Olive’s Essential Christmas Gin Gift Guide

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

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Girl in Trouble – Rhoda Baxter

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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

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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Thank you, fellow Romaniacs, and cheers!

Celia xx

Life Cycle of a Writer – Onto the next chapter…

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

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.

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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!

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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

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

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