Five things I wished I’d known before I was published by Rhoda Baxter @RhodaBaxter

As part of our series on this topic, we’ve asked Rhoda Baxter to join us today and share her experiences.  Today is also publication day for Rhoda and there’s more information about her new book, Girl in Trouble, at the end of this post.  So I’ll hand over to Rhoda to explain more… 

Other People Will Read My Books (and have opinions about them)
You’d think this would be a fairly obvious. At some level, I knew this was going to happen, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer awesomeness of it.
When my first book came I braced myself for negative reviews. What I didn’t prepare for was positive reviews. It somehow escaped me that it was possible for someone I didn’t know to read my book and like it. When I got my first review (which was a lovely 4 out of 5 stars) it was hard to process and I burst into tears.
There have been other reviews, good, bad and indifferent for my books since then and I still have a little fizz of excitement that the thing that was once existed only in my head has now moved, via screen or print into someone else’s head.
One of the most amazing experiences of my writing life was when two colleagues from my day job started arguing about two of my characters as though the characters were real people. Obviously, I feel my characters are real people. I lived with them in my head for a year and I know them pretty well, but to hear someone else discuss them in that way… mind blowing. Also, very cool.

You have to learn about Marketing
I used to think that selling books was about quality. If you write a good book, it will sell itself. Er … no. A good book with no marketing will sink without a trace. A bad book with good marketing, might sell well. The holy grail is a good book with good marketing. I can write. I spent years learning how to do that and I’m improving with each book. But marketing? I knew absolutely nothing about that.
I had assumed that publishers would take care of all that. Maybe, in the dim and distant past, they did, but now they are so stretched and the world of book selling is so competitive, they can’t do all that much.
So now I’m reading marketing books and trying to learn this voodoo that is marketing. One day I might even get the hang of it.

There will be more ideas
It took me three years to write my first book, I thought that was the only book I would ever write. It was, as my first NWS reviewer said, clearly a book of my heart. Write another, she said. Write something you’d read for fun. I had a moment of panic. I’d had my idea. That was it. Story written, that idea was now tied down. How did I find another one? How did you get the muse to strike again? As every wannabe writer asks whenever they get the chance where do you get your ideas from?
I eventually dug out an old idea (and I mean really old, I’d started writing it as a teenager). It was a weak, thin fragment of a thing. All I really had were two characters, one male, one female. She was cooler than he was. Not much of a story, really. I gave him a problem (he wanted a promotion at work). I gave her a problem (she’s hiding from something). I drafted a plot – thin and weak, but it was a start – and sent it to my writing partner. She came back with a load of questions. Slowly, slowly a plot emerged.
Writing book 2 taught me that ideas rarely come to you fully formed. They take work. This was a liberating thought. All those pathetic looking fragments of ideas have the potential to be fully fledged. I may not have many fully formed story ideas, but I’ve got TONS of unformed storylets.
Nowadays I look back at the Where Do You Get Your Ideas From terror of a few years ago with amazement. These days, my problem is not the lack of ideas. It’s deciding which of the half formed storylets that are clamouring around in my head should be developed next.

Writing Friends

I got my head around the fact that you need to network to succeed in this business (thank you Sue Moorcroft for that invaluable piece of advice). I’d always thought of networking as a tedious, superficial thing. Now, several years on, I have a circle of writer friends whom I’ve met only because of my writing. Most of them are members of the Romantic Novelists Association. They are personal friends now and we talk about all sorts of things that have nothing to do with writing. Joining the RNA was probably one of the best decisions I ever made – not just for my writing, but for my happiness in general.

You Never Stop Learning
I’ve written bits of stories since I was a child and I thought I knew how to write. In my mid twenties, after I’d handed in my PhD and got a real job, I thought I’d start writing fiction again. I found the BBC Get Writing site. It was a great place where experienced writers mentored newbies and gave good (sometimes harsh) feedback. I learned how to write at sentence level. I learned about the really important basics like word choice and impact and rhythm. I practised it and practised it until it sank into the bone. My writing improved.
Then I started hanging around the Harlequin message boards. I learned about plots and character arcs, black moments and denouements. I joined the RNA – where I learned even more about theme and resonance and plot. Each of these lessons have made me a better writer. I still read books on writing and go on courses. Essentially, I’m still learning how to write better. The day I stop learning is the day I’ll stop improving. That’s not going to happen any time soon.

Girl In Trouble – Published today! On special offer of 99p until 15th October! 

When the things that define you are taken away, do you fight? Or compromise?

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart. 

Girl In Trouble is the third book in the award nominated Smart Girls series by Rhoda Baxter. If you like charming heroes, alpha heroines and sparkling dialogue, you’ll love this series. Ideal for fans of Sarah Morgan, Lindsey Kelk or Meg Cabot’s Boy books. Buy now and meet your new favourite heroine today.

Buy link: books2read.com/u/4Doy6r

Girl in Trouble is on special offer at 99p until 15th October, after that date the price will increase to £2.99. If you buy the book before the 15th of October you will also get a book of short stories and a companion recipe book (containing recipes from the prequel Girl Having A Ball) absolutely free.

Rhoda Baxter writes contemporary romances with heart and a touch of British cynicism. her books have been nominated for a variety of awards. She lives in Yorkshire with her young family and is on a mission to have afternoon tea in as many cake shops as she can.

You can find her wittering on about science and romance and cake on her website (www.rhodabaxter.com), Facebook or on Twitter (@rhodabaxter). Do say hello.

Carol Cooper on why being indie and seeing your book in a High Street chain aren’t mutually exclusive

As regular readers of the blog will know, we like to celebrate the success of our writing friends whenever we get the opportunity. Carol Cooper has been a great friend to us over the years and wrote the introduction to our charity anthology ‘Winter Tales’. So we are delighted to announce that Carol has another reason to celebrate. Her second novel ‘Hampstead Fever’ has already been featured in several shops, including as a featured book in Waterstones Piccadilly, alongside David Nicholls no less. However, Carol’s latest success is to secure a deal with WHSmith for ‘Hampstead Fever’ to be part of a high profile promotion with a special offer of buy one, get one half price.

As more and more authors are taking the decision to go indie, and some feel the main sacrifice is missing out on the chance of seeing their book on the shelves of a bookstore, we asked Carol if she could give us some insight into how she’s achieved all she has with ‘Hampstead Fever’. Here’s what Carol had to say:

*****

I knew I had to have a quality product. Not one that was just good enough, but that would really hold its own amongst other titles from the biggest and best publishers. So I used professional editing and proofreading, and an experienced designer for layout. The inside was, in short, the best I could make it. Then I commissioned a really eye-catching cover from designer Jessica Bell.
 
When it came to WH Smith, I got in touch with their buyer for their travel shops, and asked nicely. That was it. Or nearly it, because it takes more than a quality product – an author has to think about distribution too. It helps that “Hampstead Fever” was printed by Clays, a market leader in print books, and is available through Gardners’ distribution network.
 ****
We’d like to thank Carol for sharing both her great news with us, and some insight into how being indie and achieving that dream of seeing your book on the shelves of WHSmiths don’t need to be mutually exclusively. If you are an indie author who wants to see how it’s done, or just someone looking for a really great read, check out the details of Carol’s WHSmith’s offer below.

WH Smith Catches “Hampstead Fever”

 
 
Carol Cooper’s self-published novel Hampstead Fever has been chosen for a prestigious promotion in WH Smith travel bookshops from March 30th.
 
This outstanding novel will be available in over 30 of their key bookstores at airports and rail stations throughout the UK on a buy one, get one half price offer over the busy Easter holiday period.
 
The perfect read for a voyage, Hampstead Fever follows the intertwined lives of six Londoners as they struggle to keep relationships from falling apart during one hot summer.
 
As a well-known media doctor and award-winning author, Carol Cooper has been a regular in print and on TV and radio over the last 20 years, giving her medical opinion on a range of topics.
 
With Carol’s in-depth understanding of people gleaned from medical practice and the media, Hampstead Fever wittily captures modern urban living.
 
About the book:
 
In a London heatwave, emotions reach boiling point…
 
Ex-con Dan has it all. The perfect job and a new baby with his dream woman. So why is he still an outsider?
 
Laure had baby Jack late in life. It’s only natural she’s a little over-protective. Motherhood is terrifying.
 
After surviving serious illness, Sanjay’s got his life back. Now he wants adventure. Where does that leave girlfriend Harriet?
 
Karen’s love life is reduced to casual sex with the football coach. As a divorcee with four kids, romance is on her to-do list, just below the laundry.
 
Doctor Geoff’s relationship with actress Daisy is bound to be a bit dramatic. But why all the mystery?
 
A slice of contemporary multi-cultural life to make you laugh, cry, and nod in recognition.
 
“Combines the observational wit of Nick Hornby, the emotional depths of Anna Maxted, and the complex cast of Armistead Maupin.” JJ Marsh, author.
 
“Cooper has an impressive way of evolving her characters until you feel you’re reading about your own friends.” Sue Moorcroft, author.
 
“Fun and frolics, racy and pacy. The good doctor has done it again!” Matt Bendoris, The Sun.
 
About the author:
 
Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist, and author.  Between Cambridge University and general practice, she spent years in hospital medicine, worked at supermarket checkouts, typed manuscripts in Russian, and proofread manuals on rebuilding dual-diesel engines. 
 
Following a string of popular child health titles and an award-winning medical textbook, she turned to fiction with her acclaimed debut novel One Night at the Jacaranda
 
Carol lives in Hampstead and Cambridge with her husband. She has three grown-up sons and three step-children.  She wrote Hampstead Fever while co-authoring another medical textbook.
 
Hampstead Fever was first published on 30th June 2016
Hardwick Press, £7.99
ISBN 978 0 9954514 0 7
 

Measuring success as an author

IMG_0544How do you do it? The concept of what success means is constantly shifting, not just for writers as a collective, but for each of us as individuals. Even when we achieve what we thought we wanted to achieve, there’s no guarantee it will actually make us *feel* successful. There are always others who seem to be doing better or perhaps doing things differently to us, who will make us question whether we’ve made the right decisions or whether we should be on a different path altogether.

 

So what’s writing success? Perhaps it’s…

  • Getting a publisher?
  • Getting an agent?
  • Owning your writing journey as an indie author?
  • Seeing your novel in a book shop?
  • Appearing in an Amazon top one hundred chart?
  • Receiving lots of 5 star reviews from people you’ve never met?
  • Making a decent amount of money from writing?
  • Getting an email from a reader to tell you how much they loved your book?
  • Making your mum, dad, children or next door neighbour proud?
  • Creating a social media presence with followers in their thousands?

Maybe it’s lots of these things or something else entirely. In the last couple of years, between us, the WRs have achieved more of these measures of success than I think we ever really thought possible. But, lately, I’ve been questioning what it is that would make me feel I’ve been successful as a writer and I happened upon a quote that really resonated with me:

‘Success should be measured by how much joy it gives you.’

For my writing life, this is so true. Whilst I’ve ticked a lot of things off the list above, there are several still to achieve.Chart position AATS However, I’ve discovered if I approach writing chasing too many of those measures of success, I can rob myself of that joy. I started writing just because I loved it and that’s how I want to measure my success. If my writing gives me joy, then I can’t really ask for more. The rest is all just garnish.

As for my social media presence, that’s probably strongest here, on this blog, with the rest of the WRs. There might be lots of blog awards we could have won with a different approach and there are writing collectives with a higher profile than ours. However, if success really is measured by the amount of joy something brings you, then being part of this blog and, more importantly, this group has also been a resounding success for me.

I’d love to know how other writers measure their success and, whatever form that takes for you, I wish you lots of it.

Jo

Guest interview – Sky’s Book Corner

Today we welcome Simona Elena from Sky’s Book Corner to the blog…

simone elena photo2

 

Welcome to The Write Romantics’ blog. Please tell us a bit about yourself and Sky’s Book Corner?

My name is Simona Elena, I’m 26 and I’m from Switzerland. I am a primary school teacher and in my free time I enjoy blogging, reading, music, traveling and fashion. Sky’s Book Corner is mainly a book blog, full of reviews, Q&A and bookish guest post. I also write about lifestyle, traveling and music.

Do you consider books from all genres?

I mainly review romance/women’s fiction/chick-lit books. I love romantic stories and happy ends. I also read other genres like YA, NA, historical romance, contemporary and fantasy.

sky's book corner 1

When did your love of reading start? And do you have an all-time favourite author?

It actually all started with J.K. Rowling. When I started reading the Harry Potter books I fell in love with reading, I actually hated it before. So she definitely is one of my faves. I kind of lost my love for reading for a while, but Paige Toon has brought me back to it, I also started blogging, because of her books. Aven Ellis and Holly Martin are fab as well, their stories are just amazing!!!

What author has most influenced you over the years? (could be an author whose books you read as a child / teenager)

Well, I have to go with the obvious answer here again: J.K. Rowling. I grew up with the Harry Potter books, I grew up with the characters and that was just awesome!

What do you like most about being a book blogger?

The time I get to spend with books 😉 The contact with other bloggers and authors is also fantastic, I have made some great friends through blogging and I’m forever grateful for that.

Do you think you’d ever write books yourself?

I’ve actually written some Harry Potter fanfictions before and also some little short stories. I have some ideas for books and I definitely plan on writing more in the future, especially when I have been teaching for a while, so that I can focus on it more.

What book would you most like to see on the shelves?

Oh go, that’s a really difficult question. But it would be great to see a book, where all my favourite characters meet. Some of the HP characters, my fave Paige Toon characters and also some of Aven Ellis’ ones. They could all meet in Florida or Vancouver or London, cause I just love these places.

Do you choose ebooks or paperbacks or a mixture?

It’s pretty much a mixture. I love reading both and an e-reader is really practical, but I will never loose my love for paperbacks. I try to change after every book, sometimes that’s easy, sometimes it isn’t ;).

And finally, what’s next for Sky’s Book Corner?

Oh, that’s another good question. Well, I definitely have a Christmas Special coming up and I will also post a range of lifestyle posts. Of course I still have a mixture of bookish posts coming up.

Thank you, Simona! I’m sure our followers will be keeping a look out for that Christmas Special too 🙂

If you’d like to know more about Simona, please use the following links or leave a comment below.

Helen J Rolfe.

Blog: skysbookcorner.blogspot.com
Twitter: @skydreamersimi

Author Interview – R J Gould

This week we welcome contemporary fiction author, Richard Gould to the blog. Hi Richard, welcome!

 

photo R J Gould

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?

I live in Cambridge and work for a national educational charity. The job includes writing a considerable amount of fairly academic literature on social mobility and educating able young people, so I suppose my fiction – light and humorous – is my therapy or antidote or something. Though not uniquely so, the themes I cover are somewhat unusual for a male author, my starting point being a fascination with ordinary people trying to make the most of their lives.

  1. Where do you get the inspiration for your books and your ideas?

To date, the novels I’ve written have started with an idea sparked by an actual event which has set me off on a fictitious journey with fictitious characters. My inspiration comes from observing people, followed by a make believe delving deep into their lives and thoughts. Of course plot is essential, but for me the starting point is always character.

  1. On your Amazon page you describe your writing as ‘loosely romantic, but with an edge’. Tell us more about that.

I write about past, current and new relationships which sets the genre as Romantic. My use of the term ‘edge’ is based on two elements in what I write. Firstly, I like to include social commentary covering class, gender, culture and society. My favourite reader’s review includes: “the characters are recognisable in an East Enders meets F. Scott Fitzgerald sort of way.” Secondly, there is humour, often dark, running through my fiction. This covers some compulsive betrayals (in The Engagement Party), an attempted suicide (in Nothing Man) and even murder (in A Street Café Named Desire). Starry-eyed romance is there but not overtly so – many of my characters are middle aged and carry several cartloads of baggage.

photorjgould24. As a man writing romantic fiction, have you found any barriers or perhaps advantages along the way?

I’m aware that the vast majority of both writers and readers of romance are female. One agent suggested I take on a female pseudonym, and using my initials ‘R.J.’ rather than ‘Richard’ is a cowardly compromise. My readers are by and large women and the feedback I receive is that they have enjoyed exploring the male take on romance. So perhaps the rarity is an advantage.

  1. Tell us how you found the RNA and how it has benefited you in your writing journey.

I’m a member of Cambridge Writers, a local writing group, and several participants were in the RNA before I joined. I signed up for the New Writers’ Scheme and got a tremendously encouraging review for A Street Café Named Desire. Having self-published with some success, this gave me the incentive to search for a publisher again (yes, I had tried in the past and we all know how tough that is) and Accent Press took me on. A member of the local chapter of RNA introduced me to the Society of Authors who were a great support in looking at the draft contract. RNA is a tremendous organisation for meeting other writers to discuss all sorts of issues.

  1. What is your favourite part about being a writer?

The wonderful feeling on a good day when the prose flows. I’m particularly pleased when something that’s intended to be humorous makes me smile when I read it, even though I know what’s about to happen because I’ve written it.

  1. Do you have any particular favourite characters from your books?

Maybe Jack, a rogue plumber in The Engagement Party. However, I really do like them all. I think it’s important to create characters, even the bit players, who you feel close to and care about.

  1. Are there any scenes you find particularly difficult to write?

Writing backstory in a predominantly humorous novel is a bit of a challenge, but in general it’s more about how creative I’m feeling on the day rather than difficulty writing any particular type of scene.

  1. How do you go about planning your latest novel?

At the outset I know the start and end points of a novel and some mid-story events that I want to include, but I don’t plan in detail ahead of starting to write. I let the characters grow as the plot develops and they can drive the story forward – a remarkable experience in one case when the protagonist was surprising me with his actions! The process isn’t quite as random as it sounds; before long I’m producing things like timeline grids to ensure consistency, and for me editing is an ongoing process rather than something tagged on at the end.

photorjgould3

  1. And finally, what can we expect to see next from Richard Gould?

I’ve just submitted Nothing Man, which should be released by Accent Press by the end of 2015. It’s the story of a man with narrow horizons and low self-esteem. Various events push him to the point of contemplating suicide. He decides not to go through with it, but his post-no-suicide life doesn’t get off to a great start when he has a car crash on leaving the supermarket where he’s purchased his pills. Laura, the woman in the other car, turns out to be his inspiration for starting afresh, but it’s her mother who provides the romance in his life. The excitement of this relationship is coupled with membership then employment at Preserve Our Countryside Society and it turns out that he’s anything but a nothing man.

I’m at the first edit stage of Jack and Jill went Downhill, the story of two students who meet at the Freshers Big Party Night. It traces developments over the next fifteen years as the pair, initially amused by the coincidence of their names matching that of the nursery rhyme, fail to recognise that their lives are following the events of the rhyme with Jack falling down (from his high-powered job in the City) and Jill coming tumbling after (sacked for serious misconduct when teaching).

Thank you so much for being a guest on the blog today. We wish you every success with your novels!

Helen J Rolfe.

If you’d like to find out more about Richard and his books, please follow the links below…

Website:                      http://www.rjgould.info/

Twitter:                       @rjgould_author

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor

 

Today’s Spotlight Lets in Light with Emma Davies

We’re delighted to welcome Emma Davies as our Saturday Spotlight guest. Emma is an indie-published author whose debut novel Letting in Light – which we reviewed last week – has stormed the charts and we were eager to get to know the author behind the success. Over to Emma …

IMG_0254Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself (e.g. where you live, family, day job (if there’s one other than writing) etc.

I live in Shropshire which is a beautiful but undiscovered (by many) county just shy of Wales, and have lived there for about 14 years since our children were little. There’s me, my husband, three children, mum in law, and two guinea pigs, so life is mad / busy / hectic / fun / frustrating / noisy / all of the above. I’m currently a finance manager for a group of four schools, but like a lot of writers would love to be able to give that up and write full time. I’ve taken a little step closer to that by reducing my contract from full time to a four day week from September, something I’ve been hoping to do for a long time, especially since my full time role is not exactly a nine to five one. I’m so excited at the thought of having a whole day a week to write!

What led you to becoming an indie writer?

I think it was a natural progression for me really rather than a conscious decision. Since getting a kindle a few years ago, I’ve read many books by authors who are not traditionally published and found some absolute gems, by writers who I now count among my favourites. I hadn’t realized before until I looked into self-publishing this was even possible, and in fact how easy it is to do. As I was writing Letting In Light at the time it seemed the best way forward for me. I was getting older, I didn’t know if what I had written was any good, and I was put off by the length of time that seeking a traditional publishing route can take. It was a way of dipping my toe in the water and testing things in my own time and on my own terms.

The new cover

The new cover

Would you consider becoming traditionally published? What might tempt you?

I’ve always been very honest about my views on traditional versus self-publishing, and indeed readers of my blog will have read my countless deliberations before. I am still a bit on the fence, purely because I like to keep my options open; things change and I think you have to change with them. I’m not against traditional publishing, that’s not why I self-publish, but equally I don’t self-publish because I’m an ardent supporter of the ‘cause.’ I’ve done what felt right for me at the time. Both types of publishing have pros and cons and at the moment I can see that financially, self-publishing is the better option for me, and I like the greater flexibility it gives me. Having said that my ego would love nothing more than to walk into a bookshop and see a huge pile of my books on a table, so who knows? If I get a tempting offer I’ll let you know!

‘Letting in Light’ is an emotionally-packed read. Where did the idea come from?

That’s a really difficult question to answer without giving away a huge spoiler so I’ll have to stick to the book’s setting to answer the question if I may. I’ve always loved walled gardens and country estates, simply because of the capacity they have for the imagination to run riot, and that’s what really appealed to me; that I could take a setting such as Rowan Hill, put a bunch of people in it, and see what happened. The setting and characters have been with me for a very long time, and I knew the type of story I wanted to write. When I discovered the story line that would give the book the impact I wanted the rest just fell into place.

‘Letting in Light’ has been very successful. Have you been surprised at the success?

Utterly, but although it’s currently doing very well it has taken over a year to achieve this.

What do you do to promote your novel? What method do you think is most effective and why?

I guess like most people I just look for any opportunities that are out there, so guest appearances on blogs such as this one are a great way of getting your name and book information out there. I’ve done quite a few ‘interview’ features and also other fun posts, but these have all been quite widely spaced so it’s been a bit of a drip feed to be honest. When I first published Letting in Light I didn’t even know that book bloggers existed, let alone think about setting up reviews prior to launch. I have had a few blogger reviews now, but again perhaps this is unusual for a book already published. Social media is brilliant for networking with other authors, readers and bloggers etc but I have to say that Twitter has been the most effective for me. I try really hard to be as generous as I can to other writers because the one thing I have learned over this last year or so is how supportive and friendly everyone is. Twitter is great for this, and I really enjoy the interaction I have with people.

Recently you had 100 copies of your book downloaded in one day. The Write Romantics were in awe! What’s your secret?

The scary thing is that if I have one I’m really not sure what it is! I think for me a combination of things seemed to come together at the same time, and once sales started to pick up I think Amazon starts to play its part too. Much is written about the mystery of Amazon’s algorithms and how they work. Personally I don’t have a clue either but I’m sure that they have been wafting my book under people’s noses and undoubtedly I’ve benefited from that. One thing I have done it to create a SmartURL for Letting in Light. Essentially all this does is allow whoever clicks on it to be taken to their own country’s Amazon site so that you don’t have to post lots of links. However it also provides you with a whole range of statistics and as soon as I started to use it, with some very carefully put together tweets, I could see that my links were being clicked on, and at a rate that really surprised me. When I started I had over 500 click throughs in a matter of days so I knew that my tweets were attracting attention. Once I discovered that, I just kept going, and things have gathered their own momentum. Obviously now it’s a combination of things that are contributing, and I’m just thrilled that people are loving it the way that they are.

The original cover

The original cover

‘Letting in Light’ has a gorgeous cover, but we’ve seen a different version. What made you change the cover design and when did you do this? Did the cover change have an impact on sales?

I changed the eBook cover in May of this year from a design which I produced myself. A friend of mine who is an artist painted a beautiful watercolour which is the central image, but my desk top publishing skills really did not do it justice. I still have the watercolour though which is just lovely. When Letting in Light was first published I couldn’t afford or justify spending any of our family’s budget on a professional cover and so I did the best I could at the time. Earlier this year though when things started to pick up I realised that the cover really didn’t have the kerb appeal it needed to get noticed. People might look at it, but it wasn’t saying ‘buy me’. Also the thing about eBooks is that when people browse they are only looking at a thumbnail image and so this has to stand out. I spent a long time looking through pages of bestsellers so see what colours and types of design were more noticeable than others. There is only a very small window of opportunity to grab someone’s attention when they’re browsing before they’re onto the next book. So, I saved up and when I could had the cover redesigned professionally. I always knew what I wanted and the end result is exactly what I hoped for. Now of course I wish I had done it much sooner as I’m convinced it has helped sales.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently writing the sequel to Letting in Light which I had hoped to release later this year. However a few weeks ago, with the school holidays looming (and therefore for me more writing time) I had a mad idea about writing a novella for Christmas. Then one morning as I was brushing my teeth the perfect plot came to me, and so I’m right in the thick of this at the moment. It will (she says through gritted teeth) be published in October.

What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since you published your novel? What’s the most challenging thing?

I don’t know whether it’s the best thing that’s happened, because this year has certainly been a year of firsts, but the nicest thing happened recently when I received a message from someone via my website; ‘I enjoyed your book so much I just wanted to let you know. I was devastated that this is your first and I can’t go straight out and buy all your others. Please write us another one soon.’ I was so touched that someone had actually taken the trouble to contact me personally; I got a bit emotional over than one!

The most challenging thing has to be trying to get the balance right between all the areas of my life, when most of the time what I want to do is just sit and write. I don’t think I’ve got the hang of it yet, but perhaps this comes with time!

You say on your website that you love Pringles. What’s your favourite flavour? Did you ever sample the Mint Choc Chip ones that came out a couple of Christmases ago?

I’m on record as saying I never met a Pringle I didn’t like, and that’s probably true, although my least favourite are salt and vinegar, not because I don’t like them but because if I eat too many they take a layer of skin off the inside of your mouth. I do however always keep going back to the original flavour, which on balance are probably my favourite. I did try the mint chocolate ones when they came out and loved them too, but really, chocolate Pringles? It’s not right; they’re a savoury snack, and if they’re not then I’m sorry but they’re an Elizabeth Shaw mint and I love those too!

Huge thanks to Emma for joining us. We look forward to reading the sequel to Letting in Light and wish her continued success. We’re not convinced about the mint chocolate Pringles though. Ew!

Jessica x

You can buy Letting in Light here and find out more about Emma on her website. You can also find Emma on Twitter @Emdavies68 and on Facebook.

Mega Monday – Handle Me with Care by Helen J Rolfe

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Last week saw the publication of my second book, Handle Me with Care, and it was every bit as exciting as the release of my debut novel, The Friendship Tree, back in February.

Handle Me with Care is a novel about second chances. With a tagline of ‘Her second love…his second chance’, it tells the story of Evan and Maddie, both of whom face significant challenges along the way. Maddie has been haunted by the death of her boyfriend in the 9/11 attacks and has resisted any serious relationship since. But when she meets Evan, she starts to believe in the one after the one. Evan is serially single but when he meets Maddie, he too feels a connection. But when he faces his own battle with testicular cancer, both Evan and Maddie must fight if they are to find their Happy Ever After.

Handle Me with Care

I loved writing this book. The research stage was quite lengthy given the content but it really helped me to develop my characters. I fell in love with them all and it was really hard to let them go when I’d finished!

Publication Day was tiring but fabulous. My husband took me out for lunch and a few glasses of Prosecco and as per tradition, I made a cake with an image of the book cover on top.

 

And now it’s on with the hard work of promoting Handle Me with Care and working on my next book which I hope to hmwccake2release in October this year. More details to come soon and they can be found on my Facebook page, my website or by following me on Twitter.

Helen J Rolfe x

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/helenjrolfewriter

Website: www.helenjrolfe.com

Twitter: @hjrolfe

Handle Me with Care is available on Amazon:

Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/purfsem

Amazon : http://tinyurl.com/ot874fa

 

Genre, romance & mystery with Nancy Jardine

Today we welcome Nancy Jardine to the blog to talk writing … welcome Nancy!

Could you start with introducing yourself and telling us a bit about your writing?

I’m an ex- primary teacher from Aberdeenshire, Scotland, who particularly liked to teach history – though most subjects had their own appeal! My romantic historical Celtic Fervour Series, and The Taexali Game Book 1 of my Rubidium Time Travel Series for the Teen/ YA market, are heavily influenced by my obsession about Roman Britain. I also write contemporary romantic mysteries which were initially intended to be ‘a break’ from the heavy research necessary in my historical work but historical aspects sneaked into two of my contemporary mysteries in an ancestral way!

When you read, do you read the same sort of books as you write or do you try to read outside the genre?

My reading spans many different sub genres of fiction.  I’m presently reading a dystopian/urban thriller; the book before that was a political thriller and the one before that was a romantic women’s’ fiction novel. My favourite is probably the historical romance genre but I enjoy other categories if the book is well written.

Could you ever see yourself changing genres, and if so, what would you change to?

So far I’ve written 3 contemporary romantic mysteries, 3 historical romantic adventures and 1 time travel historical adventure novel for Middle Grade/ YA readers. I have a slowly ongoing work in progress that’s a family saga and some might say that’s another slightly different sub-genre. It begins in Victorian Scotland and is planned to continue to approximately the 1950s, so it’s historical yet also about relationships according to the environments the characters live in.  I don’t see myself adding any other sub- genres in the near future since I’ve work in hand that fits my current writing types.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, Monogamy Twist.  nancyjardine2

Monogamy Twist isn’t quite my latest book. Monogamy Twist was relaunched by Crooked Cat Publishing at the end of March 2015 – a different version from the previously published US edition. It’s a contemporary romantic mystery set in Yorkshire, England.  The plot idea was sparked as I was doing ancestry research of my own family background while on the TV the current adaptation of a Dickens Novel was snagging my interest. It didn’t take long to decide to use the ‘mysterious inheritance bequest’ theme and adapt it for a fun contemporary novel. I really enjoyed creating the family tree around which the mystery is based, and it was a lovely change to create a different sort of spirited heroine in Rhia Ashton. She’s just perfect for Luke Salieri, because he needs help to find out why Amelia Greywood chose to leave the slightly dilapidated Greywood Hall to him.  However, Rhia is no pushover; she sets her own quirky conditions to the already weird deal set down by Amelia in her will.

Since Monogamy Twist was relaunched in March I’ve self published The Taexali Game (official launch date 22nd May). This is the first of a time travel series for Middle Grade/YA readers; though anyone who enjoys a good adventure will love the action packed Celtic Roman shenanigans during AD 210 when the Roman Emperor Severus plays havoc in northern Britannia.  My intrepid trio of time travellers have a task list to complete, and they’ve also to solve a local mystery— yet stay alive long enough to return to tell the tale!

On June 5th 2015, Crooked Cat Publishing relaunched Take Me Now, a contemporary romantic mystery. This story was great fun to write since I wanted to create a contemporary mystery around my version of a Scottish Highland Hero – my hero being somewhat flawed.  Nairn Malcolm finds he’s in a bit of a pickle having been involved in a mysterious accident. He needs someone to fly him from his Scottish island castle in his floatplane, down to Glasgow and then in his jet to London and beyond. Aela Cameron, a Canadian Vancouverite, is just the woman for all of his needs and together they eventually uncover the saboteur who causes further mayhem to both of them. Like Monogamy Twist, Take Me Now is a ‘sweet’ adaptation of the original US published version.

nancyjardine1

What is your favourite aspect of writing?

I’m a natural ‘pantser’ yet one who has gradually learned the value of planning a novel- even if I’ve still a lot to learn about that. That means I’m generally excited about working out the next stages in a novel as the story develops – my characters taking pathways that aren’t predictable when I make the general outline of the story.  I also love the editing processes since I’m pretty anal about making sure things ‘fit in’ properly. In my historical work this has meant ensuring that the time-lines work accurately (not always as simple as that seems) and in my contemporary mysteries it’s tying up all those potentially loose ends and sometimes adding little red herrings.

And your least favourite?

My least favourite might be finding that I’m in the ‘doldrums’ – which happened in the middle of the second book of my Celtic Fervour Series.  Book 2 is about Brennus of Garrigill and Ineda of Marske who become spies for King Venutius when the Romans are pushing further north in Brigante country (Yorkshire) in AD 71, but their romantic story is a long one since Ineda is captured by a Roman Tribune. Enslaved for a number of years means different relationships for Brennus and Ineda till major Roman military events occur to bring them back together.  After running the very long story past my publisher at Crooked Cat it was decided that Brennus’ story needed Book 2 and Book 3 of the series, 145 plus words being thought far too big for an ebook! Though they’re linked they were written to also stand alone. Since Book 2 doesn’t have an HEA ending the series couldn’t all be called historical romances – hence the labelling as historical romantic adventures, there being elements of all three in all three books.

Where do you get your ideas for writing?

Take Me Now transpired as a result of the chartering of a seaplane for a special birthday trip which flew us up past the Inner Hebrides on the west coast of Scotland.  The seaplane seats nine so nine family members climbed on board. This was followed by a chartered catamaran sail around Mull and the closer Hebridean islands. The whole weekend trip was fantastic and just begged to be used in a contemporary novel so my hero, Nairn Malcolm, is from a fictitious island off the coast of Oban where he bases himself at his restored castle. He’s not always the archetypal handsome highland laird but you’d need to read the story to know why not.  Monogamy Twist, as earlier stated was an amalgam of ancestry and a ‘borrowed’ Dickens plot. Topaz Eyes came about because I really loved making the family tree structure for Monogamy Twist. I decided to make a much more complicated family tree where I based the original matriarch in Europe, allowing me to include fabulous locations like Heidelberg, Vienna , Amsterdam and Edinburgh for her descendants.  The third generation tree structure gave me fabulous characters (some nice and others nasty) to include in the family treasure hunt for jewels which once belonged to an Indian Mughal Emperor. The trail for the gems also takes the protagonists beyond Europe to Minnesota and New York – as they evade the clutches of the deadly assassins of the family.

The Taexali Game  is dedicated to former pupils of mine who wrote excellent little stories as ‘end of project round-ups’ back in 2005.  I joked back then that I would someday write a full length Celt v Roman novel that could be used as a companion novel/ class reader for 12 year olds like them. The manuscript for the Taexali Game was lifted and shelved many times over the intervening years since I was too busy being a teacher to properly polish the story. I always knew I’d publish ‘it’ someday and 7th May 2015 was the day! My Celtic Fervour Series resulted from my continuing interest in Celtic Roman Britain. Instead of focusing on finishing the Taexali Game (set in AD 210) I instead spent time writing about a different era of Roman Britain for The Beltane Choice (#1 of my Celtic Fervour Series) – AD 71.  

If you could choose one perfect location in which to write, where would it be?

Somewhere with a proper desk, a large screen and a separate keyboard and mouse—because I’m useless with a laptop keypad. I’d prefer the desk to have an outside view overlooking a garden or a lovely vista. But since my desk at home has those things and I overlook my garden then I’m quite happy to be at home when writing. Not having Facebook or email minimised and blooping at the bottom of my screen would be wonderful  tactic– I’m too easily distracted by them!

If you could be mentored by one writer, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d probably choose Charles Dickens. I love the fact that he walked for miles and miles (some 15 a day wasn’t unusual) composing the next part of his story in his head. When he returned home he had the ‘freedom’ to immediately write down what he’d composed so that he could send it to his publisher immediately, since his work tended to be serialised on a weekly basis. He couldn’t miss those deadlines yet he also managed to create the unity of the whole plot at the same time. His creativity was amazing while managing to have a busy family life which included a lot of kids! I’d love him to tell me great strategies for composing my next scenes when I’m gardening or when I’m doing my grandchild minding tasks.

And finally, can you tell us a bit about what you are working on at the moment?

I’ve started Book 2 of my Rubidium Time Travel Adventure Series for Middle Grade/YA readers where my trio of time travellers hop back to Victorian Glasgow, 1884. I’ve also begun Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series. This is about another Garrigill warrior; the niece of Lorcan of Book 1.   I’ve planned out and begun my 3-book family saga beginning in 1950 Victorian Scotland.  My task now that I’ve no new launches in the near future is to prioritise and finish my works in progress!

Thanks Nancy for coming on to the blog with us today!

If you’d like to know more about Nancy, she can be contacted via the links below.

Helen J Rolfe.

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk

http://nancyjardineauthor.com/

Twitter @nansjar

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

Amazon author page:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

 

Celebrity Character Creation

CCIAOnescaleThe Write Romantics are glad to welcome back friend of the blog, Zanna Mackenzie this week to offer us a guest post all about creating celebrity characters, which some of us know from experience are great fun to write! Over to you Zanna…

Whether or not we regularly purchase the gossip magazines and follow the ups and downs in the lives of our favourite celebrities I think we all share a fascination with what it must be like to live your life in the glare of the media spotlight.
How would it feel to be followed everywhere by eager paparazzi, all pushing and shoving for a photo of you? Not to mention the reality of the more unflattering the photo, the greater the demand for it! What would it be like to pick up a newspaper or magazine and read something about yourself which is a total lie? To have to put up with horrible things being said about you and have people share their opinions and criticisms on everything you wear, do and say.
It must be awful to be constantly riddled with doubts as to whether somebody really wants to be with you as a date you or friend because they actually like you – or because of who or what you are? E.G. – famous!

Having to live your life this way must bring lots of dilemmas, heartbreak and sorrow – much of which is often played out in front of the world’s media, whether you want it to be or not.

But underneath all the oodles of money in their bank accounts, the wardrobes of designer clothes, glamourous mansions with private swimming pools and the eye wateringly expensive cars, these people are just human beings like the rest of us. And maybe sometimes they even wish they weren’t famous and find themselves craving a tiny bit of peace, quiet and privacy.

I recently watched The Voice UK – a reality series about people trying to win a singing contest – and whilst I thought allCCIATWOscale of the contestants were amazing and the finalists fabulous, my favourite singer actually won – Stevie. He came across as a very likable guy with a huge desire to sing and an amazing voice. He’s a fireman, a family man, rather handsome too. As he sang his about-to-be-released single at the end of the show, his wife watched from one of the coach’s chairs and she understandably looked proud and was crying and happy all at the same time. But I have to admit if that had been me in her position then a little part of me would also be fearful for what the future might hold if my husband became famous – all that scrutiny, all those women flirting with him, all that media spotlight, upheaval and pressure. It would turn their lives upside down.

Fame can be fabulous, we see all the glitz, money and success, but it can also be pretty scary.

All of which explains why, I think, we have a love for celebrity characters in the books we write and read. From pop stars to movies stars, even royals and WAGs, their lives are endlessly fascinating, dramatic and quite simply the stuff of which books are made!

ZannaM scaleZanna Mackenzie is the author of a series of romantic comedy mysteries based around the agents of the CCIA – otherwise known as the Celebrity Crimes Investigation Agency. Books 1 and 2 in the Amber Reed CCIA Mysteries are out now, with book 3 due for release in May.

http://viewauthor.at/ZannaMackenzie

Another Mega Monday announcement: Lynne Pardoe ‘pockets’ a deal!

Who could have believed the speed with which the Write Romantics have been landing book deals recently. First there was Jessica Redland’s 467141_105087346295108_93731370_oexcellent (I know cos I’ve read it) ‘Searching for Steven’ and her three book contract with So Vain books. Then Harriet James ‘Remarkable Things’ to be published by Crooked Cat, then Helen J Rolfe’s ‘The Friendship Tree’ also to be published by Crooked Cat.

I thought the good luck was bound to run out there. I’d sent a partial of a pocket novel I’d been working on to D. C. Thomson in Dundee around that time. I’d been working on it for months and lacked confidence to send it to them. Then I had an email conversation with one of their staff on their editor’s fiction blog which was really helpful. The next day I saw a blog post by another of their fiction staff, Tracey Steele talking about how to write pocket novels and I thought ‘fate is trying to tell me something, send it off fast!’ So I popped three chapters and a synopsis off one morning and got a request for a full later that day. I was delighted and sent the rest straight away.

I thought it would be months until I heard and prepared myself for a long wait. I knew how many submissions they must have and tried my best to be patient. You see, to me it wasn’t just an ordinary book because my mum helped me write it. Mum has been very poorly lately. She contracted flu many years ago and the virus got into her heart muscle and infected it. That caused the muscular layer of the heart to stretch, get thinner and to work more slowly. Bolstered by tablets you’d hardly have noticed any difference in her for over thirty years, but she’s now 85 and time is catching up with her. She was very, very, poorly for a while recently. Going out was a thing of the past and it was a major effort for her to even walk across the room.

I?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? can only imagine how painful that was, and boredom soon set in too. But then I thought I’d talk to her about the plot for the novel I was then about to write, and her world lit up. She totally followed me into my imaginary world and we chatted for ages about the characters I’d described and why they were behaving as they were. Mum suggested a couple of scenes and the motive for one person’s actions that were crucial to the story. Spending time with mum in our world of make-believe was a tonic to us both.

Now I haven’t told you what happened to this story once I’d consigned it to paper. I’ve left you in the lurch a bit about the outcome of this tome. I thought with the rush of publishing contracts coming to the Write Romantic’s there would be no way I would get one, so I got ready to slog in with my trilogy of social work books. Then about a week later, I saw an email from Tracey from D. C. Thomson. I opened it fully expecting to see a ‘..thanks but no thanks,’ sort of comment.

The first sentence yielded nothing of the sort. Nor the second. Then the third seemed to say she liked it and would like to buy it! I could hardly believe my eyes but when I saw the word ‘Congratulations!’ later on I knew what I read was true! It was all confirmed the following day when a paper contract arrived in the post. I quickly signed it and sent it back before they could change their minds!

D.C. Thomson is a bit special to me. My dad was Scottish and always spoke very highly of them. He was a printer at The Daily Telegraph and cameauthor 2 home with ‘The People’s Friend’ and ‘Beano’ every week. I loved them and read every word. As I grew older I read ‘The Friend’ in the nursing homes I worked in, often with the patients. I kept reading it when I left nursing, so getting published by them is very special.

Now I won’t keep you much longer, you must have plenty to do. But do check back soon because I’m hoping this lucky spell will continue. I’ve read some of my fellow WR’s work and know how good it is and how close to publication they must be!

Lynne x