Jessica is Dreaming About Daran

What started out as a snippet of an idea thirteen years ago grew into something bigger. I had a protagonist, Sarah, who needed two best friends for her story to work. One of them needed to support her in her ‘quest’ and the other needed to think that the ‘quest’ was a “pile of bollocks”.

Whilst I loved Sarah and her supportive friend, Elise, her not-quite-so-supportive friend, Clare, really captured my imagination. Feisty and full of fun, she was a friend with a past and, as the words to my debut novel Searching for Steven poured out, it became apparent that both Elise and Clare had their own stories to tell. Stories that could not possibly be justified as a sub plot in Steven. They needed novels of their own! (Greedy characters!)

Dreaming About Daran CoverElise’s story  – Getting Over Gary – naturally needed to be told as the first sequel because I knew hers was going to be a bit gentler. Clare’s would be more explosive and bring a fitting climax to the trilogy.

Today is the launch day and I’m delighted to release Dreaming About Daran into the world to join my other boys. It’s my favourite cover of the three stories, my favourite character, and my favourite story… although don’t tell Sarah and Elise as I love them too and don’t want to upset them.  It’s also a bit deeper and darker that the two before so be warned!

I’ve had a few technical issues with my paperbacks so can’t include any pictures here of me dressed in blue to match the cover (I have colour coordinated myself for both of the other ones – does that make me a bit sad?) but I can put a picture of what they look like together before Daran got boxed up again and sent back to the printer.

I’m thrilled to hear that there are already three 5-star reviews on Amazon from reviewers who obtained a copy early for an honest opinion. And I mean honest opinion. If these reviewers don’t like a book, they will say so. Therefore, getting 5-star reviews from them is a dream-like thing!

Here’s the blurb about Daran:

Sometimes, you can run from the past, but you can’t hide. Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:

  1. Don’t talk about Ireland
  2. Don’t think about Ireland
  3. Don’t go to Ireland
  4. Never let anyone in

And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, some amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future’s all that counts, isn’t it?

However, when her boss insists she travels to Ireland to repair a damaged relationship with a key client, Clare finds herself drawn back to the small village of Ballykielty where she comes face to face with the one person she’d hoped never, ever to see again.

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Can Clare stick to rule number four?

Happy reading!

Jessica xx

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The letter from the Tooth Fairy – Saturday Spotlight with Amy Lynch

We’re excited to welcome Amy Lynch to the Saturday Spotlight. Amy is an Irish author of women’s commercial fiction and writing  is her passion. She loves to write humorous romantic fiction, but not always with fairy tale  endings! She has published fiction in magazines, and has  worked in the charity sector for twelve years. She is  married with two young children. When she is not writing,  Amy can be found juggling school lunches and two Shetland pony-sized rescue dogs. Now,  how’s that for multi-tasking? Amy is the author of two novels, Bride Without A Groom and Does My Bump Look Big In This? Her third novel is in progress.

Over to Amy …

The tooth fairy made her very first visit to the Lynch house last night. Let’s just say that on an excitement scale of one to ten, it was an eleven. You see, during a posh Sunday lunch at the golf club with the in-laws, out popped my six year old daughter’s tiny bottom tooth. Next thing you know, I’m scrambling under the table to find it, as my daughter squeals in delight. The tooth had been wiggling about all week, threatening to escape, and the little keepsake box from her teacher was at the ready.

Amy in garden 2Now, paper money, the child informed the amused grown-ups at the table, is better than coin money. And sometimes, she educated us, the fairy left little letters to the children. Some of the girls in her class had lost teeth, you see, so she was quite up to date on the old tooth fairy etiquette. Our younger child was less interested in tooth fairies. He was busy cramming the remaining profiteroles in his chocolate-smeared gob while his sister created a charming distraction. You have to admire the little guy, he didn’t waste an opportunity.

‘Ah yes,’ my mother-in-law winked, ‘the children must be in bed early tonight. They must be asleep when she comes.’

Afraid to miss out on the cold hard cash, the kids were out like a light. This was handy, because my husband and I got to watch back to back uninterrupted episodes of ‘Game of Thrones.’ Before going to bed, my husband put a large two Euro coin into the little white box, along with the teeniest letter you’ve ever seen. The mastermind behind the letter, of course, was me. It was a complex, long-winded note, explaining that the tooth fairy (Frenchy) was going to use the tooth to make a necklace for her sister (Pinky) whose birthday it was, and that there was to be a great ball held in Fairyland, and all of the fairies would be dancing in the moonlight. And yes, before you ask, I’d had a large glass of wine before writing it.

At exactly six forty five on a Bank Holiday Monday morning (blast that flipping tooth fairy, this was even earlier than Christmas morning) the children leapt from their beds, exclaiming the good news. The tooth fairy, as promised, had come up with the goods.

Amy bookshopWhat delighted us the most was not that our daughter insisted that she was going to treat the entire extended family (including long lost cousins) to ice-creams with her mega two Euro coin, but that she was able to read the teeny letter aloud, all by herself. In fact, she read it to everyone we met today.

The love of reading comes from me. When I was little, dad and I used to adore flicking lazily through The Beano. Later, we progressed to Roald Dahl, our library cards frayed at the edges from frequent Saturday visits. When I close my eyes, the illustrations by Quentin Blake are still visible in my mind. These days, I’m reading ‘The Magic Finger’ to the children, who share my love of Roald Dahl, and have a library card each.

At eight o’clock every night, my daughter begs for more time before lights out, so that she can finish reading. She permanently has a pen in her hand, doodling and writing constantly. At night, I creep into their bedroom, avoid the creaky floorboard, and remove the pen from her little hand.  She says that when she grows up, she wants to write books, just like her mummy. Perhaps the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. When I look at my daughter, I see the same love of reading and writing, the same hard-working, chatty personality, the same freckled nose. The bookworm gene, I now see, passes from one generation to the next. And just think of all the wonderful stories just waiting to be enjoyed!

Bride Without a Groom is Amy’s debut novel, and was launched by Harper Collins UK in June of this year.

Rebecca has chosen the most luscious, five tiered, wedding cake. The engagement ring that she has selected is celebrity inspired. The wedding singer is on speed dial. He doesn’t usually do Michael Bolton, but as it’s for a first dance he’ll make an exception. Father Maguire is checking dates for the parish church as we speak. The deposit on the white sand honeymoon is paid for in full on Barry’s card. She has fallen for an ivory lace couture gown that is to die for. The down payment may require her to sell a left kidney, but it will be worth it. Isn’t that why you have two?

There’s one teeny tiny problem. It’s nothing, really. No need to panic! It’s just that Barry has yet to propose. Says he’s not ready! He can be a bit of a kill joy that way. It’s time to face the harsh reality – Rebecca is a bride without a groom!

US amzn.to/1MlTewZ  $1.99

UK http://amzn.to/1JVC7ls 99p

Thanks for joining us, Amy. We wish you continued success with your writing.

Alys & Jessica xx

Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Cathy Mansell

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Our guest today is Cathy Mansell, writer of romantic suspense novels set mainly in the nineteenth century Ireland and England. Cathy was born and brought up in Ireland and now lives in Leicestershire.  I met her at the Romantic Novelists’ Association winter party, and her bubbly enthusiasm for her writing made quite an impression on me so I invited her along to tell us more.

Welcome to our blog, Cathy.  I believe you had written more than one book before you were published.  Was that always the plan or did you approach publishers with your first book?

Shadow-Across-The-Liffey-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300Yes, that is true.  I had three books written and was writing my fourth before I got lucky. By this time, I was desperate to see my books published and hold one in my hand. I had done the rounds many times, for years, in fact, with the first two books, ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ and ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, without success. Strangely enough, it was my third book, ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’, that was picked up first.

I understand you were a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme until ‘Shadow Across the Liffey’ was published.  What advice do you have for new writers joining the NWS now?

I love the RNA. The help and support I received over the years from the New Writers’ Scheme has been priceless. We’re so lucky to have this level of support for new writers. Encouragement and friendships have developed through being a member of this brilliant group.

How has your Irish heritage influenced your writing?  Does setting your stories in Ireland mean you get to go back there often?

Yes, I think being Irish and writing Irish books is my advantage. When I was writing ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’, I visitedHer-Fathers-Daughter-by-Cathy-Mansell-500-200x300 Ireland for research. ‘Her Father’s Daughter’, set mainly in Cork city, took me to Cork four times.  It was lovely to get to know the city and the people.  But I don’t need an excuse to take a flight across the sea. I’m very fond of Ireland in spite of having lived in Leicestershire for over forty years

How much do you research the historical settings of your novel?

The historical part of ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ came partly from family stories, history remembered from my school days and having once had a family member who lived in America. I do love the research part of writing and find I always learn something new that can be unexpected and exciting.

We’ve seen your books described both as romantic suspense and family sagas.  Which of those do you think best applies to your books, or are they a mixture of both?

Where_the_Shamrocks_Grow_by_Cathy_Mansell_-_200I see myself as a romantic suspense writer but sometimes the books are put into a niche that says they are sagas. Having said that, I think ‘Where the Shamrocks Grow’ could be classed as a saga, more so than my other three books.  I’d like to be known as a romantic suspense writer because I always have an undesirable character lurking in there somewhere.

Some of us might like to try our hand at writing romantic suspense in the future. Can you give us any advice on writing in that genre?

I think the suspense part of the novel gives the romantic side of the story an added dimension, and I would always advise anyone writing romantic suspense to make sure they have a realistic sinister character. Important not to let them take over from your main heroine or hero.

Do you have favourite times of the day when you feel the most creative?  How do you organise your writing time so that you achieve all your goals and deadlines?

Early morning is my time and again late at night. I get a lot of interruptions during the day. I’m on the internet morning and evening blogging and promoting my books. I’ve not had any major deadlines yet, but I usually try to give a certain amount of time to each project I’m doing, and keep going back to it until I’ve finished.

When you’re planning a new book, which comes first, the characters or the story?

The title comes into my head first, and then the character. I know, most authors don’t choose a title until the book is Galway-Girlfinished.  I work the story and the characters around a working title. It keeps me on track

Could you tell what you’re working on at the moment and what your writing ambitions are for the coming year?

I’m writing a new romantic suspense set in Dublin and Birmingham around the 60s. I have a strong heroine who has troubles from the word go. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another publication in late 2015, and have been contracted by Magna large print for all four books for library and audio in 2015. I’m a happy lady.

Thank you for asking me to feature on The Write Romantics’ blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.

It’s been a pleasure, Cathy.  Best of luck with your 60s book, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again at this year’s RNA events.

Deirdre

You can find out more about Cathy and get in touch with her through her website http://cathymansell.com/

If you’d like to leave a comment, please click where it says ‘leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in tiny little writing at the bottom of this post.  

Deirdre

Saturday Spotlight: Adrienne Vaughan

It’s an absolute pleasure to welcome Adrienne Vaughan to the blog today. Author of the romantic suspense ‘Heartfelt’ series, editor of Romance Matters and aspiring Bond Girl, Adrienne is also one of New Romantics Press, an  inspirational group of self published authors  who have recently taken part in an author showcase at Waterstone’s Kensington branch.  With her being such an amazing lady the Write Romantics had lots and lots of questions for Adrienne… 

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We know you’re a journalist and editor of Romance Matters as well as a writer. How hard is it to find time to write? 

I was given a turquoise Petite Typewriter when I was seven and my fate was sealed. I used to sit at the kitchen table and cut out articles and pictures, then paste them onto pages, making my own magazines. My mother would often sit down with a nice cup of tea and Woman’s Own, only to find I’d snipped out half the magazine when she wasn’t looking! I run a busy PR practice, and Romance Matters is just one of the magazines I work on, the others are more corporate, featuring architecture, construction and property. My creative writing is what I do when I’m not at my ‘official desk’. I write long hand – so my first typescript is an edit – usually very early in the morning,  or when I’m on holiday, in an aeroplane, on a train, anywhere really. I think you have to make time to write, I know I do.

How has being a member of the New Romantics benefitted you? 

Being a founder member of the New Romantics Press was, and still is, totally inspirational. Four very different writers, with distinct styles and voices, yet  I now have three buddies I just can’t imagine being without. We support each other, nag each other, admire each other and love each other. I say unreservedly, I would not be a published writer without  Lizzie Lamb, June Kearns and Mags Cullingford. They’ve helped my dream come true. End of.

June, Adrienne and Lizzie at the Waterstones Author Showcase (Unfortunately Mags Cullingford was recovering from knee surgery and couldn't join them)

June, Adrienne and Lizzie at the Waterstones Author Showcase (Unfortunately Mags Cullingford was recovering from knee surgery and couldn’t join them)

How big a help has social media and the New Romantics blog been in promoting your books?

Social media – particularly for an independent – is the main route to our audience, our readers. Without it I wouldn’t have readers who have both enjoyed my books and written some great reviews too. My first novel, The Hollow Heart has been downloaded by over 30,000 people, how else would I have reached even 300 without social media, Amazon and the internet.

We know you’re lucky enough to own a horse (Sharon Booth will be so jealous!) When did you get it? Does riding influence your writing at all?

My beautiful horse was extremely elderly and went to heaven at the end of last year. It was his time and it was a happy ending but I do miss him. One of the most fascinating things about riding, is that you have to communicate with another animal in a way it will understand and you must always remember, the animal you have given your complete trust has a brain of its own too. When it goes right, like a fabulous hack out, or winning a competition, it’s the most amazing feeling. My latest novel, Secrets of the Heart, features riding within the story and of course, the book is dedicated to my horse, Marco, as well as my late grandfathers …all wonderful gentlemen.

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 What’s next now the ‘Heart’ series of books are finished?

Tough question. I currently have two on the go. The Scandal of the Seahorse Hotel and A Most Deadly Affair – both romantic suspense and both totally different, although ‘Deadly’ will involve a lot more research, so I think that will take a back seat to ‘Scandal’ until that’s finished.

  •  Why do your books have an Irish setting?

Although born in England, I was brought up in Dublin and my family are all Irish. I have lived in the UK for over thirty years now, although I flit between the two countries very regularly.

My first novel – still (unsurprisingly) unpublished – was written thirty years ago, inspired by Maeve Binchy’s, Light A Penny Candle, so maybe writing about Ireland keeps me connected. I do have to check with family and friends I don’t fall into what they call ‘Plastic Irish’ – if my ‘voice’ wasn’t authentic, they’d soon tell me about it!

Did you have anyone in mind when you created the sexy Hollywood actor Ryan?

Yes.

(And that was all she’ll say on that one, I’m afraid!)

How did you become editor of Romance Matters (the magazine of the Romantic Novelist’s Association) and what does that involve?

I’d just joined the NWS – a total godsend to me – and there was a notice in the magazine to say the lovely Myra Kersner was standing down after eight years, could anyone help. My hand shot up! The job involves all the wonderful things about being an editor, commissioning articles, planning features, interviewing really important people and making lots of new friends. What’s not to like?

What are your writing plans for the next year?

Hmm, good question. I’m hoping 2015 is the year I start on that long road to becoming recognised as a writer. With three books under my belt, two of which have been shortlisted for an award at the Festival of Romantic Fiction, I’m currently seeking an agent, so we’ll see where that leads. Plus the New Romantics Press has plans for a very special short story anthology later this year, and I also have a small collection of short stories I’m hoping to publish too. I’m hoping I can become a true hybrid, published both traditionally and independently. Although, at the heart of things, it doesn’t really matter, I’ll always write, it’s what I do.

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We see that you had ambitions to be a Bond Girl. Have you based any of your heroes on James Bond?

Had? What do you mean HAD ??? Look, if Dame Judy Dench can do it, there’s hope! The character Ryan plays in his movies, Thomas Bentley is based on a sort of James Bond, but for me, Ryan is a true ‘James Bond’. Daring, single-minded, handsome and very hot – yet totally loyal to both Marianne and Joey – even when things get a bit rocky, he sticks to his guns and gets his girl in the end. Well, thanks for having me and a very happy and fruitful new year to you and all the Write Romantics …keep at it and never, never, never give up. Now, must dash …booked my first skiing lesson …well, you never know, do you?

 

You can check out Adrienne’s website at here, buy the Heartfelt series here and follow her on Twitter at @adrienneauthor. You can find the New Romantics Press here. If you’d like to read Write Romantic Sharon’s review of The Hollow Heart then click here

Huge thanks to Adrienne for joining us today. If you’d like to leave a comment or ask Adrienne a question then please click where it says ‘leave a comment’ or ‘comments’ in tiny little writing at the bottom of this post.  Have a great weekend! Alys x

 

The Saturday Spotlight on Sophie Rose Williamson

Our guest blogger today is Sophie Rose Williamson, who has stopped by to tell us all about the experiences that have influenced her writing and the journey that the characters in her best-selling novel ‘Here Come The Girls’ have taken her on.

S2I am a writer, a wife and a mother. My magical woven carpeted journey towards making the shelves of America’s biggest bookstore Barnes and Noble has been a rollercoaster of twists and turns. I suppose it is a bit like the funfair. There were many rides along the way. Some of them were fairly scary. Some were terribly frightening.

I thought about giving up so many times. The price of making it, of becoming published, famous, a success, is quite steep. The secret of my work and writing has been hard work. I never give up. Sometimes it is quite demoralising. There are no big cheques, a few small ones. Sometimes you don’t make it into the top ten. Yet on the other side of the pond you make it into the American Charts at number 16. That is a staggering feat for a little known Irish paperback writer.

The greatest influence on my writing is my childhood. It was so breathtaking. We spent each and every summer in Garryvoe and Shannon Garry which is situated near Midleton in East Cork, Ireland. Our large extended family drenched the surrounding houses and caravan parks. We took long summer walks along the green cliffs to mesmerizing places like Paradise Cove. The different coloured rocks, the snow capped waves crashing against the stony beaches.   Mam would always be waiting when I arrived home. She never scolded me. Though my father would be irate all the while thinking it was far too dangerous for a little girl to go.

My cousins Anthony and Kenneth would join us. They were my best friends really. All through my childhood they were my constant. I loved them dearly. I wished they would never leave my side. Discos, tennis, running, crazy golf, pottery making classes, summers spent racing through the hot waves and chasing each other on the sand. My imagination went wild. As such, as a teenager living in the equally dreamy sand soaked island of Cyprus my writing career began.

These are the locations which my books are based on. The series Here Come the Girls, followed by Gypsy, are based on my experiences, loosely and in the fictional sense. They are trapped full of Christmas trimmings, childhood and teenage romances. The delectable principal character in my series gets married and moves in with her handsome, sophisticated, business man husband. He leaves her for his mistress. A horrible nervous breakdown ensues. She chases fame, gives birth to an adorable gaggle of children. We are drawn towards a broken women, engulfed in despair, in pain and overcome with grief.

I cannot begin to explain how my books crossed over into the mythical and magical world of another realm. Yet they did. As a broken women, who seems to cry uncontrollably, Amber enters a fantasy world. It takes her away from the despair of her tragic domestic reality. The dark reality that her husband left her one day for the other women, younger, sexier, far superior in each and every way.

I would say that my children, my childhood, my romances and my studies have hugely influenced my writing. I studied history of art at the S1fantastic Trinity College Dublin. It was such a privileged and amazing experience.

So magical mythological creatures, gothic churches with illuminated arched windows, furry snowy owls, and candy floss god mothers, dark lords and dragons creep along the pages of the adult series Here Come the Girls. I am guessing, Amber, the principal character, needed to take a train, to somewhere just to escape the sheer misery life without her children had become. Here Come the Girls is for everyone. It is so innocent, incredibly sexy, a tide of emotions and tears.

The third instalment, Wish List is in the making. I am planning to lock myself away in a quiet place to finish my books. For now its glitz, glamour, photo shoots, hair straigherners, and lip gloss as the books hit the press.  I am focusing on my writing, businesses in the beauty world and building a modest life for my ever growing family.

To find out more please visit my website. The Here Come The Girls Series is available at Barnes and Noble across the USA, Publish America and Amazon worldwide.

Sophie

Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Sophie, and for that poetic and fascinating insight into your past experiences and the way you have woven these into your stories.

Find out more about Sophie and her books here:

http://sophie-rose.weebly.com/

sophierosewilliamson.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sophie-Rose-Williamson/150651671739185?fref=ts

On Twitter @sophierose77

Saturday Spotlight: Interview with Hazel Gaynor

We are delighted to welcome Hazel Gaynor, author of The Girl Who Came Home, to the blog today.  We’ve chosen Hazel’s wonderful book as the first read for the Write Romantics Book Group (you can read more about that here) and we’re very excited to have Hazel chat to us about what inspired her to write the book and her amazing journey from self-published author to the New York Times bestseller lists. Over to Hazel to tell us more…

Hazel Gaynor author photo

  • The Titanic is often associated with the glitz and glamour of the Edwardian period.  What inspired you to tell the story of the Irish steerage passengers?

I’ve always been fascinated by Titanic (I was a teenager when the wreck was discovered) and when I decided to write a novel set around the ship and the tragic events of that April night, I knew I wanted to explore the experience of a third class passenger, rather than that of the wealthy millionaires we know so much about. Living in Ireland, I was also keen to find out more about the Irish passengers who boarded Titanic at her last port of call, in Queenstown, County Cork. History has, in some ways, neglected those of the lower social classes because they were ordinary people. We know plenty about the likes of the Astors and the Strauss’s, but little about the passengers who travelled on third class tickets, many of whom were leaving their homes in England and Ireland in the hope of finding a better life in America. I felt that it was these, ordinary people, who had the most extraordinary stories to tell. I also wanted to explore the aftermath of the disaster and how such an event can have lasting repercussions on a survivor’s life. In the survivor records of Irish passengers, the name Annie Kate Kelly kept coming up. It was that which led me to the story of the Addergoole Fourteen and the inspiration for the novel.

  • The film ‘Titanic’ is a fabulous love story. Was it nerve-wracking telling a completely different story in your book after the film has been so enduring?

I was obviously very conscious of the movie when I started writing the novel, and of course, comparisons will always be made to some degree (although lots of readers have said how much they would love THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME to be made into a movie – which is lovely to hear!). Writing about such a well-known event was certainly a daunting prospect as a debut novelist! That said, I was very clear about the Titanic story I wanted to tell and with my story being based around steerage passengers, and also focusing on the aftermath, and on the impact on family and friends awaiting news of the disaster, I didn’t feel in any way inhibited by the movie’s plot or premise – or its huge success. I didn’t watch the movie while I was writing the novel though – just to make sure I wasn’t mimicking Mr Cameron’s view of the event!

  •  What difference has it made having a publisher rather than continuing with self publishing?

Although I had a very positive experience of self-publishing, I always, always wanted a traditional deal and to work with a publisher. Working with the team at William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins in the U.S.) has been such an amazing experience – and everything I had hoped it would be. The job of a writer is a very lonely one, and with self-publishing there really is a lot of ‘self’ involved. To have the backing, support, enthusiasm, professionalism and belief of a team of experts behind you really is incredible, and has made a huge difference to my confidence as a writer. I have learnt so much from my editor and from the marketing and publicity team, and obviously as one of the big publishers, they have been able to get my book into the hands of so many more readers than I could ever have hoped for. I’m very excited to meet the team, and my agent, on my trip to New York this November.

  •   What’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you since (a) the indie version came out and (b) the published version came out?

I was very fortunate in that THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was very positively received from the very early days as a self-published Kindle ebook. The morning when I received a Facebook message from an agent in New York saying that she’d read the book on her Kindle and would love to talk to me about representation has to be the highlight of my ‘indie’ publishing life, because it was so out of the blue and came at a time when I’d had a second novel rejected and had just lost my agent. And of course, that initial contact led to my deal with William Morrow. Since the published version of the book came out, the most exciting moment has to be when I received an email from my editor telling me that the book had made the New York Times best seller listings. That was a moment to savour, and even better that it came on the second day of our family holiday!!

The Girl Who Came Home

  • What advice would you give to anyone considering going down the indie publishing route? 

Don’t approach it lightly. It can offer a great opportunity to get your work out there, but you have to be prepared to put in a lot of hard work. Make sure the work is your absolute best and that it is edited professionally and has a professional cover designed. I cannot emphasise those points enough. Talk to other indie published authors so you know what to expect and be very clear with yourself about your goals and expectations. I honestly did not expect to get a publishing deal from self-publishing. For me, self-publishing THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME was a way of letting go of that book so I could get on with the next one.

  • There must be a huge amount of historical records and documents about the Titanic. How did you go about researching the historical details about the Titanic, the experience of the survivors and the village in Ireland. 

Titanic is an event that fascinates people and because of that, there are a lot of official and unofficial experts out there! For months, I read everything I could about Titanic and her passengers. I read survivor accounts and newspaper reports from the time. I read other Titanic books, such as Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember and I got lost in Titanic websites like http://www.encyclopaedia-titanica.org. While some historical fiction writers struggle to find material about their subject, my problem was that there was so much and I knew I had to get the balance right between fact and fiction.

When I was writing the novel, I was very conscious of the reality of my story. How would the descendants of those who had inspired my book react to my retelling? How could I tell their story in a way that was respectful, yet also engaging to the reader? I wanted to do justice to the memory of the Addergoole Fourteen, and all of Titanic’s passengers, but I also wanted to tell my story in my own words. Of course, when you’ve spent so long researching a subject you are fascinated by, it is very tempting to throw in every tiny fact and detail. My challenge was to know what to leave out, as well as to know what to put in. I could geek out for hours about Titanic but my job in writing this novel was to tell an engaging story and let the characters – not the history – take priority. The painstakingly researched historical facts should, ideally, just become a part of that story; noticeable and enjoyable, but not distracting.

  • Do you intend to continue to write historical fiction? 

 Yes! I absolutely love writing in this genre and can’t see myself leaving it for quite some time. My second novel, A MEMORY OF VIOLETS, is about two sets of sisters and is set around a charity for orphaned flower sellers in Victorian London. The story spans several decades across the late 1800s and early 1900s. I love the Victorian and Edwardian eras and the streets of Victorian London were a wonderfully haunting place to explore in my imagination. Again, the novel was inspired by true events and I am very excited about the book’s publication in early 2015. I’m also excited to be in the early stages of ‘book three’ which is also historical fiction.

  • We see that you’ve interviewed several well-known writers in the course of your career and we wondered if there was a particular writer who inspires your work?

I’d have to say Philippa Gregory. It was amazing to meet her in person in 2012 because I’ve loved her novels. She’s such a fascinating woman and I think she really blazed a trail in making historical fiction popular through her Tudor Court novels. She brings history to life so vividly on the page and although I’m not writing as far back in history as she does, nor and I writing about royalty, I take a lot of inspiration from her approach to writing history in the novel form. She also tells a great story!

  • Do you have any advice for anyone considering writing historical fiction for the first time?

Ultimately, you need to be very excited about and intrigued by the era, event and/or person you are writing about, because you will inhabit that world for a very long time during the process of research, writing, editing and promoting your novel. I wrote THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME in 2011 and am as excited to talk about it today as I was back then. Research is obviously a critical element of writing historical fiction and a non-writing period to immerse yourself in the era is really important. Other than that, you need to sit down and start writing! Also, remember that you are ultimately writing a novel that will be commercially appealing to publishers and full of engaging characters to captivate the reader. Don’t lose sight of the story among all the fascinating history.

For more information about my books, visit my website http://www.hazelgaynor.com/ or Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/hazelgaynorbooks I am also on Twitter @HazelGaynor on Goodreads and have a Pinterest page at http://www.pinterest.com/hazelgaynor/

A huge thank you to Hazel for joining us today.  If Hazel’s interview has made you want to read ‘The Girl Who Came Home’ then we’d love it if you’d tell us what you think either on this page or over on the Goodreads group which you can find here.

P.S. We’ve realised since we changed the format of the blog that it’s not entirely easy to see where to leave a comment.  We figured this out when we couldn’t find the right place!  At the end of the list of tags at the bottom of the page there’s the words ‘leave a comment’ and if you click on that it’ll take you through.  Just because it’s a little hard to find please don’t think that means we don’t want to hear from you because we do!

 

Introducing the Write Romantics Book Group

All of the Write Romantics love to read about as much as we love to write.  We’ve all got enormous TBR piles and bulging Kindles because each time we interview an author on the blog their novel gets added to the pile. We wanted to find a way to share our love of reading and that’s why we’ve set up The Write Romantics Book Group.

The plan is that each month one of the Write Romantics selects a book and, just like in any other book group, we’ll then be reading that book.  And what I’m hoping is that some of you will want to join in and read with us.  We’ve set up a group on Goodreads which, rather unsurprisingly, is called The Write Romantics Book Group and you can find that here. We’ll be posting comments on each month’s book over there and we hope that you’ll join in the conversation.

Goodreads is brilliant for meeting likeminded book people so please do ‘friend’ us (or whatever the correct terminology is) and let us know what you think.  At the end of the month we’ll post a review on the blog and on Goodreads.

But what should the book group read? Obviously that was a really tough one.  I gave it a lot of thought and I’m really hoping that you’ll like my choice.

Having met Hazel Gaynor at the Romantic Novelists Conference last month and heard her talk about her novel, The Girl Who Came Home, I thought it’d be a great book group choice.   And we’re delighted to say that Hazel will be joining us on Saturday 9th August to answer our questions about her book.

The Girl Who Came HomeHere’s the blurb for the book:

Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is the poignant story of a group of Irish emigrants aboard RMS Titanic—a seamless blend of fact and fiction that explores the tragedy’s impact and its lasting repercussions on survivors and their descendants.

Ireland, 1912. Fourteen members of a small village set sail on RMS Titanic, hoping to find a better life in America. For seventeen-year-old Maggie Murphy, the journey is bittersweet. Though her future lies in an unknown new place, her heart remains in Ireland with Séamus, the sweetheart she left behind. When disaster strikes, Maggie is one of the lucky few passengers in steerage who survives. Waking up alone in a New York hospital, she vows never to speak of the terror and panic of that terrible night ever again.

Chicago, 1982. Adrift after the death of her father, Grace Butler struggles to decide what comes next. When her Great Nana Maggie shares the painful secret she harboured for almost a lifetime about the Titanic, the revelation gives Grace new direction—and leads her and Maggie to unexpected reunions with those they thought lost long ago.

I’ve already read it and I loved it. It’s a real page-turner and also a really emotional read.  You don’t have to just take my word for it though.  It’s been reviewed by Karen at My Reading Corner (check out her review here) and Kirsty at Love of a Good Book (you can find her review here)

I really hope that you’ll join our Book Group and, if you do, that you’ll enjoy reading The Girl Who Came Home as much as I did.  And please do let us know what you think either on this page or over on the Goodreads group.

Happy Reading!

Alys

Liv Thomas on fulfilling her promise

We are delighted to be joined again on the blog today by Liv Thomas. Liv wrote her debut novel, Beneath an Irish Sky, with fellow writer Val Olteanu, under the pen name Isabella Connor. Beneath an Irish Sky was released by Choc Lit in August of last year and their second novel, An Irish Promise, is due for release in November. All this, despite the fact that Val and Liv have never met in person!

Liv’s long held dreams of becoming a writer took a while to come to fruition, as it was only after she received praise for some Lord of the Rings fan-fiction that she decided to make it a reality.

a_LivCongratulations on the success of Beneath An Irish Sky and the completion of the next novel in the series, which we know is due for release in November.  Please can you tell us a little bit about An Irish Promise?

An Irish Promise is the story of how bullying affects a young girl, both in childhood and as an adult. She returns to the village in Ireland where the bullying took place, set on revenge, but of course, romance gets in the way in the form of a handsome Aussie.  The novel also deals with how the results of their actions impact on the bullies themselves.

Is writing a second novel really as difficult as people say and just like the notoriously difficult second album that musicians often describe?  

On the whole, I think it was easier this time because we’re more aware of what’s required.  We’ve also become more used to each other’s writing style.

What have been the best and worst things about being a published author?

The worst thing is having to grit your teeth (and not cry) when someone criticises your baby.  The best thing is the sense of achievement … I don’t know if you ever lose that.

Do you read reviews for your novels and have you had any that you have found it difficult to deal with or been bowled over by?

We’ve been incredibly lucky, and have had some lovely reviews.

Who would play the lead roles if An Irish Promise were made into a film?

We used this visual of Chris Evans (the actor not the presenter!) for the character of Aussie actor Finn.

http://hdwallpappers.com/images/wallpapers/Chris-Evans-Wallpaper1.jpg

He has an incredibly soulful/vulnerable look which conveys Finn’s emotions to perfection. Finn is something of a tortured soul, bless him.

Beneath an Irish SkyHow important do you think networking with others in the publishing industry is and how do you do this?

I have a sadly neglected blog, and am active on Twitter and Facebook.  It’s extremely important to be a part of social media, which is a bit like a rolling stone gathering a huge amount of moss. I think it’s important not to view it purely as a means to promote your work though – on Twitter in particular, there’s nothing worse than following someone who only ever tweets links.  I’m far more likely to click on a link from someone who has socialised and interacted with me.   A Facebook ‘author page’ is also useful.  Try and treat social media as an actual get-together – make conversation, respond to others, and don’t expect help with promotion unless you’re prepared to do the same for them.

If you could go back and give your un-published self any advice what would it be?

Don’t get carried away – we wrote 240k words for Beneath an Irish Sky because we thought there was a minimum number of words that would be accepted, not a maximum!  We had to lose half of it.  In hindsight, it was for the best!

What do you think the main benefits of being supported by a publisher, rather than self-publishing, are?  

You obviously get promotional support, but it’s also a huge psychological boost.  Being accepted by a respected publisher is the realisation of a dream.  I’ve only ever been with Choc Lit, so can’t speak for other authors/publishers, but I would say the support we’ve had is second to none, not just from CL themselves, but from the other writers.  We call it the Choc Lit family, and it is.

What is next for you in terms of working in partnership as Isabella Connor and do you envisage writing separately at some point?

We’re working on a third novel together, so that will take priority.  Eventually, if time allows, we might give solo writing a go, but not at the expense of our partnership.  With a co-author you have moments when you’re like a reader – you don’t know what’s coming next.  And we’ve both had ideas for scenarios in both novels, that the other wouldn’t have come up with.

Thanks again for taking the time to come back for an update interview with us. The Write Romantics wish you every success for the future and we will be pre-ordering An Irish Promise!

Find out more about Liv and purchase Beneath an Irish Sky or pre-order An Irish Promise on the ChocLit website at: http://www.choc-lit.co.uk/html/isabella_connor.html

Or on Liv’s own blog at: http://livbet.webs.com/

Follow Liv on Twitter at: @Livbet

Join Liv on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/livvie.thomas

The link to Beneath an Irish Sky on Amazon can be found here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Beneath-Irish-Sky-Isabella-Connor/dp/1781890048/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378056623&sr=8-1&keywords=beneath+an+irish+sky

Monday Interview – Gemma Jackson

Gemma Jackson is a writer and, despite having travelled far and wide, she is also a Dubliner through and through.  Gemma’s debut novel, Through Streets Broad and Narrow, was published by Polbeg in June 2013.  Here Gemma tells a bit more about herself and her route to publication.

Gemma Jackson

First and foremost ladies may I salute you. I made some great friends on the HMB web site and at the RNA meetings. I regret to say we never thought of setting up a support group as you have here. It’s a marvellous idea because writing and let’s face it, rejection, is a very lonely business. Only a fellow sufferer could possibly understand what we go through.

We know that, like us, you were once 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’m almost afraid to answer. I really don’t want to discourage anyone. I have tried to get published for 25 years. Yes, pick yourself up off the floor. I did say 25 years. I was my own worst enemy and it was only after I joined the NWS that I discovered that I’d been sabotaging my own chances.

I grew up in Dublin and was surrounded by ‘story tellers’. Our televisions had money meters attached. You had to pay to view. Honestly, if your parents refused to pay, tough. Therefore sitting in front of the fire listening to stories being told in person or on the radio was – to my mind anyway – simply the greatest. Writing down stories seemed totally natural to me.

I’ve had rave reviews and positive comments. I came close so many times. I’d get someone who really believed in my work, but they’d be promoted or leave the company and it was back to the start again. It’s a bloomin’ tough world.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t spend 25 years sitting in front of my machine beating my breast and crying. I’ve travelled the world. I was an Air Hostess. I was one of the people who set up Disneyland Paris. I’ve toured America by train and rented camper van. I’ve lived, (imagine me sitting here with a hand to my brow) but my dream has always been ultimately to be a published writer. I’d like to ‘have computer will travel.’ That would be the best of both worlds for me.

Please can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication and how ‘The Call’ came about?

I owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the ladies of the RNA and the NWS. It breaks my heart that I can’t be considered a NWS success. I didn’t join in 2012 because I hadn’t a MS ready to be read. I wanted to leave the place for someone who had a MS in hand.

I’d been concentrating on submitting to MB for years. I came so close so many times only to fail. As you all no doubt know it’s soul destroying to be constantly so close and yet so far.

In 2012 I decided enough was enough. I dusted myself off and wrote two completely different books. Again, with the first I was so close, it went to the reading panel but again, failure.

With the second, with the words of advice I’d received from the RNA I went to bat for my book. I refused to accept failure and fought for my story. Imagine my shock when I received the email that told me the publisher was going to accept it. It’s been eight months and I’m still expecting the call to tell me there has been a mistake. I’m so accustomed to failure success is a shock to the system.

When you read this my very first book will published and on the shelves. Yet I’m still waiting for them to tell me they’ve made a mistake.

Streets

What’s next for you, Gemma?

I have a three book contract with Poolbeg Publishing. I’m trying to create a niche market for myself by writing about Dublin using stories I grew up listening to. I’m crossing my fingers that I can emulate the success of Mary Jane Staples and write using my main characters and the events in their lives.

Have you got any advice for others who might be hoping to emulate your success in securing a publisher or perhaps an agent?

Listen and learn from the ladies of the RNA. I couldn’t believe how willingly each and every one was to help me. I attended my first RNA meeting in London as a guest of a lady I’d never met. It was a heart warming experience. I had to fly over and it cost me a small fortune but it was worth every penny.

I don’t have an agent. I signed the contract with a speed that was indecent. I needed to be validated as a writer. I didn’t want to go the e-book route. I wanted to know that I was good enough for a publisher to take a chance on me. Having said that I’ve every intention of taking everything I’ve learned and re-assessing my previous work before submitting it to an e-book publisher.

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

I want to be still writing books when I’m bent with age and keeping my teeth in a glass. I love the whole process. Having said that I’m hoping being – finally – a published writer I might get to travel and meet like minded people.

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

Learning that what I’d assumed were rejection letters were in fact letters of interest. It was crippling to realise that I’d been stupidly jinxing my own chances. But what a boost to my self-esteem at the same time. It forced me to reassess everything I believed about my writing.

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

It is really, really, difficult to keep a positive mental attitude in the face of constant kicks in the teeth. You’ve made a great start here by setting up your own support group. If you experience jealousy because others are getting published, that’s only normal. Admit it, own it and then congratulate the lucky lady.

You can find out more about Gemma, via her blog at http://gemmajacksondubliner.com/

You can also order a copy of Gemma’s debut novel, Through Streets Broad and Narrow, via Polbeg’s website at http://www.poolbeg.com/