Something For The Weekend … and The Autumn

This week’s Something For The Weekend post has an autumnal feel about it as we say goodbye to September and hello to October.


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Rambling, chaotic borders, windfall apples, the last glut of runner beans, berries and long shadows across the lawn. Autumn has arrived in Debbie’s garden.


Mother Nature at her best.

Mother Nature at her best.

Make the most of the sun, Bobby!

Swallows gathering, waiting to fly to warmer climes.

Swallows gathering, waiting to fly to warmer climes.



The autumnal view from Jan’s bedroom window!

Cover Reveal – The French Retreat

I’m really pleased to be sharing the cover and blurb for my novella The French Retreat which is due to be released on 15th October. I had great fun writing this, so much so, that I aim to write some more in the series. The French Retreat is set in Southern Brittany, an area of France I’m very familiar with as we have a second home there, and it was the inspiration behind the story. I’ll be blogging more about how we restored our cottage and sharing some photos in a couple of weeks time but, for now, I’ll leave you with the cover and blurb. Ta-daa!

The French Retreat


With Christmas on the horizon, losing her job and her home wasn’t on Marcie Grainger’s wish list. In a bid to reassess her life, she heads off to the only place she has ever felt truly content – her brother’s farmhouse retreat in rural France.

Marcie isn’t the only one looking to escape. Ex-soldier Will hopes the gentle pace of French life will help to banish the ghosts of his past and offer him the fresh start he desires.

However, all is not what it seems at The Retreat. Fuelled by a string of strange happenings and local rumours, Will and Marcie are pushed together as they try to discover who or what is behind it all. In so doing, they end up finding a lot more than they bargained for.

The French Retreat is a story of human compassion, hope and love.






Cover : Amygdala Book Cover Designs

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Revisions – Switching from 3 POVs to 1!

Romaniac HQ has been revision central of late. In this week’s Life Cycle Of A Writer, I talk about how in my first set of revisions with Carina UK I’ve moved my manuscript from three points of view to one.

My next set of revisions came in yesterday afternoon, so I’ll be a busy Romaniac for a while. Please send chocolate, ready meals and babysitters.

Catherine x

Something For The Weekend – Stylo Love

Last Friday we gave you notebook love.

This week it’s all about the pens.

No drooling, please.

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies.

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura's favourite

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura’s favourite. Look at all those colours.

Lucie's not fussy, she'll write with anything she can get her hands on. Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Lucie’s not fussy, she’ll write with anything she can get her hands on.
Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs - Celia

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs – Celia


Sue: A good old black biro medium nib will do me just fine, although I do quite like the odd ‘Frozen’ pen borrowed from my daughter.

Debbie: Ahh, ‘The pen maketh the writer …’

There’s nothing quite like gripping the cold, silky length of a Parker or Mont Blanc fountain pen, allowing the words to flow and then blowing or wafting paper until the ink dries. There have been three special ones in my life over the years but alas, each has succumbed to the special place in the sky where all the lost things go. For now, my trusty pencil, sharpened down to a two inch stump must do. The flow is still there and that is what matters.

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Third Round-Up of 2015!

2015 continues at a pace and we’re doing our best to cram as much in this year as possible. We’ve had lots of edits between us recently so it’s been a bit quieter than usual, but the good news is that means we’ll have lots of NEW BOOKS for you to read in the near future. Here’s what we’ve all been up to:

Catherine: Signing my first contract with Carina UK and discovering what it is to be a real author. I’ve had my first set of revisions and lots of plans are afoot for 2016 when my new title and front cover will be revealed. And getting the second book ready so it’ll be available for pre-order by the time book one is out! 

Laura: I’ve had a bit of everything going on – school holidays, a DD with her leg in plaster, and edits for book 3. I have a few events coming up, about which I am excited, but more on those nearer the times.

Lucie: It has been an incredibly busy time for me but unfortunately, not a lot of it is book related. What with the summer holidays (always a time that I struggle to get writing done) and work, I have found it difficult to get on with my edit. I start university today, too, so that will mean I need to start to manage my time a lot better! I have also just started a new vlog series on my blog, so that will hopefully help free up some time. Just need to work out how to fit in everything now…

Celia: Drank lots of wine, wrote like a mad woman all summer and notched up 60,000 brand new words for my WIP – a psychological coming-of-age story. Now back at work and have been The Boss for a while so no writing progress made; the next big push is to finish, edit and submit. Also limbering up for Tirgearr edits on the new one due out in January – Moondancing; a prequel to Little Boxes. Lastly, made the short list for the Exeter Story Prize. Final prize giving on October 17th so off on a jolly to Exeter with everything crossed.

Vanessa: School holidays have meant less writing time, but I’m deep into a new draft of my work-in-progress now, which will hopefully be ready to send to my agent in the next few weeks. I also had a lovely phone call to say I’ve made the Wells Literary Festival short story competition shortlist!

Sue: I’ve been a busy bee finishing my work-in-progress which took a bit longer than I had hoped but is now out and under consideration. I’ve also been working on a novella which I’ll be self-publishing with the Romaniac Press. I’m looking forward to sharing the cover and blurb here very soon.

Debbie:  It’s been four long years and four re-writes but having finally managed to write, ‘THE END,’ I’ve taken to eagerly stalking the postman each day as I wait for my work-in-progress to arrive back from the RNA NWS. In the meantime (and in an attempt to distract myself) I’m working on the first chapter of the next novel. 

Jan: EDITS! EDITS! EDITS! Working through her edits for As Weekends Go, the winner of Choc Lit’s Search For A Star competition, ready for publication. She’s now recovering.

All that in EIGHT WEEKS. I think it calls for another refill of the cake tin at Romaniac HQ.

girl at desk

Something for the Weekend – Notebook Love

Sue : Which notebook next? Probably the dragonfly one my daughter decorated for me.

Sue : Which notebook next? Probably the dragonfly one my daughter decorated for me.

Laura: I love the chunkiness of this notebook. It's my short stories idea book.

Laura: I love the chunkiness of this notebook. It’s my short stories idea book.

The big one has my whole writing life inside.

Celia: The big one has my whole writing life inside.


Vanessa: I have four notebooks on the go for my current work-in-progress!


Lucie’s selection, from the plain to the pretty

Shh. Don't tell the other Romaniacs, but I'm sneaking this one in too. It's from a superb Times/Jodi Picoult event I attended in June this year. I'm going to use this notebook when I write book 5.

Guess who? Shh. Don’t tell the other Romaniacs, but I’m sneaking this one in, too. It’s from a superb Times/Jodi Picoult event I attended in June this year. I’m going to use this notebook when I write book 5.

Life Cycle of A Writer: Bananarama, Broken Bones and Back To School

I have an ear- worm, and the best way I know to rid oneself of an ear-worm is to share, so here it is: Bananarama’s Cruel Summer.

The six-week school holiday mostly passed by in a blur of grey skies, grizzly, drizzly and occasionally torrential rain, and dim light.

My children didn’t seem to mind. The damp days were an excellent reason to stay home and play computer games, draw, and read, and, bless them, they didn’t object to me spending some of that time in the edits cave with What Doesn’t Kill You.

Not upgrading until the edits are complete ...

Not upgrading until the edits are complete …

With the years whizzing by, I’m keen to spend as much down-time with my children as possible – their adulthood is lurking around the next corner – so I kept my daylight editing hours to the minimum. I saw 3:00 am a number of times, and worked right through until 5:30 am on the last night/day to ensure I returned my work on time. This is no reflection on my editor – she is lovely and actively encouraged me to spend time with my children over the holidays, but once I get stuck into edits, it’s better if I keep going, so I can keep a mental track of the changes. Last year I explained the process to my youngest in this way: Imagine you are calculating a sum with lots of different actions – brackets, additions, subtractions, equations – working out each sum as you go along, trying to hold all that information in your head so you can give a final answer – that is what editing is like for me, except with words, plot and structure.

Beach Shack

There were a few sunny days when we managed to nip out for a spot of fresh air and exercise. We live five minutes away from the beach, and although we’d hoped to make more use of it this year, it was not to be. Thankfully, I took lots of photos of our trips out – days that earned the hashtag #summerholidaysinoneday. (I now have another ear-worm going on – Crowded House – Four Seasons In One Day, which, by the way, we experienced in one morning.)

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I purposely did no other writing during the holidays as I find it difficult to swap from edits and characters in one novel to the characters and plot of the work-in-progress, so book 4, as yet untitled, remained untouched. I’m panicking a little, as I’m only 15,000 words in, and I have six months to complete and revise. So far, a year is the shortest time I’ve taken to write a novel …


The plan was to return to book 4 once the children were back at school, but those plans have been put on hold a little longer, as my daughter fractured a bone and tore a ligament in her knee in a Tae Kwondo accident, three days into the new term. We have come through the first week, so it’s onwards and upwards now.

Such is the life cycle of a writer …

Take care,

Laura x