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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choc Lit Celebrations!

Here at HQ we do love a celebration, so without further ado …

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Laura: I’ve been writing for Choc Lit for three glorious years now – where has that time gone? Happy 7th birthday to all at Choc Lit. Who’s receiving the bumps?

Jan : I can’t believe it is six months since my debut novel with Choc Lit was published. Proud to be part of the family. Happy 7th birthday! May there be cake, fizz and choccies galore!

National Best Friend Day

So we’re out by a day, but that’s okay because we’re among friends. In celebration of this wonderful day, we’ve put together a gallery of Romaniacal good times.

Catherine, Sue and LauraCelia 3IMG_0662IMG_4779RNA Summer Party Eight of The RomaniacsRomaniac Badges 2014 2IMG_0497BedtimeIMG_1771IMG_1742CheersIMG_1780IMG_1829Working HardSparkle DinnerIMG_1836Award and Prawn CocktailsIMG_8432roms-xmas-14RS PaperbackIMG_2622 Award-winning RomaniacsIMG_6573IMG_4884M6 Services 3Sparkle Banner Lucie and SueIMG_0336Sparkle Spotlight Sue's PhotoIMG_4163IMG_4166IMG_4208IMG_7098IMG_7087IMG_715110999257_10204632754752430_4404561335113159743_n

The story behind this shot? (Fun at 2012 conference)

The story behind this shot? (Fun at 2012 conference)

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Room mates for the Thursday night The new Eric and Ernie

Room mates for the Thursday night
The new Eric and Ernie

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Debbie and Jan

Debbie and Jan

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Two Roving Romaniacs

Two Roving Romaniacs

HAPPY AS CAN BE!

HAPPY AS CAN BE!

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We won an award!!!

We won an award!!!

 

Giselle Green – Dear Dad

img_3901Today, we are honoured to have wonderful writer, and dear friend, Giselle Green on our blog. I caught up with her recently to have a chat about her new novel – here’s what she had to say:

Good morning Giselle, thank you so much for coming onto our blog to share the news of your fantastic new novel, Dear Dad.

  • I was very lucky to have been one of the people you selected to read Dear Dad a while ago, but for those yet to read it, can you tell us a little about it?

 

Thank you for reading it, Lucie! And thank you for inviting me back onto the Romaniacs blog – it’s my pleasure to be here.

What it’s about …

A young war reporter suffering from PTSD who’s lost everything that’s dear to him is faced with a difficult dilemma when multiple letters start arriving mysteriously at his flat. Mistakenly addressed to ‘Dear Dad,’ they’re from a young, bullied kid called Adam who’s desperate for someone to help him out of his misery. Only Nate’s not his dad – and he can’t be anyone’s advocate. He can’t even bring himself to leave his flat. Acquiescing to Adam’s plea, he agrees to visit the boy’s school pretending to be ‘Dad’ just so he can explain to Adam’s teacher what’s going on. As Nate and Adam’s pretty young teacher Jenna fall for each other, Nate soon discovers that some lies, once told, are not so easy to recover from…

  • Where did the idea come from? Do you choose themes to craft your books from or do you let inspiration lead?

 

It’s true I’ve had large themes very much in the forefront of my mind in the past (e.g. Hope, faith and Charity, Justice). For this book, the theme was there all along but it was only after I finished it that I finally recognised what it was – kindness.

On a more mundane level, I wanted to talk about ‘Dads’ – I’ve spoken about the role of Mums so often in the past. I wanted to talk about people who take on the fatherly role even when they weren’t the biological dad.

I also wanted to say something about the social isolation so many people seem to suffer from. Even though we’re living on a planet that’s more densely populated than it’s ever been, loneliness and a sense of isolation are endemic. Those are things that can affect anyone – even previously popular, outgoing, successful people like Nate. He falls from a great height. When we first meet him, he’s got this sense of shame, of having somehow ‘failed’, but it’s only when he reaches out in compassion to someone who’s even worse off than he is, that he can start to find healing.

  • Dear Dad deals with some very real and very heartfelt issues, was it difficult to write?

 

Some of the issues in Dear Dad are a little heart-wrenching – the issue of child carers who go unnoticed in the system, for one. Not because there aren’t the mechanisms in government to help them, but because half the time they simply aren’t picked up. It’s a catch-22 situation for some children – they have no advocate, and because they have no advocate, they don’t get ‘seen’.

Any situation where children are the victims is always hard for me – my heart bleeds for them. But because I used a lighter tone for this book, it wasn’t as hard to write as it might have been. And Adam’s ever-optimistic character that shone through all his troubles so stoically made it easier, too

  • How did you get into the mind-set of a 9 year old? Did you have help from any children?

 

That’s a great question Lucie – I really have no idea where Adam’s mindset came from. It was just … there, automatically. Of all the characters in the book, this vulnerable, savvy 9-year-old arrived the most fully-formed and I loved him from the word go. He was so easy to write that when I finished, I didn’t want to leave him behind. I have had six boys myself, as you know, so maybe I unconsciously drew on some of them, when it came to what it ‘felt’ like to be him. I also had some friends with children of about the right age read through to make sure the ‘Adam’ scenes were true to the age group – you are one of the people I must thank for your input in that department!

You are very welcome!🙂

  • Without giving anything away, was there any part of the book in particular that you found difficult/fun to write?

 

I had so much fun writing the Nate-Adam scenes! They were my favourite ones to write. In those scenes, despite the pathos, I was able to bring a little humour and lightness into my story – something I have been wanting to do for a while.

The scenes which show Nate’s agoraphobic tendencies were tougher. There was the question of actually ‘getting into his head-space’ while I wrote his point of view. For about a week I will confess I felt a bit breathless and reluctant leaving the house – which I put down to being in Nate’s mindset at the outset when he’s really stuck. It wasn’t very comfortable.

  • How long did it take you to write Dear Dad, from concept to finished novel? Do your writing journeys differ from book to book?

 

I had the concept two years ago. I just wasn’t ready to write it then. My initial attempts to get into it threw me back on the realisation that I still had a lot of decisions to make. For instance – was it a father-son story, or a love story, at its heart? I really only got going with it properly this year, so I would say it took a year to write, but maybe six-eight months to get my internal bearings with it.

Yes, every book takes me a different route. I never really feel I know what I’m doing till about half-way to three quarters of the way in, then it all gathers pace. I like to challenge myself with each new book. This book leads with the male perspective – another difficult decision (the first incarnation of this story started with the heroine), but given the subject matter I simply couldn’t do otherwise. I also have three main characters instead of the usual two. While the plot is deceptively simple, writing three people who are closely involved each with the other was a new challenge. My earlier books had a lot more back-story whereas in this one I’ve cut it down to a minimum. The story flows faster and in a more straightforward trajectory as a result. So, there are a lot of departure in this novel, new directions, but I also wanted to maintain what I feel is my stock-in-trade; tempting readers to challenge their perceptions and feelings about certain topics – about what’s right and what’s wrong. I like it when readers feel they’ve been given food for thought

 For anyone who is yet to read your books, how would you describe your writing style? Do you think this has differed at all from your first releases?

  • While my writing style is evolving (see last answer), my voice remains essentially mine with every new book. That means that – although I may reach out to pastures new stylistically – the ‘person’ and the sentiments behind all my stories remains recognisable from one novel to the next. An author can play around with style and genre but they can’t alter who they essentially are. That said, I write first person present tense, and up to now it’s always been from two different characters’ points of view. It can be a pretty intense and ‘close-up’ way of getting into the character’s heads. The reader gets to know them pretty well. However, I made a deliberate choice to use less introspection in this novel, and concentrate more on what the characters were saying and doing.

DEAR DAD has a different timbre to my previous novels, it’s true. It’s lighter and – while it does deal with some dark subjects – they’re not dwelt upon. That was part of the charm of writing about a child. There is something so compelling and magical about the way that children think.

  • Have you began to think about the next project to work on or do you give yourself a well-earned break in between each piece of fiction?

I do like to give myself a break. It’s easy to let yourself become exhausted, otherwise. I’m on the look-out for people and places, tales of people’s lives, and pieces of music that move me and so on, though.

  • What is your favourite way to celebrate finishing a book?

 

I like to give a launch party. Proper party-style, with flowers and fizz and balloons and friends. I haven’t done one in a while, so when the paperback of DEAR DAD comes out in the summer (around June) I plan to do one this year.

Sounds like fun!

For those of you wanting to know more and/or purchase Dear Dad, here it is!

Please click on the book for more details:

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Thank you so much, Giselle. On behalf of the Romaniacs and me, we would like to wish you every success with Dear Dad – I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.

Giselle has the following online platforms:

Website – http://www.gisellegreen.com

Facebook Page- https://www.facebook.com/gisellegreenauthor/?fref=ts

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gisellegreenuk?lang=en-gb

No More Waiting! Catherine’s Debut is Here!

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, CATHERINE MILLER!

WFY Cover

Laura: The first time I met Catherine, she was waiting for me at an M3 service station. It was 06:00, it was dark and we were both heading to Watford for the inaugural Festival of Romance. It was October 2011.

We had no idea if the other person was a mad axe murderer, what we really looked like, or whether we’d get along. All we knew was our Twitter handles and the fact we were both in the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

By the time the car door had shut and we’d pulled away, leaving a rather concerned Mr Miller wondering with whom his wife had driven away, Catherine and I were friends. We did not stop chatting on that journey, or any journey we’ve taken together since. I can’t see us bucking that trend any time soon.

We became writing buddies, fellow Romaniacs, and family friends, and I am absolutely delighted to be able to say, Catherine, congratulations on the release of your wonderful debut, Waiting For You. You have written a gorgeous story that’s full of heart. Happy publication day, my lovely, energetic, make-me-laugh-out-loud, talented friend.

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Catherine & Laura

Sue: Happy Publication Day, Catherine! Waiting for You is officially out there – how fab is that? Since we first met, back in 2011, I have been in awe of your motivation and drive but that’ s not just with the writing, you do an equally awesome job with your twin girls too and I still have no idea how you combine the two roles. Anyway, my lovely friend, who makes me laugh every time we meet, who straight talks and keeps a cool head, here’s to Waiting For You. Sue xxx

Sue & Catherine, Festival of Romance, 2011

Catherine & Sue, Festival of Romance, 2011

Celia: Catherine’s effervescent energy keeps us all going – goodness only knows where she gets it from, but even when she’s been entertaining her lovely,  lively twin girls for hours on end, she can still manage to knock out a fabulous new book. We are now going to watch her fly – go, Catherine!

Celia, Debbie, Lorraine and Catherine

Celia, Debbie, Honorary Romaniac Lorraine, & Catherine

Catherine and Baby Amber

Lucie: I am so proud of you, Catherine, and everything you’ve achieved xxx

Lorraine The Honourary Romaniac

Laura, Vanessa, Debbie, Catherine, Honorary Romaniac Lorraine, Celia, Lucie & Sue

Catherine & Katie Fforde, with the Katie Fforde Bursary Trophy

Catherine & Katie Fforde, with the Katie Fforde Bursary Trophy

Vanessa: I’m so proud of our Catherine –  She’s such a talented writer and worked so hard for this day (even with the distractions of her lovely twins!) and deserves all the success in the world with her wonderful book, Waiting For You.

Vanessa and Catherine

Catherine & Vanessa

Debbie: Oh, Catherine, how proud I am to join in the celebrations of your special day! ‘Wonder Woman’ is the first name to spring to mind. I’m in awe of how you manage to juggle being a wife, splendiferous mummy to toddler twin girls and have achieved what you have writing-wise. You are the personification of the saying, ‘Make every second count!’ I don’t know how you’ve done it in between the sleepless nights, teething, weaning and daytime naps but I salute your energy, resilience and sheer dogged determination to never give in. I often refer to the Romaniacs as a tin of ‘Quality Street’ (each one different and every one someone’s favourite!) Catherine is, ‘the purple one’ – one of my writing besties with the nut (nutty??) middle, wrapped in smooth caramel and coated in chocolate. Purple conveys bold and brave, the nut middle says it all as let’s be honest; you are the nuttiest of the group, albeit you’re sweet with it. It’s as if having the twins has unleashed your potential. You’ve had so many successes; the Katie Fforde bursary was the pinnacle. I tip my hat to you and wish you every continued success because you have so earned this moment. Enjoy my friend. xxxCatherine Quality Street

Debbie and Catherine

Debbie & Catherine

Jan: I’m so pleased for Catherine, as is our faithful Romaniac Honkmeter, which is well oiled and firmly in ‘TOOT TOOT’ mode in celebration of her debut which I cannot wait to read. Congratulations my lovely talented friend. May you have much success and sales galore. Enjoy this special day to the max. You’ve worked so hard and fully deserve all the sparkle coming your way! Xx

Media Stars!

Sue, Catherine, Jan, Laura, Debbie & Vanessa

Many congratulations, Catherine,

and much success,

Love from

The Romaniacs xxxxxxx

Down on the Farm

Catherine Miller and the Girls

 

Motivation Monday – 8th February

Happy Monday everybody! Time for some of us to share our targets for the week ahead – writing and non-writing related!

Vanessa:

  1. I’m on target with my edits – I need to finish the final polishing of the wip this week ready to…
  2. Send the wip off to my agent!!
  3. Finish a short story for a mid-Feb deadline (still on the list from last time!!)
  4. Non-writing related: when the wip has gone off, do some very neglected housework!

What are everyone else’s plans for the week? I’ll let you know how I got on on Friday!

Vanessa x

Jan:

Well, my targets for this week are: 1)  To complete and return my answers to some fab questions posed to me by a fellow writer for her blog. 2) To chase up some research enquiries for Book Two. 3)  To gear myself up for my next dental appointment this coming Thursday (second half of root canal treatment, oh joy of absolute joys!).

Catherine:

  1. Write 5,000 words minimum to be on target for book deadline.
  2. Relocate my twins and myself to my mum’s house while my husband stays behind and we have new heating fitted in the house.
  3. Write another TTD list for all the things I need to do in the run up to P Day! Just over a month to go!

Roving Romaniac – Jill Mansell’s You and Me, Always Book Launch

Jill Mansell & Laura

Jill Mansell & Laura

As I write this post, I am still in recovery.

The event was THAT GOOD.

Jill Mansell has been a huge source of inspiration for me as a writer ever since I read Good At Games seven years ago, and I was thrilled to be at the launch of Jill’s 27th book, You and Me, Always.

The event was on the sixth floor of Carmelite House on the Embankment, London, a fantastic venue with a stunning view.

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The view of the Embankment

I was excited for two reasons – I was celebrating a book launch with one of my all-time favourite authors, and I was meeting up with friends from the writing and blogging world, some of whom I was meeting in real life for the first time.

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Jill Mansell

The evening kicked off with a warm and charming interview with Jill, followed by the launch and a book signing session, which led to the party part of the ‘launch

Alison May & Laura

Alison May & Laura

party’. I was on orange juice and sparkling water, but the drinks, including wine, and the canapes were in abundance, and the staff were attentive and friendly.

Laura & Julie Cohen

Laura & Julie Cohen

Sue Moorcroft & Jan Jones

Sue Moorcroft & Jan Jones

It was a great evening, with a fab opportunity to talk books, with Jill’s name never far from people’s lips, as we discussed our favourite Jill Mansell book, and the reasons we love to dive in to her fictional worlds. I remarked that I recently read Jill’s Three Amazing Things About You, and as soon as I started reading it, my husband asked why I was smiling. I replied it was because opening one of Jill’s books was like coming home.

Thank you so much to everyone, bloggers and authors, who took the time to chat with me. The evening will stay with me for some time.

I missed my train home, despite the gallant efforts of the lovely taxi driver who did his best to get me to Waterloo on time. I paid for another ticket and caught the later train, which was the most entertaining carriage in which I’ve ever ridden. Six strangers partied. Oh yeah.

And I’d do it all over again.

Laura x