It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Winter is definitely here and in Hertfordshire we’ve enjoyed some wonderful frosty mornings. The sun has been shining and Christmas is definitely in the air!

During 2016 I knew I wanted to release a Christmas novel and I became so addicted to writing about winter and the festive season that I thought, why not write two books.

My first winter / festive read came out in October and so far readers have loved In a Manhattan Minute so I’m really happy. My latest novel is called Christmas at The Little Knitting Box and it’s out now!

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Christmas at The Little Knitting Box is available from Amazon as an ebook and the paperback should be ready in the next couple of weeks. I set this one in New York City too and it follows the story of Cleo who moved to the big city from the Cotswolds to run the family’s knitting store. Here’s the blurb and if you feel like taking a trip to New York with me, here’s the link to Amazon… Christmas at The Little Knitting Box

Have a wonderful December and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

Helen J Rolfe x

Christmas at The Little Knitting Box

Christmas is coming and New York is in full swing for the snowy season. But at The Little Knitting Box in the West Village, things are about to change …

The Little Knitting Box has been in Cleo’s family for nearly four decades, and since she arrived fresh off the plane from the Cotswolds four years ago, Cleo has been doing a stellar job of running the store. But instead of an early Christmas card in the mail this year, she gets a letter that tips her world on its axis.

Dylan has had a tumultuous few years. His marriage broke down, his mother passed away and he’s been trying to pick up the pieces as a stay-at-home dad. All he wants this Christmas is to give his kids the home and stability they need. But when he meets Cleo at a party one night, he begins to see it’s not always so easy to move on and pick up the pieces, especially when his ex seems determined to win him back.

When the snow starts to fall in New York City, both Cleo and Dylan realise life is rarely so black and white and both of them have choices to make. Will Dylan follow his heart or his head? And will Cleo ever allow herself to be a part of another family when her own fell apart at the seams?

Full of snow, love and the true meaning of Christmas, this novel will have you hooked until the final page.

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Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets …

Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets … it’s almost time to return to Magnolia Creek!

The Chocolatier's Secret- KDP version

 

The Chocolatier’s Secret is book two in the Magnolia Creek series, and I’m delighted to say that it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon. With The Chocolatier’s Secret we return to the sun-drenched small town of Magnolia Creek, and this is a standalone story focusing on different lives. But … keep an eye out for a few of your favourite book characters from What Rosie Found Next!

I had a lot of fun writing this book. I enjoy the research side and had already completed a major research project on adoption as part of a Masters in Writing so I’ve been able to use my contacts and the information I had at my fingertips to shape this story. I also have my own personal experience of adoption which helped keep the emotions realistic.

chocresearch

Of course my favourite part of the research was finding out all about chocolate! I spent the day with Lucy and Andrea at Creighton’s Chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard and discovered what goes on behind the scenes. I was really excited after my visit because I was able to weave in so many details to my story to make it authentic.

Publication day is Tuesday 28th June so only 8 days away!

If you would like to pre-order The Chocolatier’s Secret, you can do so here.

I hope you like the story … best enjoyed with your favourite chocolate of course! Here’s the blurb…

Will one mistake ruin everything?

Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

In this story of love, family ties and forgiveness, will past mistakes be the obstacle to a Happy Ever After?

Happy 3rd Birthday to us!

1st April is a special day for the Write Romantics. It’s our 3rd birthday!

When Jo Bartlett and I ‘met’ virtually through the Romantic Novelists’ Association and came up with the idea of blogging together, we were two unpublished writers who weren’t even ready to submit our manuscripts. We realised quite quickly that we were going to struggle to post regularly about our ‘not quite ready to explore being published’ status, so we invited a few more RNA members to join in. The Write Romantics grew from two to ten, dipped down to nine for a while, then went back up to ten again.

One of the fascinating aspects of this group of female writers (other than the fact that we have never all been in the same place at the same time (except virtually) and therefore haven’t all physically met yet), is that we were nearly all aspiring writers when we joined forces. Only one of the group had a publishing deal. Move forward three years and it’s a very different picture.

We thought this would be the perfect opportunity for the Write Romantics to tell you about their last three years.

Jessica xx

book14Jo Bartlett

Three years ago, I was unpublished and dreaming of one day walking into a bookshop and seeing my name on the cover of a novel on sale there. I’d just finished my debut novel and was sending it out to publishers… Fast forward three years and my novel, Among a Thousand Stars, has now been out for nine months with So Vain Books and I have my coveted paperback! I’ve also had two pocket novels published by DC Thomson, so I got to see my name on a book in WHSmiths on several occasions. Both novels were picked up by Ulverscroft, a third pocket novel has just gone in to DC Thomson and I have also had a short story published with them in The People’s Friend. In the second half of last year, I signed a women’s fiction four book deal with Accent Press, the first two books will be coming out in 2016 and the second two next year. AATS CoverIn October, I finished second in the WHSmiths/Kobo/Harlequin romance writing competition and I am currently working with an editor at the world’s most famous romance publishing house on something that will be a significant departure for me and hence is being written under another name. Most of this has happened in the past twelve months and I definitely don’t appreciate how far I’ve come in three years for the vast majority of the time. Seeing it all written down like this makes a big difference though and, for once, I feel like there’s something to celebrate. The WRs birthday is the perfect excuse!

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100% genuine *cough*

Sharon Booth

Gosh! Three years ago I wasn’t part of the Write Romantics. In fact, I hadn’t heard of them (sorry!) I started writing my first full-length novel in November of that year, for NaNoWriMo. I met Jessica and Alys in June of 2014, having connected with Alys on Romna, as we were members of the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. I had a half-baked, patchwork story called Angel in the Marble, and was convinced it was rubbish. Jessica and Alys persuaded me to work on it and submit it to the RNA. I did, and got very positive and encouraging feedback. That September, I was invited to join the Write Romantics This Other Eden ebook cover V4 (1)(yay!) and in November, we released a charity anthology, Winter Tales, which included my short story, The Other Side of Christmas. I got Angel in the Marble edited and proofread, changed its name to There Must Be An Angel, and it was published in March 2015. Now I’m on the brink of publishing my third full-length novel, This Other Eden, having also had a pocket novel published by DC Thomson, and another short story in print, this time for The People’s Friend. Things really started to happen for me when I met the Write Romantics, so I’m very grateful to be part of this lovely group.

Jackie Ladbury

conf 2014 12In April 2013 I was faffing around with at least three half written books on the go. I now have three fully written books and am still faffing around! Have decided to pitch three novels as airline series and am finally getting my act together with A Plan! (I think!) Was shortlisted for a Mills and Boon first chapter competition and that complete novel is now part of The Plan. Am considering self-publishing another novel, but thinking about it makes me want to have a lie down, or take to the bottle. Could do that in reverse order I suppose!

my pic for blog postDeirdre Palmer

When we began, I was in the midst of submitting my novel, Remarkable Things, which has themes of motherhood, family relationships and later-life love. More revisions and another year on, I finally secured that elusive FINAL FINAL COVER with taglinecontract, and the book was published by Crooked Cat. Meanwhile, I’d written a 1960s’ comedy drama called Dirty Weekend, which Crooked Cat also published, a few months after the first. An excellent year! Now I’ve just finished another novel and started on another, the sequel to Dirty Weekend. Looking back, I’m very happy with what I’ve achieved in the last three years 🙂

 

DSCN1701Lynne Pardoe

I had barely started my first novel three years ago when my mum became ill. Stuck for things to speak about mum and I talked about my plot, the more it took shape, the quicker I wrote it! That was eventually sold to D.C.Thompson and it came out in January 2015 as ‘Made for Each Other.’ Since then I self published ‘Please Adopt Me‘ on Amazon at first. Now I’m just waiting for my second to be edited and am well into my third! I’m loving having a cottage industry all to myself and so are my readers, judging by the quantity of good reviews I have!! 🙂

helen phiferHelen Phifer

Three years ago I’d been offered my first two book contract with Carina and I was busy working on the rewrites for my debut novel The Ghost House. Which was to be published in October. Now I’m in the middle of writing my sixth Annie Graham novel. Book five The Girls in the Woods was published in January and I have a paperback of The Ghost House on my shelf, plus I have a standalone horror story that will be published by Carina in September and Annie book six will be published around December 2016. I’m in the process of something very exciting for next year which will take me in a whole different direction as I’m working on a brand new crime series. Which I’ll share with you once it’s all finalised. All in all, I’m one very busy, extremely happy writer.

 

_MG_4982Jessica Redland

‪In April 2013, I was working on my debut novel, Searching for Steven. It had gone through the RNA’s NWS once and I was preparing to put it through the NWS for a second time later that year because I’d made significant changes to it. The idea of becoming published was a distant dream. Eighteen months later, I received two publishing deals and decided to go with a new UK-based publisher Screenshot 2015-12-16 18.08.14called So Vain Books. In June 2015, Searching for Steven was released. It’s the first book in a trilogy of romantic comedies with deeper issues set in a fictional North Yorkshire seaside town called Whitsborough Bay. The follow up, Getting Over Gary, was released last month
and the final part of the trilogy will be out in August this year. I’ve also released a novella, Raving About Rhys, which is set in the same town but with a different cast of characters. I have a deadline for submission of book 3 in about six weeks’ time then I get to write something new which is incredibly exciting. It’s been an amazing few years. Eek! Dreams really can come true 🙂

 

Author photo - Helen J RolfeHelen J Rolfe

Three years ago, I was getting ready to send my second attempt at a novel to the RNA NWS. As I was living in Australia this was always interesting at a cost of more than a hundred dollars plus an anxious wait to find out whether it had arrived in the UK safely. But it was so worth it! ‪Three years on and that novel, The Friendship Tree, was the first of three I have had published. I went on to indie publish Handle Me with Care and What Rosie Found Next  and I have another two novels already in the pipeline. ‪It’s been an interesting and busy time but a lot of fun. I’ve learnt so much about writing and the publishing industry and I’m hoping the next three years bring just as much success for all The Write Romantics!

CoverTheFriendshipTree

Handle Me with Care final front cover - for KDPWhat Rosie Found Next - bookcover - KDP version

 

 

 

 

 

photo (10)Rachael Thomas

In April 2013 I had just had my latest rejection and as usual was gutted. After the customary sulk, I began work on my next book, which I submitted to Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write competition in September 2013. That book made it to the Top 10 at the end of the year and Christmas 2013 saw me working on revisions which I submitted early in 2014 and within two weeks, I The Sheikh's Last Mistress-UK covergot ‘the call’. My debut, A Deal Before the Altar was published by Harlequin Mills and Boon in October 2014. Now three years on from the launch of The Write Romantics blog my sixth book, The Sheikh’s Last Mistress is about to be released. What is even more special, is that this book is a rewrite of the one rejected in April 2013, which just goes to show, nothing you write is ever wasted. Happy Birthday everyone!

Alys West Christmas 2015Alys West

Three years ago, I was working on the first book of an urban fantasy trilogy, Beltane. My dream was to secure an agent and I was thrilled in summer 2014 to be invited to London to meet an agent who wanted to represent me! Since then, Beltane has been published and I’ve been working on the rest of the series. I’ve also discovered a new passion for steampunk and wrote a story called The Dirigible King’s Daughter which I released on Wattpad. It’s been fascinating reading feedback from those who’ve followed the release of each chapter. The Dirigible King’s Daughter will be available on Amazon in the early summer. My novel writing is taking a bit of a back seat at the Beltane finalmoment because I’m studying towards a Masters in Creative Writing, but I’ll be back to it very soon.

 

We hope you’ve enjoyed our round-up of the last three years. If you’re just starting your writing journey, or you’re submitting and dealing with rejections at the moment, please keep on believing in your work because, as you can see from our summaries, dreams really do come true xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Please, sir, I want some more

IMG_0910I’ve become a bit Oliver Twist lately. I keep wanting more. Okay, I confess, it’s not just been lately. The desire has always been there. Ten more minutes in bed? Ooh, can I have an hour more please? One lottery number in the draw? No, thanks. I’d rather have all six! One jaffa cake? No, thanks. I’ll take the whole packet instead! And when the tendency to munch my way through too many full packets of jaffa cakes (or tubes of Pringles … or pieces of cake; they’re interchangeable!) takes its toll and I toddle off to Slimming World or WeightWatchers for the millionth time, step on the scales and discover I’ve lost 6lbs in my first week, I feel disappointed that I haven’t lost 7lb or 8lb or, let’s face it, five stone in one week!

And I suspect I’m not the only one.

I decided to ask Google the question, “Do humans always want more?” A multitude of links came up offering thoughts and opinions, but all of them pointed to just one thing: it’s human nature. Good. Because I feel a little less guilty about it knowing that I’m not alone and that my “Please, sir, I want some more” attitude is not about me being greedy. Well, my desire for the extra jaffa cakes may be about me being greedy, but I hope my writing-related desires are purely human nature.

IMG_0900It started when I submitted my first manuscript Searching for Steven to the RNA’s New Writer’s Scheme in 2012. Like every aspiring writer who submits to the Scheme, I prayed that I’d get some positive feedback. I did. But I found myself wishing my MS had been good enough to be put forward for a second read. Please, sir, I want some more! Maybe the following year? I re-submitted Steven the following year as I’d made some significant changes. Perhaps I’d get my second read then? As it happens, the second read system was scrapped so I’ll never know.

The next big moment came when I clinched a publishing deal in September. Woo-hoo! It was an eBook only deal and, you’ve guessed it … Please sir, I want some more! Whilst absolutely astounded, flattered, and thrilled to have secured a publishing deal, I found myself wishing it was for a paperback as well as an eBook. Doesn’t every writer long to hold their own paperback in their paws? Sometimes wishes come true and, before I’d signed, another publishing deal materialised and, this time, it was for an eBook and paperback. Double woo-hoo!

But, please sir, I want some more. It wasn’t enough for me to have a paperback available via Amazon or my publisher’s website. I wanted people to be able to walk into a bookstore and buy a copy of Searching for Steven. My publisher is new and small and they don’t have the links to make this happen … or at least not just yet. So it was down to me to be brave, like Oliver, and ask for more myself. Waterstones in Scarborough were my target and, although a change in manager meant that the enquiry slipped through the net several times and we missed the summer market completely, they stocked Steven. I knew they’d placed an order, but I didn’t know how many or when it would arrive so I kept popping in during my lunch hour at work. It was on my third or fourth visit that I finally spotted him nestling on the bookshelves and …

Please, sir, I want some more! It’s human nature to imagine scenarios and many of us will imagine the best possible scenario. IMG_0911My best possible beyond my wildest dreams scenario was a huge quantity of paperbacks piled up with pride of place on one of the tables rather than the shelves, with a sign beside them reviewing the book and pointing out that I was a local author and that Steven was set in a fictional version of Scarborough. Realistically, I knew that wasn’t going to happen, but I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment that there was no signposting whatsoever. I’ve seen little review cards before pointing out recommended and local books, but Steven didn’t have one. I had to admonish myself to be grateful that (a) they’d stocked it, (b) there was more than one copy (there were 4 or 5) and (c) it was on the shelves forward-facing. I wanted to take a selfie of this amazing moment, but this would have involved an embarrassing lying on the floor moment because it was on the second from bottom shelf so I had to settle for a shelfie instead!

My next drama was whether it would sell. Four or five copies, not signposted, not on the tables, probably most likely to be selected by someone actually looking for my book rather than browsing on the shelves … would Waterstones be doing a return to distributor? I was therefore stunned and excited when Michelle, with whom I do a bootcamp, said to me a week gone Friday, “I bought your book in Waterstones yesterday. It was the last one on the shelf!” Eek! There’d been 4 or 5 on the Monday that week! I know where another two of them have gone – two of my work colleagues made a purchase – but I don’t know where number four and five went which is very exciting.

Of course, this has brought on another please, sir … moment because I now want Waterstones to restock! I want them to say, “Goodness me, those Jessica Redland books flew off the shelves. We must stock some more. And put them on a table in the middle of the sales floor. The best table. Ooh, and let’s add one of those review signs. In fact, let’s put some in the window too and flag up our local talent.” Hmmm. Might be getting a bit carried away there!

Yes, I think it’s human nature to always want that bit more. Yet that doesn’t mean I’m not satisfied with everything I’ve achieved so far. When I started writing, I had an idea and felt compelled to put it to paper. I didn’t really imagine that I’d be a published writer one day; I just needed to write a book. It’s amazing to think I managed that, never mind that it’s now out there for the general public to (hopefully) enjoy.

I’d love more. Who wouldn’t? I’d love to be top of the charts in Amazon, I’d love to appear in bookshops nationally, I’d love to have my books translated into other languages and available around the world, I’d love to sell the film rights. I doubt any of these things will ever happen and that’s fine because my main dream has already come true and I’ll be forever grateful.

Speaking of wanting more, though, where’s those jaffa cakes?

Jessica xx

Write Romantics Bookclub – The School Gate Survival Guide

IMG_2074Bringing humour and emotional buy-in to a story in equal measure takes a real gift, which Kerry Fisher has in bucket loads. We’ve been featuring her debut novel ‘The School Gate Survival Guide’on our Goodreads Book Club for the last month and have discussed everything from fellow parents who are at least 50% Botox, to going back to feeling like the new kid in the playground all over again.

The novel itself tells the story of Maia Etxeleku, a character whose down to earth intelligence and humour shines out from the first page. Maia works hard, in a cleaning job, to keep her family afloat, whilst her partner, Colin, could earn a part in Shameless and does very little at all – apart from blaming Maia for their problems.

Life starts to change in a way that Maia could never imagine when her favourite client, a professor, dies and leaves her a legacy that leads all the way to the school gates. Despite her surprise at the inheritance, and the stipulation that the money can only be spent on private education for her children, Maia carries out the old lady’s wishes.

School_Gate final jpegMaia soon discovers that appearances at the school gate, as everywhere in life, can be deceptive. Meanwhile, life at home becomes increasingly tense as she battles to fit in to a world where money spent on education is just the tip of the iceberg. Throw into the mix Zachary Peters, a teacher at the school who is everything that Colin isn’t, a very unhappy teenager and secrets that have been buried for a generation, and you have all the ingredients for a cracking good read.

Don’t just take my word for it though, here is what some of the contributors to our Goodreads thread had to say:

‘Loved this book…so much fun to read and very true to life!’

‘There is a real warmth in this book and lots of humour! Anyone considering reading it should go for it.’

‘Finished reading this brilliant book last night. The characters were amazing and I so wanted everything to come right in the end. You’ll have to read it to see if it does!!!’

If this has convinced you to read Kerry’s book, you can access it here. Kerry will also be a featured author in The Write Romantics’ anthology ‘Winter Tales’, due for release on 8th November.

Our next featured novel on the blog and for the Goodreads book club will be chosen by Lynne, who will be leading the discussions over there, as well as posting a review on the blog at the end of November.

Happy reading

Jo

Kerry Fisher on coming out from under the stairs!

IMG_2074Hi Kerry, welcome back to the Write Romantics blog and thank you for agreeing to be our guest this week, for a second time. Last time you stopped by to see us, you’d just self-published The Class Ceiling and we know a lot has happened since then… We’d love to start by asking you a little bit about what’s happened since your last visit.

What’s the best thing about being a traditionally published writer and have there been any unexpected elements?

I’m finding it very relaxing to be able to say ‘I’m published by HarperCollins’ and for everyone to nod because they recognise the name. When I was self-published, I always felt that I needed to explain my reasons for that. However, self-publishing was such a valuable experience so I’m really glad that has been part of my route to publication – I use everything I learned from that to make the most of my traditional publishing opportunity now. The most positive unexpected element is how supportive and generous-spirited the online community – Twitter and Facebook – has been. Disappointingly though, I thought I’d be absolutely sure of my place in the writing world and breeze along thinking, ‘I have a book deal therefore I am a capable author’ but I still sit at the laptop wondering how the hell I ever wrote a novel before, with self-doubt ready to screech in and fill any available space. I think that’s my personality though (damn it!).

What did you do to mark your publication days and do you still get a thrill every time you spot your book in a store or supermarket?Tesco

Even though the big focus for publicity was the paperback launch of The School Gate Survival Guide, the ebook coming out back in July felt like a huge milestone, so I made a little video of how it felt to be published.

I do still get a thrill when I see the book in a supermarket. I asked a woman to take a picture of me in Tesco on paperback publication day and blushed so horrendously when she asked if I was the author that the poor woman was practically backing away from the heat.

The School Gate Survival Guide is, amongst other things, a fascinating insight into the impact that school life can have on the parents, as well as the children. What are your top tips for surviving playground politics and have you ever experienced anything like that in real life?

Oddly enough, my own school gate experiences have been largely positive and I’ve made some very close friends at my children’s schools. We all know a parent who’s taken ‘giving their child every advantage in life’ to the extreme but fundamentally, I think most parents only want the best for their children, it’s just that some are quite pushy about it! My top tip for surviving playground politics is not to get dragged into them in the first place: be friendly, smile and give genuine compliments about other people’s children when the opportunity arises.

What are you working on now and what would you say your biggest writing ambitions is?

I’m just on the downhill slope to the end of the first draft of my third novel, which is about how small secrets get bigger and more toxic as they pass down the generations. My biggest writing ambition is to take time to enjoy the moment, the small successes along the way, rather than immediately finding a new goal to strive for. I do have an ambition to write a sit-com – the cheek and backchat from my teens are too priceless not to earn their keep somehow!

How do you keep creating new and entirely different characters as you write more books and do you ever worry about similarities, such as recurring themes, between your novels?

I don’t find it too hard to write entirely different characters. I ask myself with each one what it is that the character wants most in the world and the answer to that defines everything they do. So, in The School Gate Survival Guide, Maia wants her children to have a better life than hers. In my next book, The Divorce Domino, the middle-aged protagonist, Octavia, wants to feel young and as though life is full of possibilities again. That’s the easier bit. I do worry about similarities as my novels are about real people with real problems – and usually, people tend to have the same sorts of problems – marital, financial and child-related!

WaterstonesHave you had any strange encounters or messages from readers and, if so, how have you dealt with them?

I get lots of lovely messages from readers and I can’t begin to explain how uplifting they are, especially when I first self-published and people I didn’t know bothered to find me on Facebook to tell me how much they’d enjoyed my novel. So far, I haven’t had any really weird encounters although a man came to my book signing recently and asked me to sign his autograph book as well as the novel in case I became really famous…hope he makes thousands out of my signature!

 

Who is your favourite character from any of the books that you have written so far and was (s)he based on anyone in particular?

My favourite character is Clover from The School Gate Survival Guide – she’s warm, generous-spirited and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. She’s the person I’d like to be if I wasn’t afraid of embarrassing my children. I got the idea for her at a party years ago. The six-year-old birthday girl was giving the entertainer a heart attack by ripping the paper off all her presents willy-nilly. The entertainer ran to her mother to say that no one was writing down what she’d received from whom (at a time when the norm was to spend a miserable Sunday pinning a six-year-old to a chair to write fifteen laborious thankyou letters). The mother replied, ‘Oh I couldn’t give a *bleep*, I never bother with thank you letters’. It was so un-PC I had to admire her!

Where did you get the idea for The Divorce Domino and what do you think of the advice that you should “write about what you know”?

Unfortunately, I got the idea for The Divorce Domino from witnessing the impact on friendship groups when one couple gets divorced. I realised that for a period of time, the trauma is so great for the person getting divorced that the usual to and fro of friendship trivia gets suspended – it seems entirely inappropriate to talk about the fact that you can’t get your child to practise the piano/you can’t find a reliable electrician when your poor friend is worrying about whether or not she’ll have to sell the house. Later on, when everything settles down, the person in the stable marriage can often feel left out of their friend’s new life because they are dating again, socialising more, making new single friends and having exciting child-free weekends.

I do tend to write what I know because all my books are driven by my fascination with relationships so I get my ideas from daily life. Exotic locations sometimes feature in my books because I used to be a travel journalist. The Divorce Domino is partly set in Corsica and my next one has some scenes in Florence as I lived in both of those places. I suppose my advice is, if you’re not going to write about what you know, then be prepared to spend a lot more time checking your facts – there will always be someone out there who knows and is prepared to put you right publicly.

What piece of advice would you give yourself about writing if you could go back to your pre-publication days?

Take a creative writing course as soon as possible. Don’t spend your twenties and most of your thirties procrastinating by telling yourself that you’ve got no literary connections and ordinary people from Peterborough don’t get published. Build a network of writers and authors you like, so that you have someone to bounce ideas around with. Find people to talk to who don’t nose-dive into their scrambled eggs as soon as you get to the second sentence about your plot problem. Don’t tell everyone you’re writing a novel so you don’t have to keep saying, ‘No, not published yet. No, not the next JK Rowling yet.’ And probably the most important piece of advice – you’re going to have to believe in yourself for a long time before someone else does.

Would you recommend self-publishing as a starting point for authors wanting to get their foot in the door and do you think self-School_Gate final jpegpublishing authors should invest in professional proof-reading and editing services?

For me, it was a tremendously uplifting and motivating experience because it proved there was a demand for a book that had been widely rejected by agents. However, I was utterly naïve about how much effort I would need to make with marketing my novel. I quickly realised that 400 Facebook friends equals about three and a half sales. If you can’t or don’t want to dedicate the time to marketing both online and in the ‘real world’ (i.e. speaking to writing/reading groups, going to networking events, meeting with local ‘target’ groups – in my case, mums with children) then it’s going to be exceptionally difficult to get your book to stand out. I read as much as I could on the subject and launched myself into marketing wholeheartedly, but it does take up valuable writing time.

I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in professional proofreading and editing – plus a professionally designed cover. If you don’t take yourself seriously, why should anyone else?

Who are your biggest influences in writing?

In terms of writing, I’ve been so lucky to meet some fabulous authors who’ve been generous with their time and help. I met my writing buddy, Jenny Ashcroft, at the York Festival of Writing a few years ago and I utterly trust her judgment. When I’m throwing myself on the sofa in despair, I send her my manky old pages of jumbled up first draft drivel and she helps me make sense of them. Another author, Adrienne Dines, whom I met at Winchester Writers’ Conference, is brilliant at taking my lazy, hazy ideas of a storyline and shaking them about until there’s some grain of coherence in the plot. Networking and conferences are never wasted! My agent, Clare Wallace, is also a great sense check – I feel utterly comfortable about asking her advice about anything.

It sounds horribly arrogant to say I’m not influenced by other writers – of course, I read widely and it would be astonishing if some techniques and ideas didn’t soak in – but I don’t deliberately set out to write like another author, or at least, not consciously. I did sit down and dissect Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret to see how she intertwined all the different strands of the story because I thought she handled a large cast of characters with complete aplomb. And I admire Caitlin Moran’s unique expressions – she makes me laugh out loud. I’d love to be more outrageous but I’m still a bit constrained by what people think. (Cringes and hides under kitchen table at the thought that my ageing relatives will be reading about actual, rather than hinted at, sex in the next novel).

What do your children and family think of your writing success?

WP_20141002_11_49_02_ProMy son has just about stopped telling his teachers I’m ‘an unsuccessful author’ when they ask if I work. I think my daughter is quite proud – she gave me a lovely postcard for my birthday that said ‘I can. I will. Watch me.’ I was delighted that she’d seen my perseverance pay off…I hope it will make her feel she can do anything, even when people are doubting her. My mother chases after women with children (target audience!) at car boot sales to give them a promotional bookmark and my husband is a shameless salesman. Taking my dad to see the books coming off the presses was probably one of the most joyful days of my life. That was a true WOW moment.

Anything else you’d like to share with us or advice you can give would be gratefully received!

I’d like to reiterate the advice my husband gave me: you can’t sell a book hiding in the cupboard under the stairs. Write the best book you can, then understand as much as you can about the industry, be generous-spirited – share information and introduce people, network like mad, be brave and pursue every avenue.

Good luck and thanks for having me.

Find out more about Kerry Fisher

Kerry’s fabulous ‘The School Gate Survival Guide’ is The Write Romantics’ Book-Club book of the month on Goodreads this month. You can join in the reviews and discussions here.

The ‘The School Gate Survival Guide’ is available to buy here.

Kerry’s website is: http://www.kerryfisherauthor.com/

Follower Kerry on Twitter: @KerryFSwayne

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