Renovation of a French Cottage

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for me as I recently published my novella The French Retreat – the first in the Falling for France series.

Although I’ve had three books published by HarperImpulse (United States of Love, Closing In and The Half Truth) this one just had the edge in the excitement stakes. I think this was due equally to the fact I self-published and because it’s set in France; a country for which we, as a family, have a great affinity with.

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The French Retreat centres around a restored farmhouse which has been turned into a retreat for artists, photographers, writers and anyone who is looking to escape from the pressures of modern living. The inspiration behind the story came from our own home in Southern Brittany. We’ve been gradually restoring the cottage over many years and I thought I would share a few before and after photos. The renovation is a continual work in progress but it’s definitely come a long way since we bought it with no electricity, no water and an earth floor!

Rush hour
Rush hour

Early Days

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More Recent Days

Cottage 1

The French Retreat

 

With Christmas on the horizon, losing her job and her home wasn’t on Marcie Grainger’s wish list. In a bid to reassess her life, she heads off to the only place she has ever felt truly content – her brother’s farmhouse retreat in rural France.

Marcie isn’t the only one looking to escape. Ex-soldier Will hopes the gentle pace of French life will help to banish the ghosts of his past and offer him the fresh start he desires.

However, all is not what it seems at The Retreat. Fuelled by a string of strange happenings and local rumours, Will and Marcie are pushed together as they try to discover who or what is behind it all. In so doing, they end up finding a lot more than they bargained for.

The French Retreat is a story of human compassion, hope and love.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

 

 

Multi Genre Writing with Debbie Johnson

Hi Debbie and welcome to the Romaniac blog, it’s great to have you here. It’s been a busy few weeks for you, normally I would congratulate someone on the publication of their book, but, with you, I have to say books – emphasis on the ‘s’. Not one but two books published within a few weeks of each other with two different publishers. That’s quite an achievement.

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How does it feel to have two books published so close together?

I think the best word would be ‘insane’! I didn’t plan it like this, honest – one was planned well ahead, and the other just kind of leapfrogged ahead of it…I think it’s a dastardly plan by my publishers to shut me up!

Cold_Feet_at_christmas_(2)Your books, Cold Feet At Christmas (Harper Impulse) and Fear No Evil (Maze) are very different to each other, one being a romance and the other a suspense and, as if that wasn’t enough, you have also written an urban fantasy, Dark Vision (Del Rey UK, part of Random House) with a follow up, Dark Touch, due out in 2015.

How do you juggle writing in these very different genres?

In all honesty, I don’t find the writing of them that hard. I mean, I read all kinds of different genres; I love crime fiction and fantasy and romance. I think all kinds of different things, my life is varied and rich. My brain is – to put it politely – an eclectic mix! I like different aspects of all of them – and possibly I have quite a short attention span! But on a semi-serious note, I do think too much pigeon-holing goes on – not just in writing, but in life in general. I think readers are smart people – they’re capable of liking more than one type of book!

Some authors use different pen names for the different genres they write in – is this something you considered and what influenced your decision on this?

I did consider it, and in all honesty it may have made life easier. But in this day and age with all the social media, and the importance of that, it would be very difficult. That does leave me in the strange position of having a cute Christmassy chick-lit cover and a scary crime cover on my twitter page! I think it may have been easier if you’re already successful in one – like Nora Roberts creating JD Robb.

Do you think it is easier these days to write in different genres? Is it more acceptable in the publishing world or have you come up against any barriers?Fear_No_Evil_final_(2)

I think it’s harder. My agent, Laura Longrigg, told me about her father, who was a well-known author called Roger Longrigg. He wrote more than 50 books, in all kinds of genres, using a handful of pen-names. These days, as I said earlier, people want you to be one thing or another. Publishers are, understandably, looking for books they can easily package and market – things that straddle different genres are harder to sell. Fear No Evil, for example, took ages to find a publisher – because it mixes crime with the supernatural, which is more accepted now, but caused problems when it was first being submitted. It’s nice to have found an editor at Maze willing to take a chance on it. Then, as well, there’s the social media – you want your potential readers to identify with you, but that’s not so easy when you write fantasy, and romance, and crime! I just need to figure out how to clone myself and it will all be fine.

Have you got any tips for anyone else thinking about writing in different genres?

Apart from stock up on the vodka, you mean?? In all honesty, I am just starting out on this adventure. It may or may not pay off. One genre might be much more successful than another, I don’t know. I suppose that from my own perspective, I’ve written in genres I truly love and read myself – I’m not doing it to be contrary, it’s because my interests have taken me in different imaginary directions! So if you are going to span different genres, make sure you are passionate about all of them. And be prepared to get slagged off in all of them as well – you need a thick skin to be an author, no matter what genre!

Thank you so much for chatting to us, Debbie. Wishing your books much success.

Thank you very much for having me!

 

A Year On From Signing My Publishing Deal

Next month will mark a full year since I signed a three book publishing deal with Harper Collins’ romance imprint Harper Impulse.

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It’s been an exciting year which has seen two of the titles published, both in digital and paperback format, book number three submitted and, as a group, The Romaniacs have also published a short story anthology. To say it has whizzed by would be an understatement, but I’ve taken a moment to pause and reflect on how the past year has been.

Fast. Busy. Stressful. Exciting. Frustrating. Enjoyable.  And every emotion remotely related to those. That’s how it’s been.

And it’s not just the range of emotions I’ve experienced, I’ve also learned a lot about myself as a writer and the writing process itself. Amongst many things, I’ve learned …

That I will love my edits, despite what I may tweet at the time of being in the  ‘Editing Cave’.

That Book 2 helps to sell Book 1.

That I will happy dance at good reviews.

That I will grow thick skin for the not so nice reviews.

That I will compulsively check Amazon rankings, despite pretending I’m only going to look for a book to read and that I’m not really going to look at mine and compare it with every other book in that genre.

Blog post refresh

Would love to know how the past year has been for everyone else.

Have you had your book published? Have you signed with an agent?  Have you self-published? Have you joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme? Did you renew your NWS membership? Have you written another draft? Written an entirely new book? Decided to write in a completely different style or genre? Or anything else remotely related to writing …

Sue

x

 

 

Book Review of Made in Nashville

I have always enjoyed Mandy Baggot’s books. She has a very strong style of writing and her plot lines are never dull. ‘Strings Attached’ has always been one of my favourite books by Mandy, that was until I read MADE IN NASHVILLE. I enjoyed every word of it.

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Jared Marshall, Mr Bad Boy, who is actually Mr Good Guy, is to die for. I loved the rogue element to him, yet was safe in the knowledge that underneath it all, he was full of morals and a sense of doing the right thing.

Honor Blackwood was equally engaging. Her character really developed through the story and she came out the other side a changed woman.

The backdrop to the story was Nashville and I really felt the whole Rock/C&W scene going on through the story. Usually, I don’t like to see the written word exactly how it is spoken by dropping ‘g’ at the end of words like ‘doing’ or such like. In the past I have found it distracting and to break my reading, however, this wasn’t the case with Made in Nashville.  It really gave a depth to Jared’s persona and drew me even deeper into the book and the setting.

Another great novel from Mandy Baggot!

Sue

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Made-in-Nashville-190x280Made in Nashville

by Mandy Baggot

Published by Harper Impulse

Buying options here

Memories and Traditions with Georgia Hill

A very warm welcome to Georgia Hill, author of  ‘Say it with Sequins : The Rumba‘ which is published today through Harper Impulse

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Huge thanks to Sue for asking me on here!

My Christmas Stocking: full of memories and traditions and even things to do!

Not surprisingly, given the time of year, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. So this blog post is a sort of Christmas stocking: full of all sorts of different things.

I always think Christmas makes special memories. I know it’s over-hyped and seems to last longer every year but it still works its magic if you let it. I love this time of year, maybe because I’m a late November baby. Some of my most treasured moments have happened during this season.

My father adored Christmas, perhaps because, as a boy, he had a fairly Spartan upbringing; a tangerine and a toy car was the most he could expect from his Christmas stocking. So, for us, he always tried to make it as magical a time as possible. I remember thick snow on the day itself and my aunt and uncle struggling up the steep hill to our house, to visit, my aunt stubbornly insisting on wearing stiletto heels. Leaving out carrots and a glass of sherry – for them to be gone in the morning. The tangible expectation in the air. I also remember Father Christmas managing to squeeze my very first bike down the chimney. The real miracle being how my parents scraped together enough money to buy me one.

Some good friends of the family lived in the middle of a forest and it was a tradition to visit near Christmas and take presents and cards. The house sang with the smell of the pines trees they’d cut down.

I’ve celebrated Christmas away from home too. Once, in the middle of the Atlantic, on a geography field trip and once in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Strange, disorientating times. Christmas and yet somehow not.

When first married, my new husband and I saw Love Actually on Christmas Eve afternoon and came out, feeling all loved-up, to be greeted by a spectacular sunset. The sky was orange and pink and violet and the air cold and fresh. Wonderful.

For some years I taught in primary schools. In mid December we’d all troop off to the carol service in a local minster. It was packed with children and parents, teachers and friends, all singing the old favourites.

Father Christmas has updated his image nowadays – who else tracks his progress across the globe with this?

http://www.noradsanta.org/

and another lovely site for small children is:

http://projectbritain.com/Xmas/calendar/

For me, a real tree is a must. We get ours from a local farm. When I first met ‘Dave’ (as I’ll call him, to spare his blushes), who runs the business, I developed the most enormous crush. Largely due to the fact he was enormous. And gorgeous. With a fetching dimple in his cheek. He even inspired a short story. It’s one reason to buy a real tree every year; I get a once a year treat of seeing ‘Dave’ again!

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Traditions necessarily change, according to circumstance. A new one for me is to sit down on Boxing Day afternoon, with husband out at a football match, and watch While You Were Sleeping. I have a selection of Christmassy leftovers (why are they always yummier than on the day itself?), light the wood-burner, grab a dog or two to cuddle and settle down. Guaranteed bliss every year.

This year we’re making a new tradition – a doggie walk on the beach on Christmas Day. I’ve tried taking cute pictures with them wearing those felt reindeer antlers. No good, my two just chew them! Spaniels have no respect for tradition.

Afterwards, I’ll be sitting down to watch the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing as usual. With Say it with Sequins: The Rumba being inspired by the show, how could I not?

Whatever you’re doing this year, whoever you’re spending it with, may I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Love,

Georgia x

new_author_pics_082Georgia Hill writes contemporary romance, written with love.

Say it with Sequins: The Rumba is out with Harper Impulse on 19th December.

Find her at:

www.georgiahill.co.uk

Twitter @georgiawrites and on Facebook.

Stealing Lines

Well, it’s a first for The Romaniacs, or at least, as far as we know, it seems we have a thief with us at HQ today.

[Don’t worry girls, I took the precaution of locking all notebooks, WIPs and valuables, such as cake and wine,  safely away beforehand.]

So, in the time honoured tradition, Romy Sommers, Stealer of Lines, over to you …

RomyI have a confession to make.

I’m a kleptomaniac. A word kleptomaniac. If I see or hear words I like, I write them down and (shhh…don’t tell anyone!) sometimes I use what I steal.

TV shows are especially good fodder for my addiction. They are to me what a pair of high-heeled glittery Louboutins are to a shoe fetishist – a temptation impossible to ignore.

My books are littered with stolen words. A phrase here, an image there, a snatch of dialogue – I use them without compunction. And until those sneaky TV writers stop writing such good words, I don’t know that I’ll be able to stop.

My only regret … there was this one conversation from Haven I haven’t yet managed to work into any manuscript – I may have to write an entire story just so I can use it!

So here’s a challenge to anyone who reads my new book The Trouble with Mojitos: if you can spot the image I shop-lifted from Hunter S Thompson’s The Rum Diary, I’ll gift you a copy of my first book, Waking up in Vegas. (Heehee – though that does mean you have to read both books first!)

The Trouble with Mojitos by Romy SommerThe-Trouble-with-mojitos250x382

Turquoise blue waters. Sandy white beaches. Mojitos… Film location scout Kenzie Cole has found herself in paradise. Working in the Caribbean for a week is just what she needs to escape the long line of exes in her closet. Though the last thing she expects is to be picked up at the resort bar by a disgraced former Prince!
Luckily for Kenzie, exile is suiting the man formerly known as Prince Fredrik very well. And it’s not long before his rugged, pirate charm is proving hard to resist.
But Rik’s been spending his time in paradise exorcising demons of his own and he has danger written all over him. If Kenzie was sensible she’d run a mile instead of lose herself to lust – although, they do say sometimes you have to get lost before you can be found….

The Trouble with Mojitos is published by Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins, and is available from the following online retailers:
Amazon
Amazon UK
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
iTunes
All Romance eBooks

About the Author:

I’ve always written stories for myself, but didn’t even think of being an author until I realised that being over thirty and living in a fantasy world was a little odd. Writing those same stories for other people makes it a lot more acceptable!

By day I dress in cargo pants and boots for my not-so-glamorous job of making movies but at night I come home to my two little Princesses, in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, and I get to write Happy Ever Afters. Since I believe every girl is a princess, and every princess deserves a happy ending, what could be more perfect?
You can follow Romy on Twitter, Facebook,Goodreads or on her blog.

Excerpt:

“A mojito, please.”

Kenzie sagged against the bar counter, not caring that her order sounded desperate or her body language suggested impatience. She needed alcohol, and she needed it now.

The benefit of an empty bar was that the drink came reassuringly quickly, poured from an ice cold jug ready and waiting, and complete with swizzle stick and paper parasol. She ditched both and tossed the drink back.

“Rough day?” The dreadlocked bar tender leaned on the scarred wooden counter.

“You don’t know the half of it.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“Thanks, but I didn’t come here to talk.” She’d done enough of that all day. Talk, talk, talk, and still nothing to show for it. Now she understood how used car salesmen felt. Used.

It was enough to drive a girl to drink. Or at least to the resort’s beach bar, since hitting the mini-bar in her hotel room was just too sad to contemplate.

She didn’t drink alone. For that matter, she didn’t usually drink. Not these days.

Beyond the thatched cabana, the sky flamed every shade of pink and orange imaginable as the sun set over the white sand and surf. But here inside the bar was dark, shadowy and strangely comforting after a day of white-hot heat.

“She’ll have another.”

She turned to the wryly amused voice, and wished she hadn’t as she spotted the dark figure at the shadowy end of the long bar. Great. The resident barfly, no doubt. As if she needed another reason to hate this resort, this island, and the whole stinking Caribbean.

“I can order my own drinks, thank you.”

The shadowed figure shrugged and turned his attention back to his own drink. “Suit yourself.”

What was it with the men in this place? Didn’t think a woman could order her own drinks, didn’t think a woman could do business, wouldn’t even give her the time of day. She ground her teeth, the effects of the first drink not quite enough to blur the edges of her mood. “I’d like another, please.”

She ignored the deep-throated chuckle down the other end of the bar as the barman removed her glass to re-fill it.

The second drink followed the first a little more slowly, and this time she took a moment to savour it. Now she felt better.

But she was still screwed.

Neil had known it when he sent her out here. He’d known she’d be stone-walled, he knew he’d set her an impossible task, and still he’d sent her. He’d expected her to fail. Perhaps even wanted her to fail.

There were days when her past seemed very far behind her. And then there were days like today, when it seemed she’d never escape the follies of her youth.

“Sod him!”

“That’s the spirit.” The stranger at the other end of the bar slid from his bar stool, out of the shadows and into the yellow lamplight.

In another time and place he might have looked gorgeous, but in low-slung jeans that had seen better days, black long-sleeved tee, with hair in drastic need of a cut, several days’ worth of beard, and darkly glittering eyes, he was devastating.

Pirate devastating. Bad boy devastating.

Kenzie swallowed. Double great.

Follow Your Dreams …

It was a very exciting day for me last week – my contemporary romance novel ‘United States of Love‘ was released by Harper Impulse.

It is set in the lovely historic towns of Chichester and Arundel, both local to me. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some photos of the settings and scenes for my main characters, Anna, Tex and Mark.

ARUNDEL

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Arundel Castle where  the creepy curator works
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Swanbourne Lake where Anna and Tex find themselves in a nightmare situation.
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Arundel High Street looking up towards the castle.
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Public garden alongside the River Arun, looking up to the cathedral
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Bottom of the High Street

CHICHESTER

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The Cross, centre of Chichester where Mark makes Anna an offer she can’t refuse.
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An unwelcome surprise awaits Anna in Chichester Cathedral.
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Chichester Cathedral from Bishop’s Palace Gardens

And this photo is of my daughter, taken a couple of years ago, which I think speaks for itself. It certainly worked for me and my publishing dream.

Follow your dreams
City Walls, Chichester

Thank you everyone for your support.

Have a great week.

Sue

x

Fanfare for Sue Fortin and United States of Love

USL HI

This is a terrifically exciting day for our very own Sue Fortin (and consequently for all the rest of the Romaniacs too, as we bask in reflected glory and slap each other on the back a lot. I slapped Laura so hard she fell over earlier…she obviously needs to eat more cake.)

Anyway, Sue’s contemporary romance novel ‘United States of Love‘ is released in digital format by Harper Impulse on this very day, with paperback to follow shortly, so we thought we’d celebrate our lovely Sue’s success by giving you a few thoughts on our favourite subject – love. We hope you’ll add yours too, but for now, crack open the virtual champagne and help yourself to a scone.

Champagne

Celia: Love is:

Lighting the candles even though it’s only soup for tea.

Being told off by your daughters for laughing too much in bed (don’t ask).

A hand to hold in front of the fire when Downton gets serious.

Fire

IMG_4309Laura : Love is:

Being given a daily limit by your mum as to how many times you can speak the name of your new man.

Supplying Minstrels and making coffee to help maintain the writer.

Pretending to be ill in the honeymoon hotel bidet, whilst your newly-wed wife is bent double over the loo, because ‘We’re married now, and we do everything together.’

Sue : Love is :photo (94)

Not having to worry about the state of your legs quite so often during the winter months.

Being able to name all the players in your beloved’s beloved football team, what positions they play and how many goals they’ve scored. Not only that, but you find yourself attempting to discuss the off-side rule with some degree of authority.

Your partner not batting an eyelid when you call him by the name of your fictional hero.

Morning SnugglesCatherine: Love is: Double diaper changes without a nose peg.

Eating Christmas pudding in October because your OH loves it.

Morning snuggles with two babies nestled in between you.

Lucie: Love is: Giving you free reign over the biscuit tin, and not saying ‘diet’s going well then?’, when you are emotionally drained from that last scene you wrote.

Not calling you crazy when you pull the car over just to write down that all important idea that simply cannot wait five minutes until you get home.

Understanding, and accepting, that if you try and talk to me when I am writing, you are more than likely to either be given a one word answer, get a completely random response or, if you’re lucky, be totally ignored. 

Vanessa: Love is: Bringing me a cup of coffee in bed on a Sunday morning and leaving me to sleep even when it’s really your turn for a lie-in.

Never doubting for a second that one day I will get there with my writing…

Making me laugh until I cry.

Jan: Love is: Gamely stomaching your beloved’s first attempt at French onion soup when he’s clearly confused his teaspoons of salt with tablespoons (or rather, ladles!) 

Never complaining when my characters get more attention than you…

Not being able to imagine my world without you in it…

Debbie: Love is: candyqueendesigns

Being in charge of the remote control.

Not having to get out of bed to turn out the light.

Finding the one who makes your heart smile.

Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.

~ Mother Teresa

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.

~ Sophocles

Love is friendship set on fire. ~ unknown

Sue Fortin: author of 'United States of Love'
Sue Fortin: author of ‘United States of Love’

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Guest Post by Nic Tatano, Men and Sex – what they really think

I recently blogged about whether women could write sex scenes from a male point of view. (Click here for post) It caused a lot of interest and responses, mostly from women, although we did have one man join in the conversation.

Since then, I have been in touch with author Nic Tatano and he is here today, adding some light on the subject. Over to you, Nic …

So, the question was posed as to what men think about during sex. I can only imagine the eye rolls from those of you who may have had a relationship with a man who became molecularly bonded at the sub-atomic level to a reclining chair. (If you’re currently dating one of these human-furniture hybrid slugs, run.) But, as a guy who writes romance, I might be able to offer a little perspective.

Before said perspective, you should know the boundaries. I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 24 years, and what happens between us will always remain private. But over the years I’ve come to realize there are two types of men: the relationship guys, and the sex guys.

You see, there’s a great dividing line when it comes to “guy talk.” Relationship guys never, ever discuss sexual details about the women they love. A relationship guy understands the sacred bond that goes with commitment and the fact that the woman he loves would not appreciate having her abilities in the bedroom plastered on the verbal equivalent of a bathroom wall.

Sex guys hold nothing back, because they don’t really understand the difference between having sex and making love. To them, the latter doesn’t even exist. (It should be noted that on rare occasions a sex guy can turn into a relationship guy when he gets through puberty and reaches the age of maturity, which is approximately thirty-five.) The sex guys think nothing of sharing the details of their own sexual prowess (which always approaches that of a porn star) and the attributes of the women they are dating (which always approaches that of a porn star.)

From high school locker rooms to college dorms to late night poker games, I’ve heard it all. While this chatter may loosely fall into the “kiss and tell” category, it lacks any romantic elements. Typical comments from sex guys are the following:

Describing a woman: “She has (wildly descriptive adjective) (body parts) better than (name of famous supermodel) and (other body parts) that won’t quit.”

Describing sex with said woman: “I tell ya, this woman could (service provided by prostitute) better than (metaphor possibly involving household appliance.)

Anyway, back to the original question. What are men thinking? Let’s get to the sex guys first:

TOP TEN THINGS THE “SEX GUYS” MIGHT BE THINKING DURING SEX:

1. Damn, her roommate is really hot. I wonder if she’d like to join us?

2. Did I set the DVR for the game?

3. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m with Nicole Kidman.

4. I think continental drift moves faster than she does.

5. You know, I always say I wouldn’t throw a woman out for eating crackers in bed, but I never knew getting salt in my crack would be this uncomfortable.

6. What was her name again?

7. I wonder if she has any beer…

8. I’m such a stud.

9. If I close my eyes, I can imagine I’m Henry Cavill.

10. She just called me by her old boyfriend’s name! Eh, whatever. I’m not gonna deal with it now.

As for what the relationship guy is thinking, there’s no answer. He’s simply in love with that special woman, eyes locked, the two becoming one for a few special moments, while the rest of the world does not exist.

But he still remembers to DVR the game.

winggirl

Nic Tatano‘s novel, Wing Girl was released by Harper Impulse.

Great post, Nic – I’m still working out if I feel enlightened or just had my suspicions confirmed!

Sue

🙂