Life Cycle of a Writer : Romaniac Round-Up 2017

21/12/2017

Wow, we can’t believe it’s the end of the year already and Christmas is just a few days away. We’ve all been busy this year, both of the writing front and on the home front, so we thought we’d end 2017 with a quick round up of what we’ve been doing and what we’re up to at the moment.

Sue : I’ve had two books published this year, Sister Sister and The Birthday Girl. I’ve been delighted with how they’ve both been received so a HUGE thank you to everyone, I really do appreciate all the support, both directly and indirectly.  I’m busy writing my next book and am hoping to be able to share more news on that in the new year.

Laura: My year has been one of discovery, adventures and turning fifty. It began with What Doesn’t Kill You being published in paperback, with a cover quote from the number one bestselling author, Sue Fortin … Who’d have thought when we ladies met and formed The Romaniacs, anything like this would happen? Such a thrill and honour to have Sue’s quote on my book. In July, I went on my second visit to Arte Umbria and rediscovered my writing mojo. What a wonderful week, spent with great hosts and fabulous friends. Health has been a pain, in particular, fibromyalgia, but I’m adjusting to the challenges and finding ways to manage. I’ve had a great time travelling the country with my offspring, as we looked round universities – adventures that will stay with us forever. And possibly find their way into a novel or two. I am totally immersed in my current wip and desperate to get my characters together. My goal is to finish a novel, having not completed one for some time. I, too, would like to thank you all for your continued support, and I wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a 2018 full of happiness and good health xx

Laura, Sue Moorcroft, Catherine Miller & Sue Fortin

Vanessa: Since I started writing my first book several years ago, I’ve begun each year hoping it would be THE year – the year I got a book deal. I’m so thrilled to be able to say that 2017 really was THE year! I came back from a family holiday at the end of May to the exciting news that my agent was ready to send The Murder House out on submission. After a crazy, life-changing few weeks, The Murder House sold at auction in the UK, the US, Germany and Spain, with rights also sold in France, Poland and the Czech Republic. I am living proof that if you have faith and never give up, dreams can come true. The Murder House will be published by Sphere in January 2019, and Grand Central in the US in March 2019!!

Celia: For me, it’s been a year of getting used to not being a teacher any more and of realising that I can write pretty much any time I like for the first time ever! I’ve had some fabulous holidays, spent more time with the family, had more exercise (although no less wine and cake, there are limits to this healthy stuff) and signed with an agent who I respect very much. She is working on a submission package as we speak and plans to send the new book (working title 59 Memory Lane) out to publishers week beginning January 8th. Lets hope they’re not all too full of Christmas pudding to appreciate it!

Lucie: Well, 2017 has been a crazy year for me. I had my first book published in May – The First Time Mums Club – and in July it was released in Paperback format too which was super exciting. I will never forget the feeling of holding my very first paperback novel in my hands. Priceless. I spent most of 2017 juggling writing, promoting, marketing, studying, working and making memories with my friends and family. I went on a writing retreat with some of my lovely Romaniac pals, I went on holiday to Kessingland with our friend and her children and then away with more friends to Devon later on in the year. I celebrated my 31st birthday, started a YouTube channel, attended the prestigious Harper Collins Summer Party and throughout the year met some incredible people (including the very handsome, David Walliams and super lovely Giovanna Fletcher). I watched my best friend marry her soulmate, completed a fitness plan with The Body Coach (which subsequently changed my life in more ways than I could ever imagine) and lost 5kg and 10.5 inches in the process (Thanks Joe and his super lovely team at Body Coach HQ!). I had a book launch party in a real bookshop (thanks Foyles!) and met some incredible people along the way.  I also wrote my next book which is coming out in March so watch this space in the new year for a cover reveal and some fun online promo to get involved with! So as you can see, 2017 has been an incredible year and I am so grateful to all those people in my life who made it special. Thank you for being part of it, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. To all my old friends, thanks for sticking by me on the rollercoaster that is my life! To all my new friends, thank you for coming into my life and making this year count. And to all of you reading this now – thank you for your amazing support and encouragement. Here’s to an awesome 2018! Have a great Christmas and New Year! Love and hugs xx 

Jan: It’s been an up and down year for me, healthwise, but I’m determined to finish my sequel to As Weekends Go and thank everyone for all the love, encouragement and wise words of support I’ve received. I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous new year.  Much love & hugs aplenty xx

Debbie: Well, it’s taken almost seven years and after another (long) health hiatus following my jaw surgery, I finally get to say, ‘THE END’ to Living In The Past, although it isn’t the end, is it? It’s actually just the beginning … The doubts have kicked in, but … the query letters have begun. I’ve started the quest for an agent. More details when it’s my turn on our Lifecycle of a Writer. I have everything crossed that 2018 is going to be a successful and productive year. I wish you all the same. God bless us, everyone. xx

Catherine: Blimey, what a busy bunch we have been! I’ve had a whirlwind of a year as well (no wonder we haven’t blogged as much) with writing and the publication of THE GIN SHACK ON THE BEACH and CHRISTMAS AT THE GIN SHACK. I am so grateful for how well received they’ve been and how everyone is loving the character of Olive. Personally, it has been the year I became a single mum and my twin girls have been a massive focus for me. I’ve dubbed it the Year of Finding Dragons and we have had lots of fun and adventures along the way. Next year is set to be another exciting one – work wise there are plans for several more books and we’re yet to decide what we’re looking for on our adventures… perhaps some unicorns, because, as updates from The Romaniacs above prove… anything is possible! Go grab 2018 with both hands and let it know you mean business!

WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS

AND A WONDERFUL 2018

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Olive’s Essential Christmas Gin Gift Guide

12/12/2017

Olive is delighted to see gin is really taking off. It’s been her secret passion for years, and this year she’d started sharing her hobby with her friends. She thinks it’s only fair that she share her favourite Christmas gifts in the final run-up to the big day. Here’s what she’d be buying:

 

  • Gin advents have been the “in” thing this year and as we’re a little late for those (although Olive will be checking out the sales, just in case), there is this rather lovely 12 Days of Christmas Gin calender gift to see you through to the New Year.

 

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Of course, what Olive really recommends is that you come and join her on a couple of rollicking good adventures. She’s having a great time in Christmas at the Gin Shack trying to find out who has it in for the newly established business. It’s on offer in the Amazon Kindle deal at the moment for 99p! A great Christmas deal, but like all things gin-related, some things are best served as a double and it would be silly not to mention The Gin Shack on the Beach is also on offer for £1.99. And you don’t even need to like gin to try these. Olive can’t guarantee you won’t have a hankering by the end of the books, though!

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Most importantly, make sure you have a very Merry Christmas!

Love, Olive x

Girl in Trouble – Rhoda Baxter

09/10/2017

Girl in Trouble cover 3 w quote

This morning, the Romaniacs are honoured to be taking part in the blog splash for a very talented author who also delivers a hugely entertaining and informative RNA conference session, especially if you put her in the same room with Jane Lovering and add a onesie or two.

In Rhoda Baxter’s new book, Girl in Trouble, both Olivia and Walter undergo changes that they feel are bad, but end up being positive. I’m taking this theme for my post, because it’s a subject close to my heart.

In my later working life, I spent many happy years as a primary teacher, throwing myself into messy art, drama and especially interactive writing lessons designed to make everyone believe they were already a real life writer. It was great. The kids enjoyed it, the school did well and there was always cake in the staff room.

Then we hit a bad patch and I had to turn to being part of the management team. To cut a very long story short, Ofsted didn’t like our style. Drama disappeared, as did art, and writing became a painful activity all about clauses and comma splices and suchlike. I left the job in summer 2016. It was a massive wrench.

The blessing in disguise part came after months of feeling like a deserter when I finally began to accept what early retirement meant. Although I really missed the kids, there was:

  • Time to write, day or night (that’d make a good t-shirt slogan)
  • Time to sleep, ditto.
  • No silly rules, except the one about not eating the last ginger snap without due warning. Oh, and sometimes being expected to help with cleaning things and gardening. I didn’t see that one coming.
  • A challenging job with the RNA’s RoNA organisation that made my brain buzz again, and the chance to make some new friends and read even more fabulous books.

I shelved the story I’d written over the last months – it was meant to be all cool and psychological but it was pretty bitter and depressing in places. I wrote a frothy one just for fun. And then I had a light bulb moment about the book I really wanted to write – 59, Memory Lane. That was the one that got an agent interested – and bingo!

So the sad time at school was a blessing in disguise, and this next chapter is turning out to be a whole lot of fun. I hope you thoroughly enjoy Rhoda’s book, and that all your blessings are GIGANTIC ones.

Celia x

Girl In Trouble blurb:

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Buy link (should go to your preferred bookstore): books2read.com/u/4Doy6r

[The book is on sale for 99p on the 9th and 10th of October, after which it’ll climb up to 2.99. If you buy in the first week, you get some early bird bonuses – a short story collection and a recipe booklet containing recipes for the snacks mentioned in the Girl Having A Ball.]

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Snakes and Ladders

03/10/2017

I’m writing this with the soundtrack of ‘We Are Family’ playing in my head. A couple of months ago, the amazing human dynamo that is our Catherine Miller wrote a lovely post on here about how the Romaniacs have been having a series of ups and downs, and are in a phase of new beginnings. I’m not going to make lists here but some of the ups are…well, pretty uppish! The lows for some have also been spectacular and even bumping along in the middle lane has sometimes been a challenge.

For that reason, today’s LCOAW isn’t detailed – it’s just a celebration of a friendship group that’s standing the test of time with flying colours and never fails to be supportive, warm and not a little bonkers.

Award-winning Romaniacs (2)Sue and Her Giant Baubles

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All bar one

 

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Rom5IMG_0498430.JPGIMG_4166The Romaniac Angels

Thank you, fellow Romaniacs, and cheers!

Celia xx

Life Cycle of a Writer – Onto the next chapter…

08/08/2017

It’s been an amazing old time at Romaniac HQ of late. There’s been news on a scale we could never have imagined and it’s been made more magnificent by the fact it’s coming from every quarter.

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My new shiny cover that was revealed yesterday!

And this isn’t like some kind of band break-up message. We’re not saying we’ve reached our peak -let’s end on a high. We’ve never been in a position to support each other more and celebrate at every stage.

But it has made me think about chapters. About how you never know what is coming in the story, but you have to hope it’s gonna be good. (And I’m not on about the chapters that we write and in theory are in charge of, I’m on about life chapters.)

We’ve had lots of that happening recently… chapters ending, stories coming to conclusions. It’s safe to say that the finales of those tales, of those personal endurances over time, they’ve all come good.

It’s also fair to say that some of those stories are still mid-chapter. They are still at the point where we don’t know what’s going to happen. Personally, I’m in the midst of a chapter that has proved to be a test of character. But that’s okay. I’m not stuck here because the trick is to keep going. And no matter how many chapters it takes to find your conclusion… keep going.

This is what it is to be a writer. And sometimes, this is what it takes to survive.

So, even for those of us who’ve recently had conclusions. For those of us (like me) who’ve recently finished books, despite writing The End, really it is just The Beginning. There will always be another book. There will always be the next thing that needs to be achieved.

And I never write The Beginning when I start a book. I always spend my time striving for The End. Striving to achieve the goal. When sometimes I need to appreciate the stage I am at.

Right now, The Romaniacs are in a new phase. Personally and professionally there’s a lot to be excited about. So, we are at The Beginning. We are once again faced with chapters that we have no idea how it ends up. Or how long we’ll be stuck mid-chapter. There’s a few things we do know though. We know we’ll have each other as support. We know half of the fun is in the journey. We know we’re never giving up.

For me, I am at The Beginning. Both personally and professionally there is so much to look forward to, even if I don’t know quite how the next chapter starts. All that matters is I show up and write it. And as my character Olive would say…

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Getting The Call

07/07/2017

The month of June was one looong rollercoaster ride. I got an email from my super-top-best-agent-in-the-world Juliet Mushens the day I arrived back from holiday, saying she thought The Murder House was ready to go out on submission.

Cocktails after the first call…

I’ve waited a long time for this moment – I’ve written the book, re-written the book, edited it, re-edited it. I’ve veered from optimism (hey – this is not bad!) to pessimism (this is the worst book ever written) many, many times. I was ready for it to go out there, but also terrified. Because this was it, wasn’t it? All those months of work and planning, this was it. It could all be over in a few weeks, or all about to begin.

It went out on submission in the UK and internationally the Friday after I returned from holiday. I didn’t know when responses would begin coming in, but by the Monday, I had no nails left to bite, I’d drunk ten million coffees and was checking my emails every five seconds.

First responses came in the early part of the week and… people were liking it! They were actually liking my book!! I tentatively said to my husband that I was starting to think this might really happen… Juliet set up conference calls with US editors, which were both terrifying and exhilarating.

By the end of that first week, I knew that more than one editor was offering and that
The Murder House would be going to auction, in the UK and also in Germany.

champagne after the second call…

All the years I’ve dreamed about getting The Call, I always imagined one call, one bottle of celebratory champagne. I didn’t expect two weeks of calls and emails about acquisitions meetings, conference calls, meetings with editors in The Groucho, UK offers, European offers… It was crazy. Insane. Beyond all my wildest dreams. I think when the first offer came in, my husband and I sat around in a daze for about an hour, doing little but muttering ‘Oh my God’ and laughing (and drinking champagne of course.)

The official call from Juliet came on a Friday afternoon, two weeks after the initial submission. I had a two book deal with Little, Brown. The Murder House is going to be published by Sphere in the UK and Grand Central Publishing in the US. It will come out in hardback simultaneously in the UK and US in early 2019 as a lead title, paperback later in the year. German rights were sold at auction to Droemer, and Czech, Polish and French rights have also been sold.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/sphere-signs-debut-crime-writer-vanessa-savage-six-figure-deal-582246

I am beyond thrilled. Beyond excited. I’ve laughed, cried, drunk a million bottles of champagne and basically celebrated every night since getting the news. And the best thing of all… this is only the start.

I can’t WAIT for the next stage!

Vanessa x

CONGRATULATIONS Vanessa Savage!

06/07/2017

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Well we are positively glowing over here at Romaniac HQ because our very own Vanessa Savage has gone and landed herself an AWESOME book deal with Sphere!

We cannot describe how proud we are of Vanessa’s courage, determination and sheer talent. We always had faith in her and her writing and we are over the moon to be writing this post and celebrating with her.

nodms3o4Vanessa, we are so proud of you and all that you have achieved. You are not only a super talented writer, but a loyal, kind and beautiful friend to us all. We cannot wait to raise a glass (or five!) with you at the conference next week.

We hope you enjoy this long awaited day 💗

Love from

Your Romaniac Friends

Xxx

If you pop over to Vanessa’s twitter feed, you can read all about her epic book deal(s). @VvSavage

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – The Battle and The Spoils

28/06/2017

Life Cycle of a Writer – Sue Fortin

Well, it’s been something of a struggle the last couple of months on the writing front. I’ve been working on my structural edits for my next book, The Birthday Girl, which involved cutting out 40k words – very nearly half the book. I had taken a gamble on part of the plot where I introduced a police enquiry and to be blunt, it didn’t pay off. I couldn’t quite capture what I was trying to achieve. At several points, I wasn’t sure cutting so much out was doing the right thing and my confidence took something of a dip. I began to question my wisdom with the big changes I had made but, at the same time, knew not making those changes would produce a book that no-one would be happy with.

I did at one point wish I hadn’t started writing the book at all and that I could shove it in the bottom drawer and never look at it again. However, in reality, that wasn’t an option. I had to work out how I could rewrite it so it was more me and more the sort of book I like to write and read.

I had lots of support from my publishers, editor, agent and not least my family, who have all been very patient and understanding. I worked out how I could bring the focus back onto my main characters and with a certain amount of uncertainty I rewrote 40k words, the outcome being 94k words which I was much happier with. It felt like my book when I sent it back to my editor.

At this point, I’m still waiting for her feedback so I have my fingers crossed that she will like what I’ve done. I think there will be some more work needed on it before we move onto the next round of edits but nothing on the scale of the first round.

There have been lots of brighter moments, of course, not least seeing the Hungarian covers of Sister Sister and The Girl Who Lied and foreign rights for both books selling in six countries. Penguin Germany made an offer and wanted a response by midday, which happened to be the day I was out and about and hadn’t checked my emails. My agent had to text me and tell me to look at my emails – urgently!

I also saw a ‘shelfie’ of Sister Sister in Target stores in America. I knew it was going into the stores but actually seeing a picture made it seem real. So, thank you to the lovely book blogger who took the time to tag me on Instagram for that. Again, through Instagram, I was tagged in a post from a book club based in Houston who read my book and had a great discussion about sisters and families. It’s wonderful when you hear things like that and it’s the biggest thrill I get from writing.

I’m heading off to Italy next week with my lovely Romaniac pals, Laura and Catherine, for a writing retreat headed up by Sue Moorcroft at Arte Umbria. It was my intention to get the first draft of my next book completed but with the way things have gone with the edits, it’s not a realistic ambition but I’m hoping to get a good chunk of it written anyway. I’m very much looking forward to spending time with other writers, which always has a positive impact on my own output. The prosecco and location, well, I’ll have to suffer those for my art!

Sue

x

Sparkler Special: Meet The Award-Winning Kaisha Holloway of The Writing Garnet

14/06/2017

The Writing Garnet, and Me.
by Kaisha Holloway

Firstly, let me start by saying how honoured I am to have been asked to appear on The Romaniacs blog today! I idolise each and every one of you, if I could bow down to you all I would…I just wouldn’t be able to get back up again!

Let me introduce myself; I’m Kaisha, otherwise known as TWG (The Writing Garnet), a single, chronically ill mumma to a beautiful little girl. TWG is book focused as well as lifestyle focused. I’m honest, I write from the heart, and I wouldn’t be here without any of you.

‘How did TWG come about?’ Is a question which I get asked a lot of the time! Part of me would like to answer that question every time with a sarcastic response, such as ‘on a whim’. But, since I have no reason to hide behind my sarcasm anymore, I’ll answer that question for you guys, from the heart. I have been an avid reader from an extremely young age, single figures I think I was told. The older I became the more books I stuck my nose into; Cathy Cassidy, Jacqueline Wilson, The Babysitters Club, the highlights of my teenage years. In 2011, my life changed when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. It continued to change as I was diagnosed with a further six chronic illnesses over the years. Limitations became my enemy, and my bed became my best friend. I could no longer rely on my body to do its job, but I could rely on books to keep me company. From 2011 until now, I read. Books were, and still are, the only thing that can give me a little respite from my daily hell. So, in March 2016 I decided that I had to do something to give back to all the authors who have written such fantastic books which have allowed me to laugh, given me company, and made me feel less alone. I decided to review. I decided to blog. I decided to create TWG – The Writing Garnet. I cannot thank authors enough, truly.

Like a lot of bloggers, I have a review policy. Not only is it there to guide authors into finding the right blogger/reviewer for their work, it’s also there to help me otherwise my inbox would overflow even more. I don’t read sci-fi/fantasy/western/super natural or horror novels. You will usually find me reading contemporary fiction/women’s fiction/romantic comedies/psychological thrillers/crime/romance/commercial fiction/historical fiction/autobiographies & some non-fiction (I decide there and then where non-fiction is concerned). I say yes to a lot of review requests that I receive, and I am happy to review last minute, i.e., two days before the date it’s needed. If I get sent a request for a book which isn’t my cup of tea, I just don’t reply to the e-mail. I’m not being nasty, I just cannot spend all day replying to every single request e-mail. If I love your book, you can bet I will cheerlead it until I am blue in the face. Call me Smurfette.

Another question I get asked A LOT is; ‘how on earth do you read so quickly?’. Short answer, I speed read. I know some people wonder if I taught myself how to do that, but the answer is no, I didn’t. Speed-reading is all I have ever known to do, I don’t remember reading slowly. On average, I can read 5-7 books a week due to the speed of which I am able to do so. If you’re sitting there thinking that I must miss out parts of the storyline whilst reading fast; I don’t. I am able to remember everything of the book. How do I know this? Because my mum tested me when I was a kid, two weeks after I had finished a book. Did I get top marks? Hell yeah I did!

On the 10th June this year, my blog became an award winning blog, courtesy of the Annual Blogger Bash Awards. Squeal! A lot of super lovely people voted for me (big thank you) to win Most Inspirational Blog. I am completely overwhelmed that people think myself and my blog are inspirational, and it means the absolute world to me to win such a heart-warming award. Thank you so much if you voted for me in the awards, and thank you all for the love and support over the last 15 months. I cannot believe it; I was convinced I wouldn’t win. Thank you, so, so much.

Kaisha.

 

Kaisha – thank you for your wonderful guest post and for joining us at Romaniac HQ. Many congratulations on your brilliant award and thank you for all the hard work you put into getting the word about great books out into the world. We truly appreciate the time book bloggers take to read and review our work. Delighted to have you with us today.

To find out more about The Writing Garnet and follow Kaisha’s reviews, here are the important links:

Twitter: @kaishajayneh (www.twitter.com/kaishajayneh)
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewritinggarnet
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thewritinggarnet
Blog url: https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Letting the stories lead you

06/06/2017

I’ve broken some of the rules.

I’ve gone a little bit crazy. A little bit rebellious. Much like the character of Olive.

You see, The Gin Shack on the Beach is a book that misbehaves.

It doesn’t sit neatly in a genre. Even a couple of the reviews have said as much. In fact, Olive would like to believe she’s a genre in herself.

“The book was a cosy hilarious feel good mystery if that could be a genre.” Kim the Bookworm

“This book is a whole lot of fun and as I was reading it, I found that I enjoyed it more because it’s not like anything I usually read. Of course the traits are still the same – a strong lead character, troubled pasts, plenty of friendship and frolics, but there was no need to categorise this and try and make a genre out of it. It was simply highly entertaining, and reading it was a great way to spend a day with a big smile on my face.” Sophie Headley – Book Drunk

But sometimes, the idea, the notion of the story is so strong you have to go with it, especially when your editor and agent encourage you just on the back of a blurb:

When Olive Turner’s son pushes her into a retirement home several years too early, she isn’t going to fade away to oblivion like he wants.

She sets about proving that the residents of Oakley West Retirement Quarters aren’t finished yet by turning her beach hut into The Gin Shack Club. But word soon spreads about the secret weekly meetings and everybody on Westbrook beach wants to become a gin connoisseur. The secret club becomes a legitimate business possibility, but are the residents of Oakley West too long in the tooth to pull it off? Or is it about time life began at eighty-four?

A story of friendship, defiance, and the quest for the perfect gin and tonic.

I’d sent two story ideas to my editor, both good ideas, both ones she was happy for me to write. The other story (I’ll write it one day) was in similar vein to my first two books and The Gin Shack was a wild card. Victoria was happy to support me with whichever one I chose, but I’m pretty sure there was a glint in her eye for gin.

I ended up having a phone conversation with my agent, Hattie Grunewald, to come up with an action plan of what I should do. Having not written a word of the book yet, I wasn’t sure I could do it justice. My first two books are emotional reads with an element of romance. This was completely different. We decided I should write the first chapter and see if it was something I could manage. So, I did. And I have never enjoyed writing a chapter so much and it didn’t take long for the rest of the story to follow.

And it was exactly that. The story led (Olive is a character) and I followed.

We never intended to break the rules. We didn’t mean to get rebellious, but sometimes the story leads you and as Sophie said “there is no need to categorise this.” It’s just the metadata guys I feel sorry for.

So, yeah, break the rules. Don’t conform. Go ahead and #BeMoreOlive

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