Roving Romaniac – Lucie hits Milton Keynes!

Last weekend it was my turn to go roaming the streets and this particular Romaniac was let loose in Milton Keynes.

Saturday 7th June was the annual agency day for the Kate Nash Literary Agency and, having signed with Sarah Taylor in January, I was invited.  

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This was our ‘selfie’ for the Online Romance Festival which was on the same day.

I can’t tell you how excited I was. It has been quite some months since I last attended a writing event so I was looking forward to seeing other writers in the flesh – and knowing that there are still other crazy people Out There.

The day was amazing. Lots of useful and essential tips and information was on offer both from Kate and Sarah, and also fellow writers, too. Ranging from industry trends, to the latest bestsellers, to marketing. Throw in lots of laughter and lovely food and you get a jist of why I had so much fun.

After a day of talking – and sipping back on the free tea, coffee and biscuits – we retired to our rooms to get ready for an evening out. The agency day coincided with Jane Lovering’s publication day. Falling Apart celebrated its birthday in true, author style.

It went out and PARTIED!

For a more in depth look at Falling Apart’s antics – pop over to my blog, here. *WARNING* Not for the faint hearted …

We had a lovely evening out in Milton Keynes. Dinner, cocktails and lots of dancing. Kate and Sarah put together a fantastic day and I am sure I am not alone when I say a massive THANK YOU to them both for a wonderful weekend.

*Kate and Sarah are both accepting submissions at the moment, so If you would like to submit to either of them, please do! You will find submission guidelines here. *

 

Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)
Sarah Taylor, me, Kate Nash (Allen)

 

And now to look forward to the RNA conference where a number of Romaniacs will be let loose … don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

 

Giselle Green – Finding You

I am incredibly excited to have the very talented, and very lovely, Giselle Green at Romaniac HQ today. Here is what she had to say about her new book.

*****

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Thank you so much for coming on the blog today, Giselle, it is an absolute pleasure. We hope you are well?

Yes thank you,  and the pleasure is all mine.

I have read your latest book, Finding You, which was out on March 28th and I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t at all what I expected it to be. Can you tell everyone a little about it?

This story is a sequel to an earlier book, Little Miracles, which looks at the devastating effect on a couple when their toddler goes missing at the beach. Here, we join the couple soon after they’ve got their child back. I know we’d all assume everything would be now wonderful for them but all is not well. I guess the lesson is, here, that if something terribly traumatic like that happens to you, then simply having the situation put right, or back to how it should have been, can’t mitigate the effects of it happening in the first place.  They find they can’t just pick up the pieces and carry on … there are still some things that need some healing, first.  

You can tell from reading the book that a lot of work has gone into it, are you pleased with the final result? Without giving too much away, what sort of research went into writing, Finding You?

I’m really happy with it, Lucie, though I’ll admit this one stretched me!  Some of the topics covered in the book are closer to home than I usually venture and there were areas where on the first writing I was tempted to skim or gloss over bits of the narrative. As that would have been cheating the reader, I had to go back and re-do them. There was one scene which I re-wrote a total of seven times before I finally got it to work. The main research I needed to do revolved around the possible effects of abduction on a child Hadyn’s age. That was important because his mum and his dad take very differing stances over what might be causing the problems he’s come home with. They’re split on it, and yet they’ve both got valid reasons for thinking the way they do.         

The book deals with very serious and heart wrenching issues. As a mother, I found some parts extremely emotional, did you feel the same writing it? Was it hard to not get too emotionally attached to it?

I’m glad you were able to engage with the story at that level. Actually, getting emotionally attached to the narrative is the only way to go, for me. If I’m not attached in some way I find it almost impossible to write.  The more attached I can become, the easier the writing flows.  And yes, there are some scenes in this book which still make me feel sad every time I read them, but not in a bad way.  

Where did the idea for Finding You come from?

As mentioned above, it’s a sequel to an earlier novel Little Miracles. I wrote it, quite honestly, because so many people emailed me and asked me to do it. At the start, I had no idea which direction the narrative would take once the initial question of whether ‘it was him’ or not had been answered. To write another whole novel, I needed to give the couple some more problems, more conflicts to resolve, and I decided to begin by exploding the premise of the ‘Happy Ever After’ that most people would naturally assume follows on when you’ve had your deepest wish granted.  The couple are reunited, both with each other and with their child, who’s unharmed … or is he? Life goes on, throws up the next challenge and that became the basis for the second book.

Do you have a daily routine that you work by for your writing? Juggling social media, promotion etc?

I prefer to write in the morning, because that’s my best creative time and it’s also the most lovely ‘quiet time’. When it comes to social media and promotion I’m afraid I feel woefully lost and ‘out of it’ most of the time! I don’t understand the half of it. I’m rather proud of myself that I’ve managed to get an author facebook page up and running though – it gives me the opportunity to let people know of anything new going on, in the easiest way.   

You have been both traditionally published, and self-published, do you have a preference?

There are swings and roundabouts. Traditional publishing brings with it a certain comfort, in that once you’ve done your bit as an author, it’s tempting to feel that the rest of the time-consuming things  – editing and checking stuff, marketing and promotion etc, will all be taken care of for you. To some extent, that is true, but not always to the degree that you might imagine. It’s wonderful if you have an editor who’s on the same page as you, guiding you if you need it, too. And of course, there’s also the kudos of being associated with an established publishing house not to mention that if we’re talking physical books, their marketing arm can way exceed what an indie can hope to achieve on their own. The big publishing houses hold fabulous publishing parties too!

On the other side of it, being self-published means I can work to my own time-table. I can write exactly what I want to write without being too ‘typecast’ or hemmed in by what the ‘powers that be’ believe is what readers want to read. It is not always possible to predict what’s going to fire the public’s imagination!  Once the novel is ready to go, I can choose my own cover, set my own price point and keep control over a lot of variables. An indie novel can go out very quickly, for instance, traditional novels take a lot longer lead time before they can go out. More control means more responsibility inevitably, but if you’re conscientious, that’s okay.     

What would you say your favourite part of writing is?

Dare I say it’s writing ‘The End?’ I think finishing a project is always a time for celebration and a great relief because writing a novel is such a huge act of faith. 

You deal with lots of serious issues in your books and I personally think you do it very well. If you could sum up your books/writing style for others, in one – or a couple (I know how hard it is to just do one!) – sentence(s), how would you sell it?

I’d say I write high-impact emotional women’s fiction, usually dealing with a huge moral dilemma. 

A little quick fire:

Hot or cold? Depends if it’s soup or ice cream, I guess.

Left handed or right handed? Right.

Pizza or pasta? Pasta. Yum.

Xfactor or Strictly? Game of Thrones.

Beach or forest? Beach. Mind you, forests can be lovely too.

Computer or pen & paper? Both, these days.

Rain or shine? Shine, but I’m not adverse to a little atmospheric rain!

Great answers, Giselle!

Thank you so much for coming on the blog today. It has been lovely to listen to you talk about the new book, I will be recommending it to all.

finding u

Finding You is out now! Click the picture for more details. And if you grab it today – you’ll get it for just 99p!

Giselle has a website – www.gisellegreen.com 

She is also on Facebook under Giselle Green Author

And on Twitter at @GiselleGgreenUk

 

TUESDAY CHIT CHAT with SUE FORTIN: An Author with HarperImpulse

Sue Fortin profile

Laura: How do, Mme Fortin. So. You’ve been busy then?

Sue : Busy? So it would seem. 🙂

I heard YOU HAVE A BOOK CONTRACT!
Massive congratulations. This is fantastic news because it means chocolate cake will be abundant at Romaniac HQ ALL WEEK!

You must be so delighted.

Sue : Thank you! I am absolutely thrilled – I can’t wait to eat all that chocolate. Oh, and there’s the ‘small’ matter of the book as well – I am, of course, absolutely thrilled about that too!

Laura: How was yesterday, when you were ‘announced’?

Sue : It started off feeling ever so slightly surreal, then when it was actually announced, it was very exciting and then when I had to sit in the waiting room at the dentist, it was back down to earth with a bump. Didn’t my dentist know I was an author and had lots of authorly things to do?! (I think I may have just made a word up there.)

Laura: United States of Love will be your first book released by HarperImpulse. What can you tell our readers about the story?

Sue : The blurb probably sums it up better than I can …

Since splitting from her husband, single mum Anna Barnes is enjoying her new found freedom and independence.

However, she didn’t bank on working for Tex Garcia – or the sparks that fly between them. The gorgeous American chef is getting the locals hot under the collar and not just because of his culinary prowess!

One problem: Tex can’t commit and women pass through his life like dishes going out to service! Will it be the same with Anna? One thing’s for sure, this All American man is determined to break her self-imposed rule of never mixing business with pleasure – and add some spice into the mix…

USL HI

Laura: What else do you have lined up?

Sue : At the moment my current WIP has the working title of ‘Closing In’. It’s a mix of romance and crime. I’ve been calling it a ‘Cri-mance’. Did you see what I did there? Clever, huh?

Sue, we are so happy for you – each and every Romaniac is bursting with pride. (Whoever burst last, please clear up your mess.)

Vanessa: You are such a talented writer and I know United States of Love is going to be a massive success – I’m so proud and thrilled for you, Sue and I can’t wait to read it! xxx

Lucie: Massive congratulations to you, Sue. I am so so proud of you. It is a fantastic book and I wish you all the success in the world – you deserve it! Lots of love and hugs xxxx

Catherine: Sue’s writing is as bubbly & bright as she is! Wonderful news and very well deserved. I’m looking forward to this and Sue’s future books. xxx

Jan: A gem of a read by a gem of a writer! Thrilled to bits for you, Sue. As is our trusty HQ honk-o-meter. Massive Congratulations! xxx

Celia: Oh, wot they sed, in spades. So excited, proud and happy about this news – well deserved; a Romaniac star in the making, and a lady who knows how to live life to the full too. Holding up my glass to you, Sue (and hoping that yours will be held up even higher today). Much love xxx

Laura: Excellent work, Mme Fortin. 🙂 xxx

Sue : Merci beacoup, mes amis. Thank you so much for all your support my lovely friends and, yeah, clear that mess up – you’re worse than the children! xx

United States of Love is available to pre-order from Amazon here.

Going Gaga for Nell Dixon’s new book!

I am very pleased to welcome on the blog today, the very lovely Nell Dixon. After spotting a post on Facebook from Nell, asking for reviewers to read her latest novel, Radio Gaga, I messaged her straight away. I loved the sound of the book from the blurb and was eager to read it. And I wasn’t disappointed. It is a fantastic read – funny, emotional, great storyline and vivid characters. You can read my full review on Amazon, here.

And here is the blurb that grabbed my attention:

Over the airwaves everyone can hear you scream!

Radio researcher and part-time presenter Chloe Lark is certain her big showbiz break is just around the corner. Live it Up radio may not be the big time, but surely – one day soon – fame will come her way. And, if she could convince the hunky guy next door to give her a chance, her love life might improve too.

Ex-soldier Ben isn’t sure if his new ‘Z’ list celebrity neighbour is crazy or on medication. Either way he’s looking for a quiet life out of the spotlight. The last thing he needs is an accident prone media hungry blonde complete with mystery stalker. Problem is – Chloe doesn’t seem to have received that particular memo…

Seeing as I enjoyed it so much, it would’ve been a crime to not have Nell on the blog telling us about the book, amongst other things. We were delighted when Nell accepted. Here’s what she had to say…

Welcome to Romaniac HQ, Nell, how are you today?

I’m good, thank you so much for inviting me!

You are more than welcome. Celia has been baking again so please help yourself to some cake and tell us a little about your latest novel, Radio Gaga.

Yum, cake! I’m supposed to be eating healthily but I’m sure one bite won’t hurt. Radio Gaga is Chloe’s story – she’s a radio researcher and part time presenter who longs to be good at something. The only thing she feels she is good at is being famous so that’s what she wants to be. Except, of course, life never quite works out as she planned it.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Did you have to abseil and handle snakes as research?

I skipped the abseiling as I am petrified of heights. I once got stuck on an army assault course rope bridge thing and had to be rescued by two soldiers. I have handled snakes though and I did consult zoo keepers about snakes and their habits.

Stuck on an assault course, oh no! At least there were hunky soldiers available to rescue you, though 🙂

Have you always wanted to be a writer? What made you begin your writing journey?

I’ve always been a writer. I joined my first writers’ group when I was twelve and finished my first book when I was seventeen. That one will never see the light of day! Which is a good thing. I had a break when my girls were little but came back to it again after a pretty serious health scare about ten years ago.

Sorry to hear that, Nell, but great that you started writing again. How many different genres do you write?

I write chick lit, contemporary romance and romantic suspense/mystery. I also have some children’s stories which may come out later this year under another name.

Sounds exciting! Is writing your full time occupation? What is your writing routine?

I work part time for a disability charity managing a therapeutic community agriculture project which takes up a lot of my time. Writing has to fit around my family and my day job. I usually write evenings and weekends and fit in promo and the business side of writing as and when I get the chance.

When did your love of architecture begin?

I adore buildings, they fascinate me and always have done. They tell a story of the people and lives that are lived there. Cathedral and church architecture is especially interesting but I also love well designed modern buildings which fit their surroundings, like Cardiff’s Millennium Centre.

What is your favourite time in history?

I love regency. I like the realism of the Georgians. They were planners and thinkers but were also realists. This is reflected in their buildings and the plans of their gardens.

We know this is a hard question, like asking a mother which is her favourite child, but do you have a favourite book? Or a top three?

Oh, that’s mean! (We know! Cue evil laugh mwahaha!) I may need more cake! I always think my most recent book is my best, so Radio Gaga I think is my best to date but I have special fondness for Marrying Max and Animal Instincts. I think my voice and humour shows most in those as, like Radio Gaga, I wrote them to please myself. 

Quick Fire Round:

·         E-Book or paperback? E-book – I love my kindle.

·         Tea or coffee? Coffee, tea makes me ill.

·         Facebook or Twitter? Facebook – Twitter is like going to a party where you don’t know anyone.

·         Up or down? Up – down is depressing.

·         Shoes or boots? Shoes – my calves don’t fit boots very well. (puts down cake) (I know that feeling, I’m an ankle boot girl for that exact reason *picks up the cake that Nell put down*)

·         Pen and paper or straight to computer? Computer – my handwriting is getting worse.

·         Left or right-handed? Right

·         Relaxing on the beach or forest excursion? Beach. Spiders can drop on you in a forest.

·         And lastly, what is your guilty pleasure? I adore Made in Chelsea, Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

 

Thank you so much for coming in and talking to us today, Nell, it’s been an absolute pleasure!

Thank you for having me 🙂

 

Radio Gaga is out on Friday 1st March and you can get your copy, here. And check out Nell’s website, here.

Lucie x

Happy Publication Day! Sophie’s Run by Nicky Wells

Sophies_Run.inddSophie’s Run

Her famous star remains her rock while life takes her on a little detour…

Who says that the road towards true love is straight and even?  Sophie is certainly discovering that it is anything but.

So she has finally found the man of her dreams! Well… she knows who he is, even though she hasn’t actually quite met him yet.  But she misses her opportunity, and then her life goes crazy.  Rock star and ex-fiancé, Dan, keeps getting in the way of her new romance—even if he is just trying to be helpful.  A fire, an impromptu mini-trip with Dan, and a dreaded wedding later, Sophie is still struggling to meet the love of her life. Then, just as she is getting it together with her perfect man, best friend Rachel commits an act of unspeakable betrayal.

Sophie has had enough. Confused and distraught, she decides that it is time for radical change.  Surprising herself and shocking her friends, she embarks on a secret journey and eventually gets her life back on track.

Necessity is the mother of invention when it comes to planning a blog tour.

Launching my second book? Sophie’s Run? What, in February? Already???

But… but… but… it’s only like, yesterday, that I launched my first book! What am I supposed to do?

PANIC!

Those were my approximate reactions when, just before Christmas, I realized that the launch of Part 2 in the Rock Star Romance Trilogy was pretty much imminent. I was elbow-deep in proofs, deeply involved in Christmas preparations, not to mention my big 4-0 birthday sneaking up on me… and the recognition bloomed that, when all that was over and done with, I’d have mere weeks to get organized for the launch of book 2. Panic, indeed.

The biggest source of fear stemmed from the thought of another blog tour. Don’t get me wrong, I massively enjoyed the mammoth blog tour I’d organized for Sophie’s Turn. But.

You knew there was a but, right?

But. For Sophie’s Turn, I did something like forty guest posts (40!) and twenty-odd interviews. What else was there that I could possibly say about me, my characters, my books, my life, my office, my music that I hadn’t already said before? I was all blog-toured out, and I figured my readers wouldn’t want to hear the same stuff all over again, riveting, sparkling and mesmerizing though it was.

It was on the way to Skegness, of all places, in the car with my lovely family, that inspiration struck. Does that happen to you? Inspiration striking in the most inconvenient of places, when you can do naught but write down the idea and quietly fizz with excitement? Anyway, so we were singing along to the radio, all four of us, debating what the chocolate café might be like, when I suddenly had a thought.

Places. Sophie and Dan go to lots of different places. Paris, obviously. New York. Edinburgh. Newquay. London. And that’s just the first book! Add Berlin, Hamburg, Pitlochry and Langeoog into the mix for book two, and you’re starting to get quite a travel brochure. I scrawled excitedly on the back of a receipt that had been innocently but handily languishing in the foot well.

Then inspiration outdid itself. Food! Sophie loves food. Her penchant for seafood is legendary. Lobsters, prawns, scallops… But she also goes in for pizza, pasta, and various other posh foods.

“I’ll take my readers on tour with Sophie and Dan,” I burst out loud, a propos of nothing as far as my family was concerned, and was met with a resounding silence.

“What did you say?” a small voice eventually piped up from the back.

My OH, driving, shot me a short, confused look. “What are you talking about?”

“My blog tour for Sophie’s Run. I’ll take my readers on tour with Sophie and Dan, show them all the places features in the books and the foods that Sophie loves…” I burbled away merrily for ten minutes, fleshing out my ideas and taking notes until I ran out of space on the back of that receipt.

And thus the idea was born. This is what it looks like:

SR blog tour

 

 

Sophie’s Run is now available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk, and in Paperback edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. You can also get the paperback at Barnes & Noble, or download Sophie’s Run onto your Nook (coming soon).

Nicky_NEWAuthorPic_April12_useforwebsiteAbout Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Rock On! Nicky Wells writes fun and glamorous contemporary romance featuring a rock star and the girl next door.  A signed author with U.S. publisher, Sapphire Star Publishing, Nicky is in the throes of publishing her Rock Star Romance Trilogy. Nicky loves rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters.  When she’s not writing, Nicky is a wife, mother, and occasional teaching assistant.

Originally born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993, and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. In a previous professional life, Nicky worked as a researcher and project manager for an international Human Resources research firm based in London and Washington, D.C.

Visit Nicky on her blog where you can find articles, interviews, radio interviews and, of course, an ongoing update on her work in progress. You can also follow Nicky on Twitter and find her on Facebook. Nicky is a featured author on the innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com and has joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Nicky also has author pages at Sapphire Star Publishing, Amazon and, of course, Goodreads.

 

Help! I don’t have the time

time

Tick Followed Tock, Followed Tick …

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your coping strategies with time?

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

Sue x

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Janice Horton

A big welcome all the way from Scotland for the delightful Janice Horton!  Hello, hen, how are you? Pull up a chair, biscuits, tea or coffee a plenty.  I think there’s cake too, I’m sure Celia has made some.

So, Janice, whereabouts in Scotland are you based?

Hello girls! I’m from Dumfriesshire and it’s the part of Scotland that they call the Southern Highlands. I live in a wee cottage high up on the side of a hill. It’s very remote and in the wintertime we can be snowed in for ages. It’s all very conducive to writing romantic novels!

You have a very distinct Scottish feel to your blog and your books, what is it about the country that inspires you?

As a romantic novelist, it’s impossible not to feel inspired by the hills, the heather, the mists and the ancient castles around me. I drew on it all when I wrote Bagpipes & Bullshot and readers said that was one of the things they most enjoyed about my writing. It’s a very beautiful country, but the lifestyle can be very harsh here, which provides lots of material for both conflict and humour in my stories.  So, I continue to give my readers the Scottish settings they enjoy. Bagpipes and Bullshot is set here in Dumfries and Galloway. Reaching for the Stars has an Edinburgh setting and How Do You Voodoo? has a scene in Glasgow’s Necropolis or ‘The City of the Dead’!

If you didn’t live in Scotland, where would you like to live?

Somewhere warm and dry. Sometimes, just sometimes, I’d like to throw on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts or wear a thin silky dress and high heels. At home in Scotland, I mostly wear layers of warm clothes and wellies, even in the summer.

Is there a particular place in the world that you would like to visit and/or include in a novel?

I’m sure there is! But actually, for me it’s the characters that come first. Although my novels are primarily set in Scotland, it entirely depends where the characters come from or where they are going that dictates any other settings. The heroine in Bagpipes & Bullshot, Orley, is from Texas USA and the novel starts there. Luckily, I have been to American many times and know the Gulf Coast area well. However, if I haven’t been to somewhere I’m going to write about, I do feel I’d have to go there for research purposes!

What about reading, not Reading in Berkshire, but reading as in books – what do you like to read and what books or authors have influenced you as a writer?

At the moment I’m reading indie novels on my Kindle – my tbr list is ridiculous but they have all been recommended as ‘must reads’ – and so I must! There are also some fabulous new small publishers springing up who are focussing on high quality fiction in eformat. In paperback, I enjoy novels with great covers and stories that feature fabulous heroes. And as to who has influenced me as a writer – it would have to be those who write gripping stories with equal measure of wit and humour – like the wonderful  Jilly Cooper, for example.

How Do You Voodoo? Great title by the way – can you tell us a bit about it.

Thank you! Interestingly, I had the title at the same moment I had the idea for How Do You Voodoo?  The story was sparked by a real life event. I was on a flight back from the Caribbean which had originated in Port au Prince, Haiti, when two female passengers got into an argument. When one of the women went onto to be quite ill later in the flight, my imagination took over and I started scribbling down a story about a girl with a voodoo curse on her and what happened afterwards.

Story Synopsis:  How Do You Voodoo?

Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career.

Nola rejects all rational explanation on what might be causing her lost looks and decides she has to find a way to get uncursed. This imaginative quest takes her from the Caribbean to Glasgow’s own City of the Dead. Along the way, she finds herself taking part in a rather unconventional funeral, involved in a voodoo ritual, reveals one or two unrests in her own past and falls madly in love with a doctor. Erm, that would be a witch doctor, right…?

It’s a novella as opposed to your usual full length novels, was it difficult it keep the word count down?

This is my first novella and although at 20,000 words it was much quicker to write that my full length novels, I found the writing process very similar in the respect of creating character, plot, story arc, etc.  The only difference is how I tell the story. In my longer novels, I have more characters and more viewpoints and there is at least one subplot. In How Do You Voodoo? the story is told only from Nola’s viewpoint and there is no subplot, only a bit of backstory that I weave in as the story progresses, so that we understand why she behaves as she does and what she really wants in life.

What made you decide to write a novella?

I’m working on another full length novel at the moment but I’m aware that I’m not the fastest novelist in the world and so it’s unlikely to be finished, edited and formatted, until mid-2013. It occurred to me that there are certain times of the year, like Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, when it’s an ideal time to bring out a novella to keep your readers interested in your writing between full length novels or perhaps to introduce them to your writing.

Thanks for popping in Janice, it’s been great chatting to you.

Janice Horton lives in Scotland and writes contemporary romance with humour. Her novels ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’ and ‘Reaching for the Stars’ are both Amazon Kindle bestsellers. Her latest title ‘How Do You Voodoo?’ is a romantic and humorous novella for Halloween and out now!

Find out more about Janice and her novels:

Author Blog: http://www.janicehortonwriter.blogspot.co.uk
Follow her on Twitter: @JaniceHorton
Like her Author Facebook Page
Featured Author & Associate Editor at: Loveahappyending.com

Link to her ebooks on Amazon.co.uk

Link to her ebooks on Amazon.com

 

Tuesday Chit Chat with Mel Sherratt

Today, we give a warm Romaniac welcome to bestselling author of murder & mayhem, Mel Sherratt…

Hi Mel,

Tell us a bit about your novels:Taunting the Dead and the two books in the Mitchell Estate series, Somewhere to Hide, and Behind a Closed Door, the thinking behind them, and their subsequent success; how it feels to watch your creation rise up the UK Amazon kindle chart?

Taunting the Dead was my debut novel. It’s a police procedural and I wrote it because Somewhere to Hide had been turned down by four editors. It seemed to be too cross-genre – a mixture of women’s fiction and crime thriller. So I added a whodunit to my next book. Alas, that seemed to be too similar to authors already out there. Yet even though Taunting the Dead did extremely well, some readers didn’t like the fact that it felt too character-based rather than all police procedural. I’ve always wanted to write about the effects that crime has on people, their feelings, their emotions etc so I decided to bring out three books I had already written as part of a series, the first being Somewhere to Hide. The second, Behind a Closed Door came out yesterday and Fighting for Survival will be out by the end of this year.

   

Can you give us a few teasers about what you’re working on at the moment?

Now that Behind a Closed Door is finished, I’m working on book three, Fighting for Survival. I’m hoping to get it finished for the end of the year, which is why I have the release date set as January 2013, just in case. Fighting for Survival is about the residents of Stanley Avenue and how their lives entwine. It covers issues such as self-harm, girl gangs, fighting, bullying, infidelity, knife crime – I know, misery lit!

In between, I’m drafting out a psychological thriller… busy, busy, busy.

Apart from thrillers and crime, which other genres interest and inspire you?

I really enjoy women’s fiction – something that I can get lost in with great characters. So authors such as Adele Parks, Dorothy Koomson and Pippa Wright. I also like young adult books – Rook Hastings is a favourite of mine. So too is Tanya Byrne and Tamsin Murray.

Talk us through a typical writing day in the life of Mel Sherratt.

I always get up around 6am during the week so after a cup of coffee or two, when I’m drafting a book I use the first two hours a day to either catch up on emails or go over the plots I’ve thought of overnight, with my laptop on the settee. Once the battery needs recharging, I head to my office. I’ve only recently made a room into an office but I can’t tell you the different it has made. I don’t have Twitter on my PC so from ten until one I write. A quick break for lunch and writing again until four. Then it’s back to the emails, writing blog posts etc for another hour or so. Then that’s me done for the day writing wise – unless I’m nearing the end of the draft. When my brain takes over, I have to work until it’s done so I’ll often write for a few hours extra during the evenings over the last couple of weeks. It’s the same when I’m editing, although I only do this during the day as I need time to switch off.

If you’d had the chance to appear in any TV crime drama, past or present, however big or small the role, which one would you have chosen and why?

Luther – without a doubt. Meeting the creator of the series, Neil Cross, along with some of the cast at Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in summer was amazing. They were all so friendly, approachable and downright entertaining. I had a chat with Neil Cross about his book and about writing in general and he was so warm, really took time out for me. I loved that!

And that’s without mentioning the show – and Idris Elba, of course. And Warren Brown – who was just as nice as Neil Cross. Anyway, I digress… Luther for me is so unrealistically realistic – that’s what I like about it. It’s dark and so flipping scary. So I’d like to be an extra in that. Any part would do.

Do you have any phobias and if so have you ever worked any of them into any of your novels?

No, none that I know of. I’m not too fond of spiders or things that creep over my skin and I’m a bit scared to go underwater, but luckily nothing debilitating.

Most memorable/unusual piece of research you’ve had to do to date?

Oh, you asked for it. Can DNA be found in vomit? And yes, it can! I often wonder if I get flagged up anywhere for the searches that I do on Google.

How big a part does social media play in your success and what do you consider to be the biggest benefits of it, and downsides, if any?

I was quite well known on Twitter because of a blog I used to run called High Heels and Book Deals. Because of this I had a place to talk about my writing and my struggles to get a traditional deal. So when I made the decision to self-publish, I had a lot of support. I’d given so much of my time for over two years to promote other authors that I think they in turn helped me. I did a few guest blog posts and then the book took off on its own steam. It was great.

I tend to only use Twitter so the benefit for me is that I can get to know other authors and writers plus I can chat about my books with my readers. More importantly I can have a laugh and a giggle and use it as a virtual office. It does get lonely working from home. The downside for me is when authors and writers use social media as a sales point and nothing else – does the word social not explain things to you? It’s meant to be a two-way street.  We all need to self-promote on occasions – and why shouldn’t we – but I like to do it within reason.

Which three main qualities do you think a writer needs to succeed?

Perseverance – look at me. Twelve years of trying for a traditional deal, I self-published and now I have readers. It’s been amazing and if it hadn’t worked out well for me, I would still continue to write book after book until it had. I have written six books now, am writing my seventh and have full plans ready for four more. It’s what I’ll always do, I hope.

Getting it right. Without sounding conceited, online a well-written story can be found at the same time as a poorly written book littered with typos and errors. I know which one I would rather read. It’s the little things that count. And if you’re after an agent, make your work as crisp, clean and concise as you can.  Make it stand out. You’re representing yourself at the end of the day.

Listen and learn. I can’t tell you how much I have learned over the past twelve months. Editing wise, although I employ one, I learn about words and grammar as much as I can. I always take on board constructive criticism. If something isn’t working for several readers, I change to suit. It’s great to go with gut instinct but sometimes it isn’t always right. You can be too close to see what’s wrong.

Your love of shoes is no secret, Mel, so tell us, if you could design your own range, what styles, shapes and colours would you veer towards? (And come on, you can whisper it… ) how many pairs do you own?

I think they would have to be either black or really mixed bright and bold colours; definitely with a platform soul and a high heel. I’ve even seen some wacky ones with guns and handcuffs on them! Now they would be fun. But I think for me, sophistication is the key word. And high – who cares if they cripple you.

At the last count, I owned 52 pairs of shoes and boots. I daren’t count again. Will that do!

Quick-Fire:

First Celebrity Crush?

Gosh, I’m not sure. I can remember my first author crush on meeting someone – Peter James. He was such a gentleman.  Oh, yes, I can – Chachi out of Happy Days!

Fave Holiday Destination?

I love going to a small place called Kefalos, Kos. I’ve been quite a few times. It’s a place to chill, sunbathe, eat and drink at our leisure – fires up the batteries again.

Guilty Pleasure?

Cheese and chip sandwiches.

Starsky or Hutch?

Starsky.

Pimms or Budweiser?

Bud, definitely.

Art Gallery or Casino?

Ooh, tricky as I don’t often go to either. Casino.

Strictly or X Factor?

I don’t watch Strictly. Shoot me now but I don’t like it!

And finally, you knew there would be something footwear related, Mel : Doc Martens or Wellies?

You really expect me to choose between two pairs of flat shoes? No, can’t do it. It would be a crime 😉

Thanks so much for calling in, Mel. It’s been fab talking to you 🙂

Mel’s latest novel Behind A Closed Door is now available to download : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Behind-Closed-Door-Estate-ebook/dp/B009QOLBPE/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_3

http://writerofmurderandmayhem.wordpress.com/

Find Mel on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mel-Sherratt/218120504951096

Follow Mel on Twitter @writermels

Tuesday Chit-Chat with Yasmin Selena Butt

Today, we’re thrilled to welcome debut novelist, Yasmin Selena Butt, who’s popped into Romaniac HQ for a chat and a cuppa…

Author Pic : Keith Pitcher

Hi Yasmin, just how excited are you about ePublishing your debut novel Gunshot Glitter? Give us a taste of what it’s about and what inspired such a great title?

Hi Jan, I’m excited in the same way you’d feel on a white knuckle ride at the funfair, part of me wants to hold onto a hand for dear life, but is still really glad to be on there!  Gunshot Glitter is the story of an incinerated boy who never quite goes away. More broadly, it’s the tale of how the murder of one person has a massive, life-changing domino effect on the lives of everyone connected to him, but especially on the woman who kills him – in the most unexpected and surprising way of all. It’s a story that shows us that NOTHING is as black and white as it first seems. You’ll be questioning your morals by the end of it.  I borrowed the title from a great Jeff Buckley song that featured on Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk. It was a bonus track only released in Europe. I just loved the magic it evoked.

Cover : Celene Petrulak

Did you plot each chapter or did you give your characters free rein to do their own thing, or was it a bit of both?

I’m a huge believer in not tightly plotting chapters, for me it’s the ultimate kiss of death in disallowing original sparks and unexpected magic to occur in your story.  If I was a movie director I’d be the one allowing the cast to improvise the best lines on screen, like Ridley Scott with Rutger Hauer’s ‘tears in rain’ speech in Bladerunner. As long as I know the destination of where I am heading, I am fine. I trust my characters. There was an utterly lovely, tiny romantic sub-plot I didn’t see coming in Gunshot Glitter, it moved me, it allowed readers to see that out of darkness, something beautiful and unexpected can emerge.

Tell us the key things you’ve learned about ePublishing and could pass on to any writer wishing to tread the same path?

Okay, first thing if you’re publishing on Amazon – you want to sort out your tax with the USA, fast, else you’ll get taxed twice, but you don’t need an ITIN code for the paperwork, which is a time-consuming potentially expensive thing to procure, you want an EIN code and you can make a call over SKYPE to get it in ten minutes, there is a lot of old information floating around out there.  Make Google your friend.

Secondly, you need to think of it from the outset as an eBook and not a print book, forget all your formatting and page numbering, it doesn’t apply.  Worry about formatting at the very end. Copy and paste your WHOLE novel into Notepad and wipe all your formatting so you don’t end up with strange code that makes you want to weep, then paste it back in and then start formatting.

Third tip, find out the rules and requirements of your ePublishers upfront, for example if you are UK-based, you cannot at present, publish direct with Barnes and Noble, but you can through Smashwords. Kobo need ISBN numbers with all their eBooks but Amazon don’t. All these things will help with forward planning.

What’s the whackiest piece of research you’ve done for Gunshot Glitter?

Blimey, let me think, oh ringing up Virgin mobile customer service and asking what the outgoing message would be if I’d incinerated my SIM card and someone rang my phone? Then telling the man about how I was using it as a plot device. He laughed, but told me he was making a note of my conversation topic!

What sparked your desire to become a writer?

I have a very active imagination and if it didn’t have an outlet I’d probably implode. I have to write. I’d written a thousand poems by my late 20s.  And I’ve a huge love affair with words and the English language.  I wrote epic tales from primary school onwards and my teachers always told my parents I’d grow up to become a writer. I just love telling stories.

Any other creative passions?

I love painting, I am an enthusiastic amateur.  I couldn’t help but give a character called Celine Silver a love of painting eyes, because I do too. If you want bespoke beautiful eyes, then I’m your girl. I also know how to knock out a wicked heart and decorate a jar to make it look like a little surreal masterpiece. I won a wee competition with Liberty department store earlier this year and was utterly stoked, it meant a huge deal to me to have this side of me receive a little recognition.

Your love of perfume is well known – if you could choose just three of your favourite scents to greet you when you walked into a room, which would they be and why?

God, I love perfume. I once walked around House of Fraser clutching an issue of Psychologies, sampling all the featured scents : )  I love this question.

1. Fahrenheit  – the original version .  I’ve been known to follow a man down the street just to imbibe this stunning, but classic confection if he’s wearing it. It smells of how all men should smell if they’ve just completed a fresh, fiery workout. If I was queen, I’d make it law all men should smell like this.

2. Love by Gorilla Perfume – it’s gorgeous! It makes me think of evening summer sunshine sweetness and citrus, it makes me feel pretty when I wear it, so to walk into a room like that would put a smile on my face and make me feel all is good in the world

3. Eau d’iparie by L’Occitaine – it’s spicy, edgy and slightly dangerous and I am a variety freak so contrast is good, it’s a seductive, dark, head-turning scent and brings out the femininity and intensity of my personality so I can imagine if I walked into a room and I was greeted by that, I’d immediately feel like I’d stumbled into a Film Noir piece.

And we couldn’t resist some quickfire questions…

Three novels you’d magic out of thin air to re-read if you were marooned on a desert island for a week?

Thirtynothing by Lisa Jewell.  Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.  And Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – which I rewarded myself a copy of on Gunshot Glitter publication day as I felt I’d earned it.

Singer you’d most like to duet with?

Bono!  Then I’d ask him to introduce me to Larry Mullen Jnr afterwards and leave us to it.  Love U2! Or Cher, I’m convinced Cher is a figment of my imagination, she has the best, real name in pop: Cherilyn Sarkasian La Pier.

Favourite London landmark?

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, like a ghost in the dark that building is at night. Stunning. If you read Gunshot Glitter, you’ll see this beauty make a vivid appearance.

Pacino or De Niro?

Ooh, that’s tough, I love both, but I’ll go with Robert De Niro as he’s a bit less shouty than Al Pacino, even if he has made more questionable film choices lately, but I could forgive him anything after ‘Heat’ aka best movie of all time.

Celebrity you’d most like to share a 100 mile taxi ride with?

Russell Brand. I love that boy’s mind. We could do a lot of damage and have a lot of fun in 100 miles.

Dream holiday destination?

I always want to say the Maldives, I love that place. But would love to go to Zanzibar too.  Zan-zi-bar sounds exciting just saying it.

Cream Tea or Fish & Chips 😉

You are evil!!! Lol.  Both appeal to my epicurean soul.  I’m breaking your rules and running off with both. Oh God.  I’ll go with Cream Teas, no animals were harmed in the making of a Cream Tea, but God help my waistline.

Thank you for calling in, Yasmin. It’s been great chatting to you…

Thank you for having me Jan & The Romaniacs. That sounds like the name of a band by the way. Wonderful questions… Yasmin Selena Butt  xx

Gunshot Glitter is available worldwide on Amazon Kindlestore. Buy it or download a sample at Amazon UK : http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gunshot-Glitter-ebook/dp/B00916B4OU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346112447&sr=8-1

Read Chapter 1 of Gunshot Glitter here: http://yasminselenabutt.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/gunshot-glitter-chapter-1-the-birthday-present/

Follow Yasmin Selena Butt on Twitter @yasminselena

Find out more about Yasmin at: http://yasminselenabutt.wordpress.com/

Getting To Know You – Sue Fortin

The next couple of weeks are going to be exciting, busy and intense for our Sue, as she becomes the first Romaniac to self-publish. Her debut novel, United State of Love is available in e-book format now prior to its official launch on Wednesday 11 July. It will also be available in paperback soon.

We are immensely proud of Sue and in true Romaniac style wish her luck and love and plenty of congratulatory group hugs.

Here are our thoughts on Madam Fortin:

Laura: You know the phrase, ‘The room lights up…’? Well, that. It seems odd to think I’ve only known Sue since November last year, but I cannot imagine taking this writing journey without her. She is a warm and nuturing lady and a great friend. How lucky am I?  United State of Love has wings and it is going to fly.

Celia: So very happy to see the lovely Sue going from strength to strength – she inspires us all, never fails to bail me out of my techie nightmares and is always there to give her time, advice and warm friendship. She has to stand on a box when we want to talk to each other but, hey – you can’t have everything in a friend! Can’t wait to read ‘United State of Love’.

Jan : I warmed to Sue the instant I first met her. She has that natural ability to put you at ease, a beaming smile and a laugh that makes you want to laugh too, it’s so infectious. (Okay,  so we were  mischievously gossiping & giggling when we should have been concentrating…) but being around Sue and chatting to her online almost daily has made me realise very quickly how glad I am that we’re friends and how very grateful I am for all her support. I wish her all the success she deserves with ‘United State of Love’.

Lucie: Sue is an amazingly supportive and generous person. She has no end to her giving and is always looking to make sure everyone is happy. She is extremely talented with her writing and I wish her all the luck in the world with her book, United State of Love. She deserves every bit of success she is bound to get! 

Catherine: I’m certain Sue has a twin. She must have to be as efficient as she is. I’ve never met a woman more capable of multi-tasking. Not only is she busy doing her own thing, she is also generous with her time and advice. I can’t wait to read United State of Love.

Debbie: It never fails to amaze me how Sue finds time to do any writing! Not only does she have her own little brood at home to manage and juggle mummy and domestic duties, she also seems to be the most natural leader of our Romaniac pack and organises us, supports us and nags us to do our homework! Sue is a very special lady and I echo every comment from the girls, especially about that smile of hers. It surely can’t get any bigger, even when United State of Love is published, can it? 

Vanessa: What can I say that the other ladies haven’t already said about our lovely Sue? She’s a fabulous friend – supportive, motivated, funny and just plain daft as a brush; the perfect combination. I just know United State of Love is going to be a huge success – how can it fail with such an amazing person pushing it on?

From Laura: Sue – how do you manage to keep a level head when all around is chaos?

I’m not entirely sure myself.  Maybe it’s because I grew up in a busy household with two older brothers, a younger sister and extended family – there was always something happening. I wouldn’t say I had a bohemian childhood but it was pretty free and I guess I’ve just got that laid back attitude as an adult. Having said that, certain things do get me in a tizz, as you all well know.

How does writing fulfil you?

Am considering whether to give you a flippant answer or a deep and meaningful one.  Okay, flippant response – (1)  it allows me to escape – I can go anywhere in the world, at any time, with anyone and (2) it gives me control – I make all the decisions myself, decide who says and does what and with whom.

From Celia: What distracts you from your writing more than anything else?

You lovely lot!

If, in a bizarre parallel universe, you discovered you had a completely free day, how would you spend it?

Oh, that’s a difficult one. All to myself? I need a couple of weeks to even get my head round that concept.  Okay, I would pack the day full with all those things I’ve always wanted to do because in this bizarre parallel universe time has no meaning. Things like learn to ski, drive through the Alps in an Aston Martin DB4 GT like Michael Cane at the start of The Italian Job, ride side car round The Isle of Man, learn to Quick-Step, fly trans Atlantic on Concorde (because remember I can time slip also), visit China, take a hot air balloon ride, sit on the cross bar of Paul Newman’s push bike while he cycles round to the soundtrack of Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head playing  in the background (Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid), go to a Kings of Leon concert and then round the day off with a romantic evening meal at the top of the Burj in Dubai.

What’s your all-time favourite  three/four course meal?

I would have cake, cake, cake and err… cake.  I’m working on the basis that I can have my cake and eat it.

From Jan : What was the whackiest/funniest/hardest piece of research you had to do for United State of Love? Do you enjoy researching or dread it?

A parent at my son’s football BBQ commented that she was a nurse and had to deal with a drunk at A&E the previous evening.  I hooked onto this straight away and started asking her about the effects of alcohol poisoning and abuse – I forgot to mention it was for research and at the end of the evening she came and found me.  She discreetly offered me the number for counselling for any alcohol related  problem I might have.  I’m sure she didn’t believe me when I said it was for research.

Which three words, in your opinion, best describe what it takes to write a novel?

Passion

Self-belief

Determination, bordering on being bloody-minded at times when it gets tough

From Lucie: Taking writing out of the equation, if you could pick any profession in the world, what would you love to do? 

Always wanted to be a nurse when I was younger but somehow ended up working in a bank. Not sure what happened there so maybe I’d go into nursing.  However, if this job is in the same parallel universe as my ideal day, then I would have a little workshop/studio where I could paint, sew and make cakes to my heart’s content.

How was United State of Love first born? Where did the initial idea come from?

It started off life under a different title but changed when I went back to do some rewrites.  Originally it was just a little scene in my mind which I had no idea what happened leading up to it or after it.  By the time the final version was complete, the original scene never made the book.

What comes first for you, characters or plot?

I think it’s the characters that suddenly come to me and then I find myself putting them in difficult situations or up against a premise and it’s at that point I develop the plot.

From Catherine: Now you’re a big author, what are your demands from your flat mates (us lot) at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference?

(Oh no! Does Sue get to have riders now? Laura)

I’m no Diva but when I arrive I would like you all to line up Downtown Abbey style to greet me. In public please address me as ‘Oh Great One’ but in private I’m happy with ‘Captain, my Captain’. Fresh flowers in my room. A chocolate on my pillow and my towel fashioned into a swan to be left on the centre of the bed.

What are you planning for the launch of United States of Love?

I’m going for the stealth approach, subtle not too ‘in your face’ – some tweeting, a bit of Facebook, a mini blog tour, that type of thing.  At home, away from the laptop, I’ll probably being doing something glamorous like the ironing.

From Debbie: When I log off for the evening, more often that not you’re still up and when I log in in a morning, you’ve invariably been working for hours. How do you get by with so little sleep??

I’m pretty good with little sleep. Even if I go to bed early, I’m rarely asleep before midnight and I start waking up around five although I don’t get up until six. Every now and then it does catch up on me but if I’ve had 5 hours sleep I think I’m doing well.

Imagine you’ve won the lottery. What would you treat yourself (not the family!) to?

I keep coming back to this question and then leaving it. I really have no idea what I would treat myself to.

From Vanessa: Just the one question from me … I’m about to dive into United State of Love, and looking ahead to when I read the last page and am feeling bereft – what’s next? What can you tell us about your next book?

My next book has the working title ‘Once Upon A Secret’ and is about moral responsibilities and obligations – doing what you have to do, rather than what you want to do.

Thank you for all the lovely things you’ve said about me – do you want payment in cash or by bank transfer? Sue x