Life Cycle of a Writer: Receiving that Magical News.

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

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

I’d made the final six!

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

I then discovered I’d made the final two!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Thanks again,

Jan  x

 

 

 

 

Sue Fortin, Inspired by …

So many things and people have in the past, and continue to, inspire my writing, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

photo (8)Going way back to my childhood, I suppose my first influence was Enid Blyton. I loved her books, especially anything where a mystery was involved, ‘The Secret Seven‘, ‘The Famous Five’ and my favourite series, ‘The Mystery of ….‘ books. Later on, I became a fan of Agatha Christie and more darker authors, such as, Minette Walters or thriller writers like, Chris Kuzneski and James Patterson with his ‘Women’s Murder Club’.  As you can see, mystery and thrillers have been a long held passion of mine.

At the other end of the scale, I do enjoy a good romance and it was through reading Jilly Cooper‘s ‘Riders‘ that I learned how, over a period of time, you could turn a villain into a hero – think Rupert Campbell-Black. Through reading Sue Moorcroft‘s novel ‘Starting Over‘ I discovered the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I was delighted to be able to join under their New Writers’ Scheme. Without the support of the RNA and the wonderful people I have met through it, I’m not sure I would have made it this far in my writing adventure.

Special thanks must also go to Julie Cohen, Sarah Duncan, Sue Moorcroft (again :-) ) and Margaret James as I have attended or been enrolled on courses delivered by each of them at some point over the past four or five years. Words of encouragement, advice and general support is much appreciated – they’ve fulfilled their end of the deal  by inspiring me to continue with my writing, now it’s up to me to fulfil mine.

Sheffield Julie Cohen

Julie Cohen, RNA Conference, Sheffiled 2013

It’s not only people who inspire me but the whole world around me, locally, nationally and internationally. Absorbing everything around me, consciously or sub-consciously, it all go into the Ideas and Inspiration Pot.

I couldn’t close without saying that daily, not only do my family and fellow Romaniac girls encourage me to keep writing but readers do too.  Hearing how much someone has enjoyed one of my books both humbles me and inspires my writing.

Sue

x

 

 

 

The Fear. What Does It Mean to You?

DSCF2621I’ve thought long and hard about whether or not to write this post, for two reasons: I’m concerned it could come across as an exercise in tooting on my trumpet, which isn’t the intention, and I’m admitting to something I’m not sure I want to type out loud. However, as a committed Romaniac, and a person who has gained valuable insight from other writers’ honesty, I’m going to put it out there.

I’m listening to Lily Allen’s The Fear, a song from a few years ago, and I’m interested in the thoughts behind the lyrics. Like most cleverly-written songs, it will mean something different to each person, depending on their individual experiences. To me, Lily Allen’s song is about the fear of being sucked into the world of celebrity and materialism.

I’d heard writers talk about the fear, but never understood what it was? Was it a worry the words would dry up? A deep concern the book wouldn’t sell? That your mojo’s having way too much fun sunning itself on the deck to consider returning from its winter cruise?

There’s another option: All of the above. And more.

At the beginning of September, my second Choc Lit novel was sent out into the big, wide world, as a paperback – my first. Follow Me Follow You, an issue-driven romance, went on tour courtesy of my publisher and through Brook Cottage Books.

It was a fantastic, positive experience, with the book receiving incredible reviews which blew my socks off. Follow Me Follow You was selected as an editor’s choice on Lovereading.co.uk  and was one of their featured books for September, Tome Tender Book Blog left me speechless with their wonderful words, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the Amazon reviews.

The book was and is out there doing exactly what I’ve asked of it.FM_new flat front 300dpi

Now, before this starts to look like the exercise I mentioned earlier, (although in reality, it would be a recorder, not a trumpet) let me explain.

As I sat at my desk, in the corner of my kitchen, fingers poised above the well-used keyboard, determined to continue writing book 3, I was hit by the fear. Only, I didn’t know it was the fear. It wasn’t like Lily Allen’s song – I wasn’t concerned by materialism or celebrity – I was hit by a truckload of ‘what ifs?’

What if I’d used all my best ideas in Follow Me? What if I’d already used every last drop of emotion I could muster? What if I couldn’t capture the reader’s imagination? What if I couldn’t find original ways for my characters to express themselves? What if I repeat myself? What if book 3 is rubbish?

And the biggie: What if I let the reader down?

I removed myself from the corner of the kitchen, plonked myself down in the living room and allowed the ‘what ifs?’ to zip round my head like they were driving the wall of death. After a while of getting nowhere, other than dizzy and anxious, I called upon my lovely, supportive Romaniac friends.

‘I think I’ve been gripped by the fear,’ I said. But I didn’t really know, because it wasn’t something I’d grappled with before.

Their individual and collective advice was, as ever, sound, sensible and solid. And, as ever, they made me laugh. I was instructed to get something to eat and take a little time out. My nose had been to the grindstone, and I needed a break. They were right. I had to ‘refill the well’, as the fab members of the RNA say.

Later that day, I spoke with Gajitman, who offered a considered and practical approach, and kind reassurance that none of all of the above was going to happen.

The next morning, I met with a friend for coffee, who hit the nail on the head, putting the fear into a succinct five-word statement. ‘You are afraid of failing.’

And there it was. I was afraid of failing. Failing the reader, failing my publisher, failing my family and friends, and failing myself.

I’d never experienced this. I’d been brought up to always do my very best and that was the reward, regardless of the outcome.

I will do my very best – it’s who I am, it’s in my DNA, but what if my very best isn’t good enough? What then?

And that’s my fear.

IMG_6127It was scary out there for a while, but I have settled back into writing book 3, and I’m pleased and relieved to say the fear has passed, and now I know the signs, I’m better equipped to tackle it should it dare to show its ugly face again.

In the same way we all take something different from song lyrics, I suspect the fear is different for each and every one of us.

What are your experiences of the fear?

Laura x

Jan Brigden – My First Novel, and My Love of Proofreading …

 

It’s no secret that my first novel took me a while to write. Okay, YONKS, mainly due to my endless tweaking and re-tweaking of it until it waved the white flag at me. I’m thrilled, therefore, to report that, having received a cracking report from my RNA New Writers’ Scheme reader, I’ve finally started submitting my book to agents.

To date, I’ve had four rejections.

Ouch!

They stung.

A lot.

I have, however, received some very encouraging feedback.

I’m under no illusions, and I’m certainly not averse to self-publishing, I simply want to try the traditional route first.

I must trust that someone will love my book and believe in it as much as I do …

My novel is a multi POV tale – three interwoven stories in one, if you like – entitled ‘As Weekends Go …’

 

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Here’s a little taster:

When Rebecca Stafford is gifted the chance of a weekend stay in one of York’s finest hotels with her best friend, Abi, the timing couldn’t be better. With her husband in Brighton for his summer sales conference and Abi’s boyfriend in Spain for a stag do, she has no reason to decline.

After all – what harm could come of it – apart from the odd raised eyebrow at home?

Rebecca also knows it might help take her mind off the fears she’s been having about her marriage; fears which her husband appears neither to share nor recognize.

Events, though, take an unexpected turn when Rebecca encounters a familiar fellow guest at the hotel. And with Abi’s relationship coming under scrutiny when temptation beckons, things soon become complicated.

Add in a power struggle with a twist in Brighton and the stag do from hell, and this clash of agendas guarantees all parties concerned a weekend to remember.

 

Keep your fingers crossed for me, dear friends.

****

 

On an entirely different literary note, I wanted to highlight here my love of proofreading.

I’ve quietly been expanding my portfolio, working on several novels/novellas for friends and acquaintances over time, using my own devised system and, more recently, track changes, with positive results.

I don’t hold a professional qualification, just a beady eye for detail and years of experience at wielding my trusty red pen in various office jobs I’ve previously held. I remember pointing out a horrendous typo to one particularly Godzilla-like company CEO on a document he was about to sign off to a potential client. He looked so gobsmacked, I thought he was going to sack me! Luckily, he just huffed and puffed a bit and from that day on declared me ‘chief checker’.

 

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A few clients have kindly provided testimonials for me, a couple of which are below:

‘It is a pleasure to provide a testimonial for Jan Brigden. I have used her services twice, to proofread my self-published novels which have been uploaded to amazon sites throughout the world. As an indie author, I am aware that some self-published novels have been neither proofread nor formatted professionally, often resulting in a less than perfect result. Thanks to Mrs Brigden’s skills, I have received no negative feedback from readers vis a vis typos, grammatical slips or other omissions in my novels. I would recommend Mrs Brigden unreservedly to other writers who need someone to check over their work. I will be sending my next novel for her to proofread in due course.’

Elizabeth Lamb

 

I hired Jan Brigden to proofread my first completed book. After countless rewrites, I required a reader with a good eye for grammar and detail to go through the manuscript and pick up on errors I had missed. Having gone through chapter-by-chapter, and at my pace, I was delighted with the work Jan carried out, and had the confidence to submit my novel to publishers. With a professional, friendly attitude, easy-to-understand system and great value for money, I highly recommend Jan Brigden’s Proofreading Service.’

Laura E James

 

If you would like to get in touch with me about potentially proofreading your novel/novella/short story, etc, please feel free to email me at janbrigdenproof@gmail.com to discuss.

You can also contact me via Facebook or Twitter (@Briggy44)
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 Many Thanks,

Jan X

 

Just Say No – NWS Deadline

It’s that time of year when anyone on the New Writers’ Scheme who hasn’t yet submitted their manuscript, is wondering how on earth it can be August already.

When I blogged about the NWS deadline a couple of years ago here, Jane Lovering commented that “The NWS deadline is nature’s way of preparing you for the horrific task of hitting deadline dates …”. She was right. Although, I’m yet to master the art effectively.

I know several of The Romaniac girls are submitting their manuscripts under the NWS and a couple of us have publisher deadlines looming.  To keep me focussed on mine, I keep telling myself to ‘just say no’ (a catch phrase pinched from Zammo, for those old enough to remember him from Grange Hill). This ties in nicely with a picture I shared on Facebook of  a J K Rowling quote.

“Be ruthless about protecting your writing days, ie. do not cave in to endless requests to have ‘essential and long overdue’ meetings on those days.”

Not only that, but I often refer back to Nora Roberts and her take on writing. The whole clip below is very inspiring but it’s at 5mins 20secs in, where she talks about keeping you’re a*** in the chair, when I really take note.

And if that’s not enough, I would also add to J K Rowling’s quote, protect your writing time with the same ferocity you would protect the last slice of chocolate cake or last glass of wine.

Good luck to everyone and hope you all have great feedback.

Sue

In Training for Telford

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie's summer house.

Sleeping bag, for bedding in Debbie’s summer house.

In Training for Telford

The Romaniacs are roving big style this weekend. We are off to Telford for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference, leaving our loved ones to defend our castles.

It’s a weekend packed with friends, fun, food, workshops, pitching of manuscripts and wine. Not necessarily in that order.

Some of us are hoping to make it to Romaniac Debbie’s house on Thursday, before booking into the conference centre on Friday. Some of us have already packed. Some of us have already bought the Prosecco.

It is going to be a fantastic weekend and we look forward to seeing lots of romantic novelists, editors, publishers and agents in Telford. And possibly everyone in the Midlands, as we wend our way there and back :-)

Prep for the weekend.

Prep for the weekend.

Here are some crucial items we’ll need for the weekend. Are you ready?

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Tea towels and teaspoons. We usually have to ring Sue and ask her to bring emergency supplies.

Always cake.

Always cake.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn't been fermented.

Music, coffee, and if pushed, fruit that hasn’t been fermented or distilled.

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections ...

Ready to go? Not yet. There are empty sections …

Don't forget the paracetamol.

And don’t forget the paracetamol.

Happy Monday to Teresa Morgan

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Celia: Good morning, Teresa, and welcome to the Romaniacs’ blog – we’ve just treated ourselves to a squishy new visitors’ sofa so put your feet up and have a freshly-baked scone. Jam? Clotted cream?

Teresa: Oh scones! Nom nom nom. I put the cream on first, then the jam by the way ;-) The proper way.

Celia: I do mine the other way round but I won’t hold that against you. Right, on with the interview; I know you were as proud as Laura James, Sue Fortin and I were to be in the line-up for the Joan Hessayon Award – are there any other awards/prizes that you’d love to be up for?

Teresa: You know, I’ve never really thought about this. I suppose it would be lovely to win some other romance novelist award at some point in my career, but I wouldn’t know which one.

Celia: How long have you been writing and what started you off?

Teresa: I’ve been writing since 2006, so I’m quite new to it really. I started writing fan fiction, and loved it so much I decided to have a go professionally.

Celia: What are your favourite places to write?

Teresa: I write at my PC, which is now at a desk in my cosy little lounge, in my cosy little house.

Celia: What are you reading for pleasure at the moment?

Teresa: The Hunger Games. The first one and I’m loving it. I soooo want to watch the film, but I’m the sort of person who needs to read the book first.

Celia: Me too – I couldn’t stop reading the series and then I had withdrawal symptoms for a week. Right – nosy moment coming up. Could you please tell me about a typical day in your life? Or just a random one if you prefer?

Teresa: Every day is different, because I work some days in a post office. On a Wednesday, I work at the school as a dinner lady so that breaks up my day too. Tuesdays and Thursdays are now my free days, where I don’t have to work, so I try to write as much as I can in those, plus fit a run in first thing in the morning after the kids are in school. I am trying very hard to get back into a writing routine … sometimes I feel I am failing miserably.

Celia: Do you enjoy travel, and if so, which places have inspired your writing?

Teresa: I would love to travel. So far, since the boys have been born, I’ve only ventured to Cornwall for holidays, but this does feature in my first novel, Plus One is a Lucky Number.

Celia: What is your next ambition?

Teresa: I have a ten-year plan. Writing is my ambition, and I am sort of achieving it – I have one book published! One day it would be lovely to write full time, and gain a reliable income from it.

Celia: What books influenced you to start (and continue) reading as a child?

Teresa: I remember The Hobbit being read in class, plus I was into The Black Stallion books by Walter Farley (what can I say, I was a typical girl who loved horses), however I didn’t really get into reading until the film The Interview With A Vampire, where I then devoured Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles. I’ve been stuck on wanting to read the book before I watch the film ever since.

Celia: Who are your three all time favourite authors?

Teresa: Anne Rice, Charlaine Harris and Sue Moorcroft (but there are others too).

Celia: Have you read any of the other books that were nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award yet?

Teresa: Sadly, I haven’t. But I will. Reading is another thing I’m failing with at the moment, however I’ve got into The Hunger Games, so I’m making time again! Woo hoo!

Thank you for having me over for scones, Celia!

Celia: Come back soon, Teresa; chocolate fudge cake next time, maybe?

 

Plus one is a lucky number

 

About Teresa F Morgan

 

I live in sunny Weston-super-Mare, trying to hold onto my Surrey accent where I was born and bred.

For years I persevered with boring jobs, until my two boys joined my nest. In an attempt to find something to work around them, and to ensure I never endured full time boredom again, I found writing.
I’m at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or sitting at my PC emptying my thoughts onto the screen.

I love writing contemporary romance, stories with a touch of escapism and creating heroes readers will fall in love with. Men who in reality, let’s face it, just don’t exist.

 

 

About Plus One is a Lucky Number

 

The wedding favour…

Sophie’s going to a wedding where the invite is strictly plus one… but with her single girl status not exactly fitting in with the bridesmaid dress code, and the best man being none other than the ex she would rather forget, Sophie needs a favour and she needs it fast!

Luckily for Sophie, her dreamy but distant co-worker Adam Reid owes their mutual friend James big time…and his gorgeousness more than fills the role of the ‘Perfect Boyfriend’!

As they take off to the sunny shores of Cornwall for the wedding weekend, it’s not long before pretence leads to passion and Sophie and Adam must decide; is their relationship real or is it all for show?

 

 

 

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