Ever since I can remember, Weymouth’s had a sand sculptor producing beautiful works of art on the beach, and for the last four years, Sandworld has developed an off-beach site too, where it can create and keep the sculptures in a secure and welcoming environment for the summer season.
On Saturday 5th April 2014, authors with connections to Weymouth, Kathy Sharp, Kate Kelly, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry and I, gathered for the Grand Opening of Sandworld’s theme for the 2014 season, Literally in Sand. We spent a wonderful day in an area we affectionately called Author’s Corner, enjoying the hospitality of our lovely hosts, and the chatter with those who came to view the incredible sand sculptures and take a look at our books.
I gave my first-ever reading – an extract from Truth or Dare?, and aware there would be children at the venue, I opted for a family-friendly section. It was quite a challenge finding a passage that wasn’t dark, gritty, or containing too much dialogue, which I figured would be more difficult to follow as a listener. I chose a scene near the beginning of the novel, and including my introduction, spoke for ten minutes.
As someone who has been known to take the stage for a song, it was great to be performing once more.
It was an excellent event, and we hope to return in the summer and do it all again.
Here are a few teaser photos to illustrate the sheer brilliance of the international band of sand sculptors who’ve worked on Literally in Sand.
Can you name the books?
I recommend a trip to Weymouth to see these, and more, in all their glory.
Thank you Sandworld for the fab day, beautiful art, and friendly and welcoming atmosphere.
At Romaniac HQ, we’ve been discussing author tags.
Without turning into Violet Elizabeth, (Just William), I would really like one. The problem is, I’m yet to come up with something that captures the overriding sense of what, or how I write. It needs to be catchy, relatable and relevant.
Truth or Dare? has been cited as ‘Romance with bite’, ‘A love story with oomph’, and ‘A love story without the soft edges’. In one review, the style is likened to one of my all-time favourite authors, Jodi Picoult. I do enjoy a gritty, thought-provoking read. I love stories that challenge perception. Jojo Moyes’ Me Before Youis a fine example.
First and foremost, I write romance, mainly coastal, but having completed two novels, and planned my third, I can see trends appearing. Family relationships are extremely important to the story, I enjoy strong female leads, and at the book’s heart, there is always an issue. It’s dark in Truth or Dare?, a shade lighter in Follow Me, and pitch black in What Doesn’t Kill You (book 3). But … I love a happy ending. I like all the loose ends tied neatly and tucked away, and I believe good must ultimately defeat evil. What I hope to achieve is to guide the characters and the readers through the cold shadows, out into the brilliant sunshine.
Romance by torchlight? Hmm.
As I continue to ponder, I would love to see your author tags and learn how they came about. Or perhaps it’s not something you find necessary. Should the book do all the talking?
I’m getting book-fit. You know? Like soccer players get match-fit.
From a sitting position, I threw myself in to writing book 1, Truth or Dare?. If it had been a sprint, I’d have pulled muscles I haven’t used in years. It wasn’t a sprint. I started ToD in the summer of 2007, when my left arm was in plaster, and I found employment for my right arm.
From start to publication, it took 6 years. I’m not able to say how long it took in real terms, if I deducted the time I spent looking after my family, sometimes cooking, and occasionally cleaning, but I think I needed that time to develop the craft, find my voice and understand what it was I was writing.
Book 2, Follow Me, started life as part of the 100K in a 100 Days challenge, run by Sally Quilford. It started on January 1st, 2012, and finished on April 9th. 1000 words a day. It was an achievable target for me, and an excellent way to kick-start the ‘difficult second novel’. By March, I’d hit 60,000. I tried to switch off my inner editor, and just type, but I’ve come to realise this doesn’t work for me. When I know there’s an issue, I have to resolve it before I can move on. I wonder how many years I’d have fought this, had I not participated in Sally’s initiative. I’m so pleased I did.
As is well-documented, I lost my mother in March 2012, and writing came to a standstill. I didn’t complete the challenge, but I did submit the FM partial to the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, and received an encouraging report. It was then I knew I was going to finish writing book 2, despite its sad associations with events of that year. A line needed to be drawn, and what I felt was a good story, needed to be told in its entirety.
I submitted the completed manuscript for consideration to my publisher, Choc Lit, in September, having received a lovely, and timely report from the 2013 NWS.
So, I started Follow Me in January 2012, and completed it in September 2013. That’s quite a bit less than 6 years.
Book 3, working title, What Doesn’t Kill You, is going to take nine months.
There. I’ve said it. Now I have to make it happen.
I’m planning this one. I’m writing a timeline, keeping a calendar, in the style of Sue Fortin – see here – and I’m creating a chart of my characters, their conflicts, obstacles, and characteristics. I’m putting to use everything I’ve learned over the last few years: everything I’ve been taught by wonderful tutors.
And I’m getting myself book-fit, before starting that marathon.
There is much excitement at Romaniac HQ today; party hats are on, balloons blown up and plenty of cake and fizz to hand. We are so proud of our Laura – her gritty contemporary novel TRUTH OR DARE?, published by Choc Lit UK, is now available! A split era story where love is a dangerous game and, sometimes, the wrong thing is done for the right reason.
To celebrate this, we’d love you to join in with a game of Truth or Dare?. Here’s how to play:-
Choose one of the questions below to answer truthfully. Leave your answer either in our comments section or on Twitter using the hashtag #ToD.
If, however, you feel you cannot answer truthfully, then take the dare! Simply click on the curtain to reveal your dare. Again, leave ‘evidence’ of your dare either in our comments section or on Twitter with the hashtag #ToD.
We will be joining in too and can’t wait to see your answers.
What is the worst excuse you have given for cancelling a date?
If you had the chance to make one of The Romaniacs your slave for the day, who would it be and why?
What is the longest period of time you have gone for without either washing, brushing your teeth or not wearing any deodorant?
Question 4 :
If you could go on a romantic dinner date with one of your colleagues, who would it be?
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you, ever?
HUGE congratulations, Laura.
Truth or Dare? is an absolutely fantastic read. Wishing you every success you deserve.
Truth or Dare?
Love’s a dangerous game …
Kate Blair’s sick of unrequited love. She’s quietly waited for Mickey for the past six years and finding a compass-carved heart, with their initials scratched through the middle, only strengthens her resolve: no more Mickey and no more playing it safe.
It’s time to take a chance on real love and Declan O’Brien’s the perfect risk. He’s handsome, kind, and crazy about her so it’s not long before all thoughts of Mickey come few and far between.
But old habits die-hard. Kate may have started to forget … but has Mickey?
Thank you to everyone who joined in with the fun. So you can still see the dares and responses, we’ve copied them all below : –
Aggh – I chickened out on all the above, and now I have to riverdance in my kitchen! But my kitchen has big glass doors and outside that are three (hunky) builders putting up a conservatory for me. Please, I don’t have to do this in front of them… do I?! Later, she promises, when they’ve gone! Laura – I wish you loads of success and I’m really looking forward to reading Truth or Dare (much more than I am doing a river dance!).
At the beginning of July, I wrote a post called ‘Precious Moments’, when Celia and I managed a rather lovely cake-filled meet-up. It can be readhere.
A few weeks ago, Sue Fortin climbed into the Romaniac Mini and spent the day with me in Weymouth.
I took Sue to the Oasis Café, on the pebbled end of Weymouth beach. This café, although not named in the book, features in Truth or Dare?. We had a wonderful fish and chip lunch, and then chatted away as we visited the Victorian beach huts, and Greenhill Gardens.
We were lucky with the weather – I enjoy showing off my home town, especially when the blue of the sky is reflected in the colour of the sea.
Sometimes Romaniac HQ is like school. We’ve had ink-sodden paper bombs pinged from an end of a ruler, clingfilm stretched over the toilet bowl and drawing pins lurking in unsuspecting places.
I’m still trying to locate the one I sat on.
Then there’s lunchtime, when we all try and sneak a peak in each other’s cool bag wondering if their chocolate biscuit is better than the melted offering consuming the bottom of our own bag. And Celia always has THE best cake, and there’s always enough to go around.
We have a seating plan. No. We do. Just like in class, some of us have to be separated to prevent high jinks. I’m not going to name names, but I sit at the front.
With our heads down, we work well, inspired by one another’s efforts and ethics. The sense of unity and the knowledge we are working towards a common goal spur us on.
Unlike the days when I was at school and silence was king, if a Romaniac gets stuck, all of those in class will help. There is nothing like a healthy, often hilarious discussion to open up those neural pathways.
The reason I mention all this is because I was thinking about how my method of working is the same now as it was in school. I enjoyed lessons, except maths, I enjoyed sports, despite being one of those picked last for a team, and I loved the rapport with friends and teachers. I was a conscientious worker, who sometimes took a while to grasp a concept, but once it was lodged in my head, I was away.
I got things wrong, but I was keen to understand why, and worked to rectify it.
And my homework was never handed in late.
Recently, with Truth or Dare? preparing for publication, I completed my first ever round of edits. The editor’s report was clear and concise and I understood what I had to do. If what I produced is wrong, that’s down to me, and I will put it right, but I realised I was applying the same principles as I did at school. I worked hard, to the best of my ability, and turfed out those sprouting seeds of doubt – the same ones that poked their heads through the graph paper of my maths book when I was thirteen – I ploughed my way through those – I was less refined.
And I handed those edits in on time.
How early on are our values instilled? Did you enjoy school and have your working methods changed since then?
Sorry for shouting. It wasn’t the aggressive shouty type. More of a town cryer style because Hear ye, Hear ye we have some fantastic news for you today. And without further ado, we’ll get on with asking the lady herself…
We’ve noticed at Romaniac HQ that Laura hasn’t been eating her cake of late. We know this means something is on her mind. So, tell us Laura, what’s occurring?
You know me, stomach’s always the first to give when anything major happens in my life.
Don’t leave us guessing, Laura! You are being interviewed by a lady who is heavily pregnant with twins. I’m not in a position to be left in the lurch. What is the MAJOR thing that has happened in your life?
Sorry, Catherine. Hang in there.
I should warn you, I’m liable to spontaneously combust at any moment, and that’s something even I can’t plan for, so it might be best if you take cover somewhere.
I am exceedingly happy…no…make that ecstatic…to tell you the lovely people at Choc Lit , under their new Choc Lit Lite imprint, have said yes to my first novel, ‘Truth or Dare?’ *dowses self with cold water* And I’m going to have a cover! *Reaches for the jet-wash*
Jan, Jan! Where is the honk-o-meter? We need to offer up our biggest congratulations to Laura.
Jan: Yeeeeeee Ha!! To all of it! HONKS of gargantuan, major league, A1, epic, fantabulously titanic proportions!
I knew Jan would sum up how the rest of us Romaniacs feel. Knowing how much hard work you’ve put in, Congratulations didn’t quite cover it.
Fantastic honking, Jan 🙂 Thank you, my wonderful Romaniac chums. What would I do without you? You have been and continue to be my pillars of strength. If pillars were built from laughs, you’d be that, too.
Right, time to calm you down for a moment and ask what is ‘Truth Or Dare?’ about?
In a nutshell, which, as you know, is quite a difficult state for me to achieve, ‘Truth or Dare?’, as it currently stands, is a gritty, twenty-one year story, (is that split-era?) revolving around the influence of past events on the present and future. There is a romance at its heart, a family I’d love to visit for holidays, and a shed load of moral dilemmas, as the title suggests. And for the most part, it is set in Dorset, a county I adore.
Did you know there is a law against taking the pebbles from Chesil Beach?
We can’t wait for the moment it’s available, but we know you have lots of hard work in the meantime. But for now it’s time to celebrate so what have you got planned?
Eating properly. Maybe getting a little sleep. All the things I’ve failed to do over the last few weeks. And, since it’s a special occasion, I might even hug a few people.
In my head, I’m dancing with wild abandon. In my kitchen, I’m singing Paloma songs. With gusto. And you know it.
Love you 🙂 xx
We love you too, Laura 😉 ‘Tis quite worrying, I’ve never known you to be this gushy and huggable. And we’ve got through this announcement without my waters breaking or you fainting. Just, if the other Romaniacs don’t mind, maybe we should ease off on the group hug so Laura and I can collapse on the sofa. And as it’s Romaniac HQ, I’d like to raise my glass (of lemonade, the rest of you have something more fancy) & HONK a toast to Laura and her much deserved success.
At Romaniac HQ, we often find ourselves in awkward positions. It’s tricky keeping one’s modesty with nine people occupying the same living space. Sue was in the kitchen with a good-looking Texan last year. The explanation, ‘We were cooking’, did nothing to settle our nerves.
We’d like to know where you are and what you’re doing with your hero or heroine, right this moment, and then, we want you to divulge your most favourite position with them.
We’ll get the ball rolling, for want of a better phrase.
Laura : In Follow Me, I’m in a wooded english garden, overlooking Chesil Beach, with a Hollywood Action Hero sprawled at my feet, onthe veiny ground. And my favourite position? In bed, with a thoughtful, gentle and humorous Irishman, at The Smugglers Inn, in Truth or Dare?
Sue : Well, I’ve managed to extract myself from the kitchen and now find myself on Felpham Beach in West Sussex, skimming stones with Donovan, a criminal psychologist.
My most favourite position? An autumn evening, sat on the beach, snuggled under a blanket with said criminal psychologist; wind blowing, waves crashing and moonlight dancing on the whites of the waves.
Debbie: Well, I’m hard at work on my WIP for the NWS with ‘James Hardaker.’ We’re in the emerald green hills of the Yorkshire Dales, one of my favourite parts of the world (and where I was brought up.) Spring-time in Berrywood means my vetinary hero is currently zipping around the country lanes tending ewes who are having a hard time lambing!
By co-incidence I’m visiting the Dales next week for a little more inspiration. It is sooo beautiful in that part of the world.
As for my favourite position, well, that has to be in front of the log burner! Either on the rug or sofa…
Catherine: I’m never doing it again. Oh, sorry. May have got the wrong gist. My latest heroine is struggling with the idea she might have fertility issues and will end up with her legs up in stirrups as a result. Not quite what you were hoping for with this post. So I’ll go back to a creek in Kuringai Chase National Park. An isolated spot outside of Sydney, Australia where my hero and heroine meet in Miles Between Us.
Celia: In Little Boxes, I’m on a very special bench at a country park by a beautiful lake in Peterborough with a man who can’t commit to a passionate relationship…yet. The weather is chilly but the temperature between the lead players is set to sizzle. And my favourite position – horizontal in a Travelodge.
Jan: I’m standing, mesmerized, rooted to the spot halfway down a red-carpeted sweeping staircase in a glorious York manor house, staring into the eyes of a tanned, athletic Yorkshireman. And my favourite position? Lying face down on a massage table, mentally reliving every delightful second of it…