Maid of Oaklands Manor – Terri Nixon

Today the Romaniacs are featuring debut novelist Terri Nixon who was one of the winners of the Piatkus Entice competition at last November’s Festival of Romance. Her ebook will be launched on July 4th and is definitely going to be worth downloading – here’s an idea of what’s in store. Congratulations, Terri!

Maid of Oaklands Manor 2

1912: A chance meeting between scullery maid Lizzy Parker and heiress Evie Creswell leads to more than an enduring friendship, and a new job for Lizzy; it draws her into a world of privilege and intrigue, and delivers her into the loving arms of a killer.

When Lizzy meets Jack Carlisle, a charismatic friend of the Creswell family, she finds herself drawn to him despite the rumour that he had been involved in the death of Evie’s father. She senses her feelings are reciprocated, but as she finds herself pulled deeper into the dangerous life Jack leads she must decide if he can be trusted with the life of a friend and, ultimately, if he is worth the risk to her own.”

Terri was born in the ancient naval city of Plymouth, England in 1965. At the age of 9 she moved with her family to Cornwall, to a small village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, where she discovered a love of writing that has stayed with her ever since. She also discovered apple-scrumping, and how to jump out of a hayloft without breaking any bones, but no-one’s ever offered to pay her for doing those.

Since publishing in paperback for the first time in 2002, Terri has appeared in both print and online fiction collections, and is proud to have contributed to the Shirley Jackson award-nominated hardback collection: Bound for Evil, by Dead Letter Press. She now lives in Plymouth with her youngest son, and works in the Faculty of Arts at Plymouth University where she is constantly amazed by the number of students who don’t possess pens.

You can follow Terri on Facebook here.

Maid of Oaklands Manor is available at Amazon here.

A Year and A Day

A year and a day. It certainly has romantic associations. And a fairytale feel.

My Sexy Pen

My Sexy Pen

The Romaniac blog started a year and a day ago, 13th February 2012, which means yesterday was The Romaniacs’ First Anniversary. It’s the ‘paper anniversary’. Appropriate, wouldn’t you say? What better gift could one give a writer? Apart from sexy pens, obviously. Have I ever shown you my sexy pen? Here’s my anniversary gift to you, then…

The Romaniacs have been very romantic over the last twelve months with the help of wonderful guests, comical comments and brilliant banter. Thank you all so much for joining in with the fun, offering advice, and caring. It’s a proper relationship. We’ve even got hot under the collar, once or twice. Sue took us through our very own, unique heat scale: http://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/lets-talk-about-sex/

Isn’t that what romance is about? Fun, laughter and friendship?

Romaniac Group Heart Rev 7I’ve never doubted the friendship that exists within The Romaniacs. There is genuine depth of feeling between us, endless encouragement, and cheer-leading support. And cake. Mustn’t forget the cake.

At the 2012 Festival of Romance, I pitched to a panel of experts. This was my fourth ever pitch, and my first standing at the front of an audience. Within the crowd were four fellow Romaniacs, who had not heard my new summary of my wip. They were radiating energy, generating positive vibes, and directing their goodwill toward me. They were providing a virtual hand hold. I pitched ‘Follow Me’, I received my constructive criticisms, and I returned to my seat. At that moment, I experienced the full force of the Romaniacs’ support. Liz handed me notes she had taken, based on the panels comments, Celia and Debbie suggested ways to overcome a characterisation problem with which I’d struggled for months, and Sue gave me ‘that’ look that said ‘Great job.’ It was quite a moment, and one I often think about. It fuelled some of what I said the next day, when The Romaniacs presented a panel about the benefits of an online writing support group.

The dynamics have to work, and what you gain from belonging to such a group should be positive. If it’s destructive, then find another group, or start your own. First and foremost, The Romaniacs are friends, brought together by a common interest/obsession/compulsion (delete as applicable) with writing and reading, and bound together by laughter, daftness, empathy and, yes, love. I have a large, soft, squidgy, kind-of-like-a-bouncy-castle patch in my heart for these ladies, and cannot imagine life without them.

Romaniacs Group Montage

Did we get lucky, or were we drawn together by the strings of fate?

It’s Valentine’s Day, I write romance and I believe in fairytales. On that basis Fate gets my vote. And my thanks. And a big, squidgy, kind-of-like-a-bouncy-castle hug. And, since it is the most romantic day of the year, a kiss on the forehead.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Laura xx

Tuesday Chit Chat with Henri Gyland

henri G Hi Henri, so lovely to have you here at Romaniac HQ. We hope you are well? The place is actually looking rather tidy right now, but that was because it was my turn on the rota and I do have some ‘Monica’ tendencies about my person.

So, you are welcome to indulge in the cake that Celia made for you but please, any crumbs must be tidied up at once. Not that there will be crumbs, it is Celia’s baking after all, there’s never any crumbs…

A huge congratulation’s is in order. Up Close, your début novel with Choc Lit publishing, is due for paperback release on the 7th December. What an amazing achievement, you must be so proud – I know we all are!

Where did the idea for Up Close come from and what inspired you to choose Norfolk for its setting?

The idea was born out of several different strands – visiting the North Norfolk coast, reading about soldiers returning from the Gulf, and imagining Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Ophelia in a slightly different set-up.

How long, from concept to final edit, did it take you to write it?

I wrote the first draft quite a few years ago, and it then “did the rounds” with agents and editors, but with no takers. So I put it to one side because I didn’t know what else to do with it, and wrote other books in the meantime. When I later heard of Choc Lit, I thought, “Aha!” because it sounded like my novel might be suitable for them. I dug it out again, sent it off, and got the verdict that, yes, they liked it, but there were various elements I needed to work on in order for it to fit in with their remit. I did what they asked, sent it again, with my fingers (and everything else) crossed, and in 2011 they accepted me. I realise this is a very long answer to a short question, but what I’m trying to say is that, with perhaps 4 rewrites over the years, in total it probably took me 3½ years to write it. So a lengthy process.

You were the 2011 winner of the Festival of Romance New Talent Award, with the opening chapter of Up Close, I believe? What effect did that have on your career?

I was already in communication with Choc Lit at the time, but perhaps winning the New Talent Award tipped the scales towards an acceptance…? What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that it gave my confidence a massive boost. There’s nothing quite like winning a prize which comes with the seal of approval from the industry.

The cover for Up Close, as with all Choc Lit novels, is amazing. Did you have a lot of input into it? Can you explain the contents of the cover to us up-close-main-cover1and its relevance with the story?

We’re very lucky at Choc Lit that the cover artists read the books and listen to input from the authors. The cover for Up Close started out as four very different concepts, and I commented on each of them, explaining why one particular concept worked better for me than another, and also gave my input to colours, fonts, etc., until we found something everyone were happy with. The picture on the cover is of a sea defence, a so-called groyne, which disappears into the mist, and the lone seagull represents how desolate and wild the North Norfolk coast can be in winter. The main character Lia is lonely and isolated, and I feel that this is reflected beautifully in the artwork.

The Elephant Girl is your next book out with Choc Lit, can you tell us a little about it?

the elephant girl HGMy next book is the story of a woman who, as a young child, witnesses the murder of her mother. 20 years later she begins to question what she actually saw and whether she might have been an unreliable witness…. Oh, and there’s lovely hero in it too!

How have you found juggling writing a new book and promoting your current one? Is it much harder/easier than you imagined?

Much harder than I imagined! At the moment I’m juggling two jobs besides writing, as well as promoting my book, and my To-Do list is as long as my arm. Not kidding.

What’s the biggest challenge you have come across when writing?

Being told that something isn’t “quite right” and needs changing, but without any clear indication on how to tackle it. That’s really difficult, but I guess it comes with the territory.

On your website you explain how you wrote your first book aged ten. Do you still have it? Will you ever do anything with it?

Er, no, except perhaps pass it around among my friends so we can all have a jolly good laugh!

Do you like to listen to music as you write? Who are your favourite artists to listen to?

Actually, I tend not to listen to music when I work. I know some writers do and swear it makes them more productive. They even have CD compilations for tender scenes or fight scenes, or what-not, and I’m in total awe. I’m a fairly organised person, but there’s no way I could ever be that organised.

Quick Fire round:

If you could choose anywhere in the world to live, where would it be? By the sea.

What would you put in room 101? Spiders.

Red Wine or White Wine? White when I party, but red is great with food (except fish).

Chocolate or Sweets? I love licorice. The stronger, the better.

Birthday or Christmas? Birthdays are less stressful.

Strictly or X Factor? Neither, but give me programmes like “Who Do You Think You Are?” or “Time Team”, and I’m hooked.

Shoes or Handbags? Am I allowed both? Pretty, please! Oh, all right… shoes, then.

Early Bird or Night Owl? Somewhere in between.

Left hand or Right hand? I’m right-handed.

Thank you so much for dropping in, Henri, it’s been an absolute pleasure to have you.

The pleasure is all mine. I love what you’ve done with the place, it’s so neat and tidy!

Aw, thanks! My inner ‘Monica’ is glowing with pride!

Now, all that is left to do is for everyone to raise a glass of bubbly – help yourself there’s plenty – and join me in congratulating Henri on the release of her début novel, Up Close.

Well done, Henri :-)

As I said before, but hey, lets say it again, Henri’s debut novel Up Close is released in paperback on 7th December - Just click on the book cover and it’ll take you to Amazon!  She has a very interesting website at www.henriettegyland.wordpress.com and is also on Twitter, here

Lucie x

We are showing and not telling …

After a hectic week of workshops, talks and parties, we thought we’d do what all good writers should … show and not tell

The River Ouse, Bedford, FoR12

Room mates for the Thursday night
The new Eric and Ernie

Laura and Catherine glammed up ready for Awards dinner

FoR party room

Pretty in Pink
Celia and Talli

Catherine, Sue Moorcroft, Sue

Debbie and Sue

Mandy Baggot and Laura – Dancing Queens

Celia and Laura clearly know the words

Saturday …

Sarah Tranter, ChocLit Author

Miranda Dickinson, Laura James, Fiona Harper

Saturday Night Romaniacal Quiz

Come on Liz and Debbie – share the joke!

Lovely Liz

Conference Day

Wednesday, 21 November – RNA Winter Party

Debbie and Jan

Debbie and Celia

Think Laura and Mandy are trying to make the same point

Nearly got away with it, but we spotted Mandy in the Romaniac line-up

Catherine and Celia
A nightcap before bed

Just before our goodbyes on Thursday morning, a quick stop here

Festival of Romance – A Romanical Quiz

Dear Festival Goers

By now you will know the Total E-Bound party is not taking place. This is sad news, but those broken hearts can be fixed and those pulses will beat again, as The Romaniacs invite you to their Romanical Quiz.

It will begin at 21:30, shortly after the Literary Dinner. You will not have to leave your dining chair as the quiz is coming to you – the cheese and biscuits of the evening, if you like.

We appreciate people have taken time to find the perfect outfits for what would have been an erotica party, and therefore encourage you to wear them. The Literary Dinner will look fantastic with romantic, historical and erotica characters at every table.

You will still receive your refund for the cancelled party.

Thank you.

Rules:

1)      Maximum number in a team is six.

2)      No arguing over team names.

We look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday Chit Chat with Miranda Dickinson

We are delighted to welcome best-selling and extremely lovely author, Miranda Dickinson to Romaniac HQ.

Hello Miranda – come in and warm yourself with a hot chocolate. Marsh mallows? Whipped cream?

Ooh, lovely! *grasps mug*… Hello Romaniacs!

Many congratulations on your recent wedding. Did you sing at your reception?

I did! My fab friends in the wedding band I sing with (who inspired The Pinstripes in It Started With a Kiss) did an amazing set at our wedding reception and they persuaded me to sing Chaka Khan’s ‘Ain’t Nobody’ with them, which was a lot of fun. It’s very odd to belt out a song wearing a wedding dress, though!

You have an amazing singing voice and it is clearly an important aspect of your life, but where does your first love lie? Music or writing?

Thanks for the compliment! That’s a difficult one because both music and writing have been a part of my life since I was very young. In many ways, I feel the two are linked: writing songs and writing books are just different ways of telling a story, while the only difference between performing on stage and writing a book is that you can’t see the audience when you write! So I think I’ll have to be awkward and say both, although right now writing commands more of my time.

Going with the song theme, do you choose the titles for your books?

My first book was originally called Coffee At Kowalski’s but when Avon signed me they changed the name to Fairytale of New York – so I never intended to use song titles for my books! I chose the titles of Welcome to My World and It Started With a Kiss (which also has a song title for each chapter, making up the band’s ‘set-list’ at the front of the book), and the title of my new novel, When I Fall in Love, was a joint effort between me and Avon.

Your novels have a Christmassy/winter feel to them, each set in a different capital. Was this a conscious decision or something that has evolved?

I didn’t set out to write books set in specific places, it just happened that way. When I wrote Fairytale of New York I never thought it would be published, so I wrote it to entertain myself. I’ve been in love with New York from afar for as long as I can remember, so when I started to write the story it was mainly to give me an excuse to buy a travel book and research the city I couldn’t afford to actually visit. When it did so well my publishers were keen for me to follow up with another story set in a place people would want to visit and that’s why Welcome to My World focuses on Harri’s dream of visiting Venice. After that, it just carried on, although I try to make the places synonymous with my main characters’ personal journeys through the books.

‘When I Fall In Love’ is your new book set in Brighton and Paris. What can you tell us of the story of Elsie?

Elsie Maynard is an amazing young woman who we first meet eighteen months after an event that changed her life. I can’t tell you what this is because I want you to discover it in the book and also because I want you to get to know her for the fantastic person she is before knowing that key detail. But what I will say is that she finds herself with a whole life that she never expected, so the book follows her stepping into this and daring to see what she can achieve. She founds a choir like no other after a chance meeting with Woody Jensen, the former frontman of 80s one-hit-wonder rock band Hellfinger, who now sees himself as a bit of a rock’n’roll guru, and starts to think about what the future could hold for her. Then a request from a good friend leads her to travel to Paris and here she has to face what happened eighteen months before… It’s the story I’m most proud of to date and will hopefully have you laughing like a loon one minute and sobbing like a baby the next! There is one scene that reduced me to tears during every stage of the publishing process, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign!

You and I (Laura) first met through Twitter last year. If I recall we discovered a mutual love and respect for Capercaillie. (Can you hear Four Stone Walls being piped into our HQ?) You embrace social networking and today’s technology to communicate with your readers. Which mediums do you use and which is your favourite?

You’ve got to love Capercaillie! My parents are folk singers so I think it’s in my blood… I love social media and am a total geek when it comes to new applications and sites. In addition to my blog (http://www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.com) and website (http://www.miranda-dickinson.com) I use Twitter and Facebook, with Reverbnation and BandCamp for my music and post my videos on YouTube. I think social media is a gift to writers because it connects you with readers in a way that simply wasn’t available before. I’m always on the lookout for new things – I’ve just joined Pinterest so I’m having great fun with that! My favourite is still Twitter – it’s just such a witty, creative place and I love the positivity of it.

Your vlogs have a natural chatty style. Is this something that comes easily to you?

Luckily, yes! I love making my vlogs and find it a great way of communicating. I particularly love when people ask me questions about writing and publishing because their questions really drive the direction that the vlogs go. I love the collaborative nature of that. Plus, I’m a chatterbox and when I’ve been holed up in a little room with my laptop writing for days it’s nice to get out and talk to someone – even if it is via a camera lens!

If you were to present a chat show, who would be your first three guests and why?

That’s a great question – I’d love that! I would interview Sir Terry Pratchett because I am in awe of him and would love to chat about his writing, Russell Howard because I think he’s hilarious and Imogen Heap because I’d love to hear her talk about how she makes such incredible music.

Do visuals help you create your characters or are they fully formed in your mind before you start writing?

Every year I put together a ‘dream cast’ list for my book, mainly so that I can introduce the new characters to the lovely people who watch my vlogs and read my blog, but also so that I have a visual reference. Some of my characters are inspired by real people, which makes visualising them much easier. But there have been some characters who have been really strong in my mind from the beginning of writing the book even though they aren’t based on anyone – like Ed Steinmann in Fairytale of New York and Olly Hogarth in When I Fall in Love.

How do you go about choosing names for your characters?

Sometimes they just appear, sometimes I look at the end credits of films for inspiration and sometimes they are a reference to an in-joke that very few people know about!

What is the quirkiest research you’ve carried out?

I think I am the Queen of researching places I haven’t been to, so I have done a lot of crazy research over the past few years. For example, when I was editing Fairytale of New York there is one scene where Rosie looks out of her window and notices that the leaves on the tree outside are changing for autumn. My edit notes from my editor said: ‘Which tree?’ So I eventually found a New York tree census from 1999 on Google and narrowed it down to four types of tree that grow in the Upper West Side. Then I asked Bob (who is a horticulturalist) which of these had the prettiest autumn foliage and used that one as Rosie’s tree. That was a whole afternoon of research for one tiny detail!

We have a quick-fire round for you, now:

Frank Skinner or Lenny Henry?

Ooh, tough as they’re both from the Black Country where I live. Would probably say Lenny Henry because he’s from my home borough of Dudley.

Wolverhampton or Birmingham FC?

My husband Bob is sitting next to me as I write this and he’s a massive Aston Villa fan, so he would want me to say Aston Villa. But I’ll say neither and choose Stourbridge FC – go Glassboys!

Summer or winter?

Summer for being outside. And winter for Christmas and my birthday!

Christmas or New Year?

Always Christmas! New Year is always a let down.

Left or right hander?

Right-hander.

Folk or rock?

Folk to listen to, rock to play!

Acoustic or electric?

Acoustic.

Members of a supergroup?

James Taylor – guitar and vocals; Marcus Miller – bass; Herbie Hancock – keys; Imogen Heap and Cara Dillon – vocals and vocal percussion; John Mayer – lead guitar.

Miranda – many thanks for joining us today. Your enthusiasm is contagious and your energy is electric.

Thanks for having me and I hope you enjoy When I Fall in Love (listening to Capercaillie, obviously…) xx

 

Website: http://www.miranda-dickinson.com/

Blog & vlogs: http://www.coffeeandroses.blogspot.co.uk/

My online shop: http://www.wurdystore.com/

Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/wurdsmyth/

YouTube channel for my vlogs: www.youtube.com/user/mirandawurdy

Music: www.reverbnation.com/mirandadickinson and http://mirandadickinson.bandcamp.com/

Books:

When I Fall in Love:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/When-Fall-In-Love-ebook/dp/B008317JA2

Waterstones: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/miranda+dickinson/when+i+fall+in+love/9094202/

The Book Depository:

Fairytale of New York:

Amazon – www.amazon.co.uk/Fairytale-New-York-Miranda-Dickinson/dp/1847561659

Waterstones – http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/miranda+dickinson/fairytale+of+new+york/6789075/

The Book Depository (international free shipping) – http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Fairytale-New-York-Miranda-Dickinson/9781847561657

Welcome to My World:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Welcome-My-World-Miranda-Dickinson/dp/1847561667

Waterstones: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/miranda+dickinson/welcome+to+my+world/7795526/

The Book Depository – http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Welcome-My-World-Miranda-Dickinson/9781847561664

It Started With a Kiss – Shortlisted for the 2012 Festival of Romance Best Romantic Read.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Started-Kiss-Miranda-Dickinson/dp/1847561675

Waterstones: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/miranda+dickinson/it+started+with+a+kiss21/8483988/

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/It-Started-with-Kiss-Miranda-Dickinson/9781847561671

 

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Mandy Baggot

This post comes with a Public Health Warning – it’s fast and dynamic, just like Mandy herself and at the end of it, you’ll need to sit down and catch your breath!  I really don’t know where she gets all her energy and enthusiasm from. :-)

Over to you, Mandy …

First off, I have to say that I am a HUGE Romaniac fan! You ladies are brilliant and I am left completely entertained after every post! It is an honour to be invited into your posse for the day!

 

So, what has been happening in my world lately? Well, I am still touring! Taking Charge, my first novel with Sapphire Star Publishing came out on 3 May and it’s been doing really well in the UK, in Germany and in particular, the US. Off the back of this success I’ve been asked to do another blog tour! YAY! So for the whole of September I will be bouncing around the US (unfortunately not physically but virtually) giving you fun interviews, writing tips and telling you a few things about Lady B you might not know! You can find out all the details of the tour stops on my websitewww.mandybaggot.webs.com

 [Sue : just butting in here - I've read Taking Charge and really enjoyed it - a real page turner and would thoroughly recommend it.]

As for bookstore signings, well, as most of you know Waterstones have reviewed their criteria for author signings and this is really going to change things for me. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to travel the country signing at stores now. The main bullet points of the new criteria are:-

 

A bookseller must be in attendance at each signing (i.e. authors must not leave the table and approach customers)

The signing should not be longer than 2 hours – if there are people waiting to see an author then it can continue until the last person in the queue has been seen.

 

Even if I was able to secure a signing at a store, with travelling time and costs it wouldn’t be viable to be at a store for only two hours. I have met some fantastic people on my travels in 2012 and I’m really gutted that I won’t be able to get out and meet the readers as much as I want. However, I do still have two signings - Waterstones Fareham andWaterstones Portsmouth – and a big thank you to them for honouring the events. All the details are on my website and if you can make it I would love to see you!

 

Lady B hit the number one spot! Yes, my novel Knowing Me Knowing You hit the number one spot on the Amazon Top 100 Free chart in July. And not only did it reach #1 in the UK, I was also #1 in France and Germany too! There is nothing like being #1 I can tell you! These type of promotions are an essential for authors like myself because it encourages readers to try a new writer they might not have heard of, or considered before and hopefully when they read it and love it, they will buy my other books. That seems to be what happens – can’t believe there are people they haven’t heard of me though – perhaps I need to be a bit more interactive LOL! Oooo and I was also in Woman magazine back in June! How exciting to be the Hot Read of the Week – that made me feel like a proper author!

 

I will be taking part in the Festival of Romance again this year! Yes, last year I wowed everyone dressed as a chicken – who knows what outfit I might don this year! The Festival of Romance is taking place in Bedford this year from Friday 16th November -Sunday 18th November. I will be signing books at the Romance Fair at the Corn Exchange on the Saturday and Saturday evening you can catch me at the Rock Star party reading an extract from Strings Attached! I’ve also entered two of my books in the awards. Taking Charge is up for Best Romantic Read and Strings Attached is up for Best Self-Published novel. Fingers crossed!

 

If you love reading, are a writer or have writing aspirations do try and come along – the Romance Fair and theReadathon are FREE events and you can check out the whole agenda here http://festivalofromance.co.uk/#/festival-2012/4558272777

 

As we speak I am in the process of finishing my sixth novel, Security! I am really excited about this novel as it’s a little bit different from anything I’ve written before. The main characters are pop princess Autumn Raine and her newly-appointed bodyguard, Nathan Regan. Autumn is quite a character – she’s confident and assured on stage but away from the limelight she is weak and vulnerable and very much in need of TLC. Nathan is a career soldier who wears his heart firmly wrapped up in Kevlar. He is hired to protect Autumn when a terrorist group threatens to kidnap her. There are guns and kidnap attempts, music, a small island retreat and a Jamaican woman who can cook a mean chicken and handle an automatic weapon! Has that intrigued you enough? Well you’ll probably going to have to wait until 2013 I’m afraid!