#libstory with Southampton City Libraries: The Story So Far

As part of the National Library Day celebrations, Southampton City Libraries have started a story on twitter, and they want you to join in and help finish it. As their writer in residence, I provided the first line, now they want people to join in to see where the story goes. It is open to everyone, and Southampton Library chooses the winner out of the lines provided via twitter. Taking part is easy, just use the hashtag #libstory so we can see your sentence, and use @SotonLibraries if you want to be doubly sure they spot you! Here is the story so far. The next winning line will be selected on Saturday 21st Feb at 10pm. I’ll update the winning lines here and the next deadline. There is no limit to the number of times you enter. Good luck if you are taking part!

@katylittlelady The fumes clinging to the back of his throat told him he was home. He let the motorbike’s engine run as he took his helmet off.

@Briggy44 What sort of welcome could he expect, given the chaos he’d left behind, when he’d roared off that day?

@suefortin1 He cut the engine. Mind made up. He turned to the house. As if expecting him, the door opened and there stood …

@Laura_E_James a young girl, six, maybe seven years old, her hair the shade of summer corn, her dark eyes…

@Briggy44 so like those of the woman standing behind her, challenging him to step over the threshold …

@Laura_E_James “You couldn’t help yourself, could you?”

@lucie_wheeler His shoulders drooped as he exhaled, the guilt burning deep.’I had no choice,’ he pleaded, ‘you have to believe me’

@Briggy44 ‘What, like the last time and the time before that, you mean?’ said the woman. ‘Where on earth have you been …?’

 

 

What happens next? You decide!

If you are not on twitter, but want to take part, please add your sentence below and I can add it to twitter for the judges to see. It needs to be 130 characters or less so it can fit into a tweet.

Best of luck,

Catherine x

Roving Romaniac: Mumsnet’s Get Published Day

It’s not often I get out and have to form comprehensive sentences. To be honest, I think I may well have lost the ability, having been allowed out and managing to boom ‘hello’ a few times without anything else following.

Yes, I’m a mum. I have twin toddlers who’ve created a made up language. I talk to myself. I answer back. I go occasional days without any other adult interaction. So an entire day with other human beings in the same situation was comforting. Also mind-blowing. The setting was enough to make me happy.

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Having been supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit (all of which we could eat and drink unhindered), we were treated to a day covering the work of the Janklow & Nesbit Agency, how to make the right impression in covering letters, a panel of editors, an editorial masterclass, an author panel and a one-to-one.

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Photo courtesy of Hellie Ogden

 

Much was covered during the day, but I came away with these impressions:

  • The Janklow & Nesbit Agency works hard on behalf of their authors
  • Having a foreign rights agent can be the making of an author’s career
  • They’re eager to find new talent as part of the Mumsnet competition
  • It’s important to keep on writing
  • There are a lot of mums/nans out there with considerable talent and drive
  • That my laugh is ridiculously staccato and loud, given high enough ceilings

On the way home, I saw this slogan on a poster and thought, yes, that’s exactly what today was about…

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And because I am a mum of twins, and rarely get to eat all of my own food this also happened…

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The wine glass is out of shot and mostly empty!

I’ve no doubt, in the two Get Published days that have taken place, someone who has attended will be shortlisted in the Mumsnet competition. Whilst everyone waits to hear, I’ll be looking up words like Linear and Exposition. They obviously hadn’t factored in that I’ve been teaching the girls that cows ‘moo’ for the past month.

Catherine xx

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Finding time to write

Catherine is often asked how she finds time to write now she has toddler twins. Here she lets you into her secrets, but this video comes with a warning: It is not suitable for those with an aversion to dust. Or brightly coloured toys in an unspeakable mess.

How about you? How do you find time to add to your word count?

Catherine x

The Life Cycle Of A Writer – Introductions

  • Whether you’re an aspiring writer, looking for an agent, have found an agent and have every finger crossed for a publishing deal, or if you’re a published writer coping with everything that entails, we have a Romaniac who can empathise with you. When we started out, we all dreamed of the day we’d get published. Some of us are still chasing the dream, whilst others have their paperback in hand ready to hurl at anyone who dares to post a 1-star review. This year, we thought we’d share the highs and lows of what it is to be a writer.
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Catherine, Celia, Laura, Debbie, Sue, Vanessa, Jan, & Lucie

Catherine: I’m part of the ASPIRING gang. I’m juggling being a full-time mum to twins with trying to find time to write. I’m currently 50K into my work-in-progress, which recently gained highly commended in the Accent Press and Woman magazine writing competition. I’m hoping this is the year I find myself an agent, or a publishing deal, or a quiet ten minutes. 

Jan: Well, I’ve started submitting my first women’s fiction novel to agents (gulp!) in the hope of acquiring representation this year. I’m also penning book number two, which involves lots of interesting and, at times, eye-opening research. Aside from writing my second novel, I am thoroughly enjoying my other literary love – freelance proofreading.  

Debbie: I’m finally finding my way through the ether and re-gaining confidence and mojo after losing over three years to personal and health problems. My first novel, which came second in the inaugural Festival of Romantic Fiction New Talent Award in 2011, has now been re-written and critiqued by the RNA New Writer Scheme so there are only a couple of chapters and some finishing touches to do and it will be ready to go to agent. The second novel was short-listed in last year’s Festival of Romantic Fiction competition and so my other focus for this year, as I’ve been accepted onto the New Writers’ Scheme again, is to get this finished and critiqued so I can progress it. If there are any spare hours in my writing day after that little lot, I also have in mind a whole series of non-fiction books and in addition have set myself a challenge to write at least two short stories.

Lucie: I am part of the AGENTED gang. In early 2014, shortly after winning the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s New Talent Award, I was offered representation by Sarah Taylor of the Kate Nash Literary Agency. I currently have a book out on submission and I am working on another two. I write ‘contemporary romance with a real life bite’. I like to write about real issues, such as bereavement and domestic violence, and give them a happy ending. Alongside writing, I also work in Childcare, run the house, look after my family and the dog and try to pick up a book once in a while!

Vanessa: Although unpublished at the moment, I’m represented by an agent – Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group – and I’m working on edits of a psychological thriller which will hopefully be going out on submission to publishers in 2015 (echoing Jan’s gulp!!). I also write short stories and flash fiction and have had stories published in anthologies and magazines. I was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling novel prize and Highly Commended in the Yeovil novel prize in 2014 and I was also thrilled to win the Flash500 novel opening competition in December 2014.

Sue: I’m published by Harper Impulse, two of my books have already been released and my third is due to be released in the Spring of this year. I am a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association – I write romance and romantic suspense. I have also previously self-published, something which I’m looking to do again this year. So, I guess, that puts me in the hybrid author category.

Laura: I write for Choc Lit, and my debut, in eBook form, Truth or Dare?, was nominated for a Festival of Romance award. My second Follow Me, Follow You is available in all formats including paperback. I have short stories published in the Choc Lit anthologies, and one in the RNA’s Truly, Madly, Deeply anthology. I’m hoping to have book 3 out later this year, (have to complete it first and have it accepted …) which would be the third in the Chesil Series – the novels are all based around Dorset, and in particular, the stunning Chesil Beach. I recently experienced The Fear, which can be read about here. My writer’s tag is  ‘Romance without the soft edges’, a brilliant phrase coined by Sue, which is a perfect description of my style.

Celia: I’ve got two ebooks out  – Sweet Proposal and, more recently, Little Boxes. I was working part time when I wrote these but my day job has taken over my writing life for a while. I’m working on book three in my spare moments and hoping that one day it will be finished. In July I’m off for a second visit to Sue Moorcroft’s brilliant course at Arte Umbria in Italy so if it’s not finished by then, the week away will do the job (it did last time!).

Join us for our weekly Tuesday blog with tips, experiences, highs and lows. And the occasional iced bun.

Southampton City Libraries’ Writer In Residence 2015

I’m delighted to be able to say during 2015, I’m working with Southampton City Libraries to help promote writing and literacy within the community.

Catherine Miller - Writer in residence and mum of (now toddler sized) twins

Catherine Miller – Writer in residence and mum of (now toddler sized) twins

Over my years of attempting to become a published writer, Southampton libraries have been hugely supportive. Everything from assistance with research, helping keep the twins entertained with Tots and Tunes, and assisting me when my printer died and I had to get my partial off to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme.

This year I’ll be spending time in Southampton Libraries getting my manuscript finished and working with the libraries on some events to help encourage writing and reading. I’m going to keep an update of what I’m up to on this blog.

The first thing I’m doing is starting a writing group. As a mum of twins, finding time to write can be difficult. I’m starting Southampton Scribes to help those who want some dedicated writing time and wish to meet fellow writers. The first meeting is this Thursday. If you, or anyone you know are interested in joining, please email me on the address below.

Southampton Scribes
An evening writing group designed for anyone wanting to find writing time. An hour of dedicated writing with the chance to meet and chat with fellow writers. All levels of experience welcome. Writers can choose to work on a current project, or work on a set theme. Meeting roughly once a month on a Thursday at Southampton Central Library.
Please contact Catherine Miller if you would like to join.
catherine@katylittlelady.com

Christmas Jumper Time (with added sparkle!)

We’re all very excited at Romaniac HQ as this weekend our virtual world will be real! As writers, we don’t have an office, but we chat to each other every day thanks to the internet. So it makes sense that we get together for a writing retreat/pre-Christmas Sparkle weekend.

There’ll be chatter, merriment, gluten-free Christmas cake, and SPARKLE! What more could a girl want? A Christmas jumper, of course. We’ll all be wearing one and it just so happens that today is Christmas Jumper Day organised by Save The Children. A day of celebrating the Christmas Jumper for a good cause, what could be better?

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We’re all going to be texting TEAMROMANIAC to 70050 to donate £2. We’d really appreciate if you would like to do the same. The more donations we get, the more photos we’ll be willing to share from our SPARKLE weekend. Lucie might even crack out her gruffalo impression, so go on… Good cause & the potential of us sharing our lunacy with you!

Divine Moments

At Romaniac HQ we’re fond of creative lightbulb moments. The times when an idea pops up and we can all sit down with a cosy cuppa and a slice of cake and discuss whether it’s actually a good idea or if in fact, one (or all) of us have finally lost the plot.

So when these arrived…

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We quickly shared them out at HQ and decided to share when our divine lightbulb moments occur:

IMG_0934Catherine: Mine usually occur when I’m doing housework. I think it’s the reason I’ll never be a domestic goddess. I only get so far before I have to get on with some writing.

 

 

 

 

 

Sue : First of all thank you for sharing that scrummy chocolate – it didn’t last long in our house, that’s for sure. My divine moments tend to be when I’m dozing off to sleep. I’m not one of those writers who keeps a pen and paper by the bed, although I should, as despite my best intentions to remember my great ideas in the morning, it doesn’t always happen.

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01fe95cca7358b824ab43ba271995d5ec459cde77cLucie: These went down very well in my house, and I didn’t even eat a single piece. Ok, well maybe a little piece. Well, OK, two squares. Ok, ok! I ate the whole lot! All in one sitting. Within a matter of seconds.

My lightbulb moments ALWAYS come when I’m driving. When I cannot safely write down anything. A couple of years ago I invested in a dictaphone for these exact moments. But I kept forgetting to use it and it just stayed in the pocket of the door. I must get back into the habit of trying to use it again, I really cannot keep pulling over just to write things down.

IMG_7764Laura: Catherine – what more can one ask of a friend? You shared your chocolates! Thank you, so much. I passed on the share – my children’s big, pleading, puppy eyes were too muchShower running Water to resist. My divine moments often occur in the shower. I heard it’s to do with positive ions provided by water – they stimulate the brain. It’s a little inconvenient as I have to then remember my thoughts until I’m dry and back in the bedroom. However, a friend of mine has suggested a solution to this problem – a shower-proof notebook. It’s on my Christmas list.

 

Debbie: Thank you so much for the delicious chocolates. However, I’m sorry to say I don’t have a photo as they went so quickly, thanks to my two sons! My inspired moments tend to come when I’m in the queue at the post office or sitting in a cafe or somewhere public, ear-wigging conversations. Failing all else, seeing the trees and hills around where I live are what makes my heart sing so if I’m in need of time out and to gain some inspiration, I’ll take my black Lab for a walk and be alone with nature, peace and the countryside. It never fails to inspire.

Vanessa: That chocolate was soooo delicious – thank you Catherine!! Sunday mornings for some reason often provide my lightbulb moments – it’s the only day of the week I get anything vaguely approaching a lie-in (sometimes until 8.30am!) But as is always the way, when I can sleep in, I can’t – instead I lie awake and a million plot ideas for novels and short stories buzz around in my head. I’ve learned to keep a notebook next to the bed so at least I don’t have to physically get up – and my lovely husband always brings me a coffee and feeds the children pancakes while I write.

 

  

When do your divine moments strike?