm, maybe I’ll post mine tomorrow….

  • The Romaniacs

24/10/2013 at 12:18 pm Reply(Edit)

I’ve seen pictures, Beverley – they may appear here later… Laura x:-)

Dare 3

DARE 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dare 4

 

DARE 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dare 5

DARE 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “Dare 5”

I took Dare 5. Rather than divulge my most embarrassing experience, I ate curry powder. Go to https://twitter.com/Laura_E_James to see

 

Stealing Lines

Well, it’s a first for The Romaniacs, or at least, as far as we know, it seems we have a thief with us at HQ today.

[Don't worry girls, I took the precaution of locking all notebooks, WIPs and valuables, such as cake and wine,  safely away beforehand.]

So, in the time honoured tradition, Romy Sommers, Stealer of Lines, over to you …

RomyI have a confession to make.

I’m a kleptomaniac. A word kleptomaniac. If I see or hear words I like, I write them down and (shhh…don’t tell anyone!) sometimes I use what I steal.

TV shows are especially good fodder for my addiction. They are to me what a pair of high-heeled glittery Louboutins are to a shoe fetishist – a temptation impossible to ignore.

My books are littered with stolen words. A phrase here, an image there, a snatch of dialogue – I use them without compunction. And until those sneaky TV writers stop writing such good words, I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop.

My only regret … there was this one conversation from Haven I haven’t yet managed to work into any manuscript – I may have to write an entire story just so I can use it!

So here’s a challenge to anyone who reads my new book The Trouble with Mojitos: if you can spot the image I shop-lifted from Hunter S Thompson’s The Rum Diary, I’ll gift you a copy of my first book, Waking up in Vegas. (Heehee – though that does mean you have to read both books first!)

The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy SommerThe-Trouble-with-mojitos250x382

Turquoise blue waters. Sandy white beaches. Mojitos… Film location scout Kenzie Cole has found herself in paradise. Working in the Caribbean for a week is just what she needs to escape the long line of exes in her closet. Though the last thing she expects is to be picked up at the resort bar by a disgraced former Prince!
Luckily for Kenzie, exile is suiting the man formerly known as Prince Fredrik very well. And it’s not long before his rugged, pirate charm is proving hard to resist.
But Rik’s been spending his time in paradise exorcising demons of his own and he has danger written all over him. If Kenzie was sensible she’d run a mile instead of lose herself to lust – although, they do say sometimes you have to get lost before you can be found….

The Trouble with Mojitos is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers:
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes
All Romance eBooks

About the Author:

I’ve always written stories for myself, but didn’t even think of being an author until I realised that being over thirty and living in a fantasy world was a little odd. Writing those same stories for other people makes it a lot more acceptable!

By day I dress in cargo pants and boots for my not-so-glamorous job of making movies but at night I come home to my two little Princesses, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, and I get to write Happy Ever Afters. Since I believe every girl is a princess, and every princess deserves a happy ending, what could be more perfect?
You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook,Goodreads or on her blog.

Excerpt:

“A mojito, please.”

Kenzie sagged against the bar counter, not caring that her order sounded desperate or her body language suggested impatience. She needed alcohol, and she needed it now.

The benefit of an empty bar was that the drink came reassuringly quickly, poured from an ice cold jug ready and waiting, and complete with swizzle stick and paper parasol. She ditched both and tossed the drink back.

“Rough day?” The dreadlocked bar tender leaned on the scarred wooden counter.

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“Thanks, but I didn’t come here to talk.” She’d done enough of that all day. Talk, talk, talk, and still nothing to show for it. Now she understood how used car salesmen felt. Used.

It was enough to drive a girl to drink. Or at least to the resort’s beach bar, since hitting the mini-bar in her hotel room was just too sad to contemplate.

She didn’t drink alone. For that matter, she didn’t usually drink. Not these days.

Beyond the thatched cabana, the sky flamed every shade of pink and orange imaginable as the sun set over the white sand and surf. But here inside the bar was dark, shadowy and strangely comforting after a day of white-hot heat.

“She’ll have another.”

She turned to the wryly amused voice, and wished she hadn’t as she spotted the dark figure at the shadowy end of the long bar. Great. The resident barfly, no doubt. As if she needed another reason to hate this resort, this island, and the whole stinking Caribbean.

“I can order my own drinks, thank you.”

The shadowed figure shrugged and turned his attention back to his own drink. “Suit yourself.”

What was it with the men in this place? Didn’t think a woman could order her own drinks, didn’t think a woman could do business, wouldn’t even give her the time of day. She ground her teeth, the effects of the first drink not quite enough to blur the edges of her mood. “I’d like another, please.”

She ignored the deep-throated chuckle down the other end of the bar as the barman removed her glass to re-fill it.

The second drink followed the first a little more slowly, and this time she took a moment to savour it. Now she felt better.

But she was still screwed.

Neil had known it when he sent her out here. He’d known she’d be stone-walled, he knew he’d set her an impossible task, and still he’d sent her. He’d expected her to fail. Perhaps even wanted her to fail.

There were days when her past seemed very far behind her. And then there were days like today, when it seemed she’d never escape the follies of her youth.

“Sod him!”

“That’s the spirit.” The stranger at the other end of the bar slid from his bar stool, out of the shadows and into the yellow lamplight.

In another time and place he might have looked gorgeous, but in low-slung jeans that had seen better days, black long-sleeved tee, with hair in drastic need of a cut, several days’ worth of beard, and darkly glittering eyes, he was devastating.

Pirate devastating. Bad boy devastating.

Kenzie swallowed. Double great.