I am excited, thrilled and nervous today, as my third novel for Choc Lit is released. What Doesn’t Kill You is published under Choc Lit’s new imprint, Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.
Released on NetGalley for early reviews, I am delighted to say the novel has been warmly received, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the story.
Told from three perspectives, WDKY is set in and around the Jurassic Coast, making it the third in the Chesil Beach series. We meet our hero, Griff Hendry, as he stands on Portland Bill, watching the stormy sea. His life is as turbulent as the English Channel, with secrets and past torments threatening to drown everything he knows and loves. His wife, Evie, has pushed him away; he’s at odds with his fifteen-year-old step-daughter, Tess, and he struggles to understand his father’s past actions. Sometimes it seems as if his Old English sheepdog, Ozzy, is the only one he truly gets.
Griff asks the question: Where did it all go wrong?
Here’s my book trailer teaser …
For an alternative version with a different feel and atmosphere provided by the music, please hop over to my blog.
I hope you love the story of Griff, Evie and Tess, and thank you so much for downloading.
There is no other way to describe this year other than to say it has been EPIC! Unlike most years in a writer’s life, this one has been a rollercoaster of HIGHs. Since our last Sparkle Party, my reasons to celebrate have been immense:
Miles Between Us won Just Write’s Monthly Masterpiece
Baby Number Two was highly commended in the Accent Press/Women’s Magazine Writing Competition
I won the 2015 Katie Fforde bursary
I was a finalist at the London Book Fair Write Stuff event.
I was offered a two-book contract with Carina UK
The Romaniacs won Media Star at the RNA Industry Awards
So overall, my writing CV is somewhat shinier than it was this time last year, but none of this has come without sheer determination and grit. I’ve only listed the good stuff here because those are the parts I’m choosing to dwell on. There are of course the occasions I’ve submitted to agents and been rejected or not received a reply. There are the competitions I’ve entered and not even been placed in. To those occasions I say Pah! Because what do they matter? Those occasions won’t stop me from writing something new, from doing something different, from finding someone who loves my style of writing as much as I do.
As this is my last LCOAW this year, I’m going to encourage you to write some lists. One for the things you have achieved this year however big or small, writing related or not. Then write a second list for the things you want to achieve in 2016. I’ve been doing this every year for the past five years and without encouraging myself, half of the above wouldn’t have happened. I’ll be writing mine up soon and I break it down into categories: Family/Health/Writing/Competitions. (I have a feeling I might have to add spring cleaning the house once Book Two is written.) Once you have those lists, continue celebrating the good stuff, even if it’s the simple things like writing The End.
Then find a group to celebrate with like The Romaniacs. Because on the occasions I haven’t triumphed, they have. On the occasions I’ve wanted to grumble, they’ve listened. When I’m not sure where I’m going wrong, they’ve pointed me in the right direction. And vice versa. In just under two weeks when we meet up for our next Sparkle event, I know this whole life cycle of a writer gets to start all over again! And who knows what the next year will bring?
Rarely is a Romaniac lost for words, but on Wednesday evening, 18th November 2015, at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party, we were struck dumb.
The moment that took our collective breath away was when the always-divine, ever-sophisticated Adrienne Vaughan, editor of the RNA’s magazine, Romance Matters, announced the runners-up and the winners of the inaugural RNA Industry Awards. I won’t repeat the details contained within the lovely report from the RNA, or from the write-up in The Bookseller, other than to say The Romaniacs picked up the RNA Industry Media Star Award!
This week’s Something For The Weekend is what was in our heads, and what we would have said had we regained the power of speech in time.
Laura: First of all, many congratulations to the winners and runners-up – what an exciting evening! I feel a little like the marvellous Maureen Lipman in the BT ads when she says, ‘He’s got an ology.’ The Romaniacs have an award! Thank you so much. I think it’s safe to say we were not expecting this at all. The announcement took my breath away. What a huge honour and privilege it is to have received the Media Star award. And what an incredible, heart-warming cheer you all gave. You’re all so lovely. It means so much to have received an award from our writing friends – people we respect and admire, and who, without fail, inspire, encourage and support us. The Sparkle Spotlight videos have, to date, been our biggest venture, (adventure?) but they would not have happened had it not been for the fantastic give-it-a-go spirit of the RNA members and the Conference crew. We only hope we can give back to this fabulous organisation what we have gained. Personally, this is my first writing award, and I love, love LOVE that it’s come from being with my band of writing sisters, The Romaniacs. Thank you.
Jan: Wow! What an exciting, proud moment. We’d been cheering on the other category winners and listening to the speeches, etc, and then our name was called as winners of the Media Star Award and we almost dropped our glasses of fizz! Such an honour to have been recognised in this way. The ear-splitting cheers that went up when we all walked up to collect our award and have our photo taken was something I’ll never forget. I’m still grinning now! I’m so appreciative of all the love, support and encouragement our blog receives and very grateful to the RNA for their enthusiasm for our Sparkle Spotlight venture at this year’s conference. What fun that was! And what an absolute pleasure it is to be part of The Romaniacs.Thank you.
Sue: Absolutely delighted and honoured to have received this industry award and to have received it as a Romaniac. Thank you so much for all your support, we couldn’t have done it without you.
Vanessa: What an honour! We were all thrilled to win this award from the RNA, who have been so instrumental in all of our writing successes and achievements. I can honestly say I’d be a lot further down the writing ladder than I am if it weren’t for the RNA so it’s always been a pleasure to support both the Association and fellow authors with our blog and Sparkle Spotlights!
Lucie: In true Essex-style, OH MY GOD!! I was absolutely gutted to have not been able to attend the awards and winter party on Wednesday, but due to study commitments and childcare constraints it wasn’t possible for me to be in attendance. When I received news that we had won the Media award, I, too, was speechless. To win an award with my amazing friends is truly a highlight of my writing career so far. Being a Romaniac has always been a rewarding, uplifting and positively exciting experience and taking our group to the next level in this way has been phenomenal. I love these girls to bits, they’re my sisters, my family. And knowing we have the support and encouragement from everyone around us makes me tingle from head to toe! Thank you SO much for everything you all do, every single one of you. You’ve made my year! Here’s to many more years together!
Celia: Like Lucie, I was very sad to have to miss the awards (and, more to the point, the fizz) because of work commitments but was more than delighted to hear the fabulous news. It’s exciting, humbling and rewarding to feel that we’ve been honoured like this, and it means so much to me to be part of this warm-hearted, funny, inspiring gang. Can’t wait to see the star itself!
Catherine: Dust off the honkometer, Jan! Can you Adam and Eve it? I can only add to the thanks the other girls have said and raise a glass to 2016 where you can expect more of our antics!
We’re heading off for our annual Romaniac Sparkle Retreat soon, when we’ll be planning and preparing for 2016, aided by Prosecco, cooked breakfasts and plenty of glitter.
Whoop! It’s pre-order time for Moondancing – the prequel to Little Boxes – and it’s only 99c until publication day on January 12th.
This is a very proud moment for me, at a time when writing has had to take a definite back seat due to the day job. I love our school and my brilliant work-mates in equal measures, but we’ve been having a very tough time lately, and it’s been getting harder and harder to find time to be able to settle down to anything but depressing Ofsted follow-ups and policies and action plans.
Anyway, before you fall asleep in your tea, let me just say that Moondancing was the very first book I managed to finish. It began as a sample chapter; an assignment for a pre-teaching English Literacy course, and over the years…a lot of years…was one of those ongoing projects that were just for fun and nobody thought would ever be finished. But, eventually, THE END was written and Moondancing (then veering crazily between being called Something For Molly and Start Again) set off on its first journey – to a mystery reader for the RNA New Writers’ Scheme.
Frankly, the reader was underwhelmed. Moondancing was a hot potch of writing styles, multiple viewpoints and quoted song lyrics – it had travelled with me through being widowed, my children growing up and leaving the nest, a new career, marrying again, meeting my wonderful Romaniac friends and lots of other inspiring writers…it was a patchwork quilt of love, loss, black humour, wine and cake. In other words, it was awful. So I carried on and wrote some more books – but faster.
Finally, after the publication of Sweet Proposal, Little Boxes and Living the Dream, I dug Moondancing out again and gave it a complete facelift. It was then edited by the fabulous Mandy James and sent off to my publishers, Tirgearr, where it had another spring-clean by the equally talented Christine McPherson.
Moondancing is a very different book now. It’s still full of unexpressed longing, frustration, love and grief, but it has a purpose, and it leads directly into Little Boxes. It’s a case of ‘What Molly Did First’ rather than ‘What Katy Did Next’. Here’s the blurb:
Together since their teens, Molly and Jake have four children, a house in a sleepy village, and jobs that bore them to distraction. Their marriage is an accident waiting to happen. When Nick arrives in Mayfield, young, disturbed and in desperate need of mother-love, Molly doesn’t realise that he will be the catalyst that blows everything apart. Add a headmaster whose wife doesn’t understand him, and Molly’s unpredictable, frustrated best friend to the mix, and the blue touch paper has been well and truly lit.
I hope you enjoy reading Moondancing as much as I enjoyed writing it, but also hope it doesn’t take as long…
At Romaniac HQ we’re gearing up for next week’s Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party and thought a post of posh frocks and party shoes seemed very appropriate. Looking forward to seeing everyone there.
With all my edits complete, I can now proudly reveal the fabulously glam cover for my upcoming debut novel As Weekends Gowhich will be published by Choc Liton December 4th!
Huge thanks to BERNI STEVENS for the design. You’ve done me proud!
What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?
When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.
She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …
But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?
I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I signed my contract.
And now it is just over three weeks until publication.
Even my butterflies have butterflies!
I nearly swallowed my chocolate chip cookie WHOLE when I saw my novel on The Choc Lit website and then on AMAZON.CO.UK for pre-order.
Best put on my literary seatbelt and prepare for the ride.
Is it just Romaniac HQ, or has the wind changed and carried all the cold viruses our way? There seem to be a lot of tissue boxes and coughs and splutters in our HQ today, so we thought we’d add photos of how we’re getting through the cold season. Potentially, this is just another excuse for more pictures of cake and wine, but nowt wrong with that!
On Thursday 29th October 2015, via my own blog, http://www.lauraejames.co.uk, and through social media, I had the sheer delight and pleasure of revealing the fabulous Berni Stevens cover for my third Choc Lit book in the Chesil Series, What Doesn’t Kill You. I am totally besotted with my new cover – not only is it stunning, not only does it capture the entire essence of the novel, but it features Portland Bill and the lighthouse. It’s an area that holds fond memories for me of my mum and visits to the Bill on warm, balmy days when my children were younger. There is a wonderful café there, called the Lobster Pot, which was a favourite place for birthday meals and easy Sunday lunches. At the end of the same building is an ice cream parlour, and no visit was complete without a vanilla cone for dessert.
My husband and I visited the area recently. It was a gorgeous way to spend the morning. I took video footage and photographs which I plan to use in the book trailer, but here’s a sneak preview.
Thinking about it, I guess it was inevitable Portland Bill would feature in one of my books.
What Doesn’t Kill You has the honour of being the first novel to be released under the new imprint from Choc Lit, called Dark Choc Lit – an imprint for ‘…compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.’
For those who like romance without the soft edges, What Doesn’t Kill You is the read for you. It’s available for pre-order, with an anticipated publication date of 26th November 2015.
My post from Thursday explains in more detail, but I feel so privileged to be in this position. What an amazing opportunity!
Here’s the blurb:
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.
From Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.
In between celebrating WDKY, feeding my children (because they keep on insisting I should cook dinner), and keeping clean, it’s head down and on with book four, as yet untitled. Now that WDKY is finding its way in the world, I can once again enter lives of my new characters and fully submerge myself in their world.
And the more I think about them, the more trouble they get into …