In Training for Telford

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie's summer house.

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie’s summer house.

In Training for Telford

The Romaniacs are roving big style this weekend. We are off to Telford for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference, leaving our loved ones to defend our castles.

It’s a weekend packed with friends, fun, food, workshops, pitching of manuscripts and wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Some of us are hoping to make it to Romaniac Debbie’s house on Thursday, before booking into the conference centre on Friday. Some of us have already packed. Some of us have already bought the Prosecco.

It is going to be a fantastic weekend and we look forward to seeing lots of romantic novelists, editors, publishers and agents in Telford. And possibly everyone in the Midlands, as we wend our way there and back :-)

Prep for the weekend.

Prep for the weekend.

Here are some crucial items we’ll need for the weekend. Are you ready?

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Always cake.

Always cake.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn't been fermented.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn’t been fermented or distilled.

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections ...

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections …

Don't forget the paracetamol.

And don’t forget the paracetamol.

Roving Romaniac – Lucie hits Milton Keynes!

Last weekend it was my turn to go roaming the streets and this particular Romaniac was let loose in Milton Keynes.

Saturday 7th June was the annual agency day for the Kate Nash Literary Agency and, having signed with Sarah Taylor in January, I was invited.  

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This was our ‘selfie’ for the Online Romance Festival which was on the same day.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. It has been quite some months since I last attended a writing event so I was looking forward to seeing other writers in the flesh – and knowing that there are still other crazy people Out There.

The day was amazing. Lots of useful and essential tips and information was on offer both from Kate and Sarah, and also fellow writers, too. Ranging from industry trends, to the latest bestsellers, to marketing. Throw in lots of laughter and lovely food and you get a jist of why I had so much fun.

After a day of talking – and sipping back on the free tea, coffee and biscuits – we retired to our rooms to get ready for an evening out. The agency day coincided with Jane Lovering’s publication day. Falling Apart celebrated its birthday in true, author style.

It went out and PARTIED!

For a more in depth look at Falling Apart’s antics – pop over to my blog, here. *WARNING* Not for the faint hearted …

We had a lovely evening out in Milton Keynes. Dinner, cocktails and lots of dancing. Kate and Sarah put together a fantastic day and I am sure I am not alone when I say a massive THANK YOU to them both for a wonderful weekend.

*Kate and Sarah are both accepting submissions at the moment, so If you would like to submit to either of them, please do! You will find submission guidelines here. *

 

Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)

Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)

 

And now to look forward to the RNA conference where a number of Romaniacs will be let loose … don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

Meet Tracy Tappan: On The Romaniacs’ Couch.

Please welcome to Romaniac HQ, author Tracy Tappan, who has kindly joined us to explain her fab concept, The Character Couch.

Mr and Mrs Smith is one of my all-time favourite movies. You’ll see why I’ve mentioned this in a moment. If you don’t know the film, I recommend watching it before reading Tracy’s brilliant post below :-)

Take us away … sorry … take it away, Tracy.

Tracy Tappan 300dpi

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie in the action-packed movie “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” are a husband and wife who don’t know each other are assassins. The movie opens with these two sitting in front of a therapist, squirming with discomfort; we guess this is as much from the possibility of having to bare their souls—something an assassin can’t do—as from the idea of talking about a marriage that has obviously been filled with lies. Either way, it’s going to be entertaining. And, oh, yes, the therapist kicks off the session with a bang.

“How often do you have sex?” he asks.

“I don’t understand the question,” Angelina Jolie returns, dead-pan.

“Is this on a scale of 1 to 10?” Brad puts in.

“So is 1 very little,” Angelina continues, “or is 1 nothing? Because, technically speaking…zero would be nothing.”

So it seems that Brad and Angelina haven’t been having sex for a while.

We can hardly believe it.

The episode is funny, touching, and intriguing, which is exactly the tone of my reader-focused website, The Character Couch (www.charactercouch.com), where fans can suggest their favorite romance couple to be brought into a therapy session. Yes, this is therapy, but these sessions are anything but angst-ridden. They are written in the same spirit as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” drawing us in to be a fly on the wall and peek at something we normally wouldn’t be able to see.

Will there be amusing bantering in these sessions, a sense of firm, quiet resolve, poignancy? Sure. All of it. Every session is different, but always attention-grabbing.

Don’t you find that the best books always stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page, leaving you hungry for more? I know I go crazy waiting for the next novel in a series to come out, and I figured other readers felt the same. So I came up with an idea that would combine my two loves—of doing therapy and writing romance—in a way that would provide innovative, free entertainment for fans.

Today, I share about my unique endeavor.

What could we expect to see if you had “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” on The Character Couch?

LOL. Well, I think first you’d see the therapist secretly getting moon-eyed over Brad Pitt! And could we blame her?

Therapist Regan Malloy has been so exciting to create. I’ve already morphed her to fit a multitude of romance sub-genres. She’s been a French ex-pat from a time travel romance, a bespeckled Brit from a contemporary racehorse romance, a saloon mistress in America’s old west, and a wizened crone facing down a couple of vampires.

Regan also brings her own struggles into the session, whether that’s fear or uncertainty, confusion about her clients, or maybe just a verbal blunder of some sort. So, each month, the therapist is as different as her clients.

It’s all about keeping the site dynamic and entertaining!

That does sound like a great deal of fun for readers.

Oh, definitely. I always pose questions at the end of the session, too, because fan involvement adds an extra layer of enjoyment to the experience. Readers get a chance to join the “analysis” and tell me and the participating author what they think. This month for Zoe Dawson’s New York City based contemporary romance, COLLARED, the debate is flying about the dissimilar backgrounds of the hero and heroine, and the possible effects on their relationship. I’m impressed at how thought-provoking and insightful people’s comments have been.

It’s a fantastic time.

It seems that this site could also benefit authors.

Without question. The commentary I was just talking about offers an excellent way for authors to increase their social reach; comments are laterally posted on Facebook, so that the discussion can be seen by all of a fan’s friends—which means thousands!

The Character Couch is an innovative way for authors to market their books, and they’ve been really creative with their use of it. Many authors run contests, where fans are asked to vote on which couple from one of the author’s romance series they’d like to see go into therapy. Several lucky participants win prizes, and the book with the most votes earns a session on The Couch. This kindles fan enthusiasm even before the session is posted!

The procedure for readers is very user-friendly: people just click on the “Suggest A Book” icon in the side bar of the site and input their choice—anytime!

Readers don’t have to wait for a contest to make a suggestion!

This month, the award-winning author of COLLARED, Zoe Dawson, has done something very clever. Her characters, New York City cop, Caleb Shaw, and wealthy socialite, Harper Sinclair, have some issues that still need resolving (is it any wonder, considering he’s a cop and she’s an heiress?!). So Zoe got the ball rolling with Caleb and Harper’s problems in The Character Couch session…then left the issues to be settled in a follow-on wedding novella, CAPTURED. By doing this, she stirred up readers’ excitement more than ever to read her novella.

And yet, you write the sessions, don’t you?

I do. It’s a process that requires a great deal of attention to detail on my part in order to represent absolutely correctly another author’s characters. Not one word goes onto the site without an author’s full approval (authors can go to the FAQ section on the site for more detail).

And so far, so good! The testimonials page glows with the praise from alumni authors.

This has been one of the most satisfying parts of this endeavor for me; it means I’ve succeeded in honoring their stories, and that feels terrific.

How does a session typically end?

Oh, there isn’t a “typical” with these sessions; that’s another fun part. Every month, it’s a new journey, and you never know at what point you might laugh or get a clench of emotion in your chest. Or where a surprise might pop out at you.

Like the ending to “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

During the course of the movie, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have discovered that each other are assassins. With the truth out, there’s hope for their marriage now. They end up in front of the therapist again, recapping, still spouting off to each other, but in a way that makes us chuckle; we know they’re going to be okay. The therapist seems to agree, talking about how marriage takes work, but—

Brad interrupts to say, “Ask us the ‘how many times did you have sex this week?’ question again.”

“John,” Angelina Jolie scolds quietly, while Brad Pitt proudly flashes ten fingers outside of Angelina’s sight lines.

Oh, yes, expect fun surprises!

 

*          *          *

Tracy Tappan Bloodline War 600 wide 72dpi

Tracy is the award-winning author of gritty romance, her books spanning genres across paranormal (The Community series), military suspense (The Wings of Gold series), and Historical (The Baron’s War trilogy). During nearly a quarter of a century spent as a military wife, she lived all over the United States and in Europe, enjoying seven years overseas in the diplomatic community, first in Rome then in Madrid, until she settled back in San Diego. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling, and has used this background to create a fan-based website called The Character Couch, where romance’s favorite couples are brought into a fun session with therapist, Regan Malloy. Her debut paranormal novel, THE BLOODLINE WAR, is a Bronze Medal winner for romance of the prestigious Independent Publishers Book Award (IPPY), available now on Amazon. FREE from June 10-14th 2014.

To learn more, please visit her website at http://www.tracytappan.com/

 

Thank you so much, Tracy, for this fascinating insight in The Character Couch. I’m convinced my heroes and heroines could all do with a dose of Regan Malloy. One day …

Laura.

 

Giselle Green – Finding You

I am incredibly excited to have the very talented, and very lovely, Giselle Green at Romaniac HQ today. Here is what she had to say about her new book.

*****

giselle_green

Thank you so much for coming on the blog today, Giselle, it is an absolute pleasure. We hope you are well?

Yes thank you,  and the pleasure is all mine.

I have read your latest book, Finding You, which was out on March 28th and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. Can you tell everyone a little about it?

This story is a sequel to an earlier book, Little Miracles, which looks at the devastating effect on a couple when their toddler goes missing at the beach. Here, we join the couple soon after they’ve got their child back. I know we’d all assume everything would be now wonderful for them but all is not well. I guess the lesson is, here, that if something terribly traumatic like that happens to you, then simply having the situation put right, or back to how it should have been, can’t mitigate the effects of it happening in the first place.  They find they can’t just pick up the pieces and carry on … there are still some things that need some healing, first.  

You can tell from reading the book that a lot of work has gone into it, are you pleased with the final result? Without giving too much away, what sort of research went into writing, Finding You?

I’m really happy with it, Lucie, though I’ll admit this one stretched me!  Some of the topics covered in the book are closer to home than I usually venture and there were areas where on the first writing I was tempted to skim or gloss over bits of the narrative. As that would have been cheating the reader, I had to go back and re-do them. There was one scene which I re-wrote a total of seven times before I finally got it to work. The main research I needed to do revolved around the possible effects of abduction on a child Hadyn’s age. That was important because his mum and his dad take very differing stances over what might be causing the problems he’s come home with. They’re split on it, and yet they’ve both got valid reasons for thinking the way they do.         

The book deals with very serious and heart wrenching issues. As a mother, I found some parts extremely emotional, did you feel the same writing it? Was it hard to not get too emotionally attached to it?

I’m glad you were able to engage with the story at that level. Actually, getting emotionally attached to the narrative is the only way to go, for me. If I’m not attached in some way I find it almost impossible to write.  The more attached I can become, the easier the writing flows.  And yes, there are some scenes in this book which still make me feel sad every time I read them, but not in a bad way.  

Where did the idea for Finding You come from?

As mentioned above, it’s a sequel to an earlier novel Little Miracles. I wrote it, quite honestly, because so many people emailed me and asked me to do it. At the start, I had no idea which direction the narrative would take once the initial question of whether ‘it was him’ or not had been answered. To write another whole novel, I needed to give the couple some more problems, more conflicts to resolve, and I decided to begin by exploding the premise of the ‘Happy Ever After’ that most people would naturally assume follows on when you’ve had your deepest wish granted.  The couple are reunited, both with each other and with their child, who’s unharmed … or is he? Life goes on, throws up the next challenge and that became the basis for the second book.

Do you have a daily routine that you work by for your writing? Juggling social media, promotion etc?

I prefer to write in the morning, because that’s my best creative time and it’s also the most lovely ‘quiet time’. When it comes to social media and promotion I’m afraid I feel woefully lost and ‘out of it’ most of the time! I don’t understand the half of it. I’m rather proud of myself that I’ve managed to get an author facebook page up and running though – it gives me the opportunity to let people know of anything new going on, in the easiest way.   

You have been both traditionally published, and self-published, do you have a preference?

There are swings and roundabouts. Traditional publishing brings with it a certain comfort, in that once you’ve done your bit as an author, it’s tempting to feel that the rest of the time-consuming things  – editing and checking stuff, marketing and promotion etc, will all be taken care of for you. To some extent, that is true, but not always to the degree that you might imagine. It’s wonderful if you have an editor who’s on the same page as you, guiding you if you need it, too. And of course, there’s also the kudos of being associated with an established publishing house not to mention that if we’re talking physical books, their marketing arm can way exceed what an indie can hope to achieve on their own. The big publishing houses hold fabulous publishing parties too!

On the other side of it, being self-published means I can work to my own time-table. I can write exactly what I want to write without being too ‘typecast’ or hemmed in by what the ‘powers that be’ believe is what readers want to read. It is not always possible to predict what’s going to fire the public’s imagination!  Once the novel is ready to go, I can choose my own cover, set my own price point and keep control over a lot of variables. An indie novel can go out very quickly, for instance, traditional novels take a lot longer lead time before they can go out. More control means more responsibility inevitably, but if you’re conscientious, that’s okay.     

What would you say your favourite part of writing is?

Dare I say it’s writing ‘The End?’ I think finishing a project is always a time for celebration and a great relief because writing a novel is such a huge act of faith. 

You deal with lots of serious issues in your books and I personally think you do it very well. If you could sum up your books/writing style for others, in one – or a couple (I know how hard it is to just do one!) – sentence(s), how would you sell it?

I’d say I write high-impact emotional women’s fiction, usually dealing with a huge moral dilemma. 

A little quick fire:

Hot or cold? Depends if it’s soup or ice cream, I guess.

Left handed or right handed? Right.

Pizza or pasta? Pasta. Yum.

Xfactor or Strictly? Game of Thrones.

Beach or forest? Beach. Mind you, forests can be lovely too.

Computer or pen & paper? Both, these days.

Rain or shine? Shine, but I’m not adverse to a little atmospheric rain!

Great answers, Giselle!

Thank you so much for coming on the blog today. It has been lovely to listen to you talk about the new book, I will be recommending it to all.

finding u

Finding You is out now! Click the picture for more details. And if you grab it today – you’ll get it for just 99p!

Giselle has a website – www.gisellegreen.com 

She is also on Facebook under Giselle Green Author

And on Twitter at @GiselleGgreenUk

 

Beverley Eikli’s Other Life: Meet Beverley Oakley …

Beverley Eikli author pic copyBy Beverley Eikli (also writing as Beverley Oakley)

Hello everyone,

Thank you so much for having me here to talk about my ‘other’ writing life, that as an author for erotic publishers Ellora’s Cave and Totally Bound, with the pseudonym Beverley Oakley.

Taking a pseudonym happened by accident, really, for I’d never considered writing erotic romances. However, the book I’d just completed in 2011, a racy, Regency romp called Rake’s Honour, was just a little too saucy for my publisher at the time, Robert Hale, and although it had won a number of writing awards resulting in requests for the full ms from Berkley and Avon, it didn’t fit neatly into any formal mainstream category.

After finding a publisher for Rake’s Honour at Totally Bound – or Total-E-Bound, as they were then known – I was assigned a fantastic editor who saw great potential for making the saucy scenes in the book considerably more explicit. Initially I baulked, since writing hot sex scenes was not something I was at all used to doing. I thought my bold debutante Fanny Brightwell had already crossed as many boundaries as I was prepared to have her cross and this was, after all, a Regency romance – albeit a hotter-than-normal one. The action and events had to be credible, given the very few opportunities, or even knowledge, respectable young women had then about those activities to which only marriage gave them licence (to put it demurely :-).)

When the book was edited and the boundaries pushed to everyone’s satisfaction, my husband, who thought it was huge fun that his wife (Miss Goody-Two-Shoes at High School) was writing erotic fiction, gave me every encouragement to continue down this path.

I’ve always been lucky to have enormous variety in my real life with my work and strong contacts giving me access to Norway and Southern Africa as well as to Australia, so it seemed natural not to limit my writing life to just the one name and persona.

Beverley Oakley dangerousgentlemen_msr

Now my fifth erotic historical romance, a Regency called Dangerous Gentlemen, has recently been released by Ellora’s Cave, and again I had a great time developing a background in which an innocent debutante (with a worldly and horrendously manipulative older sister) is accidently plunged into the Regency Underworld. As with all my books, I linked the fictional events to the politics of the time, my hero, Sir Aubrey, being falsely linked to the Spencean plot to assassinate the entire Privy Council in 1817. Events, however, take an odd turn when my well-brought-up heroine, Hetty, finds herself confused for the high-class prostitute who Sir Aubrey’s friend and brothel-madam has promised to surprise him with.

I should add that all of my writing – both as Beverley Eikli as well as Beverley Oakley – has been extremely influenced by a book I bought when I was eighteen years old called London’s Underworld, a comprehensive 400+ page report on the ‘detritus’ of society compiled in the 1850s and early 1860s by a Victorian-era investigative reporter called Henry Mayhew.

While Mayhew’s real-life interviews are sad and fascinating, I found his own judgemental attitude equally interesting. No doubt it reflected Victorian Society’s lack of sympathy and understanding of the real motivations which thrust people into a life of prostitution and other criminal activity. And it’s these motivations as much as the events they resulted in, which interest me.

As a writer, I’m less interested in what my heroine did, than why she did it. What utter desperation would motivate a woman to risk her reputation – essentially, her most prized possession in the era in which I write – to engage in sexual activity not sanctioned by society? Tackling these multi-layered motivations has been an exciting challenge in my erotic historicals which include Regency-era marriages, the storming of castles and hostage-taking during the English Civil War, and blackmail during the early years of photography.

Many thanks once again for the opportunity to visit.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical novels, laced with mystery and intrigue.

She has worked as a journalist, magazine editor, a safari lodge manager in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, and an airborne geophysical survey operator on contracts around the world.

Beverley wrote her first romance at seventeen, but drowning her heroine on the last page was not a clever start to a career as a romance author. When she finally realised this, she rescued her heroine from drowning in her first-published novel (Lady Sarah’s Redemption), and in real life married the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire in Botswana twenty years ago.

Recently she received her third nomination from Australian Romance Readers for Favourite Historical Romance with her suspenseful Napoleonic espionage Romance The Reluctant Bride.

Beverley teaches in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, Melbourne.

Her latest Choc Lit release is The Maid of Milan, a dark Regency-era ‘Dynasty’ with love triangle, drug addiction and manipulation themes but an uplifting ending.

She also writes erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.

You can visit her website at: http://www.beverleyeikli.com/ and her blog at: http//:http://www.beverleyeikli.blogspot.com.au/ or follow her on Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

 

You can buy Dangerous Gentlemen here:

 

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/1k0uybF

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1iskcjD

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1irD7kz

Ellora’s Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/dangerous-gentlemen.html

 

Janey Fraser and the Salsa Class

JANEY FRASER PICTURE

THE SALSA CLASS

One, two, three. Five, six, seven. Back, forward, back. And RUMBA.’

As every writer knows, most stories fall into your head because of a chance happening or a snatched conversation or – in this case – a Salsa class. Of course, Salsa has been around for a while. At least, for everyone else. But when I signed up for a four week class (to shift newish husband off the sofa), I soon discovered that I was treading on novel territory.

For a start, it was difficult to see exactly who was partnered to whom, in real life. ‘Come on your own or with a friend,’ the poster had said. But because there were more women than men, the enthusiastic leader with legs long enough for lamp posts and a natty little scarf round her waist, got us to Salsa in turn with the limited male reservoir. Those in between stints, did the Salsa solo.

That’s when I began to wonder. Was the grey-haired woman (who had clearly done this before) married to the grey-haired man (who clearly hadn’t?) And had the pretty, tall blonde woman arrived with the aging hippy (if so, I’d missed their entrance. Or had they become close, judging from those hand movements, since the class started?

It was a wonderful exercise in character observation; made even more poignant by the fact that we were next door to a beautiful row of Regency terraces where Jane Austen – arguably, the queen of social minutiae – hung out one summer.

By the second class, newish husband had claimed to hurt his back while lugging carpets around for my daughter. Any excuse. If that sounds unfeeling, it’s because he wasn’t keen on Salsa in the first place. ‘I’ll still come with you,’ he said manfully. ‘Then I’ll know what we’re doing next time.’

Hah! In the event, he spent most of the time, reading Rock Sound and chatting to the barman. Still, it was quite useful because it gave me a chance to remember what it was like on my own. Perfect for novel research.

So too, was the experience of dancing with other men. There’s something distinctly queasy about holding a limp hand in the Salsa position, which involves hanging on to your opponent’s two middle fingers. It’s not so bad if your partner knows what he’s doing but I managed to get quite a few knee-knockers. I tell you. It was all I could do not to stop and write it all down, there and then.

Then there was the female gossip during the wine break. One of my new friends with children at university and no wedding ring, confided how she’d just moved down here and didn’t know anyone. Instantly, I scrolled down my contact list on my iPhone and put her in touch with the tennis club secretary. At the same time, I couldn’t help thinking that she’d be a great contemporary heroine. Courageous yet shy. And a business woman to boot. Life is full of contradictions.

By the way, did I mention the music? It was enough to get anyone’s feet moving, except for my husband’s. Meanwhile, the music, together with smell (maybe we’d better not go there) plus colour (one of the ‘girls’ was wearing a great pair of red shoes) really set the scene. More observations to remember.

I’m not necessarily going to write a novel about a Salsa class, although I haven’t ruled it out. The point is that it helps to answer that inevitable question which all writers are asked from time to time. ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

Easy! It’s places like these… As soon as I got home that night, I scribbled everything down. Some of the characteristics I noticed during class, will fit neatly into my work in progress. After all, emotions and people are transferable in fiction. And that’s the beauty of it.

By the way, if you’re wondering about who was married to who, it turned out that the grey couple wasn’t a couple at all, even though they looked as though they slotted together. And the pretty blonde woman WAS with the aging hippy. Meanwhile, please excuse me. I’m off to find some Deep Heat for the husband. Turns out that he really has put his back out – after falling over my Salsa shoes by the front door.

Janey Fraser Honeymoon

 

AFTER THE HONEYMOON BY JANEY FRASER. PUBLISHED BY ARROW (RANDOM HOUSE). £6.99

ONE HONEYMOON DESTINATION. THREE COUPLES. ENOUGH SECRETS TO SINK THEM BEFORE THE WEEK IS OUT….

http://www.amazon.co.uk/After-Honeymoon-Janey-Fraser/dp/0099580845/ 

Beverley Eikli’s Maid of Milan

MOM bookmarks packshotHi Laura and Romaniacs,

The jetlag has dissipated but not so the good memories of my Choc Lit launch for my second book, The Maid of Milan, at The Chocolate Museum several Fridays ago. (Goodness, has so much time gone by already?)

Luke and Holly, our publicists at Choc Lit, worked hard to organise the fun and successful event at the atmospheric upstairs/downstairs venue in Brixton where fellow Choc Lit author Janet Gover was also launching her outback romance, Flight to Coorah Creek.

As our Managing Director Lyn Vernham said in her introduction, we had the interesting dichotomy of expatriate Australian Janet (living in London for the past twenty years) writing a romance about the Australia Outback, and me, living in Australia, writing an English Regency-set romance (albeit not a traditional one).

Having a new book out is always exciting but the icing on the cake was celebrating my book launch with family and friends and having the added bonus of meeting so many of my fellow Choc Lit authors, many of whom I’ve got to know quite well through email correspondence.

Beverley and Janet at Choc Museum book launch

Beverley Eikli and Janet Gover

Some of them I first met last year at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City. Hard to believe that was a year ago as we’re just about to head over once again to the RT Convention, this time in New Orleans. (I can thank the fact hubby is a pilot for the good fortune of being able to go staff travel – provided there’s a spare seat for me on the day.)

So yes, I got my London book launch, which I’d dreamed of since I was a little girl living in South Australia. During long holidays I used to read to my captive audience – my younger sisters – the series I wrote when I was seven called ‘The School for Witches’ at our beach cottage in Coffin Bay. (The remote area was named after the man who discovered the place, not on account of any awful shipwreck with multiple drownings necessitating coffins).

Ten years later I finished my first full-length novel, a romance in which I did in fact drown the heroine on the last page and which, not surprisingly, never found a publisher. A dramatic teenager, I remember shedding copious tears at the demise of poor drowned Sophie, the name I gave to each heroine of my growing number of dusty, unwanted manuscripts.

It was only many years later when my husband raised our just-delivered first-born daughter for me to see and said, ‘Let’s call her Sophie?’ that the name finally found a worthy owner; and eight years after that when my first historical romance, Lady Sarah’s Redemption, was published by Robert Hale… a romance in which my heroine actually escaped drowning during a shipwreck and took on the identity of her supposedly fellow drowned governess who turned out much later not to have drowned and was in fact a party to some other very shady dealings.

However, my book at the centre of The Chocolate Museum’s festivities is The Maid of Milan, a very untraditional Regency romance laced with mystery and suspense and lots of intrigue. One reviewer likens it both to a Regency era version of the 1980s US series, ‘Dynasty’ and Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Pallisers’ ‘where beneath the waving fans is gritty intrigue’.

At the heart of it, though, is the psychological question: ‘Who can you trust if your own mother is manipulating – for her own ends – the secret that threatens to destroy you?’

The Maid of Milan is as much a story about a mother and a daughter, and trust and loyalty, as it is a romance about a deeply honourable man who desperately wants the love of the vulnerable wife who married him so unwillingly.

Beverley with her two books

Beverley with her two books

And at the core is a once-vibrant young woman who has had everything she ever valued torn from her, trying to balance her past – the lover who excited her passions – with her future – the husband who satisfies her now-mature need for truth and order, and of the struggle when past and (increasingly vulnerable) future collide.

This was a ripper of a story that took many years to write, while other books of mine were published in the interim. It went through numerous drafts, especially after the raft of fantastic feedback I received from Choc Lit’s Tasting Panel.

Thanks so much for having me here today to talk about my wonderful book launch and The Maid of Milan. I’ve enjoyed it and now suddenly it’s time for bed, here in Australia. Perhaps I’m not quite over the jetlag, after all :-)

The Maid of Milan is available from: Amazon UK, Amazon US, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

You can read more about Beverley’s books at http://www.beverleyeikli.com/ or beverleyeikli.blogspot.com, and at Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

Great post, thank you Beverley. Watch this space for another fab blog from Beverley as she tells all about her secret life …

Before we go, here’s a brilliant video of Beverley’s and Janet’s book launch from BestChickLit, here.

Sheila talks about the 60′s and Mods & Rockers…

Good morning all,

It’s the start of the weekend and I have a visit from a very lovely lady. Sheila 2014 Portrait

I am so pleased to welcome Sheila Norton into Romaniac HQ for a little chin wag and a slice of Celia’s chocolate cake. It’s a special one, too. You know the type – with the chocolate cream and the white chocolate shavings on top … heaven.

So, firstly a massive hello and welcome, Sheila, it is so lovely to have you here. We hear you have a new book out, can you tell us a little about it?

Thank you – for the lovely welcome and especially the chocolate cake! Yes, I have a new book just out now – YESTERDAY. It’s a Kindle ebook on Amazon, priced at £1.99 and is the story of Cathy, who as a middle-aged journalist in 2004 has to revisit her teenage years during the violent clashes between the Mods and Rockers – and find the answers to some questions that have always haunted her.

Yesterday’ is set in the 1960’s, what made you choose this era to write about? Is this the first book you have written within this time period?

Basically, I chose the 1960s because I was a teenager myself then and remember it well! And I also think it was such an exciting era, with such a lot of changes happening, especially for young people. Yes, it’s the first book I’ve set in the 1960s – or in any other period other than the current day. All my other books have been contemporary.

You also have some books under the pseudonym Olivia Ryan, can you tell us a little about those?

I wrote a series of three novels – the ‘Tales from’ series – as Olivia Ryan because my then-editor thought they were a little different from my first five novels and she wanted to promote them as if they were by a ‘new’ author. They’re three completely different stories, but the connection is weddings: the titles are ‘Tales from a Hen Weekend’, ‘Tales from a Wedding Day’, and ‘Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel’. Since I’ve started self-publishing, though, I’ve reverted to my own name, as I feel this is how most people know me and will look for me on Amazon. I’ve published the ‘Sisters’ series this way, and now YESTERDAY.

Which genres do you prefer to read yourself for pleasure?

I’ll try most things! – but my favourite reads these days are usually suspense and thrillers. I do still like Rom Coms too (most of my previous 11 novels fall loosely into this category) especially if they have some emotional depth.

You run the Chelmsford Chapter meeting each month which is for the RNA, do you think regularly meeting other writers face to face is an important factor of being a writer? What benefits do you think this brings to both new and established writers?

Yes, making friends through the Chelmsford RNA chapter has been a definite bonus for me, especially since I retired from my day job at a hospital, as I sometimes miss the stimulation of constant company and conversation with all sorts of people! For new writers, a group like ours is (I hope) somewhere where they can find encouragement and support, and ask questions about their writing in a friendly atmosphere. Those of us who are already established also need that kind of support – we never become immune to the ups and downs of the writing life, or reach the point where we ‘know it all’.

You are a full time writer now – do you have a set routine to get the words down each day or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

Neither, really! I’m fortunate, now I’m retired, that I can write whenever I want to. Having written my first six published novels while working full-time, you can probably imagine how liberating this is! So I resist any form of routine, now – I just write whenever I have nothing else taking priority (e.g. spending time with my three lovely daughters and six gorgeous grandkids!). But I certainly don’t wait for inspiration to strike. That’s fatal! No book would ever get written!

What top three tips would you give an aspiring writer?

  • Er … don’t wait for inspiration to strike! Just write – anything – no matter how bad it seems. It can be edited or deleted later but you have to get going.
  • Don’t try to write in the style of the latest trend, or try too hard to be clever. Just write in your own voice – it will flow much better and be so much more readable.
  • Most important of all: only write for one reason – because you love doing it. Everything else is a gamble.

Can we ask what you are going to be working on next?

There will be another book set mainly in the 1960s – this time set between England and Australia, and centred on a truly heartrending true life situation. I’ve also written the first draft of a contemporary book where the protagonists are all grandparents. I have plenty of experience to call on for this one! And finally I have a plan for yet another book set partly in the Sixties, and partly bang up to date in the current time.

Oooh, time for a Quick-fire round:

 

  • Left or right? Right
  • Seaside or mountains? Seaside
  • Ebook or paperback? Ebook
  • Champagne or cocktails? Champagne
  • Pen & paper or straight to computer? Computer
  • What or who makes you laugh? My little grandchildren
  • Disco or Rock ‘n’ roll? Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Theatre or Cinema? Cinema
  • Facebook or Twitter? Facebook

 

Well, thank you so much for being such a fantastic guest. We wish you all the very best of luck with ‘Yesterday’.

Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure!

Lucie x

YESTERDAY cover jpeg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/YESTERDAY-Sheila-Norton-ebook/dp/B00JKOM7YY/

Sheila’s website – http://www.sheilanorton.co.uk/

Writing as Olivia Ryan – http://www.oliviaryan.com/

Roving Romaniac: Laura Visits Sandworld

Roving Romanic: Laura Visits Sandworld.

 

Weymouth Seafront

Weymouth Sea front

Ever since I can remember, Weymouth’s had a sand sculptor producing beautiful works of art on the beach, and for the last four years, Sandworld has developed an off-beach site too, where it can create and keep the sculptures in a secure and welcoming environment for the summer season.

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On Saturday 5th April 2014, authors with connections to Weymouth, Kathy Sharp, Kate Kelly, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry and I, gathered for the Grand Opening of Sandworld’s theme for the 2014 season, Literally in Sand. We spent a wonderful day in an area we affectionately called Author’s Corner, enjoying the hospitality of our lovely hosts, and the chatter with those who came to view the incredible sand sculptures and take a look at our books.

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

I gave my first-ever reading – an extract from Truth or Dare?, and aware there would be children at the venue, I opted for a family-friendly section. It was quite a challenge finding a passage that wasn’t dark, gritty, or containing too much dialogue, which I figured would be more difficult to follow as a listener. I chose a scene near the beginning of the novel, and including my introduction, spoke for ten minutes.

As someone who has been known to take the stage for a song, it was great to be performing once more.

It was an excellent event, and we hope to return in the summer and do it all again.

Here are a few teaser photos to illustrate the sheer brilliance of the international band of sand sculptors who’ve worked on Literally in Sand.

IMG_5861 IMG_5857 IMG_5862

Can you name the books?

I recommend a trip to Weymouth to see these, and more, in all their glory.

Thank you Sandworld for the fab day, beautiful art, and friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

I will see you soon.

Laura x

 

 

 

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

 

9781781890202 (4)

 

Today is Purple Day - National Epilepsy Awareness day. I am wearing purple in support of the cause. The statistics regarding epilepsy astound me. Approximately 1:103 people in the UK have the condition. Epilepsy Action is a great source of information, if you would like to know more.

The heroine in Henri’s The Elephant Girl, Helen Stephens, is a person with epilepsy. As a five-year-old, Helen witnesses her mother’s murder, and with no one from her extended family prepared to look after her, Helen is taken in to care. As she grows older, she keeps her condition hidden as much as possible, and learns to rely on herself. It’s when her mother’s killer is released from jail twenty years on that Helen sets about seeking vengeance, and life as she knows it, changes forever.

I like Henri’s treatment of Helen – it clearly depicts a person coming to terms with many issues. It’s not an easy journey for the heroine – she has enough to manage with epilepsy alone, but that, along with Henri’s well-researched description of Helen’s seizures, is what makes it believable.

The hero, Jason Moody, is warm, caring and sees people for who they are, and not by the label given to them by society. He’s no push-over, and stands up to his mob-style father time-after-time. He is true to his beliefs, courageous and loving. A great hero.

It’s an excellent romantic suspense, with well-drawn characters and a plot that kept me guessing until the reveal.

And thank you, Henri, for writing a strong, positive heroine with epilepsy.

Henri is taking part in Choc Lit’s Round Robin Mother’s Day story today at Laura’s Little Book Blog (not me), continuing the story of single mother, Kelly. Parts one, written by Alison May, and two, written by me, are at Chick Lit Reviews and News, and Jera’s Jamboree. Enjoy our free read.

Henri’s new book, The Highwayman’s Daughter will be published in May.

Click here to read our Tuesday Chit Chat interview with Henri.

 

The Elephant Girl:

Peek-a-boo I see you …

When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.

Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.

As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …

Laura x