Girl in Trouble – Rhoda Baxter

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This morning, the Romaniacs are honoured to be taking part in the blog splash for a very talented author who also delivers a hugely entertaining and informative RNA conference session, especially if you put her in the same room with Jane Lovering and add a onesie or two.

In Rhoda Baxter’s new book, Girl in Trouble, both Olivia and Walter undergo changes that they feel are bad, but end up being positive. I’m taking this theme for my post, because it’s a subject close to my heart.

In my later working life, I spent many happy years as a primary teacher, throwing myself into messy art, drama and especially interactive writing lessons designed to make everyone believe they were already a real life writer. It was great. The kids enjoyed it, the school did well and there was always cake in the staff room.

Then we hit a bad patch and I had to turn to being part of the management team. To cut a very long story short, Ofsted didn’t like our style. Drama disappeared, as did art, and writing became a painful activity all about clauses and comma splices and suchlike. I left the job in summer 2016. It was a massive wrench.

The blessing in disguise part came after months of feeling like a deserter when I finally began to accept what early retirement meant. Although I really missed the kids, there was:

  • Time to write, day or night (that’d make a good t-shirt slogan)
  • Time to sleep, ditto.
  • No silly rules, except the one about not eating the last ginger snap without due warning. Oh, and sometimes being expected to help with cleaning things and gardening. I didn’t see that one coming.
  • A challenging job with the RNA’s RoNA organisation that made my brain buzz again, and the chance to make some new friends and read even more fabulous books.

I shelved the story I’d written over the last months – it was meant to be all cool and psychological but it was pretty bitter and depressing in places. I wrote a frothy one just for fun. And then I had a light bulb moment about the book I really wanted to write – 59, Memory Lane. That was the one that got an agent interested – and bingo!

So the sad time at school was a blessing in disguise, and this next chapter is turning out to be a whole lot of fun. I hope you thoroughly enjoy Rhoda’s book, and that all your blessings are GIGANTIC ones.

Celia x

Girl In Trouble blurb:

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart?

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Buy link (should go to your preferred bookstore): books2read.com/u/4Doy6r

[The book is on sale for 99p on the 9th and 10th of October, after which it’ll climb up to 2.99. If you buy in the first week, you get some early bird bonuses – a short story collection and a recipe booklet containing recipes for the snacks mentioned in the Girl Having A Ball.]

 

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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

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  • 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.

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So, what does London mean to you?

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: Lucie’s Publication Day

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These last few weeks have been crazy!

In the run up to my publication day on Friday, things have been manic – juggling university coursework and study, writing guest posts for my blog tour, promoting the book on various social media platforms, working at my local special needs school… it was relentless.

balancing_life_lag8-229x300However, all the stress and sleepless nights were forgotten the moment the clock ticked past midnight, signalling the start of Friday May 5th…PUBLICATION DAY!

It was a scary feeling – it still is! I knew people were going to be reading my story, but nothing prepares you for that moment when you receive messages from both people you know, and people you don’t, telling you they have started reading your book. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they give me a bad review? Will they just not bother reviewing it at all? Will they think I am wasting my time… all these thoughts and more have been circling my mind for weeks and there is no sign of them letting up. But, I guess, this is just part of being a writer. I need to learn to accept the compliments (which is harder than it sounds when you are so self critical of your work) and grow a thick skin for those criticisms, because, lets face it, there will be plenty of those too.

So what did I do for publication day? Well, I indulged the whole day on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… all of them. Talking to my friends and feeling the pride wash over me as I listened to their wonderful words of praise and support. I was so surprised at the sheer amount of support I received on Friday. I knew the writing community was like no other, but I just didn’t expect such a huge network of praise and encouragement on that day. It was amazing – thank you to everyone who was part of my special day. 20170509_091421

In the evening I hosted a live Q&A over on Harper Impulse’s Facebook page – please do pop over and take a look if you’re interested (There are two video’s as my phone decided to crash after 10 minutes! The wonders of technology!)

And of course, there was champagne!

The following day I held a small party at my house for my close friends and family and we celebrated in style with champagne, curry, chilli, jacket potatoes, Sambuca, music and disco lights! It was amazing! My friends and family were so generous with their gifts for me and my husband gave a little speech as he toasted me and it meant so much because, anyone who knows my husband knows he is not one for public speaking or showing his affection. I think the champagne helped him out 🙂 20170509_091406

And now It is the following week and I have just yesterday started my blog tour. So please do take a look at my guest posts over the next week or so and I hope you enjoy reading them.

What a surreal few days it has been.

I can’t believe I finally did it … I published a book.

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Life Cycle of a Writer: Uncharted Waters – The RoNAs

This weeks LCOAW is all about me saying a blooming big ‘EEEEEK’!

Today I have been mostly looking at these:

Ready for the suitcase

This is my very first ticket for the RoNAs, and it’s the beginning of a whole new adventure. Over the coming year I’m going to be right in there with the organising people, sorting out the readers etc. for these prestigious awards and making sure everything runs as smoothly as it has for Nicola Cornick. She’s bravely handing over the baton and it’s very exciting but also a tad terrifying, as her organisational skills are second to none.

So on Monday I’ll be at The Gladstone Library on Whitehall Place, clutching my ticket and trying to take everything in, wondering if Prue Leith will be approachable (am loving the recent newspaper report about her late-blooming romance and marriage) and if the opening of the envelopes will be less fraught then at some other recent events…

This is a big challenge for me – but what about you? Is there anything coming up in your life that’s making you say ‘eeeek’? The Romaniacs would love to know what it is, so that we can cheer you on and send virtual cake.

Which reminds me, I wonder if Prue would like a chocolate sponge? There’s just about room in my case if I leave out the gin and the control knickers.

Hope to see you there, I’ll be the one dressed as a book title (The Red Tent).

Celia

From The Romaniacs To You: Huge Heartfelt Thanks

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It’s hard to believe that the Romaniacs are five years old today, because it barely seems five minutes since we met and formed this bundle of humanity that we loosely call a writing group. Most of us bumped into each other (literally in some cases, as wine was taken) at the Festival of Romance in 2011, and since then, we’ve laughed, cried, written books, had some of them rejected, had some of them published, and propped each other up through lots of turbulence.

So this a post is for anyone who’s ever read our blog, commented on it, been Sparkle-Videoed at the conference, joined the Romaniac Sparklers, had interviews on here, sat through our panels (with or without pom poms) or generally just been there along the way. A very big THANK YOU!

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Celia: I’m making a gigantic chocolate fudge cake as we speak, so do feel free to pop by Romaniac HQ and help yourself to a big sticky slice of it. And there’s fizz. There may even be gin in the fridge…

Laura: I cannot imagine my life without The Romaniacs. Is it really five years only? I feel we’ve been together several decades – in a good way. An excellent way. Several decades of cake. Often Prosecco. Always laughter. Rib-aching laughter. The best kind. And you, lovely readers, our friends, have been with us throughout. Thank you. It means a great deal.

Now, big breaths and pucker up – the candles need extinguishing.

Sue: I can’t really add much to what’s already been said at the beginning but a HUGE thank you to everyone who has supported us in all the different ways, it’s been a tremendous amount of fun and we really appreciate you being there. xx

Jan: Five fabulous years and hopefully many more to come. I love being part of the Romaniacs and feel very grateful for all their love, laughs and friendship. As I do for the unwavering cheers of support everyone out there has given for our blog. Grab yourselves a seat, a slice of Celia’s latest yummy creation, and join in the celebrations. Cheers! Xx  

Catherine: This is a sick note, as Catherine is somewhat under the weather at the moment, probably due to an overload of superbly creative stuff and not helped by a nasty germ or two. Wishing her well and hoping her bounce will be back by the time she reads this.

*Party? Did someone say party? I’m not sick, honest. *sniffs* I can’t believe five years have passed and so much has happened! Babies, books, and no where near enough alcohol.*

Debbie: A few years ago, a wise person shared a piece of prose/quote called, ‘Reason, Season, Lifetime.’ If you haven’t heard of it, just ‘GOOGLE’ the phrase. It may resonate. It has stayed with me ever since. A good example is my Romaniac friends and how we found each other. Five years on and we’re still going strong. I suspect we’ll be pals for a lifetime. This also applies to our RNA and other writer friends, some of whom are thousands of miles away. Somehow, we found each other over the ether of the world-wide web or social media. So many of you have supported my sporadic writing journey through the ill-health and domestic chaos. You’ve helped bat away those crows of self-doubt that periodically peck away on my shoulders. So, I’m also adding loud and heartfelt thanks and celebration to ALL my writing friends. Here’s to many more years of friendship … xx

Lucie: Wow, what can I say? It has been a crazy 5 years with these wonderful women and I seriously couldn’t imagine my life without them. They are there for me through thick and thin and always around to tell me to stop moaning and just bloody write! Yes, I’ve needed a few of those over the years! When I became a Romaniac I was a newbie writer, with eyes wide as I stepped into the realms of writing – a sort of ‘rabbit in headlights’ moment. Since then, I’ve achieved some amazing things, things I never EVER thought I would, and it is not only thanks to the other girls, but a HUGE thanks to you, our readers, our supporters, our family. We really couldn’t be The Romaniacs without your unwavering support and constant love. Thank you so much. Love and hugs xxx

Vanessa: I just want to echo everything the others have said! A HUGE thank you for all the support and here’s to the next 50 Romaniacal years 🙂 xxx

Life Cycle of a Writer – Random Inspirations

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There’s got to be something awe-inspiring about looking out on a view like this, especially if you’ve been feeling less than sparkling, but when we left for our much needed adventure by train to Switzerland, inspiration was the last thing on my mind. Chocolate, yes. Mountains of sticky cake, yes and yes. Wine…oh yes.

Deep gloom had set in over the last few months. I’d had quite a few family worries. The novel that I’d finished in 2016 was lacking something. I hadn’t got the oomph to decide what was missing and although I’d written a new children’s book for NaNoWriMo, it had taken a lot of editing and courage-plucking to send it out to agents (it’s still out there). My confidence was, and is, at a very low ebb.

The Swiss holiday that had been booked to celebrate ten years of knowing my other half came just at the right time, but even better, the reading material that I’d shoved into my travel bag minutes before we set off turned out to be the biggest inspiration of all. Without giving too much away, Mark Haddon’s intuitive story was the missing link for me, and my novel is now facing a huge rewrite.

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So a change of scene, some clear mountain air, a LOT of wine and a brilliant book have given me my mojo back. See you on the other side…

Celia x

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Life Cycle of a Writer: When School Holidays Hit.

Life Cycle of a Writer: When School Holidays Hit.

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For many parents and children in the UK it’s the half term holiday – the first week off since the new school year, and for many, a welcome break. It’s been a busy month-and-a-half rising at the crack of dawn Monday to Friday, attending lessons and completing homework.

A less frantic schedule comes with a sigh of relief in our household – we enjoy the occasional lazy day, and since my children are old enough to occupy themselves, fitting in writing time is not a problem. But that wasn’t always the case.

I can recall many times when my son waltzed into the kitchen, where my desk is situated, asking if I was planning on making dinner. The answer was always yes, but the time varied, as did the number of times my son had to remind me. These days, he and my daughter will see to themselves if I’m in the writing zone or the edits cave, and will send care packages to my desk consisting of coffee, biscuits, crisps and passing hugs and kisses.

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This half term holiday I’m enjoying spending a few days with them as I’m not racing to hit a deadline. Activities include bedroom tidying, going to the cinema, or having friends over to the house. I intend making the most of this time as I’m aware I may be exceptionally busy come the Christmas holidays, but that’s all part of the life cycle of a writer.

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How do you manage the holidays? What tips can you share? We’d love to know.