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

The First Time I … Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley Pippa Croft

THE FIRST TIME I…

 WROTE A ROMANCE SERIES

Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

In spring 2013, I was lucky enough to be given a three book contract to write a series of hot romance novels for Penguin Books.

This is the first time I’ve written a series featuring the same characters in each book. Prior to this all my books have been standalone, with completely new characters and settings. Each book in the Oxford Blue series is full-length at approx 90k words and I’ve just started Third Time Lucky – funnily enough the third book in the series.

Sorry that I’ve got to use a blatant plug i.e.the publisher’s blurb to introduce my findings, but this will hopefully put things in context! (Mmm, think the Romaniacs…)

The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.

When US Senator’s daughter Lauren Cusack arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University, she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.

But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn’t need – but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.

Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other . . . but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.

Pippa Croft Series (2)

THE VERDICT SO FAR

So here’s my report so far, on the challenges and joys of writing a series as opposed to single titles and some questions to think about before you embark on this epic journey.

THE CHALLENGES

  • Are your main characters compelling enough and can they develop sufficiently to sustain a series of books? Do the hero, heroine, and secondary characters grow and change with each book and over the series as a whole?
  • How are you going to introduce previous events for readers who pick up the series with Book 2 or 3? How much of their back story should you include while still keeping the new books fresh and exciting for the reader?
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, how can you keep the love scenes exciting? You need to make sure that each sexy scene is part of the character development and moves the characters on in some way, and isn’t simply there for titillation.
  • You need to keep in mind the story arc of the whole series and of each book.
  • You can’t go back and change the story in earlier books, if you’re writing a series as you go along – which you probably will be.
  • However, you can’t plan too far ahead or you’ll be shoehorning characters into the plot of three books rather than letting them develop naturally. However, you do need a very good idea of their motivations and conflicts and these have to develop and change.

THE JOYS

  • Neither you nor your readers have to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love – or hate – by the end of the book.
  • You can take your time over each character’s development, get deep under their skins and set them new challenges to overcome.
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for love scenes to show the characters growing and changing. Great fun…
  • You have time to get deep inside your characters’ psyche and develop their voices.
  • Hopefully, your readers will be so engaged with the characters they will be desperate to read each book.

That looks like more challenges than joys; however I absolutely love writing the Oxford Blue series and slightly dread it finishing it at some point.

I’ll let you into a secret: I still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Lauren and Alexander, but I can promise you that it will be dramatic, sexy and a big surprise (to me as much as the reader…)

Thank you so much, Phillipa, for this fascinating insight and advice. I’ve not written a series but can see how exciting it must be.  Please do visit again and let us know how things develop.

Laura x

Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology

TMD 24Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology.Author_Pose

I am delighted to announce the release of the Romantic Novelists’ Association new anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply, published by Mills and Boon and available in paperback with 24 stories, and as an extended eBook, containing an additional 11 stories. A bumper selection of all-new specially-selected stories from the leading lights of commercial women’s fiction as well as some exciting new names!

My short story, Bitter Sweet is included in the digital extension, and I am thrilled, honoured, and privileged to be part of such a great anthology, alongside wonderful authors for whom I have deep respect.

The blurb:

24 specially selected stories from bestselling authors including Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Miranda Dickinson and many more. From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an exciting romantic adventure where love really is all you need. Plus, eBook edition includes 11 additional stories!TMD_eBook cover

It’s a must-have!

Please join us on Friday 21st from 09:00 at our Facebook Online Launch Party, and on Twitter, using #TrulyMadlyDeeply and #RNA

Here are the all important links:

Mills & Boon:

Facebook

Twitter

Mills & Boon: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Amazon:

Paperback

eBook

iBooks

Google Play

Kobo

Enjoy!

Laura x

Romaniac Shorts – Out There For Everyone To See

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Now the Romaniac blog is 2 years old, we’re toddling around in Shorts.

Our cover depicts each Romaniac. Can you guess who has which shorts?

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Laura: This is stuff of fantasies, so I chose the red Daisy Dukes, 6th on the line. Remember Daisy from The Dukes of Hazard? I’m never going to get away with wearing tight shorts, so I’m dreaming the dream, baby. Oh yeah.

Jan: An easy choice for me. Turquoise is my favourite colour. Proud to be flapping on the Romaniac line … 

Sue: I opted for the pretty green flowery ones. Whenever I’m thinking up plot ideas, I always doodle flowers, so it seemed the obvious choice.

Lucie: I’m a red head … so naturally I went for orange shorts!

Debbie: It has to be the plain green ones for me, to go with my old green wellies for when I’m ‘at one with nature.’

Celia: Mine are the denim cut-offs – one of my friends’ mums once asked me if I was dressed by Oxfam when I was wearing my best pair. Um … yes, actually …

Catherine: Mine are the yellow polka dot shorts for two reasons. 1) Excellent for the cabaret shows I perform for the twins. (The most effective way to keep two girls happy.) 2) They disguise the milk deposits.

VanessaMy daughters helped with suggestions when I was colouring up the shorts on the cover and they chose the red with white polka dots for me!

Did you guess correctly?

Romaniac Shorts is available as a download from Amazon, at £1, here. We hope you enjoy our briefs ;-)

xx

Birthday Celebrations in Romaniac Shorts!

The Roms Logo

You won’t believe it, really you won’t. I still can’t quite believe it myself. But … The Romaniacs are TWO YEARS OLD today.

Two! Our blog has been running for a couple of years now and still every day, we pinch ourselves at the immense support we receive from you all.  Thank you SO much.

We are celebrating today in usual Romaniac fashion. Can you guess how? Go on, have a go …

Yep, you guessed it – cake! And lots of it, too! The diets have been put on hold and we plan to devour our weight in cake, biscuits and chocolate. Oh, and then there’s the champagne. Got to have a bit of fizz on our blog birthday.

We’re even having a ‘bring your baby to work’ day, just so that we can make it more of a party. So, we have all the Romaniac children having a boogie, too.

I’ve got to say, it’s a lot of fun here and we would be so happy for you to all join us in a celebratory toast – go on, take a glass – and raise it up high.

To all things writerly, what a wonderful two years it has been. And also (no, don’t drink yet, there’s a second part) to our wonderful support network of friends, without whom, we would not be where we are today.

*CHEERS*

Oh, wait! In all the celebrating and, ahem, drinking, I almost forgot to tell you about our other exciting news. As from today, you will be able to purchase an anthology of short stories and flash fiction penned by none other than our lovely team. That’s right, we have all pooled together our creativity and have created an anthology for you. For those who missed our blog last week about it, let me explain …

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Romaniac Shorts is a collection of short stories and flash fiction that stretch across a number of different styles and genres. Each member of The Romaniacs has included at least two pieces for you to enjoy. We feel this anthology is fresh, exciting and most of all, a bargain at the mere price of £1 and it is available to purchase for your Kindle as from today.

We each believe that the Romantic Novelists’ Association has played a major part in getting us writers to where we are today – it was even how we met in the first place. We are so thankful to the RNA and especially to the New Writers Scheme which has seen us all as members at one time or another. Some of us even going on to be full members! *fanfare and confetti*

And so, to show our appreciation for such a wonderful and encouraging organisation, we shall be donating a percentage of our proceeds from this anthology, to the RNA, to help encourage and grow other writers. The remainder of our proceeds shall be passed to Dyslexia Action.

We know how isolating, frustrating and difficult writing can be at times and there are some people out there who have the additional struggle of dyslexia and such like. So we are very keen to help those who need it the most, which is why we have chosen the RNA and Dyslexia Action.

We hope you will help us help them by purchasing Romaniac Shorts and most of all, we hope you enjoy it!

Please do get in touch with us and let us know what you think.

Now, where did I put my cake …

Lucie x

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief.

There has been much excitement at Romaniac HQ, but in keeping with today’s title, we’ll be brief.

Next Thursday, 13th February 2014, our blog will be 2 years old, and we have a very special celebration planned.

Romaniac Press has gone into production, and we are releasing our first anthology:

Romaniac Shorts

It’s a diverse collection of short stories and flash fiction, ranging from romance, to crime, to fantasy,  and we are thrilled to see one of our early ideas finally come to fruition.

Romaniac Shorts will be available as an eBook, through Amazon.

All profits from the sale of Romaniac Shorts will be divided between Dyslexia Action, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association .

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have received guidance, advice, and friendship from the writing world, and we always aim to give something back. We hope this goes a little way to saying thank you.

Please enjoy our briefs.

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Romaniac Shorts Cover

Struggling to get published? Great advice from Kerry Fisher.

I’m delighted that Kerry Fisher has joined us at Romaniac HQ today and she’s brought along her dog too! Kerry has recently signed a fantastic book deal and she’s chatting about her road to publication.

IMG_2054

The Power of Persistence

When I was struggling to get published, I used to dread reading blogs like this in case other authors were saying ‘Three weeks after I wrote the first draft, an agent snapped me up on account of my witty interactions on Twitter and two weeks later, I had a book and film deal.’

I am not that person. My story should give hope to any writers who need a Lever Arch file for their rejections. I’ve written three novels. The first was rubbish, but the other two were a series of ‘hopes raised, hopes dashed, nearly but not quite’ from agents. I simply didn’t have the appetite to write a fourth without finding a home for them. Plus I’d made the classic mistake of telling everyone I was writing a novel and was having to jump into the coat cupboard at parties when I saw the words, ‘Have you been published yet?’ forming on people’s lips. My husband has been hugely supportive of my writing but although he never actually articulated ‘When is all this writing nonsense going to stop?’, he did encourage me to apply for a job as a shepherd with the National Trust. Time for a different approach.

So I self-published in December 2012. I did two things right: I paid to have a cover professionally designed. I printed business cards and leaflets.

I did hundreds of things wrong. Instead of paying for a professional proofread, I revised the novel myself until my eyeballs bled, but still managed to miss loads of typos. Gravest mistake of all: I stuck my novel out there with nary a thought for how I was going to make it stand out from the 400,000 already jostling for space on Amazon.

My learning wasn’t a curve. More of a climbing wall without footholds. In a nutshell:

  • Two hundred Facebook friends do not equal two hundred sales.
  • Some of the people closest to you will be utterly disinterested – don’t take it personally.
  • Some acquaintances will champion you until you love them more than your dog.
  • Whatever you think of Twitter, it’s vital for networking and connecting with readers.
  • Learn as much as you can from other authors. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – most are very generous-spirited.
  • Old-fashioned, face-to-face networking has its place. I joined local business associations, approached writing and reading clubs, social groups (see http://www.meetup.com) and spoke at school coffee mornings.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you and help people you meet along the way to make mutually beneficial connections.

The biggest tip of all: join the Romantic Novelists’ Association!

I went to the summer party in May, where I met Helen Bolton, commissioning editor for the Avon imprint of HarperCollins. We chatted briefly about one of her authors, Mhairi McFarlane, who writes funny women’s commercial fiction. I knew Helen was unlikely to read an unagented submission but it’s not every day you speak directly to an editor who works in the market you’re targeting. I sent off a long shot submission of the first five chapters. Within a week she came back to me and told me to send the rest, plus my next book.

I had an informal meeting with her at HarperCollins HQ. I allowed myself a small skip on the steps but still didn’t think anything would come of it. However, I was determined not to squander the opportunity completely. If I didn’t get a publisher, then maybe I could still find an agent before I got rejected. On the back of ‘Avon are currently considering the manuscript’, several agents asked for the full. Clare Wallace from Darley Anderson – whom I had also met at the RNA party – came back to me very promptly and asked to see me.

The meeting felt ‘right’ – professional, detailed, honest, warm, with a clear plan of next steps if Avon didn’t buy The Class Ceiling.

I left with an offer of representation. My immediate reaction was to accept straightaway because she was smart, switched on and I knew I could work with her. There hadn’t been any point in our meeting when I’d thought, ‘Hmm. Not sure about that,’ or worse, ‘You’re scary’. But I also knew that it was crucial to make the right decision, so I asked for some time to consider her offer without cartwheeling clouding my judgment.

Events overtook me. That evening, a two-book deal from Avon pinged into my inbox. I phoned Clare the next morning. Thankfully, my first instincts were right – she did a great job negotiating my contract and then sold the books for me at auction in Germany.

Five years of writing into a black hole, then an agent and a book deal on the same day. The ultimate proof that the whole mad writing business can turn on a sixpence.

The Class Ceiling is currently available on Amazon Kindle. It will be published as The School Gate Survival Guide by Avon in August 2014.

CLASS_CEILING_FINAL

www.kerryfisherauthor.com

https://twitter.com/KerryFSwayne

https://www.facebook.com/kerryfisherauthor

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?

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

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

What really sparks that Romaniac festive spirit?

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

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

parsnipsBrussels

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Decs house

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

Getting Book-Fit

Choc LitI’m getting book-fit. You know? Like soccer players get match-fit.

From a sitting position, I threw myself in to writing book 1, Truth or Dare?. If it had been a sprint, I’d have pulled muscles I haven’t used in years. It wasn’t a sprint. I started ToD in the summer of 2007, when my left arm was in plaster, and I found employment for my right arm.

From start to publication, it took 6 years. I’m not able to say how long it took in real terms, if I deducted the time I spent looking after my family, sometimes cooking, and occasionally cleaning, but I think I needed that time to develop the craft, find my voice and understand what it was I was writing.

Book 2, Follow Me, started life as part of the 100K in a 100 Days challenge, run by Sally Quilford. It started on January 1st, 2012, and finished on April 9th. 1000 words a day. It was an achievable target for me, and an excellent way to kick-start the ‘difficult second novel’. By March, I’d hit 60,000. I tried to switch off my inner editor, and just type, but I’ve come to realise this doesn’t work for me. When I know there’s an issue, I have to resolve it before I can move on. I wonder how many years I’d have fought this, had I not participated in Sally’s initiative. I’m so pleased I did.

As is well-documented, I lost my mother in March 2012, and writing came to a standstill. I didn’t complete the challenge, but I did submit the FM partial to the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, and received an encouraging report. It was then I knew I was going to finish writing book 2, despite its sad associations with events of that year. A line needed to be drawn, and what I felt was a good story, needed to be told in its entirety.

I submitted the completed manuscript for consideration to my publisher, Choc Lit, in September, having received a lovely, and timely report from the 2013 NWS. IMG_4487

So, I started Follow Me in January 2012, and completed it in September 2013. That’s quite a bit less than 6 years.

Book 3, working title, What Doesn’t Kill You, is going to take nine months.

There. I’ve said it. Now I have to make it happen.

I’m planning this one. I’m writing a timeline, keeping a calendar, in the style of Sue Fortin – see here - and I’m creating a chart of my characters, their conflicts, obstacles, and characteristics. I’m putting to use everything I’ve learned over the last few years: everything I’ve been taught by wonderful tutors.

And I’m getting myself book-fit, before starting that marathon.

Ready …?IMG_4659

Laura x