Closing In : Cover Reveal

Sue Fortin author pic Jan 14I’m delighted to be able to announce that my second novel, Closing In, is to be  published by HarperImpluse, and will be released on 15 May. Initially, in digital format but paperback to follow soon afterwards.

I’ve prepared a book trailer to show you the cover and give  you an idea what Closing In is about.  So, if you have less than a minute to spare, I’d love you to take a look.

 

 

Thank you and have a great day.

Sue

x

Memories and Traditions with Georgia Hill

A very warm welcome to Georgia Hill, author of  ‘Say it with Sequins : The Rumba‘ which is published today through Harper Impulse

image001

Huge thanks to Sue for asking me on here!

My Christmas Stocking: full of memories and traditions and even things to do!

Not surprisingly, given the time of year, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. So this blog post is a sort of Christmas stocking: full of all sorts of different things.

I always think Christmas makes special memories. I know it’s over-hyped and seems to last longer every year but it still works its magic if you let it. I love this time of year, maybe because I’m a late November baby. Some of my most treasured moments have happened during this season.

My father adored Christmas, perhaps because, as a boy, he had a fairly Spartan upbringing; a tangerine and a toy car was the most he could expect from his Christmas stocking. So, for us, he always tried to make it as magical a time as possible. I remember thick snow on the day itself and my aunt and uncle struggling up the steep hill to our house, to visit, my aunt stubbornly insisting on wearing stiletto heels. Leaving out carrots and a glass of sherry – for them to be gone in the morning. The tangible expectation in the air. I also remember Father Christmas managing to squeeze my very first bike down the chimney. The real miracle being how my parents scraped together enough money to buy me one.

Some good friends of the family lived in the middle of a forest and it was a tradition to visit near Christmas and take presents and cards. The house sang with the smell of the pines trees they’d cut down.

I’ve celebrated Christmas away from home too. Once, in the middle of the Atlantic, on a geography field trip and once in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Strange, disorientating times. Christmas and yet somehow not.

When first married, my new husband and I saw Love Actually on Christmas Eve afternoon and came out, feeling all loved-up, to be greeted by a spectacular sunset. The sky was orange and pink and violet and the air cold and fresh. Wonderful.

For some years I taught in primary schools. In mid December we’d all troop off to the carol service in a local minster. It was packed with children and parents, teachers and friends, all singing the old favourites.

Father Christmas has updated his image nowadays – who else tracks his progress across the globe with this?

http://www.noradsanta.org/

and another lovely site for small children is:

http://projectbritain.com/Xmas/calendar/

For me, a real tree is a must. We get ours from a local farm. When I first met ‘Dave’ (as I’ll call him, to spare his blushes), who runs the business, I developed the most enormous crush. Largely due to the fact he was enormous. And gorgeous. With a fetching dimple in his cheek. He even inspired a short story. It’s one reason to buy a real tree every year; I get a once a year treat of seeing ‘Dave’ again!

spaniels

Traditions necessarily change, according to circumstance. A new one for me is to sit down on Boxing Day afternoon, with husband out at a football match, and watch While You Were Sleeping. I have a selection of Christmassy leftovers (why are they always yummier than on the day itself?), light the wood-burner, grab a dog or two to cuddle and settle down. Guaranteed bliss every year.

This year we’re making a new tradition – a doggie walk on the beach on Christmas Day. I’ve tried taking cute pictures with them wearing those felt reindeer antlers. No good, my two just chew them! Spaniels have no respect for tradition.

Afterwards, I’ll be sitting down to watch the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing as usual. With Say it with Sequins: The Rumba being inspired by the show, how could I not?

Whatever you’re doing this year, whoever you’re spending it with, may I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Love,

Georgia x

new_author_pics_082Georgia Hill writes contemporary romance, written with love.

Say it with Sequins: The Rumba is out with Harper Impulse on 19th December.

Find her at:

www.georgiahill.co.uk

Twitter @georgiawrites and on Facebook.

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.

Fanfare for Sue Fortin and United States of Love

USL HI

This is a terrifically exciting day for our very own Sue Fortin (and consequently for all the rest of the Romaniacs too, as we bask in reflected glory and slap each other on the back a lot. I slapped Laura so hard she fell over earlier…she obviously needs to eat more cake.)

Anyway, Sue’s contemporary romance novel ‘United States of Love‘ is released in digital format by Harper Impulse on this very day, with paperback to follow shortly, so we thought we’d celebrate our lovely Sue’s success by giving you a few thoughts on our favourite subject – love. We hope you’ll add yours too, but for now, crack open the virtual champagne and help yourself to a scone.

Champagne

Celia: Love is:

Lighting the candles even though it’s only soup for tea.

Being told off by your daughters for laughing too much in bed (don’t ask).

A hand to hold in front of the fire when Downton gets serious.

Fire

IMG_4309Laura : Love is:

Being given a daily limit by your mum as to how many times you can speak the name of your new man.

Supplying Minstrels and making coffee to help maintain the writer.

Pretending to be ill in the honeymoon hotel bidet, whilst your newly-wed wife is bent double over the loo, because ‘We’re married now, and we do everything together.’

Sue : Love is :photo (94)

Not having to worry about the state of your legs quite so often during the winter months.

Being able to name all the players in your beloved’s beloved football team, what positions they play and how many goals they’ve scored. Not only that, but you find yourself attempting to discuss the off-side rule with some degree of authority.

Your partner not batting an eyelid when you call him by the name of your fictional hero.

Morning SnugglesCatherine: Love is: Double diaper changes without a nose peg.

Eating Christmas pudding in October because your OH loves it.

Morning snuggles with two babies nestled in between you.

Lucie: Love is: Giving you free reign over the biscuit tin, and not saying ‘diet’s going well then?’, when you are emotionally drained from that last scene you wrote.

Not calling you crazy when you pull the car over just to write down that all important idea that simply cannot wait five minutes until you get home.

Understanding, and accepting, that if you try and talk to me when I am writing, you are more than likely to either be given a one word answer, get a completely random response or, if you’re lucky, be totally ignored. 

Vanessa: Love is: Bringing me a cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday morning and leaving me to sleep even when it’s really your turn for a lie-in.

Never doubting for a second that one day I will get there with my writing…

Making me laugh until I cry.

Jan: Love is: Gamely stomaching your beloved’s first attempt at French onion soup when he’s clearly confused his teaspoons of salt with tablespoons (or rather, ladles!) 

Never complaining when my characters get more attention than you…

Not being able to imagine my world without you in it…

Debbie: Love is: candyqueendesigns

Being in charge of the remote control.

Not having to get out of bed to turn out the light.

Finding the one who makes your heart smile.

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.

~ Mother Teresa

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

~ Sophocles

Love is friendship set on fire. ~ unknown

Sue Fortin: author of 'United States of Love'

Sue Fortin: author of ‘United States of Love’

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Guest Post by Nic Tatano, Men and Sex – what they really think

I recently blogged about whether women could write sex scenes from a male point of view. (Click here for post) It caused a lot of interest and responses, mostly from women, although we did have one man join in the conversation.

Since then, I have been in touch with author Nic Tatano and he is here today, adding some light on the subject. Over to you, Nic …

So, the question was posed as to what men think about during sex. I can only imagine the eye rolls from those of you who may have had a relationship with a man who became molecularly bonded at the sub-atomic level to a reclining chair. (If you’re currently dating one of these human-furniture hybrid slugs, run.) But, as a guy who writes romance, I might be able to offer a little perspective.

Before said perspective, you should know the boundaries. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 24 years, and what happens between us will always remain private. But over the years I’ve come to realize there are two types of men: the relationship guys, and the sex guys.

You see, there’s a great dividing line when it comes to “guy talk.” Relationship guys never, ever discuss sexual details about the women they love. A relationship guy understands the sacred bond that goes with commitment and the fact that the woman he loves would not appreciate having her abilities in the bedroom plastered on the verbal equivalent of a bathroom wall.

Sex guys hold nothing back, because they don’t really understand the difference between having sex and making love. To them, the latter doesn’t even exist. (It should be noted that on rare occasions a sex guy can turn into a relationship guy when he gets through puberty and reaches the age of maturity, which is approximately thirty-five.) The sex guys think nothing of sharing the details of their own sexual prowess (which always approaches that of a porn star) and the attributes of the women they are dating (which always approaches that of a porn star.)

From high school locker rooms to college dorms to late night poker games, I’ve heard it all. While this chatter may loosely fall into the “kiss and tell” category, it lacks any romantic elements. Typical comments from sex guys are the following:

Describing a woman: “She has (wildly descriptive adjective) (body parts) better than (name of famous supermodel) and (other body parts) that won’t quit.”

Describing sex with said woman: “I tell ya, this woman could (service provided by prostitute) better than (metaphor possibly involving household appliance.)

Anyway, back to the original question. What are men thinking? Let’s get to the sex guys first:

TOP TEN THINGS THE “SEX GUYS” MIGHT BE THINKING DURING SEX:

1. Damn, her roommate is really hot. I wonder if she’d like to join us?

2. Did I set the DVR for the game?

3. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m with Nicole Kidman.

4. I think continental drift moves faster than she does.

5. You know, I always say I wouldn’t throw a woman out for eating crackers in bed, but I never knew getting salt in my crack would be this uncomfortable.

6. What was her name again?

7. I wonder if she has any beer…

8. I’m such a stud.

9. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m Henry Cavill.

10. She just called me by her old boyfriend’s name! Eh, whatever. I’m not gonna deal with it now.

As for what the relationship guy is thinking, there’s no answer. He’s simply in love with that special woman, eyes locked, the two becoming one for a few special moments, while the rest of the world does not exist.

But he still remembers to DVR the game.

winggirl

Nic Tatano‘s novel, Wing Girl was released by Harper Impulse.

Great post, Nic – I’m still working out if I feel enlightened or just had my suspicions confirmed!

Sue

:-)

Beverley Eikli and The Reluctant Bride

Lies, spies and Traitors… Choc Lit’s Beverley Eikli talks about the darker side of The Regency in her new book The Reluctant Bride.

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback Homer

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback Homer

It’s my pleasure to welcome to Romaniac HQ, Choc Lit author, Beverly Eikli, on the launch of The Reluctant Bride.

Thanks so much, Laura, for inviting me here to talk about my Napoleonic espionage romantic suspense The Reluctant Bride.

I must say, it’s had the most colourful history of any of the eight books I’ve written. The first three chapters won the Romance Writers of New Zealand Single Title competition about six years ago, which was before I got my first publishing contract with Robert Hale in 2009. After that it went through multiple drafts, while I wrote other novels and novellas.

I just couldn’t let it go. I kept seeing potential for more ‘layering’.

Initially The Reluctant Bride focussed on my hero’s tortured past. He’d been forced into an impossible situation during the retreat to Corunna, in 1809, four years before I take up my story. Now, conscience-stricken, he seizes an opportunity to atone for the past when he finds my heroine, Emily, is in need of rescuing.

Unfortunately, the lie he tells Emily, the woman he’s loved from afar, in order to spare her pain comes back to haunt him after she becomes his ‘reluctant bride’. She believes he’s taking advantage of her desperate situation to make her his wife and considers her a ‘bargain’.

In the first drafts I’d focused on events between the Retreat to Corunna and the Battle of Waterloo.

But Emily’s past was just as important and I needed to understand the chaotic life into which she’d been born. This meant immersing myself in the extraordinary, almost stupefying events of the French Revolution. I’d studied it on a superficial level but now I had to bury myself in the details in order to understand how a so-called hero one day could be considered a traitor the next, and what passions drove people to behave with a brutality so contrary to basic human principles. I concentrated on the September Massacres of 1792 but I also had to understand the mind-set of both revolutionaries and the masses.

When I entered Choc Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition I was intrigued by Choc Lit’s focus on the male Point of View. I’d fallen in love with my hero, Angus, after living with him over so many years so I naturally hoped the ‘tasting panel’ would see the layers behind the scarred, taciturn exterior.

And they did.  I’m thrilled that The Reluctant Bride is Choc Lit’s launch title into Australia.

Beverley Eikli Reluctant Bride Cover

It’s the most intricately plotted of all my books – yes, I love a good plot. I love the late Georgian/Regency period and I absolutely adore the challenge of creating characters whose attitudes and behaviour are true to their times.

A passive heroine doesn’t go down well with modern readers, so this is where I get creative with plot, set-up and characterisation. Women had so few legal rights they really were utterly dependant on their closest male relative – and their wits.

In the opening scene of The Reluctant Bride my heroine thinks she has it all. She’s a week short of being free of her Puritanical father who has – surprisingly – sanctioned the match of her heart. By scene two, when Angus gives Emily the bad news, she believes her life will be devoid of joy henceforth. However she doesn’t have time to brood as she’s soon caught up on a roller-coaster ride involving spies, lies, traitors.

One line from a recent review of The Reluctant Bride I liked was that ‘nothing is what it seems’ while another reviewer calls it ‘the darker side of Regency life’.

Thanks again, Laura, for inviting me. I still get a thrill when I see that beautiful cover Choc Lit’s talented Berni Stevens created for me. The whole process of taking the book from competition winning entry to its final form as a September 15th paperback release was huge fun. It was also such a blast to meet six fellow ‘Chocliteers’ at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City earlier this year. I shared a room at the Crowne Plaza with my editor, Rachel Skinner who was absolutely delightful to work with. The weird thing was that we seemed to be colour coordinated with everything we wore for the six days of conference.

Beverley Eikli Conference

I hope readers enjoy Angus and Emily’s story.

Buy from: Kindle UK, Kindle US, Apple UK, Apple US, Kobo Books Barnes and Noble

Blog: http://beverleyeikli.blogspot.com.au

Website: http://www.beverleyeikli.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beverley.eikli

Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

Bio:

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances published by Pan Macmillan Momentum, Robert Hale, Ellora’s Cave and Total-e-Bound. Recently she won UK Women’s Fiction publisher Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition with her suspenseful, Regency espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride.

She’s been shortlisted twice for a Romance Readers of Australia Award in the Favourite Historical category — in 2011 for  A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.

Beverley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.

Charlotte Ledger,Content Developer with HarperImpulse chats about her role and an exciting Publishing Comp!

Hi, Charlotte! Welcome to The Romaniacs’ place, we’re delighted you’ve made it, especially as you’re so busy with HarperImpulse.  Can you tell us a bit more about your role at HarperImpulse and how you came into the world of publishing, please?

CharlotteHello lovely Romaniacs! I’m a big fan of your blog and so excited to be here… plus there’s nothing I love more than chatting about romance and HarperImpulse!

I came into publishing in quite a roundabout way – having graduated from Edinburgh University with a Classics degree, I ended up as an intern at a place called Chawton House Library, a gorgeous historical house in Hampshire with connections to Jane Austen. It was during that six month internship (and those endless days of dreaming of Darcy) that I decided I wanted to work in publishing and indulge my book addiction.

I’ve always been such a massive fan of romance (I put this down to my obsession with Dawson’s Creek when I was younger –no one writes a teen love triangle like Kevin Williamson) so when I got the call from Mills & Boon about an Editorial Assistant position I was over the moon. I spent two very happy years there working across all the series and getting, in my opinion, the very best training in editorial and women’s commercial fiction. 

Now I’m at HarperImpulse tackling all things digital! My official title is Content Developer and that covers a really wide range of things – I edit the books and work with our authors, buy new authors for the list, contact and liaise with bloggers and reviewers, brief the covers, help out with our social media by tweeting and writing content, put our titles up on NetGalley, make sure all the metadata for the online retailers is ready and correct by the deadlines and I even generate the epubs myself using a very fancy new online programme (which I’m finally getting to grips with!). It’s a very varied and exciting role, and luckily I have an awesome and super talented team around me to help with all this.

Can you give us a quick low-down on your day to day routine at work, or is there no such thing as a routine?

No day is ever the same – usually it starts with a cup of tea and a quick check through my e-mails, answering the more urgent queries, and then a look into the Impulse inbox where I log the new submissions that have come in. The rest of the day is made up of meetings and fitting in all of the above! Evenings and weekends are for reading new submissions!

Roughly how many submissions does HarperImpulse receive each week and what makes a manuscript stand out over others?

It’s hard to say exactly as every week is different – in our first month we had about 500 submissions! Now, we get a steady stream coming through – maybe about 30-50? Sometimes less, sometimes more (that’s not very helpful is it?! ;))

It really varies as to what makes a manuscript stand out over the others –sometimes it’s a title or a really great hook that immediately catches your eye, such as Lorraine Wilson’s Confessions of a Chalet Girl. Kim had just come back from a ski holiday and I thought what could be a more perfect submission for her to read! But then you have to have the talent to pull off an exciting concept, which Lorraine definitely did – an author’s voice and storytelling ability is very important. It’s so difficult to define the ‘x factor’ but I would say to play to your strengths and write what YOU want to write – not necessarily what you think a publisher wants or what might be ‘the next big thing’. Your passion and enthusiasm for your story and characters will shine through… and that’s wonderful to read.

HarperImpulse have just launched a Christmas competition, can you tell us a bit more about it?

Yes, our Winter Wonderland Competition!!! I’m very excited about this because I LOVE books and movies that feature Christmas… crisp white snow falling softly outside, roaring fires…… that episode of Dawson’s Creek (yes I am obsessed) where Joey and Pacey watch the Christmas lights… it’s such a magical time of year!

So we’re looking for novels of ANY length with a romantic element that is set around Christmas, Winter, New Year or Hanukkah – simply submit to romance@harpercollins.co.uk and mention the competition in the subject heading. The closing date for entries is midnight GMT October 16th and it’s one entry per person. Kim and I will then read all the submissions and pick our favourite!

The winner will receive a three book contract with us and afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason’s in London (it’s worth it just for the tea right?!). And if you can’t make it to London then we’ll organise for a Fortnum’s hamper to be delivered to you wherever you are in the world!

Feel free to tweet us @harperimpulse or @girl_on_a_ledge if you want more details!

And finally, keeping on the Christmas theme, what has been your worst Christmas present ever?

Ooo worst?! I don’t think I can say that… they might be reading this!!! My birthday’s the 14th December so occasionally I do get the odd joint birthday and Christmas present which used to annoy me… I want two presents. TWO!!! (in a very undemanding and bratty way..ehem)

Thanks again, Charlotte and good luck to all the competition entrants.

Thank YOU Romaniacs for having me on your wonderful blog! 

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Tuesday Chit-Chat with Christina Jones…

Hi, Christina, a huge Romaniac welcome to you. It’s so lovely to see you here at HQ today. A little light refreshment before we start? Tea? Coffee? Slice of one of Celia’s mouth-wateringly fantastic cakes?

Ooh, Jan, it’s lovely to be here, thank you so much for asking me – and yes, please, coffee would be lovely… Ooh, and cake too! Fabulous! I’ll never say no to cake…

CJones

 

We know you’re busy working on your next novel ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’ (FAB title, by the way!)  Any chance of a cheeky little preview?

Thank you for liking the title – one of my own this time, not one of my editor’s umpteenth suggestions! –  and a cheeky sneaky preview? Of course.  Well, this is the current blurb with a bit added on…

“The Berkshire village of Daisybank has held a traditional summer fete for as long as anyone can remember and twenty-eight year old American Diner waitress Tiggy Dunmore can’t think of anything worse. Having been dumped by her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day, Tiggy needs something to take her mind off her heartbreak, and as she and her friends, Scarlett and Cordelia, discuss the ‘fete worse than death’ over coffee and doughnuts in the diner, they come up with an alternative idea. Instead of the fete with the same old tombola, bric-a-brac stalls and raffle to win a hamper of almost-on-sell-by tinned food, why not have a music festival? Just a little one, of course. Nothing like Glastonbury. Oh, of course, nothing like Glastonbury… Surely it can’t be that difficult to set up a stage and find a few bands, can it? As the months roll on towards the last weekend in July, and despite furious opposition from Daisybanks’ movers and shakers (i.e. the original fete committee), the Daisybank Music Festival begins to take shape, and things really start to look up when the gorgeous Liam Maxwell, ex-boyband member and now the guitarist in The Red Hot Rockers, agrees to get his band to play. Tiggy begins to discover that a broken heart can mend quite quickly when a black-haired, blue-eyed rock guitarist is involved. OK, so he’s engaged to the pneumatic and mainly plastic reality telly star, Lolly Latimer, but that’s only a minor hiccough, surely? As the hot and sunny festival weekend dawns, life for Tiggy and Daisybank, will never be the same again.”

What inspired the idea for this novel and how much research has been involved?

I came up with the idea because it had to be another summer book, and summer is festival time and I was a big festival-goer in my youth – you know, back in the days when it wasn’t all glamping and a million quid for a ticket? You just went and sat in front of the one and only stage and amazingly famous (and infamous) bands turned up and played all day and night and you got muddy or scorched or both, and ate nothing but brown rice for three days and didn’t sleep and stank to high heaven and it was utterly blissful.  We’re also into high village fete season too, and these are fiercely organised by the same-old committees doing the same-old things – and I just thought what if one of these very traditional village fetes suddenly morphed into a mini-Glasto…? Think of the conflicts! And the romance! And the research? Well, loads of happy memories of  what my husband refers to as my “groupie period” (I did have a bit of a thing for bass guitarists in my youth), plus the time I spent as a sort of music journalist for the teenage mags, and the bliss of being at the early Glastonburys, Isle of Wights, and Reading festivals… aaah, now I’m off in a purple haze of nostalgia… 

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Clearly you love being a writer, but as your website bio states, you’ve had a wonderful array of previous jobs, blood-donor attendant and waitress being just two of them – some great (and not so great!) characters encountered there, no doubt? Have you worked a few of their traits into your novels and does creating the actual characters themselves, come easy to you?

I’ve had 27 Proper Jobs and been sacked from 19 of them (I think I’ve always been virtually unemployable, really. I’m not that good with authority…), and yes, I’ve met lots of “interesting” people in my chequered career and bits of the ones I’ve disliked most have somehow found their way into my books. All the officious, charmless, rather cruel ones (a certain office manager who had me crying in the Ladies EVERY day springs to mind here!) have merged to become the characters you love to hate. It’s great therapy! But most of my characters are totally fictitious – well, all the main ones anyway. Except, to me, they’re not. They seem to live inside my head, scampering around for ages, and are sometimes more real to me than real people… Sorry, I think that sounds as if I might be a little bit mad. Once they’re inside my head, they somehow emerge fully-formed on to the page, so, yes, creating characters does come easily to me – again, it’s a sort of happy insanity, isn’t it really, this writing business.

How exciting is the build-up to launch day? Talk us through the routine and how you plan to celebrate publication?

Oh! How I long to say it’s all rainbows and lollipops and cascades of fireworks! How I long to say I have book tours and back-to-back interviews and the entire media circus camped outside my front door.  Sadly, I can’t say any of that. These days my publication days go by without even a congratulatory  email from my publishing contacts – but I do have my own little hoolies. The local bookshop always does a lovely window display, and I usually have a signing session on the nearest Saturday morning with bunting and balloons (I’m very fond of bunting and  balloons) and all my friends come and don’t buy a book because I’ve already given them a copy but we all have a good gossip and sometimes total strangers wander in to see what the fuss is about and sometimes I even sell them a book! And my lovely husband always buys me an ornament of some kind that ties in with the book – I had a lot of little Hindu gods last time – I’m hoping for a small Fender Telecaster for this one! But honestly, I think the days of huge publisher launches have gone and are reserved only for the mega-famous authors. Sob!  

You did one of the Writers Bureau home-study courses ten years ago and subsequently became the face of their advert (I can remember your success and your lovely beaming smile being my inspiration to finish my own WB course!) Put into words its value and also the value of attending author events/workshops.

Oh – wow! Thank you! I don’t think I’ve ever been anyone’s inspiration before. That’s lovely – I might show-off a bit about that… Yes, I did the WB course 10 years ago because I wanted to learn how to write proper non-fiction.  I’ve made  no secret of the fact that I was already published (in fiction) when I signed up, but I was complete pants at non-fiction. I tended to drift off into the realms of “let’s pretend”. So, the WB course put me firmly on the right track, and I started selling my coursework to quite serious magazines and it was a revelation. I signed up for the comprehensive course, which included fiction, and I found new markets there, too. So the course was invaluable to me – it opened up many, many doors – which is why I was so happy to endorse the entire WB set-up – and became their cover girl – lol! (Well, I’m never going to be a cover girl any other way!). I also think that anyone and everyone, whatever stage of writing you’re at, can benefit from author events and workshops – mainly because writing is such an isolated business and  it’s so nice to hear what other writers do and know you’re not alone…   http://www.writersbureau.com/

As well as penning award-winning novels, you also write short stories and articles. How easy/hard do you find it switching between the three?

Short stories were and are my first love. I love writing them – I’ve written them and had them published since I was 14 – I can hear a snippet of conversation or read a newspaper headline or watch someone in the street and “ping” – there’s an idea for a short story.  I find them fun to write and quite easy really, and as I’m very, very lazy, to think I can finish a piece of work in possibly less than 2,000 words is a delight to my idle soul! And thanks to the WB I know how to get to the nub of a non-fiction story so can write articles quite quickly, too. I’m not showing off – honestly – I just find writing short pieces easier than long. I try not to write short stories when I’m writing a novel – but sometimes, if I’m asked by a magazine to provide a short story or article for a particular edition, then I just do it.  I don’t find it very difficult, I just have to get my head into a different place really – oh, sorry – does that sound precious? I’m not precious, honest! I’ve just been doing this for so long it all comes as second nature.

CJ Book Cover

And Chris, no visit to HQ would be complete without our famous Romaniac quick-fire round, so here goes:

Favourite fictional Cat? (we know you ADORE them!)  Orlando 

Dream dinner date? Jim Parsons

First celebrity crush? Keith Richards

Three things that make you belly-laugh? Peter Kay, my husband, The Big Bang Theory

Theme Park or Ice-Skating? Theme Park

Footie or Tennis? Footie

Rock concert or West End musical? Rock concert

The sentence which best sums up Christina Jones?  I’m an old-fashioned, optimistic, gentle Pollyanna wearing huge rose-tinted glasses.

Thanks so much for visiting us here at HQ, Chris, it’s been an absolute pleasure chatting to you. Best of luck with ‘That Red Hot Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer’ :)

http://www.christinajones.co.uk

Bucolic Frolics @ http://christinajones-writing.blogspot.com/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christina-Jones/e/B001K8U57Y/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_al2?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0FSYX3M1Q9GJHQFM4TX9&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=467128533&pf_rd_i=468294

Connect with Chris on FaceBook:  https://www.facebook.com/ChristinaJonesAuthor?fref=ts.

Also follow Chris on Twitter @bucolicfrolics

Henriette Gyland – reviewing her new novel; The Elephant Girl

Henriette Gyland and other authors - Festival of Romance (1)

I loved Henriette Gyland’s latest book – it kept me hooked right until the end and the characters were real and vibrant. The interaction between Jason, Fay, Helen and the rest of the main players was sympathetically drawn, and Helen’s lack of confidence and history of anxiety and loss were dealt with sensitively. Tackling a subject like epilepsy can’t be easy, but this author did it with supreme confidence. I felt I understood the problem much better by the end of the book.

Jason and Helen’s romance was scorching in its intensity and the friendships/conflicts between the main characters were fascinating. I have a terrible habit of losing the plot through reading too quickly but I didn’t skip a single word of this, and would have liked it to go on much longer.

Jason’s point of view was well explored and explained all through the book – he is an absolutely drop dead gorgeous hero with a touching vulnerability too.
The family problems were also developed in depth, and I even loved Aggie in the end.

Thanks, Henri, for a fabulous read – I thought Up Close would be a hard act to follow but you’ve done it!

(This review can also be seen on http://celiajanderson.co.uk)

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Writing a Novella – is it any different to writing a novel?

Author Louise Rose-Innes is with us today, talking about writing novellas and her latest release, The New Year Resolution.

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Take it away Louise …

The New Year ResolutionMy latest release, THE NEW YEAR RESOLUTION is about 35,000 words and is classified as a novella. Novellas are usually about 20,000 to 40,000 words. Anything shorter than that is termed a short story.

They’re punchier than category romances, often only in one POV, and usually with a single plotline (as the length doesn’t support multiple subplots).

Despite the shorter format, they still feature the normal goals, motivations and conflicts of a full length romantic novel.

This makes them fairly difficult to write, especially for authors who are used to a longer format. The trick to writing a fast-paced novella is planning. You have limited space so you can’t ramble or waste words. You need to be absolutely clear on your characters central conflicts, what drives them and how they react in different circumstances. This way you can outline your plot points and build your character arcs convincingly.

Novella writing is a good exercise for any author, as it forces you to focus on what’s important. It also forces you to up the tension of each chapter. A novella is usually faster paced than a full length romance, so you can play with sentence structure and length to keep it interesting all the way through. You can stick to one POV, or try writing in the first person.

Lee Child likes to experiment in his short stories. Stephen King thinks that all young writers should hone their skills on novellas.  He calls the novel a “quagmire that young authors stumble into before they’re ready.”

Personally, I struggle with traditional short stories (under 20,000 words). For me, the novella is a better format to work with. I like delving deeper into core conflicts and motivations and building a relationship between the reader and the heroine from the first paragraph. The novel itself, is a more complex beast, but it does give you more room to move and can be a little more forgiving.

As writers, we should experiment with all formats as we develop our skill, as this will make us more versatile overall.

The New Year ResolutionTHE NEW YEAR RESOLUTION is out now at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00D7HXMDU

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00D7HXMDU

Blurb:

Last year, divorcee Nicole had only one New Year’s Resolution – to have a date for this New Years Eve – but with no strings attached.  One thing she knows for sure is that she isn’t ready for anything more complicated than a casual date.

So when eco-tycoon and international jetsetter, Ryan Jackson begs her to accompany him to a tropical island for a week, in order to impress his benefactor, Nicole categorically refuses. He’s way too hot and she’s way too vulnerable. Not a good idea.

Yet Ryan won’t take no for an answer.  It’s for a good cause. She would only have to pretend to be his lover. It’s a luxury island resort with all expenses paid. How can she refuse?

Under the tropical sun, things heat up and their pretence goes out the window. Nicole gets cold feet. She’s not ready for this kind of affair. It’s doubtful she ever will be.

But have they come too far? Distancing herself from Ryan will cause him to lose the funding he so desperately needs for his eco-project, but staying with him means she’ll lose something far more valuable… her heart.  And that’s a risk Nicole is simply not willing to take.