Life Cycle of a Writer: An Open Letter to my Daughters

To my dearest daughters,

I want you to always dream big. To see sidewards of whatever situation you are in, and know that, whatever cloud you are chasing, it is entirely plausible to catch it.

There will be people telling you what you’re trying to achieve is an impossibility. That you should aim lower, and stick to making daisy chains while lounging on the grass gazing at those far away clouds. And no one, NO ONE in the world should tell you that the impossible is impossible. Because you are the only one who should set your limits. It will never be my job to tell you what to dream, only to be your cheerleader in whatever way you need.

And in that same breath, I hope I am showing you what it is to chase dreams, even when it means letting go of the ones you once held.

Because like clouds, life is everchanging, the format may shift in a moment.

What was once there may drift away in the breeze while you’re not looking.

Then once that cloud has passed: find firm ground. Find the people able to take that ride with you. Find the friends willing to lift you up onto their shoulders in support. Know that you are loved in abundance so many times over. Know that you can weather any storm.

Let’s not wait inside while it rains. Let’s go and feel those drops on our skin, let’s run wild like today is the only chance for an adventure. Let’s hunt for dragons in forgotten corners of the world. Let’s lie on our backs and stare at wide blue skies and even if we only ever get as far as making daisy chains, at least we did everything within our power to capture those wispy white clouds.

So, dream big. Dream loudly. Dream in a way that only you can master. Find happy. Chase after it like nothing in the world matters. Because the journey is important. And when you are on it, whatever way it takes you, remember to be kind. Be kind to everyone you meet, because if you are the ones to raise your friends up onto your shoulders, then when a time comes, and you have your own battles to get through, they will be there for you in return.

My dear girls, my best friends, my daily wonders, everything that has passed is a promise that I will never let go of my own dreams, and I hope, in turn, I help to fuel yours.

Love, Mum xxx

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Laura On Tour

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Laura On Tour

We here at Romaniac HQ have eaten our Easter chocolate, written our way through the holiday and enjoyed the occasional Prosecco. We hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend.

My poster for Littlemoor Library.

I’ve been busy on my mini tour, which continues this Saturday, 22nd April 2017, at Littlemoor Library, details here. I’m really looking forward to this Shared Reading event where I’ll be reading from WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, and supporting my local library. It would be lovely to see you there.

Victoria Cornwall & Linda Mitchelmore

I returned last week from a trip to Exeter – the first Choc Lit Day, organised by my publisher, held at Exeter Library. It was a wonderful way to spend the day, among readers and writers. The four ChocLiteers – Margaret James, Victoria Cornwall, Linda Mitchelmore and Laura E James (me) spoke about our publication journeys and the importance of social media for today’s writers, held a fun quiz and chatted with members of the audience. There was an opportunity for writers to pitch to the Choc Lit editor, too. And Victoria Cornwall and I filmed our very first Facebook Live video.

The next Choc Lit Day is Saturday 20th May 2017, at Southampton Library, which I shall be attending, and a third date has been announced for Saturday 17th June 2017 at Stockton Library. Details here.

Following my visit to Exeter, I continued my tour with a drive up the M3 and the M25 to Watford, where I’d been invited by the Watford Writers to take part in the Watford Lit Fest. I grew up in Watford and was delighted to be asked there to chat about writing and my novels. I was interviewed by a long-standing friend with whom I used to work, Helen Nicell, herself a writer. It was a fabulous experience and one I thoroughly enjoyed.

As a thank you to Waterstones Watford, who supplied sale copies of both FOLLOW ME FOLLOW YOU and WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU at the Watford Writer’s event, I popped in to the branch the next day to sign a few books. It’s a wonderful new store in the high street and definitely worth the visit if you’re in the area.

 

It’s been hectic, but I’ve loved every minute of the tour so far. Of course, I’ve had to pace myself and allow recovery time between events, but I’m rested and ready to go.

See you on Saturday.

Laura x

Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie

Oh my goodness, what a crazy few weeks I have had.
For those who may have missed it, last week I revealed the cover for my debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club, which is out in eBook on May 5th and paperback on July 13th. I absolutely LOVE it! I think it captures the essence of the story really well; fun, friendly, and full of the antics of these pregnant ladies. However, as in real life, these ladies come up against a multitude of problems which make them really question what it is they really want.

Here’s the blurb:

Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. TFTMC CoverThis is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby…and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

What do you think?  Sound like a good read? I hope you think so.

I really enjoyed writing this story. It took me back to when my LO was born and the mixed feelings of elation, excitement and sheer terror as this little human looked up at me and I knew that her whole life was down to me and how I helped her to build it. She’s now 10 and I seem to be doing ok – well she hasn’t divorced me yet so I must be doing ok!

balancing_life_lag8-229x300

photo source: 3Dmemoirs.com

The run up to this cover release was hectic and I have been juggling more than I have ever juggled before. I have many balls up in the air at the moment and I’m trying my best not to drop any.

I am nearing the end of my second year at Anglia Ruskin University where I am studying a BA (hons) Early Childhood Professional Studies degree. It is hard work, but I am getting there. Even though I can see the end in sight (just 6 weeks left of the semester) these weeks are very VERY busy. I have coursework due in (a portfolio and two essays) and also over this summer I have to start researching and thinking about what I am going to do for my dissertation as I begin my final year in September. I have some ideas already and I know I want to try to incorporate my love of words with my love for childhood – so maybe something literature based. I’m not sure yet. So there will be no rest over the summer with that – alongside writing book two which is out towards the end of this year (around September, I think).

I have also signed up for some voluntary work and some paid work at my university to help broaden my experience and learn new skills.

One other thing that I have signed up to do that I would like to tell you about is that I am now a student blogger for my university. I love being a course rep and blogging for the university as a student was something that I felt would enrich my role there even more. So I will bearu logo blogging once a month about various things ranging from my course, to trips I go on, events I attend and how I manage to fit in studying around family life and a career as a writer. If you want to read my first post, it’s available here.

So that’s me. Frantically juggling many different passions I have but loving them all as I do!

Have a happy Tuesday!

Love Lucie xx

***

You can preorder Lucie’s debut, The First Time Mums’ Club, here.

Lucie is also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

And she blogs for Anglia Ruskin University, here.

Life Cycle of a Writer: Keeping Secrets and REVEALING Them!

Secrets are part of the course for writers. Ideas, news, contracts… all sorts of things that we sometimes aren’t allowed to talk about for months. I’ve been harbouring a secret for what feels like AGES. I haven’t been very secret about the fact I’ve been working on a #secretproject, It’s a contemporary comedy and different from my previous two books and at long last I can tell the world, so, without further ado, here she is and I do so hope that lots of readers want to join Olive at The Gin Shack on the Beach. Pull up a chair, you’ll be very welcome…

A new contemporary comedy for fans of THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

You’re never too old to try something new!

When octogenarian Olive Turner is persuaded by her son to move into a retirement home, she congratulates herself on finding the secret to an easy life: no washing up, cooking or cleaning. But Olive isn’t one for mindless bingo with her fellow residents, and before the first day is over she’s already hatching a plan to escape back to her beloved beach hut and indulge in her secret passion for a very good gin & tonic.

Before long Olive’s secret is out and turning into something wonderful and new. Only a select few are invited, but word spreads quickly about the weekly meetings of The Gin Shack Club. Soon everybody on the beach wants to become a gin connoisseur and join Olive on her journey to never being forced to grow older than you feel. A story of friendship, defiance, and the quest for the perfect gin and tonic.

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Five Years.

Since losing my mum, 21st March 2012, not a day has passed when I’ve not thought about her. Often it’s wondering what she would have said or thought about a particular incident, a program, a snippet of news, our children’s achievements, problems, disagreements, how she would have handled a sticky situation, what advice she’d have offered, what she’d have found funny …

I’ve written before about navigating March, so today I thought I’d share some of the events that have happened in the last five years – every single one of them came with a ‘I wonder what Mum would have made of this’ moment.

The first was meeting Jodi Picoult. It was a week on from losing Mum, but I wanted to go. My mum had introduced me to Jodi Picoult’s books and I was a huge fan. I have met her three times in the last five years, each occasion an inspiration.

Sue Fortin, Jodi Picoult & me 2016 The 3rd meeting

Shortly after, I found out I was the runner up in Choc Lit’s short story competition. My mum knew I’d entered, she’d even read and critiqued my story, Bitter Sweet, and if I recall rightly, we’d heard it had been shortlisted. It would have been wonderful to have told her about the second place, but I remember how pleased she was with the shortlisting.

Telling Tales was the runner-up in the next Choc Lit short story competition, and I received a tweet of congratulations from the lovely Erica James. Honestly, I don’t know which I was more excited about. I do recall I was with Catherine Miller at the time, though. I think we may have been heading to the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. Do you remember, Catherine?

As well as meeting Jodi Picoult, I’ve also met Jill Mansell, Sheila O’Flanagan and Erica James. All are warm, intelligent and entertaining women. All were authors my mother read and enjoyed and whose books she introduced me to, and all are firm favourites of mine, and massive inspirations.

I have made many great friends within the writing community, the first few of whom my mum was aware – names with which she would have become familiar had she still been with us. She knew how much writing fulfilled me and how I felt I’d finally found my place in life.

I’ve written three novels. I used to say to Mum I would one day ‘write that novel’. She used to tell me to hurry up and get on with it, which still makes me smile. It’s good advice. I feel extremely privileged and very lucky that she read Truth Or Dare?. It wasn’t the first draft, but neither was it polished. It came with colourful language and hot scenes as appropriate, but I didn’t worry too much about those aspects – my mum read widely and didn’t embarrass easily. Her thoughts on the novel were honest, fair and she gave lots of encouragement, but without gushing. Had she not liked the story or the characters, or considered their actions fake or daft, she’d have said. I was writing Follow Me Follow You when we lost her, but I’d told her the plot and how I was exploring attachment disorder and PTSD. She knew all about Chris Frampton. This became my first paperback. Mum would have loved that.

What Doesn’t Kill You was released as a paperback in January of this year, and I attended my second book signing at Waterstones, Dorchester. What would Mum have made of that?

As a family, we’ve caught and run with a number of health curve balls, one being of the major variety, which I’m pleased to report appears to be under control. I’ve had joints replaced and joints removed; on top of my long term rheumatoid arthritis and colitis, I picked up a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, which I’m still learning to manage, and there has been a knee dislocation, (not mine) torn knee ligaments, (separate incident, different family member) and perforated eardrums (not mine and nothing to do with my singing). I’m convinced the hospital will start charging the James family rent.

Four years ago, we shared a healing three weeks away in Orlando. It was our first family holiday and it was exactly what we needed. Going to Disneyworld was a dream come true. Later the same year, I took a trip to Italy, on the Arte Umbria writing course and came home feeling nurtured and rested, with a way forward as to how to finish writing Follow Me Follow You, which had stalled in March 2012. I sat on the beautiful terrace at Arte Umbria and thought how much my mum would have loved to have been there. We’d talked of going to Italy together.

She’d have smiled at my news I’d shaken Paloma Faith’s hand, and that I’d seen Kate Bush sing live in London, and she’d have given me excellent advice regarding … well, all sorts of stuff, including a reminder that some things are best kept private. And she’d have made sure I keep on keeping on.

So, five years on, with the love and support of family and friends, that’s what I’m doing.

It’s head down and on with the work-in-progress. Life.

Take care.

Laura xx

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Uncharted Waters – The RoNAs

This weeks LCOAW is all about me saying a blooming big ‘EEEEEK’!

Today I have been mostly looking at these:

Ready for the suitcase

This is my very first ticket for the RoNAs, and it’s the beginning of a whole new adventure. Over the coming year I’m going to be right in there with the organising people, sorting out the readers etc. for these prestigious awards and making sure everything runs as smoothly as it has for Nicola Cornick. She’s bravely handing over the baton and it’s very exciting but also a tad terrifying, as her organisational skills are second to none.

So on Monday I’ll be at The Gladstone Library on Whitehall Place, clutching my ticket and trying to take everything in, wondering if Prue Leith will be approachable (am loving the recent newspaper report about her late-blooming romance and marriage) and if the opening of the envelopes will be less fraught then at some other recent events…

This is a big challenge for me – but what about you? Is there anything coming up in your life that’s making you say ‘eeeek’? The Romaniacs would love to know what it is, so that we can cheer you on and send virtual cake.

Which reminds me, I wonder if Prue would like a chocolate sponge? There’s just about room in my case if I leave out the gin and the control knickers.

Hope to see you there, I’ll be the one dressed as a book title (The Red Tent).

Celia

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

img_0095Here, at Romaniac HQ, we’re preparing for spring and all the loveliness it brings – fresh hope, new ideas, Easter eggs …

This is what happened over winter:

Laura: I’ve had a busy three months, starting with a chest infection in December, when three of the James household were knocked out by the awful cough and wdky-in-whsmiths-travel-victoria-londoncold virus that swept the nation. Thankfully we were on the mend come Christmas and New Year as I spent the last part of December gearing up for the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill You. I took the Romaniac bus on a virtual blog tour starting on launch day, 9th January, and gigging all over the country right into the following week. No hotel rooms were smashed up, but there was plenty of celebrating and digesting of cake. I had a short story printed in February’s edition of Your Cat Magazine, and a book signing event at the ever-supportive Waterstones Dorchester on February 18th. And yesterday I received my first WH Smith shelfie. I knew WDKY was going into WH Smith Travel stores, but I hadn’t seen one for myself until Sue posted the photo.

Celia: I edited my NaNoWriMO children’s novel and slashed and burned my way through a grittier adult one, then threw myself back into the WIP which is nearly half completed, hooray! Also attended my first ever RNA committee meeting ready for my new role organising the judging etc. of the RONAs, which is going to be great fun if a bit scary…

Vanessa: After coming away from my writing retreat at West Dean College thoroughly inspired, I have almost finished the first draft of my new WIP. I’ve also been working on edits from my agent on the other book and trying not to get mixed up between the two! (Although… that could be an interesting mix-up!)

Debbie: Everything is much the same here since my last Life Cycle Post . I’m still writing, albeit sporadically, in between hospital appointments and the usual domestic chaos. However I’ve had a bit of a compelling change of heart. Instead of working on Novel two, ‘Country Strife,’ I’ve returned to the original, ‘Living in the Past.’ Yes, the one I’d almost given up on. It’s the nearest to completion and something inside me won’t give up on it. Not yet! I’ve also discovered I get more writing done when I work in local cafe bars and tea rooms. Who’d have thought it?

Sue: My fourth book with HarperImpulse was released in January and has been doing very well in the charts. I spent a long weekend on a writing retreat in Hampshire with Laura, Catherine and Lucie which really helped move my wip along. I’m in the very last stages of finishing it and will be sending to my agent in the next couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to catch up on some long overdue reading.

writing-retreat

Jan has been hard at it, gathering research and working on her second novel which is coming along nicely. While Lucie is doing a marvellous job juggling her university studies with editing her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club which is due to be released in May. Catherine has been working on a secret project which has involved some super-speedy writing and is currently working on her edits for this, not to mention running round after her twin girls – we have no idea how she manages it all.