The First Time I … Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley Pippa Croft

THE FIRST TIME I…

 WROTE A ROMANCE SERIES

Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

In spring 2013, I was lucky enough to be given a three book contract to write a series of hot romance novels for Penguin Books.

This is the first time I’ve written a series featuring the same characters in each book. Prior to this all my books have been standalone, with completely new characters and settings. Each book in the Oxford Blue series is full-length at approx 90k words and I’ve just started Third Time Lucky – funnily enough the third book in the series.

Sorry that I’ve got to use a blatant plug i.e.the publisher’s blurb to introduce my findings, but this will hopefully put things in context! (Mmm, think the Romaniacs…)

The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.

When US Senator’s daughter Lauren Cusack arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University, she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.

But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn’t need – but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.

Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other . . . but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.

Pippa Croft Series (2)

THE VERDICT SO FAR

So here’s my report so far, on the challenges and joys of writing a series as opposed to single titles and some questions to think about before you embark on this epic journey.

THE CHALLENGES

  • Are your main characters compelling enough and can they develop sufficiently to sustain a series of books? Do the hero, heroine, and secondary characters grow and change with each book and over the series as a whole?
  • How are you going to introduce previous events for readers who pick up the series with Book 2 or 3? How much of their back story should you include while still keeping the new books fresh and exciting for the reader?
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, how can you keep the love scenes exciting? You need to make sure that each sexy scene is part of the character development and moves the characters on in some way, and isn’t simply there for titillation.
  • You need to keep in mind the story arc of the whole series and of each book.
  • You can’t go back and change the story in earlier books, if you’re writing a series as you go along – which you probably will be.
  • However, you can’t plan too far ahead or you’ll be shoehorning characters into the plot of three books rather than letting them develop naturally. However, you do need a very good idea of their motivations and conflicts and these have to develop and change.

THE JOYS

  • Neither you nor your readers have to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love – or hate – by the end of the book.
  • You can take your time over each character’s development, get deep under their skins and set them new challenges to overcome.
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for love scenes to show the characters growing and changing. Great fun…
  • You have time to get deep inside your characters’ psyche and develop their voices.
  • Hopefully, your readers will be so engaged with the characters they will be desperate to read each book.

That looks like more challenges than joys; however I absolutely love writing the Oxford Blue series and slightly dread it finishing it at some point.

I’ll let you into a secret: I still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Lauren and Alexander, but I can promise you that it will be dramatic, sexy and a big surprise (to me as much as the reader…)

Thank you so much, Phillipa, for this fascinating insight and advice. I’ve not written a series but can see how exciting it must be.  Please do visit again and let us know how things develop.

Laura x

Advertisements

Romaniac Shorts Interview – Celia Anderson

Following the launch of our anthology, it’s been an absolute pleasure to ask our lovely Celia a few questions and to see the fun-loving, warm-hearted person we all know and love shine through in her answers. 

She’s even brought in an extra large chocolate cake! 

Here’s what Celia had to say …

1385706_10151646319616610_441535974_n

Q1)   Celia, You’re our Romaniac queen of multitasking, so what are you juggling writing-wise at the moment?

Right now, I’ve just finished re-editing my latest children’s book ready for submission and I’m swaying between getting down to a new adult one that’s three chapters in and a similar erotica one. Little Boxes is currently out on submission (fingers, toes and everything crossable crossed) so I’ve been moving and shaking this half-term before I need to get my nose back to the grindstone.

Q2)  What do you most enjoy writing and why?

I love writing for children because I’ve got a captive audience at school to test out the books, but the adult ones are just as much fun to do. I’m not a big fan of writing short stories so getting three ready for Romaniac Shorts was a steep learning curve…

Q3)  Any other creative passions?

I guess cooking is my other creative pastime but I’ve always dabbled in painting and drawing too. The problem with creating beautiful cakes is you have to eat them – the Romaniacs can’t keep up if I make too many.

427307_10150513214841610_1367980152_n

Yum Yum! 😉

Q4) Which book could you read over and over again?

Elizabeth Goudge’s trilogy – all about the wonderful Elliot family, set in Hampshire near the sea. (The Bird in the Tree, The Herb of Grace and The Heart of the Family). One of my dreams is to win the Elizabeth Goudge award at the RNA conference.

Q5) What was the thinking behind your three anthology stories?

They were all written at different times for different reasons – I was just relieved that they fitted!

Q6) If you could interview any author past or present, who would it be?

D.E. Stevenson – my all time favourite romantic fiction writer. Sadly no longer with us, but her books are so comforting and satisfying when you’re feeling as if you need a hug.

Q7) What was the last book you read?

I’m multitasking with the reading at the moment on my Kindle! Have just finished Stately Pleasures by Lucy Felthouse (very rude!) and am juggling Baggy Pants and Bootees (Marilyn Chapman), our own Laura E James’ Truth or Dare?, The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas and Darcie’s Dilemma – Sue Moorcroft. Phew. No wonder it takes me so long to finish a book!

Q8) Fictional hero you’d most like to spring to life before your eyes?

Inspector Lynley from Elizabeth George’s series. My dream man. Or Foyle from Foyle’s War. A police detective theme is emerging here … I’ve never fancied Poirot though …

Q9) How long did it take you to write your debut novel ‘Sweet Proposal’ and just how excited were you to see it in print?

The book was called The Chocolate Project until it was almost ready for publication and it probably took about 6 months to write – I was beside myself with excitement when it came out (but still prefer the original title.) On publication day I was on a whistle-stop rail tour of the USA with my family and we celebrated with cocktails on top of the John Hancock Tower in Chicago. It was brilliant!

Q10) The sentence that best defines the vibe at Romaniac HQ?

The current one would probably be Onwards and Upwards. Everybody’s on a high after our book launch and we’re loving seeing it up there in the Amazon charts. And all of us have got big writing plans for 2014. I wouldn’t be without the Romaniacs for the world.

rmshrt1563x2500px

 

Celia, thank you so much for answering my questions.

With love,

Jan x

Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology

TMD 24Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology.Author_Pose

I am delighted to announce the release of the Romantic Novelists’ Association new anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply, published by Mills and Boon and available in paperback with 24 stories, and as an extended eBook, containing an additional 11 stories. A bumper selection of all-new specially-selected stories from the leading lights of commercial women’s fiction as well as some exciting new names!

My short story, Bitter Sweet is included in the digital extension, and I am thrilled, honoured, and privileged to be part of such a great anthology, alongside wonderful authors for whom I have deep respect.

The blurb:

24 specially selected stories from bestselling authors including Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Miranda Dickinson and many more. From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an exciting romantic adventure where love really is all you need. Plus, eBook edition includes 11 additional stories!TMD_eBook cover

It’s a must-have!

Please join us on Friday 21st from 09:00 at our Facebook Online Launch Party, and on Twitter, using #TrulyMadlyDeeply and #RNA

Here are the all important links:

Mills & Boon:

Facebook

Twitter

Mills & Boon: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Amazon:

Paperback

eBook

iBooks

Google Play

Kobo

Enjoy!

Laura x

Romaniac Shorts – Out There For Everyone To See

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Now the Romaniac blog is 2 years old, we’re toddling around in Shorts.

Our cover depicts each Romaniac. Can you guess who has which shorts?

*

*

*

Laura: This is stuff of fantasies, so I chose the red Daisy Dukes, 6th on the line. Remember Daisy from The Dukes of Hazard? I’m never going to get away with wearing tight shorts, so I’m dreaming the dream, baby. Oh yeah.

Jan: An easy choice for me. Turquoise is my favourite colour. Proud to be flapping on the Romaniac line … 

Sue: I opted for the pretty green flowery ones. Whenever I’m thinking up plot ideas, I always doodle flowers, so it seemed the obvious choice.

Lucie: I’m a red head … so naturally I went for orange shorts!

Debbie: It has to be the plain green ones for me, to go with my old green wellies for when I’m ‘at one with nature.’

Celia: Mine are the denim cut-offs – one of my friends’ mums once asked me if I was dressed by Oxfam when I was wearing my best pair. Um … yes, actually …

Catherine: Mine are the yellow polka dot shorts for two reasons. 1) Excellent for the cabaret shows I perform for the twins. (The most effective way to keep two girls happy.) 2) They disguise the milk deposits.

VanessaMy daughters helped with suggestions when I was colouring up the shorts on the cover and they chose the red with white polka dots for me!

Did you guess correctly?

Romaniac Shorts is available as a download from Amazon, at £1, here. We hope you enjoy our briefs 😉

xx

Birthday Celebrations in Romaniac Shorts!

The Roms Logo

You won’t believe it, really you won’t. I still can’t quite believe it myself. But … The Romaniacs are TWO YEARS OLD today.

Two! Our blog has been running for a couple of years now and still every day, we pinch ourselves at the immense support we receive from you all.  Thank you SO much.

We are celebrating today in usual Romaniac fashion. Can you guess how? Go on, have a go …

Yep, you guessed it – cake! And lots of it, too! The diets have been put on hold and we plan to devour our weight in cake, biscuits and chocolate. Oh, and then there’s the champagne. Got to have a bit of fizz on our blog birthday.

We’re even having a ‘bring your baby to work’ day, just so that we can make it more of a party. So, we have all the Romaniac children having a boogie, too.

I’ve got to say, it’s a lot of fun here and we would be so happy for you to all join us in a celebratory toast – go on, take a glass – and raise it up high.

To all things writerly, what a wonderful two years it has been. And also (no, don’t drink yet, there’s a second part) to our wonderful support network of friends, without whom, we would not be where we are today.

*CHEERS*

Oh, wait! In all the celebrating and, ahem, drinking, I almost forgot to tell you about our other exciting news. As from today, you will be able to purchase an anthology of short stories and flash fiction penned by none other than our lovely team. That’s right, we have all pooled together our creativity and have created an anthology for you. For those who missed our blog last week about it, let me explain …

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Romaniac Shorts is a collection of short stories and flash fiction that stretch across a number of different styles and genres. Each member of The Romaniacs has included at least two pieces for you to enjoy. We feel this anthology is fresh, exciting and most of all, a bargain at the mere price of £1 and it is available to purchase for your Kindle as from today.

We each believe that the Romantic Novelists’ Association has played a major part in getting us writers to where we are today – it was even how we met in the first place. We are so thankful to the RNA and especially to the New Writers Scheme which has seen us all as members at one time or another. Some of us even going on to be full members! *fanfare and confetti*

And so, to show our appreciation for such a wonderful and encouraging organisation, we shall be donating a percentage of our proceeds from this anthology, to the RNA, to help encourage and grow other writers. The remainder of our proceeds shall be passed to Dyslexia Action.

We know how isolating, frustrating and difficult writing can be at times and there are some people out there who have the additional struggle of dyslexia and such like. So we are very keen to help those who need it the most, which is why we have chosen the RNA and Dyslexia Action.

We hope you will help us help them by purchasing Romaniac Shorts and most of all, we hope you enjoy it!

Please do get in touch with us and let us know what you think.

Now, where did I put my cake …

Lucie x

Book Review of Made in Nashville

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

Made-in-Nashville-190x280

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

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

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

Another great novel from Mandy Baggot!

Sue

x

Made-in-Nashville-190x280Made in Nashville

by Mandy Baggot

Published by Harper Impulse

Buying options here

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief.

There has been much excitement at Romaniac HQ, but in keeping with today’s title, we’ll be brief.

Next Thursday, 13th February 2014, our blog will be 2 years old, and we have a very special celebration planned.

Romaniac Press has gone into production, and we are releasing our first anthology:

Romaniac Shorts

It’s a diverse collection of short stories and flash fiction, ranging from romance, to crime, to fantasy,  and we are thrilled to see one of our early ideas finally come to fruition.

Romaniac Shorts will be available as an eBook, through Amazon.

All profits from the sale of Romaniac Shorts will be divided between Dyslexia Action, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association .

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have received guidance, advice, and friendship from the writing world, and we always aim to give something back. We hope this goes a little way to saying thank you.

Please enjoy our briefs.

*

*

*

Romaniac Shorts Cover