Can you believe it? Today, The Romaniac blog is a whopping three years old. Three years! We have had the most amazing journey over those years, both with each other and with all you lovely lot, too.
When we launched our blog, back in February 2012, we never imagined we would receive such a warm, welcoming response from everyone. It has been truly amazing.
Over those three years we have each grown as individuals. Some of us have won awards, some of us have bagged an agent, some of us have started new careers and taken writing into a new direction. There are some of us who have taken the plunge and crossed genres and even those who have decided to write in a few different ones. A few have had publishing contracts and we’ve even given talks!
We’ve each had our ups and our downs, but you have all been there, standing firmly by our sides and supporting us throughout it all. For this, we are truly thankful.
One of the things we have achieved as a group, was the publication of our first Anthology, Romaniac Shorts. A collection of 22 short stories and flash fiction, penned by all 8 of our lovely Romaniac girls. There is a real mix of genres throughout our Anthology, a little something in there for everyone’s liking. All our proceeds are split between Dyslexia Action and the Romantic Novelists’ Association and we are delighted to be sending each a cheque this month for the first year’s royalties.
Which brings me onto the exciting giveaway we have. In celebration of our three years on the blog, we are giving away a fantastic book bundle. The bundle consists of a SIGNED copy of Romaniac Shorts (signed by all 8 Romaniacs), Follow Me Follow You (Signed by Laura James) Closing In (signed by Sue Fortin.), together with tea, coffee, hot chocolate, biscuits and a mug; ideal reading companions.
All we are asking of you, to be in with a chance of winning this book and gift bundle, is to do one/or all of the following:
LIKE our Facebook page and comment ‘I’m in’ (link HERE)
COMMENT on this blog post with the words ‘I’m in!’
RETWEET the giveaway tweet on Twitter.
*The competition will close at midnight on February 20th and a winner will be picked at random shortly after. Due to postage costs, we are afraid that we can only offer this to UK participants this time. Apologies to those unable to enter, we thank you for your understanding and support. *
All that is left to say is a huge THANK YOU to each and every one of you for your continued support and encouragement over the last three years. Here’s to many, many more.
Catherine is often asked how she finds time to write now she has toddler twins. Here she lets you into her secrets, but this video comes with a warning: It is not suitable for those with an aversion to dust. Or brightly coloured toys in an unspeakable mess.
How about you? How do you find time to add to your word count?
The Romaniac Sparkle Weekend
The weekend of December 12 – 14 saw the first Romaniac Sparkle event – two and a half days of work-shopping, writing, cultural visits and tons of Romaniac fun and laughter.
Hosted by the lovely Debbie Fuller-White and attended by five more Romaniacs, with Celia and Jan holding the fort at HQ, we put together a new, fresh and exciting Romaniac agenda for 2015.
For now, we present our Romaniac Sparkle Christmas Album, with more to follow next week.
With my daughter and son growing ever closer to independence, and with Christmas drawing near, I find I’m in a reflective mood.
This time last year, I was gearing up for wrist surgery, knowing I’d be spending several weeks in plaster, including the entire festive season. I was called into hospital at short notice, and didn’t have time to do much in the way of preparation for the Big Day, but I needn’t have worried. Gajitman and one of my lovely friends made a beautiful job of wrapping presents, my daughter baked an incredible gluten-free, vegetarian pie for my Christmas dinner, and with her dad, cooked the entire celebratory meal. My son made sure I was comfortable, and on the day, helped me unwrap my gorgeous gifts.
I remember our daughter’s first Christmas. She wasn’t old enough to furniture cruise, but had learned to stand and lean. My parents bought her a walker that year. With a crash course in how to use it, she was soon pushing it around the living room. A few years later, it was passed to her baby brother, who was more interested in the mechanics of it. However, not long after establishing what the wheels were for, he was zipping around, careering into sofas, and belly-laughing at his new found, if a little hazardous, sense of freedom.
I love my children for who they were and who they are now, and wouldn’t want it any other way, but seeing photos of when they were younger evokes strong emotions in me – immense delight and happiness, tinged with a touch of melancholy.
It is a little like being taken back by the ghost of Christmas Past …
I’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.
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.
It 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?