Life Cycle of a Writer: Seven things I found out in That Big London

This usually Midlands-based Romaniac was out and about recently – seven days in the big city with RNA meetings and the summer party thrown in. Pretty exciting for a person who normally lives mainly in the thick of charity shops and card emporiums, you might say. But not only was it fun – the week away was a timely means of stepping out of my comfort zone and getting ready for the next writing chapter. A kick start was needed, in a very big way. Here are seven things I noticed, visiting the hub:

  • The RNA Summer Party is still a brilliant place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and the committee meetings and AGM  are NOT ONE BIT SCARY AT ALL. The welcome is warm, the Joan Hessayon Award is always a lovely tribute from a caring husband to a lady who believed strongly  in the NWS and the short listed books are of a very high quality. Choosing a winner must be hellish. Dr Hessayon buys fizz too, every year. Congratulations to Kate Field – a worthy winner – The Magic of Ramblings is fab.

STAIRS                      INDIA

  • Sometimes, if you’re patient, surprising things happen. Tower Bridge opened for us (I’m assuming that was the reason) and I saw Stephen Fry in the very flesh (Yes, the real live Stephen Fry) just being his normal lovely self in Waterstones. I’d like to say I rushed up and wowed him with my witty banter but actually it wasn’t quite like that. Anyway, nobody fell over or burped or anything.

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  • I CAN wear big shoes. It’s just…not for long.

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  • Visiting places you’ve mostly seen on a Monopoly board is never going to get boring.

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  • Maps are amazing – tube plans, guide books about Hidden London, street signs. I love them all. You have to have them the right way up though. Just saying.

maps

  • A foxy new note book and pen is often all you need to spark off a brand new book. Or two in this case. #worryingbrainoverload

DFLY

 

  • Going home is sad, but coming back is even more fun. In fact,  I’ll be in the big city very soon. So all good. Just hope Stephen gets the memo.

STP

So, what does London mean to you?

 

 

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Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

Life Cycle Of A Writer – Roundup

img_0095Here, at Romaniac HQ, we’re preparing for spring and all the loveliness it brings – fresh hope, new ideas, Easter eggs …

This is what happened over winter:

Laura: I’ve had a busy three months, starting with a chest infection in December, when three of the James household were knocked out by the awful cough and wdky-in-whsmiths-travel-victoria-londoncold virus that swept the nation. Thankfully we were on the mend come Christmas and New Year as I spent the last part of December gearing up for the paperback launch of What Doesn’t Kill You. I took the Romaniac bus on a virtual blog tour starting on launch day, 9th January, and gigging all over the country right into the following week. No hotel rooms were smashed up, but there was plenty of celebrating and digesting of cake. I had a short story printed in February’s edition of Your Cat Magazine, and a book signing event at the ever-supportive Waterstones Dorchester on February 18th. And yesterday I received my first WH Smith shelfie. I knew WDKY was going into WH Smith Travel stores, but I hadn’t seen one for myself until Sue posted the photo.

Celia: I edited my NaNoWriMO children’s novel and slashed and burned my way through a grittier adult one, then threw myself back into the WIP which is nearly half completed, hooray! Also attended my first ever RNA committee meeting ready for my new role organising the judging etc. of the RONAs, which is going to be great fun if a bit scary…

Vanessa: After coming away from my writing retreat at West Dean College thoroughly inspired, I have almost finished the first draft of my new WIP. I’ve also been working on edits from my agent on the other book and trying not to get mixed up between the two! (Although… that could be an interesting mix-up!)

Debbie: Everything is much the same here since my last Life Cycle Post . I’m still writing, albeit sporadically, in between hospital appointments and the usual domestic chaos. However I’ve had a bit of a compelling change of heart. Instead of working on Novel two, ‘Country Strife,’ I’ve returned to the original, ‘Living in the Past.’ Yes, the one I’d almost given up on. It’s the nearest to completion and something inside me won’t give up on it. Not yet! I’ve also discovered I get more writing done when I work in local cafe bars and tea rooms. Who’d have thought it?

Sue: My fourth book with HarperImpulse was released in January and has been doing very well in the charts. I spent a long weekend on a writing retreat in Hampshire with Laura, Catherine and Lucie which really helped move my wip along. I’m in the very last stages of finishing it and will be sending to my agent in the next couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to catch up on some long overdue reading.

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Jan has been hard at it, gathering research and working on her second novel which is coming along nicely. While Lucie is doing a marvellous job juggling her university studies with editing her debut novel, The First Time Mums’ Club which is due to be released in May. Catherine has been working on a secret project which has involved some super-speedy writing and is currently working on her edits for this, not to mention running round after her twin girls – we have no idea how she manages it all.

The Romaniacs Sparkle Spotlight 2016.

The Romaniacs Sparkle Spotlights 2016.

Filmed at the RNA conference, Lancaster University.

We asked three questions:

  1. What are you working on?
  2. What inspired your story/you to become a writer?
  3. What is your top writing tip?

Thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s Sparkle Spotlights – your advice is invaluable.

All Work & No Play …

All Work & No Play …

Penrith 2012

Penrith 2012

 

This coming weekend, 8th – 10th July is the annual Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference.

It’s a weekend of workshops, panels, interviews and one-to-ones with industry professionals.

And socialising.

Lots of socialising, catching up with writerly friends from all over the country, sometimes from other continents.

If Jack was attending, he’d need not worry about being a dull boy.

Gretna Green

This will be my fifth conference, my first being held in Penrith, not far from the Scottish border. On that occasion, Celia and I took the opportunity to visit Gretna Green. At the conference, I had one-to-ones with an editor from Samhain and an editor from Mira, both requesting to see the full manuscript of Follow Me, now titled, Follow Me Follow You. I recall returning home on the Monday and talking to Gajitman about the amazing experience that was the 2012 RNA Conference, and casually mentioning two editors had requested the full manuscript, which wasn’t complete as it was the year I lost my lovely mum and I was struggling to concentrate on work. I explained this to the editors, who were very kind and understanding. It was later that week, on the Thursday, when I was sitting at my desk in the kitchen and Gajitman was over by the kettle, making hot drinks, when it hit me: This is serious. Two publishers want to see my work.

I had been taking writing seriously for a number of years, but the 2012 Conference, which included a fabulous talk given by Miranda Dickinson, who said if you write, you are a writer, gave me the confidence to say exactly that: ‘I am a writer.’

Before I’d completed Follow Me, I submitted Truth or Dare? to Choc Lit, which became my debut novel, published in October 2013, with Follow Me Follow You making its way into paperback in 2014.

Photo courtesy of the RNA.

Photo courtesy of the RNA.

I’m attending Conference this year with three books under my belt, the third, What Doesn’t Kill You, racking up the most reviews soIMG_1620 far. I also have a number of short stories appearing in anthologies for the RNA and Choc Lit.

I can’t believe how much has happened since Penrith, and not only for me, but for all The Romaniacs. Between us we’ve had five debuts (and subsequent books) published, a healthy number of competition shortlists and wins, lovely reviews, for which we are always grateful, and agent success. And last year, we won the RNA Industry Media Stars Award, which actually left us speechless. We hope you enjoyed the quiet while it lasted.

This year at Conference, we are hosting a panel entitled, Pals, Pens and Pompoms. Or: How to feel empowered and finding people to cheer you along the way. It promises to be lively, fun, informative, and as ever, open and honest. It’s an event to which we are very much looking forward, and we shall report back once we are refreshed and clear from the Prosecco haze which often accompanies such wonderful gatherings.

Right, I’m off to check my list: Pals: Check. Pens. Check, check. Pompoms: Check, check, check. 😀

Laura x

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

CROWS COPYWRITEFREE

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

Invitation to the Don’t Wait For… Waiting for You Promo Day

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Tomorrow (Monday 18th), I’m hosting an event day over on Facebook. It promises to be a fun day of chat and competitions to support my debut novel, Waiting for You. Please click this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1540695472924264/ and click ‘going’ to get all the updates on the day and the chance to win some prizes.

I hope to see you there,

Catherine x

LCOAW Round-Up

The last three months have been hectic here at Romaniac HQ, with multiple publication days, debut news and an award!

The 2015 RNA Media Stars award

The 2015 RNA Media Stars award

It’s a jam-packed round-up, and our last for the year, but we shall return in 2016 with our regular Life Cycle of a Writer posts.

Laura: My big news was the publication of my third Choc Lit novel, titled, What Doesn’t Kill You, which is spearheading a brand new imprint – Dark Choc Lit. I announced the news on my blog in October, here. I attended a Dorset Writers Network event as a panel member, and I had notifications through that I will be speaking at the Purbeck Literary Festival in February, and the Weymouth Leviathan Maritime Literary Festival in March 2016!

Vanessa: My highlight of the last few months was our wonderful media award win at the RNA winter party!

Jan: I had the thrill of seeing my debut Choc Lit  novel As Weekends Go  published this month, which rounds off a wonderful year for me. 

Catherine: I’ve been allowed into the HarperCollins offices TWICE! Once for the fantastic Carina Christmas Party and the other time for a meeting with my fantastic editor, Victoria Oundjian. Those, along with winning the Media Star Award, are moments I will treasure. After all, the rest of the time I’m perfecting the art of the slummy mummy/author. I also got to announce the title for my debut is Waiting for You and is available for pre-order

Lucie: The last few months for me have been a crazy whirlwind of writing – but unfortunately not of the fiction kind. I have been doing endless coursework for my degree. However, at the recent Romaniac sparkle weekend, I was able to delve back into my story and make some great headway with planning. I have the whole of January off university so I am planning to finish my edit by the beginning of Feb. So watch this space for 2016. Here’s hoping some Romaniac sparkle Will rub off on me next year…

Celia: Like Lucie, my writing year has been dominated by work-based projects such as reports, policies and school plays, but my third book, Living the Dream, somehow managed to pop out in July and my next, Moondancing, is due on January 12th. Onwards and upwards!

Sue: In the last couple of months I’ve self-published The French Retreat which is the first novella in a series of French based stories. Since then I’ve been working on the second one and waiting for news on book 4 which is out on submission. 

Debbie: My ongoing health problems (and domestic chaos) continued to put pressure on my time and mood to write. However my highlight of the year had to be finishing my first novel after a very long four years! I’m letting it breathe after a mixed NWS Report so watch this space to see whether it ever gets submitted … 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our weekly LCOAW posts. It’s interesting to look back over the last year and see our highs and lows, and to know we’re moving forward all the time. Our past posts can be found by scrolling down the page and clicking on ‘Life Cycle Of A Writer’ in the Categories column.

There will be plenty more to come in 2016, but for now, we’re heading off to decorate Romaniac HQ with a million sparkles.

Stay tuned for our Christmas blog …

The Romaniacs xxx