Anniversary Celebrations and Giveaway!

CHEERS!

CHEERS

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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 rmshrt1563x2500pxand 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.

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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.

Love,

Romaniac Logo

Roving Romaniac: Mumsnet’s Get Published Day

It’s not often I get out and have to form comprehensive sentences. To be honest, I think I may well have lost the ability, having been allowed out and managing to boom ‘hello’ a few times without anything else following.

Yes, I’m a mum. I have twin toddlers who’ve created a made up language. I talk to myself. I answer back. I go occasional days without any other adult interaction. So an entire day with other human beings in the same situation was comforting. Also mind-blowing. The setting was enough to make me happy.

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Having been supplied with tea, coffee, biscuits, fresh fruit (all of which we could eat and drink unhindered), we were treated to a day covering the work of the Janklow & Nesbit Agency, how to make the right impression in covering letters, a panel of editors, an editorial masterclass, an author panel and a one-to-one.

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Photo courtesy of Hellie Ogden

 

Much was covered during the day, but I came away with these impressions:

  • The Janklow & Nesbit Agency works hard on behalf of their authors
  • Having a foreign rights agent can be the making of an author’s career
  • They’re eager to find new talent as part of the Mumsnet competition
  • It’s important to keep on writing
  • There are a lot of mums/nans out there with considerable talent and drive
  • That my laugh is ridiculously staccato and loud, given high enough ceilings

On the way home, I saw this slogan on a poster and thought, yes, that’s exactly what today was about…

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And because I am a mum of twins, and rarely get to eat all of my own food this also happened…

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The wine glass is out of shot and mostly empty!

I’ve no doubt, in the two Get Published days that have taken place, someone who has attended will be shortlisted in the Mumsnet competition. Whilst everyone waits to hear, I’ll be looking up words like Linear and Exposition. They obviously hadn’t factored in that I’ve been teaching the girls that cows ‘moo’ for the past month.

Catherine xx

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Finding time to write

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?

Catherine x

The Life Cycle Of A Writer – Introductions

  • Whether you’re an aspiring writer, looking for an agent, have found an agent and have every finger crossed for a publishing deal, or if you’re a published writer coping with everything that entails, we have a Romaniac who can empathise with you. When we started out, we all dreamed of the day we’d get published. Some of us are still chasing the dream, whilst others have their paperback in hand ready to hurl at anyone who dares to post a 1-star review. This year, we thought we’d share the highs and lows of what it is to be a writer.
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Catherine, Celia, Laura, Debbie, Sue, Vanessa, Jan, & Lucie

Catherine: I’m part of the ASPIRING gang. I’m juggling being a full-time mum to twins with trying to find time to write. I’m currently 50K into my work-in-progress, which recently gained highly commended in the Accent Press and Woman magazine writing competition. I’m hoping this is the year I find myself an agent, or a publishing deal, or a quiet ten minutes. 

Jan: Well, I’ve started submitting my first women’s fiction novel to agents (gulp!) in the hope of acquiring representation this year. I’m also penning book number two, which involves lots of interesting and, at times, eye-opening research. Aside from writing my second novel, I am thoroughly enjoying my other literary love – freelance proofreading.  

Debbie: I’m finally finding my way through the ether and re-gaining confidence and mojo after losing over three years to personal and health problems. My first novel, which came second in the inaugural Festival of Romantic Fiction New Talent Award in 2011, has now been re-written and critiqued by the RNA New Writer Scheme so there are only a couple of chapters and some finishing touches to do and it will be ready to go to agent. The second novel was short-listed in last year’s Festival of Romantic Fiction competition and so my other focus for this year, as I’ve been accepted onto the New Writers’ Scheme again, is to get this finished and critiqued so I can progress it. If there are any spare hours in my writing day after that little lot, I also have in mind a whole series of non-fiction books and in addition have set myself a challenge to write at least two short stories.

Lucie: I am part of the AGENTED gang. In early 2014, shortly after winning the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s New Talent Award, I was offered representation by Sarah Taylor of the Kate Nash Literary Agency. I currently have a book out on submission and I am working on another two. I write ‘contemporary romance with a real life bite’. I like to write about real issues, such as bereavement and domestic violence, and give them a happy ending. Alongside writing, I also work in Childcare, run the house, look after my family and the dog and try to pick up a book once in a while!

Vanessa: Although unpublished at the moment, I’m represented by an agent – Juliet Mushens of The Agency Group – and I’m working on edits of a psychological thriller which will hopefully be going out on submission to publishers in 2015 (echoing Jan’s gulp!!). I also write short stories and flash fiction and have had stories published in anthologies and magazines. I was shortlisted for the Harry Bowling novel prize and Highly Commended in the Yeovil novel prize in 2014 and I was also thrilled to win the Flash500 novel opening competition in December 2014.

Sue: I’m published by Harper Impulse, two of my books have already been released and my third is due to be released in the Spring of this year. I am a member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association – I write romance and romantic suspense. I have also previously self-published, something which I’m looking to do again this year. So, I guess, that puts me in the hybrid author category.

Laura: I write for Choc Lit, and my debut, in eBook form, Truth or Dare?, was nominated for a Festival of Romance award. My second Follow Me, Follow You is available in all formats including paperback. I have short stories published in the Choc Lit anthologies, and one in the RNA’s Truly, Madly, Deeply anthology. I’m hoping to have book 3 out later this year, (have to complete it first and have it accepted …) which would be the third in the Chesil Series – the novels are all based around Dorset, and in particular, the stunning Chesil Beach. I recently experienced The Fear, which can be read about here. My writer’s tag is  ‘Romance without the soft edges’, a brilliant phrase coined by Sue, which is a perfect description of my style.

Celia: I’ve got two ebooks out  – Sweet Proposal and, more recently, Little Boxes. I was working part time when I wrote these but my day job has taken over my writing life for a while. I’m working on book three in my spare moments and hoping that one day it will be finished. In July I’m off for a second visit to Sue Moorcroft’s brilliant course at Arte Umbria in Italy so if it’s not finished by then, the week away will do the job (it did last time!).

Join us for our weekly Tuesday blog with tips, experiences, highs and lows. And the occasional iced bun.

Open The Box. Open The Box!

 

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We are very excited at Romaniac HQ, as there is a new book to add to our sidebar, and we are helping our wonderful Celia J Anderson celebrate the release of her second novel, Little Boxes.

If you’ve read Sweet Proposal, Ce’s debut novel, you know you’re in for a treat.

Today, the 4th of November 2014, sees the release of Little Boxes, a story I saw come together when Celia and I spent a week on Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year. I cannot wait to read it. I love all sorts of boxes, but little ones intrigue me the most.

What would you put in a little box?

Little Boxes 2Here’s mine: I have shiny, red and gold, almost holographic boxes in my ‘special drawer’ in my bedroom. My mum was a lover of fondant flower sweets, which were incredibly hard to come by. I found a supplier, bought a bag, and then wrapped up four small parcels of two sweets each in tissue paper and placed them into one of the four boxes. I popped a tiny bow on top of each box, and they formed part of my mum’s Christmas present. The last little box I received contained hair dye …

Jan: Like Laura, I’m thrilled for Celia and, having  had a sneak preview of Little Boxes, I’m itching to see  it in print. You’ll love it, that’s for sure. As to what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my tiny keys to things like my jewellery box, home file, etc. I also have a sweet little miniature handbag box that houses various pins and buttons.  

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Sue: I can’t wait to read Little Boxes, I love the cover. As for what I’d put in a little box, it would be all my  lovely memories, such as, the smell of my nan’s Sunday dinners, Lincoln biscuits, the feel of soft baby skin and gentle breath, childhood holidays with cold waves of Cornish sea licking at my legs, the smell of saddle soap and leather from my horse riding days, the excitement of Christmas Eve, the taste of Black Jacks and Fruit Salad sweets, standing on the beach with the wind blowing my hair in a swirling frenzy and the feeling of contentment at watching your children sleeping peacefully.

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Debbie: It’s so good  to hear ‘Little Boxes’ has reached publication day as I’ve followed the journey and how it has developed since Celia’s trip to Sue Moorcroft’s Arte Umbria writing course last year.

My little box would bulge with photographs of my two boys; all their first and significant events as they grow up so quickly, the green heart-shaped crystal my eldest bought me on a trip to Ironbridge and the necklace my youngest spent all his money on his first school trip to France. If I could, I’d also squeeze a small corner of the box for a selection of items that evoke memories and a ‘presence’ of my IMG_0366Nan like a packet of her Extra Strong mints, a bottle of her favourite perfume,  Helena Rubenstein’s, ‘Apple Blossom’ and a little glass ‘worry’ angel that I found in her glass cabinet when I cleared it out after she passed away. Finally, I’d put in the little figurine my mum gave me when we re-discovered each other after nearly forty years apart along with the ballet medals from when I was a little girl …

Lucie – I absolutely love the cover of ‘Little Boxes’ and I cannot wait to read it – how exciting. My ‘Little Box’ would contain special photographs of my family and my close friends, a pen and notepad, an ipod with all my favourite music and my special teddy from when I was a little girl. Ok, so my box isn’t that little, but those are all my favourite things that make me happy.

Catherine – I can’t wait to read Little Boxes. I remember first chatting with Celia about it in 2012 and so great to see it launched. Aside from the lovely memory type boxes the others have mentioned, my favourite little box holds within it small pieces of folded paper each with the name of a book I want to read. I’m rather enjoying this way of deciding what to read next! 

littleboxVanessa: We’re hoping to be moving house next month, so I’ll soon be packing a lot of very big boxes! But as I sort through, trying to be ruthless, getting rid of junk and rubbish, I’ve found myself opening a lot of boxes I haven’t seen for a while and getting lost in memories – lovely surprises as I find old photos I’d forgotten about, baby teeth left behind by the tooth fairy, the tiniest wellies I’ve ever seen ( I can’t believe my girls were ever small enough to wear them!). Time goes so fast so I’m going to re-pack those little boxes, add extra memories – cards and photos and notes – and plant them all over the new house: miniature time capsules to stumble over in future years.

I can’t wait to read Little Boxes – Celia is such a great writer and it’s been lovely sharing the excitement of her writing journey.

And what is in Celia’s Little Boxes? Whatever it is, I know we are in for an absolute treat.IMG_4073

Much love and many congratulations, Ce, on the release of Little Boxes. It is a book of gorgeous gems for every reader to treasure.

xxx

 

 

 

Ella Harper/Sasha Wagstaff Talks About Pen Names and Voice

Today at Romaniac HQ it’s a case of two for the price of one – I’m delighted to welcome Sasha Wagstaff /Ella Harper.

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Hello Sasha, or should that be Ella? :-)

Can you give a little bit of background to your writing career as Sasha Wagstaff?

Of course. I started writing when I was still in banking but what started out as a hobby soon developed into a passion I couldn’t ignore. I left my job to focus on writing full time and after a few years and some other part time jobs to keep things ticking over I had my first book deal with Headline Review! I wrote four books with them (Changing Grooms, Wicked Games, Heaven Scent and Recipe For Love) – these novels are glamorous, aspirational novels…lots of fun and frolics with lovely leading men and beautiful backdrops. Pure escapism.

Your latest novel, Pieces of You, is published as Ella Harper; what made you decide to write under a different name?

This was more of a publishing decision – as Pieces of You is a complete change of direction, it was felt that a different name should be used. I am hugely proud of this novel so at first I wasn’t sure about using a pseudonym but in the end, realised that it really didn’t matter. And I rather like having a split personality…

Do you find you have a different ‘voice’ as Ella Harper and, if so, is it difficult to separate Sasha from Ella?

pieces_of_youI definitely have a different ‘voice’ as Ella Harper, but to be honest, it’s not difficult to separate the two voices. Every writer puts part of themselves into their writing, which is why it can feel quite exposing when a novel finally hits the shelves but this is simply a different part of me. I wrote in the first person for Lucy’s chapters in Pieces of You as well…a first for me, but I really enjoyed it; it felt completely natural.

It’s a fab name, how did you come up with it?

Thank you! I gave my publishers a list of first names I liked or that meant something to me and a list of surnames I felt were strong and full of character and they picked ‘Ella’ and ‘Harper’ and that was that! I was extremely pleased; Ella was the name of the lead female character in the first novel I ever wrote…one that won’t ever see the light of day! And Harper is just a good, strong name that works very well with a soft, pretty first name. Perfect!

If Sasha could give Ella one piece of advice, what would it be?

Oh, what a great question. I would say that Sasha should just tell Ella to continue to write from the heart. To write about emotive issues – even if they’re scary or personal or heart-breaking (writing as Sasha, it wasn’t appropriate to be as deep or as emotionally raw). To write books readers can relate to, with characters they’re rooting for. Even if they cry now and again when they read said books.

What can readers look forward to next; are you working on something at the moment?

I am currently working on my second Ella Harper novel. And it’s going to be rather different to Pieces of You – but mainly because it hopefully won’t make as many people sob on the tube! (Sorry about that, everyone). It’s still going to be poignant and emotional…and possibly even a bit heart-breaking in places, but it won’t be a full-on weepy.

This one is about two best friends. A man and a woman. They’ve known each other for…oooh, about twenty years. They’re probably in love with each…at least, they have been at various different moments in their lives but time…and other stuff keeps getting in the way. As they both face the biggest challenges of their lives in the form of serious illness and unexpected parenthood, can they find one another again or is it going to be yet another case of missed opportunity for them? Oh, I can’t wait to write this book! It’s going to be properly romantic. And funny. And maybe a bit sad. But readers won’t need as many tissues for this one. I promise.

Thank you so much for talking to us, it’s been lovely to have you on the blog.

Thank you very much for having me! Great questions and an absolute pleasure to answer them.

Amazon UK HERE

 

Deadline Dramas

I think I need more practice at meeting deadlines and less children to look after at the same time. This is how handing in my RNA NWS report went this year:

Argh! It’s August! What the frig happened to the rest of 2014?

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Okay, don’t panic, you managed to send one chapter in last year when the twins were eight-weeks-old, this year will be a breeze.

Frantic read through and tidy up of the extra 30,000 words you’ve added. Not bad, not great, but will be good to get some feedback so prep to send a partial.

Ah. The printer isn’t set up at home. Smile sweetly at husband.

Printer is set up. Go, go, go!

 

 

 

 

 

Stop! This is so NOT what they mean by a partial!

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PANIC! Why did you leave this til now to sort out? Switch to plan B = Print at local library. Sort everything out whilst they nap then head there after lunch.

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Babies: Why would you choose to not nap today! (Teething I worked out later. Three new teeth cut between them!)

Drink/Snack/Calpol = now we’ll sleep, mummy!

Yeah! *Runs around house gathering sticky labels, envelopes, pens, the magic green form*

Whilst in panic mode you share with twitter your woes and that @SotonLibrary is your only hope. @SotonLibrary tweets back saying they are ready! (Yay, social media!)

Aim to get to library at 2 when it opens. Arrive half an hour later than hoped after lunch (not the relaxing kind, the kind where two cuties lob at least 50% of theirs on the floor) and delightful double nappy change.

The printer works! The staff entertain the babies. We might actually DO THIS!

Rush to post office and IT’S SENT WITH A DAY TO SPARE!

And collapse.

By jove, I don’t know how writers with real deadlines (not involving partials) manage. I suspect it may involve some of the Romaniac staples. Cake, chocolate, and alcohol. Am I right?