Beverley Eikli’s Maid of Milan

MOM bookmarks packshotHi Laura and Romaniacs,

The jetlag has dissipated but not so the good memories of my Choc Lit launch for my second book, The Maid of Milan, at The Chocolate Museum several Fridays ago. (Goodness, has so much time gone by already?)

Luke and Holly, our publicists at Choc Lit, worked hard to organise the fun and successful event at the atmospheric upstairs/downstairs venue in Brixton where fellow Choc Lit author Janet Gover was also launching her outback romance, Flight to Coorah Creek.

As our Managing Director Lyn Vernham said in her introduction, we had the interesting dichotomy of expatriate Australian Janet (living in London for the past twenty years) writing a romance about the Australia Outback, and me, living in Australia, writing an English Regency-set romance (albeit not a traditional one).

Having a new book out is always exciting but the icing on the cake was celebrating my book launch with family and friends and having the added bonus of meeting so many of my fellow Choc Lit authors, many of whom I’ve got to know quite well through email correspondence.

Beverley and Janet at Choc Museum book launch

Beverley Eikli and Janet Gover

Some of them I first met last year at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in Kansas City. Hard to believe that was a year ago as we’re just about to head over once again to the RT Convention, this time in New Orleans. (I can thank the fact hubby is a pilot for the good fortune of being able to go staff travel – provided there’s a spare seat for me on the day.)

So yes, I got my London book launch, which I’d dreamed of since I was a little girl living in South Australia. During long holidays I used to read to my captive audience – my younger sisters – the series I wrote when I was seven called ‘The School for Witches’ at our beach cottage in Coffin Bay. (The remote area was named after the man who discovered the place, not on account of any awful shipwreck with multiple drownings necessitating coffins).

Ten years later I finished my first full-length novel, a romance in which I did in fact drown the heroine on the last page and which, not surprisingly, never found a publisher. A dramatic teenager, I remember shedding copious tears at the demise of poor drowned Sophie, the name I gave to each heroine of my growing number of dusty, unwanted manuscripts.

It was only many years later when my husband raised our just-delivered first-born daughter for me to see and said, ‘Let’s call her Sophie?’ that the name finally found a worthy owner; and eight years after that when my first historical romance, Lady Sarah’s Redemption, was published by Robert Hale… a romance in which my heroine actually escaped drowning during a shipwreck and took on the identity of her supposedly fellow drowned governess who turned out much later not to have drowned and was in fact a party to some other very shady dealings.

However, my book at the centre of The Chocolate Museum’s festivities is The Maid of Milan, a very untraditional Regency romance laced with mystery and suspense and lots of intrigue. One reviewer likens it both to a Regency era version of the 1980s US series, ‘Dynasty’ and Anthony Trollope’s ‘The Pallisers’ ‘where beneath the waving fans is gritty intrigue’.

At the heart of it, though, is the psychological question: ‘Who can you trust if your own mother is manipulating – for her own ends – the secret that threatens to destroy you?’

The Maid of Milan is as much a story about a mother and a daughter, and trust and loyalty, as it is a romance about a deeply honourable man who desperately wants the love of the vulnerable wife who married him so unwillingly.

Beverley with her two books

Beverley with her two books

And at the core is a once-vibrant young woman who has had everything she ever valued torn from her, trying to balance her past – the lover who excited her passions – with her future – the husband who satisfies her now-mature need for truth and order, and of the struggle when past and (increasingly vulnerable) future collide.

This was a ripper of a story that took many years to write, while other books of mine were published in the interim. It went through numerous drafts, especially after the raft of fantastic feedback I received from Choc Lit’s Tasting Panel.

Thanks so much for having me here today to talk about my wonderful book launch and The Maid of Milan. I’ve enjoyed it and now suddenly it’s time for bed, here in Australia. Perhaps I’m not quite over the jetlag, after all 🙂

The Maid of Milan is available from: Amazon UK, Amazon US, iBooks, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

You can read more about Beverley’s books at http://www.beverleyeikli.com/ or beverleyeikli.blogspot.com, and at Twitter: @BeverleyOakley

Great post, thank you Beverley. Watch this space for another fab blog from Beverley as she tells all about her secret life …

Before we go, here’s a brilliant video of Beverley’s and Janet’s book launch from BestChickLit, here.

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RNA, NWS : Joan Hessayon Award

As you may know, The Romaniacs all met through the RNA‘s New Writers’ Scheme back in 2011. Since then we’ve all made great strides in our writer careers and, amazingly, last year three of us achieved our ambition of becoming published authors. This has meant ‘graduation’ to full membership with the RNA and sees us eligible for the Joan Hessayon Award; the winner of which is to be announced at the RNA summer party in London on 22 May 2104.

Celia J Anderson – Sweet Proposal

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Laura E. James – Truth or Dare?

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Sue Fortin – United States of Love

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We are in fabulous company and wanted to wish everyone the very best of luck. We are looking forward to the evening very much and to meeting up with all the other attendees, especially the other new writers.  Here is the full list of nominations.

Alison May

Eileen Hogg

Elaine Everest

Helen Phifer

Jane O’Reilly

Jennifer Young

Jessica Thompson

Jill Steeples

Jo Thomas

Kathryn Freeman

Lin Treadgold

Pauline Bennion

Susan E Willis

Teresa Morgan

Congratulations everyone on becoming published

and

very best of luck!

 

Sheila talks about the 60’s and Mods & Rockers…

Good morning all,

It’s the start of the weekend and I have a visit from a very lovely lady. Sheila 2014 Portrait

I am so pleased to welcome Sheila Norton into Romaniac HQ for a little chin wag and a slice of Celia’s chocolate cake. It’s a special one, too. You know the type – with the chocolate cream and the white chocolate shavings on top … heaven.

So, firstly a massive hello and welcome, Sheila, it is so lovely to have you here. We hear you have a new book out, can you tell us a little about it?

Thank you – for the lovely welcome and especially the chocolate cake! Yes, I have a new book just out now – YESTERDAY. It’s a Kindle ebook on Amazon, priced at £1.99 and is the story of Cathy, who as a middle-aged journalist in 2004 has to revisit her teenage years during the violent clashes between the Mods and Rockers – and find the answers to some questions that have always haunted her.

Yesterday’ is set in the 1960’s, what made you choose this era to write about? Is this the first book you have written within this time period?

Basically, I chose the 1960s because I was a teenager myself then and remember it well! And I also think it was such an exciting era, with such a lot of changes happening, especially for young people. Yes, it’s the first book I’ve set in the 1960s – or in any other period other than the current day. All my other books have been contemporary.

You also have some books under the pseudonym Olivia Ryan, can you tell us a little about those?

I wrote a series of three novels – the ‘Tales from’ series – as Olivia Ryan because my then-editor thought they were a little different from my first five novels and she wanted to promote them as if they were by a ‘new’ author. They’re three completely different stories, but the connection is weddings: the titles are ‘Tales from a Hen Weekend’, ‘Tales from a Wedding Day’, and ‘Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel’. Since I’ve started self-publishing, though, I’ve reverted to my own name, as I feel this is how most people know me and will look for me on Amazon. I’ve published the ‘Sisters’ series this way, and now YESTERDAY.

Which genres do you prefer to read yourself for pleasure?

I’ll try most things! – but my favourite reads these days are usually suspense and thrillers. I do still like Rom Coms too (most of my previous 11 novels fall loosely into this category) especially if they have some emotional depth.

You run the Chelmsford Chapter meeting each month which is for the RNA, do you think regularly meeting other writers face to face is an important factor of being a writer? What benefits do you think this brings to both new and established writers?

Yes, making friends through the Chelmsford RNA chapter has been a definite bonus for me, especially since I retired from my day job at a hospital, as I sometimes miss the stimulation of constant company and conversation with all sorts of people! For new writers, a group like ours is (I hope) somewhere where they can find encouragement and support, and ask questions about their writing in a friendly atmosphere. Those of us who are already established also need that kind of support – we never become immune to the ups and downs of the writing life, or reach the point where we ‘know it all’.

You are a full time writer now – do you have a set routine to get the words down each day or do you wait for inspiration to strike?

Neither, really! I’m fortunate, now I’m retired, that I can write whenever I want to. Having written my first six published novels while working full-time, you can probably imagine how liberating this is! So I resist any form of routine, now – I just write whenever I have nothing else taking priority (e.g. spending time with my three lovely daughters and six gorgeous grandkids!). But I certainly don’t wait for inspiration to strike. That’s fatal! No book would ever get written!

What top three tips would you give an aspiring writer?

  • Er … don’t wait for inspiration to strike! Just write – anything – no matter how bad it seems. It can be edited or deleted later but you have to get going.
  • Don’t try to write in the style of the latest trend, or try too hard to be clever. Just write in your own voice – it will flow much better and be so much more readable.
  • Most important of all: only write for one reason – because you love doing it. Everything else is a gamble.

Can we ask what you are going to be working on next?

There will be another book set mainly in the 1960s – this time set between England and Australia, and centred on a truly heartrending true life situation. I’ve also written the first draft of a contemporary book where the protagonists are all grandparents. I have plenty of experience to call on for this one! And finally I have a plan for yet another book set partly in the Sixties, and partly bang up to date in the current time.

Oooh, time for a Quick-fire round:

 

  • Left or right? Right
  • Seaside or mountains? Seaside
  • Ebook or paperback? Ebook
  • Champagne or cocktails? Champagne
  • Pen & paper or straight to computer? Computer
  • What or who makes you laugh? My little grandchildren
  • Disco or Rock ‘n’ roll? Rock ‘n’ Roll
  • Theatre or Cinema? Cinema
  • Facebook or Twitter? Facebook

 

Well, thank you so much for being such a fantastic guest. We wish you all the very best of luck with ‘Yesterday’.

Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure!

Lucie x

YESTERDAY cover jpeg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/YESTERDAY-Sheila-Norton-ebook/dp/B00JKOM7YY/

Sheila’s website – http://www.sheilanorton.co.uk/

Writing as Olivia Ryan – http://www.oliviaryan.com/

Nikki Moore : Crazy, Undercover, Love


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The day has finally arrived!! Nikki Moore’s debut novel with HarperImpulse – Crazy, Undercover, Love – is released as an ebook today, 24th April 2014.

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If you like pacy, sexy romance and fancy a long weekend in Barcelona with a smoking hot guy this one’s for you!  Want to know more…?

When uber-feisty career girl Charley Caswell-Wright takes on the assignment as PA to the gorgeous Alex Demetrio, CEO of Demetrio International, she’s there under entirely false pretences; to get her life back on track. Having lost the job she worked so hard to earn, she’s determined not to give it up so easily, especially when she didn’t deserve to lose it in the first place.

Mr Dreamy CEO is her only chance of clawing back her career – and her reputation. So she has to keep things strictly professional… boy, is she in trouble!

To buy Crazy, Undercover Love as an ebook:-

Amazon – http://amzn.to./1gdpOxb

Google Play – http://bit.ly/1rTMrQw

iTunes – http://bit.ly/1mkzpHP

Kobo – bit.ly/QlpKpC

Sainsbury’s –http://bit.ly/1hoD1bj

Or to buy it as a paperback on pre-order, released on 26th June:-

Amazon – http://amzn.to/1rTKGmB

What people are saying about Nikki’s other stories…

The Love Letter and A Day in the Life… HarperImpulse short story collection Be My Valentine, with Teresa F Morgan and Brigid Coady, attracting 4 and 5 star reviews.

‘I loved all 5 stories and will look out for more books by each author.’

CometBabesBooks, Amazon

‘Whilst I enjoyed all of the stories, I particularly liked Nikki Moore’s … her voice as an author really resonated with me and I can’t wait to read more of her work.’

Kate Beeden, Goodreads

Nikki’s short story A Night to Remember in the Mills & Boon/Romantic Novelists Association anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply which has also attracted 4 and 5 star reviews.

‘My favourite story was A Night To Remember. I think what drew me to this … was its resonance with real life. I’m not going to spoil the story but I could feel the emotions spilling out of the page – it was beautiful.’

Beckie, http://www.beckiesbookmix.blogspot.co.uk

‘A Night to Remember – Beautiful, devastatingly so.’

Cheryl M-M, Goodreads & http://mmcheryl.wordpress.com/

Nikki_Moore_Author_Pic_1Nikki Moore lives in beautiful Dorset and writes short stories and sexy, pacy romances. A finalist in several writing competitions including Novelicious Undiscovered 2012, she graduated from the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme after four years and and has contributed to their magazine Romance Matters. She has far too much fun attending the annual RNA conference and has previously chaired a panel and taken part in a workshop at the Festival of Romance.

She blogs about some of her favourite things – Writing, Work and Wine – at www.nikkimooreauthor.wordpress.comand believes in supporting other writers as part of a friendly, talented and diverse community.

You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NikkiMooreAuthor or on Twitter @NikkiMoore_Auth and she invites you to pop in for chats about love, life, reading or writing!

 

 

Eggs, chocolate, books, Lent – What’s happening this Easter?

Easter is upon us, a bit on the late side this year, but here nevertheless.

At Romaniac HQ, we’ve been chatting about what we have planned for the next week or so, what we’re reading and what we’re looking forward to. I think it’s safe to say a fair amount of chocolate will be involved.

Sue : I promised my daughter I would read ‘Divergent’ so I can appreciate all her geeky references and I will also be doing the annual Easter egg hunt.  I’ve done this every year since the children were small but last year, I didn’t do it for the older ones, thinking they had grown out of it. How wrong was I? They were most put out. I will have to try and think up some new clues. I can’t have ‘What goes up and down but never moves’ as a clue every year!

Jan : I love the Easter weekend. We always have a family get together, usually on Easter Sunday, where apart from feasting on chocolate, we play games, make up a fun quiz, or like. I’m just hoping the weather holds as it would be lovely to sit outside amongst the blossoms and daffodils. As for what I’m reading, well I’m ping-ponging between Mel Sherratt’s ‘Watching Over You’ (a tense psychological thriller) and re-reading Lisa Jewell’s ‘Before I Met You’ (dual time frame romance with plenty of added mystery) both of which I’m loving. Can’t be bad, can it?

Celia: Shameful confession here – I haven’t read ‘One Day’ yet. Started it this morning and am totally hooked already. David Nicholls – I am terribly keen on you. Over Easter I will also be finishing off all the books I’m part way through due to pressure of work and stuff. I’m going to Norfolk too – time out with daughters and bloke to appreciate the long, almost deserted beaches and eat crab sandwiches. Ok, and chocolate.

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Laura: Ah, Sue – I think I promised to take my daughter to the cinema to watch ‘Divergent.’ Last year, we were in Florida for Easter, and much to our son’s delight, the Easter Bunny tracked him down. This year we’re in Blighty, and I’m reading and enjoying Sarah Tranter’s ‘Romancing The Soul’, with Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Memory Book’, lined up next, and I have edits to complete for ‘Follow Me, Follow You’. There will jollity, certainly an Easter egg hunt, and the end to my self-imposed ‘no eating chocolate for Lent’. Let Easter commence!

Debbie: Oh, Sue, how I miss Easter egg hunts. Sadly, my youngest, now thirteen, has decided he’s too old to partake, although he’s still happy to eat them all!

For me, Easter, like Christmas, is a ‘proper’ festival and celebration. The main day is spent in much the same way; opening Easter cards and sharing eggs before a trip to church, preparing a turkey and all the trimmings for lunch, followed by an afternoon walk (or snooze.)

This year the Easter holidays are mapped out with day trips and teenage boys coming for sleep overs. However, in between, I’ll endeavour to spend as much time as I can in my summer house, watching the birds, enjoying the garden as it springs into life after the long winter’s slumber and writing. By night, next on my kindle ‘to read’ is, Tracy Chevalier’s, ‘The Last Runaway.’

Catherine :  Easter? Who said Easter? It can’t be, I haven’t recovered from Christmas! It will be the twins first Easter & we’ll be spending it with family. They’re not quite up to Easter egg hunts yet, but next year they will. And to get into the chocolate theme, I’ll be reading Sweet Proposal by our very own Celia. I should have read it ages ago but these little girls are getting in the way of my reading time! Maybe with all the extra relatives I can sneak off somewhere!

 Vanessa: Well, for some reason, I decided the Easter holidays would be the perfect time to edit a first draft and send it off to my agent, get new carpets laid in the house and move offices. In between that madness, it’ll be Easter egg hunts, picnics on the beach (if the weather stays sunny!), big family roast lunches and reading Judith Kinghorn’s The Memory of Lost Senses.

We also wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for your continued support, we really do appreciate it. Wishing everyone a very happy Easter.

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The WoMentoring Project

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Today is the launch day of an incredibly exciting new initiative set up by Kerry Hudson, offering free mentoring from authors, editors and agents to up and coming female writers. The buzz about it on twitter has been building and today it’s officially launched and here at Romaniac HQ, we’re tucking into cake and already checking out the website. All the information about the initiative is below and the all-important website address is:

http://www.womentoringproject.co.uk

You can follow WoMentoring on twitter – @WoMentoringP

About the WoMentoring Project
The WoMentoring Project exists to offer free mentoring by professional literary women to up and coming female writers who would otherwise find it difficult to access similar opportunities.

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bespoke illustration by Sally Jane Thompson

The mission of The WoMentoring Project is simply to introduce successful literary women to other women writers at the beginning of their careers who would benefit from some insight, knowledge and support. The hope is that we’ll see new, talented and diverse female voices emerging as a result of time and guidance received from our mentors. 

Each mentor selects their own mentee and it is at their discretion how little or much time they donate. We have no budget, it’s a completely free initiative and every aspect of the project – from the project management to the website design to the PR support – is being volunteered by a collective of female literary professionals. Quite simply this is about exceptional women supporting exceptional women. Welcome to The WoMentoring Project. 



Why do we need it?
Like many great (and not so great) ideas The WoMentoring Project came about via a conversation on Twitter. While discussing the current lack of peer mentoring and the prohibitive expense for many of professional mentoring we asked our followers – largely writers, editors and agents – who would be willing to donate a few hours of their time to another woman just starting out. The response was overwhelming – within two hours we had over sixty volunteer mentors.

The WoMentoring Project is managed by novelist Kerry Hudson and all of our mentors are all professional writers, editors or literary agents. Many of us received unofficial or official mentoring ourselves which helped us get ahead and the emphasis is on ‘paying forward’ some of the support we’ve been given. 

In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we wanted to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.

Applications
In an ideal world we would offer a mentor to every writer who needed and wanted one. Of course this isn’t possible so instead we’ve tried to ensure the application process is accessible while also ensuring that out mentors have enough information with which to make their selection.

Applicant mentees will submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications will be in application to a specific mentor and mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time. 

Why our mentors are getting involved

The reason I’m doing this is simple: mentoring can mean the difference between getting published and getting lost in the crowd. It can help a good writer become a brilliant one. But till now, opportunities for low-income writers to be mentored were few and far between. This initiative redresses the balance; I’m utterly delighted to be part of the project.
Shelley Harris, author of Jubilee

I have only achieved the success I have with the help of others, and now I am keen to pass on that help. I particularly want to reach out to those who don’t have the privileges of wealth, status or existing contacts, but who have so much to gain and to give.
Marie Phillips, author Gods Behaving Badly

I’m so pleased to be involved in the WoMentoring Project, and I can’t wait to meet my mentee. I know from my own authors how isolating an experience writing can often be, especially when you’re just starting out, and so I really wanted to be involved. I hope that knowing that there is someone on your side in those early days will give writers courage and confidence in their work.
Alison Hennessy, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker

The WoMentoring project is the kind of opportunity I would have relished when writing my first novel. It’s founded in the spirit of paying it forward, and I’ll take real pride in sharing whatever experience I’ve gained with a mentee. I’ve benefited from the advice and encouragement of some truly inspirational writers, the right voice cheering you on can make all the difference when you’re in your solitary writing bubble. The formality of the mentoring arrangement also gives a sense of responsibility and focus – something that’s invaluable when you’re lost in the sprawl of a work-in-progress – and it’s beneficial to mentors too.
Emylia Hall, author of The Book of Summers 

My career as an editor has been immeasurably enriched by working with inspiring women writers, yet the world of publishing would have been inaccessible to me without the time and support I was given when first starting out.  The WoMentoring Project is a wonderful, necessary thing and I’m very proud to be taking part in it.
Francesca Main, Editorial Director, Picador
 
I wanted to get involved with this project because I’d like to help authors feel that whoever they are, and wherever they come from, they have a right to be heard.
Jo Unwin of the Jo Unwin Literary Agency 

Why female writers feel they need this opportunity

I’m interested in being mentored because although I think you have to make mistakes to learn, having someone who’s been there help you work out the ones with no value can be really useful. Most of all I’d like to have someone to push and challenge me on what makes me and my writing tick.

The idea of women sharing their skills and experience in a dynamic, nurturing way is a really important one given the lower profile given to female writers. Even though the mentoring is one to one a collective voice and resilience is still being built up – I think it’s a great idea that, for writers like me, will help get rid of some of the layers of doubt and creative loneliness that come with being a beginner.
Clare Archibald 

 
I’m on my third novel; I’ve had good notices from Faber, HoZ etc. but still not quite there. What I need is that final push. I especially need guidance on pacing, keeping the action pulsing along. I feel a mentor could be hugely beneficial in this process.
Suzy Norman 

Roving Romaniac: Laura Visits Sandworld

Roving Romanic: Laura Visits Sandworld.

 

Weymouth Seafront

Weymouth Sea front

Ever since I can remember, Weymouth’s had a sand sculptor producing beautiful works of art on the beach, and for the last four years, Sandworld has developed an off-beach site too, where it can create and keep the sculptures in a secure and welcoming environment for the summer season.

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On Saturday 5th April 2014, authors with connections to Weymouth, Kathy Sharp, Kate Kelly, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry and I, gathered for the Grand Opening of Sandworld’s theme for the 2014 season, Literally in Sand. We spent a wonderful day in an area we affectionately called Author’s Corner, enjoying the hospitality of our lovely hosts, and the chatter with those who came to view the incredible sand sculptures and take a look at our books.

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

I gave my first-ever reading – an extract from Truth or Dare?, and aware there would be children at the venue, I opted for a family-friendly section. It was quite a challenge finding a passage that wasn’t dark, gritty, or containing too much dialogue, which I figured would be more difficult to follow as a listener. I chose a scene near the beginning of the novel, and including my introduction, spoke for ten minutes.

As someone who has been known to take the stage for a song, it was great to be performing once more.

It was an excellent event, and we hope to return in the summer and do it all again.

Here are a few teaser photos to illustrate the sheer brilliance of the international band of sand sculptors who’ve worked on Literally in Sand.

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Can you name the books?

I recommend a trip to Weymouth to see these, and more, in all their glory.

Thank you Sandworld for the fab day, beautiful art, and friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

I will see you soon.

Laura x