Life Cycle of a Writer: Keeping Secrets and REVEALING Them!

Secrets are part of the course for writers. Ideas, news, contracts… all sorts of things that we sometimes aren’t allowed to talk about for months. I’ve been harbouring a secret for what feels like AGES. I haven’t been very secret about the fact I’ve been working on a #secretproject, It’s a contemporary comedy and different from my previous two books and at long last I can tell the world, so, without further ado, here she is and I do so hope that lots of readers want to join Olive at The Gin Shack on the Beach. Pull up a chair, you’ll be very welcome…

A new contemporary comedy for fans of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

You’re never too old to try something new!

When octogenarian Olive Turner is persuaded by her son to move into a retirement home, she congratulates herself on finding the secret to an easy life: no washing up, cooking or cleaning. But Olive isn’t one for mindless bingo with her fellow residents, and before the first day is over she’s already hatching a plan to escape back to her beloved beach hut and indulge in her secret passion for a very good gin & tonic.

Before long Olive’s secret is out and turning into something wonderful and new. Only a select few are invited, but word spreads quickly about the weekly meetings of The Gin Shack Club. Soon everybody on the beach wants to become a gin connoisseur and join Olive on her journey to never being forced to grow older than you feel. A story of friendship, defiance, and the quest for the perfect gin and tonic.

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years.

Since losing my mum, 21st March 2012, not a day has passed when I’ve not thought about her. Often it’s wondering what she would have said or thought about a particular incident, a program, a snippet of news, our children’s achievements, problems, disagreements, how she would have handled a sticky situation, what advice she’d have offered, what she’d have found funny …

I’ve written before about navigating March, so today I thought I’d share some of the events that have happened in the last five years – every single one of them came with a ‘I wonder what Mum would have made of this’ moment.

The first was meeting Jodi Picoult. It was a week on from losing Mum, but I wanted to go. My mum had introduced me to Jodi Picoult’s books and I was a huge fan. I have met her three times in the last five years, each occasion an inspiration.

Sue Fortin, Jodi Picoult & me 2016 The 3rd meeting

Shortly after, I found out I was the runner up in Choc Lit’s short story competition. My mum knew I’d entered, she’d even read and critiqued my story, Bitter Sweet, and if I recall rightly, we’d heard it had been shortlisted. It would have been wonderful to have told her about the second place, but I remember how pleased she was with the shortlisting.

Telling Tales was the runner-up in the next Choc Lit short story competition, and I received a tweet of congratulations from the lovely Erica James. Honestly, I don’t know which I was more excited about. I do recall I was with Catherine Miller at the time, though. I think we may have been heading to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. Do you remember, Catherine?

As well as meeting Jodi Picoult, I’ve also met Jill Mansell, Sheila O’Flanagan and Erica James. All are warm, intelligent and entertaining women. All were authors my mother read and enjoyed and whose books she introduced me to, and all are firm favourites of mine, and massive inspirations.

I have made many great friends within the writing community, the first few of whom my mum was aware – names with which she would have become familiar had she still been with us. She knew how much writing fulfilled me and how I felt I’d finally found my place in life.

I’ve written three novels. I used to say to Mum I would one day ‘write that novel’. She used to tell me to hurry up and get on with it, which still makes me smile. It’s good advice. I feel extremely privileged and very lucky that she read Truth Or Dare?. It wasn’t the first draft, but neither was it polished. It came with colourful language and hot scenes as appropriate, but I didn’t worry too much about those aspects – my mum read widely and didn’t embarrass easily. Her thoughts on the novel were honest, fair and she gave lots of encouragement, but without gushing. Had she not liked the story or the characters, or considered their actions fake or daft, she’d have said. I was writing Follow Me Follow You when we lost her, but I’d told her the plot and how I was exploring attachment disorder and PTSD. She knew all about Chris Frampton. This became my first paperback. Mum would have loved that.

What Doesn’t Kill You was released as a paperback in January of this year, and I attended my second book signing at Waterstones, Dorchester. What would Mum have made of that?

As a family, we’ve caught and run with a number of health curve balls, one being of the major variety, which I’m pleased to report appears to be under control. I’ve had joints replaced and joints removed; on top of my long term rheumatoid arthritis and colitis, I picked up a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which I’m still learning to manage, and there has been a knee dislocation, (not mine) torn knee ligaments, (separate incident, different family member) and perforated eardrums (not mine and nothing to do with my singing). I’m convinced the hospital will start charging the James family rent.

Four years ago, we shared a healing three weeks away in Orlando. It was our first family holiday and it was exactly what we needed. Going to Disneyworld was a dream come true. Later the same year, I took a trip to Italy, on the Arte Umbria writing course and came home feeling nurtured and rested, with a way forward as to how to finish writing Follow Me Follow You, which had stalled in March 2012. I sat on the beautiful terrace at Arte Umbria and thought how much my mum would have loved to have been there. We’d talked of going to Italy together.

She’d have smiled at my news I’d shaken Paloma Faith’s hand, and that I’d seen Kate Bush sing live in London, and she’d have given me excellent advice regarding … well, all sorts of stuff, including a reminder that some things are best kept private. And she’d have made sure I keep on keeping on.

So, five years on, with the love and support of family and friends, that’s what I’m doing.

It’s head down and on with the work-in-progress. Life.

Take care.

Laura xx

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Uncharted Waters – The RoNAs

This weeks LCOAW is all about me saying a blooming big ‘EEEEEK’!

Today I have been mostly looking at these:

Ready for the suitcase

This is my very first ticket for the RoNAs, and it’s the beginning of a whole new adventure. Over the coming year I’m going to be right in there with the organising people, sorting out the readers etc. for these prestigious awards and making sure everything runs as smoothly as it has for Nicola Cornick. She’s bravely handing over the baton and it’s very exciting but also a tad terrifying, as her organisational skills are second to none.

So on Monday I’ll be at The Gladstone Library on Whitehall Place, clutching my ticket and trying to take everything in, wondering if Prue Leith will be approachable (am loving the recent newspaper report about her late-blooming romance and marriage) and if the opening of the envelopes will be less fraught then at some other recent events…

This is a big challenge for me – but what about you? Is there anything coming up in your life that’s making you say ‘eeeek’? The Romaniacs would love to know what it is, so that we can cheer you on and send virtual cake.

Which reminds me, I wonder if Prue would like a chocolate sponge? There’s just about room in my case if I leave out the gin and the control knickers.

Hope to see you there, I’ll be the one dressed as a book title (The Red Tent).

Celia

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

img_0095Here, at Romaniac HQ, we’re preparing for spring and all the loveliness it brings – fresh hope, new ideas, Easter eggs …

This is what happened over winter:

Laura: I’ve had a busy three months, starting with a chest infection in December, when three of the James household were knocked out by the awful cough and wdky-in-whsmiths-travel-victoria-londoncold virus that swept the nation. Thankfully we were on the mend come Christmas and New Year as I spent the last part of December gearing up for the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill You. I took the Romaniac bus on a virtual blog tour starting on launch day, 9th January, and gigging all over the country right into the following week. No hotel rooms were smashed up, but there was plenty of celebrating and digesting of cake. I had a short story printed in February’s edition of Your Cat Magazine, and a book signing event at the ever-supportive Waterstones Dorchester on February 18th. And yesterday I received my first WH Smith shelfie. I knew WDKY was going into WH Smith Travel stores, but I hadn’t seen one for myself until Sue posted the photo.

Celia: I edited my NaNoWriMO children’s novel and slashed and burned my way through a grittier adult one, then threw myself back into the WIP which is nearly half completed, hooray! Also attended my first ever RNA committee meeting ready for my new role organising the judging etc. of the RONAs, which is going to be great fun if a bit scary…

Vanessa: After coming away from my writing retreat at West Dean College thoroughly inspired, I have almost finished the first draft of my new WIP. I’ve also been working on edits from my agent on the other book and trying not to get mixed up between the two! (Although… that could be an interesting mix-up!)

Debbie: Everything is much the same here since my last Life Cycle Post . I’m still writing, albeit sporadically, in between hospital appointments and the usual domestic chaos. However I’ve had a bit of a compelling change of heart. Instead of working on Novel two, ‘Country Strife,’ I’ve returned to the original, ‘Living in the Past.’ Yes, the one I’d almost given up on. It’s the nearest to completion and something inside me won’t give up on it. Not yet! I’ve also discovered I get more writing done when I work in local cafe bars and tea rooms. Who’d have thought it?

Sue: My fourth book with HarperImpulse was released in January and has been doing very well in the charts. I spent a long weekend on a writing retreat in Hampshire with Laura, Catherine and Lucie which really helped move my wip along. I’m in the very last stages of finishing it and will be sending to my agent in the next couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to catch up on some long overdue reading.

writing-retreat

Jan has been hard at it, gathering research and working on her second novel which is coming along nicely. While Lucie is doing a marvellous job juggling her university studies with editing her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club which is due to be released in May. Catherine has been working on a secret project which has involved some super-speedy writing and is currently working on her edits for this, not to mention running round after her twin girls – we have no idea how she manages it all.

Romaniac HQ Presents … Author, Kirsty Ferry

Romaniac HQ Presents … Author, Kirsty Ferry.

We are delighted to be part of Choc Lit author, Kirsty Ferry’s blog tour, celebrating the paperback release of her novel, The Girl in the Painting, and looking forward to the imminent release of The Girl in the Photograph.

Take it away, Kirsty.

Life Cycle of a Writer: Paperback Writer.

Paperback Writer

wdky-book-signing-event-tw

What a busy, fun and exciting week this is. Yesterday, we Romaniacs celebrated our 5th birthday and cheered Sue’s fantastic thriller, Sister Sister, as it hit the top 5 on Kindle, today is Valentine’s Day, and Saturday, I’ll be at Waterstones Dorchester signing copies of What Doesn’t Kill You.

img_8935I was at Waterstones Dorchester on Valentine’s Day two years ago, signing copies of my second novel, Follow Me Follow You. It was such a lovely day. The table was perfectly decorated with red love hearts, books were wrapped in paper and bows, enticing customers to go on a blind date with their next read, and I spent the time chatting with people about books and authors.img_8939

I’m really looking forward to Saturday’s event. To have a paperback is special, even more so with What Doesn’t Kill You, as the front cover sports an author quote from my good friend and fellow Romaniac, Sue Fortin. Neither of us could predict that happening when we first met five years ago. There is also a depiction of a well-loved landmark on the front – Portland Bill lighthouse.lighthouse-cover-3There will be copies of the book available for purchase on Saturday, and I will have one of my trusty Pentel pens in hand, but which colour should I use?

pens-pentel-rainbow

Do I go with blues and greens to complement the cover? Or should I stick with traditional black ink? I might just have to take my pencil case and decide on the day. What would you do?

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I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday. Dorchester is a fascinating Roman town, and it has literary links, too – Hardy referred to Dorchester as Casterbridge – so please do come and spend the day, and pop into the wonderfully supportive Waterstones.

I’m going to leave you with this classic Beatles hit 😀 https://youtu.be/xmVwo2DxkGg

Have a great week.

Laura x

From The Romaniacs To You: Huge Heartfelt Thanks

5th-birthday-thank-you-blog

It’s hard to believe that the Romaniacs are five years old today, because it barely seems five minutes since we met and formed this bundle of humanity that we loosely call a writing group. Most of us bumped into each other (literally in some cases, as wine was taken) at the Festival of Romance in 2011, and since then, we’ve laughed, cried, written books, had some of them rejected, had some of them published, and propped each other up through lots of turbulence.

So this a post is for anyone who’s ever read our blog, commented on it, been Sparkle-Videoed at the conference, joined the Romaniac Sparklers, had interviews on here, sat through our panels (with or without pom poms) or generally just been there along the way. A very big THANK YOU!

romaniac-badges-2014-3

 

Celia: I’m making a gigantic chocolate fudge cake as we speak, so do feel free to pop by Romaniac HQ and help yourself to a big sticky slice of it. And there’s fizz. There may even be gin in the fridge…

Laura: I cannot imagine my life without The Romaniacs. Is it really five years only? I feel we’ve been together several decades – in a good way. An excellent way. Several decades of cake. Often Prosecco. Always laughter. Rib-aching laughter. The best kind. And you, lovely readers, our friends, have been with us throughout. Thank you. It means a great deal.

Now, big breaths and pucker up – the candles need extinguishing.

Sue: I can’t really add much to what’s already been said at the beginning but a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported us in all the different ways, it’s been a tremendous amount of fun and we really appreciate you being there. xx

Jan: Five fabulous years and hopefully many more to come. I love being part of the Romaniacs and feel very grateful for all their love, laughs and friendship. As I do for the unwavering cheers of support everyone out there has given for our blog. Grab yourselves a seat, a slice of Celia’s latest yummy creation, and join in the celebrations. Cheers! Xx  

Catherine: This is a sick note, as Catherine is somewhat under the weather at the moment, probably due to an overload of superbly creative stuff and not helped by a nasty germ or two. Wishing her well and hoping her bounce will be back by the time she reads this.

*Party? Did someone say party? I’m not sick, honest. *sniffs* I can’t believe five years have passed and so much has happened! Babies, books, and no where near enough alcohol.*

Debbie: A few years ago, a wise person shared a piece of prose/quote called, ‘Reason, Season, Lifetime.’ If you haven’t heard of it, just ‘GOOGLE’ the phrase. It may resonate. It has stayed with me ever since. A good example is my Romaniac friends and how we found each other. Five years on and we’re still going strong. I suspect we’ll be pals for a lifetime. This also applies to our RNA and other writer friends, some of whom are thousands of miles away. Somehow, we found each other over the ether of the world-wide web or social media. So many of you have supported my sporadic writing journey through the ill-health and domestic chaos. You’ve helped bat away those crows of self-doubt that periodically peck away on my shoulders. So, I’m also adding loud and heartfelt thanks and celebration to ALL my writing friends. Here’s to many more years of friendship … xx

Lucie: Wow, what can I say? It has been a crazy 5 years with these wonderful women and I seriously couldn’t imagine my life without them. They are there for me through thick and thin and always around to tell me to stop moaning and just bloody write! Yes, I’ve needed a few of those over the years! When I became a Romaniac I was a newbie writer, with eyes wide as I stepped into the realms of writing – a sort of ‘rabbit in headlights’ moment. Since then, I’ve achieved some amazing things, things I never EVER thought I would, and it is not only thanks to the other girls, but a HUGE thanks to you, our readers, our supporters, our family. We really couldn’t be The Romaniacs without your unwavering support and constant love. Thank you so much. Love and hugs xxx

Vanessa: I just want to echo everything the others have said! A HUGE thank you for all the support and here’s to the next 50 Romaniacal years 🙂 xxx