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

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Book Review of Made in Nashville

I have always enjoyed Mandy Baggot’s books. She has a very strong style of writing and her plot lines are never dull. ‘Strings Attached’ has always been one of my favourite books by Mandy, that was until I read MADE IN NASHVILLE. I enjoyed every word of it.

Made-in-Nashville-190x280

Jared Marshall, Mr Bad Boy, who is actually Mr Good Guy, is to die for. I loved the rogue element to him, yet was safe in the knowledge that underneath it all, he was full of morals and a sense of doing the right thing.

Honor Blackwood was equally engaging. Her character really developed through the story and she came out the other side a changed woman.

The backdrop to the story was Nashville and I really felt the whole Rock/C&W scene going on through the story. Usually, I don’t like to see the written word exactly how it is spoken by dropping ‘g’ at the end of words like ‘doing’ or such like. In the past I have found it distracting and to break my reading, however, this wasn’t the case with Made in Nashville.  It really gave a depth to Jared’s persona and drew me even deeper into the book and the setting.

Another great novel from Mandy Baggot!

Sue

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Made-in-Nashville-190x280Made in Nashville

by Mandy Baggot

Published by Harper Impulse

Buying options here

Should You Buy Second Hand Books?

My book United States of Love is set in the historical West Sussex town of Arundel. I’m lucky enough to live just a short drive away and love going over to the lake for a walk or a wander around the town, which ALWAYS involves a pot of tea and a slice of cake. Usually, the children are in tow but on a recent visit, I was child free so I took the opportunity to browse a local second hand book shop. 

It’s a tiny shop front but rather like the Tardis when you go inside. It is also a book lover’s paradise. There is shelf after shelf of old books. A lot of specialist books and a lot of first editions. Set over three floors; a warren of little rooms, narrow staircases and sloping ceilings, I was amazed at how organised it was.

Books 2

Venturing up to the top floor where the fiction books were kept, I was surprised to see a book by an author I have on my reading list. A paperback  by Paul Christopher, The Sword of the Templar. A secondhand paperback in excellent condition priced at £2.50 – a bargain. However, I didn’t buy it. Not because I didn’t want it, but I suddenly felt guilty. By buying this book secondhand, I would get the enjoyment, but the author wouldn’t actually benefit. I felt like I was cheating him out of his royalties. Okay, I appreciate missing out on one sale of his book, probably isn’t going to be life-changing, but, all the single sales add up.  

It made me stop and think. 

Is it okay to buy a book secondhand which means no royalties for the author? Or, should I buy the book from a book shop or on-line? Either way, if I enjoy it, I’m likely to buy another. At the end of the day – does it really matter?

What are your thoughts on buying books secondhand?

Books 1

Sue

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My Mini Midwife – D J Kirkby

I’m delighted to welcome Denyse Kirkby, author of ‘My Mini Midwife’, to Romaniac HQ today; I have tweeted with Denyse, usually early in the mornings before work beckons, and as a  local to West Sussex, like myself,  it makes it even nicer to pass the blog over to her.  Sue x

Denyse_Kirkby_author_photo,_credit_T-J_King

Dear Romaniacs,

I have been a lurker on your blog for a long time now, and I feel honoured that you invited me to join you here for a chat about my latest book.

My Mini Midwife came about as a result of my years working as a community midwife. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a community midwife because that kind of midwifery allows you to get to know the people you are caring for to a deeper level than those you meet when you are hospital based. Over time I began to develop a standard set of answers to questions expectant parents, and their families, asked of me about early pregnancy, what kind of care they will be given, what labour is like and so on.

My Mini Midwife_COVER.inddThen one couple said they wished they could carry me around in their handbag so they could ask me questions whenever they needed to, and that was when I had a My Mini Midwife light-bulb moment.  I decided to write out answers to all the most frequently asked questions I could remember people asking me. When I had finished this the writer in me couldn’t leave it alone – it wasn’t pretty, there was no flow to the words, it needed chapters and so on. So I grouped the questions together and wrote chapters around them. I didn’t want my book to feel like a textbook or a self-help book so I kept the tone of my writing the same as I would use when chatting with people while caring for them in pregnancy, labour and in the first few weeks after birth. The result was a pocket-sized midwife that readers could carry around with them everywhere.

With this in mind I paid for a nice cover and a professional edit and self-published My Mini Midwife as an ebook. What happened next is the things my dreams are made of – a publisher bought it, read it and offered me a contract for it!  Summersdale put My Mini Midwife through several edits, including changes to the layout of the text and cover, which enhanced the content without changing what I had originally set out to do with it. On the 3rd of February it will be available in all bookstores in paperback and an ebook version is available too.

There will be a My Mini Midwife-themed forum on my website (http://www.djkirkby.co.uk) from the end of February where you can ask questions anytime, as well as a postnatal support group and much more. Last, but not least, to celebrate the re-birth of My Mini Midwife Summersdale helped me make a video of my top ten tips from the book which you can watch here: http://youtu.be/pvSjI7Hj6Ys and if you have any other questions you would like to ask me then I would be very happy to answer them here.

 

My Mini Midwife_COVER.indd

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.

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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

Gina Dickerson and her Special Christmas Tradition

Before handing the blog over to the gorgeous Gina Dickerson, we just want to say a big CONGRATULATIONS on the publication of Gina’s novella …

Pennington_Christmas_curse_kindle_ICE

Over to you Gina …

I adore Christmas time. As soon as those ultra-early Christmas decorations hit the shops at my local shopping centre, usually just before Halloween, I have to snap one – or three – up! There’s nothing quite like the feel of unwrapping the decorations for the tree and discovering old favourites, as well as some I may have forgotten about. This year I’ve been so busy with writing a festive novella I’ve only just put the Christmas trees up – I’m always super eager and want them up at the end of November!

Christmas was always a special time I spent with my mum, be it shopping, decorating, or looking for gifts. Many hours were stolen from us by the lure of festive goodies. Since my mum passed a few years ago I decided to begin a new Christmas tradition in her memory and write a Christmas novella every year.

Last year’s offering was a festive, romantic suspense tale entitled Unveiling Christmas with family secrets, a lost diamond ring, and a greed-fuelled killer. This year I have changed the genre entirely and The Pennington Christmas Curse is a paranormal mystery. It centres around two sisters, Iysobel and Ziema, and their fight as they discover a curse hangs over their family. There’s wintery magic, mysterious people, and, of course, romance! I wanted to reflect the coldness of the tale in the cover, and after several drafts, I think I’m happy with the final version! The novella is due out at Winter Solstice (22nd December) this year as this is a prominent date in the story.

One thing I’ve not yet done this Christmas time is bake. I saw Sue made some yummy looking reindeer cookies and will have to try the recipe. My son wants to make a gingerbread house. Our previous attempt was a little crooked! Unlike the main character in my new novella we’re hoping for a white Christmas. We have a Siberian husky who just loves diving into fresh snow and burying himself!

Snow_Pooch

About The Pennington Christmas Curse:

Something came for the Penningtons at Christmas time. On the same day thirteen years later, daughters Iysobel and Ziema are terrified by what appears in the mirror before them.

There’s a curse on the Pennington family but as eldest daughter Iysobel nears the truth, those she loves are threatened.

Can Iysobel fight the curse and save her family? This winter one thing Iysobel isn’t wishing for is a white Christmas . . .

GAbout me:

I live by the Thanet coast on the north-eastern tip of Kent, in the UK, with my family and playful Siberian husky. I write romantic suspense with a twist, horror, paranormal and fantasy because my characters refuse to play nice and wind up with more than a few bone-rattling skeletons in their closets.

When I’m not writing, I like to amble along one of the many gorgeous Thanet beaches with my pooch, or rummage in vintage shops for even more weird things to adorn the house with. I adore shoes, fashion, photography, and baking. I hate people with bad manners, mushrooms (although I’m a vegetarian), big hairy spiders, and vacuuming – which, sadly, is a must with an overly hairy Siberian husky.

My blog :ginadickerson.blogspot.co.uk

Website: www.ginadickersonwriter.co.uk

Goodreads: Gina Dickerson author page

Twitter: @GinaDWriter    Amazon UK: Author page     Amazon.com: Author page

Smashwords: Author page

Faking It – Christmas Fir or Not?

Every year when I decide it’s time to put up the Christmas tree, I have a moment of excitement at the thought but this is quickly replaced by a sigh, as I acknowledge the Krypton Factor like mental dexterity and The Cube like hand-eye coordination this will require.  And as I begin this labour of love, I can’t help but wonder if I should just get a real tree. Wouldn’t it be so much easier?

Dec tree bits

Annual Christmas Tree challenge

I wouldn’t have to sort out the colour coded branches of my artificial tree, where some colours are not that much different to others, and then match these up with the coloured strips round the ‘trunk’ of my tree. With a real one, isn’t it just a case of buying it, putting it in the right spot – job done?

Dec 1

I am pleased with the result and, as I stand back and admire my children’s handiwork of decorating it, I push back the thought that in a few weeks time it all has to be done in reverse.

What do you prefer? Fake or Fir?

Dec tree

Challenge completed!

Sue

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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

Baking Reindeer – cookies, that is.

I must admit, cooking isn’t something I love but I do like to bake – yes, there is a difference. In my mind, cooking is what they do on Masterchef and baking is what they do on the Great British Bake Off.

I like to bake sweet and savory things, all the yummy treats that are probably not very good for you, however, I’ve never let that put me off.

Last weekend, I made some delicious peanut reindeer cookies with my daughter. I hadn’t made them before, but they proved to be very popular with the family. (I must admit, I was secretly impressed myself.)  I have popped the recipe below if you fancy making some.  I think these are going to be a regular of our Christmas menu.

Does anyone else have favourite/must have/not Christmas without treats?

cookies

Peanut Reindeer Cookies

Ingredients

225g smooth peanut butter

225g self-raising flour

100g soft brown sugar

75g caster sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoon of milk

1 tablespoon of vanilla essence

1 bag of chocolate M&M’s or Smarties (cherries can be used instead)

1 bag of chocolate chip drops

1 bag of chocolate covered pretzels

1 pinch of salt

1 teaspoon of baking powder

Method

Preheat oven to 175 C  (based on an electric fan oven)

Mix peanut butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in a large mixing bowl

Then add egg – mix well.

Add flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.

Mix thoroughly.

To make reindeer, roll a small piece of mixture into a ball. Pinch one end gently between finger and thumb, then flatten out into the shape of a reindeer head.  You can just cut the dough into a circle shaped face with a cutter if you prefer.

Place onto a greased baking tray or baking paper.

Place in oven for approximately 8-10 minutes, depending on size of your cookies.

When the edges start to brown, that’s usually a sign they are ready. Take from oven and immediately add the eyes, nose and antlers. You will need to push them into the warm cookies and leave to set for about 5 minutes before moving onto a cooling rack.

Have fun and enjoy!

Sue Fortin profile

Sue

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Roving Romaniacs – 6 Go To London

We’re getting about lately, the other week it was the Festival of Romance and last week, en masse, six of us attended the RNA Winter Party.  As always, lovely to meet up with each other at a Kensington hotel which is rapidly becoming our London HQ. The only downside was that our lovely Jan and Catherine weren’t able to make it this time.  

It was great to see so many people at the Winter Party but, as is usual at these events, never enough time to speak to everyone. We also realised that we need to get the camera out a bit more – so, watch out at the next RNA event, we’ll be snapping away and trying to get as many of you as possible for our blog post. 

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

Six of The Romaniacs, RNA Winter Party 13

lizzie lamb

Lizzie Lamb

Brigid Coady

Brigid Coady

 

RNA winter 13

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Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

Debbie, Celia, Laura and Vanessa

harrods

Beautiful

Putting on The Ritz

Putting on The Ritz

A blustery walk to the tube

A blustery walk to the tube

 

Thank you to Jan Jones and everyone at the RNA for a lovely evening.