Over the last fortnight, we’ve teased you with our baby photos, but could you tell which Romaniac each baby grew into?
Here are the answers.
Over the last fortnight, we’ve teased you with our baby photos, but could you tell which Romaniac each baby grew into?
Here are the answers.
As we look forward to warm weather, balmy days, and writing in the garden, we take a look back at the last eight weeks of the Romaniacs Life Cycle of a Writer.
Laura: Having subbed book 3 to my publisher, and following wrist surgery, I took a short break from writing, enjoying the Easter holidays with my family. A major thrill was when I visited the local branch of Waterstones to find Follow Me Follow You on the central table and on the shelf next to one of my favourite authors, Erica James. Although I’ve not been writing, I have been mentally planning book four and am keen to get started. I’m still searching for a title …
Sue: Since having The Half Truth published, I took an extended writing break which I blogged about here. The past two weeks have seen me tentatively dip back into an old WIP that has been kicking around for 3 or 4 years. I think, finally, I can see the end on the horizon.
Jan: Having recently signed with Choc Lit as a result of my novel As Weekends Go winning the Choc Lit and Whole Story Audio Books Search for a Star competition, I had a mild panic upon receiving my first structural edits report … BUT … upon meeting my lovely editor for a coffee and a chat, who brilliantly explained how the suggestions would help strengthen the novel, I feel really excited about cracking on with the revisions.
Debbie: It’s no secret that I’ve been treading treacle for over two years. The only time I seem to get any quality words down is when I’m on holiday, away from domestic chaos! Determined to get the WIP I’ve been working on for almost four years finished once and for all, I went to Cheshunt for Tamsyn Murray’s, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE Writing,’ workshop at the middle of April. Julie Cohen and Miranda Dickinson were inspiring and motivational guest speakers (as well as slave drivers!) and I met some lovely kindred spirits including Bernadette O’Dwyer and Helen Walters whom I’ve been acquainted with on-line for several years but never met in person.
The main message was simple. Get it finished! Stop being frightened, stop making excuses, stop procrastinating and stop allowing those crows to peck on my shoulders, telling me I can’t do it! ’ Most important is to keep writing until I type, ‘THE END.‘
It was just the kick up the butt I needed and, with the spurring on of Bernadette and Helen, I’m now up to 86,364 words and writing four or five days a week to get it off for the RNA NWS before the end of August deadline. Continue reading
Dear Auntie Romaniac,
I’d love some advice on how to make my hero irresistible. What traits make you as a writer and a reader fall in love with heroes and how do you translate that on the page?
Lucie: Hi Laura, this is a fab question. For me, both as a writer and a reader, I need my hero to be real. I don’t want him to be this perfect example of what men should be – because that isn’t real, it isn’t identifiable. He needs to have flaws. Not massive, oh my God I can’t believe you would do that flaws, but everyday flaws that us humans have. He needs to have a journey that will make him, in my eyes, be irresistible. There’s nothing more attractive than a man who works hard and makes the most of his life. Life is hard, obstacles are put in our way to test us, so show me that in a hero and show me that he will work hard to overcome these, and I will love him! I don’t want a ‘perfect’ man – what is that, anyway? Yes, good looks, humour and the like are great qualities to have, but you must get the personality and rawness of his character there, too. As for translating it on the page, I would just say write it real. Don’t sugar coat things or skip over it, tell it how it is and indulge in him. We all love a bit of indulgence :-)
Jan: I like my hero to be caring, respectful, strong enough to take decisive action when needed yet not too proud to reveal his innermost concerns, even if only to me. Someone with a great sense of humour who can take a joke at his own expense too. Protective, loyal, well-mannered, hardworking, self-assured enough to stand by his beliefs. Someone who would ‘have my back’ in public even if in private he was miffed with me! I suppose as far as translating these things onto the page goes, I would take each character trait and create a scenario that showed both sides of it. With ‘caring’ for instance, I’d have him show that side of himself to the heroine or to sub-characters but, equally, show it in the way people speak of him to others; their love or regard for him as a person. Of course, as Lucie says above, a good-looking hero always ups the temperature, but it’s the inner qualities, I believe, that make him more credible and irresistible. Sigh …
Sue: Yes, to all of the above. I like my heroes to be real in the sense that they are not perfect. There needs to be something in his character that challenges the heroine, a side that will appeal to readers, so that the reader is rooting for him too, despite any flaws he may have. I think the trick is to remember that the hero has two love interests in the novel; that of the heroine and that of the reader.
The time has come for me to give you lovely people a round up of what I have been up to since I last posted.
Whilst I haven’t got exciting news like a book deal or a competition win, I feel over the last few weeks my writing has taken a huge change in direction – for the better!
For a while now, I have been playing about with my writing to find where I belong. It takes a little time, as a writer, to find your place, your ‘voice’ as some call it, and realise where you fit in. Whilst I thought I already had, I think the way in which I have moved forward so quickly since January has proved that finally, I know who I am. Whilst romance always plays a huge part in my stories, I have come to realise that the stories I want to tell are more relationship based books, family dramas, domestic stories. My stories always have an issue based plot whether it be a young woman dealing with grief and depression, or someone in a violent relationship desperate to escape. Or even a couple entering into IVF not realising the devastating effects this could have on their already rocky relationship. These are everyday issues that everyday people fight. I write about ordinary people finding their modern day fairytale ending.
So, realising that my writing had taken an alternative route, meant a total overhaul of my image. I had been promoting myself as a romance author, and whilst that is still true, I didn’t feel it gave my followers a true definition of who I was and what I write. So, after discussions with my agent and a few of my writing friends, I decided to re-launch myself:
I feel this describes me much better. With this reinvention, came a shiny new website and an author page on Facebook. Please do pop over and have a look at both – and feel free to ‘like’ and subscribe if you want to!
Now I had a lovely website, a stronger presence on Facebook and Twitter and a plan. It was then time to sort out my submissions.
In my last post I told you about ‘Love Hurts’. This book has now been retitled as ‘Fractured Love’. I have completed another edit of FL after some tweaking by my agent (Sarah) and it has now been sent off to be proofed by her. Head over Heart, which was my first completed novel, is now undertaking a huge re-write to reflect my new ‘real life, real love’ route. When I first wrote HoH, I was still very much concentrating highly on romance being the main factor and it was lighter than it needed to be. When I finished FL, my agent and I agreed that HoH needed a complete overhaul to match the pace and quality of my latest novel. My writing has developed ALOT since I wrote my first book and this rewrite needs to reflect that. I am excited about the new direction I have taken and I cannot wait to work this into Sophie’s story.
I have also written a brief outline of the next book that I am to work on. This is currently untitled but it will focus on IVF and the effects – both good and bad – that it can have on some relationships.
Whilst my books are not directly linked, I do have a theme running through them all which ties them together. Because of this, I will be submitting them as a series this time round. And hopefully that submission will be soon. Just a few last minute tweaks and reads before Sarah hits SEND. Fingers crossed for me…
Another exciting turn that my writing has taken recently, is the development of a CHILDRENS SERIES! Writing for children is something that has also been an ambition of mine. I work in a nursery with 0-5 year olds in my day job and I love working with the little ones. So I think it was a natural development that my writing was bound to take. I will reveal more of this as it unfolds but at the moment it is very much in the early developmental stage. Because I plan to aim this series at both the fiction market as well as the educational market, I am doing lots of planning and research first.
Another hurdle I have come across with this is the decision of whether to have a separate pseudonym for my children’s books. Whilst I don’t write erotic fiction or anything like that, I do approach hard hitting issues and swear etc in my adult novels. So would it be best to create a whole new persona to promote my children’s books with? What do you all think?
I have also been more active in the competition stakes recently, entering my most recent novel into both the Lucy Cavendish Annual Fiction Prize and The Bath Novel Award. Entering competitions is something that I haven’t really done much, but it was something I vowed to do more of this year. So that was where I started. I am also going to try to write more flash fiction/short stories to send into magazines and competitions, too. It is all part of my being more proactive!
All that is left to say is that I shall be attending the Romantic Novelists’ Association Summer Party this year so I do hope to see a lot of you there!
PS. My ironing pile has also resumed residence on my spare bed… I wouldn’t be able to call myself a writer if I didn’t have a horrendously large ironing pile and/or an overdue list of housework chores. Come on, you know I’m not the only one…
So many things and people have in the past, and continue to, inspire my writing, it’s difficult to know where to begin.
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.
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.
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.
Dear Auntie Romaniac …
I get anxious when I read about how other writers have deconstructed and reconstructed their work-in-progress several times. I tend to be a slow first draft writer and tweak as I go along. My inner editor loves to play, and I am compelled to rewrite sections of what I consider to be the first draft, before I’ve reached the end. I aim for my second draft to be the one I send out to my publisher.
What constitutes a draft? Is it a draft only once I’ve written ‘The End’? I also wonder if rewriting it mentally and altering notes, scattered in pads, sheets of paper and on my phone, count as drafts.
Dear Auntie Romaniac – it’s a minefield. Please help me through it.
Good morning, Laura!
I’m usually a fairly fast writer, but with very little time to spare at the moment, my normal style (of writing a couple of chapters and then next time revising/editing and so on) has had to change.
Recently, my WIP, with which I was seriously stuck, was given a hefty edit by the marvelous Mandy James, and she gave me so many pointers and hints to improve it, that I’m now bowling along at a cracking speed and trying not to get side tracked by too much in-between editing.
The final product will probably have had at least six or seven complete edits and overhauls. I’m aiming to finish the first complete draft by the weekend and bounce it back to Mandy. She did the same job on Little Boxes, and her ideas for storyline revamps and tweaks are second to none.
My advice to anyone struggling with numerous drafts is to get a trusted reading buddy or editor. Our very own Jan Brigden is also a super talented typo queen, with a grasp of grammar that most of us can only dream about.
Wish me luck, and the same to all of you out there trying hard to get the words down before life gets in the way,
Lucie – I really feel your pain, Laura. I, too, have often wondered this exact thing. For me, I think you know when you need to edit. When I wrote my first book, I wrote it chapter by chapter and had it critiqued this way. This was because I was doing a writing course and so my tutor (who was the very lovely, Margaret James) was checking it as I went along. So my first book was slow to complete. And then, because it was my first book, it went through a number of edits; through the NWS, through private critiques and personally editing. It will still probably need another one when my agent sends her edits through to me. And then, if it is ever accepted for publication, no doubt it’ll have another edit with their editor!
However, when writing nowadays, I tend to find that there is less editing. I don’t know if it is because I know how to structure a story now and my writing, generally, has improved, but I tend to blast out a first draft as quick as possible and then begin editing. I try to get as much of the story down in the first draft so that I can concentrate on the edits. I find it easier to get the story down as a whole, keep the flow going, and then worry about fiddling with it after. I try to only read back a scene or two, before I start writing for that day, just to get back into the story, and then continue. If I thought too much about editing previous scenes before going forward, I fear I would be stuck in a rut, two steps back, one step forward.
So, I do think it is a personal thing. Some people edit as they go, some, like me, get the story down, typo’s and all, and then polish the rock into that diamond. :-)
Vanessa: I usually go for a dirty first draft that’s only around 60-70,000 words. I leave that to brew for a while and then go back for a more polished draft. I then look at structure and pace and plotting, kill some darlings and produce a third draft which is getting close to what I hope is the finished thing! (I say this, but I’m currently on draft four of my wip!) I think how we write and how we edit is going to be different for every writer and no way is the right or wrong way.
Debbie – Oh, Laura, this is a dilemma many will relate to and as someone currently on the fourth re-write of a WIP, I can sympathise.
I can hear myself saying, ‘Just one more draft and it will be complete …’ But one more draft turns into another, and another. Of course not every writer is a perfectionist, but it’s worth remembering that re-writing a novel has the potential to become infinite with rewrites, and remain ultimately unfinished. Only you can break a cycle of rewriting and editing your work in the constant battle for satisfaction. We’re all different, although most writers I know are of the same mould.
I went on an Arvon course last year. Uber experienced writers, Kate Long and Simon Thirsk were tutors. Simon did a reading from his novel, ‘Not Quite White.’ There were post it notes and red pen all over the pages of his copy and when someone asked why, he admitted that after every reading he did (despite being Costa Book Award shortlisted and bestseller) he could always find some word or line to tweak!
Since then I’ve stopped twiddling with my WIP as I go along. It’s hard, but when I start on a draft I keep writing – something, anything – until it’s finished. The aim is to get the main bones of the novel down. I’ve learnt that most writers, even the most accomplished, need at least two drafts (preferably with a few weeks or months ‘breathing space’ between the two.) Then, after, ideally, another two edits and read through, once you’re as happy as you can be, stop tweaking and twiddling and get a friend/writing buddy, or if you’re lucky enough to have an agent or editor, and let them read it.
Sometimes we can become bogged down with the intricacies of the story or become so close to it we no longer see blatant errors. Taking a step back can help see it in a different light or often a second pair of eyes from a trusted opinion and someone not too close to a beloved piece will help give an insight into some points we may not even have considered.
Take it from one who knows, if you wait until you’re completely happy with your WIP, it might never see the light of day. So believe in yourself. All the best to you.
Great answers. Thank you.
How do you approach drafts?