Life Cycle of a Writer: Debbie

It’s been a while since I last blogged. (Ooer, that sounds a bit like a confession.) Unlike most of my fellow Romaniacs, I’ve had little to shout about. In fact, NOTHING to shout about.

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A bad case of the January blues ran into February, then March and before I knew it Easter had been and gone and I was no further on with progressing, ‘Living in the Past,’ the novel I (finally) finished last summer. Why?

Well, once again I have any number of reasons, although a critical NWS review comes high up the list. After I’d digested the five page report which, in a nutshell suggested I might be better off to put what I’d learned so far down to experience and move on to the next novel, I lost all motivation to respond to the 5.30am alarm clock set on dark, damp mornings to get up and write. The pain of my arthritis and news that I need to have two lots of major surgery to replace my existing prosthetic jaw joints consumed me. Morphine patches meant I spent up to four hours asleep in the daytime. Deranged blood results, yet more building work, the garden, domestic chores, not enough hours in the day; these things individually may not seem much but all together they threatened to overwhelm me. 3

For months, I returned to deriding myself. ‘You’ll never be a writer … You’ll never get that book published … What if the reader is right and the agent who was waiting to see it (three years ago!) also thinks it’s a pile of poo? And what if, after reading it, they won’t entertain the idea of ever receiving anything from me again?’

‘Man up, mom!’ said my eldest son. ‘So the reader didn’t like it? It’s one person’s opinion. Not everyone will like it. But the question is; do you like it? You’ve been working on it long enough. Or if not, do as they say and stop talking about it!’

He was right. It has taken four years to write this novel so far and all I’ve ever really done is talk about it, except when the opening chapter got runner up in the inaugural Festival of Romance in 2011. However every time I’ve almost condemned it to the waste paper bin ‘something’ has stopped me. I still believe. I still believe it has legs.

So, I HAVE A PLAN and writing it down here will make me do it. I’ve made a start, re-read the whole thing and also re-read (several times) the NWS critique. Interestingly, because I’ve let the MS rest a while, I’ve returned to it with fresh eyes and concede the reader raised several points that are fair comment. I don’t feel anywhere near so gloomy about it. Using two different coloured highlighter pens I’ve gone through and highlighted, a) the areas I need to change and, b) all other points I’m still unsure about which I must ponder on. With any luck if I work through systematically, I’ll find the holes, make my heroine more appealing, nail the research, expand the characters, dig deeper for more conflict etc because one thing’s for sure; I’ll never be a writer or get a book published if I give in.

You know, this writing malarkey really is a battle of wills. Is it a pile of poo? It may be. It may not. The only way for me to find out is to try. I haven’t spent four years on this to give up now. Don’t get me wrong; if the agent agrees I may need to re-think the plan but until then I have to give it my best shot.

You heard it here first; by the time I next post, it will be done. Polished. Finished. No more twiddling. And by then I’ll have contacted the agent to see if they are still interested!

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Wish me luck. I’ll be in the summerhouse.

Until another day

Debbie xx

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Tuesday Chit-Chat with Sarah Tranter

Yay! Look who has just walked in and plonked herself down on the sofa … it’s the lovely Sarah Tranter [hugs and smiles all round]. And yes, the place is looking a bit bare, we’ve just taken our decorations down but unfortunately, still finding pine needles everywhere.

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How was your Christmas and new year, Sarah? I expect you were very busy with your family. Oh, look, there are some mince pies left over, do you want one with your tea?

Oooo ― And they’ve icing on the top ― yes please! [sits down and promptly stands back up again, nearly spilling her tea. Putting mug down, she brushes away problematic pine needle from her behind. Settling back down again] Christmas was lovely, thanks. Full on, but lovely. Not much different to yours by the sounds of things. Well done for surviving it, too. You know, it’s so wonderful to see you all again.  And Happy 2013!

So, your debut novel No Such Thing As … Immortality is officially released in paperback this week – huge congratulations, you must be thrilled.  The ebook edition has been out for a few weeks now, how has that been received?

Thank you [ridiculous grin on her face]. I still can’t quite believe it. But yes ― I am over the moon ― as you girls can no doubt tell. You’ve been with me every step of the way on this one. Thank you so much for that! Oh dear. Refuse to get emotional here. Oh. Sod it. I need to give you more hugs here!

Oooh, a group hug, no tears please. Damn it – too late. Anyone seen the tissues? Please don’t say they were packed away with the decorations. Panic over, I’ve found them. All okay now? Right, Sarah, you were saying …

Umm. The reception? I can’t believe it, to be honest.. It’s been phenomenal. So much better than I could have ever imagined. Before it went live, I was haunted by a very vivid nightmare in which I dreamt my first review was a one star. When that first review was a five, I can’t begin to tell you how I felt. It was an incredible moment. One of so many that have comprised so much of this process. But that one was really special. No doubt there will be less favourable reviews ahead ― but to date, it’s been fantastic. I’ve even received messages from people reading it ― telling me how much they are enjoying it. Nothing can prepare you for that.

That’s great news. You’ve certainly got some smashing reviews – well done! What influenced you to write No Such Thing As Immortality from purely a male point of view?

NSTAThat is such an interesting question. When I started, I had nothing planned. No plot, no characters, nothing. I just knew I wanted to start it with a car accident. And I wanted to make it an impossible car accident. Whilst I was playing around with the scene ― in third person ― Nate formed. In fact he leapt out of the page at me and I started seeing the scene through his eyes. I wasn’t convinced writing it through him would be possible. I’m not a man. But there again, neither am I a vampire. I decided to rewrite from his perspective, simply as an experiment at that stage. But that was it. As soon as I started, he began talking to me, and there was no going back. It became his story.

The emotional connection he shares with Rowan, ensured that there was a way for the reader to have some insight into the heroine’s feelings, too. My biggest concern about writing it from his POV, was that that would be lacking. The connection not only provides that insight, but, because everything is from Nate’s perspective, also provides a lot of opportunity for misunderstandings between the pair. Nate is really bad at interpreting her. The female reader invariably ‘gets’ it, before Nate does.

I love reading/writing the male POV and growing up with older brothers, I always try and put myself in their shoes. What techniques do you employ to get into the hero’s head?

It’s such fun doing the male POV, isn’t it? I feel cheated if I read a book that doesn’t include it. These mince pies are sooo good. Can I grab another, please? Pretty please? Thank you! Re techniques … I knew the questions from you lot would be tricky, LOL! It’s great though ― you are really getting me thinking here. Umm. It’s immersion I’m afraid. Complete and utter immersion and getting into the zone. I wish I had a technique that would fast-track that process for me ― a piece of music, an image ―or wearing a cravat and a pair of the kids’ plastic fangs J Unfortunately, it’s immersing myself in the story. It’s his story, his words, so once I have reconnected to it, I’m both in his head, and he’s in mine. It is a killer though when you finally get into the zone and have to abandon it to do the school run and then hope you can re-connect six or seven hours later when the kids are in bed.

Did you set out to write a trilogy?

No, not at all. I set out to write. To see if I could do it. First a scene. That was my challenge. But when Nate started doing his thing, it became a book. Well more than a book ― hence the trilogy.

Why vampires and faeries (and why is there an ‘e’ in faeries?)

Re the ‘e’ in faeries ― I think the word looks prettier, don’t you think? J It’s actually because that spelling makes it less like your traditional children’s story book fairies. There is nothing traditional about the faeries in No Such Thing.

Why vampires and faeries? It wasn’t a conscious decision. I am a fan of paranormal though and with my wanting the car accident to be impossible, it opened the door to the supernatural. Nate emerged as a vampire very very early on. He was appearing Darcy-esque albeit in a contemporary setting, he had history that seemed to be from another period in time ― and a vampire managing to crash a car, despite their phenomenal reflexes ― provided me with the impossible car accident.

Re the faeries. That was later on. Just as Nate remains in the dark re the faeries until later on, so did I. I knew they were something. But didn’t know what until all the pieces started coming together. The bend in the road, the May 1st date, the pendant, Aunty Hetty’s characteristics etc.  And I kind of liked the vampires not believing in faeries too. Their non-belief helps remove some of the disbelief from the reader ― I hope. Does any of that make any sense? Not at all sure I am making myself clear ― sorry, girls! Sugar rush from the iced mince pies. I resisted buying any of these this Christmas so am proving to be a total pig now.

What sort of books have the power to send shivers down your spine?

Those I connect with. Those that touch on my fears. Those that scare me witless. Not that I can remember the last book I read, that gave me the shivers. How sad is that? It probably has something to do with my choosing to read lighter books at the moment. I like escapism, but, perhaps because I have to immerse myself so much in No Such Thing, I don’t want to be pulled in to something too much.

How do you juggle family life and writing?

Not very well, I’m afraid. I am hoping my juggling will improve with time  ― particularly now that Christmas is out of the way. At the moment I am dropping balls left right and centre and don’t feel I’m doing anything as well as I want to. It’s hard ― as so many of you know. My writing has to come second to my boys. But that still doesn’t mean I manage to keep on top of the washing, the food shop etc. It’s the short amount of time I have to write during daylight hours, I find the hardest. Both boys are now at school, which is great. But by the time I’ve got back from the school run, answered emails, done social media stuff etc, I’m lucky to have 2-3 hours before I need to head off to collect them again ― barely enough time to reconnect. And then from that point there is no writing until at least 9pm. And then I’m knackered LOL.

I’m luckier than a lot though. So many writers have day jobs, too. I’ve not a clue how they manage it. They are evidently so much more organised than me. I have huge admiration for those expert jugglers.

Are there any other genres you would like to explore with your writing?

Oh yes! Thank you so much for asking this question. I’d love to write a Regency. I love that Georgian/Regency period of history. It’s not a coincidence that Nate is from that time. I have another MS before Choc Lit at the moment (nothing to do with vampires and faeries) ― but it makes reference to that time too. I’d also like a shot at a comedy romance. I’ve got the idea for one and am reckoning it would be such fun to write.

Ooh, a Regency and a RomCom – liking the sound of them! Is there one book you’ve read and wished you had written? If so, what was it about that book?

I don’t think there is. I can read a book, appreciate the skill and the plot and the characters, but I never wish I’d written it. If I had written it, it wouldn’t be the same book. Each one of us could be given a plot outline, character breakdowns etc ― and we’d all come up with something very different. I’m betting, even if we tackled Harry Potter! The sort of books I adore, are those where the author has managed a perfect blend – and in so doing allows for some magic to kick in. I’m not talking much sense again, am I? Don’t answer that ― your blank looks say enough! Pride and Prejudice, for example, has for me, that perfect blend. The story, the characters, the humour ― but it is what it is, because of Jane Austen’s voice. It was that whole blend, told through her voice, that created the magic for me. Okay. I’m going to stop now. Simple answer ― No, LOL.

Do you have any phobias and have they been written into your novel?

Eeek. Yes, I have phobias. Although I’ve kept the worst firmly out of the novel. I want to enjoy writing, LOL.

I can’t stand being underground. I can almost feel the weight of all the earth and rock above pressing down on me. I think it’s the idea that if it all caved in, I wouldn’t be able to get to the surface again to reach air. I need access to lots and lots of air. I have to always have some kind of fresh air coming into the house, even mid-winter ― and loathe staying in those hotels where you can’t open the windows. I feel trapped and get really panicky. It’s a similar thing with being underwater. I once, very stupidly, took a scuba diving course. I didn’t even get past the swimming pool stage. I remember sitting on the floor of the swimming pool and going into full blown panic because of the water above me that I’d have to go through before I could get to the surface and inhale real air. I just imagined myself not being able to reach it. It was ridiculous. I had breathing apparatus on and all I had to do was breathe through my mouthpiece but I just couldn’t handle it. I was very relieved I gave up that course though. I very smugly watched my husband as he undertook the next stage. He waded through mud to reach the water at the bottom of an old quarry ― complete with rusty old car wreck. It was the most foul brown water imaginable. And it stank. You should have seen what came out of his ear the following day when it unblocked itself. Sorry! Too much info. I clearly say too much around you girls.

Yes, sorry, it’s the truth serum we soaked the mince pie filling in.

One phobia that actually did get into the novel ― is Rowan’s fear of horses. They scare me stupid. Their size ― and their teeth. Just like Rowan, LOL. I’m looking forward to exploring that one further.

What celebrity would you most like to share a 100 mile taxi ride with?

George Clooney.  I admire him a great deal. Stop wagging your eyebrows girls. It’s not just the lust factor. Okay. There IS the lust factor. But he is actively involved in some great things, and I can’t help but think he is a very very nice man. Stop laughing. I’ll have you know ― his birthday is the same day as my husband’s. But exactly a decade earlier. How spooky is that? But you see, it gives me complete legitimacy in my admiring the man. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I can’t help but imagine what may have been if I’d been born a decade earlier LOL. Next life perhaps!

Can we come in the taxi with you then? Oh, wait. That would have to be one big taxi – let’s make it a stretch limo instead. What do you mean, no? [blows raspberry]

What is your view on a ‘Onesie’?

LOL. I cannot believe you asked me this question. [You should know us better than that] The big ‘Onesie’ debate. I have a friend who has one and she loves it. I understand how comfy and relaxing they are meant to be. Me? Not a chance I could relax in one. Not only would I end up looking like a Teletubbie ― I’d be thinking of nappies the whole time. Can’t help it. They just remind me of my boys when they were in their baby grows. I suppose you become completely asexual in them though. Great birth-control device. 

What is your favourite colour pen?

Black. Strange, because if I’m honest, my initial reaction was red. But then I think of a job I used to be in and my reports being marked up with a red pen. Hated it! Actually, I am amending black. To that very dark blue ink you get with fountain pens. I love that colour! Is it indigo? Hope you know the one I mean.

Don’t worry, we know what you mean!

Quick Fire

Champagne or strawberry shake?

Champagne. And I know whose question that one is LOL. Definitely champagne, even if it is a McDonalds more-like-melted-icecream shake.

Woods or forest?

Woods. Forests are too big and dark and easy to get lost in.

Cliff Richard or Johnny Rotten?

LOL. Now I’ve got Mistletoe and Wine playing in my head. Arggghh. Johnny Rotten!

Panto or ice show?

Panto.

‘Oh yes it is’ or ‘oh no it isn’t’?

Ooooo. Tricky. ‘Oh yes it is.’

Are you left or right handed?

Right.

Ripped jeans or smart suit?

Depends who is in them. You still want an answer? Ach. Ripped jeans.

Salty or sweet popcorn?

Sweet

Real or fake? (Christmas trees, although feel free to apply it to whatever takes your fancy)

Real all the way. And you can apply that to absolutely anything. I think. Eeek. That may have been rash. But yep. Will settle with that … for now. Ooo. Not tan. Must be fake tan. But properly applied.

Thank you so much girls! I’ve had so much fun. I feel like I’ve finally made it now that I’m here. I truly mean it. It’s a huge privilege. Thank you so much for inviting me. Now … Have those last bits earned me another mince pie? 

It’s been so much fun having you here, Sarah. And, yes, help yourself to another mince pie. What do you mean, you already have? Hang on. Don’t move … that’s better. There was a pine needle stuck in the icing 🙂

Links for Sarah Tranter

Blog : http://ramblingindulgences.blogspot.co.uk/

Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/sarah.tranter.73

Twitter : @sarah_tranter

Publishers : ChocLit Publishing

You can buy NO SUCH THING AS IMMORTALITY on Amazon in paperback and digital format

After the Ball is over – the B words that spring to mind.

I’m writing this as the house is rocked by a gale and a cheery fire burns in the Romaniac grate. Lucie and Vanessa have kept it well stoked up with logs while the rest of us have been off partying for Britain, but the biscuit barrel is empty. Never mind, we ate for Britain too at the Festival of Romance, and the canapés at the RNA Winter Party were yummy. Here are a few words that remind me of the events of the past few days, and they all, strangely, begin with B:
Baggot, Mandy: The wonderful Lady B shared her best wet-look catsuit moment at the Romaniac quiz on Saturday night. What a star.
Baby Bumps: Talli Roland and Kate Allan demonstrated that big is beautiful – when I was about to give birth (many moons ago) we were expected to wear huge tent dresses with white collars and bows, as modelled by Princess Diana, popsocks optional. Thank goodness you’re allowed to wear fabulous figure hugging lace now, Talli.
Blogging: The importance of keeping a high blog profile was mentioned quite a lot – mine needs serious surgery. But the Romaniac Blog is functioning well, and we especially love your comments. #smileswinningly
Breakfasts: Uttering a little greedy moan just thinking about these.
Books: I was determined not to buy too many. Failed miserably, but they looked sooooooooo tempting. A few more can’t hurt, can they?
Bedroom scenes: Still thinking about tactics for keeping my mind pure, following one of the talks on Sunday. Oh, why fight a losing battle? Let the smut rage.
Big Moment: Friday night, with the gala dinner almost ready to be served – we had cheered for all our favourites and the awards were over…or so I thought. The last one was the winner of the competition for the Piatkus Entice contract. And that, unfortunately, brings me onto my next B
Bread: which was what my mouth was full of when my name was called and I had to wiggle through all the tables to the front, frantically chewing. Note to self – wait for dinner next time, however nice the bread looks.
And finally, the most important B of all –
Buddies: New ones, old ones and Romaniac ones. That’s what the FoR and the Winter Party were all about for me. Even if all that talking was a bit tiring…

Best wishes, back soon – Celia 🙂

The Pre-Party Beauty Regime

It’s hard to believe that writers aren’t glamour, glamour, glamour all the time. In their photos they always appear to sparkle. But once you’ve spent a while as a writer you know it’s more PJs and dressing gowns with toast crumbs down your top. So for any social occasion, particularly ones where you know there will be cameras in use, a week-long beauty regime must begin. With the Festival of Romance this weekend and the RNA Winter Party the following Wednesday, The Romaniacs are in the full throes of preparation.

Catherine: I HAVEN’T GOT A THING TO WEAR!! Oh yes, I’m going through every woman’s biggest dilemma. I do have one dress to wear, but one dress for two parties?! I’d only planned to go to the Winter Party, but now am going to both so I’m going to have to empty the whole wardrobe only to declare there is nothing to wear (despite the whole pile of clothes!)

Sue : For several weeks now, I’ve been holding out on getting my hair done, despite the fact going out last week and realising that anybody taller than me (that’s more people than not) would be able to see my roots – boo 😦 Still, I stuck it out and waited until this Monday, now I’m all highlighted up I can take the stupid hat off I’ve been wearing!  Having bit all my nails this week, I’m now considering false ones for the weekend, although my past experience is one of them falling off into my glass of wine (that’s what you get for cheap stick on ones from the local chemist). Maybe I’ll just keep my hands tucked away.  I’ve had rather more success with my shoes – red ones (proudly displayed on FB)  for the Dinner Dance on Friday. For the erotic party on Saturday evening, well, it’s got to be  my old faithful bondage shoes … ta-da!

Jan: As someone who normally prides herself on being organised, I suddenly realised, having spouted off about how much I’m looking forward to the Winter Party, how much fun it will be, how I’m sooooooo relishing the chance to see everyone again, that it might be a good idea to actually PURCHASE a ticket. Phew! That sorted, I’m definitely with Sue on holding out on ‘having the roots done’ thang. BOY, do mine need some TLC! Thankfully, they’ll be thoroughly attended to next week.  As for what to wear – well I can’t say I’m over enamoured with the contents of my wardrobe at the moment so I may well be forced to go shopping… Such tedium… How will I  cope? 😉

Celia: Following Sue’s theme of beauty on a budget (sometimes known as being a cheap skate) I have re-browned my hair today. Unfortunately I also did the bath, the tiles and my ears. Have, again like Mme Fortin, got chewed nails so have been frantically rubbing in handcream to my cuticles to inspire growth. Was planning on losing at least a stone but unfortunately am way too greedy so have re-planned and am now on intensive training for wine consumption, purely so I don’t let myself down by being a lightweight. Not sure a whole bottle a night is strictly necessary but if one of us gets an award there might be champagne and I don’t want to slide under the table for want of a bit of practice. Also if none of us get one, there will be sorrows to drown. I rest my case. Oh, and there’s the cake training. (See picture.) nearly up to speed now.

Debbie: Well, I’m rubbing my little arthritic hands together because my ex has our youngest for the best part of the week between the Festival of Romance and Winter party. I’ll need to be very organised if I’m going to make sure I have everything for both events, particularly as I intend heading off to London for a few nights to myself in between.

I’ve started the lists; housework to do before I can leave; the boys while I’m away – uniforms, food, etc; plans for the animals, provisions for which wheely bin to put out, what to pack, wear, take with me…

At least tomorrow evening is X factor, so I’ll watch with one eye as I spend the other painting my toe nails and getting the finger nails into some sort of shape!

As for hair – best not to mention it. I had a bit of a mare last week when I went to have mine coloured and found my hairdresser was off sick and they couldn’t find my last colour card. Using a sophisticated form of guesswork I stuck a finger over the sample of coloured hair which appeared a lovely rich, Galaxy chocolate colour in the colour chart. However, suffice to say, the final result wasn’t quite what I had in mind when my eldest told me, ‘Your hair looks cool mom. It’s really ‘Goth.’

Hmm…not quite the look for someone who’s just turned the wrong side of forty! 

Laura: Oh, I don’t know, Debbie. There’s nothing wrong with a little Goth in the right place, as I shall demonstrate at the Total E-Bound party. I was going to wear my Wonder Woman boots, but can’t find clothes to match. Anyway, I promised Jane Lovering a viewing of my Goth attire, and I’m a (Wonder) woman of my word. As for the party season prep, I have my outfits sorted, footwear lined up and beautifying appointment booked. I’ve printed out all of the event tickets, successfully hassled the landlady at the ‘Romaniacs’ Guesthouse’, and have almost sorted out our Sunday Romaniacs’ Panel uniform.  Vampires or Super Heroes, ladies?

Vanessa: Well, mostly this week, I’ve been sulking because I’m not going to the Festival of Romance… but in between, I have been pulling everything out of my wardrobe and trying it on in a vain attempt to find something that a) fits and is b) vaguely partyish. The problem is I know I will dither some more and change my mind on the day, so for one night in London, I’ll probably take at least three outfits, all of which I’ll hate on party day.

As for hair/nails/accessories, I’ve got a bit longer than most of the others, because I’m not going to the Festival of Romance (have I mentioned that before?) I was very organised and booked my train tickets and party tickets last month. Now all I need to do is find them…

Lucie: *huffs and crosses arms in true teenager style* I am still in a strop about not being able to attend the Festival of Romance this year – more so because six of my wonderfully talented Romaniac friends are shortlisted for the New Talent Award. I have been promised to be kept in the loop by my friends, via text, on the night so I’ll most definitely be there in spirit. I’m also disappointed that I won’t be there for our first panel. How exciting is that? Last year at the festival, we were just being born. Attending talks and workshops and panel talks and frantically taking notes. This year, we’re holding our own. What an amazing opportunity to have after merely a year. I do hope those of you attending our talk will enjoy it, I know the girls who are holding it will do a fab job. 

However, here is what I’ll be wearing on the Friday night whilst most of you are glammed up!

Sad Lucie

On the plus side, I AM coming to the RNA Winter Party the following week. Yay!! So I can partake in the whole, ‘I have nothing to wear!’ *sob* I’ll have to raid the cupboards and maybe, just maybe, go shopping…..

Liz: Friday 16th November 2012 is not only the beginning of Festival of Romance, but it’s also Children In Need. Which is one of many explanations as to why I will be going to work dressed as Where’s Wally on Friday morning! (These ideas seem great at the time, don’t they!?)
But with some luck, I’ll remember to ditch the Where’s Wally look before venturing to the Gala Dinner and Awards night!
I’ve found a few dresses to choose from for Festival of Romance and the RNA Winter Party, however all leave me looking in desperate need of a tan! So I’ve reluctantly booked in for a spray tan, which is going to go one of two ways…….

So, that’s us. Are you ready for the partying to commence?

Sound the Trumpets!

We’re many things here at Romaniac HQ: Zany, Dotty, Forthright, to name a few. We’ll let you add your own description below, but we have another to add to the list. And this one deserves capitalisation. ‘Cause here at Romaniac HQ, it turns out we’re TALENTED! Last Friday we found out that not one, not two, but SIX of us have been shortlisted for the Festival of Romance New Talent Award. We’ve been slightly blindsided by the whole thing. We’ve started talking faster than usual, carrying out spontaneous bursts of dance and repeating using Victor Meldrew’s line: ‘I don’t believe it!’ Here are our shortlisted first chapters. We’re adding them here in the hope it’ll sink in:

Little Boxes by Celia Anderson

Once Upon A… Secret by Sue Fortin

Follow Me by Laura James

Baby Number Two by Catherine Miller

The Perfect Life List by Vanessa Savage

Smiling Through The Pain by Debbie White

Celia, Laura, Sue, Debbie, Catherine & Vanessa

We’re all delighted to have been shortlisted and looking forward to cheering on the authors from the other grown-up categories as well as cheering on the New Talent winners.

If you’re interested in setting up an online group like this one, The Romaniacs will be giving a talk about it on the Sunday at The Festival of Romance. Our group sprung up from the FOR last year and I think we can safely say the support and encouragement we give each other seems to be working.

We’d also like to make a disclaimer. If perchance one of us does get selected for a mention at the gala dinner, we cannot be held responsible for our actions. We’d also appreciate it if you could withhold from video recording the fainting/crying/whooping/fainting again and placing it on You Tube.

Fingers crossed until then,

Catherine x

PS: We’re scraping modest from our list of qualities. Well, it’s not often this kind of thing happens!

Dear Writers. Can you help?

Dear fellow writers and friends

I have a conundrum. A crippling problem that seems impossible to overcome, try as I might, these last months.

It appears I’m suffering a huge dose of writers block. No, not just some temporary glitch in creativity. It’s a ruddy great chasm that’s growing bigger every time I look.

Other than the occasional blog or two, the most writing I’ve done lately is to complete the application to send to Jan Jones for the RNA Summer Party! Yes, this is serious and that’s why I’m here, appealing – no, pleading – for help and advice.

It seems these days I’m more barren than rain in winter or a tree in February, yet despite my over-analysing tendencies, the reason isn’t clear. You’d think I should be flying through the re-write of my WIP, knowing an agent (Jane Judd) is waiting to see my full MS following last year’s Festival of Romance New Talent Awards. Maybe that’s the trouble. Maybe I’ve become so intimidated by the thought that an agent of this calibre might want to see my novel, it’s putting me under pressure to create some sort of giant masterpiece and has interrupted my flow of creative juices.

Perhaps it’s the other stuff that’s going on in my life at the moment that have contributed to my lack of self-belief or confidence. With divorce imminent and on-going health problems, it’s hardly surprising my pen doesn’t flow freely. My writer friends humour me, telling me writing will be my salvation and a distraction. I might even find it cathartic, but bottom line is; it’s not happening, it hasn’t been for months and if anything, it’s getting worse.

You may think these are excuses for the weak, un-disciplined and un-motivated but I promise you, I used to be the most motivated, disciplined person ever. So where has it gone?

This is my third full re-write of this WIP and I won’t give up but I don’t have chance to let it rest in a drawer for a few weeks. I can’t give up, knowing I have an agent who wants to read the finished MS. Every day I switch on the laptop, re-read the latest section I was working on and tweak and twiddle. Then I twiddle and tweak a bit more… then delete. Somehow I’ve developed this huge monster who has crippled my fluidity and no matter how many times I try to give myself a good talking to and get a grip, nothing works. In fact in six months, I’m still on chapter three of the re-write and can often spend a whole day on a particular sentence or paragraph, or research, trying to get it right.

I know it’s pathetic, especially considering there are still another thirty chapters to go. Writing is as much about the mind as it is the pen. But how do I conquer whatever’s causing the drought in my writing, and splatter the crows that sit on my shoulders some days, pecking away at my confidence and self-belief, and get it back on track.

Do you have any answers? If you’ve been here, did you feel the same; as if you had forgotten everything you’d learnt about the craft of writing?

A lot about WIP’s is self-belief and I can see my story in the ideal shape and form in my minds eye yet I can’t get it down on the screen or onto paper.

I know what they mean now about a ‘labour of love.’ Should I continue labouring, keep up this persistent modifying in the hope that I’ll seize the very sentence or scene that will inspire me and drag me by the eyeballs to speed across the page, furiously typing away, and progress to the next chapters and beyond. Or should I stop taking myself so seriously, forget about judgements, lighten up, write drivel if necessary, which can then be honed and fine tuned at a later stage. Well, ‘Writer’s Write.’ If only it were that simple.

Come on fellow writers, RNA members, aspiring authors or anyone interested in the creative word. Can you give any advice/snippets to help answer this rookie writer with the question ; is there such a thing as ‘writer’s block?’ And does anyone have any pearls of wisdom on how to push through the pain of re-writes on a WIP?

Yours in hope

Debbie

xx