SFTW – Cold Season

Is it just Romaniac HQ, or has the wind changed and carried all the cold viruses our way? There seem to be a lot of tissue boxes and coughs and splutters in our HQ today, so we thought we’d add photos of how we’re getting through the cold season. Potentially, this is just another excuse for more pictures of cake and wine, but nowt wrong with that!

Laura: I once read that chocolate is good for easing cough symptoms.

Laura: I once read that chocolate is good for easing cough symptoms.


Catherine: A cold has been gifted to me from the twins. Hot chocolates and drug round are go!


Jan: I’m of the firm belief that this winning combo will help me stave off anything lurgified! ;)

Celia: I've found that a warm cat and a blazing fire are a cure for most things.

Celia: I’ve found that a warm cat and a blazing fire are a cure for most things.

Debbie's pets always have prime position in front of the log burner!

Debbie: My pets always have prime position in front of the log burner!

SFTW – Ways to celebrate!

In amongst all the edits, we’ve had flourishes of excellent news over the past few weeks, so we thought we’d share some of our favourite ways to celebrate small successes…

Sue : To celebrate the launch of my novella, we went to the pub. It's not just coke in the glass!

Sue : To celebrate the launch of my novella, we went to the pub. It’s not just coke in the glass!

It's strawberry milkshake and chocolate in the James household, although cheese toasties featured on the wedding night ...

Laura: Major or minor successes, it’s strawberry milkshake and chocolate in the James household, although cheese toasties featured on the wedding night … This photo was taken to celebrate signing my first Choc Lit contract. ‘Truth or Dare?’ followed a few months later.

There's noting in my life that can't be celebrated with a Birds' Caramel Doughnut. I had one today, because...erm...anyway, they're also good for stressful days at work.

Celia: There’s nothing in life that can’t be celebrated with a Birds’ Caramel Doughnut. I had one today, because…erm…anyway, they’re also good for stressful days at work.

And here's how I celebrate Halloween.

(And here’s how I celebrate Halloween.)



Friend not Foe – Social Media

Before we hand you over to Samantha Tonge and her guest post on social media, we’d like to say congratulations on her latest release MY BIG FAT CHRISTMAS WEDDING and wish Sam every success!

ST My Big Fat Christmas Wedding cover

In my experience social media is a bit like Marmite – people… writers… either love it or hate it. I am lucky. Lucky, in the sense that these days I feel authors really need to embrace it, and I just happen to think it is ace.

Don’t get me wrong – some days I feel exhausted from writing, and then on top of that having to promote my books on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and occasionally Pinterest. One of my writing fantasies is, at some point in the future, to have my own publicist.

Plus a book launch is especially gruelling, scheduling tweets, doing  a blog tour … I do nothing but promote my book for at least one month after publication day. This involves posting the purchasing link to it in various reader groups on Facebook, doing a blog tour, posting up relevant photos on Instagram, tweeting my heart out on Twitter and perhaps building a Pinterest board. And, then, of course, social media is a two way thing. If someone is kind enough to take an interest in your work, it is only good manners – and obvious business sense – to interact with them. This means lots of commenting and conversations on all social platforms.

Does that make it all sound very clinical? I hope not, because the main reason I love social media is all the wonderful, generous, sincere, funny people I have made friends with. Some I’ve even met up with in real life. That’s an added bonus and makes the relationship all the more richer when you meet each other again online. I’ve been bowled over by the generosity of time-giving bloggers and reviewers, who work for nothing and do their best to review your book as quick as they can.

The danger is – if you enjoy social media as much as I do – that it becomes something of a distraction. I can easily spend the first hour of my day catching up with news, posting on Facebook and setting my pinned daily tweet on Twitter. “But it’s for work” a very naughty voice says, when I’m having an in depth conversation with an online friend about what we watched on telly last night!

Joking aside, though, I take social media very seriously and spend probably as much time on it as I do writing. But then I am lucky as I work as a novelist every day, 9 til 5. Promoting your book is a time-consuming business, but in my view essential, to reach readers and spread word of your book, especially if, like me, your publisher is digital-first. You haven’t got the visibility of being in shops.

So my top tips, for making the most of social media?

First and foremost don’t be afraid. I am the biggest technophobe in the world (just ask my long-suffering computer consultant husband) but have managed to work out how to use almost all social platforms on my own.

If you haven’t much time, concentrate on the platform(s) you really enjoy. I have recently discovered Instagram which is HUGE fun (and great for photoshopping those wrinkles!), plus have made several sales from there.

Interact, interact, interact – thank everyone who comments on a post about your book. Be polite. Interested. And try to have fun with it.

Make use of the facilities on Facebook and Twitter which allow you to schedule posts – these are great time-savers. I use HootSuite for Twitter.

Take your camera everywhere and snap meals, bar drinks, scenery, animals… you never know when a photo is going to come in useful for a tweet, Facebook or Instagram post.  A photo livens up whatever you are posting and draws more attention.

Don’t do solid promotion – try and intermingle other stuff in with the book-related posts. Having said that, don’t be apologetic about posting about your work. After a book launch I post at least one tweet an hour about the book, and then mix in other items. Followers’ feeds are filled with so many tweets per minute  that they aren’t going to worry about one every sixty minutes from you.

Think about branding. Whilst I am more personal on Facebook, on Instagram I stick more to what I perceive as my chicklit brand, ie food, wine, fashion, cats… things I love and most romance readers enjoy.

Good luck with it all, especially those of you with time constraints. My last word would be try not to see social media as the enemy. It is there to help you reach a wider audience, boost sales – and to make writerly friends.

Thank you, Sam, for that great advice.

Here’s the blurb for My Big Fat Christmas Wedding …

Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…ST My Big Fat Christmas Wedding cover

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?

There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s sure she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…hopefully in time for the wedding…

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson. Don’t miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!

ST me bannerBio

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart.








Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie


Well, I’m afraid to say that I haven’t come to you this time around with any exciting news relating to my writing. I really wanted to be able to say exciting things, or even just a development, but the truth of the matter is, I am just not getting any time to work on my novel at the moment.

To say I am upset is an understatement. I always told myself that when I started university, I would still make time for my writing. I would get up early, stay up late, work at weekends… but the truth is, I spend all of those extra hours doing my studying. It is fair to say that I didn’t realise just how much of my time would be taken up with study and work for my degree.

I spent days, weeks even, stressing about it, worrying that all those people who have supported me and followed me through the last few years, would see me as a failure and forget about me.

But then I sat down and gave myself a stern talking to. Yes, I haven’t written properly in months, and yes, I find it hard to read books at the moment that aren’t textbooks, let alone write one. But I also realised that I needed to start looking at what I AM doing, rather than what I’m not.

I AM… studying for my degree. I never, in a million years, thought I would be smart enough to study for a degree. University was something that other people did, not me. I have a family, and a job, I would never get time to obtain a degree. But yet, here I am, doing just that.

I AM … building up an online profile with my vlogging and my website. Not only highlighting my writing, but also my passion for children, parenting and childcare.

I AM… working hard at my day job in a nursery, doing not only my practical duties, but I also undertake additional duties such as devising activities and designing and building up a resource area for all members of staff and children to benefit from.

I AM…making notes for my children’s books. Whilst I don’t have time to write full novels, I do have time to loosely plan and jot down book ideas for my children’s writing. I love writing, I love working with children – so it seems silly not to merge the two and combine my passions.

I AM… being a mum and a wife. I work so hard to be the best mum and wife I can be, and to make my family’s lives as fun, exciting and enjoyable as I can.

So, you see, I may not have a book deal to shout about (just yet!) but I do have things to be grateful for and I AM working very hard. All these different things may seem random, but they all link together in my bigger picture.

I WILL write for children.

I WILL write for adults.

I WILL complete my degree and go onto further training.

I WILL always love my family.

And I wholeheartedly believe that you should try this at home.

Stop thinking about what you aren’t doing, and start celebrating what you ARE. You are amazing, believe in yourself and you will get there.

Lots of Love

Lucie x

Dear Auntie Romaniac: can’t wait, won’t wait…



Dear Auntie Romaniac,

I’m suffering from a bad case of  impatience. Life seems to be one long wait at the moment, mainly for emails that refuse to arrive.

I know it’s good to have lots of projects on the go and fingers in plenty of pies (am talking competition entries, submissions to agents etc, not real pies, sadly) but how can I get away from this constant, obsessive checking of my inbox? I still need to be at the computer to finish the WIP and it’s way too tempting to just have just one more little glance…aaargh, I’m doing it again!

Yours desperately,



Jan: You have my full sympathy on this one, Celia. I had to take drastic measures recently when I was working on my edits by actually unplugging the internet router/modem, you name it … Other than that, I find what (sometimes) works for me is to set the alarm on my phone (stick with me on this!) for certain times during the day/eve, say 10am, 1pm, 4pm, etc, and only look at emails/Facebook/Twitter at these points. I’m sure you will receive better solutions than these, so good luck! :)

Dear Auntie Romaniac…details, details, details…



Dear Auntie Romaniac,

I’ve got a practical dilemma this week rather than an imaginative one. In the writing basement is the prequel to Little Boxes, which came out last year. It’s called Moondancing, and it’s my first baby, started in the first place as a one-chapter assignment at college, developed over the years for fun and finally licked into some sort of shape and sent to the NWS. It then went back under the bed as, frankly, it was awful.

Now it’s been revamped, edited and generally given a spring clean and it’s been accepted for publishing. The problem is that the dates, ages, character details etc don’t always exactly match and flow into the next part of the story.

Where do I begin? LB is in ebook format only – copies of it and Moondancing are on my Kindle,  but can I do a proper job without printing them both out in full? Research and checking finer details are my two (very) weak spots).



SFTW – Party Frocks

This weekend, the majority of The Romaniacs will be at the RNA conference and tomorrow will be the gala dinner, so today we’re looking at frocks past!


Lucie - My dresses for the Gala dinners in previous years. I still haven't picked one for this year!

Lucie – My dresses for the Gala dinners in previous years. I still haven’t picked one for this year!


This was the HOT ONE at Sheffield! The venue, not us…although…