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

5th-birthday-thank-you-blog

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!

romaniac-badges-2014-3

 

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

img_3299

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.

img_3352

 

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

top

 

 

 

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer: When School Holidays Hit.

Life Cycle of a Writer: When School Holidays Hit.

img_4861

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.

img_8302

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.

img_5169

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

 

The Life Cycle of a Writer: Cobwebs

img_2727

I’m just back from a major spring cleaning of the brain. Sometimes a writing retreat in the wilds of Northumberland is just the thing to blow the cobwebs away and recharge your creative bits and bobs, but this time it was more of an escape from reality that was needed. Or maybe a step into an ideal world? One where phones don’t ring much because the signal’s pants, and the sun shines, and the tide always seems to be out. Where breakfast appears every day as if by magic bursting with calories and yummyness and you get to read whenever you like.

It sounds perfect, doesn’t it? And so it was, but now real life has kicked in. I’ve just given up the day job but instead of the wide expanse of writing time, swimming, walking, pilates, the odd bit of housework and loads of wine/cake/both, there seems to have been a big dollop of worry lurking in the wings. You can’t predict when the people you love will be taking a nose-dive and needing propping up, can you?

So, on to Plan B. I’m hoping to map out every day to have writing hours in it as well as doling-out-TLC-and-nourishing-soup time. The next chapter is going to be one where every hour counts. And that means ditching the panster tag and being…organised? Well, let’s just see how it goes…

Celia

img_2741

 

HONNNNKKKKKKK!

HONNNKKKK!!!

The fireworks are being lit, the cake is coming out of the oven and the glasses are overflowing with pop as The Romaniacs celebrate the paperback release of our lovely Jan Brigden’s As Weekends Go.

awg-roms-congrats

 

Laura: Many congratulations, Jan. What an exciting day! Your first paperback. And isn’t it gorgeous? I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a signed copy. I am thrilled for you. So well deserved, my lovely, hardworking friend xxx

Catherine: Congratulations, Jan! The honkometer cannot withstand such excitement! This level of celebration may be enough to put it into early retirement! Enjoy the day and we’ve stocked up on additional cake to mark the occasion! Xxx

Vanessa: HUGE congratulations, lovely Jan. I hope your day is filled with cake and champagne – I can’t wait to add the wonderful As Weekends Go to my Romaniac shelf!

Sue: Honkity-honk-honk-honk! Congratulations, Jan on the release of your paperback. It’s a fantastic story and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. It will take pride of place on my bookshelf with the other Romaniac publications! I also get to stroke Alex Heath!! Well done, my friend, thoroughly deserved. xx

Celia: Sooooo excited for you, our lovely, talented Jan! Loved the Kindle version and can’t wait to see the book in paperback form, in all its glory. Massive congratulations and honks. Very, very proud of you and all you’ve achieved xxxx

Lucie: How amazing is this, Jan? I am SUPER proud of you, my friend! I cannot wait for this to be on my shelf. You are an inspiration and I hope you are celebrating in true Romaniac-style with plenty of fizz and HONKS! Love you lots xxx 

 

With love from The Romaniacs

xxxxxxx

 

 

Roving Romaniacs in Umbria (The Italian Job, Part 2)

Terr

Sue Moorcroft’s fabulous course at Arte Umbria a few years back was something that fellow Romaniac Laura James and I will never forget. When I got the chance to go again to kick start my retirement from teaching, this time with my Romaniac buddy Debbie Fuller-White and a whole gang of other wonderful people, it wasn’t too hard to jump at the chance.

Orv3

 

Group

This time, Debbie was taking part in the full course, I was doing the writing retreat thing and the terrace above was the place where inspiration struck most often (possibly because that’s where wine kept appearing.)

Sue did lots of one-to-ones, ran sessions on building characters, short stories, plotting and all sorts of other useful angles on getting a book to take shape and then beating it into submission. We didn’t write hot sex by the pool this time. It was just too…hot.

We even found a hero at the castle – a gorgeous man who also is heavily into wine production – what’s not to like about Lorenzo? Even the name is music to my ears. I finished the edits on a whole book, gave my character some much needed depth and put on half a stone. Two of those things make me happier than the other. Deb got her mojo back and we refrained from having a girlie cat fight over who should stand next to Lorenzo while he told us about…erm…I think it was grapes and stuff, but actually, who cares?

Lor - Copy

And on the way home we did some revision on my all-time favourite of Sue’s books – the story that sparked off a memorable singing event in a Romaniac kitchen at the RNA conference. I can’t remember where we were…maybe Sheffield. But Dream a Little Dream has never been sung like that before.

Booky

Huge thanks to Sue, to our lovely hosts David and Sara Moody and to all the rest of the gang for making Arte Umbria a place where writing is as natural as eating, sleeping, breathing…and drinking. Hic.

Pool

Deb - Copy