Midsummer Madness with the New Romantics 4

Today, we welcome to HQ, that lovely quartet, the New Romantics 4 -  aka Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan and Margaret Cullingford, who all successfully self-published their debut novels last year. Here, they share with us a little of their midsummer madness …

Over to you, ladies… 
 
  Lizzie                                      June                                       Adrienne                      Mags        
 Lizzie - author pic         June author        Ade - author pic       Mags                                                    

 Call Nurse Lizzie…

When I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted I was looking for a plot strand, which would make brooding hero Ruairi Urquhart, revise his opinion of heroine Fliss Bagshawe. He is attracted to her, but views her with suspicion. But what could I choose? When I became a writer, everyone thought I’d write children’s books because of my teaching experience. But where would the fun be in that? I like to try new things and learn new skills. So, I hit upon having Fliss deliver a baby during a storm which had washed the bridge away and prevented the local doctor from getting through. However, never having given birth I wondered where I could gain the necessary skills and expertise to write a convincing scene? That’s where June Kearns (mother of five), her sister-in-law district nurse, and a box set of Call the Midwife came in handy. June answered my hundred and one questions about giving birth and then the rest was down to my imagination and the internet!! This was one of the sites I used. I really loved writing that chapter because it shows my hero’s caring side, my heroine’s steadfastness and allowed my imagination free rein. But the story doesn’t end there. I had a lovely email from a reader (a retired midwife) who read Tall Dark and Kilted and wanted to know where I’d undertaken my midwifery training. Apparently, she was impressed that my heroine knew not to cut the umbilical cord until it had stopped pulsing (roughly about 10 mins after birth, if you’re interested!) Sadly, I had to disillusion her but we have since become Facebook friends. Because of writing that scene I now know what to do – should such an emergency arise. Call Nurse Lizzie – and I do look rather cute in the uniform although my bike riding skills leaveLizzie - midwife something to be desired.

Lizzie  x

Midsummer Day- June’s Birthday…   

June - Clip ArtSo there I am, squashed in the centre of a crowd all dancing to the beat, arms held high and waving, in a sort of cellophane pod thingy. A bubble of plastic is over our heads and on top, performers are jumping, bouncing, swimming, sliding. Suddenly, holes open up and they swoop down on harnesses and hoist some of the audience, (mercifully, not me!) up into the air. We’re at the Roundhouse in Camden for a much-too-big birthday celebration, arranged by the family – (‘too-big’ in the oh-crikey-am-I-really-that-old sense.) I should have been warned when I rang up for an extra ticket and a bored voice confirmed: ‘Yeah, it’s a standing-only event, loud music, some nudity and you may get wet.’ (Whaaat!) Fuerzebruta. It means brute force. (Oh, you’ll love it, Mum.) And there we all were, in the midst of frenzied drumming, dry ice, wind machines and ticker-tape blizzards. Necks cricked upwards as massive paddling pools with mermaids frolicking, almost touched our heads. It was wow: it was truly amazing, and I only once really felt my age, when trapped in the middle of a shifting herd, in complete darkness, I suddenly thought: Oh, help! What if there’s a fire?

June x

Adrienne’s Midsummer Madness – What’s your name again?

It was a proper Pimms party, well-heeled people, laughing in the gardens of a Georgian house. I was introduced to a bosomy lady in a floral dress. “Are you local?” she asked, cut-glass accent. “No,” I replied, “you?” “Been here forever,” she said, looking at me intently. “Come far?” “Only across the border,” I assured. “That takes me back,” she said, eyes glazing, “nipped across the border a few times, at school in Ireland. Those were the days.” She sighed. “You look familiar though. What do you do again?” “I’m a novelist,” I tried. “Of course you are!” she exclaimed, “you write romantic suspense – gripping!” I wanted to kiss her. “That’s me. That’s what I write.” She started to wave. “Look who it is everyone… Marian Keyes.” Blank stares. “You know, the Irish authoress,” she continued. They cluttered towards me, asking, “What’s your new one called?” “The Hollow Heart.”  (I’m dying inside!) Bosomy friend whips out a tablet; up pops my book on Amazon. “I’ve just downloaded her new book!” She twirls around with the iPad. “Send me the link.” “Download it for me,” call my new-found fans. “I’ve never met an author,” says another, “a shame you didn’t bring paperbacks; we’d love signed copies.” “I’m not Marian Keyes, you know,” I admitted. “KnewAde - post pic you were one of them though. You look a bit like Edna O’Brien. Anyone ever told you that?” asked my bosomy friend. “Or Maureen O’Hara, a bit like her too,” said another. “Didn’t she write Gone with the Wind?”

What could I say? I just grinned and had another sip of Pimms.

Adrienne x

“Roll Out Those Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer” – Mags Cullingford

Mags - landscape I’ve thought long and hard, couldn’t come up with anything LOL hilarious, but something diverting maybe. Monica Sommers in Last Bite of the Cherry (my 2012 debut). Calista Blake in Twins of a Gazelle (to be published this year), plus Lexie Neave in my third novel, all three women made euphoric by languorous summer days, become irrevocably embroiled with attractive men their reason dictates will cause them nothing but heartache.  In the heat of the pine-scented Riviera, Monica commits herself to Will Ackroyd, under the spell of magical Ithaca, Calista fails to walk away from PJ Wood, and, despite her best efforts, Lexie falls in love with an impossible man called Forbes.  Each woman, at some point, has the chance of escaping their thrall.  Instead, as though seized by a kind of madness, they plunge in heart first. Online, in The Free Dictionary, Midsummer madness is defined as ‘foolish or extravagant behaviour supposed to occur during the summer’.  Would Monica, Calista and Lexie have behaved more rationally in winter, I wonder.  Then, there would have been no story.  Writers too need a touch of midsummer madness don’t’cha think.

Mags x

Lizzie - Book Cover              June - Book Cover               Ade - Book Cover               Mags book cover

For more information about the authors and their novels, visit: http://www.newromantics4.com/

NR4 Pic

Tuesday Chit Chat with Lizzie Lamb

Hi Lizzie, welcome to Romaniac HQ. The kettle’s on, the biscuit tin’s restocked, so let’s get started, shall we?

Hi Jan, can I just check that the coffee is strong enough and that the biscuits are coated in milk chocolate? If you can’t get biscuits, I quite like giant chocolate buttons.

Lizzie, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a yes to both and we’ve even got chocolate buttons too :)

Great! I’m sitting comfortably, so let’s begin.

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Having successfully self-published your debut novel, Tall, Dark & Kilted (cracking title, by the way!) tell us a bit about what inspired the story.

I thought up the title (it was initially called BIG BAD WOLF) and the two main characters Ruairi and Fliss, and thereafter the novel wrote itself.  I originally wrote the novel for Little Black Dress (Headline) after attending my first RNA conference in Leicester. I’d attended a seminar given by then editor, Cat Cobain, who told me that LBD were looking for new writers. She gave an inspiring talk and said she wanted a book that was small enough to fit in someone’s handbag so they could read it on the tube/bus, etc, on their way to work. I had a 1:1 session with her and told her I’d written a book about a therapist who tries to set up a therapy centre in the highlands of Scotland. She said to finish it and send it to her. It took me a year to finish the novel which I sent to the RNA New Writers’ scheme where it almost received a second read. I then made some changes to it and sent it off to LBD.

In the meantime, I got on with writing another novel. I also entered a competition to write the jingle for the LBD website, winning a year’s supply of books. I then learned that the publication was no longer taking on new authors and was closing down. My novel came back to me and I sent it to The Hilary Johnson Authors’ Advisory Service where it was reviewed by a former senior editor of a publishing company. I didn’t agree with her critique, so I put the novel in the drawer and had a go at writing a Mills and Boon.  

I also won another competition to have the first three chapters read and critiqued by Carole Matthews, who sent me a mug which changed colour and advertised her latest novel when I poured tea or coffee into it. We’ve been friends ever since; she’s been very encouraging, as has Trisha Ashley and Kate Hardy, telling me to keep going as I’ll get there in the end.

Describe that moment (words and actions) when you first saw your novel available to download on Amazon, and later, in paperback.

BookCoverPreview (2)-001

I would still be writing and rewriting the novel ready to send to agents if it hadn’t been for Amanda Grange (author of Mr Darcy’s Diary, etc). Mandy had lunch at my house where she encouraged me and three other NWS members: June Kearns, Adrienne Vaughan and Mags Cullingford to put our books on Amazon. It was then that we decided to form THE NEW ROMANTICS 4 and have a paperback version of our book as well as a kindle download, so that we could hold roadshows and sell the novel to friends/general public.  We had to get our American tax code (that’s another story!), design the front cover, etc, and finally send it up to Create Space. By the end of the process we were all shattered. We were having lunch with Mandy in a nearby café when my lovely husband, Dave (aka Bongo Man) turned up with my proof copy, which had just arrived. By then I was so exhausted, I just looked at it, feeling numb. It took me a couple of days to realise what I had achieved. Only then did I really begin to feel excited.

Did you draft each chapter out beforehand or did your characters have free rein to take you wherever their stories led them?

I must admit I’m a plotter rather than a pantser. I knew where the story was going but wasn’t totally sure how to get there – I also lengthened the novel to 120k words. June Kearns is my writing buddy/beta reader and she suggested another plot thread whereby all my ideas fell into place. I had a 1:1 with an editor at another RNA conference and she said that the title of my novel wouldn’t work and suggested a change. Tongue in cheek, I suggested Tall, Dark and Kilted and she said she LOVED it but wasn’t taking on any new authors. So, I followed Mandy’s advice and self-published because life’s too short to wait for agents to get back to me.

Do you have a set writing routine or any literary rituals? 

Luckily my time is entirely my own, and after 34 years of getting up at 6am to get ready for school, I’m definitely a morning person. I try to be at the PC for about 8am and answer emails, put a post on Facebook and write something on Twitter. THEN I begin writing until about 11am or thereabouts – normally my parrot Jasper calls me to let him out and he plays in his cupboard all day. I tend to write for some of the evening, too, as there are very few programs on the TV that I enjoy. I also try to plan to see friends a couple of times a week, otherwise I’d stay in my study writing and never venture out.

In addition to being part of The New Romantics 4, you run the Leicester chapter of the RNA, as well as belonging to several online writers’ groups. How beneficial has that writerly support and camaraderie been for you and how big a part would you say social media has played?

New Romantics 4

Burton Overy we love you ! 004

I would say that the best thing I ever did was to join Facebook a few years back, before my novel was finished and ready for publication. Most of the people I’ve made friends with are writers, aspiring writers or avid readers – in this country and in the USA. I’ve been encouraged by Facebook friends (many of whom are in the RNA NWS) to finish the book and lots of them have bought the download/ novel and posted a review on Amazon. They helped make my tweet-a-thon (where I held a virtual picnic in the highlands of Scotland) a great success. Twitter actually blocked me because I sent too many tweets. I tweet about my novel three times a day in order to catch the UK, East coast of USA and then the West coast of the USA before I go to bed. My lovely twitter friends retweet for me and I return the favour.

Can you give us a teaser about what you’re working on at the moment?

I’m writing a new romantic comedy about a rookie reporter (a rebel without a cause) who goes undercover in a boot camp for brides. Her partner is an infuriating photographer who has a hidden agenda and is on the trail of a drug smuggling gang. That’s all I’m saying . . . for now! I want to have it finished for the end of summer and will then decide whether to submit it to the NWS or not.  

We love reading about Bongo Man and, indeed, about the famous Bongo itself, which we know you’ve taken many a literary trip in, so if you could take three famous travelling companions along for the ride one day, who would they be and why?  

Dave (aka Bongo Man) has been fantastic and given his life over to my book launches with the other New Romantics 4 because he knows this is my dream come true. He even bought full highland dress, sack wheelers, stepladders and an old Imperial typewriter off eBay for our launches. Who would I take along with me for the ride? Well, Jan, you would definitely be one of my companions because we’d have such a laugh together, wouldn’t we? You know, I can’t think of anyone famous I’d like to come along with me – isn’t that strange? Perhaps that’s because I spend so much of my life dreaming up plots, etc.

Dave (aka Bongo Man)

Burton Overy we love you ! 005

Any other creative passions, Lizzie? 

I love taking photographs, as you might have noticed on Facebook. My ambition is to buy a new PC (hopefully a Mac) and an iPhone when my present contract runs out, and synch them together with my iPad. Then it’ll be whole lot easier taking photos, sharing them with friends and setting up a blog after Christmas.  I also want to make a video of me reading Tall, Dark and Kilted and put it on YouTube after Christmas, too. Not to mention joining an online newspaper for Indie writers.

And finally, whilst I make us another coffee and grab the mince pies, a few quick-fire questions for you:

Actor you’d most like to see in a kilt?

Owen McDonnell – he played the Garda in Single Handed on TV

Haggis or Clootie Dumpling?

Clootie Dumpling! I shudder at the thought of haggis, although I do like neeps (swede) and tatties that accompany it. It’s a funny thing, we lived in Scotland until I was eleven-years-old but we never ate haggis until we moved to Leicester. LOL.

Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?

Daniel Craig. Pierce is gorgeous but a bit too smooth for me.

Dream holiday destination?

IF we ever find anyone willing to babysit the parrot (he’d never cope with being sent to the parrot equivalent of kennels/cattery) I’d love to go back to Greece or Italy and tour in the Bongo. We did it years ago. Failing that, I’d like to stay in a bungalow on a beach and have my every need catered for while I write.  

Singer you’d most like to serenade you?

I’d love the former lead singer in RUNRIG to sing An Ubhal as Aire (the highest apple) to me in Gaelic. I played it over and over when I was writing Tall, Dark and Kilted.

Cocktails or champagne?

Oh, champagne every time, dah-ling.

Novel you could read over and over again?

Can I be greedy and choose all the Jilly Cooper novels she wrote in the 70s: Imogen, Prudence, Emily, etc, and Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child?  

Fave Christmas Carol?

In the Bleak Midwinter – it always makes me cry.

Thanks so much for being our guest today, Lizzie. It’s been an absolute pleasure chatting with you. Merry Christmas! X

Merry Crimbo to you and all the other Romaniacs. And can I say: if you have a dream, go for it…

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www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

Follow Lizzie on Twitter: @lizzie_lamb /or @newromantics4

email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Amazon Paperback UKhttp://tinyurl.com/cn8fylt

Tall, Dark and Kilted- download Kindle UKhttp://tinyurl.com/cdjyec6