Life Cycle Of A Writer: Speaking in public – tips needed!

I’ve been making an effort to be brave lately, entering more competitions and generally putting my writing work out there more. Only it’s possible I’ve been too brave as last week I found out I’m a finalist in the London Book Fair Author HQ Write Stuff event. It involves a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch to a panel of agents. 

 

The last time I spoke in public was in March when I received the Katie Fforde bursary and the trophy toppled (you can see it starting to tumble in this picture) mid speeches. So I’m asking for any tips to help me with my pitch? What would you include in your two minutes if you were asked to pitch your latest novel?

Thanks,

Catherine x

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Crossing the Finishing Line

Never has there been a more glorious moment than writing these two short, little words:

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It is not the first time I’ve reached THE END of a manuscript, but this one has been something of a HERCULEAN effort. I had the idea for Baby Number Two in 2012 and after mulling it over for a while, I wrote the first chapter to enter into the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Much to my surprise, the first chapter was shortlisted and I was invited to attend the New Talent Reception prior to the Awards dinner. Looking back on my iPhone pictures these two photos are next to each other:

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My lunatic grin at finding I was shortlisted

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The reason I look quite so crazed in that photo?

I took this test on the day I was heading up to the New Talent Award Reception, so no champagne for me then. It also put a stop to any writing for some while, because that faint little line turned out to be twins and throughout pregnancy I was a) not able to write because my brain was mush and b) I didn’t want to jinx anything, which was silly and irrational, but that pretty much sums up emotions during pregnancy.

It was only once the twins arrived safely that I managed to consider writing again. This story that I’d created over a year ago needed to be written. But how, with twins? I talked about that on my last vlog and turning to the traditional pen and paper route worked for me. Gradually, at every given opportunity, I have scribbled away and have managed to get those 3,000 words to roughly 80,000 words.

It’s taken me nearly 3 years and I managed to produce two children quicker, but at long last I can say I’ve reached THE END.

Now truth be told, I should take this opportunity to recline on the sofa for a very long time. I’m pretty sure I need to, but as parenthood doesn’t allow that, and certainly not in the day time then I’m continuing to fill every spare minute and am already 100 pages into editing. Because crossing the finish line is a great feeling, but I’m still chasing the dream that everyone gets the chance to read this story.

Catherine x

The Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie

 

This week it is my turn to give an update of where I am with my writing.

I come under the ‘agented’ category. My lovely agent, Sarah Taylor, has been fantastic and has always been on hand, day or night, to listen to me ramble on about an idea I have had, or a competition I want to enter, or even when I just can’t get the words down. It has made a real difference, to me personally, having an agent. I am not saying that everyone must have an agent, I am just saying that for me personally, it has been a good thing.

This bears a huge resemblance to my ironing pile!

When I was writing just me, myself and I, I found it easy to be distracted by things. That funny post on Facebook, the fact that my phone beeped because someone has mentioned me on Twitter, the washing, the dog snoring… the ironing (but that was only when things were really bad – the ironing very rarely wins my attention.) But that isn’t just it. I found myself doubting my ability a lot, too. Regularly I would re-read things from the previous day and think, ‘I’m rubbish’, or, ‘This is absolute drivel’, and so on.

Whilst I do have the fantastic added benefit of The Romaniac girls to hand, having an agent means she can pull me into line when these doubts creep in. As they do. A lot.

My agent isn’t just there to send my books out and try to find homes for them, she’s also there to listen, to guide, to read, to laugh, to empathise, to be firm and be constructive. She will give me deadlines to work to so that I stay on track and stay focused. She will read that piece of absolute drivel and pull the goodness from it. She will tell me when I’ve really gone off on a tangent and that I really, really don’t need those extra words. She wants me to do well and she knows how to get me there.

As a newbie, I cannot do all of the above by myself. I am sure there are some of you reading this who are shouting at the computer saying, ‘yes, you can!’ and I am sure that if I had to, I could. But I feel like I am learning so much more about myself doing it this way.

So, an update on where I am.

My first full length novel, Head over Heart, went out on submission last year. Whilst I got back quite a few very positive responses, I am yet to be offered a contract. Rejections are hard, and they don’t get any easier. People I have spoken to who have been writing for years – some of who have previously had publishing contracts – also say that rejections do not get easier the older you get/the more you get. Unfortunately it is one of those things that we writers have to get used to and learn to take the positives. Yes, they may be saying no, but what about that paragraph where they also said that they loved the story but it just wasn’t different enough from the other books already in their line? Yes, that was one of my rejections. A no, but a positive no. They liked it. And it is hard to get publishers to like your book. So I take pride in that rejection.

As you can see, I go off on a tangent quite easily when I am writing. Hence why I like having Sarah reining me in.

After finishing my second novel, working title Love Hurts, it has been sent to Sarah. And as I type, she is due to call me this afternoon to discuss her thoughts. When we feel this is ready, it will be going out on submission, too.

There are a couple of publishers who still have Head over Heart on their desk to read, however, as I am sure many of you know, you cannot just sit and wait. They may be rejections, too. So Love Hurts will go out on submission whilst we wait.

After finishing this latest book, I had a week off where I tidied the house, actually had a conversation with my husband where I didn’t have one eye on the screen/notebook, and yes, I actually did that ironing pile.

What now? Well, now I will begin drafting the next one. I have the idea, I have a few characters and I have enthusiasm. Let’s begin the next adventure…donotdisturb

 

Lucie

x

 

Happy New Year!

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

Wishing you all a wonderful 2015, filled with friendship, fun, books and writing.

Thank you so much for the fantastic support you’ve provided throughout 2014.

We’ll be back in the New Year with a fresh approach and new ideas, and we look forward to sharing our blog with you.

Happy New Year,

with  love from

The Romaniacs

xx xx xx xx

Romaniac Logo

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?

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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

Catch the Moment

Feather

This isn’t going to be one of those annoying posts where someone pats themselves on the back for having some flowers in the garden and ‘the best husband in the world*’. At least, I’m hoping it isn’t. (If it is, feel free to send me a virtual slap. Or a real one if you only live up the road.)

It’s more of a follow up from last week’s blog where we looked at alternative ways to get the writing bug back in fallow periods. I was just picking blackberries in the sunshine, ready to make a crumble for the visitors who are coming later on, and it hit me that this was one of those perfect moments when everything was okay in my world. This was why:

  • The daughters have been on an adventure and I’m the world’s worst worrier when they’re travelling but they’re back safely in Brighton at last
  • There are loads of blackberries

Berries

  • And kidney beans

Beans

  • And a few really pretty sweet peas left

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  • I’ve just passed the 50 000 word mark on my WIP after a really sticky bit, and get this – I know what’s coming next … ish …
  • My kind bloke is cleaning the kitchen floor (*sorry for the plug for him, but it’s really not my favourite job and it needed doing before the visitors saw it and realised I was a slut)

Ray kitchen

  • The grass was warm under my bare feet
  • I haven’t seen said visitors for ages; they’re going to get the full roast beef/Yorkshire pudding combo and I’m already hungry thinking about it
  • I found a white feather out there on the lawn

Of course, such bliss is fleeting – I came in and tracked grass over the newly hoovered carpet -not a good move – and then noticed I’d got blackberry stains down my front.

stain

But anyway, on this bank holiday weekend, maybe it’s time to catch the moment and then go off and write about it. I’m aiming for the 55 000 word milestone now, and there could well be blackberries in the next part.

So – what makes your own perfect inspirational writing moment? The Romaniacs, ever nosy, really want to know.

Happy holiday weekend,

Celia x

 

 

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!