Wednesday Wondering – What a year can bring?

As you may know, yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Write Romantics blog and we’ve been looking back at what we have achieved over the past year, which has included two separate two-book deals, for Rachael and Helen P, and a follow up three book deal for Helen – who also appeared at the number one spot on the Amazon charts for her genre – knocking off Stephen King no less!  There have been 132  blog posts, almost 11,000 hits on the blog, 1,150 comments, loads of brilliant interviews with other writers and between us we have written well over a million words in that time.  There has also been lots of waiting on submissions and feedback, which is still going on, so hopefully the next year will bring us lots more to shout about.  In the meantime, we were Wednesday wondering about what else a year can bring…

New Life (in our case new characters)

130 million babies are born each year with Jack, William, Santiago and Mohammed amongst the most popular boys’ names globally and Emma, Charlotte, Olivia and Fatima scoring highly for the girls.  Character names for the Write Romantics this year include Annie, Will, Finn, Zoe, Nancy, Jack, Stephen, Sarah, Gary, Elise, Carol-Anne, Terry, Mark, Jeanette, Ashleigh, Tom, Isobel, Ben, Lynne, Santos, Georgina and Carlos!  It’s been a busy year of creation for the WRs.

Empire Building (our blog is the WRs home)

300,000 new houses are built each year in the UK alone and the most common road name is, wait for it… High Street, followed by Station Road, Main Street and Church Road.  Town  planners obviously don’t major in original thinking.  Although amongst the most bizarre names around the world are, would you believe, Butt Hole Street in South Yorkshire (since renamed as Archer Street), Psycho Path  in Pennsylvania and Wong Way in California – so maybe living at No. 4 The High Street doesn’t sound so bad after all!  The WRs have of course been busy creating a host of fictional homes, streets, towns and, in some cases, even worlds.

eggtimer

Love and Romance (that’s what we do, well most of us!)

There were around 250,000 weddings in the UK last year, 70% of these took place in civil ceremonies and the greatest number of marriages were between those aged 25 to 29.  The novels of the Write Romantics hosted several weddings of their own and lots of proposals, everywhere from castles and stately homes to the sand dunes on the beach.  There have also been lots of romantic gestures, with at least two heroes almost laying down their lives for the women they love – Ah, if only real life were like that. Let’s face it, sometimes it’s enough of a struggle to get him to do the washing-up!  That’s not to mention love scenes, tensions, arguments, making up and starting all over again – because of course the path of true love never does run smooth…

Publication (come on, seven more amongst this number isn’t that big an ask, surely? 😉 )

There are approximately 2,200,000 new books published globally each year – not to mention the millions of self-published titles of course!  With the US leading the way with over 300,000 and the UK hot on their heels with just over 200,000.   On a per capita basis, that has to put us as by far the most prolific writers in the world.  The WRs have written millions of words and at least 300,000 of those have found a publisher in the past year (between the 7 books signed up for Helen P and Rachael).  Here’s hoping the next year finds a publisher for at least another million of the WRs words 🙂

Come and tell us what you’ve achieved in the last year or maybe what you hope to achieve in the next and give us lots more to celebrate when our second birthday rolls around.

The WRs xx

Sangria in the park, anyone?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Simon Baker

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jo x

Romance? That’s so 1980s!

Sarah Lewis is our guest blogger this week. Sarah is a die-hard fan of 1980s culture and knows almost all there is to know about the decade when both hair and mobile phones were inordinately bigger, no-one had heard of the internet, let alone blogging, and a fairytale royal romance still looked like it might end in a happily ever after… Sarah runs a 1980s website and blog, which specialises in memorabilia and event planning, and she is just about to finish her first non-fiction book about the era, which will be ready for submission to publishers soon. So, without further ado, we’ll hand you over to Sarah for her take on romance, 1980s style:

Single for 15 years, and often the anti-heroine of my own romantic love story, I was somewhat amused to be asked to write a guest post for The Write Romantics blog. Never one to shirk a challenge, I decided to re-visit a time when, as a naïve teenager, I could still agree with Foreigner when they sang “I Want to Know What Love is”. Let me take you back to the Eighties, and some of the great romances of the decade.

The first image that comes to mind at the mention of Eighties’ romances, is a young Lady Diana Spencer floating up the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, wearing the silk creation of David and Elizabeth Emmanuel. I was ten years old when Diana became the Princess of Wales, and had little trouble falling for the royal pair’s faux fairytale romance. Theirs was by no means the only farcical marriage of the decade. Who remembers Pete Burns’ marriage to his manager, Lynn, or Elton John’s four year marriage to Renate Blauel? Both bride and groom wore white, Elton’s ensemble being topped off with a lilac-trimmed straw boater. In an age of extravagance and excess, where money equated to happiness, and hedonism was positively condoned, we still struggled to believe that our idols were anything other than heterosexual, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. No wonder the likes of George Michael struggled to find love and happiness.

A less traditional wedding, and indeed relationship, which did endure was that of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates. The pair married in their Kentish Priory home in 1986, ten years after they first became a couple. The Boomtown Rats front man ditched his scruffy image for the day, wearing a morning suit and top hat. His peroxide blonde, nymphet bride wore a scarlet, silk, Victorian-inspired masterpiece by Jasper Conran. Paula’s dress left such an impression on me, that I wore a red velvet version of the design on my own wedding day, nine years later.

Wedding

Despite the Geldofs’ divorce in 1996, following Paula’s relationship with INXS singer Michael Hutchence, I believe their love for each other continued. What better proof of enduring love than when Bob adopted Hiraani Tiger Lily, Paula’s daughter by Hutchence, following her untimely death in September 2000?

If we look beyond the froth of silk and lace of the extravagant weddings of the decade, we can find the true romances and successful relationships of the time. A shared sense of humour is often credited as being the key to a successful long-term relationship. This would certainly appear to be so in the case of Lenny Henry and Dawn French, who, despite divorcing in 2010 after 25 years of marriage, remain on good terms. Dawn’s partner in comedy, Jennifer Saunders married fellow comedian Adrian Edmondson in 1985. They are still happily married, as are Billy Connolly and Pamela Stephenson, who married in 1989, having met 10 years previously. These couples show that laughter really may be the best medicine, when it comes to the health of a relationship.

Another element for a relationship’s survival past the Eighties appears to be dodging a brush with the ugly stick. Wham!’s Andrew Ridgeley and Banarama’s Keren Woodward, Simon and Yasmin Le Bon, and Martin and Shirley Kemp were all blessed with good looks, and all remain in the relationships they began in the Eighties. Unfortunately for me, this is also the case for my 80’s crush, Paul Young, who was recently quoted as saying he was more in love with his wife than ever. Paul met the beautiful Stacey during the filming of his video for “Come Back and Stay” in 1983. They married in 1987, a time when my life consisted of ‘O’ levels, TOTP and shopping in SNOB. Obviously, if I had been older, I may well have been in with a chance with Mr. Young!

So, until he decides that my home is where he wants to lay his hat, I shall continue to embrace singledom, and look on in wonder at the longevity of romances, once so common with our parents’ generation, now a modern phenomenon. Whatever your personal situation, it is worth remembering the wise words sung by Whitney Houston in 1986, when she covered George Benson’s classic love song: “Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all”.

Find out more about Sarah and to take a journey back to the 1980s with her, check out the links below:

http://www.my-eighties.co.uk/
http://myeighties.wordpress.com/

Or on Twitter at:

@MyEighties