All About America – Lynne Connolly’s Successful Accident

The Write Romantics have a confession to make. We’re very excited about our guest today. To be fair, we’re excited about all our guests but we’re particularly excited to welcome Lynne Connolly to the blog because she is such a prolific writer with over 70 titles to her name. As aspiring and freshly published writers, can we pause to say wow. Just wow!

Lynne’s also a fellow RNA-member and is incredibly generous with her knowledge and advice on our online community, Romna. We’ve all lurked on Romna regularly and found her posts very informative and helpful so thanks, Lynne, from all of us.

ImageLynne writes romance and categorises this in three main areas of interest: paranormal romance, historical romance, and contemporary romance. So pretty much something there for everyone. She says, “I write hot and sensual, and my heroes and heroines are always to die for!”

On Thursday, Lynne will be talking about her latest novel, Lightning Unbound but, for now, Lynne tells us all about how she came to write for the US market.

Over to Lynne …

It was an accident that I ended up in the US market. I wrote a book, a historical set in the first person and it was clear from the end that there were more to come from the same couple. I didn’t end the book on a cliffhanger, because I hate those (too impatient!) but it was clear all their problems weren’t solved and they had a way to go. So, a potential series. Could I sell it? Not in the UK.

The British publishers didn’t want it. I got lots of “we love it but we can’t sell it” rejections, so when a friend suggested I tried the USA, I looked into it. In those days you had to send the manuscript by snail mail, the same as for anywhere else, but I thought it was worth a try. So I sent it off, and eventually a tiny publisher accepted it. They were an eBook company, but I thought, well, it’s experience, and I accepted the offer.

ImageI didn’t realise that “Yorkshire” would have such a rocky journey. The tiny company went under after a year, but by then my name was known and I’d been through the process, editing, cover art, all that. The first cover art was—interesting.

Eventually, after a foray with another, slightly larger, publisher, “Yorkshire” ended at Samhain. Not only was I dealing with a country I’d never even visited, I was in the very early days of epublishing. I’d never thought of myself as a pioneer! From there, it blossomed, and with a few setbacks, I’m still there with over 70 books to my credit, and going strong.

So that’s the very brief story of my journey. I fell into it. But it soon became clear that if I wanted to be a success there, then I had to work at it. So I set myself to learn.Image

Every year I go to the RT Convention. It’s one of the two largest romance conventions in America, so that probably means in the world. I chose it over the other one, the RWA Nationals, because while industry professionals go there, it’s reader based and I was helping to educate readers on the eBook market. That no longer has to happen. Over there, very few people don’t know about ebooks, and that goes double for the romance market. It’s really important to get in touch with the market, and while RT isn’t cheap, it’s the most efficient way for someone from abroad to meet the highest concentration of readers, editors, publishers, journalists and agents in one place. Plus, it’s the best fun! It is very welcoming and encompasses all aspects of the genre, from gay romance to deepest, darkest desires, to Christian romance.

The romance market in the USA is staggeringly huge. Nielsen says that over 50% of all fiction sold every year in the USA is romance. It’s much, much bigger than the UK market. Writers hardly known in the UK, like Nora Roberts, Sherrilyn Kenyon and JR Ward are superstar millionaires. And that means there are different genres. The clearer you can define yourself and what you write, the better. I write in three genres—paranormal romance, historical romance and contemporary romance, though I do urban contemporaries, not the small town romances that are sweeping the board right now. See what I mean?

To be considered as a romance, a book has to describe the developing romantic relationship between two (or more!) people. That isn’t separate couples, it’s one relationship. If more than two people are involved, we have a ménage. The book has to have a happy ending, either happy-for-now or happy ever after. That’s why some Young Adult books don’t count as romances, because they often come in trilogies with cliffhangers at the end. But many romance readers also love Young Adult and New Adult books.

Stories that don’t have that romantic relationship at the centre are not romances. They are women’s fiction, fiction with a romantic element, or something of that nature. If it’s a book about a woman’s struggle to survive in the slums, and oh yes, she happens to meet a man, then it’s women’s fiction.

There are also definite trends. Right now the trend is for self-published 99 cent books, but that is passing. Already its heyday seems to have gone and the Amazon bestseller list contains more than the cheap books.

ImageIt’s important to keep an eye on trends, but it’s more important to write what you love. EL James might have written a book that sold a staggering amount (when I chatted with her at RT, she admitted she never expected that much success – but who could?) but she loved her story and lived it with her characters. The readers respond to that. But for every breakout author there is a steady seller. And, sadly, even more who don’t make it.

There are no magic bullets to success, but if you want to try for the US market—and with the Internet, why not?—then take a close look at the market and decide where you fit. Find a publisher that specialises in what you write, or if you want to go it alone, study the self-publishing market carefully. Don’t just go in willy-nilly. In other words, don’t do what I did, do what I say! Go over there. Take the plunge and go to RT or RWA to actually meet people. Talk to them.

Since I started selling in the USA, I have had experiences I never dreamed I’d have. Hanging out with Lee Child and EL James, staying in some of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen and most of all making friends. It’s truly enhanced my life.

 

Thanks again to Lynne for joining the blog. You can read more about her journey and her books on her website at: here … or come back on Thursday!

 

Julie xx

All About America: Rhoda Baxter Finds Debut Success in the USA

It’s Independence Day in the USA this coming Friday; 4th July. I’m no history expert (isn’t that what Google’s for?) so I had to look up the year (1776) but I did know that it was the date the Declaration of Independence was signed declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. With such strong links to the US today, it’s quite hard to imagine that the UK and US were once not on the best of terms.

For a while now, the USA has held a fascination for The Write Romantics. Not because we want to go on holiday there (although most of us do) but because we’ve become increasingly aware of America as a huge and exciting market for our writing. As members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA), we often read on the online community about writers who have written for both the UK and US markets or who write exclusively for the US market and many of us have submitted our manuscripts to US publishers. While we await the verdict, we’re anxious to know more.

ImageWe’re delighted to welcome fellow-RNA member, Rhoda Baxter, back to the blog to talk about her experiences of being published in the USA.

Rhoda Baxter always wanted to be a writer, but her parents told her she needed to get a ‘real’ job and write in her spare time. So she became a scientist and now works in technology transfer. She writes contemporary romantic comedies in whatever spare time she can find around her day job and her family. Which means her parents were right all along. How irritating.

Her novel Girl On the Run (formerly Patently in Love) is released by Choc Lit Lite in June 2014. Her first paperback novel, Doctor January will be published by Choc Lit in August 2014.

Over to Rhoda …

Writing for the American market

My first publication was with a US publisher. It wasn’t planned that way, it was just the luck of the draw.

My experience is a familiar story. I had written two books, but couldn’t find an agent. I was lucky enough to get some feedback along with my rejections. They all said ‘it’s good enough, but we don’t think we can place a book with so many emails in it’. The trouble was, I’d chosen to tell the hero’s point of view entirely in emails. It was part of what made the book so much fun to write. I mentioned this at an RNA lunch and Christina Jones suggested that maybe ebook publishers might be more willing to take on something that was a little unusual. It was a good idea, so I set about doing my research.

The market for ebooks was (still is!) biggest in the US. The next biggest will probably be South East Asia. There were a few well established ebook publishers at the time (and a whole load of others that arose and disappeared within a few years). While I was going through this, someone posted a submission call on Romna – it was from a small, but established epublisher. They wanted non-erotic romance (yay), between 50 and 100K (hurrah) and, crucially, the person posting recommended them highly.

So I emailed my submission off to Uncial Press and forgot about it. Less than a fortnight later, I had an email offering me a contract for 2 years. Ebook wasn’t my first choice for a debut (not many people in the UK read ebooks at that time – ereaders only became popular here about two years ago), but hey, it was a start. So I signed up.

Editing for the US

I was lucky in that Uncial are happy to use UK spelling and, provided it’s not too confusing, UK idiom. There was still the odd dispute about ‘a herb garden’ should really be ‘an ‘erb Garden’, or whether someone could look round or whether they had to look around. All in all though, it was a fairly painless process. The only thing we could not agree on was a suitable alternative to “Phwoar”. There must be one, but we couldn’t find it. So I had to delete it. If you figure out what it is, please let me know.

As a British reader, I take Americanisms in my stride – although the phrase ‘khaki pants’ makes me snigger like a pre-schooler. It turns out some Americans aren’t overly bothered about British-isms either. I’ve had feedback saying ‘what’s an MOT? ’ and discussions about whether tea should be served cold in a tall glass, but for the most part American readers don’t mind the odd British quirkiness. I’ve also met lots of readers who say ‘I like British Fiction’.

A few months ago, I did some research – if you can call asking a bunch of people on Twitter ‘research’ – on why some American readers liked to read British books. Overwhelmingly, the answer was that they enjoyed seeing another country through the books. Readers who enjoy historical novels especially liked the authenticity that the British voice gave. In some undefinable way, they felt it ‘fit’ better. Readers of contemporary romance liked the bite and cynicism in British dialogue. Those of us who grew up watching Blackadder have a certain pace of dialogue that’s sunk into our collective psyche. It’s not easy to write purple prose when you really want your heroine to be a girl called Bob.

A word on Copyright

Copyright in your work arises automatically and it belongs to you. When you sign a publishing contract, you will nearly always be giving the publisher an exclusive licence to publish your work – the right to be acknowledged as the creator of the work remains yours.

ImageIn the UK there is no formal register for copyright works. In the US, you still have the same rights, but if you want to claim damages for copyright infringement (that’s where you sue someone for pirating your work and get back money for the income you lost), it’s best to deposit a copy of your book at the Library of Congress (http://www.copyright.gov/eco/) and pay a small fee. Most publishers will do this for you, but some small presses may not. It’s worth checking.

Any advice for new novelists on writing for the US market?

Have a look at the best seller lists in both countries over a length of time, you’ll see that, generally speaking, both lists are very similar. Don’t write for the US market or the UK market. Write the best book you can. If it’s good, people will read it. That is all.

If you’d like to know more …

Rhoda can be found wittering on about science, comedy and cake on her website http://www.rhodabaxter.com, Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rhoda.baxter.5), Google+ or on Twitter (@rhodabaxter).

 

Thank you, Rhoda, for joining us and sharing such a valuable insight. And the advice about the US market doesn’t stop there. On Monday and Thursday, we’re joined by Lynne Connolly, prolific writer and fellow-RNA member. Then, on Wednesday, we’ll have our usual Wednesday Wondering but it will be – you’ve guessed it – USA-themed!

Julie

The Wednesday Wondering – Writing, who needs it?!

I’ve recently taken up the guitar again after a break of – ooh, about eighteen years because I felt a bit overwhelmed by this writing lark, and I needed a different outlet (Yes- apart from alcohol!) Many of my friends on FB and Twitter are writers and they have lots of interesting hobbies that I really enjoy reading about: sewing, sailing, painting, gardening and such like. It made me wonder what my fellow Romantic Writers do to escape from this writing treadmill that we are all so determined to walk on- so over to them. PS have cracked a fair bit of Simon and Garfunkel but Eric Clapton I am not! Jaxx

Lets start with Jo: This was quite a tough one to answer as with three jobs, four children, four dogs and a half-finished Masters degree, writing kind of is my hobby! I wanted to put drinking, but apparently that’s more of a pastime than a hobby. I like painting, but haven’t done as much of that since I started really trying to write for publication about two years ago. I also like the cinema, long walks in the countryside and kayaking at the beach… Umm, now this is starting to sound like a personal ad – although, if it helps, I also like Pina Colada and getting caught in the rain! I suppose, at a push, I’d say travel or, more accurately, holidays. I like to have at least two trips booked to look forward to at any one time and I don’t mind if they are in the UK or overseas, I just love the change of scene and new places more often than not inspire a potential new storyline; which, I suppose, brings us straight back to writing.

And Helen R:  When I really want to escape the writing treadmill I have a few different strategies depending on how I feel. Sometimes I snuggle down in front of a good film and lose myself in that…I read once that film plot structures closely resemble book plot structures and are far more clear, so I can even class this activity as “research” for my writing techniques.
Other times I need to get well away from my desk and any type of screen, so in that case I go out for a long walk, or grab a hot chocolate from a café, or chat with a friend. Sometimes I do find myself apologising to the friend for talking so much though…almost like a dam that has burst its banks!
I am inspired now though, Jackie, and maybe I’ll start playing my flute again…

Rachael says: Initially I tried the piano, but that is not for me, then a few years ago, deciding I needed another creative outlet, I treated myself to a good camera. Once bought I realised I didn’t have a clue how to use it, not properly anyway. So I enrolled on an online course. I am still very much an amateur and often don’t get the desired results, but I at least know what I am trying to achieve.

Last summer, I told myself, once I’d finished the book I was writing, I’d spend more time with my camera, wondering if maybe I should try photography after years of submitting. Then everything seemed to happen at once, as my entry into a competition led ultimately to a publishing contract. Now time out with my camera is my treat or reward for meeting my mini deadlines as I write a book.

_MG_9950Here’s another of Julie’s hubby, Mark’s, stunning photos – to give us all something to aspire to!

Julie says: Writing is my main hobby and has been for the past 11 years although I’ve massively increased the amount of time I devote to it in the past few years. However, I do have a couple of other interests. My main regular one is that I volunteer as a Brown Owl and run a pack of 24 x Brownies (girls aged 7-10) in a nearby village. I started helping out a little over 4 years ago with a view to taking over from the outgoing Brown Owl when she retired at the end of the year. I love planning and organising different, interesting nights for the girls and feel a huge amount of satisfaction when I can see they love the activities the other leaders and I have come up with. We went to the beach to play games and toast marshmallows on a camp fire on Monday and we’ll be doing a treasure hunt around town next week, both of which will be great fun.

If you’d asked this question last year, I’d have also said that I love going to bootcamp. I used to rise at 5.30am and be on the beach for 6.30am 3 mornings a week, whatever the weather, to exercise. Unfortunately I felt it was time to move on at the start of the year when the business running it expanded so much and group sizes became too overwhelming for me. The weight I lost has piled back on and I’ve lost my fitness levels and really must get back into exercise. I’m toying with taking up cycling on an evening to get fit but the bike hasn’t made it out the garage yet.

I love to read (although I don’t have enough time to do this as much as I’d like), I collect teddy bears (proper jointed mohair ones) and can also make these although I’ve only made five because, again, I struggle for time. The last bears I made were to give to the mums as thank you gifts when I got married nearly nine years ago! I love doing cross-stitches but haven’t picked up one of those for about six years. Again, time is a struggle. It’s all about looking at priorities. I work full-time, I have a family and I run a Brownie pack which takes way more than just the night that Brownies is on. Writing fits in round all of that and, because I love it so much, I don’t leave room for anything else as I’d rather use my time to write!

Alys says: When I’m not writing I like to crochet and sometimes to knit. I learnt to crochet about 4 years ago and I love it. It’s very relaxing and a great way to unwind provided the pattern is not too complicated. I’ve recently been involved in a yarn-bombing project in York. With the Grand Depart of the Tour de France coming to Yorkshire next month the whole of York is bike obsessed with yellow sprayed bicycles and yellow bunting popping up all over the place. I helped to Knit a Bike which has now been put up as a yarn-bombing installation in one of the parks in York. It was great fun to do and I had an excellent time learning to finger knit and then making the chain for the bike with the largest crochet hook I’ve ever seen. If you’d like to see pictures of the completed bike then there’s a link to a blog about it here. http://hippystitch.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/knit-bike-yarnstormed-installation-for.html
My other passion is folk music and I love listening to it and going to gigs. Some of my friends are folk musicians so I often go to see them play. My favourite folk bands/musicians are Lau, Sam Carter and Bellowhead and I’m hoping to see them play live again sometime soon.

Deirdre says: It’s art for me. I’d been looking for something else to do for when the writing got all too much or I was plain bored with it. I didn’t know what, exactly, except it had to be something creative. Then a friend mentioned Lucy, an art teacher she was having lessons with, and to cut a long story short I’ve just finished a term of ten weekly classes.

I hadn’t picked up a pencil or brush almost since O level art but we started off with flowers, which I could just about cope with, and I must say I am hooked. I’ve learned such a lot already and produced some just about passable drawings and paintings, although my technique is still pretty woeful. I enjoy the drawing but love watercolour painting. It feels calm and peaceful, just what I need after a session slaving over a hot keyboard. I have a drawer full of lovely art materials already. Who would have thought that the best watercolour paints you can get come from Russia? They’re called St Petersburg White Nights, and they’re wonderful to use. The pigments are so deep they look almost black in the palette. You can only buy them on-line so if you’re thinking of taking it up, don’t waste your time and money in Smith’s.

If you enjoy looking at beautiful paintings, take a peek at Lucy’s gallery here. http://www.lbparker.com/ I just need to get the wip finished now so I can spend some time on art over the summer and hopefully improve a little before the classes start again in September.

Marie Dry talks to Rachael about Alien Mine.

my picture2013

One of the best things about writing, is the wonderful people I’ve met from all over the world and it gives me great pleasure to introduce Marie Dry who currently lives in South Africa. Hi Marie, welcome to the Write Romantics Blog and thanks so much for taking the time to be an interviewee. Congratulations on the release of your first book, Alien Mine.

Thank you for inviting me. I am very excited to talk about my first release.

• We know that you have been a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you were a member before you got ‘the call’, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?

I was posted to the South African Embassy in Spain in 2008 and met Rachael Thomas at a writing course at the Watermill in Posara, Italy. She advised me to try and join the NWS. I went to the RNA Conference in 2011 and the next year managed to become a member of the NWS. I returned to live in South Africa and in April 2013 I got the ‘email’. When I received the email I was so convinced it was another rejection I had to read it a few times to realize Black Opal Books were actually offering me a contract.
At the moment I write paranormal romance and although that is where my heart is I have a historical romance I want to finish writing and two contemporaries and several category stories. But my first love will always be paranormal. I can’t say what inspired me to write. Before I could read and write I made up stories and at seven I penned my first story. I’ve been writing ever since although only the last seven years with real purpose.

• We could be in danger of sounding a bit like reality show contestants, but we Write Romantics see the road to publication, by whatever route, as a journey. Please can you tell us a bit about your journey so far, your self-publishing experiences and what is next for you?

I was incredibly lucky to meet the right people whenever I needed guidance. I met Rachael who among all her other good advice suggested I find a critique partner through RWA Australia. Through their critique partner scheme I met Cassandra L Shaw, a brilliant writer, we clicked immediately and have been CP’s for at least four years now. She suggested I join savvy authors and told me about their pitching opportunities. I pitched Alien Mine and several publishers requested a full manuscript. Black Opal Books offered me a contract and I jumped at the chance. I have no experience of self-publishing so cannot comment on that. I am working on Alien Under Cover, the second book in the alien series. I am planning to write three stories set in that world.
I finished a paranormal about an angel losing her wings and a dragon story about a woman with ptsd. The dragon story is really close to my heart and I cannot wait to start with the editing.

• Have you got any advice for other aspiring writers?

Don’t give up. Write every day and learn your craft. Take a good editing course and join writer’s organizations like the RNA and RWA. Follow your heart and write the story that haunts you and don’t give up until you get the call.

• What are your dreams and aspirations as a writer, in terms of your short-term and long-term career?

Short term I would like to have more hours in a day so that I can write all the stories waiting to be told. I am still learning my craft and have promised myself with each book to work harder and produce a better written story.

• What was the single biggest benefit of joining the NWS, do you think?

Meeting other authors and the good advice I received from them. I attended a conference and met the lovely Sara Craven which was a great moment for me. I’m afraid I acted like a real groupie and she was very gracious about it all.

• Can you share a little piece of Alien Mine with our readers?

Yes, I would love to. This scene is set in the first act when the heroine tried to escape from Zacar. The alien who captured her.

BOOKPLATE_TEMPLATE[1]

She had to get away from the aliens, but running down a mountain in the snow and freezing temperature probably wasn’t the best idea either…

Her muscles ached and her hands felt like frozen claws, even with her gloves, as she tried to grip the rocks and pull herself up the slope. In spite of her need to hurry, she stopped every now and then to scan the area behind her for aliens.
Tired and cold, fed up with constantly feeling afraid, she wanted to just lie down under a tree and forget about everything. Forget that aliens had landed on her mountain. Forget that Zacar was probably hunting her.
Maybe being a breeder wouldn’t be that bad.
A shiver snaked through her at the thought, spurring her on. She tried to pull herself up by holding onto a bush, but she couldn’t feel the branch. Her hand was too numb and weak and it kept slipping from her grasp.
Her feet were cold, and her mind had trouble commanding them to move, to climb. She knew she was risking developing frostbite, but she continued to move on, sluggish and cold. She had to get to town. She just had to.
She fought the nagging desire to lie down on the soft snow and go to sleep.
Just another half an hour and you can rest, Natalie.
Even her own thoughts were starting to sound strange, slurry. She lifted her tired arm in slow motion and gripped the rock above her.
Her glove made contact with something. Even with her numb fingers, it didn’t feel like a rock or a bush.
Confused, she lifted her head, and stared up into Zacar’s frighteningly emotionless face.

Marie’s first book, Alien Mine, is available from 22nd June through Black Opal Books. It already has received a fantastic review which you can read here.

Wednesday Wondering – Meet our main characters!

Today on the blog, we have been Wednesday Wondering about some of the characters in our forthcoming anthology. Prompted by the lovely Liv Thomas, who passed us the ‘Meet My Main Character’ baton, four of the Write Romantics are going to tell you a bit about the characters just waiting to slip between the covers of our winter collection, which will be raising funds for the Cystic Fibrosis and Teenage Cancer Trusts. You can meet Liv’s main character in the fabulous novel she co-wrote, as Isabella Connor, Beneath an Irish Sky, available from Amazon at this link or read more about Luke on Liv’s own blog posting, here.

First up is…

Alex’s Anthology Character

What is the name of your character and the title of the story?

Harriet Hardy who is the main character in ‘A Pistol for Propriety’.

2013-08-18 14.35.25When and where is the story set?

The story is set in 1898 in Whitby in North Yorkshire. However the story is steampunk so it’s not quite the same Whitby. It was enormous fun figuring out where dirigibles (or airships) could land and how steam powered cars might work.  There’s still a steam bus running in Whitby during the tourist season and that sparked some ideas.

What should the readers know about Harriet?

The wonderful thing about steampunk is that you can have really strong heroines who wear fabulous clothes and hats. I spent far too much time looking at pictures of 1890s hats. They were as wide as tea trays.  Heaven knows how anyone actually walked about in them!

What is the conflict in Harriet’s life?

At the beginning of the story, Harriet has done something which can best be described as imprudent. (The other thing I loved about steampunk is that you can use words like ‘imprudent’ and they sound absolutely right.  As a big fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I absolutely adored writing the dialogue).  I don’t want to say too much about what this imprudent action was but let’s just say that there’s a clue in the title of the story!

What are Harriet’s goals?

Harriet’s life hasn’t always been easy and it’s made her into a very capable woman.  She’s someone who thinks that marriage isn’t for her because of the choices that she’s made.  However, as this is a romance, someone turns up who challenges that assumption!

 Next we have…

Rachael’s Anthology Character

What is the name of your character and the title of the story?

My character is Sally Phillips and her story in the anthology is ‘Meet Me at Midnight’.

When and where is the story set?

It’s a contemporary story, set in Wales during the last few days of the year.

What should the readers know about Sally?

Sally is a writer, who has left London not only to try and escape her failed relationship, but to try and beat writer’s block.

What is the conflict in Sally’s life?

Her inability to write due to leaving Jake, her partner, but as soon as she arrives in Wales the words begin to flow, until she meets a handsome farmer one morning.

What are Sally’s goals?

To be successful in her work and happy in her life, something she’d always envisaged taking place in London, but events over the New Year change all that.

Our penultimate introduction is…

Julie’s Anthology Character

What is the name of your character and the title of the story?

The story I haven’t quite finished for our anthology is called ‘Not Just Another Winter’s Tale’ and features twenty-nine-year-old Emily Chambers

winter4When and where is the story set?

It’s set in the present day in the winter (hey, it is a Christmas/winter anthology) in the Derbyshire countryside although part of the story is set in the US of A

What should the readers know about Emily?

She can’t bear her new work colleague, Troy Zimmerman, after meeting him when working in the States over the summer. Unfortunately, she’s stranded at a conference centre and her only way home is to spend three hours in a car with him. Hideous thought

What is the conflict in Emily’s life?

Troy! Simple as that. Oh, and the fact that it’s started snowing. Very heavily. Which probably means the journey will be longer than three hours. Eek!

What are Emily’s goals?

To get home safely as quickly as possible with minimal communication with Troy. Only we know that’s not going to be possible, is it?

Lastly, me… the ‘artist’ (and I use the term loosely) formerly known as Jo, but now Write Romantic, Jay.  Hopefully more of that in a Mega Monday announcement coming your way soon…

Jay’s Anthology Character

What is the name of your character and the title of the story?

Jamie Chandler takes the lead in my anthology story, which is entitled ‘In All The Wrong Places’.

When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the current era and tracks the course of one December, which proves long enough to alter Jamie’s life forever.IMG_0671  Jamie lives in a sleepy Kent village, where finding love is difficult at the best of times.

What should the readers know about Jamie?

He’s gorgeous, funny, kind and the sort of Colin Firth-esque beta hero that every nice girl should fall for… Oh, and his legs don’t always work.

What is the conflict in Jamie’s life?

He’s convinced that no-one can love him after his diagnosis with MS but, as the title suggests, he’s been looking for love in all the wrong places.

What are Jamie’s goals?

He’s desperate not to spend another Christmas alone.  What he really wants is to settle down with someone and have the life he dreamt of before his diagnosis, but first he has to learn that love doesn’t always wear a name-tag.

Enter our competition

I hope you have enjoyed meeting our characters and don’t forget your chance to win a £20 Amazon voucher by entering our ‘Name That Anthology’ competition. All you have to do is to send in your entry to thewriteromantics@hotmail.co.uk to be in with a chance. Entries close on 31st August. You can also register for updates at the same email address, so that you will know as soon as the anthology is available to order. We have a wealth of other writers contributing to the anthology, many of whom are bestsellers, and you can find out more about them here.

Next week, two of the Write Romantics, Rachael Thomas and Helen Phifer, will be taking the baton on their own blogs to talk about the characters in their novels and, if you are really lucky, Rachael might even share her fabulous cover reveal with you!

You can read Rachael’s blog here.

Helen’s blog can be accessed at this link.

 

 

Mega Monday: We’re influential bloggers!

most-influential-bloggerThank you to Carol Cooper who awarded this badge to the Write Romantics.  We already loved Carol for inviting us to review her wonderful novel, being interviewed for the blog and for agreeing to write the introduction to our anthology, but now we love her even more.

One-Night-at-the-Jacaranda_cover_eBook_smlIn case you didn’t know, Carol is a doctor, teacher, writer, broadcaster and mother, whose debut novel, One Night at the Jacaranda, has received a wealth of rave reviews on Amazon. Carol is also a successful writer of non-fiction books, mainly on child health and parenting, and is The Sun newspaper’s doctor. As well as being a great friend of the Write Romantics blog, Carol has a fab blog of her own. If you’ve been missing out on Carol’s beside manner up until now, then you really should check out her blog.

Now we’re passing on the award to ten other bloggers. They might not get quite as excited over blog awards as we do – perhaps they’ve already had thousands – but we’re going to recognise them anyway, because their blogs have been influential to us.

Diana Blacklock was nominated by Helen R, both of whom are based in Australia.  Diana’s writing has been influential to Helen and her blog regularly features other writers who open up new worlds and add even more titles to Helen’s bulging Kindle!  Just the blog to visit if you’re wondering what to read next.

Sheila Norton, was nominated by Deirdre.  Sheila is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association and was traditionally published for some time, but is now blazing a trail for indie publishing.   Deirdre also recommends Sheila’s book Yesterday, which is set in the sixties and is well worth checking out.

Sharon Booth’s blog, the Moongazing Hare was nominated by both Alex and Julie – I might well have got in there too, if they hadn’t been so quick!  Sharon’s posts are always entertaining and she has a great writing style.  Sharon is brilliant at networking and supporting other authors and we are absolutely delighted that she is going to be a guest in our anthology.

WeddingSarah Lewis who runs the My Eighties blog has been influential on me (Write Romantic, Jo) for many years, having been one of my besties for (*clears throat*) 32 of them. Of course we met in a test tube! Sarah’s blog is a must read for fans of what surely was the best decade of all time (although Sheila and Deirdre might beg to differ). Sarah is currently writing a memoir and will also be a guest writer in our anthology.

The Murmuring Cottage was nominated by Lynne, who tells us that the blog is just beautiful, with still life pictures similar to Country Living magazine, very peaceful and restful, with an atmosphere that’s great for getting her in the mood to write.

Alison May is a brilliant friend to the Write Romantics blog and we have really enjoyed tracking the journey on her blog from nervous NWS member to published author, winning and being shortlisted for various awards along the way… giving those of us still in the NWS something to aim for. In fact she might already have this award, too, but we’re sure she’ll make some room in her trophy cabinet! Alison is also going to feature in our anthology and we can’t wait to read her story.

JKellerFord-web-301J Keller Ford was a recent guest on the blog,we absolutely loved having her visit and we have enjoyed following her blog ever since.  She’s got us thinking about the type of book cover we want for the anthology, which has been really influential on our plans, and has contributed to two anthologies herself, so really knows her stuff.

Rhoda Baxter, is another wonderful supporter of our blog and has helped many of the Write Romantics with advice and, especially, her knowledge of the US market. We really like Rhoda’s inheritance books slot on her blog and although we’re pretty certain she will already have been nominated, we’re including her in our top ten nonetheless. As you can already tell, we’ve been incredibly lucky that many of the bloggers and writers we have found so influential, in our first year of blogging, are also going to be involved in our anthology and Rhoda is no exception.

VIKKITHOMPSON_PICVikki Thompson is about the most prolific blogger we have ever met!  Vikki’s blog, The View Outside, was really influential on the Write Romantics in the early days and she taught us all about the value of tagging our posts properly and the joys of the scheduling function!  She takes on A-Z challenges with admirable enthusiasm and her writing prompts and insecure writers’ group posts are definitely worth the visit.

_MG_1008Linda Huber is another contributor who we have been thrilled to get on-board.  Just the picture on Linda’s blog, of where she lives on the banks of the beautiful Lake Constance in Switzerland makes us want to write!  She’s been inspirational in her support of the anthology and we have all been downloading her debut novel, The Paradise Trees, so we are ready for the release of her forthcoming second novel The Cold Cold Sea.  Her writing is every bit as evocative as the titles suggest and we can’t wait to get her anthology story in our hot little hands!

Carol asked us to include a YouTube video of our current favourite song.  Getting nine romance writers to agree on a single song was not something I wanted to attempt, so I posted a request on our Facebook group, promising the first person who came back to me that they’d get their choice.  So here is what Jackie chose, Ed Sheeran’s Sing, and we’ll be playing it in our flat at the RNA conference, at full volume.

So if you find yourself in the room below, and there’s some less than tuneful singing coming through the floor, you’ll know that the Write Romantics have been on the vanilla vodka again!

In Du Maurier’s Footsteps

I’d like to welcome Liz Fenwick to our Saturday Spotlight Blog today. Liz lives in Dubai at the moment with her husband, but spends a lot of her time in their house in Cornwall. Her third book A Cornish Stranger was published by Orion this month and I’ve caught up with her in between her book launches and talks about her latest release.

I know that all of your books are set in Cornwall and wondered what in particular, inspired you about Cornwall? Did the idea for the story come before the setting or did you see something in Cornwall that you just knew would be perfect for your book?

Somehow in my head, Cornwall and stories are mixed together and form part of each other. It’s not that I didn’t see and feel stories before going to Cornwall for the first time in 1989, but since then they are inseparable. So now when an idea appears it’s almost always tied to a location in Cornwall.

I had a quick look at your Amazon reviews and people adore the way your setting comes alive. Do you think that’s because your love of Cornwall comes out in your writing, or do you think one of your skills lies in descriptive writing?

It’s my love of Cornwall combined with the way I write, in that when I’m writing I see a movie in front of me and I pick out the details that each character would see. So, for example in A Cornish Stranger, Jaunty, 92, is an artist so I will view the scene with her eyes picking out the details an artist might see. In contrast, scenes from her granddaughter Gabe’s point of view will be very different because she is a musician. But overriding all of that is my love of Cornwall, which just seeps into the work.
My next book A Cornish Inheritance, is still set in Helford but it’s on the north side. After that I may move my setting to a different area but we’ll see!

Do you find the settings of your novels create more interest from people who live in Cornwall or visit the area, or do you think people would buy them regardless of where they are based? And do you get more ‘promo’ opportunities from venues in Cornwall?

I am so pleased when someone local has enjoyed my books and said I have understood the area. At the same time when someone who has never set foot in Cornwall falls in love with the setting I feel I have done my ‘job’ well.

Because Cornwall is my ‘brand’ it makes doing promotion easier and as tourism is Cornwall’s biggest industry along with farming and fishing it does mean local festivals and bookstores are very receptive to my books.

I imagine you find it much easier to write about Cornwall whilst you’re in Cornwall, so how do you capture images and hold on to them when you are in Dubai, given the big difference between the weather, the location and the lifestyle?

Strangely enough I find my time in Cornwall is normally not spent writing… more absorbing and filling the writing well. When I am in Cornwall it’s normally full on family time, which leaves very little time for writing but lots of time for walking and picnicking and enjoying life. As I mentioned above I ‘see’ the story in front of me as I write. I don’t see the keyboard or the screen, which means that I can write anywhere. In fact having the ‘real’ Cornwall outside can be much more distracting, although I had the pleasure of staying in the cottage at the mouth of Frenchman’s Creek where A Cornish Stranger is set and that was very important in writing the story. I was there on my own which helped to limit the distractions! It was wonderful to be able to look up from the computer or notebook and ‘see’ what I was writing about rather than just imagining it.

Are you going to continue to set books in Cornwall or do you worry that you might run out of new ways to create unique characters and storylines?

At the moment Cornwall is the place where all the stories in my head are set, so no worries.

In that vein, have you considered writing a novel set in Dubai? I imagine there could be lots of material for a romance given the humid nights with navy blue skies and maybe a handsome Sultan feeding you peeled grapes? Oops, getting carried away, there! Ahem, where’s my fan?

Dubai as a city doesn’t stir the writer in me, however I love the true desert and the seeing the vast emptiness fills me with a desire to write something, but it is but more likely to be with poetry rather than story!

I’m guessing everyone thinks of Daphne Du Maurier or Mary Wesley’s, ‘The Camomile Lawn’ when they think of novels set in Cornwall. Did you draw any inspiration from them when you started writing about Cornwall. Also, have you thought about writing an historical novel, given the huge potential to convey the varied and interesting history of the area?

I love both Du Maurier and Wesley and I think each of my novels has a nod in their directions. I don’t think anyone capture the landscape of Cornwall as Du Maurier does but I have tried. Her themes are very dark whereas I love the more positive direction of most of Wesley’s work. Of course having set A Cornish Stranger on Frenchman’s Creek I was treading right on Du Maurier’s toes –
hope she doesn’t mind!
I love historical novels but I’m not sure I have the discipline or the time needed to do the research required. Each of my books has had a historical thread in them. The Cornish House has the house itself, A Cornish Affair draws on the history of gardens and in A Cornish Stranger there is WW2. I love ‘touching’ history, but not fully immersing my story in it. I love research and would happily do nothing but research, but then I would never write the books!

Do you have a favourite place in Cornwall, or any particular area you would like to set the next novel?
My next book A Cornish Inheritance, is still set in Helford but it’s on the north side. After that I may move my setting to a different area but we’ll see!

Lastly, I hope your novel is selling well and I am interested to know if it gets any less daunting or thrilling as each book is published?

It becomes tougher as expectations are added to the stresses. You have readers who have loved your books and characters and worry about what happens if they don’t like the latest offering. It’s enough to give me sleepless nights. However the thrill remains too; to hold a book in your hands is so awesome and to hear that someone has loved your story, your characters is a wonderful feeling.

You can purchase Liz’s new book Here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cornish-Stranger-Liz-Fenwick-ebook/dp/B00HRXQ1GA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402731764&sr=8-1&keywords=liz+fenwick

The Things we Do…

One Sunday I ‘left home’ in a fit of anger, but cleverly enough, remembered to grab my laptop before I slammed out of the door. Instead of cooking breakfast and a slaving over a roast and doing the ‘faffing around at home on a Sunday,’ bit, I spent the whole day cocooned in my car writing as the rain lashed down outside. Result! And I only felt a tiny bit guilty when I finally returned home as the family had been out for dinner and spent most of the day trying to phone me to meet them at the restaurant. Although my hissy fit wasn’t pre-meditated, it made me wonder what extremes others have gone to, to find some writing time when you should really be doing something else, whether it’s just hiding under the table when the doorbell rings, or climbing Everest to get out of the way of the In Laws. I asked the Write Romantics what extremes they would go to for a bit of writing peace! All in the strictest confidence, of course!
Jaxx

Trying to find some peace and quiet in my house is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, it doesn’t happen. I’ve had to get used to being able to write with a mini riot going on around me and thank god that I have an iPod shuffle to drown out the noise.

In the past I have found myself getting in the car and driving to our field where we keep our two horses and sitting there in the car typing away, I’ve gone out in the garden and sat down right at the bottom because my kids are too lazy to walk that far. I’m always on the look out for someone to offer me a little piece of sanctuary and have this fantasy that one day I’ll be able to afford my very own office because right now even if I could afford to give up work, I couldn’t work from home because no-one would leave me alone long enough to do get anything done.
Helen P xx

Sometimes drastic measures are called for to get writing time. I haven’t yet stormed out of the house, but that is one to remember! I will get up at unearthly hours to enable myself to get an hour or so of writing done if it’s going to be a particularly busy day on the farm. I do however ‘sneak’ off under the pretext of something else and with my trusted pad and pencil will happily consume endless cups of coffee whilst writing. I also love writing outside – if it’s a hot sunny day. It is amazing how productive you can be when you know someone isn’t going to barge into your room and ask for something.
Helen R

I am lucky enough to get some dedicated writing slots but it’s never enough. I work at the front of the house and can see if anyone comes up the driveway, so I can ignore the door quite easily – mostly it’s people selling things anyway. I like Fridays because I leave the car up near school as my youngest daughter has a music lesson and I have to take along a big keyboard. I don’t get as many disturbances on a Friday because the house looks deserted with nobody parked in the driveway.
I always have my phone with me and use the notes section all the time. Sometimes an idea may pop into my head in the middle of school assembly (ssh, don’t tell the teachers!) and I’ll desperately type them in so that I can use them later. I think this is one of the things about a writing career that I love: any time, anywhere.
I’m also thinking of making a “do not disturb” sign for the door because my girls do interrupt me, usually when the words are flowing or I’m in the middle of an edit and have just thought of the perfect fix. Mind you, I guess before too long they’ll be teenagers and I’ll be wishing they talked to me, so perhaps I should make the most of it 🙂

I can’t say I’ve ever done anything extreme to get writing time as I write straight onto my Mac so the actual writing or editing has to be done in front of that or my laptop so is typically planned time. Planning, on the other hand, can be done in all sorts of places providing I have a notepad. I developed a huge character bio ready for book 4 whilst my daughter had a swimming lesson and I’ve written scenes or planned characters whilst invigilating tests in former recruitment jobs. I’ve also made excuses of being tired or having work to do when I’ve been staying away with work events only to return to my hotel room after dinner and write for a couple of hours rather than socialise. If I’ve got my writing head on, I can become incredibly anti-social!
Julie xx

Sometimes drastic measures are called for to get writing time. I haven’t yet stormed out of the house, but that is one to remember! I will get up at unearthly hours to enable myself to get an hour or so of writing done if it’s going to be a particularly busy day on the farm. I do however ‘sneak’ off under the pretext of something else and with my trusted pad and pencil will happily consume endless cups of coffee whilst writing. I also love writing outside – if it’s a hot sunny day. It is amazing how productive you can be when you know someone isn’t going to barge into your room and ask for something.
Rachael x

Probably the sneakiest thing I’ve done to snatch some extra writing time, is when I am teaching Saturday day schools for my uni students. You can never be quite sure how long the sessions are going to last, depending on the numbers who turn up, but I always tell my husband not to expect me home until after five. I’ve had several sessions that have ended up finishing by lunch time, but I never seem to make it home any earlier to help out with the weekend chores or the kids’ homework. There’s always a nice little coffee shop somewhere, with a table in the window for me and my laptop… and as far as the family are concerned I’m still busy teaching. Sometimes I’ve even forgotten to stop when five o’clock rolls around and had to fib about the session over-running! Such a good job that hubby doesn’t read this blog…
Jo x

“As I live on my own I think I have less problems with this than the other Write Romantics or, at least, I did until I became self employed. I thought it’d give me more time to write. WRONG! Clients think I’m always available and I only really switch off from worrying about their problems at weekends. I have (please don’t tell anyone!) occasionally switched my mobile off and pretended to be in a meeting so I can get a chapter finished. Sometimes I’ve told friends and family that I have to leave social events early claiming that I’ve got something else to do when actually I just wanted to get back to my laptop. My major problem is stopping once I’ve started. My time keeping (which has never been good) has gone completely to pot since I started writing and I’ve had to think up a whole range of inventive excuses when the truth is that I was writing and I just lost track of time!”
Alex x

Indie Emily directs a writing destiny

Emily5We are delighted to be joined on the blog today by Emily Harvale, a successful indie author and self-confessed chocaholic – definitely a girl after our own hearts! Emily grew up in Hastings, East Sussex, and now shares a home with her adorable cat, Phoebe, who gets in the way of Emily’s writing whenever she can. When she’s not writing, Emily has lots of other hobbies; many of which, like watching a good movie, are enhanced by a glass of wine. She absolutely adores Christmas, something which you might not be surprised to hear when you review her back catalogue.

Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today, Emily. As you know, a number of the Write Romantics are thinking of going solo. So, we’ll start with the obvious question, what made you decide to self-publish and what do you think the benefits are?

A few things influenced my decision. I have ongoing health issues, requiring a number of operations over the last couple of years, so I didn’t want to contact an agent/publisher and have to tell them I’d be in and out of hospital for the foreseeable future! I received a wonderful report from the RNA’s new writers’ scheme and I wanted to know if other people also thought I was, “a talented writer who would go far”. What better way is there to find out than to ask the general public? I heard about indie publishing via Talli Roland. (I am an indie – for independent – publisher now, thanks to Amazon’s recent change). I’m a businesswoman and, after weighing up the pros and cons and realising there were no cons, I decided that indie publishing was the perfect route for me, so I added the extra chapter as suggested by the RNA reader, and went for it. I believe in jumping in with both feet and life is too short to wait for others to make my dreams, reality.

EmilyThere are so many benefits, in my opinion, that it would take all day to tell you, but the main ones for me are: speed of publication and being able to set my own schedule; choosing my own covers/cover artist; freedom to publish as many books as I want, when I want; not having to write in a specific genre; finding and working with professional editors etc. with whom I have built a good relationship … and money! Substantially more money than if I had waited, or taken another route.

Are there any downsides or things that surprised you about indie publishing?

I was surprised by how simple it is – and how easy it is to make mistakes! Things are constantly changing and it’s important to keep up to date. It’s also important to check one’s own books once they’re live. I recently had a formatting problem that only appeared on certain devices (iPad/Kindle Fire) but on the previewer, it looked perfect on all devices. That was a surprise. Things are not always as they seem. Other than that, I honestly can’t think of any downsides; only upsides. People say indie publishers have to do more marketing but I haven’t found that. I do far, far less than many ‘traditionally published’ authors I know of. I’m a huge fan of indie publishing. HUGE!

Do you buy-in any services to deal with things like proof-reading, formatting and book cover design?

I pay for a professional editor, a cover designer, and now a formatter (I believe in learning from my mistakes). I also pay for a very talented webmaster who has been with me from the beginning and who does lots of clever stuff for me, and not just on my website.

Emily2What approach do you take to marketing, how much of your time does it take up and what is your number one tip for increasing sales?

Er … I do very little marketing. I do some posts on Facebook and Twitter and, of course, send out my newsletter when a new book comes out or when I have my new cover or any other news. When my books achieve a high position in the humour or romantic comedy charts, (A Slippery Slope reached no. 1 in humour and no. 8 in rom com and they’ve all been in the top 5 of humour and top 10 of romantic comedy) I post about that, but that’s it really. I should plan a marketing strategy but it’s something I just haven’t got around to yet. My first book only sold around 500 copies until I did a 2 day free promotion on Amazon in December 2012, resulting in more than 12,000 free downloads. Since then, sales have been exceedingly good and I haven’t had/needed any reduced price promos (my books sell for £1.99; short stories .78p). Amazon did pick one of my books for their Summer Promotion last year, which was a lovely surprise, and I’m sure that helped boost sales even more. I gave away my short stories to my fans for free, as a ‘Thank You’ in December 2013 because I’ve been very lucky and they’ve been wonderfully loyal. I think it’s important to thank one’s fans. I’m fairly certain I could increase sales further if I made some effort at marketing. It’s on my list but it’s not a high priority as doing nothing much seems to be working extremely well – for me – and I’m not sure I’d be any good at marketing anyway! Perhaps less really is more.

Do you or would you ever consider writing in another genre and, if so, would you use a pseudonym?

I’ve written a ghost story (novella) but as it’s a romance too I’ll probably publish it under Emily Harvale. I’ve written a romantic suspense but it needs some work and I’ll decide whether to use a different name for that when I’m finally happy with it. I’m also writing a ‘cosy crime’ but that may turn into a romantic suspense. Yet another plus about indie publishing: I can decide what my books are, aren’t, or may be. I love writing my light-hearted, humorous romances though (yes that’s what I call them) and a lot of people seem to enjoy reading them, so I’m concentrating on those for now.

Would you ever consider representation by an agent or a contract with a traditional publisher?Emily3

When I’ve had my ‘final’ operation this summer, I may think about seeing if I can find an agent, mainly because I’m interested in subsidiary rights. I don’t believe in saying ‘never’ because things changed, but I would only consider a contract with a traditional publisher if the advance and terms were of considerable benefit to me. I’m certainly not seeking a publisher at the moment. My books are selling well and I’m making a really good living on my own by just publishing on Amazon. A large publishing house could increase my readership but I honestly don’t think a small one could. I have friends with smaller publishers and they don’t sell as many books, or receive as much in Royalties, as I do. I don’t see the point in losing money. To be honest, I think I can increase my readership myself, over time. I’ve already had a couple of orders via Waterstones. It may take me longer but I’ll get there.

Do you ever encounter any snobbery from traditionalists about choosing the indie publishing route and, if so, how do you deal with it?

Sometimes, unfortunately, from other writers, but I usually ignore it – or offer to discuss it over a bottle of champagne! Generally I’ve got no time for people who look down their noses at others. Readers couldn’t care less, on the whole, because they just want good stories. The Society of Authors see it as, “a perfectly valid form of publishing,” so that’s good enough for me. Actually, becoming a Full Member of the SoA was one of the highlights of indie publishing. I’d always wanted to be a member of the SoA and I sing their praises from the rooftops. The emails and posts on Facebook and Twitter, I get from readers, never, ever mention it – and as they are the ones buying my books, they’re the ones whose opinions I value. The world is changing; some people may not like it but they’re going to have to accept it or remain in the past. That’s their choice.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing process from the initial idea to the release of the novel and roughly how long that process takes you as an indie author?

I’m not a planner so when I have an idea I just sit and write – virtually non-stop. I can write the first ‘fun’ draft (I don’t believe in using the negative term, ‘sh…. first draft’ because writing is fun) in a couple of weeks. I then leave it and work on something else – or tackle the jungle which clearly doesn’t want to be a garden – for a week or so. I then read and rewrite as necessary and as many times as I think it needs it. My short stories are each around 10,000 words and they took just two weeks to write and rewrite. My editor had them for about a week and after the edits were done, I published them. Four weeks from the ideas to publication. My novels (around 75,000+ words) can take anything from three months upwards but if I’m not happy with a book, I won’t let it go until I am. Another bonus of indie publishing: I can set my own schedule and don’t need to ‘rush’ to meet a deadline.

Do you think it’s worth publishing in paperback, as well as digitally and how do the sales compare?

I publish a paperback via Createspace but to be honest, I never check the sales figures. I do get regular monthly payments from them so they are clearly selling some copies. Very few compared to the digital sales though – probably between 1% and 10%.

You’ve written seven novels now, do you find it easy to create new characters and storylines or do you ever worry about unconsciously repeating themes?

The characters just turn up at my desk and tell me their stories. I do worry that they may start to get repetitive and I try to make sure they don’t. I think my readers will tell me if the stories are getting boring but I also think that certain similarities are inevitable. Girl meets boy, girl gets boy – nothing new there. I hope that the path to getting him, and the people involved, are different every time. I did want to massacre everyone at a wedding, once – just to stir things up with a surprise ending – but I decided not to.

Emily4Do you read all of your reviews and, if so, have you had any that you have found it difficult to deal with or that have bowled you over?

I usually read my first few reviews, or if someone has told me via email or on Facebook or Twitter that they’ve left a review, I read that. Most of them have been good but my first one star review filled me with self-doubt. It was followed by some five star ones and that helped. I never read reviews when I buy a book because I trust my own judgement and I always read the ‘Look Inside’ sample, so I realised that it didn’t matter if people didn’t like mine (unless every single person hated it, of course!) and I stopped worrying about reviews. Everyone is entitled to their opinion but that is all it is – an opinion. I hate anchovies, and I’m sure many other people do too, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with anchovies, they’re just not to my taste. It’s the same with books. Some of the reviews I’ve had are wonderful – and all my reviews are genuine, I don’t ask family or friends to post good reviews. That’s futile and a little immoral in my opinion. It’s often the emails, Facebook posts/messages and Twitter comments that really get to me – and yes, some of them have moved me to tears … in a good way. To be told that someone was going through hell but that my books made them feel hopeful and happy is actually mind-blowing! Or that chemo was bearable because of my books! Or that an unhappy divorce didn’t seem so bad now! It makes me feel very proud but oddly, very humble. It also makes me want to write even better books.

If you could go back and give your pre-published self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stop wasting time; go for it – but use professionals from day one.

What are the best and worst things about writing for a living?

Best: Freedom to do what I want, when I want and to have the money to do it.

Worst: Ditto. If I want to tackle the jungle, or have a long lunch with friends, I can, and do, even when I should be working/writing.

Emily1What are your writing plans and hopes for the future?

That’s the most difficult one to answer because I don’t really plan these days. I suppose I’m planning to put all my books with retailers other than Amazon later this year. I plan to put together some sort of marketing strategy. (Yeah, right!) I plan to continue writing as many books as I can/want to. I hope the future is as good and as bright as the present and that my readership continues to grow. Oh … and I hope I win the jackpot with my premium bonds – but that’s not really writing related; although if I did I’d buy a ski chalet and run writing/skiing retreats, so it sort of is.

Seriously though, I hope more people achieve their dreams by indie publishing and not giving a fig for what some people think.

Thanks so much for having me on your blog. I really enjoyed answering your questions. I know some of you are thinking of indie publishing and I sincerely hope that your experience is as wonderful as mine has been. Indie publishers are a friendly and helpful bunch. I don’t regret it for one second and I’m sure you won’t either. One of my favourite sayings is:

“The future is a blank page. You can write your own, or you can wait until someone writes it for you.”

I prefer to write my own.

Good luck and best wishes to you all.

Emily

It was brilliant to have you on the blog Emily and we hope you’ll come back and see us again soon!

Find out more about Emily and her books at the links below:

Amazon Author Central pages, (.UK and .COM) listing all her books and author bio.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Emily-Harvale/e/B007BKQ1SW

http://www.amazon.com/author/emilyharvale

My website: http://www.emilyharvale.com

A single girlfriend of mine met a man on a dating website recently and said everything about him was lovely apart from he had a sticky out Nanny McPhee type tooth. By the end of the date it was all she could focus on and began to dread the thought that he might try and kiss her at the end of the evening. She made a hasty retreat but afterwards said she wished she’d been brave enough to tell him that he really needed to visit the dentist. It made me wonder what the worst characteristic or personal trait would be, that you could bear to give your hero to make him a rounded person but still make him loveable.
Jaxx

We’ll start with Helen R:
Great wondering this week…certainly got me thinking!

The worst characteristic I could give my hero to make him rounded but loveable would be a scar across his face or neck. Scars can be confronting when we first see them but I believe that like other physical attributes, they soon become a part of that person. A scar on a man, no matter how he got it, can also have a masculine edge to it, it can seem as though he’s a fighter and made of tough stuff.
My husband has a five inch scar on the inside of his forearm and when we first started dating he told me that he’d got it from a shark attack. Being the naïve Brit – or maybe just totally gullible – I believed him. He admitted soon after that it was actually from when he got his arm caught up in a machine.
Helen R 🙂

I tend to like my heroes to be a bit boy-nextdoor-ish i.e. not absolutely strappingly gorgeous hunks of muscle so I already have them feeling more rounded than those in many books I’ve read. Of course, in the heroine’s eyes, they’re gorgeous but beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that. I also like them to be a little bit damaged i.e. past relationships that have hurt them and have an affect on their behaviour. I would probably join the line at real laddish behaviour or extreme selfishness but I would find a man who can’t multi-task or who is a bit clueless or self-absorbed at times fairly acceptable as a hero (as long as he has his good moments) because to be anything else would be to present someone who simply doesn’t exist! And I want my readers to believe in my characters.
Julie x

I like to give my characters a wacky trait or two in order to make them more human, and if it’s one of my own that’s all to the good because I can write it with more conviction. One of my male leads, Gus, is saddled with my claustrophobia and can’t pass a lift door without breaking into a sweat. It is explained as it clearly arises from an incident in his childhood, which in turn forms part of the plot, but depending on your point of view it could make him sound like a wimp so I suppose in that way it’s a risky set-up. In an earlier draft, he was also a bit of a womaniser and was quite capable of treating women in a throw-away fashion. Some of the feedback I had suggested he wasn’t all that likeable so rather than take that risk I toned it down a bit and made sure he redeemed himself by the end of the book.
In my self-published book, ‘Falling to Earth’, the relationship between Juliet and Gray falls apart because he hides from her something quite major that’s happening to him, and eventually this has dangerous consequences. The premise is ‘can love survive without trust?’ For these two it does and there’s a happy ending (well, it is a rom-com!) but if you were to ask me if it’s happy-ever-after, then, no, I don’t think it is.
I’m not sure if I’m answering the question here… however, I would say that making my hero untrustworthy is pushing the boundaries to the limit but as long as there are credible reasons for it, he can emerge as loveable as you want him to be.
Unusual personal characteristics I admit I have trouble with. I’ve read a book recently where the male lead character has a false arm. His love interest came to terms with it. I’m not sure I could, and that’s a failing on my part, but having no experience of that kind of thing puts me at a bit of a disadvantage so I probably wouldn’t go there in my writing.
Deirdre

For me I gave Will one of my main characters the trait of being a bit if a womaniser with a reputation. I wanted him to be almost perfect but not quite and would my female protagonist be able to forget about his reputation and still love him!

They say that love conquers all and for Annie Graham it certainly does, in the end.
Helen P xx

Nobody likes a perfect person and giving your characters flaws actually makes them more likeable, simply because readers can identify with them. So thinking up bad character traits for a hero I’ve come up with this.
He could be conceited, at least as far as the heroine is concerned, but when she gets to know him she’ll discover this arrogance stems from his childhood. The reader will already know something of his past and will be able to qualify his big-headed and boastful nature, which hopefully will enable them to empathise with him – a little at least! By the end of the story, the hero will have gone on a journey of self-discovery, realising he doesn’t have to be so arrogant and conceited to succeed in life and this will win over the heroine.
Rachael x

As a social worker I was always supporting the underdog, and championing the downcast and downtrodden and that spilled over into my private life too, in my early years anyway. So I love giving my character’s really terrible faults then showing how the character can change. Already the hero’s in my books have been given major phobias and overwhelming grief and I’ve only written two books!!

I would really struggle with a character with a gambling addiction, like my ex, unless he won the lottery that is!!
Lynne x

I think it is important for a hero to have the traits that make him human. These perfect alpha males, who you see in some stories, aren’t for me. I like a beta hero and I think Richard Curtis writes them fabulously well. Someone who has those human failings that we all do, like feeling envy or jealousy, making the occasional stupid decision or being a bit self-centred at times, but coming through to put his heroine first in the end. Troubled heroes are also very attractive and all of mine seem to have enough baggage to secure a spot with Oprah… or Jeremy Kyle at least!

Physically, there are some deal breakers. I don’t mind character – like a few lines, a bald head or even a paunch, but romantic heroes don’t tend to have any of those. Socks and sandals are an instant turn off, as are trousers that look like they’ve had a row with the shoes. A big no-no for me would be any kind of smelly issue and regular readers of the blog will know I suffer from food related misophonia – so noisy eaters definitely wouldn’t get a second date or a lead role in my novel. Of course, I am perfect in every way 🙂
Jo x

I think if I had to give my hero a bad trait, it would be a hot temper in an exasperated, ‘What can I do with you, woman?’ kind of way. He would of course, immediately rue his words and buy her a Land Rover Evoque as compensation! Well, it’s my story, he can buy me- I mean her, anything he wants!
Jaxx