Summer in Tintagel – Amanda James tells all.

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The Romaniacs are delighted to have the very talented Amanda James reclining on our sofa today. Good morning Mandy, and welcome to HQ – Jan’s hoovered the Romaniac cat in readiness for your visit, Sue’s arranged the flowers, Laura, Debs, Vanessa and Lucie are tuning up for a welcome chorus and I’ve just made a fresh batch of scones, so settle back and relax. Jam? Clotted cream?

Mandy: Oooh lovely! Can I have cream and jam please?

Celia: Absolutely. I had a feeling you’d be celebrating in style because you’ve got exciting news for our blog spot and an ebook giveaway as a bonus. Tell us about the launch of your fabulous new novel.

Mandy: Well…ishst crawled Shummer  in… Phew sorry about that, not a good idea to speak through a mouthful of scone. Sorry, Celia? I have cream on my nose? Really? Gawd, thanks for the tissue. So glad we’re not on videocam or whatever it’s called. Okay, it’s called Summer in Tintagel and came out a few days ago. (Ed: It’s out today, folks😀 ) As you can see from the blurb it’s full of mystery, secrets, love and a search for the truth. I am doing a blog tour and chatting nonsense… no, I mean telling people really interesting stuff about my life and writing. I’m giving an ebook away at the end, so please do try to keep awake. Celia, you’re snoring.

Celia: So, let’s go back in time. How long have you been writing and what started you off?

Mandy: I’ve been writing for a hundred years, or since I was about eight. I asked my parents for a typewriter for Christmas and I never looked back. I was published the next year and made the bestseller list. Okay, yes, I do realise that I might be exaggerating. So the truth is I wrote short stories and poems for years and years and years, but never did anything with them. For some reason I decided that I would take my writing a little bit more seriously around 2002 and eventually had a short story published in 2010. So it didn’t happen overnight as you can see. Since then I have had four novels published, Summer in Tintagel is the fifth .

Celia: My Kindle is waiting for it excitedly – I’ve loved all the others. Thinking more about your writing process now; what/where are your favourite places to write?

Mandy: My dream place to write would be in an old beach house by the side of the ocean. You know the ones one stilts that are found in California? The noonday sun would have peeled some of the paint from the outside and it everything would smell of salt air and hot sand. I would sit on the veranda in a huge straw hat with a cold glass of wine to hand and occasionally raise my head from the laptop to watch a pelican or two glide by… In reality I write in the back bedroom but I can see the ocean six-miles away on a clear day!

Celia: And what are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

Mandy: I’m reading a book that I have always meant to, but never got around to.  I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou is just wonderful. It’s autobiographical and set in segregated Arkansas in the 1930s. I find it quite extraordinary how a poor black girl, more or less abandoned by her parents growing up in such times managed to achieve everything she did in her long life. The writing is stunningly beautiful and the story extremely moving, yet so inspirational. I’m really enjoying it and would recommend it to absolutely anyone. In fact, everyone go out and buy this book now!

Celia: How would your ideal writing day go? Talk us through it…

Mandy: Ideal? Okay, I wake very early and write for three hours, then I have a top chef cook me a very extravagant breakfast, after which I have a snooze on the veranda – see above. Then I write for another three hours and then go off for a walk on the beach. The rest of my day is filled by witty conversation with my friends and family, and to finish, a lovely barbeque on the beach at which everyone drinks champagne, swims in the sea and dances to live music under the light of an unfeasibly bright moon.

Celia: Just getting the sausages sizzling ready to join you. That sounds amazing! Picking up on the live music part, I know live gigs have been happening a lot around you lately – which bands/singers have inspired your writing and do you like to write with music in the background?

Mandy: Yes, I have been very lucky to see some excellent live music lately. Coldplay at Wembley, Tom Jones at the Eden Project and Jools Holland and his band in Falmouth. The highlight was the mighty Coldplay though – they make everyone so happy with their music so much so that you can see pure joy on every face. Having said that I didn’t count all 90,000 faces in Wembley – that would have been impossible. I have also seen Paul Simon a few times and find his music equally inspiring but in a different way. One of the first huge influences on my life and therefore my writing was David Bowie. He will be sadly missed by people of my age group and some younger folk too, I think. No, I don’t like music on in the background while I’m working – isn’t that odd?

Celia: I’m with you on that one. So, what’s your next ambition?

Mandy: To keep on writing and for my endeavours to be well received. Of course, I would eventually like to make best seller list and have the overnight success that in my case would have been a hundred years in the making.

Celia: I can already see your name at the top of that list alongside all the ones who’ve been hanging around there waiting for you to turn up. Speaking of other writers, which authors or books influenced you to start (and continue) reading as a child?

Mandy: I loved all the Enid Blyton ones, especially The Famous Five as they went to Cornwall, or perhaps it was Devon…anyway they had huge adventures. I wanted to be George as she was so feisty and gave the boys a run for their money. The Lord of The Rings was introduced to me when I was 13 and my goodness it was a revelation. I adored it and got totally lost in Tolkien’s world.

Celia: And so – this will probably be tricky – who are your three all time favourite authors?

Mandy: Yes it is a bit tricky…Okay, Dean Koontz because he’s a phenomenal writer and took the time to write to me three times, Charles Dickens because he always roots for the little guy and Tolkien because of the above.

Celia: Okay, now for some quick-fire questions so we can really get to know you;

Champagne or beer? Yes please…Oh I have to pick one? Champagne.

Seaside or mountains? Seaside.

Log fire or hot tub? Hot tub. Just off the veranda in my beach house…

Eric or Ernie? Eric. Loved that guy – he can still make me laugh, even though I know what’s coming.

Ant or Dec?  Neither. Can’t abide them.

Chocolate or cheese?  Cheese.

Dawn or dusk?  Dawn.

Heels or flats? In my head, heels. In reality – flats.

Dancing or swimming? Dancing.

Walking or running? Walking, my knees won’t take the running bit nowadays.

Jeans or frocks?  Jeans. Frocks for special occasions.

Home or away? Home, as Cornwall is just wonderful. Wouldn’t say no to away though!

Celia: Thanks for being with us today, Mandy – and just for being so interesting, you can have the last scone.

Mandy: Thanks, for having me Celia! I have really enjoyed it…and by the way, you have jam on your lip.

Celia: Oh, cheers! Pass the tissues over here, please. Hey, we forgot to give the details of the ebook giveaway competition thing…

*Mandy has promised the lucky winner of our competition a digital copy of Summer in Tintagel, hot off the press, as it were. All you have to do is tell us who is your all-time favourite author, and why – in no more than three sentences.*

Here’s some background information about Amanda James and her new book.

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Bio:

Amanda James has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.

Amanda has written many short stories and has four novels currently published. A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 by http://www.choclitpublishing.co.uk and has met with great success.

Also with Choc Lit are Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain (March 2014)

Cross Stitch (December 2014)

Her latest novel is Summer in Tintagel – Urbane Publications and is out now.

Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @akjames61

Summer at Tintagel

BLURB:

We all have secrets……

Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms.

Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory.

Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Tintagel-Amanda-James-ebook/dp/B01H9BS1JE?ie=UTF8&ref_=asap_bc

Summer in Tintagel eBook: Amanda James: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

www.amazon.co.uk

Summer in Tintagel eBook: Amanda James: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

 

Summer in Tintagel (Urbane Publications July 2016)

Cross Stitch (Choc Lit December 2014)

Somewhere Beyond the Sea ( Choc Lit April 2014)

Dancing in the Rain (Choc Lit March 2014)

A Stitch in Time (Choc Lit) – http://www.choc-lit.com/

Righteous Exposure (Crooked Cat) – http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/

Blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

Life cycle of a writer: when life gets in the way…

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This Life Cycle of a Writer post is a bit of a rush job. My fourth book, Moondancing, is out today and instead of celebrating with cake and champagne, our school has a two day Ofsted inspection. This in itself would be daunting, but we have been waiting for this hammer to fall since last May when they first visited in the middle of SATs week and told us we were as bad as we can be. Now, I don’t have rosy tinted spectacles about my beloved school, but rubbish we most definitely are not. Politics stepped in and we took it on the chin but now we are being reinspected on my launch day! And on top of that, my all-time hero, David Bowie, has shuffled off this mortal coil.

To counteract this frustrating work/life imbalance, I decided on Sunday that the only way to keep any sort of writing momentum going was to separate the day job from my dream. Maximum furniture lugging happened, muscles were pulled, cobwebs were found, drawers were emptied and a new writing space was created. Now, this upstairs corner is just for ‘proper’ writing and the downstairs one is for school work, emails and fun on Facebook. Watch this space – we’ll see how it goes.

For school work and emails/Facebook etc

For school work and emails/Facebook etc

 

And the place to follow the dream...

And the place to follow the dream…

LIfe Cycle of a Writer – Celia J Anderson – Cover Reveal!

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Whoop! It’s pre-order time for Moondancing – the prequel to Little Boxes –  and it’s only 99c until publication day on January 12th.

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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.

SWEET PROPOSAL (1)

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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…

Celia x

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moondancing-Celia-J-Anderson-ebook/dp/B017XQTUIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447741183&sr=8-1&keywords=celia+j+anderson+moondancing

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sweet-Proposal-Celia-J-Anderson-ebook/dp/B00DRI0N2C/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1447741576&sr=8-3&keywords=celia+j+anderson

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moondancing-Celia-J-Anderson-ebook/dp/B017XQTUIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447741183&sr=8-1&keywords=celia+j+anderson+moondancing

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moondancing-Celia-J-Anderson-ebook/dp/B017XQTUIQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1447741183&sr=8-1&keywords=celia+j+anderson+moondancing

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Stimulation!

 

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Now, this isn’t going to be one of those rude blog posts with shades of 50 Shades, so if you were hoping for smut, go and put the kettle on while I ramble because you’ll only be disappointed.

The stimulation I’m talking about today is the kick-in-the-pants sort you get when you either have a deadline to meet or some lovely person has shown an interest in your work and wants to see it when it’s completed. The sort that can either be worth its weight in fruit cake to make you get your finger out and get moving, or drag you into the doldrums, making you feel guilty if you so much as pick up your Kindle for a crafty read.

The RNA conference last month was a shot in the arm for a lot of us. Not only did the Romaniacs meet lots of wonderful writers/agents/publishers, many of whom were up for an impromptu Sparkle interview, we also heard their words of wisdom about not giving up. That was the message that came across loud and clear. Lots of authors were willing to recount their own setbacks and depressing moments, and it couldn’t fail to show anyone watching the interviews that even the most glittering of Sparkle interviewees had had their down moments by the shed load.

The other boost for me was the chance for a one-to-one with an agent and a publisher – both really encouraging. Felled by a very bad back soon afterwards, having to miss Sue Moorcroft’s Italian course and with a list of school jobs to do longer than the Nile, I moved back several places in the game, but now I’m almost up and running again, have made my first list of the holidays, been given a fabulous new notebook and used the notes Sue M gave me to reshape the first chapters of my WIP. All I need to do is to finish writing the book  now…

What’s your own kick-in-the-pants tip?

Celia x

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Learning How To Promote

This weekend at the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference, we set up a corner for our Romaniac Sparkle Spotlight. It was a chance to put some of the talented writers we know in front of the camera to tell us about their high point, the toughest thing in their career and what they are currently working on. We had a tremendous amount of fun doing it, not just because there were bubbles involved, but because it was like the coffee break chats we might normally have at these events only we get to share them with the world. There was a theme of tremendous achievements despite the difficulties that get in the way and it was really a privilege listening to the answers people provided. It was also rather fortuitous that we were based outside the one-to-one rooms. It meant we managed to persuade an agent and editor to take part, so it gives a real flavour of the RNA conference.

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Currently, the videos are being edited at a pace and we should be able to release them soon and it is with great thanks to those who took part. It was on a voluntary basis and all those who stood in front of the camera were complete naturals, even if they were nervous about doing it. We’re already planning to do the same again at the next conference so please do sign up next year if you want to take part.

We ourselves are all on a learning curve of how to best promote ourselves and we’ve loved doing this, this year. And behind the camera, doing most of the questions was our lovely, Celia J Anderson, who it turns out, is a brilliant interviewer  and she is currently on tour. Celia’s next book, Living The Dream is on a blog tour and if you pre-order either today or tomorrow it is only 99p! Then it comes out with Tirgearr Publishing later this week.

Celia and Lucie ready for ACTION!
Celia and Lucie ready for ACTION!

Have any writers out there been brave enough to stand in front of a camera yet? And do you prefer to read blogs or watch vlogs to find out about your next read?

Catherine x

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: OUT OF THE OFFICE

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Romaniac HQ is an ever fluctuating space, accommodating however many Romaniacs and family members they come with. But sometimes (you won’t have noticed because of the noise) one of us isn’t about as much. The reasons for this happening are many and our lovely Celia is currently very busy in her deputy head role. It’s an OUT OF OFFICE day, although in theory it’s an IN THE OFFICE day taking her away from the writing life. Despite that, she has started writing early in the mornings when no other Romaniacs are awake.

So how do you manage to get any writing done when life gets in the way? On that note, make sure you read Julie Cohen‘s amazing tips over on Novelicious.

PS Thank you so much for doing this for me, Catherine. That’s one of the many great things about being a Romaniac – nobody gets cross if life gets in the way of the big writing picture and someone always steps in with a helping hand and a virtual hug/cake/glass of wine.

Update on office life – it’s SATs week and we heard yesterday we have Ofsted too, today and tomorrow. Double whammy! So, heads down at school and hopefully normal service will return soon…

Celia J Anderson – Inspired by…

2Legs

 

There’s been a bit of a writing doldrums period recently when I’ve felt very sorry for myself because my writing time was so swamped with work commitments. You’ll be glad to hear this is now over so there will be no whinging in this post. No moans and no grumbles, okay? Not one.

The two virtual slaps needed to bring out this new, rather irritating Pollyanna-I-Love-Life-Again version of myself were the Easter Holidays and a brilliant course in the wilds of beautiful North Derbyshire on Outdoor Learning in the Curriculum. I know the second one doesn’t sound inspiring in itself, but stick with it and you’ll see what I mean.

Puffed

First of all, the holidays. Eight days in a caravan in a field. Sounding better? To some, yes… to others, not so much. But the field was on the edge of the Quantock hills in Somerset. Miles of unspoilt walking country with hardly a soul about, hours to write in, with chilled wine and even more chilled husband. Food – lots of it. Near enough the sea to paddle. A visit from the offspring. Now it makes sense?

R&C

 

Then, the course. The keynote speaker stood up. He was long and thin and bony – a real outdoors type. I thought he was going to lecture us about obese children (not to mention their teachers). Instead, he talked for 40 minutes in the most fascinating way imaginable about helping children and adults to get the most out of life.

He told us about positive emotions; developing ‘robust’ relationships and character strengths like hope, zest, gratitude, curiosity and love. If it had been a Barry Manilow concert, I’d have been on my feet and swaying with my lighter by this point.

In the end, the message was to learn how to savour and revisit (in your head, no time travel tips here, sadly) positive experiences – to expect that good things will probably last and bad ones will hopefully be a flash in the pan and soon over. If I can pass this on to the kids I teach, I’ll be a very happy, and inspired writing person.

I hope all this  hasn’t made you all too nauseous. Apologies if so, and best wishes for a positive summer,

Celia