Life Cycle of a Writer – Jan Brigden – Cover Reveal!

Wow! Am I excited or am I excited? :D


With all my edits complete, I can now proudly reveal the fabulously glam cover for my upcoming debut novel As Weekends Go which will be published by Choc Lit on December 4th!



Huge thanks to BERNI STEVENS for the design. You’ve done me proud!



What if your entire life changed in the space of a weekend?  

When Rebecca’s friend Abi convinces her to get away from it all at the fabulous Hawksley Manor hotel in York, it seems too good to be true. Pampering and relaxation is just what Rebecca needs to distract herself from the creeping suspicion that her husband, Greg, is hiding something from her.

She never imagined that by the end of the weekend she would have dined with celebrities or danced the night away in exclusive clubs. Nor could she have predicted she would meet famous footballer, Alex Heath, or that he would be the one to show her that she deserved so much more …

But no matter how amazing a weekend is, it’s always back to reality come Monday morning – isn’t it?


I can’t believe it’s been eight months since I signed my contract.




And now it is just over three weeks until publication.




Even my butterflies have butterflies! 

I nearly swallowed my chocolate chip cookie WHOLE when I saw my novel on The Choc Lit  website and then on AMAZON.CO.UK for pre-order.

Best put on my literary seatbelt and prepare for the ride.

Wish me luck …

Love Jan



Connect with me on Twitter @Briggy44 or at @theromaniacs

And on Facebook – Jan Brigden


Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie

01470232f33482cb33ee7d57ab8b5ad58f27ea0fd5Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was writing my last Life Cycle post, telling you all how my writing had slowed right down and how life had, as it always seems to, got in the way of things.

Whilst this is still very much true, I have made huge progress with my latest WiP. And I have the RNA conference to thank for that.

I attended the RNA conference this year, in London, and, as always, it was FANTASTIC! I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not the throat infection part and losing my voice, but the rest was huge fun!) Every year I attend the conferences, I always come home feeling hugely inspired and raring to go. The talks and workshops are amazingly informative and full of inspiration and self belief, the evenings are full of laughter and friendship and the atmosphere is something like I’ve never experienced anywhere else. However, this year, there was one difference for me. I actually got involved with the conference from a participants point of view – myself and my fellow Romaniacs presented all conference goers with the opportunity to speak about themselves and their writing, on camera, in our Romaniac Sparkle Corner. It was incredibly popular and not only did we fill all our slots, but we squeezed some additional people in as and when we could to help satisfy the interest. It was incredible! It was so lovely to give something back to the RNA and all our supporters – I hope everyone who took part (and those who watched/shared the videos) all enjoyed it.

Another thing I came away with from this years conference was self belief and motivation. And I suppose this was another difference to this years conference – I had some one-to-one industry appointment’s. For those who are not aware of what this is, this is a chance to meet an editor/agent on a one-to-one basis for a 10 minute ‘pitch’ with them. These are invaluable and they give us writers the chance to meet and ‘sell ourselves’ to some huge names in the business. I had always been too scared to apply for a slot in previous years but this year I just went for it – and I am so glad I did. I had two meetings and both were incredibly positive and encouraging. They made me believe in myself and my work and gave me huge hope for the future. I came away thinking, I CAN do this!

So I made a plan. I rang my agent and we discussed this plan. And now I am working to make this plan happen! This includes quite a re-write of my latest novel, however, it will *hopefully* make the novel more appealing to publishers. Both my one-to-one appointments gave me some very good advice on where my novel needed to be and so I am taking their advice and reshaping it.

At first I was a little frustrated and thought,  not another edit, however, as writers, we have to be prepared to do as many edits as it takes to get it right.

You only get one chance to make a first impression when submitting to publishers – I need to make sure it is a damn good one!

So it’s back to the desk for me and an overhaul on the book, but it will be worth it. Hopefully my next Life Cycle round up will be a little more exciting.

Watch this space…

Lucie x

Guest Post – Gabrielle Mullarkey



Today, we welcome to HQ, Gabrielle Mullarkey …


Gabrielle Mullarky


Gabrielle’s contemporary romance novels, Hush Hush and A Tale of Two Sisters, were originally published by Town House & Country House/Simon & Schuster respectively.

Corazon Books republished Hush Hush as an e-book in November 2014, with A Tale of Two Sisters scheduled for 2015.

Gabrielle, a journalist by profession, also writes short stories regularly for women’s weeklies, and facilitates creative writing for wellbeing and therapeutic purposes.

Hush Hush in a nutshell

Reclusive widow Angela is afraid to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. But egged on by her bossy mother and her best friend, she resolves to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.

Back home, Angela is keen to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and an ex-wife who’s less ‘ex’ than Angela expected.

But there’s a deeper reason for Angela’s acute self-doubt – a trauma in her past that threatens to overshadow her chance of happiness, even as it lies within reach.

The fine line…

Hush Hush and my second novel, A Tale of Two Sisters, were printed in 1999 and 2001 respectively, so seeing my writing reincarnated as e-books (and updating it accordingly) has been like greeting old friends, as well as revisiting myself at a different time in life.




When I started Hush Hush, I was living in Ireland by accident rather than design, after I’d met an Irishman while on holiday over there – which kind of inverts the process in the book, Angela meeting her beau on her way back from holiday!

Not that it was an overnight decision to relocate. It took five years, a mini career crisis and a lot of arm-twisting to take the plunge.

However, as I’m second-generation Irish, family and friends discounted   serendipity and assumed I’d implemented a long-nurtured cunning plan: return to roots, snag ethnically suitable specimen, learn to play the bodhran, develop love of Guinness, master Irish dancing, reclaim and celebrate heritage.

Of course, there was no such grand plan (I wish!). I simply met someone when I wasn’t looking, I can still only play Chopsticks on a piano, Guinness doesn’t agree with me, and as a child, I was possibly the worst Irish dancer. Ever.

But a funny thing happened as I started to write Hush Hush: while both characters and plot – which I wanted to be absorbingly twisty – were pure fiction, my conflicted feelings about my identity did begin to edge into the pages, many such sentiments expressed through humour (my natural default setting). However, it was only when interviewed or questioned about the book after its publication, that I thought about this osmosis, and wondered how deeply it affected my writing generally.

Since then, my research and training in creative writing for therapeutic purposes has introduced me to the adage that writing fiction helps us ‘say the unsayable’, perhaps without even realising we’re doing it – or that we considered such self-exploration ‘unsayable’ in the first place.

I still don’t set out to plunder my life directly for incidents or anecdotes, but I also know there’s a fine line between fictionaliser and recollector. In Hush Hush, Angela’s mistakes, triumphs and misunderstandings were sometimes directly my own. For example, just like Angela, I really did have a summer job in a factory where I managed to print all the clock cards upside down!

So, all these years later, it’s fascinating to look back and compare the writer who wrote Hush Hush with the one writing this post. Lots of wonderful writers have influenced me down the years and continue to do so (everyone from Robert Goddard to Laurie Graham), but I also continue to be an enduring influence on myself – and hopefully, a rich resource of ever-surfacing memories.

Connect with Gabrielle on Twitter  @authorgabrielle

Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie Wheeler


The time has come for me to give you lovely people a round up of what I have been up to since I last posted.

Whilst I haven’t got exciting news like a book deal or a competition win, I feel over the last few weeks my writing has taken a huge change in direction – for the better!

For a while now, I have been playing about with my writing to find where I belong. It takes a little time, as a writer, to find your place, your ‘voice’ as some call it, and realise where you fit in. Whilst I thought I already had, I think the way in which I have moved forward so quickly since January has proved that finally, I know who I am. Whilst romance always plays a huge part in my stories, I have come to realise that the stories I want to tell are more relationship based books, family dramas, domestic stories. My stories always have an issue based plot whether it be a young woman dealing with grief and depression, or someone in a violent relationship desperate to escape. Or even a couple entering into IVF not realising the devastating effects this could have on their already rocky relationship. These are everyday issues that everyday people fight. I write about ordinary people finding their modern day fairytale ending.

So, realising that my writing had taken an alternative route, meant a total overhaul of my image. I had been promoting myself as a romance author, and whilst that is still true, I didn’t feel it gave my followers a true definition of who I was and what I write. So, after discussions with my agent and a few of my writing friends, I decided to re-launch myself:


I feel this describes me much better. With this reinvention, came a shiny new website and an author page on Facebook. Please do pop over and have a look at both – and feel free to ‘like’ and subscribe if you want to!

Now I had a lovely website, a stronger presence on Facebook and Twitter and a plan. It was then time to sort out my submissions.

In my last post I told you about ‘Love Hurts’. This book has now been retitled as ‘Fractured Love’. I have completed another edit of FL after some tweaking by my agent (Sarah) and it has now been sent off to be proofed by her. Head over Heart, which was my first completed novel, is now undertaking a huge re-write to reflect my new ‘real life, real love’ route. When I first wrote HoH, I was still very much concentrating highly on romance being the main factor and it was lighter than it needed to be. When I finished FL, my agent and I agreed that HoH needed a complete overhaul to match the pace and quality of my latest novel. My writing has developed ALOT since I wrote my first book and this rewrite needs to reflect that. I am excited about the new direction I have taken and I cannot wait to work this into Sophie’s story.

I have also written a brief outline of the next book that I am to work on. This is currently untitled but it will focus on IVF and the effects – both good and bad – that it can have on some relationships.

Whilst my books are not directly linked, I do have a theme running through them all which ties them together. Because of this, I will be submitting them as a series this time round. And hopefully that submission will be soon. Just a few last minute tweaks and reads before Sarah hits SEND. Fingers crossed for me…

Another exciting turn that my writing has taken recently, is the development of a CHILDRENS SERIES! Writing for children is something that has also been an ambition of mine. I work in a nursery with 0-5 year olds in my day job and I love working with the little ones. So I think it was a natural development that my writing was bound to take. I will reveal more of this as it unfolds but at the moment it is very much in the early developmental stage. Because I plan to aim this series at both the fiction market as well as the educational market, I am doing lots of planning and research first.

Another hurdle I have come across with this is the decision of whether to have a separate pseudonym for my children’s books. Whilst I don’t write erotic fiction or anything like that, I do approach hard hitting issues and swear etc in my adult novels. So would it be best to create a whole new persona to promote my children’s books with? What do you all think?

I have also been more active in the competition stakes recently, entering my most recent novel into both the Lucy Cavendish Annual Fiction Prize and The Bath Novel Award.  Entering competitions is something that I haven’t really done much, but it was something I vowed to do more of this year. So that was where I started. I am also going to try to write more flash fiction/short stories to send into magazines and competitions, too.  It is all part of my being more proactive!

All that is left to say is that I shall be attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party this year so I do hope to see a lot of you there!

Happy writing!

Lucie x

PS. My ironing pile has also resumed residence on my spare bed… I wouldn’t be able to call myself a writer if I didn’t have a horrendously large ironing pile and/or an overdue list of housework chores.  Come on, you know I’m not the only one…

Life Cycle of a Writer: Receiving that Magical News.

Well, since my last update, things have gone ever so slightly crazy. Wonderfully crazy! All in all, it has been  a sparkling six weeks.

On February 14th, I found out that my first novel ‘As Weekends Go’ had been shortlisted in the Choc Lit  and Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

I’d made the final six!

Cue stupid grins and shrieks aplenty at both Chez Brigden and Romaniac HQ.  It was going to be an extra special Valentine’s Day.

I then discovered I’d made the final two!

Which, naturally, called for fizz and chocolates …   20150314_131337

And THEN … on Saturday March 14th (I’ve decided I rather like the number 14!)  came the official announcement that I’d won the Search for a Star Competition

I can’t describe how elated I felt. Choc Lit would be offering me a contract. As Weekends Go was really going to be published.

It was a mad, mad day – lots of celebratory hugs and loving, supportive messages, both off and online. Mum and Dad came over, bearing choccies and flowers.  I had some fab cards, tweets and emails from family and friends, and messages of welcome from head of Choc Lit, Lyn Vernham, the whole team and the lovely authors.





I’ll admit that, on the Monday morning,  when I logged on to see a special surprise post from my fantastic Romaniac buddies,  I was  bit of a blubbering Briggy!

More good cheer followed when my older sister treated me to a yummy congratulatory lunch.


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And then this week, I saw my first published Press Release. To say I am excited about the future is putting it mildly. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly am thankful for all the love and wise words of support and encouragement I’ve received from everyone, especially Mr B who has been  chief cuddler, co-editor, sounding board, morale booster, tantrum-dodger and counsellor extraordinaire all rolled into one. I will also be eternally grateful to my Romantic Novelists’ Association   New Writers’ Scheme reader, whose suggestions and advice when I originally submitted my novel for critique, were invaluable.

As Weekends Go is a contemporary multi POV tale – three interwoven stories – about two couples and the emotional havoc created during and beyond their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a ‘girls only’ trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do.

I can’t wait for you to meet the cast.

Thanks again,

Jan  x





Life Cycle of a Writer: Following the Dream



It’s my turn to add a progress report, and this is a really good time to do it, because I’ve just finished writing my third contemporary romance. Phew. Well, to be honest it’s actually my fourth, but the first one was so bad that to be out there in the world, it would need major internal surgery and a facelift.


The first one to actually make it onto the Kindle shelves was Sweet Proposal, and the story of its big chance is recounted on the Piatkus Entice blog today. A competition win with Piatkus, some serious editing and a cover with chocolate on it were all elements that helped Sweet Proposal (formerly The Chocolate Project) to come out of the woodwork in the summer of 2013, and now that its successor is out there too, SP is selling again, which is great news.


Next came Little Boxes, published by Tirgearr. I enjoyed writing this one even more, because I’d finally started to feel as if I might know what I was aiming for, instead of just trusting to luck and eating a lot of cake. Little Boxes is a quest, and the idea for it had been in my mind since I read Elizabeth Enright’s Spiderweb For Two – a wonderful children’s book from way back when. I love a treasure hunt, and writing it was such fun that a children’s book of my own on the same lines could be on the cards one day soon.


RMS Queen Mary, Long Beach, California

The new one has the working title of Living the Dream, and it’s more off the wall than usual for me – mind games, constant travel and frustrated passions mixed with a hefty dollop of surrealism. It’s based on a trip across America by train, from New York to San Francisco; something I did with my family in 2013. The girls made me a storyboard to remind me of the highlights and it’s on the wall next to my desk as a constant memory jogger.




So now it’s limbo time for me. No, not the wriggling-painfully-under-a-bar-kind. This is the other sort where you’re not quite sure where to go next. Here are the options:

  • A children’s book (see above, quest theme)
  • Another contemporary romance, maybe a sequel to LB
  • Major old-book surgery/facelift (also see above)
  • Join a circus
  • Do some school work
  • Have a large gin and tonic


So watch this space – who knows what’s going to happen next? Let me know if you find out before I do, okay?

Anniversary Celebrations and Giveaway!




Can you believe it? Today, The Romaniac blog is a whopping three years old. Three years! We have had the most amazing journey over those years, both with each other and with all you lovely lot, too.

When we launched our blog, back in February 2012, we never imagined we would receive such a warm, welcoming response from everyone. It has been truly amazing.

Over those three years we have each grown as individuals. Some of us have won awards, some of us have bagged an agent, some of us have started new careers and taken writing into a new direction. There are some of us who have taken the plunge and crossed genres and even those who have decided to write in a few different ones. A few have had publishing contracts and we’ve even given talks!

We’ve each had our ups and our downs, but you have all been there, standing firmly by our sides and supporting us throughout it all. For this, we are truly thankful.

One of the things we have achieved as a group, was the publication of our first Anthology, Romaniac Shorts. A collection of 22 short stories rmshrt1563x2500pxand flash fiction, penned by all 8 of our lovely Romaniac girls. There is a real mix of genres throughout our Anthology, a little something in there for everyone’s liking. All our proceeds are split between Dyslexia Action and the Romantic Novelists’ Association and we are delighted to be sending each a cheque this month for the first year’s royalties.

Which brings me onto the exciting giveaway we have. In celebration of our three years on the blog, we are giving away a fantastic book bundle. The bundle consists of a SIGNED copy of Romaniac Shorts (signed by all 8 Romaniacs), Follow Me Follow You (Signed by Laura James) Closing In (signed by Sue Fortin.), together with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and a mug; ideal reading companions.

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All we are asking of you, to be in with a chance of winning this book and gift bundle, is to do one/or all of the following:

LIKE our Facebook page and comment ‘I’m in’ (link HERE)

COMMENT on this blog post with the words ‘I’m in!’

RETWEET the giveaway tweet on Twitter.

*The competition will close at midnight on February 20th and a winner will be picked at random shortly after. Due to postage costs, we are afraid that we can only offer this to UK participants this time. Apologies to those unable to enter, we thank you for your understanding and support. *

All that is left to say is a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement over the last three years. Here’s to many, many more.


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