SFTW: What Doesn’t Kill You.

What Doesn't Kill You Laura E James_FRONT_150dpi

I am excited, thrilled and nervous today, as my third novel for Choc Lit is released. What Doesn’t Kill You is published under Choc Lit’s new imprint, Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

Released on NetGalley for early reviews, I am delighted to say the novel has been warmly received, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the story.

Told from three perspectives, WDKY is set in and around the Jurassic Coast, making it the third in the Chesil Beach series. We meet our hero, Griff Hendry, as he stands on Portland Bill, watching the stormy sea. His life is as turbulent as the English Channel, with secrets and past torments threatening to drown everything he knows and loves. His wife, Evie, has pushed him away; he’s at odds with his fifteen-year-old step-daughter, Tess, and he struggles to understand his father’s past actions. Sometimes it seems as if his Old English sheepdog, Ozzy, is the only one he truly gets.

Waterlogue 1.1.4 (1.1.4) Preset Style = Soaked Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Intense Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Wide Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

Griff asks the question: Where did it all go wrong?

Here’s my book trailer teaser …

For an alternative version with a different feel and atmosphere provided by the music, please hop over to my blog.

I hope you love the story of Griff, Evie and Tess, and thank you so much for downloading.

Take care.

Laura x

SFTW – What We Would Have Said Had We Not Lost The Power Of Speech.

Award-winning Romaniacs! Sue, Catherine, jan, Laura, Debbie & Vanessa, with Celia & Lucie holding the fort back at Romaniac HQ, but with us in spirit.

Award-winning Romaniacs!
Sue, Catherine, Jan, Laura, Debbie & Vanessa, with Celia & Lucie holding the fort back at Romaniac HQ, but with us in spirit.





Rarely is a Romaniac lost for words, but on Wednesday evening, 18th November 2015, at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Winter Party, we were struck dumb.

The moment that took our collective breath away was when the always-divine, ever-sophisticated Adrienne Vaughan, editor of the RNA’s magazine, Romance Matters, announced the runners-up and the winners of the inaugural RNA Industry Awards. I won’t repeat the details contained within the lovely report from the RNA, or from the write-up in The Bookseller, other than to say The Romaniacs picked up the RNA Industry Media Star Award!

This week’s Something For The Weekend is what was in our heads, and what we would have said had we regained the power of speech in time.

Laura: First of all, many congratulations to the winners and runners-up – what an exciting evening! I feel a little like the marvellous Maureen Lipman in the BT ads when she says, ‘He’s got an ology.’ The Romaniacs have an award! Thank you so much. I think it’s safe to say we were not expecting this at all. The announcement took my breath away. What a huge honour and privilege it is to have received the Media Star award. And what an incredible, heart-warming cheer you all gave. You’re all so lovely. It means so much to have received an award from our writing friends – people we respect and admire, and who, without fail, inspire, encourage and support us. The Sparkle Spotlight videos have, to date, been our biggest venture, (adventure?) but they would not have happened had it not been for the fantastic give-it-a-go spirit of the RNA members and the Conference crew. We only hope we can give back to this fabulous organisation what we have gained. Personally, this is my first writing award, and I love, love LOVE that it’s come from being with my band of writing sisters, The Romaniacs. Thank you.

Jan: Wow! What an exciting, proud moment. We’d been cheering on the other category winners and listening to the speeches, etc, and then our name was called as winners of the Media Star Award and we almost dropped our glasses of fizz! Such an honour to have been recognised in this way. The ear-splitting cheers that went up when we all walked up to collect our award and have our photo taken was something I’ll never forget. I’m still grinning now! I’m so appreciative of all the love, support and encouragement our blog receives and very grateful to the RNA for their enthusiasm for our Sparkle Spotlight venture at this year’s conference. What fun that was! And what an absolute pleasure it is to be part of The Romaniacs. Thank you.

Sue: Absolutely delighted and honoured to have received this industry award and to have received it as a Romaniac. Thank you so much for all your support, we couldn’t have done it without you.

We won an award!!!

We won an award!!!

Vanessa: What an honour! We were all thrilled to win this award from the RNA, who have been so instrumental in all of our writing successes and achievements. I can honestly say I’d be a lot further down the writing ladder than I am if it weren’t for the RNA so it’s always been a pleasure to support both the Association and fellow authors with our blog and Sparkle Spotlights!

 Lucie: In true Essex-style, OH MY GOD!! I was absolutely gutted to have not been able to attend the awards and winter party on Wednesday, but due to study commitments and childcare constraints it wasn’t possible for me to be in attendance. When I received news that we had won the Media award, I, too, was speechless. To win an award with my amazing friends is truly a highlight of my writing career so far. Being a Romaniac has always been a rewarding, uplifting and positively exciting experience and taking our group to the next level in this way has been phenomenal. I love these girls to bits, they’re my sisters, my family. And knowing we have the support and encouragement from everyone around us makes me tingle from head to toe! Thank you SO much for everything you all do, every single one of you. You’ve made my year! Here’s to many more years together!

Celia: Like Lucie, I was very sad to have to miss the awards (and, more to the point, the fizz) because of work commitments but was more than delighted to hear the fabulous news. It’s exciting, humbling and rewarding to feel that we’ve been honoured like this, and it means so much to me to be part of this warm-hearted, funny, inspiring gang. Can’t wait to see the star itself!

Catherine: Dust off the honkometer, Jan! Can you Adam and Eve it? I can only add to the thanks the other girls have said and raise a glass to 2016 where you can expect more of our antics!

We’re heading off for our annual Romaniac Sparkle Retreat soon, when we’ll be planning and preparing for 2016, aided by Prosecco, cooked breakfasts and plenty of glitter.

Oh. And a beautiful glass star.

Our Gorgeous Glass Star

The Romaniacs xxxxxxxx

Life Cycle Of A Writer: What Doesn’t Kill You

What Doesn’t Kill You.


On Thursday 29th October 2015, via my own blog, http://www.lauraejames.co.uk, and through social media, I had the sheer delight and pleasure of revealing the fabulous Berni Stevens cover for my third Choc Lit book in the Chesil Series, What Doesn’t Kill You. I am totally besotted with my new cover – not only is it stunning, not only does it capture the entire essence of the novel, but it features Portland Bill and the lighthouse. It’s an area that holds fond memories for me of my mum and visits to the Bill on warm, balmy days when my children were younger. There is a wonderful café there, called the Lobster Pot, which was a favourite place for birthday meals and easy Sunday lunches. At the end of the same building is an ice cream parlour, and no visit was complete without a vanilla cone for dessert.

My husband and I visited the area recently. It was a gorgeous way to spend the morning. I took video footage and photographs which I plan to use in the book trailer, but here’s a sneak preview.

Portland Bill lighthouse

Portland Bill lighthouse



Pulpit Rock - a significant obelisk in What Doesn't Kill You

Pulpit Rock – a significant obelisk in What Doesn’t Kill You

The lovely Lobster Pot

The lovely Lobster Pot

Thinking about it, I guess it was inevitable Portland Bill would feature in one of my books.

What Doesn’t Kill You has the honour of being the first novel to be released under the new imprint from Choc Lit, called Dark Choc Lit – an imprint for ‘…compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.’

For those who like romance without the soft edges, What Doesn’t Kill You is the read for you. It’s available for pre-order, with an anticipated publication date of 26th November 2015.

My post from Thursday explains in more detail, but I feel so privileged to be in this position. What an amazing opportunity!

Here’s the blurb:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

From Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

In between celebrating WDKY, feeding my children (because they keep on insisting I should cook dinner), and keeping clean, it’s head down and on with book four, as yet untitled. Now that WDKY is finding its way in the world, I can once again enter lives of my new characters and fully submerge myself in their world.

And the more I think about them, the more trouble they get into …

Take care.

Laura x





Life Cycle of a Writer – Learning to be patient…

The last few weeks have been about short story celebrations and learning to be patient when it comes to the novel… I’m in the middle of a major re-write of my work-in-progress, taking out one character’s POV, adding in a whole new character and sub-plot. I had a really good, constructive conversation with my fabulous agent, Juliet Mushens, and embarked on the re-write full of enthusiasm. I sent her the first few re-written chapters and obsessively checked my emails for the next couple of weeks, waiting for her feedback. The feedback, when I rather nervously opened the email, was good – she loved the new chapters. Hurray!

I promptly emailed back saying brilliant-I’ll-give-up-sleep-and-finish-writing-the-book-in-the-next-two-weeks-and-send-it-back-to-you, to which she responded – stop! Slow down! Write it, rest it, then edit it, then send it. Make sure it’s the best you can possibly make it. I’d given myself a deadline – totally self-imposed – of having this book finished and out on submission by the end of the year, so I was racing through the edits to meet a deadline that no one else even knew about. I’m now attempting to be patient – far better for it to go out next spring as a finished, polished book than rush through it now and have to re-edit yet again.

I had a couple of nice surprises on the short story and flash fiction front – my story A Life Lived in Colour made the top twenty shortlist out of a thousand entries in the inaugural Bath Flash Fiction Award and I got to attend a prize-giving event at Wells Festival of Literature when a story made their shortlist.

IMG_3725 IMG_3731

I was also thrilled to make the shortlist for a flash fiction piece in the Hysteria competition, and my story will be in the anthology released at the end of November.

This all helped to remind me, when I get impatient and want to have a book published now now now, that although I don’t yet have a novel published, I’m building up a nice collection of magazines and anthologies with my stories in them.


I think sometimes, as writers, we’re so keen to progress, to move on – win the competition, win a prize, get an agent, get a book deal, get another, bigger, better book deal… – that we forget to congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a shortlisting, a book deal or just finishing a story and being able to say I did it. We’re doing it, we’re writing, and that’s worth celebrating.

Pass the cake, someone, crack open the wine – let’s celebrate!



Something For The Weekend: Writing Events We’ve Attended.

Tomorrow is the award ceremony for the Exeter Story prize, and our Ce is on the shortlist with her story Naked in the Rain. In celebration of this, we’ve put together photos from some of our favourite writing events from the last few years.

Good luck, Celia :-) xx



Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan & Margaret James, the creators of the Exeter Story Prize. This was the launch of the project nearly 3 years ago

Sophie Duffy, Cathie Hartigan & Margaret James, the creators of the Exeter Story Prize. This was the launch of the project 27th June 2013

2011; Laura and the lovely Carole Matthews. The inaugural Festival of Romance weekend.

2011: Laura and the lovely Carole Matthews. The inaugural Festival of Romance weekend.

The RNA Summer Party 2012, pre-party drinks. Missing Jan, though.

The RNA Summer Party 2012, pre-party drinks. Missing Jan, though.


Sheila O'Flanagan, Veronica Henry, Laura and Jill Mansell July 2014

Sheila O’Flanagan, Veronica Henry, Laura, and Jill Mansell July 2014

Hehe. Laura meets Jodi Picoult for the second time. June 2015

Hehe. Laura meets Jodi Picoult for the second time. June 2015

The RNA Conference 2015

The RNA Conference 2015

Friday morning

Festival of Romance, Watford 2011


Quiz Team, Festival of Romance, Watford, 2011


RNA Winter party 2011


Festival of Romance Bedford 2013


Lisa Jewell’s author talk & book signing event Hampstead 2010


RNA Summer Party 2013


New Romantics Press Author Event – Kensington November 2014

Arte Umbria Writing Week July 2013. Laura, Sue Moorcroft and Celia.

Arte Umbria Writing Week July 2013. Laura, Sue Moorcroft and Celia.


The Totleigh 13! Not everyone who goes on an Arvon course get to spend the week with Donovan but Debbie did!


Another inspirational Arvon course again for Debbie with tutors Kate Long and Simon Thirsk. This time it was at the former home of poet and children’s writer, Ted Hughes – Lumb Bank in Heptonstall.


Following Tamsyn Murray’s ‘Live, Breathe, Love Writing’ workshop in Cheshunt earlier this year, Debbie has since typed ‘THE END’ on the WIP she struggled with for four years!

Romaniac Sparkle Weekend December 2014

Romaniac Sparkle Weekend December 2014

Cover Reveal – The French Retreat

I’m really pleased to be sharing the cover and blurb for my novella The French Retreat which is due to be released on 15th October. I had great fun writing this, so much so, that I aim to write some more in the series. The French Retreat is set in Southern Brittany, an area of France I’m very familiar with as we have a second home there, and it was the inspiration behind the story. I’ll be blogging more about how we restored our cottage and sharing some photos in a couple of weeks time but, for now, I’ll leave you with the cover and blurb. Ta-daa!

The French Retreat


With Christmas on the horizon, losing her job and her home wasn’t on Marcie Grainger’s wish list. In a bid to reassess her life, she heads off to the only place she has ever felt truly content – her brother’s farmhouse retreat in rural France.

Marcie isn’t the only one looking to escape. Ex-soldier Will hopes the gentle pace of French life will help to banish the ghosts of his past and offer him the fresh start he desires.

However, all is not what it seems at The Retreat. Fuelled by a string of strange happenings and local rumours, Will and Marcie are pushed together as they try to discover who or what is behind it all. In so doing, they end up finding a lot more than they bargained for.

The French Retreat is a story of human compassion, hope and love.






Cover : Amygdala Book Cover Designs

Something For The Weekend – Stylo Love

Last Friday we gave you notebook love.

This week it’s all about the pens.

No drooling, please.

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies.

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura's favourite

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura’s favourite. Look at all those colours.

Lucie's not fussy, she'll write with anything she can get her hands on. Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Lucie’s not fussy, she’ll write with anything she can get her hands on.
Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs - Celia

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs – Celia


Sue: A good old black biro medium nib will do me just fine, although I do quite like the odd ‘Frozen’ pen borrowed from my daughter.

Debbie: Ahh, ‘The pen maketh the writer …’

There’s nothing quite like gripping the cold, silky length of a Parker or Mont Blanc fountain pen, allowing the words to flow and then blowing or wafting paper until the ink dries. There have been three special ones in my life over the years but alas, each has succumbed to the special place in the sky where all the lost things go. For now, my trusty pencil, sharpened down to a two inch stump must do. The flow is still there and that is what matters.