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

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

In Training for Telford

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie's summer house.

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie’s summer house.

In Training for Telford

The Romaniacs are roving big style this weekend. We are off to Telford for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference, leaving our loved ones to defend our castles.

It’s a weekend packed with friends, fun, food, workshops, pitching of manuscripts and wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Some of us are hoping to make it to Romaniac Debbie’s house on Thursday, before booking into the conference centre on Friday. Some of us have already packed. Some of us have already bought the Prosecco.

It is going to be a fantastic weekend and we look forward to seeing lots of romantic novelists, editors, publishers and agents in Telford. And possibly everyone in the Midlands, as we wend our way there and back :-)

Prep for the weekend.

Prep for the weekend.

Here are some crucial items we’ll need for the weekend. Are you ready?

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Always cake.

Always cake.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn't been fermented.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn’t been fermented or distilled.

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections ...

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections …

Don't forget the paracetamol.

And don’t forget the paracetamol.

Roving Romaniac – Lucie hits Milton Keynes!

Last weekend it was my turn to go roaming the streets and this particular Romaniac was let loose in Milton Keynes.

Saturday 7th June was the annual agency day for the Kate Nash Literary Agency and, having signed with Sarah Taylor in January, I was invited.  

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This was our ‘selfie’ for the Online Romance Festival which was on the same day.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. It has been quite some months since I last attended a writing event so I was looking forward to seeing other writers in the flesh – and knowing that there are still other crazy people Out There.

The day was amazing. Lots of useful and essential tips and information was on offer both from Kate and Sarah, and also fellow writers, too. Ranging from industry trends, to the latest bestsellers, to marketing. Throw in lots of laughter and lovely food and you get a jist of why I had so much fun.

After a day of talking – and sipping back on the free tea, coffee and biscuits – we retired to our rooms to get ready for an evening out. The agency day coincided with Jane Lovering’s publication day. Falling Apart celebrated its birthday in true, author style.

It went out and PARTIED!

For a more in depth look at Falling Apart’s antics – pop over to my blog, here. *WARNING* Not for the faint hearted …

We had a lovely evening out in Milton Keynes. Dinner, cocktails and lots of dancing. Kate and Sarah put together a fantastic day and I am sure I am not alone when I say a massive THANK YOU to them both for a wonderful weekend.

*Kate and Sarah are both accepting submissions at the moment, so If you would like to submit to either of them, please do! You will find submission guidelines here. *

 

Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)

Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)

 

And now to look forward to the RNA conference where a number of Romaniacs will be let loose … don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

Roving Romaniac: Writing a Romantic Novel with WriteStars & Sue Moorcroft

The lovely Choc Lit and Writestars ran a competition to win a place on Sue Moorcroft’s Write a Romantic Novel in a day course. The entry involved answering a simple question and saying why you deserved to win in 150 words. Below are the reasons I gave:

1) I LOVE Sue Moorcroft!
2) I need to learn more about my craft & Sue’s course is perfect for the tools I need to finish my work in progress.
3) My first chapter has been shortlisted twice for the Romance Festival New Talent Award and was runner up in Miranda Dickinson’s Future Stars competition. Now I need to make sure the rest of the book lives up to the start.
4) This year I gave birth to twins. It means I am entirely capable of writing a novel in a day. If only I could get the day off. Winning this would mean I get a special day pass for a nappy free adventure!
5) The course is the same week as my birthday. If I won, you’d be whisking me off to a mystery location! That’s as close as I’ll get to romantic weekend away for a while.

As you can imagine, I was absolutely delighted when Choc Lit emailed to let me know I’d won!

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The setting for the course was kept a secret until a few days before, when we were told it was at the opulent setting of the RAF Club in Piccadilly. WriteStars added some romantic touches as well to make the day extra special.

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Sue is an excellent tutor. Not only is she a contemporary fiction author, she has also penned Love Writing, a non-fiction book on writing romantic fiction. The day was based on this book and it was great having Sue go through all the elements of writing a romantic novel.

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I was able to discuss my current novel with Sue and the other writers attending. It was great to have feedback from a group on the various aspects of my storyline. The day catered for whatever stage of novel writing everyone was at. Since returning home, I’ve managed to fill the beautiful notepad that I was given as part of the course, and I hope I’ve also fixed the potential pitfall that Sue identified.

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To end the day, we did what all reasonable people do, and did a selfie. Well, there was no one else about to take the picture! A big thank you to Choc Lit, WriteStars, Rachel from WriteStars, and to Sue. It was an great day and I’m already putting the advice into practice.

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Roving Romaniac: Laura Visits Sandworld

Roving Romanic: Laura Visits Sandworld.

 

Weymouth Seafront

Weymouth Sea front

Ever since I can remember, Weymouth’s had a sand sculptor producing beautiful works of art on the beach, and for the last four years, Sandworld has developed an off-beach site too, where it can create and keep the sculptures in a secure and welcoming environment for the summer season.

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On Saturday 5th April 2014, authors with connections to Weymouth, Kathy Sharp, Kate Kelly, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry and I, gathered for the Grand Opening of Sandworld’s theme for the 2014 season, Literally in Sand. We spent a wonderful day in an area we affectionately called Author’s Corner, enjoying the hospitality of our lovely hosts, and the chatter with those who came to view the incredible sand sculptures and take a look at our books.

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

I gave my first-ever reading – an extract from Truth or Dare?, and aware there would be children at the venue, I opted for a family-friendly section. It was quite a challenge finding a passage that wasn’t dark, gritty, or containing too much dialogue, which I figured would be more difficult to follow as a listener. I chose a scene near the beginning of the novel, and including my introduction, spoke for ten minutes.

As someone who has been known to take the stage for a song, it was great to be performing once more.

It was an excellent event, and we hope to return in the summer and do it all again.

Here are a few teaser photos to illustrate the sheer brilliance of the international band of sand sculptors who’ve worked on Literally in Sand.

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Can you name the books?

I recommend a trip to Weymouth to see these, and more, in all their glory.

Thank you Sandworld for the fab day, beautiful art, and friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

I will see you soon.

Laura x