Dear Auntie Romaniac – Flashbacks, yes or no?

Dear Auntie Romaniac

Keyboard

I don’t know whether to use flashbacks in my novel or not. My main character has a lot of back story which is relevant to the story I’m telling now.

Do you think I should tell this in flashbacks or should I use a different technique, such as, diary entries or dual time line?  Or is there a better way to deal with a heavy back story?

Sue

Catherine: I think flashbacks are okay to use as long as they don’t jar the storyline, serve a purpose, and keep the reader interested. I’ve just finished Julie Cohen’s Where Love Lies and there is some flashback in there, but it’s serves the plot well and is done smoothly. It’s important to the story as it explores memory and perception amongst other things. I think the rules that I’d have would be not too much, not too soon and not if it doesn’t have a purpose.

 Laura: I agree with Catherine. Not too much and not too soon, unless the character is experiencing physical flashbacks. The past can be revealed through dialogue, which is a form of showing, or through the characters internal voice. I do recall being taught to make the lead into and out of the flashbacks clear to the reader. Having said all that, I like both your ideas, Sue, and can see them working.

Lucie: I will echo what the girls are saying, especially not overusing it. I use a flashback in Fractured Love, but only the once. I think if you use it too much, it will most definitely jar the flow of the story and not achieve the intended purpose. I think there are some stories that need it and some that don’t. You need to look at the story both with it and without and explore whether it is the best means of communication for that part. I do love a good flashback, though, it can add depth and mystery to a story if done properly. Good luck, Sue! :-)

Novel Research

It’s an exciting day for me, my third novel, THE HALF TRUTH is published today. It’s a romantic suspense, set mainly on the south coast of the UK but also in London. I had some interesting search terms when researching it, things like, Glock 26 and Russian gang tattoos but my favourite was St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

photo (12)

I’ve visited St Paul’s on several occasions, the first, as a child, when my sister, my mum and I stayed with my nan for a week. (She lived in De Beuvoir Square in London, which I also used in The Half Truth.) During that week, my nan took us to St Paul’s and I loved the Whispering Gallery – my sister and I had great fun whispering messages around the walls to each other. As an adult, I’ve appreciated the beauty and splendour of the building, both the interior and exterior.  Writing those scenes brought back very fond memories.

The Half truth

Every marriage has its secrets…

Tina Bolotnikov, widowed after her husband, Sasha, is killed in a car accident, relocates back to her hometown on the south coast of the UK, to bring up her young son. Her life back in London with her adored husband is now nothing but a memory; a history to pass onto her son.

DS John Nightingale saw his partner killed in the line of duty and has made it his personal and professional quest to bring to justice the Russian gang responsible. Five years on and the killer is still free but as reports come in of Sasha Bolotnikov’s brother returning to the UK, John is tasked with tracking him down and following him to the seaside town of Littlehampton.

Tina finds herself an unwitting connection to a world she knew nothing about. She thought she knew her husband. She thought their past was the truth. But now as the investigation draws her closer to DS Nightingale, professional lines are blurred, and only he holds the key to her future.

 

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

 

 

 

Life Cycle of a Writer : Editorial Revisions

Hello!

Today I’m vlogging about receiving revision notes from my editor, Charlotte Ledger at HarperImpulse. If you have three and a half minutes to spare, please do take a look.

 

 

 

Sue

x

United States of Love: Happy Birthday!

United States of Love … HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

USL HI

‘It was so funny and romantic … (There) was so much romance and fun going on I totally loved it! A wonderful author who I hope to read more from.’ Amazon reviewer, Angela.

It’s a year since Sue Fortin’s HarperImpulse debut, United States of Love was released, and we at Romaniac HQ wanted to wish it a fabulous 1st birthday. It’s a great, romantic read with a handsome, hot hero, and a strong heroine who has many dilemmas to overcome.

I wonder what Tex is doing to celebrate. A big hog roast in his restaurant, perhaps, or a trip home to America see his family …

 

And with Sue’s second novel, a fast-paced, gripping suspense, Closing In doing well in the charts, it’s a double celebration!

Closing_in
‘I would urge anyone who enjoys a good, fast paced psychological thriller to read it – you won’t be disappointed!’ Room For Reading

Along with her novels, Sue is a contributor to Romaniac Shorts, a collection of flash fiction and short stories to suit all tastes. Her third book for HI is expected soon.

So it’s bottoms up, chin-chin and cheers.

Happy birthday, USL

xxx

IMG_4298

Pst … Who’s doing the bumps?

Coming through the airwaves : Nicky Wells

Today, I’m delighted to welcome author and radio presenter Nicky Wells onto the blog.  Many of you will know Nicky through her Romance that Rocks Your World books, but more recently she has also taken on the role of radio presenter.

Portrait6

Nicky, can you tell us a bit about your radio show, please?

Hi Sue! Of course I can, but first up, thanks so much for inviting me back to Romaniac HQ. It’s always such a pleasure to hang out here! Now then, my radio show. It’s called BOOKS ROCK, and it’s a show where books and their authors and readers take centre stage. Because, as you know, I love writing, I’m an avid reader, and I’m addicted to music. It seems the ideal combo to me! Every show features two authors and two readers, often bloggers. The authors talk about writing-related matters and their books, and the readers give their perspectives on the theme of the day—e.g. research, or point of view—plus their top reads for the month. So far, we’ve had authors such as Jill Mansell, Talli Roland, and Tracy Bloom on the show—plus of course, your good self! We also have a ‘reality radio’ segment whereby we’re tracing the progress of Karina Jackson, a local aspiring writer. You might say I’m putting her through a creative writing course live on air. Then again, you might say we’re simply talking about her progress. I’ll leave that up to the listener to decide, but the idea is to give idea and inspiration to other emerging authors out there.

BOOKS ROCK airs on Siren 107.3 FM at 11 am UK time on the third Saturday of every month (and then again the following Tuesday, usually about 7pm)—people in the Lincoln area can listen live, and the rest of the world can tune in at sirenonline.co.uk. Plus, of course, the podcasts are available from the Siren FM website. This is the bit where I get to say, ‘here’s one I made earlier…’ :-)

http://www.sirenonline.co.uk/archives/9589

How did this role come about?

Ah. Well. Please don’t laugh. *coughs* I had a dream. No, really. I woke up one morning with the concept for the show and a sample schedule for the hour-long programme all ready in my head. I went downstairs to my office to set the whole crazy notion on paper before it got away from me. And then, before I could think about it twice, I zapped the whole thing to one of the producers at Siren FM via email. I’d been involved in Siren FM through The Midweek Drive for about eighteen months by then, so it didn’t seem a big deal to present a crackpot idea—they’d either say yes or no. As it happened, they said yes—within about two hours of receiving the proposal. I was delighted, and now I get to make a monthly radio show. Awesome!

You certainly sound very natural on the radio and definitely put me at ease when I was a guest. Is it as easy as you make it sound?

Thank you so much for saying that! LOL! Is it as easy… now there’s a question. You see, I love it. I’m a chatterbox by nature and find it virtually impossible to shut up. I’m timid in person, but somehow the medium of radio, the one level of remove from face-to-face interaction, seems to take away the inhibitions—never mind that my ramblings go out live on air! I also have a professional background of interviewing senior business executives both in person and by phone, and I think it’s probably that which gives me the confidence to just ‘chat.’

Turning to your writing, you’ve certainly given us a lot of fabulous rock romance books over the past few years, which has been your most favourite one to write?

*laughs* Are you asking me to pick between my babies? I’m afraid I don’t have an easy answer for this one. I have a tendency to be in love with my most current work in progress, but I guess that’s normal. Here’s a few thoughts. Sophie’s Encore made my heart sing, if you pardon the expression, because I was able to give a perfect ending to the story that I’d dreamed up. Also I had found the courage to inject a lot more drama and a lot more heat into my writing, so I felt very grown up, as a writer, when I finished. Fallen for Rock, my fourth full-length novel, was a fun story from start to finish, and I found myself jumping up and down with excitement and punching the air in victory a few times on Emily’s behalf. So that’s a favourite! And right now, I’ve finished my next Christmas novella, and it’s such a sweet, warm and cheerful story that I feel all gooey and overcome, even though I wrote it myself. Seriously, if it’s goodwill and fairy tales you’re after, then watch out for my next release. Plus I’m seriously in love with the cover—it’s all dreamy and starry and just perfect, in my humble opinion.

romancerockbanner_smallfile

So, what’s on the horizon book wise? I’m crossing my fingers you have something lined up for us in the near future.

I do indeed! Let me tell you a bit more about the Christmas novella then. It’s titled Fairy Tale in New York.

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00065]

Here’s the blurb:

When rock star Jude gets stranded in New York with his family on Christmas Eve, he has no idea that he is setting in motion a chain of events that will turn their Christmas into the most magical one yet…

No good deed goes unpunished, or so it seems to Jude and Carrie on the morning of the twenty-fourth of December. The previous day, they gave up their London-bound flights to someone in crisis. And now, a spectacular whiteout is grounding all planes, and Jude, Carrie, and baby Maya are stuck far from home.

Tired, hungry, and just a little panicked, Jude loads his family into a cab and returns to their hotel. But there’s no room at the inn, and not even a platinum credit card will make a difference. Snow is falling heavily, and the family is facing a very bleak night indeed.

How do you celebrate Christmas with no place to stay, no food, and no presents? Join Jude, Carrie, Maya and a cast of colourful characters in this fairy tale story of Yuletide in New York.

Fairy Tale in New York is available for pre-order from Amazon now and launches officially on 10 November. I can’t wait to share this one!!

Thanks so much for being our guest, as always, it’s a pleasure to chat with you.

Thank you, Sue, for inviting me again. Big hugs to you and all the fabulous Romaniacs, you totally rock, ladies!

Genre and Voice Part 2 : Joanne Phillips, Sheryl Browne

Welcome to Part 2 of the Genre and Voice blog posts. Last week, we had a great post from Louise Rose-Innes, talking about her switch in genre, you can read her post HERE. This week I’m so pleased to welcome Joanne Phillips and Sheryl Browne, who have both written novels under the romance banner and, more recently, in the mystery/thriller genre too.

 Joanne Phillips

office_photo_2_SQ-001cl

cupids wayI’’m often asked about why I chose to tackle a different genre (mystery) after being successful with romantic comedies. I think the implication is that my writing would need to be different – that I would have to find a different ‘voice’ for the mysteries. The answer to whether or not that is true turned out to be more complicated than even I expected! In many ways, my natural writing voice is the same in all my books – but of course, the characters are very different. My first two novels had first person narrators, so my voice was channeled through the filter of the main character – I’m not as funny or as interesting as Stella! The mysteries are third person, and here I feel authorial voice is more noticeable. But my writing style in general is changing as my writing improves. I’m studying for a Masters in Creative Writing, and I notice now that my approach to writing on the level of the sentence is very different to when I first started.

As for writing in a different genre, I think it’s great fun for authors to have a go at writing in any genre they enjoy reading. I love cozy mysteries; Iflora_v6__lighter_red_v5 had an idea for Flora Lively and so she was born. I also love reading contemporary romances – but I’m very a very fussy reader, and a romance has to have a lot of depth for me to enjoy it. That’s probably why my novels always have a more serious side, or explore serious themes – albeit subtly! My advice to anyone tackling a change of genre would be to study the expectations/structures of that genre and follow them, but when it comes to voice, to be yourself entirely. A new writer said to me recently that she didn’t like reading other fiction while she was working on her own first novel as she was worried it would affect her writing voice. I think this is a valid concern – we can unconsciously mimic writers we admire – but I advised against getting too hung up on it. It’s actually very difficult to copy voice, our own way of writing will always win out in the end. And that’s what makes us unique.

Joanne’s Website

Sheryl Browne

Sheryl_and_dogs_2 (1)

When I first started out writing many moons ago, choosing to write in different genres it seemed was a bit of a no, no. Even before social media madness, where online promotion became as essential as breathing, advice from those in the know in the publishing world was to establish a brand or platform, i.e. to stick to your genre thereby fulfilling reader expectation. So have I bucked the trend in choosing to write psychological thrillers alongside poignant romance? Have I confused people in deciding to continue to write both under my own name? Judging by the reviews, for which I am hugely grateful, I think not. I’m quoting a pertinent snippet from one reviewer here: “The Edge of Sanity lives up to its psychological thriller tag, and Sheryl has definitely pulled off the switch in genre with this un-put-downable book!” Thank you, Donna at Room for Reading

cover_spread_jpg

Whichever genre I write in, I tend to explore the fragility of love, life and relationships. If a character calls to me, I simply have to write his story. My books tend to turn around the family unit, looking at family dynamics and the tenuous bonds that hold people together, usually having a strong, but flawed, male lead. I think The Edge of Sanity, though most definitely edgy, does fall into that category. My ‘voice’ therefore, whether writing romance or thriller, or a combination of both, will always lean towards ‘poignant’ storytelling, in so doing, hopefully, delivering what the reader expects.

Sheryl’s Website