Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RNA Winter Party: A cold night but a warm atmosphere


Today we welcome Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts to the blog. Both ladies accepted our challenge to cover the RNA Winter Party for our blog and what a fantastic job they did too!

On Wednesday 19th November, members of the RNA gathered for the annual winter party, ready to meet up with old friends and make new ones. As with some previous events, we occupied the wonderful panelled Hall of India and Pakistan at the Royal Over-Seas League in London.
It was the first time the two of us had been to the winter party, so didn't know how it would compare to the other enjoyable RNA events we'd attended. It was soon clear that everyone present was bound on making it a joyful evening, judging by the animated chatter and laughter. Many people acquainted only on social media took the opportunity to met in real life. A good deal of head bowing and squinting took place as we all tried to read each other's name badges to find out who we were!


180 people attended, representing the industry across the board, from writers new and established, to editors, agents and publishers, all of whom mingled seamlessly. As usual, the frocks were fabulous, a fact celebrated by a photo call on the grand staircase (due to appear on the front cover of Romance Matters).





Tracy Hartshorn (aka Sally Quilford)
Tracy Hartshorn (who writes as Sally Quilford), the main organiser of the event, did a splendid job. She could be spotted for a good part of the evening on the front desk welcoming guests. Tracy explained afterwards that, “The RNA parties take several months to organise, culminating in just three hours of party time. But what a three hours they are. The mood is always cheerful and positive, and it gives a glow of satisfaction to those of us who do the organising to know that our work hasn’t been wasted. The Winter Party was no different. A good time was had by all, including me!”

Chairman: Pia Fenton


Our chairman, Pia Fenton, gave a speech thanking the committee, along with others who’ve contributed to the work of the RNA, for all their efforts. We raised a glass to those no longer with us. Pia thanked those who’d helped with the organisation of the party, particularly Tracy, who got a rousing round of applause.

   





Waiters weaved their way through the guests offering an array of canapés which included mini fish and chips and tiny pies. The bite sized chocolate cakes were particularly delicious. Not only did everything taste good, it looked good as well, the catering as ever living up to the splendour of the venue.



Wendy Clarke, Deirdre Parlmer, Karen Aldous, Rosemary Goodacre

First time attendee, Wendy Clarke told us, “I’m not much of a ‘party person’ and was expecting to spend most of my first RNA party behind one of the pillars – but I’m happy to say that this couldn’t have been further from the truth. From the moment I walked in, the welcoming atmosphere enveloped me and any fears of awkwardness evaporated. I didn’t feel the need to hide behind a pillar once – which was just as well, as there weren’t any.”



Vanessa Savage & Catherine Miller



Having some well earned time off from her adorable twins, Romaniacs member Catherine Miller declared it “another wonderful RNA party.” She went on to say that, “It's great that NWS members are made to feel so welcome.” As New Writers’ Scheme members ourselves we can certainly vouch for this. 

Sue Barnard




Another newby, Sue Barnard, said, “My first RNA party, but definitely not my last! What a great evening. It was wonderful to be able to put faces to names at last, and I made some lovely new friends too. I'm only sorry I couldn't stay longer!”



Rachel Crafts & Maggie Swinburne



Maggie Swinburne, editor of the twice monthly My Weekly Pocket Novels, travelled down from Scotland for the event because she said it was, “lovely to meet people”. She relayed some funny stories to our group regarding her job as editor, along with some tips on what she looks for in a story. She also came wielding the guidelines and is hoping for more submissions.




As the evening wound down and people started to don their coats and flat shoes (what a relief!), it was evident by the smiles and hearty farewells that the evening had been another RNA success. It might have been cold outside but the atmosphere inside was warm and friendly.

A hearty thank you to Tracy Hartshorn and all those involved in organising the evening.

Thank you, Elaine & Francesca for a wonderful blog post. Here they are earning a well deserved rest in between their reporting duties:

Elaine Roberts & Francesca Burgess

If you would like to cover an event for the RNA blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com




Friday, November 21, 2014

Helena Fairfax: Suffering from green shock!


It’s a great pleasure to welcome Helena Fairfax to the blog today,

Many years ago I spent a week in a hostel in the middle of the Yorkshire moors with a group of teenagers from an industrial city in Germany. They were on an exchange with a group of English lads from a similar urban environment. All had spent their teenage years in difficult, sometimes extremely tough circumstances, and were from various different ethnic heritages, ranging from Turkey to Korea. One thing these lads all had in common, though: they’d all been born and bred in a city.
I remember sitting in the coach with them on the way from Leeds/Bradford airport, watching them gaze out at the rolling heather, the moors stretching into the distance, all greens and purples, with not a bar, or a café, or a MacDonalds in sight.
 
One of the Germans murmured, with his face pressed to the window: ‘Ich habe Grün-Schock.’ Literally: I’m suffering from green shock. What a great expression!
 
Over the years I’ve thought a lot about that week on the moors, and last year I began to turn the experience into a story. I thought up a heroine who is a Londoner. Kate Hemingway, born Katerina Rudecka, spent time living homeless as a teenager and now volunteers with teenage girls, helping them in their turn to mend their broken lives.
I wondered how it would be if I took Kate and her group of London teenagers away from the city and into the middle of the Yorkshire moors. And then I wondered how it would be if they had a journalist accompanying them - someone from a completely different background; male, upper-class, and (outwardly, at least) appearing to have all the advantages a public-school education can offer. So, a completely random group of people, brought together out of the city and surrounded by sheep and moorland for a week. How would they all get on?
 
One of the teenagers in my novel is from Afghanistan, and I took the theme of my story from an old Afghan proverb: ‘There is a way from heart to heart.’ My story is filled with differences in culture: between town and country, between East and West, between rich and poor. And yet despite all these differences, where basic emotions are concerned, the human heart is the same the world over, with the same capacity for love. At the core of my novel is a romance (of course!), but it also deals with the love between best friends, between families, and with the intensity of teenage love. ‘There is a way from heart to heart’ is the positive, uplifting message I wanted to leave readers with at the end of my novel. I hope I’ve succeeded!

A Way from Heart to Heart was released by Accent Press on 18th November.

After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Her free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives - which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.
Reserved, public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t.  But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything, and leaves Kate torn.
Can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?
 

 
Biog:
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Happy endings are her favourite, and when one of her novels won a reader competition for "The Most Romantic Love Scene Ever" it made her day.
Helena was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire. After many years working in factories and dark, satanic mills, Helena has turned to writing full-time. She walks the Yorkshire moors every day with her rescue dog, finding this romantic landscape the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.
 



A Way from Heart to Heart is available on:


Follow Helena:
Twitter: @helenafairfax

Thanks so much for having me, Elaine and Natalie!

A pleasure, Helena!




Would you like to share your story of how your book was created? Contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com for details.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kathleen McGurl: From short stories to novels


Today we welcome author, Kathleen McGurl to the blog at a very exciting time in her writing life.

Kathleen, you are well known for your blog, Womagwriter. How did this blog come about?
Hi, and thanks so much for having me here on the RNA blog!
I began my writing career writing short stories for women’s magazines. I always quite fancied having a blog, but wanted it to have a tight focus. Then I came up with the idea of putting all the women’s magazine fiction guidelines, news and views into one place online. Initially this was just for my own benefit and fun, then people began to discover the blog and found it useful, then it began to get mentions in writing magazines and in online forums, and before I knew it, it had become quite famous in the little world of magazine fiction writing.  These days, blogging isn’t as popular as it once was, and I no longer write womag stories, so it’s become harder to keep it going, but I try.

Will you return to writing short stories?
For the last three years or so I’ve concentrated on novels rather than short stories. I have a full time job and many other demands on my time, so I find it impossible to do both. These days I write very few short stories – just two or three a year for my writing class end of term competitions. I have to enter these or I’d get told off by my tutor, Della Galton!

Can you tell us something about the thrilling news of your book contract. Did you have to wait long after submission and how did you celebrate?
Yes, it certainly was thrilling news, especially for me!
I sent my book to Carina UK in early May this year. Then in late May I was at the wonderful RNA Summer Party, and had the good fortune to be introduced to a couple of Carina editors. It turned out they’d read my submission that very morning, and they  liked it. I was very hopeful this would lead to a request for the full MS, and spent the next couple of weeks checking my emails about a hundred times a day. Finally, I received an email offering me a two-book deal straight up. I was over the moon. How did I celebrate? With my good friends Pinot and Grigio, of course!

How long did it take to write The Emerald Comb?
I started writing it in March 2012, and it was complete by the summer of 2013, when I began submitting it to agents. I didn’t work on it solidly for all that time – I also wrote and self-published one of my How To books (Ghost Stories and How to Write Them) in that period. So in total, it probably took about a year to write. I am definitely going to need to become quicker.

How have you found the transition from short fiction to full length novels?
It was a struggle to begin with – I felt quite daunted by the prospect of writing 80,000 words or more, and even more so by the thought of having to edit them into shape afterwards. So in 2010-11 I wrote a ‘practice’ novel,  just to prove to myself I could do it. (Eventually I rewrote part of that novel to create my novella, Mr Cavell’s Diamond, so it wasn’t wasted work!) Then I had the idea for The Emerald Comb, and have since written another novel as well. These days I much prefer writing longer fiction – I love having all that space to fully develop characters and plot, and to play around with stories in multiple time periods.
 
You have a busy work life so how do you juggle your writing around the day job and your family?
‘Juggle’ is an apt word here. I have a full time job, but luckily it’s one I do from home most of the time, with a commute to London (from Bournemouth) once a fortnight. My sons are in their late teens and don’t need too much looking after anymore, so I am able to write in the evenings and at weekends. I find it is all a question of priorities – I want to write, so therefore I must prioritise writing over other things such as watching TV, faffing on Facebook or twiddling on Twitter. But then again I also want to go out running or cycling, read books, go to the pub with my husband, wallow in the bath… it’s hard to find time for everything without my head exploding!

So what’s next for Kathleen McGurl, novelist?
My second novel with Carina UK – The Pearl Locket – is already available for pre-order (release date is February 2015). I have ideas for another three historical/timeslip novels, but at the time of writing, I haven’t decided which to work on next. I’m also completing a short non-fiction book (on time-management for writers) which I will self-publish soon, just in time to help with all your New Year Resolutions!


About Kathleen:
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
 
Many thanks for finding time to chat with us, Kathleen

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to be featured on the blog or write an article for our readers please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com






Friday, November 14, 2014

Winter Tales charity anthology - A sisterhood of stories


It’s a delight to welcome Jo Bartlett from The Write Romantics to our blog today with some wonderful news. Over to you, Jo…

It’s funny how contradictory the life of a writer can be.  Most of us will tell you that one of the best things about being a writer is that you are never really alone.  Your head is full of characters clamouring to tell you their story and take you off to wonderful, and in some cases weird, worlds in pursuit of their tale.  And yet… it can be an incredibly lonely life.  Taking rejection on a regular basis, doubting every word you’ve ever written and wondering if anything from cross-stitch to bungee jumping wouldn’t be a better use of your time, are all familiar to the writer – especially the aspiring one.

Serendipity is a wonderful thing, though, and an out-of-character response I made to a post on the RNA’s closed discussion forum, started a friendship that has grown into a sisterhood.  Responding to Jessica Redland’s message there, I immediately spotted a kindred spirit and we were off.  A flurry of email exchanges, each one pages long – we are both big talkers – was just the start.  Before long, we had set up a blog but, realising we couldn’t do it alone, we sent out a message on the RNA forum looking for other new writers to join our ‘gang’.

The Write Romantics have found such support in our group that most of us doubt we would have got this far alone.  We are like a real family, with the occasional minor disagreement, but unfailingly there to support one another.  During the past year, we’ve gone from having only one published writer in the group, to eight out of the ten of us having either a publishing deal or representation.  We might not quite be able to squeeze into the hot-pants of the Spice Girls back in the day, but in writing terms we are the very definition of girl power to the tune of ten.

Realising that as a collective we could do anything we set our minds to and loving the idea of cementing our friendship with a joint project, we hit on the idea of creating a charity anthology.  We wanted it to mean something to us personally and so we decided to support two very special charities - the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust. These charities are close to our hearts, since Alys has a gorgeous little nephew who battles with CF and, having been affected by cancer myself, when I heard about Stephen Sutton’s story I knew it was one that the rest of the Write Romantics would instantly get on board with.

As new writers, we’ve also been amazed at how supportive other writers can be. We were nonetheless amazed at how many successful writers, climbing up the best seller lists alongside our own Helen Phifer and Rachael Thomas, were willing to help out too.  As such, the anthology features stories from a wide range of successful romance writers and, in all, there are twenty four stories for just over £2.50, which is great value and will be an amazing support to these two wonderful charities.

To find out more about the anthology and the two amazing young men who inspired us, please visit thewriteromantics.com, or to buy a copy head on over to Amazon.

If you are an aspiring writer reading this, my advice is to surround yourself with a group of like-minded people - you’ll never look back.

Jo x
(Jo Bartlett, on behalf of thewriteromantics.com)

Thank you, Jo and good luck to you all with your project.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to be interviewed about a project or wish to write an article please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Chatting with our Hon. Membership Secretary, Linda Hammond



Today we welcome Linda Hooper to the blog. Linda is our hardworking Hon. Membership Secretary as well as a very busy novelist writing under the names of Sarah Mallory and Melinda Hammond.

Welcome Linda, your work for the RNA as Honorary Membership Secretary must take up a lot of your time. Would you please explain to members what it entails?
The Membership Secretary's job must be one of the nicest on the committee. I have the pleasure of keeping the membership records up to date and receiving all the applications from prospective members. It does get busy in December and January, when we have the NWS applications and subscription renewals, but everyone is so lovely, even when I have to remind them that they haven’t paid! The RNA is such a friendly organisation and I have gained so much from it that it is a pleasure to be able to give something back.

What is the worse part of the job?
Checking off all the standing orders when the bank statements come in!  There are about 20 pages of names to go through, and since many of us use pen names it can sometimes be a challenge tying up the bank's reference for the payment with the actual author!

 How do you plan your RNA duties around your writing life?
During the busy period around the New Year I have to put aside a few full days to tackle the RNA work, but the rest of the year it's mostly only ten minutes to half an hour a day to keep the records up to date.  It is necessary to attend the committee meetings, but I can write on the train – I find travel is a good time to think through plotlines or difficult scenes.

You write as Sarah Mallory and Melinda Hammond. Can you tell us how you differentiate between the two names? Do you have two websites and two writing personalities?
I am a Gemini, so I think I have two personalities anyway! I couldn't cope with more than one website, so it is set up under Melinda Hammond with an explanation that I also write as Sarah Mallory. I think "Sarah Mallory" is more of a brand, if you like, for the Georgian and Regency romances I write for Harlequin Mills & Boon. I was first published as Melinda Hammond, writing traditional Regencies that are very "sweet" compared to the slightly hotter historicals I write for Harlequin. However, under the Melinda Hammond name I have also written a darker Georgian revenge novel (Lady Vengeance), two dual-time novels and a World War II short story, but I try to make sure the description explains this, so the reader knows what to expect.

What are you currently working on?
This must be proof of my dual personality, I think! As Melinda Hammond I have just finished and self-published a short story, "And The Stars Shine Down",  about the spooky goings on surrounding the rebuilding of a WWII Spitfire , and as Sarah Mallory I have just finished a book based around Waterloo for Harlequin. "A Lady for Lord Randall" is the first of a trilogy called The Brides of Waterloo. RNA members Annie Burrows and Melanie Hilton have written the other two books, based on a fictional artillery unit called Randall's Rogues (we are planning their Facebook Page and Twitter account even as I write this).  I am now in the enviable position of thinking up a new historical romance…..

We understand you will soon be passing on the mantle of Hon. Membership Secretary.  Who is to be your successor and is there a period of training?
You are right, I have nearly completed my time on committee and I am handing over to Alison May at the AGM in 2015. There is a handbook to guide Alison into the job, and I will be liaising closely with her from the end of this year to ease her into the job.

What will you do with your spare time once you give up your RNA duties?
Write!  I have so many stories I want to get into print that I certainly won't have any spare time for extra housework or ironing, I'm afraid!

Melinda Hammond lives high on the Pennines, where the fantastic views provide wonderful inspiration for her romantic historical adventures. She was born in Bristol and grew up telling stories.  Melinda left school at sixteen and worked in offices as varied as stockbrokers, marine engineers, biscuit manufacturers and even a quarrying company. She has published over a dozen books as Melinda Hammond and written even more lively historical adventure romances as Sarah Mallory for Harlequin Mills & Boon.


twitter - @SarahMRomance  
Facebook - Melinda Hammond - https://www.facebook.com/melinda.hammond.77

Thank you so much for finding time to chat with us, Linda.


The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write an article for the blog or be interview about a upcoming project please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, November 7, 2014

Q and A Session with Rosemary Morris


Today we are joined by Rosemary Morris

My love of history led to writing novels. To research I read non-fiction, visit museums etc. At the moment I am writing Monday’s Child and revising a mediaeval novel. To view book trailers and read extracts from my novels please my website. (I would be happy to hear from you.)

Why does heart-rending pain lurk in wealthy Countess of Sinclair’s eyes? 

Captain Howard’s life changes when he meets Kate, the intriguing Countess. He resolves to banish
her pain. 

When Kate, victim of an abusive marriage meets Edward Howard the air sizzles but she has no intention of marrying again

We put the following questions to Rosemary:

Q. Have you ever thought of writing in another genre?
A. I have considered writing fantasy fiction.

Q. Agent or publisher? What is your preferred route to publication?
A. I am very happy with my publisher, MuseItUp Publishing, but admit I would like to find an agent for some of my future novels.

Q. Did you go through the RNA New Writers' Scheme and what are you views on this support for those writers just starting out?
A. Yes, each of my published novels and my unpublished mediaeval novel which I am revising went through the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. The reader’s reports were very helpful. As a result, five of my novels have been published. The scheme is an invaluable aid for new writers at a very reasonable cost.

Q. Writers have many different ways of working, some in silence and others in complete chaos. What is your preference and why?
A. When I am writing I prefer silence and resent it when someone phones me. I’m sociable but not during the time set aside for working. When dealing with ‘writerly’ matters I often have to switch on the television.

Q. What did you enjoy most about writing your novel?
A. I enjoyed writing about the love that developed between an older lady and a younger man. For those who are unfamiliar with the period, I also enjoyed describing the clothes, food, etiquette etc., in a period in which few novels are set.

Q. Some writers work under different author names. Do you or would you do this?
A. If my mediaeval novel is accepted for publication I might use a different author name because the plot, theme and style are very different to my published novels.                                                                   

Q. What's next for Rosemary Morris?
A. I have nearly finished writing Monday’s Child, a follow-on novel from Sunday’s Child.
Thank you for sharing with us today, Rosemary


The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write an article or be featured on the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Oh I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside!


Today we are delighted to welcome Celia J Anderson

Celia spends most of her spare time writing in as many different genres as possible, including children’s fiction. She also loves teaching drama and literature (now comfortingly called English again but still the best subject in the world.)

With two grown up daughters who have defected to the seaside, Celia’s future plan is to scoop up husband and cats and join them there. Her aim is a writing room with a sea view.

Have you always been or wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written for fun, but a fantastic creative writing module in 1996 - part of my training to be a teacher - sowed the seeds of something more, and my first novel began to take shape. That one never made it (fortunately for the book world) but it’s actually the prequel to the new one, Little Boxes so the ten year writing process wasn’t wasted!

You graduated from the NWS last year with Sweet Proposal. We’d love to hear about the lead up to, and your involvement in the Joan Hessayan Award Ceremony.
The first time I went to an RNA summer party the Joan Hessayon award was being presented, and it became my dream to be in that line up. The invitation to be there, via email, was a proud moment, especially as two of my best writing buddies/fellow Romaniacs, Laura E James and Sue Fortin were going to be up there too. There were lots of blog interviews beforehand and an article in the local press - it was a fabulous occasion with fizz provided by Joan’s lovely husband and a wonderfully uncompetitive feeling for an event of this sort!

Can you tell us something about your working life before?
It’s more of a now than a before - my last year’s plan was to scale down my teaching workload to give extra writing time but then circumstances changed and I was given the job of assistant head, which is great fun but extremely full-on. It’s a bit of a juggling act to find time to write. Luckily, I wake up early. Strong coffee helps a lot

You’re a member of the Romaniacs Blogging team. How did you all get together?
Meeting the Romaniacs has been the single most significant moment in my writing life so far. Most of us got together at the first Festival of Romance in 2011 - we knew from the start that our friendship was something very special and when the other two joined us shortly afterwards, the die was cast and we very soon began blogging together. These ladies are my writing mainstay, brilliant critique partners, honest sounding boards, but most of all a source of support and ridiculous humour at any time of the day or night. We find it hard to all be in one place at once due to families, work etc. but when we do manage it, the wine and cake intake is legendary.

How do relax when not working?
I cook, eat and drink too much, go for long walks, (in the Derbyshire countryside, by the sea or on the Quantocks whenever possible) and socialise with my family and friends. Oh, and have lovely long naps. And read and read and read and read.

‘Little Boxes’ is released today. What can you tell us about it?
It’s a story of Molly’s quest to confront the secrets of her past and to begin to move on. The clues for her journey arrive at random times through the post in little boxes, each one designed to make Molly dig deeper into life before her husband’s death. In the process she meets the desirable and charismatic artist Tom, who has secrets and problems of his own.

What has been your experience regarding the publishing process?
My first novel, Sweet Proposal, was published digitally in August 2013 by Piatkus Entice, following a competition win at the 2012 Festival of Romance. The whole process was fascinating, especially the editing - I learned a lot, particularly from Caroline Kirkpatrick. This time I’m published by Tirgearr and it’s been equally interesting. They are so easy to work with - cooperative, friendly and approachable. I’m looking forward to more of the same in the future, fingers crossed.

As no writer rests on her (or his) laurels, what is next for Celia J Anderson?
In the adult writing field, my next project is something more off-the-wall - still romance but with a twist. It’s called Living the Dream and involves mind travel. I also write for children, and my middle grade book Teacher Torture is with a publisher for consideration as we speak. Even more finger crossing.

Blogs:

Twitter: @CeliaAnderson1
Facebook Author Page: Celia J Anderson


Our fingers are crossed for you too. Thank you for joining us today, Celia

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write an article or be featured on the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com



Friday, October 31, 2014

Carole Matthews: What a Celebration!


We are delighted to welcome Carole Matthews to the blog today. Carole will be known to many of our members for her bestselling novels and we interview her as she celebrates a special point in her writing life.

You have reached a milestone in your writing life with the publication of your 25th book, The Christmas Party. Congratulations! How did you celebrate this event?
My publisher gave me a lovely posh party at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London. It was a really great evening with many friends from the world of publishing and personal friends who have been important in my career. I’ve also been trying to take time and savour the publication of this book and have been looking back at the many things that my partner, Lovely Kev, and I have done over the years. It’s been quite a ride.

How long does it take from the first idea to filing the completed novel and do you find it easier to write now that you are an experienced novelist?
I write two books a year, so have a deadline every six months. It’s usually three or four months of solid writing in that. I’m not sure the writing process ever gets any easier. I’m currently writing book number 27 and that’s the trickiest one I’ve done in a while. Also, modern publishing requires you to produce a lot of promotional material, so I’m always writing short stories, articles and blog pieces. That takes up quite a lot of time.

How much research do you undertake when planning a story?
It depends entirely on the story.  If I set them in a location that I don’t know then I like to make sure I visit it if I can. Or, if I’m writing about a particular job, then I like to shadow or talk to someone doing that job. To research a theme, I talk to people, gather magazine or newspaper articles, roam the internet. I just sort of know when I’m armed with enough knowledge and ready to make a start.

What would be a typical writing day for you?
I get into the office about eight to answer email and catch up with social media. Then I work from ten to one. I have an hour for lunch and then write again from two until six. I do that five days a week and try very hard not to work at weekends. Those who chat to me on social media will also know that I usually pull two ‘insomnia’ shifts a week. I’m not a great sleeper and if I’m awake, I generally get up and work through the night.

You make yourself available on social media to chat to your readers. Would you say this is important for all authors?
Crucial. But I also think that you have to love it. You can tell the authors who are on there only to promote their books and that’s annoying. Fortunately, I love social media and the opportunities it gives. I’d like to think that I’m building genuine relationships with my readers and I value their feedback and friendship.

Which of your books was your favourite to write?
I have several favourites for different reasons.  Let’s Meet on Platform 8 was my first book and so I’ll always have a soft spot for that one. The books that I can’t leave alone are The Chocolate Lovers’ books - The Chocolate Lovers’ Club and The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet. I love the ladies in those books. They never leave my head and the books have been my best sellers worldwide. I’m currently writing another two in the series. Yay!

How many personal appearances do you make to promote each book?
It depends on many different things. I tend to do only the big events that my publisher organises now or, on the flip side, small ones that are local to me. I also organise outings with my readers - we’ve been on chocolate tours, out for afternoon tea and I sometimes drop in on them for a cuppa if I’m passing. The joys of social media means that you have friends everywhere!

What words of advice would you give to members of our New Writers’ Scheme?
Don’t follow trends. Write the book that you want to write and make it the very best that you can. Don’t be in too much of a rush to send it off to agents or to self-publish. I have many manuscripts come across my desk from writers who want to be published, but very few of them are finished to a professional standard. Write every day when you’re starting out, even if it’s only for half an hour. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Please tell us something about book number 25
The Christmas Party is a riotous story about one night at an office party. The heroine is Louise Young, a single mum, who is back in the world of work for the first time in five years. Unfortunately, she has a difficult boss, Tyler Benson, and is treading on eggshells with him in an attempt to keep her job. She goes to her first office party hoping to have the time of her life, but little does she know that it will be a night to remember for many reasons.
This story was great fun to write, full of misdemeanours, mischief and mistaken identity. Being the festive season I have a great pantomime baddy who you can boo and hiss on every page. Everyone has been to an office Christmas party, but I don’t think many people have been to one quite like this!



About Carole:
Carole Matthews is a bestselling author of twenty-five hugely successful romantic comedy novels. As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries and has sold over 4 million books. Her books Welcome To The Real World and Wrapped up in You have both been short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year.
Previously unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. Carole’s latest book is The Christmas Party.

Carole’s website:
http://www.carolematthews.com/

Thank you, Carole for finding time in your busy schedule to answer our questions.

The RNA blog is brought to you by,
Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you wish to be featured on the blog or write a craft article please contact us on elaineverest@aol.com





Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Readers Wanted!


Today we welcome RoNA organiser, Nicola Cornick who is asking for our help.

We’re looking for readers for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award!
I’m in the thick of organising this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year Awards and for the

 most part it’s been great fun. Stressful and time-consuming occasionally, I will admit, but also a really interesting process to be involved with. We all know, of course, that the romantic novel of the year award is a prestigious prize that recognises the very highest standards of romantic fiction. We’re proud of our awards and rightly so. Over the years, as the profile of the RNA and of our awards has grown, an increasing number of books have been submitted for the contest. This year we have had over 200 entries across the five categories. Next year, with the inclusion of e-books in the awards for the first time, we are anticipating even more.
Delighted winner 2014, Veronica Henry



One thing that makes the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards different from some other contests is that the readers in the first round are book lovers and keen readers drawn from the general public. Our readers are not members of the RNA. We are always looking to attract more people to join the panel, never more so than now in order to meet the greater demand for readers for both e-entries and paper entries. We’re talking to libraries, writing groups and other organisations in order to drum up some support, which is also great for getting the RNA more widely known. So if you know of anyone who might be interested in reading for our awards, please rope them in! I’m always happy to send out details and application forms to anyone who is interested.

Here, to give potential readers a taster of what it is like, is one reader’s view:

“Last year I saw a call for readers to assess and review those books nominated for the 2014 Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. Having some time available I thought that that would both provide me with some good holiday reading and be a fun thing to do.
I duly contacted the Awards coordinator who sent me a form. With this filled in and sent off, I awaited the arrival of the postman on a daily basis. Time and holiday passed, and I hadn't heard a thing, when, at the beginning of November, I got a phone call. “Good morning. You volunteered to read for us. If I send you five books, do you think you can read and review them in a month?”


Category winners with Darcey Bussell CBE and Helen Fielding
The next day five books and review notes arrived, and I settled down for some extended homework. The review notes were MOST helpful. I managed all five books inside the allotted time and e-mailed my scores as I completed each one. Of the five, two were good, one was less so, one was very good, and one was also good but didn't meet the RNA's criteria.

I found the process very enjoyable, and volunteered to read again this year. It’s a process I would recommend to anyone. You don't have to “just like romantic fiction” and the RNA really do make it easy for you. Oh, and you get to keep the books!"

Thank you, Nicola.
 Our glittering awards ceremony could not go ahead without the help of our wonderful team of readers. 
If you would like to join the team please contact Nicola on: RONAawards@romanticnovelistsassociation.org

The RNA blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to contribute to the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com