Jenny Kane is living the writing dream!

Author jenny Knae signs her latest book at Tiverton's Coast Coffee in Bampton street on Monday

Our guest today on the blog, is the talented and prolific, Jenny Kane. Jenny is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016),  Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).

Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.

Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015).

Welcome to the Write Romantics, Jenny! Thanks for agreeing to submit to our interview questions and now over to you…

What has surprised you most about being published and has it lived up to the dream?outlaws-ransom-final

It is twelve years since I had my first short story taken by a publisher, and I still can’t believe my luck. I’ve worked with many different publishers since then, and although I’d be kidding myself if I said there have never been frustrations alongside the joys, on the whole it has been fantastic!

To be able to get up every morning and make things up for the entire day- and actually get paid for going so…that is a dream come true!

Can you tell us a bit about the plot for your latest novel?

My latest novel, The Outlaw’s Ransom, is a little bit of a departure from my usual romantic comedy/friendship style fiction. Although it still contains a romantic tale, it is largely a medieval murder mystery.

I’ve been a lover of all things medieval from the first time I clapped eyes on an episode of Robin of Sherwood on the television back in the 1980’s. Since then, I’ve had a fascination with the era- especially the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries- that has never waned. It was this interest that led me to write The Outlaw’s Ransom.

Blurb

The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.

When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life.  Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…

A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.

I loved creating the character of Mathilda of Twyford. I have to confess however, that The Outlaw’s Ransom is not where Mathilda first saw life. The story of The Outlaw’s Ransom appears in a shorter form within my timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood (written as Jenny Kane). It was the popularity of the medieval part of that novel that led to The Outlaw’s Ransom– and to its sequel, The Winter Outlaw, which will be published in November 2017.

another-cup-of-coffee-new-cover-2015Who was your first hero and how do you think he’s influenced your writing, if at all?

It might not surprise you, in light of my previous answer, that my first hero was Robin Hood- and indeed- whoever it was who first wrote his stories back in the (I believe) thirteenth century. The love of the ballads led me to research a PhD on the subject of medieval literature and crime- it was completing my doctorate that taught me how to write.

Do you think it’s true that you should ‘write what you know’ and, if so, to what extent have your experiences influenced your writing?

I am guilty of overusing my life experiences within my work. The entire Another Cup of… series (Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle and Another Glass of Champagne), is based on my own experiences of life as a student, a mother, a frequenter of coffee shops, and a writer. My Cornish romance, Abi’s House, is set in the Penzance and Sennon Cove area of the country, where my grandparents lived, and where I spent much of my childhood. Even Romancing Robin Hood, which is part set in the modern era and part in the Fourteenth century, steals from my own life. It features a medieval history tutor based at the University of Leicester. I wonder if you can guess what I used to do for a living- and where?

What are you working on at the moment?

I have three projects on the go at the moment. I am double checking the edits of the sequel to Abi’s House- Abi’s Neighbour– which will be out in May. I’m also editing my second Jennifer Ash book, The Winter Outlaw. Meanwhile, I am working on the promotion of my latest Kay Jaybee novella (erotica), Wednesday on Thursday. Once all that is sorted, I have a brand new novel lined up in my head, ready to be dashed out onto the computer before another idea takes hold.

We know you write both romance/women’s fiction and erotica under a different pen name. Do you ever think cow-in-flat-coverabout writing in a different genre, if so, what would you choose?

As well as my erotica (Kay Jaybee), and my historical fiction (Jennifer Ash), I also write children’s picture books. I keep the name Jenny Kane for those- anymore many pen names and I’ll start to forget who I am!

If I branched out further I’d have a go at a thriller- or maybe some horror.

If you could have three writing-related wishes, what would they be?

That’s a tricky one- but here goes….

I’d love to get an advance for my work.

To have all my books available in paperback as well as on Kindle/download.

And this really is wishful thinking – to have one of my novels made into a film.

***

Many thanks for welcoming me to your site today Jo, and for asking such great questions.

Jenny xx

If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw’s Ransom is available for your Kindle here –

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

 

Find out more about Jenny at the links below –

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Jenny also writes as Jennifer Ash.

Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, with be published in 2017.

You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

 

 

It’s all about the 80s for Sarah Lewis

Today we’d like to welcome friend of the WRs and all round 80’s addict, Sarah Lewis, to the blog.

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We’d love to start by asking you a little bit about your writing journey so far and what it was that inspired you to write your first book?

I suppose you could say that I started writing my first book 30 years ago. It’s just taken me a while to get it finished! I’ve loved music for as long as I can remember – one of my earliest memories is dancing along to the Bay City Rollers when they were on Top of the Pops, when I was about 5. When Bob Geldof and Paula Yates moved to my home town of Faversham, when I was 11, my interest in the music industry and the people in it was piqued even further. By the age of 13, I had begun to meet a number of artists, including Midge Ure, Gary Kemp and Simon Le Bon, and I began to write to other musicians, with a view to putting together a book based on their replies. That love of music, popular culture, and the fantastic decade in which I grew up all inspired my first book, ‘My Eighties’.

Can you tell us a bit about your second book – Your Eighties – please?

It follows a similar format to the first book, in that it’s a combination of memories, anecdotes and celebrity interviews. However, instead of the memories and anecdotes being mine, they are ones they have been sent to me via my website, my blog, Twitter and Facebook. It has been fascinating putting the book together, hearing and reading other people’s recollections of the decade, and even being reminded of a few forgotten gems. To discuss the Eighties with fellow fans (there are a lot of us out there!) is always a real pleasure, and it I have the privilege of being able to share those discussions with a wider audience.

Of course, there have also been the interviews with some of the decade’s favourite faces, including Buster Bloodvessel, Martin Fry, Ranking Roger, Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning), and Musical Youth’s Dennis Seaton and Michael Grant, which have been a blast! Transcribing the interviews afterwards, not so much. Despite what some may think, I really don’t like the sound of my own voice, and it drives me crazy when I have to listen to a section repeatedly, to ensure I’m quoting accurately.

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Do you have any writing habits or superstitions e.g. writing in the same place, using a certain pen, times of day etc?

Most of my writing tends to take place after 9pm, when I just get lost in what I’m doing. I’ll check the time after what seems like an hour, to find it’s gone 1am! Usually, I’ll be in my office at the back of the house, and will have music playing in the background – anything from classical to Meatloaf, depending on my mood, and what I’m writing. If I’m researching or editing, I’ll do so during the day, and tend to follow the sun – I start off in my office, then as the sun moves round, I move to the desk in my bedroom. During the summer, I’ll work outside as much as possible – you can’t beat the al fresco office. Again, usually accompanied by music or the radio.

Do you ever get writer’s block and, if so, how do you tackle this?

The short answer is “Yes, and not very well!” There was a point when I was writing ‘Your Eighties’ when I just hit a wall. I had a stack of research notes, some amazing submissions from 80’s fans, and a few interviews transcribed, but I couldn’t write. At first, I tried doing something completely different, to ‘free the writer’. However, having cleaned my house from top to bottom, tackled an enormous pile of ironing (which I hate), and begun to de-clutter an overloaded garage, I realised I was merely procrastinating. So, I forced myself to write. I wrote anything I could think of, even if it was as basic as “last night I went to a gig, then I went backstage and I interviewed…”. It’s a lot easier to edit something that is badly written than nothing at all. I think the key is to keep the flow and momentum going. I have pens and piles of scrap paper scattered throughout the house, just in case inspiration should strike. Often, my moments of clarity come just as I’m dropping off to sleep, so I’ve become particularly adept at scribbling notes in the dark! I also carry a small notebook around with me. Struck with an opening line whilst driving, I spent 5 minutes the other day saying the same sentence over and over, until I found a safe place for me to pull over and jot down the idea.

What are you working on now and what are your writing aspirations?

I have just begun working on the third book in the 80’s trilogy, ‘More Eighties’, and I’ve recently started a weekly 80’s column in the Canterbury Times. You can check out my first post here. As far as writing aspirations go, I would love to write the biography for a musician from the Eighties. I have a couple of people in mind, but I haven’t approached them yet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo you see your future books continuing to focus entirely on the 80s or might you diversify?

As much as I love, and indeed live, the 80s, I’m always up for a bit of diversity. It would have to be something completely different though, not just a different era. I love the interviewing and research stages of writing, so anything that allowed me to do that would be great. If it involves visiting sunny climes, even better. Maybe something on the people and history of one of the Greek islands.

What’s the most amazing experience you’ve had as a result of researching the content of your books?

It has to be all the interviews I’ve done at gigs. Not only do I get to hear some of the most amazing live music, but I love the insight into the whole set up. Listening to sound checks, being backstage and seeing what goes on behind the scenes, chatting to some incredibly talented and creative musicians – what a thrill! Plus, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of saying “I’m with the band”!

Who was your favourite person to interview?

That is a really tricky question, because I have truly enjoyed every interview I’ve done for both books. It’s always good when you feel you can ask an interviewee anything, so from that perspective, I would have to say Steve Blacknell and Erkan Mustafa, both of whom answered my questions with extreme candour. One of the easiest interviews I did was with Owen Paul, for ‘‘My Eighties’. He has loads of interesting stories to tell, and I really only had to say ‘Hello’, and he was off and running! However, I think my favourite interview to date has to be with Dr & The Medics. From the second I stepped into their dressing room, it was non-stop banter and laughter. Clive Jackson (the Doctor) and bass player Jon Randle were like a comedy duo. When you read that part of the book, you’ll see it was a ‘no holds barred’ kind of interview. My face was hurting from laughing so much.

Who’s the most famous person you have in your contacts list?

Now, that would be telling! All I will say is that my teenage self would have fainted if she’d seen some of the numbers I’ve got. There are some more famous names in the pipeline for ‘More Eighties’, as that contact list keeps on growing.

Do you ever get nervous when you interview people?My Eighties

Luckily, I’m quite good at compartmentalising, so even though I can be ridiculously excited or nervous before an interview, as soon as I walk into that room it’s like a switch flicks, and I go into ‘professional’ mode. Well, at least I hope that’s how I come across! I become so focussed on what they’re telling me (often fascinating insights), that I almost forget who I’m talking to. It’s only afterwards when I look back and think ‘Wow, did that really happen?’ The only person I’ve met, who’s given me an attack of nerves, was Jimmy White. I’d been to see him play a snooker match a couple of years ago, and bumped into him in the bar afterwards. I was shaking when I had my photo taken with him!

How important has social media been to your writing journey?

I would say it has been invaluable. Twitter especially has been a fantastic means of engaging with 80’s fans, and getting feedback on a particular topic. I must confess to being something of a Twitter addict (you can follow me @MyEighties). It’s wonderful to be listening to a radio show like Forgotten 80s, and discussing it in real time with fellow listeners. I do the same thing with a lot of the music programmes on TV – BBC4 on a Friday evening is a favourite, if I’m at home. I’ve encountered some amazing music brains and some lovely people through tweeting, and even got to meet some of them at a recent ‘Tweet Up’.

What are the best and worst things about being a writer?

The answer’s the same for both – having your work and thoughts out there for the world to see. It’s the best because you get to reach a lot of like-minded people, and hopefully make them smile. There’s nothing better than having people tell you how a piece you’ve written brought back some good memories for them. It’s the worst because I’m actually a very private person (despite being what one DJ described as “all over social media”). Every time I publish something, even if it’s only a blog post, I have an unnerving thirty second panic of feeling totally exposed, before I get a grip and get over myself!

New colours- Natalie's designWe love the design for ‘Your Eighties’, can you tell us a bit about how it came about?

It’s great, isn’t it? Back in the summer, we ran a competition to design the cover for the book. It was won by Natalie Owen, a 24 year designer from Nottingham. Her dad is a big fan of the 80s, and had told her about the competition, having seen me tweet about it. Her design perfectly captures the decade.

Are you doing anything to celebrate when the book is published on 28th November?

Most definitely! The launch party for ‘Your Eighties’ is going to be held at an old music hall in Kent – a fantastic venue. There’s going to be live music from an amazing local band called Skatacus, plus an 80’s disco, with none other than Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) on the decks. I’m also going to get to meet Natalie, as she’s travelling down for the party. Some of the book’s contributors will be there, along with some wonderful friends and family, so it promises to be a great evening.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer or even to yourself, if you could go back to before you’d written your first book?

I would say “don’t sweat the small stuff”. With the first book, I got very caught up in the tiniest of details, proper punctuation and having everything ‘perfect’. That’s what editors are for! I also wrote in a very linear fashion, which became very inhibiting. Now, I write freely in chunks, as and when I can, and pull it all together at the end.

‘Your Eighties’ is available for pre-order from 8th November on Amazon here and from the My Eighties online shop in paperback here. Published by Fabrian Books 28th November 2015.

A Sexy Saturday Spotlight with Siobhan Daiko!

We are delighted to welcome good friend of the Write Romantics, Siobhan Daiko back on the blog today, to tell us what has been Siobhan 3happening since the release of her first fantastic five-star novella in the Fragrant Courtesans series, which we’ve been thrilled to see hit some of the Amazon bestseller charts. Over to you, Siobhan.

It’s a real pleasure to be a guest of the Write Romantics this Saturday. Thanks for having me back again!

Teaser #5I’d like to introduce you to Veronica, a high-class sex worker in 16th Century Venice. Known as courtesans, these gifted ladies of the night were well-educated and highly sought-after. They were trained, usually by their mothers, not just to have sex but also to entertain their patrons by singing, playing music, dancing, and witty conversation. I came across them when I was researching my romantic historical novel Lady of Asolo. My fantastic editor, John Hudspith, suggested I play to my strengths which, for him, is the way I can convey gritty realism when writing sex scenes. So I decided to write a series about the most famous of these women, and Veronica is the first.

I watch him watching us, imagining how he would take me.

I send him the message with my eyes.

This is who I am.

I am Veronica Franco.

I am a COURTESAN.

I court the cultural elite for fame and fortune, giving my body to many.

And I’m good. So very good. After all, I was taught by my mother, and mother always knows best.

How else to please the future King of France than with the imaginative use of Murano glass? How else to fulfil the desires of all yet keep my sense of self-worth?

But when disaster strikes and my life begins to unravel, I’ll have to ask myself one question:

Is it too late to give my heart to just one man?

Set in Venice 16th Century.

Advisory: sensuously erotic. 18+

 

My novella is based on a true story. Veronica was married off young, as women were in those days, for financial reasons, but the union endedVeronica Courtesan Cover LARGE EBOOK badly. To support herself, she learnt the tricks of the trade from her mother, who’d also been a cortigiana in her youth. Veronica was a talented poet and writer – able to maintain a balance between her sense of self-worth and the need to win and keep the support of men. The fact that she loved to write made me feel an affinity with her. When I read her poems and letters, I was struck by the force of Veronica’s feisty, forward personality and decided she would make the perfect protagonist. She had a string of lovers, but there was one man, a fellow-poet, with whom she had the most amorous affair. His poems to her are published in her Terze Rime in the form of a poetic debate, and I enjoyed adapting them and using them as repartee between the two characters. Veronica was a talented seductress, able to create desire in her patrons under her own terms. I’m sure she loved each and every one of them in her own way, as evidenced by this quote from one of her poems:

So fragrant and delightful do I become, when I am in bed with someone who, I feel, adores and appreciates me, that the joy I bring exceeds all pleasure, so the ties of love, however close they seemed before, are knotted tighter still.

Veronica became the most sought-after courtesan in the city. Writing an erotic novella about a woman who practised ‘free love’ has been exciting. Veronica was promiscuous, yes, she had to be; how else to please the King of France but with the imaginative use of Murano glass? She was a self-promoter, but she also loved deeply and was loved in return. In the following excerpt, Veronica is entertaining two of her patrons, aiming to be invited to a literary salon. There she meets Domenico Venier, who becomes her editor. Even in the 16th Century, having an editor was vital to a writer.

***

Teaser #6“We make polite conversation throughout the meal, but, as soon as we progress to the portego for after-dinner drinks and entertainment, I get right to the point. ‘My lord, Signor Ludovico tells me you frequent a literary salon.’

‘That’s right. Domenico Venier’s. ’Tis the most important gathering place for intellectuals and writers in Venice.’

‘Are courtesans welcome there?’

‘I’ve noticed a few. Why?’

I’m seized by a sudden shyness. Will he think I’m being forward? Thankfully, Ludovico answers for me.

‘I’ve told you about Veronica’s abilities. Don’t tease the girl!’

The count laughs and drains his glass. I reach across to refill it, my gaze meeting his. ‘I write poetry. My greatest desire is to learn from others and improve my own work.’

‘Will you read me one of your poems?’

‘With pleasure.’ I go to my desk and return with the verse on which I’m now working.

Teaser 1If you are overcome by love for me,

Take me in far sweeter fashion

Than anything my quill can describe.

Your love can be the steadfast knot that pulls me towards you,

Joined to you more tightly than a nail in hard wood;

Your love can make you master of my life,

Show me the love I’ve asked for from you,

And you’ll then enjoy my sweetness to the full.

 

‘Very good!’ Andrew Tron rises from his chair and bows. ‘You have talent, Signora Veronica. I shall be delighted to introduce you to Venier. Pray tell me, in what far sweeter fashion can a man take you than your quill can describe?’

I laugh. ‘Ah, that’s something I have yet to discover – which is why my quill cannot describe it.’

***

It was a joy to bring Veronica to life on the page. I did have some issues when publishing to Amazon. My book cover, for the paperback, usedVeronica Cover Paperback PRINT2 (2)-page-001 (1) a famous old work of art, The Venus of Urbino, by Titian. I chose it as it’s supposed to be the painting of a 16th Century Venetian courtesan, even if she wasn’t Veronica Franco.

The cover was accepted by Create Space, but rejected by Kindle which doesn’t allow nudity in any form. A banner placed across her breasts just didn’t look right, so I commissioned a new cover for the e-book version from my wonderful designer JD Smith.

I’ve learnt a lot about publishing an erotic novella through my experiences with Veronica. My next book in the erotic courtesans series is “The Submission of Theodora”, based on another real character. Set in 6th Century Constantinople, it’s inspired by a courtesan who became involved with the most powerful man in the world: the Emperor’s nephew and heir apparent. So far, it’s coming along nicely and I expect to publish it in early November.

Thanks again, Write Romantics, I’ve loved sharing Veronica with you. Here are my social media links.

www.siobhandaiko.wordpress.com

www.fragrantpublishing.com

Facebook Page

Fragrant Courtesans Facebook

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads

Twitter

You Tube Book Trailer

Inspiration and making it happen with Siobhan Daiko

Siobhan 3Today we’re delighted to welcome Siobhan Daiko to share her writing journey with us and, hopefully, to bring a little bit of Italian sunshine with her. Over to you, Siobhan…

I’m really honoured to be hosted on the Write Romantics blog today. Thank you so much for having me! I met Jo online two years ago and have been enjoying reading the posts ever since. So it’s fab to be here.

Writing wasn’t something that I’ve always done, unlike most other writers I know. Yet I’ve always been creative. My father was an artist and encouraged me to paint when I was a child. I loved it, but I was also a linguist, and that’s the direction my life initially took.

My passion for writing only started when the empty-nest syndrome kicked in. My son had left for uni and an old friend had become a published author. Naively, I thought I could become one too. So I wrote a novel about a school-teacher in Wales (I was a school-teacher in Wales at the time). I thought it would be the next Bridget Jones. Ha! I did complete it, and sent it to the RNA NWS. My reader was encouraging, but I would have needed to have completely re-written it, and my heart wasn’t in the story. Instead, there was a different story in my head, clamouring to be told.

The idea for The Orchid Tree had come to me while I was researching my grandparents’ experiences in the notorious The Orchid Tree Cover MEDIUM WEBStanley Civilian Internment Camp in Hong Kong during World War II, and the first part of the novel is set there. To lighten the darkness of the subject matter, I focused on two very different romances. I’d grown up in the ex-colony, and the post-war section is inspired by a place I know and love.

Fast forward to 2014, and I’d written several drafts, taken early-retirement, and had moved with my hubby and two cats to my family’s second home in Italy. I’d started submitting, and, after the book had been rejected a few times, I heard about a fantastic editor, John Hudspith, who helped me get it into shape. A small publisher in Edinburgh then asked for the full manuscript, and I waited, and waited, and waited for their decision.

By then, another story had started clamouring in my head, and, in six months, I wrote my next novel, Lady of Asolo, a time-slip historical romance set in the area where I now live. I’m definitely inspired by locations that touch my heart!

Lady of Asolo Cover MEDIUM WEBA couple of nudges to the publisher in Edinburgh produced the same response: The Orchid Tree was still under consideration. Rapidly losing the will to live, I decided not to submit Lady of Asolo anywhere. I set up Fragrant Publishing to publish my Fragrant Books, found a fantastic cover designer, JD Smith, organised a Facebook launch party, learnt how to format for Kindle and Create Space, and started my self-publishing journey.

Becoming an indie author, for me, was definitely the right decision. I’m not getting any younger, as they say, and I wasn’t prepared to play the waiting game any longer. So far, I’ve loved everything about the self-publishing experience. Publishing Lady of Asolo taught me a lot about the process, which I could use when I withdrew my submission from the Edinburgh publisher and launched The Orchid Tree myself. And I’m still learning. There are so many opportunities out there for Indies. The best thing I did was to have my work properly edited and to commission a professional cover design. I still have to get to grips with marketing, but my books are selling and it’s great to log onto my Create Space and Amazon Kindle Direct accounts to check their progress, and even better to get a monthly royalty payment. Lady of Asolo is being translated into Italian via Babelcube. The Orchid Tree is being produced as an audio-book via ACX, and, just last week, I heard that it has been accepted by Fiberead for translation into Chinese.

My next project is a series of erotic historical novellas, inspired by the lives of famous courtesans. Why erotica? It’s an fragrant havenexperiment, to see if I can pull it off. There’s a lot of hard-core BDSM erotica on the market at present, and I’d like to publish something different. There might be a niche-market of readers who would enjoy what I’m writing. And, if there isn’t, at least I’ll have given it my best shot. Book 1 is based on the life of Veronica Franco, one of the most talented courtesans in 16th Century Venice, another of my favourite places, and should be ready for publication this summer.

Long-term, I would like to write a sequel to The Orchid Tree. Then, perhaps, another historical romance. Sometimes, I wish there were more hours in the day…

Thanks again for having me on your Saturday blog spot. I wish all the Write Romantics and their readers every success, but, most of all, continued enjoyment of this wonderful passion that we all share.

Thanks so much for joining us on the blog today, Siobhan, your passion for writing, and those places you love, really shines through in your post.

Now is a brilliant time to check out Siobhan’s atmospheric novels, as they are both on offer:

The Orchid Tree is discounted to £0.99/$1.99 until Monday 27, and Lady of Asolo to £0.99/$0.99 until 1st May.

Siobhan is also currently offering a wonderful short story called Fragrant Haven completely free.

To find out more about Siobhan and her beautiful base in Italy, you might also like to visit her blog. You can also follow Siobhan on Twitter – @siobhandaiko – and Facebook.

Finally, we’re thrilled that Siobhan has chosen the Write Romantic blog for the cover reveal of the first novella in her erotica series, Veronica:

“So sweet and delicious do I become, when I am in bed with a man who, I sense, loves and enjoys me, that the pleasure I bring exceeds all delight, so the knot of love, however tight it seemed before, is tied tighter still.”

Veronica Cover MEDIUM WEBMarried at sixteen to an abusive husband, feisty Veronica Franco escapes his cruelty by taking the only option open to her. Soon, she’s feted as one of the most beautiful and sought-after courtesans in 16th Century Venice.

A talented seductress, she’s able to create desire in her patrons under her own terms, giving them her body but not her heart. She courts the cultural élite for fame and fortune, publishing her poems and letters, while battling to maintain a balance between her sense of self-worth and the need to win and keep the support of men.

But when disaster strikes, and her life begins to unravel, will she be strong enough to hold her own in a man’s world?

Finding A Sense of Place with Jane Lythell

13 Oct 2014 Author picOur guest on the blog today is the lovely Jane Lythell. Jane lives in Brighton and is a sea-lover, star-gazer, film and football fan. She was formerly a Producer at TV-am and Commissioning Editor of Features at Westcountry Television. Jane left to become Deputy Director of the British Film Institute and later Chief Executive of BAFTA before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for seven years. She now writes full time and her second novel has just been published by Head of Zeus. Write Romantic Jo was lucky enough to meet Jane at a writers’ lunch organised by the equally wonderful Kerry Fisher. It was a day filled with laughter, fun and some brilliant advice for new writers, so we are really lucky that Jane has agreed to write a guest post for us, to tell us all about the inspiration for the setting of her second novel, her experiences with the first and to share her top writing tips. Here’s Jane to tell us more…

I’ve been a bookworm since primary school and wanted to write all my life, but I was a single parent with a small daughter and a large mortgage. For years I worked in the kind of jobs that didn’t end at six pm. There would be calls and emails deep into the evening and very little thinking and writing time. My great treat was to go on Arvon residential writing weeks. Arvon is a terrific organisation and those courses certainly helped keep my writing flame alive. In May 2011 I finally got into a financial position where I could give myself two full years to write. At last I had the time to do the one thing I’d wanted to do for years.

I’m interested in the dark side of people and what makes them do extreme things. My first novel ‘The Lie of You’ explores jealousy that deepens into full blown obsession. My second novel ‘After The Storm’ also has one character in the grip of psychological trauma.

‘After The Storm’ opens in Belize City and then moves to an island in the Caribbean called Roatan. An English couple,FINAL After the Storm_JANE Rob and Anna, have just met an American couple Owen and Kim who have a handsome old wooden boat. Owen suggests they charter his boat and he will take them to Roatan, where the diving is sensational. Anna does not want to go at all, but Rob is really keen and he persuades her. Unknown to them Kim is desperate to go home to Florida. It is Owen who is determined to continue their life on the boat. So straightaway we have conflict of wishes between the four characters and a boat can be a very claustrophobic place when tensions start to build.

They set off. With only the four of them on board it should be paradise: lazy afternoons spent snorkelling; long nights enjoying the silence and solitude of the sea. But why does Owen never sleep? Why is he so secretive about his past? And why does Kim keep a knife zipped into her money-belt? Anna, who is a speech therapist, can usually get people to talk… but this time does she want to?

I wanted ‘After The Storm’ to have a strong sense of place. I’ve been to Belize and to Roatan and I always felt they would make a great setting for a novel. Roatan is beautiful but it also has a kind of frontier feeling to it where the normal rules don’t seem to apply. I kept a journal when I was there and took lots of photos and I used these to help me create the atmosphere of the island. I try to write character driven stories rather than plot driven stories. My aim is to let the plot develop from how a particular character reacts to circumstances given their history and their psychology.

The shoutline on the cover is ‘Some Secrets Destroy You…’ It took us a while to get to this but I think it’s a very apt one because there are all kinds of secrets in the novel – some are trivial, some are serious and some are deadly.

LOY Paperback Cover‘The Lie of You’ has had over a hundred reviews and I can’t thank readers enough for taking the time to write down their reactions. These reviews are pure gold for a debut writer. And yes a few of them are negative but you learn from these ones too. One of the points that emerged was a difference of opinion about whether or not to sympathise with Heja by the end of the book. This definitely divided people. In ‘After The Storm’ there are four main characters and I’m so looking forward to hearing what readers make of them all because you do become attached to your characters.

Quite a few readers said they found ‘The Lie of You’ very ‘filmic’ and I hope ‘After The Storm’ has this same quality. This could be because I worked in film and television for fifteen years. I do see the scenes in my novel unspooling as film sequences as I’m writing them.

My top writing tips
For me it’s all about creating characters that readers will believe in. I try to think about what food they would eat, what flat they would live in and what single thing they fear most in life. You don’t have to put this in but it will help make them real to you as you write them.

Don’t worry if your characters are flawed or have some nasty sides to them. Flawed people are interesting. It doesn’t matter if your readers dislike them or adore them. But it does matter if they don’t believe in them.

Show your drafts to people you respect. I asked two close friends and my partner, who is a TV writer, to give me some frank and honest feedback. You can only learn from that and their comments helped me so much.
Take the time to edit your writing again and again. Your first draft is just that – a first draft. You only get one chance with a publisher so you need to get your book into as perfect a form as possible. Never submit too early.

And finally, I find it helps me to write standing up! I’ve rigged up my laptop to be the right height and it certainly makes me feel more alert.

Jane Lythell

Find out more about more about the Avron Foundation and Jane’s books at the links below:

ARVON FOUNDATION http://www.arvon.org/

AFTER THE STORM – on Kindle from 1 December and in bookshops from 7 January is available here.

THE LIE OF YOU is available here.

Sangria in the park, anyone?

It’s almost the end of February and it’s my son’s birthday on the 28th.  He was very nearly born the following day which, once every four years, is of course a leap year.  Pondering on this, I thought about what happens to that extra day and all the ones in between.  Do any of us really make the most of it and, in the words of the late Lou Reed, ever really get our Perfect Day?  Although, it’s not a leap year this year, it still inspired this week’s Wednesday Wondering, which is to ask you all what you would do if you had a day completely free to decide what to with it, from morning to night?  What would your perfect day look like and have you ever had one?

Jo
This is my final Wednesday Wondering for at least eight months, whilst the rest of The Write Romantics take their turn, so I’m glad to be spending it having my perfect day J.  I think, like a number of others, my perfect day would be spent eating, drinking and laughing with my nearest and dearest.  It would start with me rising early and writing a couple of thousand words, before my husband wakes up and brings me a cup of tea and a crispy bacon sandwich on tiger bread and a steaming hot cup of tea.  Next, I think a morning spent on a beach, rock-pooling with the children and feasting on locally made ice cream would be lovely.  Then hubby could take over with the children, whilst I catch the latest rom–com movie with friends and a late lunch of a clotted-cream afternoon tea.  Then, with the aid of a baby sitter, out with hubby for cocktails and a plate of salt and pepper squid.  A quick check of my emails on arriving home would reveal the offer a three book deal.  So I could finish the day in the hot-tub, looking up at the stars, with a glass of Champagne!

Julie
What a great question. I often think about people born on 29th Feb and whether they feel really special or perhaps struggle with identity issues as their actual birthday date is missing for 3 out of 4 years. Interesting. I think one of the most perfect days that stands out to me from start to finish was my wedding day. I know that may sound corny but everything was perfect; the weather, the food, the outfits, the disco at the reception … It had a couple of mishaps but they made the day funny e.g. I didn’t think about the extra height that the tiara would give to my head and knocked my hair on the door frame when getting into the car to go to the church. This knocked my head forward and I kissed the top of my dress. I was wearing a fairly bright lipstick! I also scraped my dress along the tires and got muck all over it. Then I messed up my vows and got the giggles in the church. But these things made it special.

As for just being handed a day for free and told I could spend it however I wanted, I’m torn between the ‘right’ answer and the selfish one! Selfishly, I’d love nothing more than to spend the whole day lost in the world of creativity that is writing my book. The phone wouldn’t ring, the cats wouldn’t constantly squeak at me to be fed and I’d have absolute peace. I’m lucky to snatch an hour here and there normally which is why this is bliss. The ‘right’ answer would be a day with the family but with nobody being in a grump (hubby) or having a strop (daughter). It would be a day in the great outdoors, location flexible, as long as it included a walk, some photo opportunities, a nice treat like an ice cream or a cake, a mooch round a couple of gift shops and probably a visit to somewhere historical. Given that I live in Scarborough, I have all that on my doorstep and I love it that I’m not actually from here so I don’t take it for granted; instead, I consider myself very lucky to be able to walk along the seafront and visit the castle etc whenever I want.

Alex
I like the idea of a perfect day but it wouldn’t be in February! I’d definitely want to save it until May or June when there’s some hope of a warm and sunny day in Yorkshire.  Then I’d probably go to Whitby.  It’s just over an hour’s drive for me and through some stunning countryside in the North Yorkshire Moors.  When I got there I’d walk down the 199 steps from the Abbey into the town and have lunch in my favourite teashop before walking along the sands and browsing in the lovely shops.  There would then have to be fish and chips for tea before I headed for home.

Jackie
I’ve been thinking about it on and off all week and am really stumped to work out what my perfect day would be- unless it was eating my way through the dessert menu at a really posh hotel- or even better having Simon Baker feed me!

Simon Baker

Helen R
I think I could say that I have had lots of days where I get to the end and just think, “Ah, that was the best day”. Major events are usually overshadowed by adrenaline though so when I think of a “perfect day” it’s more about simplicity…usually the sun would be shining, I would be with family perhaps on a walk followed by relaxing lunch with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc.

Deirdre
I think for my perfect day I’d have to be in my favourite place, which is anywhere in the Sussex countryside.  Then add to that my favourite people, which would be my close family and some special friends.  It would be sunny all day, warm enough to be wearing a nice (hopefully new) summer dress and sandals, and there would be the most delicious food and drink.  Right then, now I’m in the beautiful cottage garden of an old timbered pub and we’re sitting round a vast wooden table with one of those umbrellas over it.  My food has just arrived – deep fried whitebait, with salad and home-made chunky chips, after which I’ll have chocolate pud, all washed down with champagne, best quality of course.  The conversation is light and funny and everyone’s happy with no worries whatsoever.  The birds are singing and there isn’t a pesky wasp in sight.  In the evening we’d all go back to our house, which would have miraculously trebled in size since we left, and sit about watching a great film on the giant screen TV (OK, another miracle required…) with some delicious nibbles and more champagne.  Mmm, when is this perfect day and can I have it soon please?

Rachael
If I had an extra day, first I’d have to insist it was a lovely summer’s day. I’d get up early and head off to one of the many places in the country I’m always promising myself of going to. I love castles and old houses and enjoy losing myself in the history of the place.

I did do that last year when I travelled to Sheffield for the RNA Conference. I have always wanted to go to Chatsworth, so took an extra day off the farm and visited this marvellous place the day before the conference. The sun shone as I wandered around the grounds and listening to the guide as I went through the house gave a real insight to the history of the place. It’s a place that it now on my revisit list!

Lynne
We had pretty much my perfect day last weekend, we were childless all day and went on a lovely drive round Oxford then stopped at a really lovely garden centre which is so much more than just plants but has lovely things to tempt. Then we stopped at a fab country house hotel on the way home for afternoon tea. I love old houses and this, Bibury Court, is a 17th C building with a huge wood fire and loads of squashy sofas in which to curl up & read the papers. Then, home early, to read one of the fab works by my fellow Write Romantics of course. What could be better!

So, come on then, The Write Romantics are giving you a free day to create your perfect twenty-four hours, so please tell us what you plan to do with it and we can all indulge together!

Jo x

Monday Interview with Jean Bull

Jean Bull is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association’s New Writers Scheme and is the self published author of Gipsy Moth, a novel set in 1930s Devon, and an anthology of short stories entitled Postcards and Suntan Cream.

Jean Bull

Hi Jean, welcome to the Write Romantics Blog and thanks so much for taking the time to be an interviewee.

Hi everyone, thank you very much for letting me be a part of your blog. I live in Oxfordshire, and love exploring the countryside. I belong to a ladies walking group, but with all our talking, I’m sure we scare all the wildlife away! I also enjoy reading novels set in the places I visit at home and abroad.

We know that, like us, you are a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you have been a member, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?

I joined the NWS three years ago after seeing an article in a writing magazine about Katie Fforde who said what a good opportunity it was for unpublished writers. I write mainly historical romance, but have written some modern stories too. I love history and one of my greatest wishes would be to travel back in time to see how things really were.

I’ve also adored books from an early age and would always ask for them for Christmas and birthdays, so I think my love of writing grew from that.

Please can you tell us a bit about your journey so far, your self-publishing experiences and what is next for you?

Like many authors, I found it very difficult, ok, impossible, to find an agent for my novel, Gipsy Moth. My husband read about EL James, and thought I should have a go, but of course, my book is nothing like hers!

Jean Gipsy Moth

I didn’t find self-publishing too difficult. Firstly I asked Samantha Groom Magicat45degrees@googlemail.com to create a cover which was fantastic and really made me feel that self-publishing was possible. Then with the help of Catherine Ryan Howard’s book Self-Printed, and some guidelines from RNA member, Freda Lightfoot, I formatted my text for Amazon Kindle. Afterwards, I contacted Lonsdale Print Solutions to print me 100 copies to sell locally. It was wonderful to actually hold my own book in my hands!

Gipsy Moth has done quite well and you can buy it here. I am working on another novel set in the First World War, but I’ve also self-published a book of short stories Postcards and Suntan Cream which is available here!

Jean Suntan

Have you got any advice for other aspiring writers?

My advice is read as much as you can, and write as much as you can. You need the reading to develop your skills and feed your knowledge. And if you don’t write, your writing dreams will never come true!

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

I would really like to be published by a mainstream publisher. I think that is every writer’s dream.

What has been the single biggest benefit of joining the NWS, do you think?

The single biggest benefit has undoubtedly been meeting so many friendly writers, not only people striving like me to be published, but also those well known novelists who are always willing to help and give advice.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or any other advice you can offer?

It’s really worth going to the RNA conference, and meeting up with your local group each month for all that help and advice I’ve just mentioned. I’ve found that everyone in the RNA and NWS is so supportive.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Jean.  The Write Romantics would like to wish you continued success with your self-published work, as well as with fulfilling the rest of your writing dreams.

Find out more about Jean by following her at the links below:

http://jeanbullswritingblog.blogspot.com/
Follow me on Twitter @jean_bull
Gipsy Moth available on Amazon Kindle
Postcards and Suntan Cream available on Amazon Kindle