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.

Something For The Weekend

Sue : I had to kick the new year off with my favourite exchange of texts in 2014, possibly favourite text exchange ever.  Catherine, Laura and myself were driving up to Debbie’s for the RNA Conference, me in one car, Laura and Catherine in another. I text Catherine on the way. I have since made sure I check my messages before hitting ‘send’! Good job we know each other so well …

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The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend

Welcome to Church Stretton

Welcome to Church Stretton

The weekend of December 12 – 14 saw the first Romaniac Sparkle event – two and a half days of work-shopping, writing, cultural visits and tons of Romaniac fun and laughter.

Hosted by the lovely Debbie Fuller-White and attended by five more Romaniacs, with Celia and Jan holding the fort at HQ, we put together a new, fresh and exciting Romaniac agenda for 2015.

For now, we present our Romaniac Sparkle Christmas Album, with more to follow next week.

Shrewsbury

Shrewsbury

'Cheers, to Jan and Ce!'

‘Cheers, to Jan and Ce!’

Sue & Laura

Sue & Laura

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Catherine, Lucie, Vanessa, Laura & Debbie

 

Vanessa & Lucie

Vanessa & Lucie

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

Gluten-free Christmas Cake

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A great evening meal at Housmans, Church Stretton

 

 

Laura secret santa

Laura’s Secret Santa gift

vanessa secret santa

Vanessa opening Secret Santa gift

Lucie dancing

Lucie showing us her dance moves

 

Sparkle walk stream

Lovely countryside

Sparkle walk ponies

Wild ponies

 

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Vanessa & Catherine

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Sue, Catherine and the sock puppet

sleeping

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS & A HAPPY  NEW YEAR!

Auto-Timer Success

Auto-Timer Success

 

 

 

 

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.

divine chocolate

 

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?

Open The Box. Open The Box!

 

Little Boxes by Celia J Anderson - 200

We are very excited at Romaniac HQ, as there is a new book to add to our sidebar, and we are helping our wonderful Celia J Anderson celebrate the release of her second novel, Little Boxes.

If you’ve read Sweet Proposal, Ce’s debut novel, you know you’re in for a treat.

Today, the 4th of November 2014, sees the release of Little Boxes, a story I saw come together when Celia and I spent a week on Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year. I cannot wait to read it. I love all sorts of boxes, but little ones intrigue me the most.

What would you put in a little box?

Little Boxes 2Here’s mine: I have shiny, red and gold, almost holographic boxes in my ‘special drawer’ in my bedroom. My mum was a lover of fondant flower sweets, which were incredibly hard to come by. I found a supplier, bought a bag, and then wrapped up four small parcels of two sweets each in tissue paper and placed them into one of the four boxes. I popped a tiny bow on top of each box, and they formed part of my mum’s Christmas present. The last little box I received contained hair dye …

Jan: Like Laura, I’m thrilled for Celia and, having  had a sneak preview of Little Boxes, I’m itching to see  it in print. You’ll love it, that’s for sure. As to what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my tiny keys to things like my jewellery box, home file, etc. I also have a sweet little miniature handbag box that houses various pins and buttons.  

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Sue: I can’t wait to read Little Boxes, I love the cover. As for what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my  lovely memories, such as, the smell of my nan’s Sunday dinners, Lincoln biscuits, the feel of soft baby skin and gentle breath, childhood holidays with cold waves of Cornish sea licking at my legs, the smell of saddle soap and leather from my horse riding days, the excitement of Christmas Eve, the taste of Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets, standing on the beach with the wind blowing my hair in a swirling frenzy and the feeling of contentment at watching your children sleeping peacefully.

baby hayley

Debbie: It’s so good  to hear ‘Little Boxes’ has reached publication day as I’ve followed the journey and how it has developed since Celia’s trip to Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year.

My little box would bulge with photographs of my two boys; all their first and significant events as they grow up so quickly, the green heart-shaped crystal my eldest bought me on a trip to Ironbridge and the necklace my youngest spent all his money on his first school trip to France. If I could, I’d also squeeze a small corner of the box for a selection of items that evoke memories and a ‘presence’ of my IMG_0366Nan like a packet of her Extra Strong mints, a bottle of her favourite perfume,  Helena Rubenstein’s, ‘Apple Blossom’ and a little glass ‘worry’ angel that I found in her glass cabinet when I cleared it out after she passed away. Finally, I’d put in the little figurine my mum gave me when we re-discovered each other after nearly forty years apart along with the ballet medals from when I was a little girl …

Lucie – I absolutely love the cover of ‘Little Boxes’ and I cannot wait to read it – how exciting. My ‘Little Box’ would contain special photographs of my family and my close friends, a pen and notepad, an ipod with all my favourite music and my special teddy from when I was a little girl. Ok, so my box isn’t that little, but those are all my favourite things that make me happy.

Catherine – I can’t wait to read Little Boxes. I remember first chatting with Celia about it in 2012 and so great to see it launched. Aside from the lovely memory type boxes the others have mentioned, my favourite little box holds within it small pieces of folded paper each with the name of a book I want to read. I’m rather enjoying this way of deciding what to read next! 

littleboxVanessa: We’re hoping to be moving house next month, so I’ll soon be packing a lot of very big boxes! But as I sort through, trying to be ruthless, getting rid of junk and rubbish, I’ve found myself opening a lot of boxes I haven’t seen for a while and getting lost in memories – lovely surprises as I find old photos I’d forgotten about, baby teeth left behind by the tooth fairy, the tiniest wellies I’ve ever seen ( I can’t believe my girls were ever small enough to wear them!). Time goes so fast so I’m going to re-pack those little boxes, add extra memories – cards and photos and notes – and plant them all over the new house: miniature time capsules to stumble over in future years.

I can’t wait to read Little Boxes – Celia is such a great writer and it’s been lovely sharing the excitement of her writing journey.

And what is in Celia’s Little Boxes? Whatever it is, I know we are in for an absolute treat.IMG_4073

Much love and many congratulations, Ce, on the release of Little Boxes. It is a book of gorgeous gems for every reader to treasure.

xxx

 

 

 

Coming soon – Laura E James and Follow Me, Follow You

Choc Lit

 

We’re all very excited at Romaniac HQ, because on Monday we’ll be able to interview our very own Laura and find out more about her brand new book. It’s in paperback! It’s amazing! We’re all reading it/have read it and without a word of a lie or an over-enthusiastic shout out for a good friend, it’s a really gripping, emotionally challenging read, with humour and deep family relationships at its heart. Do you get the impression we like it with a capital L?

FOLLOW ME_front highres

Anyway, enough waffling. Today I’m thinking about how the Romaniacs have got to know each other over the years. We’ve always been able to talk for Britain, and listing someone else’s good points is so much easier than blowing your own trumpet, so we often do each others bigging up to save our blushes. For this reason, it’s no problem at all to tell you about Laura – in fact it’s an absolute pleasure. I’m going to ask the others to add their own thoughts after this, but here are a few points to start us off:

  • Laura loves the colour red, writing, Kate Bush and hot chocolate in equal measures but her real passion is her lovely family
  • She’s an excellent singer
  • She’s recently discovered gin and tonic but her drinking skills are not fully honed yet. Just give me time …
  • Laura can make you laugh even when you think there’s absolutely NOTHING to laugh about
  • Her listening skills are top notch and she’ll always come up with sound advice for a friend in need
  • She has some very interesting boots
  • She is the queen of punctuation

Okay, Romaniacs, over to you. What have I missed?

Jan: Well, I’d agree with all of the above points, Celia, and would like to add that Laura’s enthusiasm is infectious. I’ve never known anyone who can have her finger in so many literary pies and give each one of them her ‘all’ with such gusto. She’s an inspiration to us all, a great friend and a super-talented writer who deserves all the success in the world.

Sue: Many dittos to all of the above. I’m in total awe of Laura’s enthusiasm, dedication and forward thinking;  she’s a real power house on those scores. For me, it’s knowing I can rely on Laura for pragmatic and, at times, succinct advice on all things, not just writing and, as such, I truly value her honest friendship. I’m also particularly impressed how she has embraced being hugged. ;-)

Debbie: Ahh, Laura. Just saying her name makes me smile. Her writing talents are obvious and I’m nodding at everything the girls have said. But to me, what’s most remarkable about Laura is, she’s what we call in Yorkshire, ‘a right character.’ Like Yorkshire folk she doesn’t sugar coat anything. There’s nothing Pollyanna about our singing writer and the original Mrs Dynamo! We can all learn a lot from her, both from her ideas but also her character. I value how she challenges, stretches my mind and makes me think. I admire her tenacity, her DOGGED determination, her boundless energy, especially given that she suffers with Rheumatoid Arthritis (and she never moans or makes excuses.) Laura is solid and a real backbone of the Romaniacs. She’s strong and focussed. And you won’t find me far behind her at parties as she’s the best ‘mingler’ I’ve ever known!

Vanessa: I nodded along to all of the above – it’s been so wonderful to be able to share in Laura’s journey to publication because I know how hard she’s worked and she’s such a great writer, her books deserve to be a massive success. I’ve been lucky to have Laura to talk writing with – we have a shared affinity for the darker side of fiction as well as the lighter side and have often found similar themes and characters emerging in our works-in progress! And it’s important not to forget – she’s also mad as a box of frogs :-) (in the best possible way…)

Lucie: What a fantastic round up of our wonderful friend my lovely Romaniac ladies have done. I can but echo every point they have made – Laura is truly an amazingly inspirational woman who deserves every ounce of success she is no doubt going to achieve. I feel like I have known Laura all my life – as I feel with all the other Romaniacs. Laura is by far the most confident of us all. She turns into a beautiful social butterfly when at events, fluttering her way around the room spreading joy and positivity. It is an absolute pleasure to have such a talented friend and I wish her every bit of love, luck and success … not that she needs it, she has the determination to get there on her own credit.

Catherine: I LOVE LAURA. In five words she is QUIRKY, WONKY, WICKED, WISE and FEARLESS. (There was more to this, but the interweb ate it, then the girls covered most of the other bases.) She is a real talent and I hope right about now she’s blushing! 

So there you go – that’s Laura in, well, not quite a nutshell, more of a large bucket of joyfulness. Come back Monday and join us when Follow Me, Follow You is really out there. And I wish you all a wonderful Laura in your lives. If you can’t find one, we might just let you share ours …

Celia x

Oops! Typo Alert …

At HQ, we often cringe or have a giggle at various typos we’ve either seen or made. In some cases they’ve even been for the best. After all, our very own blog name derived from one and it’s hard to imagine us being called anything else.

Here are a few of our finest …

Jan : 

“Sweat ‘n’ Sour Chicken.” (Eeeew! Thanks but no thanks!)

“Brianstorming Session.” (Poor Brian!)

“Thanks for the fiend request.” (Ooh, you little devil, you!)

Celia :

“Blinty” is my all-time favourite Romaniac-page blooper. I meant to say “blimey” at the time but much prefer blinty these days. Also like the times when one of us gets a word wrong in a thread and then everyone continues to use the typo for weeks afterwards. As they say, you don’t have to be insane to be a Romaniac, but it certainly helps …

Laura:

Pooked. I have no idea what I was meant to be typing, but it ended up as pooked. I pook, he pooks, we pook, they pooked. Answers on a postcard please … One of my main typos is if, when I want it to read of. ‘Oh, what’s become if …?’.  When I was a wee, young thing, I’d often muddle things up. We read the paper news and put the vase on the sill window. Finally, slightly deviating, we had to correct our son, who mistakenly believed the attack on Pearl Harbor happened in Poole Harbour. STOP PRESS. Yesterday, as we passed the beach and noticed the traditional seaside puppet show, my son asked, ‘Who is Punching Judy?’

Clearly, it’s in the genes.

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Vanessa:

My most recent typos have been in emails rather than the work-in-progress – I sent an email to Dear Lousie instead of Louise. Funnily enough, I never got a reply…  I also wrote headlice instead of headline in another mail (luckily I caught that one before it went out). Hmmm… my typos seemed strangely related *scratches head*

Debbie:

I reckon I can trump Jan’s use of ‘sweat.’ My mum once wrote to me, ‘sweat dreams.’

And on this topic, there’s a quote that makes me smile:-

“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t.” ― Jarod Kintz

 Sue:

Whilst I can’t think of anything specific, and there has no doubt been many, I do have one I regularly make. Since a child I have always had a tendency to get the letters ‘m’ and ‘p’ muddled, or should that be puddled up? Usually, I spot it straight away, but there has been the odd occasion when it’s got through. This doesn’t make for great reading when I’m trying to say something like, ‘She was missed.’ or ‘I miss you.’ or ‘He had been missing for a week.’  

I have to say, out of all the typos, ‘Romaniacs’ and ‘Blinty’ are my favourites.

 

 

What are the funniest, most toe-curling typos you’ve ever seen or made?

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Go on … you know you want to tell us!