Book Launch – The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

Today we wish bestselling author Lisa Jewell a “Happy Publication Day” in celebration of her latest novel: ‘The Third Wife’ 

LJ

 

In the early hours of an April morning, Maya stumbles into the path of an oncoming bus.

A tragic accident? Or suicide? Her grief-stricken husband, Adrian, is determined to find out.

Maya had a job she enjoyed; she had friends. They’d been in love. She even got on with his two previous wives and their children. In fact, they’d all been one big happy family.

But before long, Adrian starts to identify the dark cracks in his perfect life.

Because everyone has secrets.

And secrets have consequences.

Some of which can be devastating… 

 

LJ Press

3 July 2014 - Published by Century

The unforgettable new novel from the Sunday Times Top Ten bestselling author

 

Lisa Jewell had always planned to write her first book when she was fifty. In fact, she wrote it when she was twenty-seven and had just been made redundant from her job as a secretary. Inspired by Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, a book about young people just like her who lived in London, she wrote the first three chapters of what was to become her first novel, Ralph’s Party. It went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 1998. Ten bestselling novels later, she lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Lisa writes every day in a local cafe where she can drink coffee, people-watch, and, without access to the internet, actually get some work done.

Get to know Lisa by joining the official facebook page at www.facebook.com/LisaJewellOfficial

or by following her on Twitter @lisajewelluk.

And visit her website at www.lisa-jewell.co.uk

For more information please contact

Najma Finlay Cornerstone Publicity 020 7840 8614 nfinlay@randomhouse.co.uk @najmafinlay

 

Book Launch: The No-Kids Club by Talli Roland

Today we help celebrate the launch of the fabulously talented Talli Roland’s latest novel ‘The No-Kids Club’

 

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Blurb:

At almost forty, Clare Donoghue is living child-free and loving it.

Then her boyfriend says he wants kids, breaking off their promising relationship. And it’s not just boyfriends: one by one, her formerly carefree friends are swallowed up in a nonstop cycle of play dates and baby groups. So Clare declares enough is enough and decides it’s time for people who don’t have children to band together. And so the No-Kids Club is born.

As the group comes together—Anna, who’s seeking something to jumpstart a stale marriage, and Poppy, desperate for a family but unable to conceive—Clare’s hoping to make the most of the childless life with her new friends. But is living child-free all it’s cracked up to be?

 

 

Congratulations, Talli,  and very best of luck from us all! Xx

Follow Talli on Twitter : @talliroland

Oops! Typo Alert …

At HQ, we often cringe or have a giggle at various typos we’ve either seen or made. In some cases they’ve even been for the best. After all, our very own blog name derived from one and it’s hard to imagine us being called anything else.

Here are a few of our finest …

Jan : 

“Sweat ‘n’ Sour Chicken.” (Eeeew! Thanks but no thanks!)

“Brianstorming Session.” (Poor Brian!)

“Thanks for the fiend request.” (Ooh, you little devil, you!)

Celia :

“Blinty” is my all-time favourite Romaniac-page blooper. I meant to say “blimey” at the time but much prefer blinty these days. Also like the times when one of us gets a word wrong in a thread and then everyone continues to use the typo for weeks afterwards. As they say, you don’t have to be insane to be a Romaniac, but it certainly helps …

Laura:

Pooked. I have no idea what I was meant to be typing, but it ended up as pooked. I pook, he pooks, we pook, they pooked. Answers on a postcard please … One of my main typos is if, when I want it to read of. ‘Oh, what’s become if …?’.  When I was a wee, young thing, I’d often muddle things up. We read the paper news and put the vase on the sill window. Finally, slightly deviating, we had to correct our son, who mistakenly believed the attack on Pearl Harbor happened in Poole Harbour. STOP PRESS. Yesterday, as we passed the beach and noticed the traditional seaside puppet show, my son asked, ‘Who is Punching Judy?’

Clearly, it’s in the genes.

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Vanessa:

My most recent typos have been in emails rather than the work-in-progress – I sent an email to Dear Lousie instead of Louise. Funnily enough, I never got a reply…  I also wrote headlice instead of headline in another mail (luckily I caught that one before it went out). Hmmm… my typos seemed strangely related *scratches head*

Debbie:

I reckon I can trump Jan’s use of ‘sweat.’ My mum once wrote to me, ‘sweat dreams.’

And on this topic, there’s a quote that makes me smile:-

“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.” ― Jarod Kintz

 Sue:

Whilst I can’t think of anything specific, and there has no doubt been many, I do have one I regularly make. Since a child I have always had a tendency to get the letters ‘m’ and ‘p’ muddled, or should that be puddled up? Usually, I spot it straight away, but there has been the odd occasion when it’s got through. This doesn’t make for great reading when I’m trying to say something like, ‘She was missed.’ or ‘I miss you.’ or ‘He had been missing for a week.’  

I have to say, out of all the typos, ‘Romaniacs’ and ‘Blinty’ are my favourites.

 

 

What are the funniest, most toe-curling typos you’ve ever seen or made?

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Go on … you know you want to tell us!

 

 

 

 

Welcome, David Nicholls …

 

Wow! What a way to start the week. We are thrilled and honoured that David has kindly taken time out to chat to us. 

 

 Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

Image Credit © Kristofer Samuelsson

David, can you tell us about what you’re working on at the moment?

At the time of writing, I’m just finishing the second draft of my fourth novel, ‘Us’, to be published in September. I’ve been away from fiction for a while – it has been nearly five years since One Day came out, seven years since I started writing it – and I’ve loved getting back to books. For years after One Day, I found it impossible, but this one has been a pleasure, and has come relatively easily; a little over eighteen months from first sentence to publication.

What are you most proud of writing?

At the moment, the new novel. I suppose there are some similarities to One Day – a love story, the same mixture of happy and sad – but it feels a little more grown-up. It’s about family and married life – the working title was ‘Married Love’ – and it follows a couple from their beginnings, through eighteen years of parenthood, to the relationship’s (possible) end. I’m 47 now, and was starting to feel a little foolish writing about twenty-somethings on dates. ‘Us’ is still a romantic story, but maybe a little tougher, more varied and mature in subject and tone.

I also loved working on The 7.39, the two-part TV drama that was broadcast in January. Unlike the solitary world of fiction, film and TV are entirely collaborative and while that has its pleasures, it can also be madly frustrating, nerve-wracking, stressful. The final product rarely matches the story you told in your head, but The 7.39 was one of those rare times when everything came together. I loved the casting, the production team, there were hardly any rows or feuds or walk-outs and I think some of that harmony came across on screen. The only other time I’ve been as happy with a show was when I did Tess of the D’Urbervilles for the BBC, about six years ago now.

And One Day too. I’ve come to accept now that it’ll probably be the thing I’m known for, and I’ll always be proud of it.

In ‘One Day’, we know that Emma makes some mix tapes for Dex, but which three tunes would definitely feature on David Nicholls’ mix tape?

Probably some of the same tracks that Emma chose. There’s a playlist here – Emma Morley’s Mix Tape– that contains a lot of the music I looked to for inspiration while writing the book.

Of those songs, I think you’d choose ‘I Say A Little Prayer’ by Aretha Franklin, because of the incredible singing and the Bacharach melody, then ‘Protection’ by Massive Attack because of its sentiment, and finally ‘These Days’ by Nico, because it’s such a simple and beautifully bittersweet song.

Also in ‘One Day’, Dex is such a complex and interesting person, where did you get the inspiration for his character?

He was written as an antidote to the male characters I’d created in my first two books – rather modest, nice, arty, self-effacing men. I wanted to write someone who had an excess of self-confidence, a chauvinist, a philistine, but nevertheless someone who contained the seed of a decent human being. I used to be an actor, and a lot of the young men who started out at the same time as me had extraordinary success, and of course it affected them. They all became Dexter. I was a rotten actor, so never faced that dilemma.

 

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What is your biggest challenge when adapting a novel for screen?

The first thing you lose when you adapt a book for the screen is the character’s inner voice. Books are about emotion and thought as much as action and dialogue. In a screenplay, it’s all about what people say and do, rather than what they think or feel. Conveying that is the great challenge. Of course, actors help, but voice-over  on screen is useless, and how else do you convey an inner monologue? This was the great dilemma with Starter for Ten – all the best jokes were in the character’s head, and it made no sense to say them aloud.

Also, budget is not a consideration when writing a book. On screen everything costs a fortune so everything has to serve a need. You’re constantly being asked – do we need this scene? Do we need the rain? Does it have to be London? As a screenwriter, you’re spending someone else’s money, so of course you’re asked to change things. Books are ink on paper, and unless you’re being dull, no-one minds a little more ink.

Finally, accepting the loss of control is always hard. In fiction, there’s the novelist and no-one else. With TV and films, the writer has very clearly defined responsibilities – you’re not the designer, the composer, the casting director, the editor, you’re just part of the team. Trying to make the screen version look exactly like the story you have in your head is almost impossible. Sometimes the finished version might be better than what you imagined, sometimes not. But if you can’t accept that loss of control, then it’s best to stick to  books.

Can you tell us a bit about the readings you’ve given and what inspired you to start?

As an actor I was largely mute, which was just as well given that I was such a shocking old ham. But I do enjoy readings, though I find them very nerve-wracking and worry a great deal about being dull, or pompous or indiscreet. I still over-act, but I do love meeting readers, and to be reminded of why I wanted to do this in the first place.

What is your ideal writing space, and do you prefer to work in silence or with background noise?

I’m lucky enough to have an office that I go to each morning. I try to be at my desk by 8. If I’m sensible, I turn the internet off immediately and hide my phone in a cupboard. (The internet is the enemy of concentration, especially for someone with no willpower, like me.) I try and write until lunchtime, though there are inevitably distractions. I write on Word, but try to edit on pen and paper then type that revised text back in; it’s too easy to let your eyes slip across the computer screen. I read for an hour at lunchtime, then work on scripts in the afternoon, though I rarely do anything good after 4pm. I use to listen to pop music, then only Bach – solo piano or cello – but now have to have silence. But distractions – the postman, the phone call – are always hugely welcome.  

What makes you laugh?

Old golden-age Hollywood movies – Billy Wilder or Preston Sturges or Lubitsch. Walter Matthau films, David Sedaris, Lorrie Moore, Wes Anderson, Dickens. My children.     

What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given to date in your career?

I’m not sure who said it, but I once read that the secret to writing was to decide how you want your reader to feel, and then work out how to achieve it. Which is easier said than done I suppose, but I think that’s why One Day worked. I wanted to write something that would have the big emotional rush you get from a great pop song, something that would be both funny, then heart-breaking, sometimes on the same page.

Everyone tells you this, but I do think reading – and watching – as much as possible is invaluable. Everything I’ve written has been inspired by, or stolen from, something else. There’d be no Starter for Ten without Rushmore, Billy Liar and Great Expectations, no One Day without Much Ado About Nothing, Annie Hall and Tess of the D’Urbervilles (no, really). Inspiration can be found in all art, high or low, and you have to give time to sucking everything up. I set my alarm so that I can read an extra hour a day. Of course it means that I’m asleep on my desk by nine-fifteen, but at least I try.  

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Any other creative passions?

I’m an enthusiastic but rudimentary cook, and I’ve been known to snatch Lego out of the hands of my children.

Quick Fire

West End Musical or Night at the Opera?

Opera

Yorkshire Dales or Welsh Valleys?  

Both lovely, but the Dales

 

 

 

 

Three Dream Dinner Party Guests, past or present?

Billy Wilder, Cary Grant, Kate Bush.

Favourite London Landmark?

St Paul’s from the southern end of the Millennium Bridge.

Checkov or Shakespeare?

That’s the hardest choice. Shakespeare at a push, though The Seagull is my favourite play.

Thank you so much for being our guest today, David. We wish you the very best of luck with your forthcoming novel ‘Us’ and needless to say, we can’t wait to read it.

https://www.facebook.com/davidnichollsauthor

 

 

 

Talli Roland celebrates the re-release of The Pollyanna Plan

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Fantastic news! Talli Roland’s bestselling novel THE POLLYANNA PLAN has a second lease of life. Lake Union Publishing (an arm of Amazon Publishing) are re-releasing the book today, complete with a shiny new cover, and also making it available in print and audio (Amazon.com; Amazon UK).

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THE POLLYANNA PLAN spent over two months in the top 100 on the Amazon UK Kindle charts, and it was selected as a Top Book of 2013 by Amazon’s editors.

Talli’s next novel, THE NO-KIDS CLUB, will be published by Lake Union on 3rd June. The Kindle format, ebook, and audio book are now available for pre-order (Amazon.com; Amazon UK). Talli says, the cover is coming soon – we’ve had some great designs and are finalizing them now!

About THE POLLYANNA PLAN

Is finding true love as easy as an attitude change?

Thirty-something Emma Beckett has always looked down on ‘the glass is half full’ optimists, believing it’s better to be realistic than delusional. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancé in the same week, even Emma has difficulty keeping calm and carrying on.

With her world spinning out of control, and bolstered by a challenge from her best friend, Emma makes a radical decision. From here on in, she’ll behave like Pollyanna: attempting to always see the upside, no matter how dire the situation.

Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? 

  

Sounds fabulous to us, Talli! Very best of luck with it X

To learn more about Talli, go to www.talliroland.com or follow Talli on Twitter: @talliroland.

Talli blogs at  talliroland.blogspot.com.

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

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

What really sparks that Romaniac festive spirit?

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

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

parsnipsBrussels

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Decs house

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

Midsummer Madness with the New Romantics 4

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

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

 Call Nurse Lizzie…

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

Lizzie  x

Midsummer Day- June’s Birthday…   

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

June x

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

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

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

Adrienne x

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

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

Mags x

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

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

NR4 Pic

Butterfly Moments

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BF3Butterfly photographs courtesy of Deb Anderson – with thanks.

So, what’s the most romantic thing you’ve ever done?

We’ve probably all got a cupboard full of skeletons that we only let out at 3am when sleep won’t come, but I’m not even going to think about those deeply embarrassing bits today. The theme of this blog is the other times – the ones when we got it absolutely right; the Butterfly Moments, if you like. You know the ones I mean. When you were trying to be really romantic and it worked? When you wanted to make someone very happy and it happened without any banana skins, unexpected gurgles in the stomach region (or worse) or red faces?
Cast your minds back to a time when the world suddenly became a simpler place and you gave yourself – if only briefly – full marks for an impulsive romantic gesture, a perfectly organised outing, a significant and suitable present well received or a cunning plan that came off.
These moments are precious if only to remind us that life can, sometimes, be a bowl of cherries. I know we use our depressing and cringe-worthy experiences to bring our writing to life but just for a few minutes, let yourself wallow in smug self-satisfaction as you remember something that deserves its own Westlife (subsitute own cheesy music choice here) soundtrack and fuzzy lighting. Go on, tell all…

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Celia: Mine was when my newly discovered and already much-loved bloke announced that he was going away shortly for nearly two weeks on a railway journey that was going to touch on a whole bunch of major European cities. After I had finished hitting him with a stick and the bitter jealousy had subsided, I realised I was going to miss him. A lot. Unfortunately, this man was a texting novice at the time and thought that the mobile telephone was a scheme of the devil to waste our valuable reading time. I wanted to make sure he didn’t forget about me, but constantly ringing him to mutter sweet nothings was only going to make him remember how annoying I could be (which, incidentally, is pretty annoying).
For this man, who I was beginning to suspect had a secret romantic streak, the only way forwards was on paper. I shopped furiously for small and quirky cards and dug out my dusty collection of poetry books. Then I got a copy of his holiday itinerary and wrote a letter, complete with a poetic quote, for every day, labelled neatly with the place and date. I can sense your incredulity here – was this woman totally off her rocker? Surely this must have taken hours – time that could have been better spent eating cake, drinking copious amounts of wine and watching back to back episodes of Friends? The answer is, yes it bloody did. But it was worth it because he loved them and still has them stashed away where he thinks I can’t see them. Ha!

Mo and me

Catherine: I’m not sure I can be classed as romantic, but I do my best to be thoughtful when I can and not just for the man in my life. Later this year it’s my Mum’s 60th Birthday. Old Ma Mo (I never came up with that nickname) has stated she doesn’t want a fuss, and no parties. Well, I’m very good at ignoring my Mum and at knowing when she means what she says… hence, I have plans. Secret plans which I cannot reveal even among friends. I will tell you about her 50th though. Since she was at school, my Mum has had a pen pal over in Texas. Twice her pen pal had been over here, but Mum couldn’t afford to go on the return journey. So I got in contact with her pen pal and started making secret plans with her and my grandparents. Sue (Mum’s pen pal) was able to be very generous and paid for Mum to go over with air miles and the savings went towards me going with Mum as she didn’t want to travel alone. We didn’t keep it a secret until she was going, we told her about a month beforehand. Here we are in a rather fuzzy photo in San Antonio. Now to live up to it for her 60th! And Mum, if you are reading this, as we’ll have 3 month old twins, they’ll be no flights involved this time!

Jan: This Butterfly Moment couldn’t strictly be labelled ‘romantic’, but Mr B was certainly happy. He’s a keen golfer and his trusty ‘old’ golf bag had long been the butt of much banter on the fairways. It was so ancient that, during a round one weekend, his clubs were dragging along the grass where the masking tape holding the bottom of said bag together (I kid you not!) had worked loose. A-ha! I thought at the time… I know what to get him for his next birthday. Trouble was, that birthday was six months away and, in the meantime, he was invited to attend a golf day at this really posh club with about twenty other guys. Now, Mr B hasn’t a snobby bone in his body, but I suspected that, deep down, he must be a tiny bit concerned about how dinosaur bag would be received come tee-off time, not to mention its survival chances over 18 holes. So, I went out and bought him a shiny, new one which I presented to him the day before the big event. A pre-birthday gift for one pleased-as-punch golfer!

Golfer 2

“FORE!!!!”

So, what we really want to know is what was your perfect, romantic moment? Or maybe, you’re planning one right now…You can tell us.

Celia x

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Pauline Barclay

Hi Pauline, thanks so much for visiting us here at Romaniac HQ. First things first: Tea or coffee? And we have some freshly baked yummy chocolate brownies, if you can force yourself… ;)

Hello Jan, thank you for having me here at your fabulous offices, so trendy! As for tea or coffee, any chance I could have green tea please? And I’ve skipped breakfast so I could overindulge in your scrummy chocolate brownies… mmm… they look too good to eat, but I’ll risk it!

Pauline 3

Green tea, it is! And maybe a “small” glass of fizz later (just to celebrate your latest novel, of course…)

So exciting that you’ve recently published Storm Clouds Gathering. Can you give us a little teaser about the storyline?  

Now I am going to warn you, there is nothing worse than asking me about my new book, but please tell me to shut up if I go on too much …  Like most of the books I’ve written, it is filled with emotion that gets right to the heart. In my latest book, the storm clouds are gathering, silently and slowly, too far away to worry about. Or so it seems. But ignoring what is brewing will have dire consequences for the people caught up in the maelstrom. Shirley Burton is too busy cheating on her husband, having a laugh and looking for fun to alleviate the boredom of her childless marriage. Kathleen Mitchell is too wrapped up in running around after her beautiful family to worry about her health. Anne Simpson has two things on her mind: her forthcoming marriage to Paul Betham, who seems to want to control her, and her career, which she does not want to give up. The question is, can Shirley really expect to deceive her husband and get away with it? Can Kathleen hold it all together, and is Anne able to have the best of everything? As I said, I love to write with deep emotion and Storm Clouds Gathering is a story of human emotion, passion and heart-rending grief. Set against the backdrop of the mid-sixties, these three families will be tested to the limit, as betrayal, loss and love threaten to change their lives forever.

How long did it take you to write this book?  Was there lots of research involved? 

It took the usual time for me, around 10 months. What caused me a problem to publish a book in 2012 was that, I began to write another book and after 25,000 words, found I couldn’t go any further at that time, so I began Storm Clouds Gathering and then the words just flowed. Regarding research, I spoke to family members and I also drew on my own experience from that period of time. On top of this, I found a truly wonderful man via the internet who had helped me with answers about working in the woollen mills in the 1960s.

The cover is beautifully eye-catching.  Do you choose your own designs, Pauline?

Storm Clouds image

I work very closely with Cathy Helms from Avalon Graphics and I give Cathy ideas of what I am looking for. I also trawl through the photo directories online looking for pictures that will give me what I have in my head. Cathy then turns my thoughts into beautiful covers.

You live in super, sunny Lanzarote and we’ve loved hearing about your weekly book signings and readings. How did that all come about and how do you find the marketing side of writing, in general? Any little tips you can share with us?

Oh my, I’m no expert at giving tips for marketing, I just do what I hope is good for me to sell my books. Living here on our fabby little pebble in the ocean, I’ve got to know one or two holiday complex owners. This led to me going to chat with the tourists staying in these super places about my books. I take along with me professionally printed leaflets, bookmarks to hand out and, of course, my books to sign and sell. I love meeting the people and getting their feedback on my books. And to my utter surprise, they enjoy meeting an author!

Pauline-desktop-2013

What first sparked ‘the writer’ in you?

I’ve always been a writer. As a little girl I wrote poems and, once, a song. It was sung at one of our school assemblies when I was in junior school. Sadly the teacher named the song writer as Pauline… but it was the other Pauline in my class. At eleven years old, I was mortified they’d got the name wrong. I was also a writer for many years at work. I was a communications manager in the international oil industry, which I loved every minute of.  These days, I enjoy writing fiction, though one could argue, I’ve always written fiction!

Tell us about your involvement in, and the subsequent success of, Indie Author site Famous Five Plus?

Oh you mean my little baby! I started FFP back at the end of October 2011. The idea was to offer Indie authors a platform to showcase and share their experiences and at the same time, support others in the knowledge they would be supported in return. That concept has not changed.  FFP continues to grow and whilst it takes up far too much of my time, I believe it is worth it. There are some wonderful authors in FFP who just need to have enough exposure to really make it big.

What do you like to read when you’re relaxing, poolside?

I love reading, but relaxing, what is that? Laugh! I love murder mystery and thrillers, but in between being frightened to death with a likely stalker of someone intent on murder, I read a lot of indie author books too. I have a Kindle these days, as living on my pebble it is so much easier to download a great read instantly and there are some fab books out there.

If you could pass on just one piece of writerly advice, what would it be?

Just do it. Write and enjoy every minute. Get those words and ideas down, but when it is finished and you want to publish, please always talk to an editor – a publishing editor. Not only will he or she make your book shine like a diamond, but you will learn so much more too.

And in true Romaniac fashion, some quick-fire, fun questions for you:

Dream Dance Partner?

Pasha Kovalev from Strictly.

Rolls Royce or Ferrari?

Ferrari.

Champagne or Cocktails?

What a question, champagne… love it!

Murder Mystery Weekend or Paintballing?

Murder mystery – no contest!

Favourite place in the UK?

Now that is tough as I’ve lived in several different places and I’ve loved them all, so sorry can’t choose an answer to this one.

Sarong or Shorts?

As I spend every day in shorts, it has to be shorts, but not the baggy sort.

Paella or Tapas?

Mmm… another toughy.  I love both. Sorry, can’t choose on this one.

Three words that best describe Pauline Barclay?

Energetic, optimistic and smiley.

It’s been fabulous chatting with you, Pauline. Best of Romaniac luck with Storm Clouds Gathering.

Whoa! Thanks for having me and letting me eat most of the scrummy chocolate brownies. Along with the champagne, they were simply delicious. A huge thanks also for allowing me to ramble and for making me feel so welcome. It’s been wonderful. Have a fab day and please leave the plate and glasses. I’ll wash up, it’s the least I can do!

http://www.paulinebarclay.co.uk/

http://paulinembarclay.blogspot.com/

http://www.facebook.com/paulinembarclay

Follow Pauline on Twitter: @paulinembarclay

http://www.famousfiveplus.com/

See the trailer for Storm Clouds Gatheringhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCwnvAK4DxA

 

 

Tuesday Chit Chat with Lizzie Lamb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Romantics 4

Burton Overy we love you ! 004

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

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

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

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

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

Dave (aka Bongo Man)

Burton Overy we love you ! 005

Any other creative passions, Lizzie? 

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

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

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

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

Haggis or Clootie Dumpling?

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

Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig?

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

Dream holiday destination?

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

Singer you’d most like to serenade you?

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

Cocktails or champagne?

Oh, champagne every time, dah-ling.

Novel you could read over and over again?

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

Fave Christmas Carol?

In the Bleak Midwinter – it always makes me cry.

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

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

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www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

Follow Lizzie on Twitter: @lizzie_lamb /or @newromantics4

email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

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

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