Guest Post – Gabrielle Mullarkey

 

 

Today, we welcome to HQ, Gabrielle Mullarkey …

 

Gabrielle Mullarky

 

Gabrielle’s contemporary romance novels, Hush Hush and A Tale of Two Sisters, were originally published by Town House & Country House/Simon & Schuster respectively.

Corazon Books republished Hush Hush as an e-book in November 2014, with A Tale of Two Sisters scheduled for 2015.

Gabrielle, a journalist by profession, also writes short stories regularly for women’s weeklies, and facilitates creative writing for wellbeing and therapeutic purposes.

Hush Hush in a nutshell

Reclusive widow Angela is afraid to dip a toe back in the job market – let alone the dating game. But egged on by her bossy mother and her best friend, she resolves to find a job and even try a solo holiday – which ends with a luggage mix-up and an encounter with a rugged Irishman called Conor.

Back home, Angela is keen to take her new romance slowly, particularly as Conor’s (non-holiday) baggage includes the original ‘child from hell’ and an ex-wife who’s less ‘ex’ than Angela expected.

But there’s a deeper reason for Angela’s acute self-doubt – a trauma in her past that threatens to overshadow her chance of happiness, even as it lies within reach.

The fine line…

Hush Hush and my second novel, A Tale of Two Sisters, were printed in 1999 and 2001 respectively, so seeing my writing reincarnated as e-books (and updating it accordingly) has been like greeting old friends, as well as revisiting myself at a different time in life.

 

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When I started Hush Hush, I was living in Ireland by accident rather than design, after I’d met an Irishman while on holiday over there – which kind of inverts the process in the book, Angela meeting her beau on her way back from holiday!

Not that it was an overnight decision to relocate. It took five years, a mini career crisis and a lot of arm-twisting to take the plunge.

However, as I’m second-generation Irish, family and friends discounted   serendipity and assumed I’d implemented a long-nurtured cunning plan: return to roots, snag ethnically suitable specimen, learn to play the bodhran, develop love of Guinness, master Irish dancing, reclaim and celebrate heritage.

Of course, there was no such grand plan (I wish!). I simply met someone when I wasn’t looking, I can still only play Chopsticks on a piano, Guinness doesn’t agree with me, and as a child, I was possibly the worst Irish dancer. Ever.

But a funny thing happened as I started to write Hush Hush: while both characters and plot – which I wanted to be absorbingly twisty – were pure fiction, my conflicted feelings about my identity did begin to edge into the pages, many such sentiments expressed through humour (my natural default setting). However, it was only when interviewed or questioned about the book after its publication, that I thought about this osmosis, and wondered how deeply it affected my writing generally.

Since then, my research and training in creative writing for therapeutic purposes has introduced me to the adage that writing fiction helps us ‘say the unsayable’, perhaps without even realising we’re doing it – or that we considered such self-exploration ‘unsayable’ in the first place.

I still don’t set out to plunder my life directly for incidents or anecdotes, but I also know there’s a fine line between fictionaliser and recollector. In Hush Hush, Angela’s mistakes, triumphs and misunderstandings were sometimes directly my own. For example, just like Angela, I really did have a summer job in a factory where I managed to print all the clock cards upside down!

So, all these years later, it’s fascinating to look back and compare the writer who wrote Hush Hush with the one writing this post. Lots of wonderful writers have influenced me down the years and continue to do so (everyone from Robert Goddard to Laurie Graham), but I also continue to be an enduring influence on myself – and hopefully, a rich resource of ever-surfacing memories.

 

www.gabriellemullarkey.co.uk

Connect with Gabrielle on Twitter  @authorgabrielle

 

Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie Wheeler

Hello!

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:

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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!

Happy writing!

Lucie x

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…

Life Cycle of a Writer: Receiving that Magical News.

Well, since my last update, things have gone ever so slightly crazy. Wonderfully crazy! All in all, it has been  a sparkling six weeks.

On February 14th, I found out that my first novel ‘As Weekends Go’ had been shortlisted in the Choc Lit  and Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

I’d made the final six!

Cue stupid grins and shrieks aplenty at both Chez Brigden and Romaniac HQ.  It was going to be an extra special Valentine’s Day.

I then discovered I’d made the final two!

Which, naturally, called for fizz and chocolates …   20150314_131337

And THEN … on Saturday March 14th (I’ve decided I rather like the number 14!)  came the official announcement that I’d won the Search for a Star Competition

I can’t describe how elated I felt. Choc Lit would be offering me a contract. As Weekends Go was really going to be published.

It was a mad, mad day – lots of celebratory hugs and loving, supportive messages, both off and online. Mum and Dad came over, bearing choccies and flowers.  I had some fab cards, tweets and emails from family and friends, and messages of welcome from head of Choc Lit, Lyn Vernham, the whole team and the lovely authors.

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I’ll admit that, on the Monday morning,  when I logged on to see a special surprise post from my fantastic Romaniac buddies,  I was  bit of a blubbering Briggy!

More good cheer followed when my older sister treated me to a yummy congratulatory lunch.

 

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And then this week, I saw my first published Press Release. To say I am excited about the future is putting it mildly. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly am thankful for all the love and wise words of support and encouragement I’ve received from everyone, especially Mr B who has been  chief cuddler, co-editor, sounding board, morale booster, tantrum-dodger and counsellor extraordinaire all rolled into one. I will also be eternally grateful to my Romantic Novelists’ Association   New Writers’ Scheme reader, whose suggestions and advice when I originally submitted my novel for critique, were invaluable.

As Weekends Go is a contemporary multi POV tale – three interwoven stories – about two couples and the emotional havoc created during and beyond their eventful weekend clash of agendas, involving a ‘girls only’ trip to York, a Brighton sales conference and a Spanish stag do.

I can’t wait for you to meet the cast.

Thanks again,

Jan  x

 

 

 

 

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,

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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.