Spring; The Waiting Game.

Spring trying to arrive in Somerset
Spring trying to arrive in Somerset

Celia: I’m not very good at waiting. No, that’s something of an understatement, I am absolutely pants when it comes to patience. Just the thought of things happening gradually (and especially that horrible phrase ‘in the fullness of time’) have always given me the jitters. But just lately, while we’ve all been waiting and longing for spring sunshine, daffodils, butterflies etc to appear and for the country to warm up a bit, I’ve been having a rethink.

Without going into boring details, there have been several big changes and breakthroughs in my life during the last year. I’m now officially an orphan and therefore possibly a grown-up at last. And grown-ups are meant to be patient…aren’t they? My change of heart about the value of biding my time could be due to the excitement of getting a real live contract after long months searching for an agent and a publisher. It’s probably also a lot to do with a traumatic family relationship, long fractured and seemingly hopeless, that time has finally healed. Whatever the reason, I’m beginning to think that some things might, just might, be worth waiting for – if there’s no other option.

I asked the other inhabitants of Romaniac HQ for their views on the subject of playing the waiting game:

Sue : I am and I’m not. How’s that for sitting on the fence? I’m very patient when it comes to other people but when it comes to getting things done, I want it done yesterday. I hate waiting. I think that can at times make me quite impulsive. I am trying to be more patient as I get older, but it’s hard to break a lifetime of rushing to get things done. I am looking forward to spring. I usually enjoy all the seasons but, I have to say, I’m a bit bored of winter now. It’s encouraging to see the blossom on the tree in my garden. Surely, spring will be here soon.

blossom

Jan: I like to think I’m pretty patient with most people, especially friends & family. “You’re a good listener!” they tell me. I’m also quite restrained where long queues are concerned, as in airport check-in lines or traffic jams. I suppose where I do feel the steam rising slightly is if I’m trying to figure out instructions and can’t grasp things straight away, generally with new gadgets or household products, rather than with teachers or text books. The only other time impatience strikes, of course, is if I can’t unwrap a box of chocolates quick enough! 😉 As for remaining uncomplaining about the weather… well, spring can’t come quick enough. It’s my favourite season. New beginnings, beautiful blossom on the trees, daffodils and other buds & blooms, brighter days & lighter evenings, the promise of summer still to come, dusting off my flip flops… I could go on and on.

Vanessa: I read Celia’s post above and a lot of it could have been written by me … except for the contract bit – I’m still waiting for that one! Since losing my dad at the end of last year, I’ve become almost panicky when it comes to waiting, a little voice in my head is constantly whispering life is too short. I had the same thing when I lost other people, friends and family members, that reminder of your own mortality you get when someone dies and all the things on the to-do list that remain un-ticked. I’m trying to force myself to slow down, to not rush everything to completion, and at the same time to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. And mostly, to remind myself that some things are worth waiting for, with the end results all the more delicious for the tense build-up the waiting game offers.

Laura: ‘All good things come to those who wait’ – I can hear those words in my mothers’s voice. For most of the time, when major situations are involved, I’m happy to sit tight and let them play out, and I believe this stems from my fatalistic nature – what will be, will be. And yes, I am now singing one of my all time favourite Doris Day songs, the sentiment of which incidentally, brings a sincere tear to my eye.

Life is short, and we should make our own luck, but sometimes, waiting is good for the soul. Sometimes, waiting provides distance from the core issue, and distance provides perspective. That change of view might make us see things differently, and stop us from blindly rushing in.
I wonder how connected patience are acceptance are?

So, what are you waiting for right now? And is the waiting game one you’re happy to play?

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A Year and A Day

A year and a day. It certainly has romantic associations. And a fairytale feel.

My Sexy Pen
My Sexy Pen

The Romaniac blog started a year and a day ago, 13th February 2012, which means yesterday was The Romaniacs’ First Anniversary. It’s the ‘paper anniversary’. Appropriate, wouldn’t you say? What better gift could one give a writer? Apart from sexy pens, obviously. Have I ever shown you my sexy pen? Here’s my anniversary gift to you, then…

The Romaniacs have been very romantic over the last twelve months with the help of wonderful guests, comical comments and brilliant banter. Thank you all so much for joining in with the fun, offering advice, and caring. It’s a proper relationship. We’ve even got hot under the collar, once or twice. Sue took us through our very own, unique heat scale: https://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/2012/10/24/lets-talk-about-sex/

Isn’t that what romance is about? Fun, laughter and friendship?

Romaniac Group Heart Rev 7I’ve never doubted the friendship that exists within The Romaniacs. There is genuine depth of feeling between us, endless encouragement, and cheer-leading support. And cake. Mustn’t forget the cake.

At the 2012 Festival of Romance, I pitched to a panel of experts. This was my fourth ever pitch, and my first standing at the front of an audience. Within the crowd were four fellow Romaniacs, who had not heard my new summary of my wip. They were radiating energy, generating positive vibes, and directing their goodwill toward me. They were providing a virtual hand hold. I pitched ‘Follow Me’, I received my constructive criticisms, and I returned to my seat. At that moment, I experienced the full force of the Romaniacs’ support. Liz handed me notes she had taken, based on the panels comments, Celia and Debbie suggested ways to overcome a characterisation problem with which I’d struggled for months, and Sue gave me ‘that’ look that said ‘Great job.’ It was quite a moment, and one I often think about. It fuelled some of what I said the next day, when The Romaniacs presented a panel about the benefits of an online writing support group.

The dynamics have to work, and what you gain from belonging to such a group should be positive. If it’s destructive, then find another group, or start your own. First and foremost, The Romaniacs are friends, brought together by a common interest/obsession/compulsion (delete as applicable) with writing and reading, and bound together by laughter, daftness, empathy and, yes, love. I have a large, soft, squidgy, kind-of-like-a-bouncy-castle patch in my heart for these ladies, and cannot imagine life without them.

Romaniacs Group Montage

Did we get lucky, or were we drawn together by the strings of fate?

It’s Valentine’s Day, I write romance and I believe in fairytales. On that basis Fate gets my vote. And my thanks. And a big, squidgy, kind-of-like-a-bouncy-castle hug. And, since it is the most romantic day of the year, a kiss on the forehead.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Laura xx

Tuesday Chit Chats: The Romaniac Cut

Tuesday Chit Chats: The Romaniac Cut.

The Romaniacs

I have four questions today – instantly The Two Ronnies sketch comes to mind – you know the one? Fork Handles…It’s a bit like that at Romaniac HQ…Anyway, I digress. Mid-February will see the first anniversary of The Romaniac Blog, and that has put me in a reflective mood. Looking back through our Tuesday Chit Chats, I’ve chosen four questions we asked our wonderful guests, whilst they supped wine and ate HobNobs, that I’d like to put to you.

  1. Is there a book you wished you had written?
  2. Who are your top three favourite fictional characters?
  3. How vividly do you recall your dreams and are they in colour?
  4. What are the funniest and most interesting or unusual questions you’ve been asked at a talk or book signing?

 Liz Harris: The Road Back.

Liz Harris

Is there a book out there that you liked so much, you wished you had written it?TRB_revised1

I haven’t read Fifty shades of Grey, but I certainly wish I’d written it. I could have easily got used to lugging sacks of lucre to the bank! As to both parts of your question, though, I’ve loved many novels over the years, but I don’t think that I’ve ever consciously wished that I’d written one of them myself. I have too much fun creating my own fictional world ever to wish that I’d created that of someone else.

Nikki Goodman: NWS Member

Nikki Goodman

Name three favourite fictional heroes?

That’s really hard – I’ve read so many books! I’m going to go for a fictional heroine first. 

1)      Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

tokillmockingbirdI studied the book for English at school and the empathy and maturity that Scout shows towards Boo Radley, and the journey she goes on in coming to terms with people’s prejudices and realising that both good and evil exist really struck me… and stayed with me.

2)      And then to the other extreme…Rupert Campbell-Black in Riders and sequels

I read the books when I was in my late teens. I know RC-B is supposed to be the ultimate anti-hero but he is so sexy and such a bad boy! He does have some redeeming features though, that start to slowly come out once he meets Taggie, who becomes his wife. I liked the fact that love made him a better man, without it changing him too much; he’s still a bit of a scoundrel!

3)      And slightly predictable; Elizabeth Bennett in Pride and Prejudice

Just because she is strong minded and witty and is not afraid to say what she thinks, which for the time the novel is set in, was brave.

 Sue Moorcroft: Dream A Little Dream.

Portrait of Sue Moorcroft

Sue Moorcroft DALDWe’re told everybody dreams, even though we don’t always remember. How vividly do you recall your dreams and are they in colour?

Sometimes very vividly, but only in snatches. I’ve never been able to work out if my dreams are in colour or whether I just paint colour in when I’m recalling them. I’m subject to nightmares, which may be a reason why I don’t like reading or watching anything scary – it comes back get me that night!

Jane Lovering: Vampire State of Mind.

Jane Lovering

What are the funniest and most interesting or unusual questions you’ve been asked at a talk or book signing?VSOM_packshot copy

Apart from ‘why have you got your pants on your head?’  People don’t often ask me questions.  They are usually accelerating away too quickly, although a lady did ask, during a recent talk, about the use of the subjunctive in modern novels.  THAT was interesting…  Mostly though, questions are limited to ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ and ‘who is the responsible adult who is currently in charge of you?’

You can link back to the original interviews by clicking on the author’s name.

Now, how would you answer those four questions?

Laura x

Help! I don’t have the time

time

Tick Followed Tock, Followed Tick …

Probably best known for the Guinness ‘White Horses’ advert but the narrator’s voice, deep and foreboding has been whispering in my ear as I struggle to find the time to get any serious writing done. I close my eyes and the crest of the waves is the blank screen in front of me and I hear the voice over of ‘tick followed tock followed tick…’

However, unlike the surfers in the advert, I can’t afford to wait. I need to get on with some writing.

Having taken on a new job just before Christmas my free time to spend writing has reduced dramatically and I have tried to squeeze writing in whenever I can. I’ve started going to bed earlier, which goes against my natural night owl tendencies, but I have done this so I can get up earlier.  I’m now getting up at 5.30, making a quick cup of tea and then switching on the laptop to grab an hour’s writing while everyone else in the house are still asleep and before I have to go to work.

My next bit of free time is my lunch hour where I don’t attempt to write, but use it to catch up on some reading, tweeting and Facebooking.

Then the next time I can get to the laptop is later in the evening once tea and other mum duties are out of the way.

This significantly reduced writing time is certainly making me more focussed when I do write but on the downside, it’s harder to connect with my WIP.

I’m in the middle of writing a novella which has the working title ‘The Beginning of The End’ and I’ve about done the first rough draft.  I now need to go through it, tightening it up before sending it off for proofreading and editing.  At the present time, I’m only releasing it in digital format and I have a cover already prepared by Avalon Graphics. Hopefully I’m still on track to publish mid-March, as long as I continue to make optimum use of my time and keep the voices at bay and have a happy ending just like the Guinness advert, although I may have a glass of wine instead … tick followed tock followed tick …

What are your coping strategies with time?

Have you got any tips for making best use of  writing opportunities?

Sue x

You googled WHAT?

When researching a storyline it’s not uncommon to google something peculiar and not in keeping with your day to day life. Baby Number Two is my current WIP and from the title you can already imagine there will be some interesting google searches during its completion. What really fascinates me though (’cause I’m a bit sad like that) is what search terms lead people to The Romaniacs blog. There are of course the sensible ones, but you don’t want to hear about them. I thought I’d share the Top 10 random search terms that have brought people here:

1) Robert Pattinson body hair

Erm… we haven’t stolen it, honest!

2) Young sperm

This was a cleanish search term. Just to let you know – mention sperm on your blog and you get extra hits as a result.

3) What the world needs is a group hug

I’m inclined to agree and I’m very glad when someone was looking for a group hug they found us.

4) This girl said we are kindred souls

One of The Romaniacs? They are so fickle.

5) Sainsburys singles night

I’m itching to add apostrophes. I do want to know more about this. Do they have an allocated time when you all meet in the pizza aisle?

6) grange hill sausage

I don’t even know what to say about this. Just why? And what?

7) is your name yasmin chat up line

I don’t think it was The Romaniacs they were after. Unless… anyone been putting on a husky voice to fund their writing endeavours?

8) should i get spanx or m & s underwear

Good question. Doubt we helped with the answer. Personally, I have M & S suck it all in pants.

9) subliminal messages to get someone to marry you

Hmm… this has to be a girl asking this, right? In which case, boys don’t do subliminal. Make it obvious or it won’t work. Take them shopping and gasp at gorgeous diamond rings when you pass window displays. That should do the trick.

10) just ate big bag of cadbury buttons !!

You are my kind of person. This is exactly the kind of behaviour The Romaniacs encourage.

Of course, I have skipped over some search terms, but judging by the majority, we could set up an agony aunt column answering all the questions that arrive here. Although each answer would involve reading a good book.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve had to look up on the computer? And what strange search terms have you discovered on your blog/website? Any questions that google hasn’t helped with and you want The Romaniacs to tackle?

Your Agony Aunt, Catherine x

We are showing and not telling …

After a hectic week of workshops, talks and parties, we thought we’d do what all good writers should … show and not tell

The River Ouse, Bedford, FoR12
Room mates for the Thursday night
The new Eric and Ernie
Laura and Catherine glammed up ready for Awards dinner
FoR party room
Pretty in Pink
Celia and Talli
Catherine, Sue Moorcroft, Sue
Debbie and Sue
Mandy Baggot and Laura – Dancing Queens
Celia and Laura clearly know the words

Saturday …

Sarah Tranter, ChocLit Author
Miranda Dickinson, Laura James, Fiona Harper
Saturday Night Romaniacal Quiz
Come on Liz and Debbie – share the joke!
Lovely Liz
Conference Day

Wednesday, 21 November – RNA Winter Party

Debbie and Jan

Debbie and Celia
Think Laura and Mandy are trying to make the same point

Nearly got away with it, but we spotted Mandy in the Romaniac line-up
Catherine and Celia
A nightcap before bed
Just before our goodbyes on Thursday morning, a quick stop here

Lucie’s NaNoWriMo challenge

NaNoWriMo.

Well, what can I say, I must be mad.

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.com

For anyone who doesn’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is a month long writing challenge that takes place every year throughout the month of November. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and the aim is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. The trick is to switch off your inner editor – and preferably your mobile phone, house phone, doorbell, forget about your daily chores, any errands you need to run or children you need to feed – and just concentrate on getting the word count down. This challenge isn’t about getting an uber polished 50k down on paper – or in Word – to be ready to send off on the 1st December. No. It’s simply about getting words down to have something to work with. What you will end up with in December is a complete pocket novel, or part of a full length novel, that you can go on to edit, edit, edit until your hearts content. It is a great challenge to motivate. It is a great challenge to hit deadlines. It is a great challenge to try something new, completely out of your comfort zone. And if you do decide to try writing that YA book and then in December, after reading it back, you think, ‘actually, I don’t think this is for me,’ then all you have lost is a month. Onwards and upwards and onto the next thing.

So, yes, as of tomorrow, I will be embarking on my first attempt of NaNoWriMo in a bid to get the first 50k words of my new novel, Love Hurts, down. I think it will come under Romantic Thriller although I’ve never really written anything like this before so I may have to wait until I’ve completed the first draft before I try to place it within a genre. It’s definitely romance, though – what else! 🙂

The other thing that I am attempting for the first time with this novel, is the way in which I am going about writing it. I am normally a ‘pantster’ when I write. For those who are new to this writing term, a pantster is someone who writes as they go along. They may have a basic outline of what the story is about, but they pretty much have an idea and begin writing, letting the characters take them along the way and seeing where the story takes them. The other type of writer, the type that I shall be for the time being, is a ‘plotter’. A plotter gets the idea, drafts up a plot outline and works to it. Yes the characters may take them on a different journey, but there is a clear plot outline to the start, middle and end of the story, before the writer has even written the first word.

A snapshot of my desk, mid-plotting

I am completely new to this way of writing but I thought I would try it for Love Hurts. So I have spent the last two weeks, in preparation of NaNoWriMo, drafting up quite an in depth plot outline. I know exactly what happens to kick off the story, I know how it skips along and I know how it ends.

It’ll probably all change by week two as my heroine will no doubt trot off on her own little mission, but as it stands, I have the complete story outlined – I just need to write the damned thing! That’s where my writing challenge comes in. I’m hoping it will help focus me into getting the first draft completed by the new year so that I can send it off to the NWS very early next year. (If I get in!)

I’m not exactly getting the easiest of starts to the challenge either, as it starts smack bang in the middle of half term! Lovely! So I am having to do nighttime writing again – which I do enjoy, and I feel very creative at 1am, but it really does take it out of me. But it’s only for the first four days of the challenge and then I can go back to normal routine. And I’m sure there are hundreds of others out the whose only writing time is 1am.

I have also taken it upon myself this time round, to create a little playlist for this book. I’ve heard others say that they listen to certain songs or music whilst they write to help connect with the emotions. So I thought i’d try this too. I’m all for trying new things. I probably shouldn’t be trying all these new things at once, on one writing project, but hey! If it works, then brilliant. So here’s a little taster of a few of the more recent songs added to my playlist…..can you tell I was plotting a sad few scenes?

Leona Lewis – Trouble

Avril Lavigne – When You’re Gone

REM – Everybody Hurts

Shakespeares Sister- Stay

Leona Lewis – Run

Christina Aguilera – Hurt

And I want to just quickly say a huge thank you to my lovely friends, Kayleigh, Emma D, Emma P and Hannah, for knowing me well enough to not question my random text of ‘I need sad songs that will make me cry’ and just unload lots of ideas. It takes special friends to understand your crazy, weird and always random texts when writing – and only one of them being a writer themselves – so thanks girls for understanding my strangeness and never questioning it or ignoring my texts. (And if you ever did – I know where you all live! Mwahahaha!!)

So that just leaves me with the huge task of writing the first 50k words of Love Hurts. Wish me luck! And if any of you want to get a decent conversation out of me – wait until December!

Love Lucie x

P.S my name on the NaNoWriMo website is Lucie_Wheeler for anyone who wants to add me. Good luck everyone!

Image courtesy of istockphoto.com