#ReadOnGetOn

We’re joining in with Read On Get On and Southampton City Libraries with their campaign to encourage reading. They’re asking everyone to share photos of where they read and to share those pictures on facebook and twitter using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn. All the details can be found on their website here. So here are some of the places we read:

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It's south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up. Daisy thinks so, too.

This is me(Laura) reading in my conservatory. It’s south-facing, and is the perfect place to read while I warm up.
Daisy thinks so, too.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

The chair is a recliner, and I have a table and lamp next to it, with a space for a mug. I often come in here to write, as well.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: When travelling; land, sea or air. Was handy today when I had to take a 20 minute bus ride.

Sue: Reading in the garden - such a treat after the winter

Sue: Reading in the garden – such a treat after the winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My girls enjoying our local library!

Catherine: My girls enjoying our local library!

 

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

Who needs a reading snug when you can have a basket?

 

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It's moulded to my shape!

Catherine: My couch, where i collapse at the end of the day and where most of my reading and writing happens. It’s moulded to my shape!

 

So please join in on Facebook and twitter showing us where you read using the hashtag #ReadOnGetOn.

 

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

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Sparkle Round-Up

Here at Romaniac HQ, we believe in positivity. The reason we started the Life Cycle Of A Writer posts was so that we can share the lows and highs of our journeys. It is a mighty tough business for which you need a thick skin, but we go by the philosophy if you work hard and believe in yourself great things will happen. Give yourself the chance to sparkle, and if you don’t mind indulging us for a few minutes, we wanted to share our moments of triumph with you and together raise a glass to all the highs.

December

It all started in the middle of December at the Romaniac Sparkle WeekendEn route to our get together we found we had good reason to celebrate when Vanessa Savage learned she’d won the Flash500 Novel Opening Competition for Missing Grace. The report from the judge, Steph Patterson, provides some very encouraging words for Vanessa:

“The introduction to Missing Grace just pulls you in. Straight away, it raises a number of questions and you quickly read on. A mere sprinkling of back story, told in a way that links the past to the present, introduces us to another important character, and then we’re heading straight into the plot. The tension grows as the mystery unravels. My congratulations to the two finalists! I’m sure both will go far.”

If that wasn’t enough reason to raise a glass, during our sparkle weekend Catherine Miller learned she’d won the Just Write Monthly Masterpiece competition for Miles Between Us. With the judges saying they were gripped from the very start. The first three chapters are now available to read on their website.

January

2015 got off to a great start when Vanessa received news she’d won a Writers Forum competition for her short story No Such Thing As Monsters. The magazine should be out in March!

To add to our early 2015 cheer, Catherine was highly commended runner-up in the Accent Press and Woman magazine writing competition for her work-in-progress Baby Number Two.

February

Laura E. James carried out her first Waterstones book signing at the Dorchester branch, selling and signing copies of Follow Me Follow You

Laura and Sharon Goodwin (Jera's Jamboree) at Dorchester's Waterstones.

Laura and Sharon Goodwin (Jera’s Jamboree) at Dorchester’s Waterstones.

Vanessa received double good news in February – Her current work-in-progress The Murder House made the final four in the Caledonia Novel Award and she came third in the Flash500 flash fiction competition with her story Pretty Maids All In A Row

March

March has been mega for good news, and we’re only part way through the month.

Catherine went up to London to receive the Katie Fforde bursary award. This is for someone on the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme who has great potential. Katie presented Catherine with a trophy at the RNA March meeting.

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Laura carried out her first talk with a fellow Dorset writer, Kathy Sharp. The Preston Friendship Club were fantastic audience, and Laura hopes to do similar events in the future.

In a celebration of Mother’s Day, Celia J Anderson’s letter to her mother was included in The Guardian. It’s the first letter and has a lovely picture of Celia in a bonnet.

As if all these bits of excitement weren’t enough, Romaniac HQ celebrations went into overdrive when we learned our wonderful Jan Brigden won the Choc Lit and Whole Audiobooks Search for a Star competition. Her novel As Weekends Go will be published later this year.

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We’re absolutely delighted for Jan and so glad to have our first life cycle transition from aspiring to published writer.

We’ve also finished putting a considerable number of words together with The Murder House by Vanessa Savage, Baby Number Two by Catherine Miller, Fractured Love by Lucie Wheeler, What Doesn’t Kill You by Laura E.James and Living The Dream by Celia J. Anderson reaching completion in one stage or another and the very hard-working Sue Fortin has been getting The Half-Truth into its final version ready for publication in two days time!

The Half truth

 

Time to upgrade Romaniac HQ’s mini-bar. There’s no way we can stock enough champagne in there if the good news keeps coming in at this rate. Now if you’ve all got a filled glass, please raise it to the wonder of sparkle and positivity!

CHEERS!

CHEERS!

 

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

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Finding time to write

Catherine is often asked how she finds time to write now she has toddler twins. Here she lets you into her secrets, but this video comes with a warning: It is not suitable for those with an aversion to dust. Or brightly coloured toys in an unspeakable mess.

How about you? How do you find time to add to your word count?

Catherine x

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?

Deadline Dramas

I think I need more practice at meeting deadlines and less children to look after at the same time. This is how handing in my RNA NWS report went this year:

Argh! It’s August! What the frig happened to the rest of 2014?

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Okay, don’t panic, you managed to send one chapter in last year when the twins were eight-weeks-old, this year will be a breeze.

Frantic read through and tidy up of the extra 30,000 words you’ve added. Not bad, not great, but will be good to get some feedback so prep to send a partial.

Ah. The printer isn’t set up at home. Smile sweetly at husband.

Printer is set up. Go, go, go!

 

 

 

 

 

Stop! This is so NOT what they mean by a partial!

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PANIC! Why did you leave this til now to sort out? Switch to plan B = Print at local library. Sort everything out whilst they nap then head there after lunch.

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Babies: Why would you choose to not nap today! (Teething I worked out later. Three new teeth cut between them!)

Drink/Snack/Calpol = now we’ll sleep, mummy!

Yeah! *Runs around house gathering sticky labels, envelopes, pens, the magic green form*

Whilst in panic mode you share with twitter your woes and that @SotonLibrary is your only hope. @SotonLibrary tweets back saying they are ready! (Yay, social media!)

Aim to get to library at 2 when it opens. Arrive half an hour later than hoped after lunch (not the relaxing kind, the kind where two cuties lob at least 50% of theirs on the floor) and delightful double nappy change.

The printer works! The staff entertain the babies. We might actually DO THIS!

Rush to post office and IT’S SENT WITH A DAY TO SPARE!

And collapse.

By jove, I don’t know how writers with real deadlines (not involving partials) manage. I suspect it may involve some of the Romaniac staples. Cake, chocolate, and alcohol. Am I right?