Monday, April 27, 2015

Kathy Jay: Joan Hessayon award contender 2015

Welcome to Kathy Jay, another of our fifteen contenders for this year’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can you tell us when
you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist?
Thank you! When I was a teenager I read a magazine article about a romantic novelist and decided that I’d like to write romance too. I sent for guidelines, and still have them. They’re a reminder that I held on to the dream. Success in a short story competition got me writing again.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I was a member of the New Writers’ Scheme for two years. I submitted two different manuscripts. I graduated with the first book.  
How did you find your publisher?
A few months after HarperCollins launched HarperImpulse, they announced a competition. That gave me the push I needed to submit.  I was one of the winners. They offered me a three-book contract and invited me for afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason.
Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
HarperImpulse are fabulous with all things promotion. But I have some catching up to do. I didn’t have a social media presence as a pre-published author. I now have a website, a Facebook page, and twitter.  
What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
I had a revision letter to work through for What If He’s The One, followed by edits, and a cover brief. Then there was a proof-read for the epub, and another for the paperback. I’ve submitted the second book in my contract, and I’m writing the third.
How did you celebrate your first book sale?
I opened a bottle of Prosecco. Nothing beats a glass of fizz when there’s something to celebrate.

About Kathy:
I live in Cheshire with my family which includes a large dog and a cat. I love the changing seasons. I like pyjama days and cosy log fires in winter. In summer, my top things are strawberries and walking on the beautiful beaches in North Wales. I started writing my first romance on a vintage typewriter – way back when. Writing got put on hold while I studied for a degree in Drama and French. I’ve been an au pair, a teaching assistant, an office temp and a bilingual PA. I write fun, flirty romance for HarperImpulse.
Thank you, Kathy and good luck with your writing career. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nikki Moore: Joan Hessayon award contender 2015

Today we welcome Nikki Moore another of our contenders for this year’s Joan Hessayon Award.

Welcome, Nikki. Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can
you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist?
Thank you - the day I became a full RNA member was a very happy one.
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first learnt to read, at about five years old. I became addicted to getting lost in stories, being transported to different times and places, making new friends along the way in the characters and thought it’d be amazing to be able to make up stories of my own for a living. I read a lot of romance novels in my teens and simply put, love writing about love. I find it fascinating.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I was a member of the NWS for four years. I submitted two books, each of them twice. The book I graduated with in 2014 was my debut Crazy, Undercover, Love although it had a different title originally. I rewrote it several times, partially based on the reader’s critiques that I received, and this definitely made it a much better book. When I was published I sent my readers’ thank you cards.
How did you find your publisher?
I had a one to one appointment with Charlotte Ledger, editor with HarperImpulse (digital first romance imprint of HarperCollins) at the RNA Conference 2013. I’d sent her the first chapter of Crazy, Undercover, Love ahead of time. She told me she loved it and wanted to see the rest.
Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
Promo has been one of my steepest learning curves and is much more time consuming than I imagined. For Crazy, Undercover, Love I had a blog tour with the wonderful Gosling Girls, and also had new release or guest posts on about thirty other blogs/websites I’d arranged myself. I also had a Facebook launch party, spent some time on Twitter and was in Writing Magazine. My next aim is to get into the local press.
What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
It’s been amazing. Truly, Madly, Deeply, the RNA/Mills & Boon anthology I have a short story in, along with lots of other lovely RNA authors, became an Amazon bestseller. HarperImpulse commissioned me to write an eBook series called #LoveLondon, five stand alone short stories linked to my second novel Picnics in Hyde Park, and some of the #LoveLondon books have been in the Top 100 Short Story or Holiday charts on Amazon and Kobo.
How did you celebrate your first book sale?
I had a meal out with family a few weeks before Crazy,Undercover, Love was published. On release day I worked all day then caught up with the social media activity in the evening with a bottle of champagne and some nice food. My family sent me lovely flowers too.
About Nikki:
Nikki lives in beautiful Dorset not far from the beach with her two gorgeous children, and very happily has a lovely boyfriend too. She has a day job in Human Resources and very supportive colleagues. She loves writing romance and does it as often as possible, but can also be found reading and consuming white wine in hot baths on a regular basis. Nikki was a Novelicious Undiscovered finalist in 2013, and has also been a finalist in other writing competitions. She owes much of her success to the wonderful members of the RNA, and is very supportive of aspiring authors. Pop over for a chat about love, life, writing or reading:
Twitter @NikkiMoore_Auth

Thank you, Nikki and good luck with your writing career.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Linda Chamberlain: In a stream of consciousness…

We welcome Linda Chamberlain to the blog to tell us about her first visit to the London Book Fair,   what she saw and the (RNA) people she met.


Olympia is a cathedral. High ceilings, masses of people and for three days it is full of books. The old fashioned kind, with covers, some of them hard, glossy and expensive. People, smartly dressed, selling books. Not to readers, though. The London Book Fair is a giant sale of rights - film rights, foreign rights, audio - and it feels a million miles from my lap top, lying idle today. It’s not Ideal Home crowded, but it’s busy and I remember my instructions. A programme. I spot someone giving out maps at the entrance. I’ll need one of those, not that they help me on the M25.

No programme to be found. Clueless, never been before, I throw myself straight in, wandering the aisles. The metaphor changes – Olympia is a giant oak and writers are the acorns. Some have sprouted; others might be waiting to spill their insides to the world. Plenty are here. Some of them I know. A hug from Elizabeth Jennings who runs the Women’s Fiction Festival in Matera, Italy. I must go there again, she says. There’s Freida Lightfoot with Alison Moreton, RNA members both.
There are books on the Accent Press stand from some of our clan. Stop for a chat, it’s going well. Exhausting. Exciting. Lots of interest. Show my indie-published book, leave my card; take the submission guidelines since you never know. Searching for the press office but find Author HQ with its chance to sit down and listen to speakers. The digital age is more apparent here. Giving advice are a poet and a novelist who strut their stuff on Twitter. The poem that was spread over a few Tweets makes me smile. Brevity is expected from the novelist. A murder, surely, in the first 140 characters but no, this sounds like a book with a slow build.

Not waiting to find out how many readers he gains, I’m drawn to the Amazon stand nearby. More chat; good advice. So strange to see smiling faces behind this publishing giant.

Back at Author HQ a crowd forms for a talk on marketing and PR by Tory Lyne-Pirkis from Midas PR and Bethan Ferguson of Quercus. Out comes the notebook.  The advice is strongly pitched to indie publishers – get the cover right, get busy on social media, connecting to other people rather than trying to sell books. Join NetGalley, the cost is small and people there will review your book.
The trade stands that are full of children’s books seem a world far removed from such thoughts. The impression is an illusion since all books need a push in the right direction. The beautiful pictures, the colourful covers are a feast. The digital device in my bag is a useful but monochrome poor relation.
Another sit down; another talk. Diego Marano, UK manager of Kobo Writing Life, has some startling information. Research has shown that about 60 per cent of readers get to the end of a book they’ve downloaded. He proudly introduces Casey Kelleher whose grit-lit books on Kobo achieve an 82 per cent finish rate. She had no agent or publisher when she started out and writes crime in a stream of consciousness. Unusual and inspiring, think I’ll do my own version for this blog…

Making my way out of the building at the end of play I bump into Sue Moorcroft with Pia Tapper Fenton who both seem more enlivened than me. They’d had a good day, good talks – one of them at English PEN which campaigns internationally for the freedom to write without censorship.

I pick up a programme before I leave. They weren’t hidden. Next time I’ll get it right…!

I spoke to NWS member, Catherine Miller about her day at the London Book Fair and the The Write Stuff event:
The Write Stuff event was the London Book Fair equivalent of Dragon’s Den and when I entered my novel Baby Number Two, I never thought I would end up being one of the ten finalists. After my warm-up gigs having only been to the delight of my twin toddlers, facing four judges (Mark Lucas, Toby Mundy, Lorella Belli and Alison Jones) and a large audience thanks to the open stage was a tad daunting. Fortunately the practice paid off and my pitch went as well as can be expected given the immense amount of pressure. The feedback from the judges was both encouraging and helpful, not just for me, but for all the finalists involved. And afterwards it was lovely and surprising to have strangers come up to me and ask where they could buy my book. Would I do it again? Undoubtedly. Would I encourage others to enter? Definitely. Would I do anything differently? As Tony Mulliken, Chairman of Midas PR, who presented the event pointed out, I should have taken the twins. 

Thank you, Linda and Catherine.

The RNA Blog is brought to you by, 
Elaine Evererest & Natalie Kleinman 

If you would like to cover an event for the RNA blog please get in touch:

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Joan Fleming: Joan Hessayon award contender 2015

Today we welcome Joan Fleming to the blog. Joan is another of our contenders for this year’s Joan Hessayon award.

Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist? 
When I started scribbling as a youngster, my stories were always full of romance: princesses being rescued by handsome heroes before falling in love. Moving from those childhood dreams to becoming a romantic novelist has been a long process. Joining a writing group affiliated to the Scottish Association of Writers helped to formalise my ideas. I began by writing short stories, but when I was told in several critiques that my story was more like the first chapter of a novel, I decided to give it a try. I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme – and here I am.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I submitted my first book in 2008. Altogether, I’ve sent four different novels, one twice. I was unable, through illness, to send one in 2011. I graduated with my 2012 entry.
One of my novels was full length, the others shorter. After the first one, I had in mind potential publishers, and my submissions were the appropriate length. With every entry, I received positive comments and advice which encouraged me to keep on writing novels.
How did you find your publisher?
One of the recommendations of my NWS reader (thank you once again), was that I submit to an e-publisher. A well-published friend (also a member of the RNA) suggested I try Tirgearr Publishing – who accepted it. I’ve been delighted with my experience with this lovely publishing house.
Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
This has been a whole new learning curve for me. I’m on Facebook and Twitter and also several Yahoo groups. I’ve set up a website and a blog. In the early stages, the technology was really time-consuming, but I’m learning! I follow the advice of my publisher. I’ve had promotional cards printed, which I take to every writing-related event I attend (including the RNA conference). I also carry a few in my handbag!
What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
I’ve met many new writing friends, both face to face and on-line. In finding my way around social media, I’ve linked up and shared experiences with other writers. Acceptance by a publisher has given me confidence to write another novel, which is almost ready for submission. The change of status from unpublished to published author has opened doors: full membership of the RNA and the Society of Authors.
How did you celebrate your first book sale?
The first sale came at midnight when the sites went live. We opened the champagne which was already in the fridge. Morning brought a lovely day with flowers and cards arriving by the minute – and more champagne. Later, I was taken out to lunch by close writing friends.
About Joan:
I was born and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland. After university there, I became a teacher of French and German for a short period in the London area, then in the West of Scotland.
Since leaving education, I now concentrate on creative writing. I’ve had short stories and articles published in magazines in both the UK and America. I’ve also had some success in writing competitions.
In addition to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I’m a member of Erskine Writers, the Scottish Association of Writers, and the Society of Authors.
My interests include: reading, walking, travel, islands (anywhere!) and the life and work of Robert Burns. I now live in a flat on the outskirts of Glasgow overlooking the West Highland Way.
Thank you Joan and good luck with your writing career

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gabrielle Mullarkey: Short, Medium, Long

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the blog.

Can you tell us how you first decided to be a writer?
Like many of us, I read and wrote copiously as a child – everything from rambling sagas to poetry, to keeping a diary while on holiday. I was always scribbling. I remember swinging off the monkey bars in the playground at primary school and telling my best friend, ‘I’m going to be a writer!’ Later I felt I’d made myself a hostage to fortune because, even then, I had a vague idea it was both a precarious and difficult path to follow.

After I did an English degree, I went through a phase of never wanting to write another word again! (thank you, F R Leavis!). Plus, having bills to pay, I trained as a PA. But gradually the ‘decision’ to write crept up on me again. I started staying late at work to write short stories, as I didn’t have a computer at home, sending them to magazines and gaining enough success to inspire me to continue. I was living in Holland by then so I also began to research and write articles on my life abroad, selling them to expat magazines and supplements. Still unsure I was a bona fide ‘creative’ writer, I returned to the UK to train as a journalist and started working on women’s magazines. The two kinds of writing continued to exist side by side and even complement each other. 

You are well known as a short story writer. Why did you decide to start with short fiction rather than dive straight into novel writing?
Having stopped writing for a while after my degree, I wanted to feel my way back into written expression. I also think that my journalistic training gave me a natural bent towards telling a story in a succinct form. Over time, and as I wrote some ‘long’ short stories, I became more comfortable with experimentation and expansion. A lot of writing (as I understand it from my interest in its therapeutic benefits) is about giving yourself permission to push beyond boundaries, however subconsciously self-imposed.

At what point in your writing life was your first novel published?
I had sold several hundred short stories and a similar number of articles, when I began to consider challenging myself with a longer form. I finished Hush Hush with no clear idea of what to do with it – part of my writing process was probably cathartic – but found a publisher quite quickly. Luckily I’ve always been a realist, so I didn’t assume I’d ‘cracked’ it and could now look forward to fame, fortune and M&M riders all the way – but having the novel published gave me the confidence to continue with the form. 

What gave you the inspiration for the novel?
Facing personal upheaval in my life, I began to pour onto the page how a fictional character might cope with a big challenge: in Angela’s case, being widowed and needing to reboot her life, all the while unaware of secret undercurrents affecting events – hence the book title, Hush Hush. Writing her story was liberating because Angela wasn’t bound by the restrictions of my own circumstances; she could develop in any way I allowed her to. At the same time, the richness of her life and its growing possibilities opened my eyes to a way of thinking differently about my own life.  

You’ve worked as a journalist. Would you advise anyone wishing to write for a living to encompass various forms of publishing when considering a career as a writer?
Definitely. You learn so much. For example, part of my journalistic training was in sub-editing, which has been invaluable in prepping and researching my creative writing. Also, through learning to shape a human interest story with a ‘hook’ to draw a reader into a feature, I saw the overlap with fictional writing. Now, with social media, blogging is a good way to hone your writing skills – we’ve all read about bloggers who end up with publishing deals.

Tell us about your latest work?
The short stories continue apace – I love writing them. I’m also working on a new novel. As with my previous two, it will be a contemporary story with plot twists and secrets aplenty. This one will have a darker psychological edge, and opens with an intriguing mystery. As with my previous two novels, I write from both male and female points of view, and there’s a healthy scattering of dry wit.
I’m also very keen on continuing to workshop on creative writing for personal development, and having fun while doing it!  

About Gabrielle
Gabrielle is a novelist, short story writer and freelance journalist, with a keen interest in the mental health benefits of creative writing. Her contemporary romance Hush Hush, originally published in 1999, has been reissued as an e-book by Corazon Books, with A Tale of Two Sisters, originally published in 2001, to be reissued later in 2015. She loves cats, chocolate, Star Trek and Manchester Utd.

Twitter: @authorgabrielle

What a varied and interesting career you have had, Gabrielle. Thank you for sharing with us.

The RNA Blog is brought to you by
Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

If you would like to appear on the Blog please contact us at

Monday, April 20, 2015

Brigid Coady: Joan Hessayon Contender 2015

Today we welcome Brigid Coady, another of our contenders for this year’s award.

Welcome, Brigid, congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist? 
I have always wanted to be a writer and also always read romance, so thirteen years ago when I started to take my writing seriously the stories I wanted to write were romantic. It seemed to click and no matter what genre I’ve tried to write there will always be a love story somewhere at the centre of it. I know that the support I’ve received from the RNA over the years has helped me realised I found the right home.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I was a member of the NWS scheme for ten years. I didn’t submit a different book every year, sometimes I sent the same book or a finished version of a book that I’d sent a partial in for a previous year. I was always sending my script in at the last minute. I think I was despaired of! ‘No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham’ was entered in the NWS in 2009.

How did you find your publisher?
Through the RNA! I met Kim Young when she worked at M&B; we talked about me submitting short stories. After her move to HarperCollins she was still interested so I sent her ‘The Last Kiss’. After writing more short stories, it was a logical step to submit to them.

Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
I’m still at the beginning of the promotion and learning my way. I try and be active on social media platforms and start conversations with people. As my book is wedding themed I’m trying to promote through wedding sites and when I have a physical book I’ll be hitting the wedding fairs. I’m finding that it takes up a lot of my time. I’m open to any advice as I come closer to the publication date in June, all suggestions welcome.

What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
Every one has been incredibly supportive. It has also reminded me that you really can’t give up and that your journey is your own and will take as long as it takes. I’m now writing my next novel and applying everything I learned from ‘No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham’.

How did you celebrate your first book sale?
I was living in Breckenridge so we celebrated in mountain fashion, first by going for a trail run, then drinking at the local bar. Not too much as the altitude makes you a cheap date. When I got back to the UK I celebrated again. In fact I’m still celebrating!

About author, Brigid Coady:
I was born in the UK but raised round the world and spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book. When I was seven I wrote my first proper story about a magic puddle that flipped up to reveal a secret world underground. I’m now a non-practicing engineer who works in project management. I write romance and young adult stories. I’ve been a voice-over and radio continuity artist. I love country music and used to have my own radio show. My boyfriend says I have an unhealthy obsession with Kenny Chesney. I live in London.

 Thank you, Brigid and good luck with your writing career.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Georgina Troy: Joan Hessayon Contender 2015

Today we welcome Georgina Troy, another of our contenders for this year's award.

Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme, Georgina. Can you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist?
Probably in my early twenties when I wrote bits and pieces but did nothing with them. In my thirties I wrote the first 5,000 words for a writing competition and then completed my first full novel, but divorce and a lot of changes meant I put it to one side. Nine years ago my second husband suggested I begin writing again, which I did. I don’t think he realised how much time I’d be spending writing or staring in to space though.
How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I was a member for eight years, I think. I submitted four books and A Jersey Kiss was year two or three (it had a different name then) and I submitted it a twice, receiving excellent advice both times from my reader.
How did you find your publisher?
I submitted to a couple of publishers online. I was offered a contract with one but decided not to go with them. I was wondering if I’d made a big mistake when I was contacted by Accent Press a few days later. They’d read my submission and I was delighted that they wanted to republish my first two Jersey romances with a further two new books in the series.
Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
When I originally self-published A Jersey Kiss, I arranged a blog tour through Fiction Addiction Tours. I took part in giveaways and blog parties, where I met new reviewers and readers. I blogged weekly, tweeted and joined online writers’ groups through Facebook. I received a lot of support from reviewers who had enjoyed the book, new readers and other writers who offered for me to be a guest on their blogs.
What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
I’ve been editing Book 2, completed Book 3 and am working on the first draft of Book 4 in the series. Since signing with Accent Press, I’ve enjoyed becoming a part of their supportive and friendly team. I’ve reduced my working hours slightly to give me more time to focus on deadlines. I’m beginning to feel like a ‘proper writer’ now, which is incredibly exciting.
How did you celebrate your first book sale?
My mum was in the island from her home in South Africa and we opened a bottle of champagne together and sat outside in the garden drinking and chatting.
About author, Georgina Troy:
Georgina Troy bases her Jersey Scene series on the island where she lives and when she isn’t daydreaming about gorgeous men or plotlines, she’s walking on a nearby beach or working on her next book. Previously self-published, Georgina was signed by Accent Press in August 2014.

Thank you, Gerogina and good luck with your future writing career.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Karen Aldous: Joan Hessayon award contestant 2015

This year we have fifteen contenders for the Joan Hessayon Award. The winner will be announced at our Summer Party on 21st May. We will be interviewing all fifteen of the ladies in the coming weeks.

Welcome to Karen Aldous, the first of our contenders for this year’s award.

Congratulations on graduating the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. Can you tell us when you first decided that you wished to become a romantic novelist?
Many moons ago when in my late teens. Before children. However, it was a few years ago, 2011 when I was stunned into action. My mum was diagnosed with breast cancer, my healthy mum! So I cut my workload and accompanied her during Chemo. With so many drugs, she slept most of the time so I took along my Kindle and my notebook and pen. It was then it hit me. We never know what’s around the corner! I needed to fulfil my dream of being published before it was too late. I joined the RNA NWS in January 2012.

How many years were you a member of the NWS scheme and did you submit a different book each year? Which year’s book did you graduate with?
I graduated with The Vineyard. In 2012 I submitted two-thirds of it to the NWS. The feedback was positive and I worked on the suggestions. I submitted three chapters and synopsis to the New Talent Award and, although I didn’t win, I was invited to a one-to-one with an editor, November 2012. She asked me to submit the whole manuscript which I did on the same day it was resent to the NWS, August 2013.

How did you find your publisher?
That same publisher CarinaUK accepted it and offered me a two-book contract eight weeks later, November 2013. If I had completed it the first year, I may have been published a year earlier. I could have shared the news with my Mum. Sadly, she passed away in July 2013.

Promotion is a big part of an author’s working life. How did you promote your novel?
Reviewers and Bloggers are diamonds. As soon as it was released reviewers got the word out on their blogs and, a few weeks later, when I got to grips with it all, I booked a Blog Tour which, combined with the publisher/Amazon promos, widened the audience. I had already set up Facebook and then gradually got to grips with Twitter where I made friends with many authors and bloggers and we support one another.

What has happened to you as an author since that first sale?
I’ve since written my second novel The Chateau which was released last October. My publisher offered me a further two-book contract so I’m just finishing my third and planning my fourth for later this year. I’ve also had the privilege of meeting lots of authors through the RNA events and I’ve grown so much as a writer working with my editor, my local writing class, other authors. I’m still learning. I can’t thank everyone enough.

How did you celebrate your first book sale?
My gorgeous children treated me to a special celebratory dinner at a lovely local restaurant called The Vineyard and we had loads of bubbly!! Then more bubbly with my friends and then more with my writer friends at The Write Place. Even the grandchildren had bubbles – the soapy kind though!
About Karen: 
Karen Aldous enjoys village life on the edge of the north-downs in Kent with easy access to the buzz of London. Not only does she love the passive pleasures of reading and writing, she also craves the more active pursuits with her family and friends such as walking, cycling and skiing especially when they involve food and wine!
Karen gets much of her inspiration from her travels and if she had to choose, France, Greece, Switzerland and Italy would be her favourite. However, wherever she goes, she discovers a new character emerges in 'Karen's World'. She likes to write about strong independent women who can direct their own lives - but struggle to control them! And, of course there's always a gorgeous hunk or two!

Thank you, Karen and good luck with your writing career.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Kendra Smith: To the Antipodes and Back

We are delighted to welcome Kendra Smith.

Exciting times for you, Kendra. Your debut novel, Jacaranda Wife, has recently been published. Can you tell us a little about it?

VERY exciting! Well, London-loving Katie finds herself on a plane to Australia as her husband’s company has sent him there to save their financial bacon. Katie’s heat rash starts just thinking about going quite so far outside the M25 to rectify their debt, but she reckons it might be wise. Why? To distance herself from her best friend’s husband whom she had an encounter with… When she gets there, it’s a bump-a-minute journey of discovery about her new country, her new friends and her marriage! I hope people enjoy my heroine’s escapades and the best bit: you can travel 10,000 miles sitting in the comfort of your living room! I’ve had some lovely reviews already, some comparing my writing to the Australian best-seller Liane Moriarty, which is so lovely.

Your heroine ups sticks and crosses the globe. I believe you’ve done the same and are now living back in the UK. Town or country?

Yes, the word ‘boomerang’ comes to mind! We now live in leafy Surrey, but I have lived for nearly 8 years in Sydney and 10 in London.

Your roots are in magazine journalism. How much of a help, or indeed a hindrance, was this when writing your book?

Bit of both, really. Writing isn’t new to me and I enjoy capturing events and feelings on paper. However, writing fiction seemed like writing in free-fall, without any ropes – quite scary after journalism!

Is there a certain type of scene that's always harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

Action scenes need to be done well and not sound clunky. I have a dive scene in my book that (hopefully!) creates tension. However, you have to make sure it’s technically accurate. I ran it by a dive master to make sure. It did help, though, that I have dived myself and can remember some of the feelings.

How did you set about finding a publisher?

Ah, now pull up a chair, this could take a while… Getting published is never easy (trust me, I have read EVERY blog on the subject!) and can testify to this myself. I started this book around seven years ago, and each stage has required extreme patience! But would you believe, it was at an RNA event that I bumped into the lovely people at Endeavour Press who turned my book into a reality.

So the Romantic Novelists’ Association has once again aided an author in her push to get on the ladder. Tell us how you see your relationship with the RNA.

I’m very proud to be a member and so far it has introduced me to some wonderful people. I am very much looking forward to carrying on my learning, networking, and attending as many events as I can as part of my new ‘family.’ I’m also keen to visit my local Chapter meetings, a wonderful added bonus to membership.

We’d like you to share with us a random fact about yourself

Can’t open a book, new or old, without inhaling the scent of it first…

So what’s next?

Book Number Two! The word count reminds me I am a third of the way through… once the little darlings are back at school and I am not dodging bullets from BB Gun wars, I shall be notching up a few more. I can’t wait!

About Jacaranda Wife

Katie and Tom’s marriage is in trouble. As is their bank account. 
Is going to Australia really the solution? Find out how Katie copes with an absent husband, deadly spiders, a new friend who might not be all she seems… and a rather sweaty school run. Does the trip Downunder provide the spark her marriage needs, or send the whole thing up in smoke?

About Kendra Smith

Kendra has been a journalist, wife, mother, aerobics teacher, qualified diver and very bad cake baker. She started her career in Sydney selling advertising space but quickly moved to editorial, working on several national women’s magazines in both Sydney and London including Cosmopolitan and OK! Magazine. With dual Australian-British nationality, she currently lives in Surrey with her husband and three children. Jacaranda Wife is her first novel.

Twitter @KendraAuthor.

Good luck with your Jacaranda Wife, Kendra, and thank you for joining us today.

The RNA Blog is brought to you by
Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

If you would like to appear on the Blog please contact us at

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Writing a trilogy: The Brides of Waterloo

Welcome to Louise Allen, Annie Burrows and Sarah Mallory who produced Harlequin's trilogy of historical romances, The Brides of Waterloo.

Sarah Mallory writes -

Sarah Mallory

In the summer of 2012 Louise Allen, Annie Burrows and I put our heads together and came up with a trilogy of romances set around Waterloo. The premise was that our heroes were battle-hardened soldiers and we needed a regiment for them, so we decided to try something a little different. We moved away from the glamour of the cavalry or rifle regiments and settled for an artillery unit, a troop called Randall's Rogues, a bunch of misfits who just happened to be excellent artillerymen. They had been given a last chance to redeem themselves and had been brought together into a crack unit under the command of their no-nonsense Colonel, Lord Randall. As Annie puts it, "A dirty dozen in breeches"!
Once Annie, Louise and I had put together our initial proposal, and mapped out three stories, we were ready to approach Harlequin.  The RNA conference was at Penrith that year and Louise and I met up with Harlequin's Senior Editor for the Historical line, Linda Fildew, to pitch our idea in person.  Linda was enthusiastic, took it away to think about it and later that year it was accepted with plenty of time for us to write the books and for Harlequin to plan it into their 2015 schedules.
Then the hard work began, we actually had to write the books.  This involved lots of collaboration, mainly by email (thank goodness for the internet), although Annie and I did meet up in Waterstones, Manchester, where we re-enacted our battle scenes using the cruet set plus any available napkins and a sugar bowl!

Annie Burrows
Louise drew up a spreadsheet for the characters and timelines for the three books, Annie kept a note of the Dramatis Personae and I, well I just wrote!  We managed to schedule our work so that we were all writing our books at more or less the same time, which meant we could swap notes and ideas while the stories were fresh in our heads.

I bagged Randall as my hero and had the honour of writing the first book in the trilogy while Melanie and Annie chose two rakish majors, hard-as-iron Adam Flint and the unscrupulous seducer Tom Bartlett respectively.   Fortunately in Brussels at the same time are three strong and resourceful women who prove themselves to be more than a match for our Rogues!

We decided the Rogues should be in blue uniforms, like Mercer's Battery, the artillery troop that inspired our story, and Annie also came up with a motto (Semper Laurifer, which means Always Victorious).  My heroine, Mary, who finds herself at loggerheads with Lord Randall, translates it as Never Fails – To Infuriate! We also gave the Rogues a regimental mascot, a large and very hairy stray that attached itself to the unit and was tamed by Louise's hero, Major Flint. The breed we chose is known as a Bouvier de Flandres, large dogs weighing up to 120 pounds, and looking very fierce, though actually they are very gentle. Ben, or Dog (you'll have to read our books to find out how he came by his names!) features in all 3 of our stories, playing a particularly important role in Annie's  book, A Mistress for Major Bartlett.

Louise Allan

There was a certainly amount of crossover with the timelines. A Lady for Lord Randall starts some time before Waterloo and continues after the battle, whereas Annie's book and Louise's A Rose for Major Flint actually commence once the battle has ended.  We therefore have each other's characters wandering in and out of our stories. That was a challenge, but great fun, too.

It is important, when collaborating on linked books, to have confidence in your fellow authors, to trust their judgement. Louise and Annie had already collaborated on an earlier series for Harlequin, and I had known both authors for years, so we were pretty confident we could work together.  We all threw in ideas and were not afraid to speak up if we disagreed (which happened very rarely).  When we needed to use each other's characters in a scene we shared that segment, to make sure we were in agreement and towards the end of the process we read each other's manuscripts to make sure the stories and characters did not clash. Our characters were created and they evolved, squabbled, laughed, cried and fell in love against the backdrop of Waterloo in 1815. Their authors worked, sweated and laughed a lot in the process.

We are all extremely pleased with our trilogy and we hope the readers will enjoy reading these three books as much as we enjoyed writing them.

Sarah Mallory - A LADY FOR LORD RANDALL – pub Harlequin May 2015
Annie Burrows - A MISTRESS FOR MAJOR BARTLETT – pub Harlequin June 2015

Louise Allen – A ROSE FOR MAJOR FLINT – pub Harlequin July 2015

Louise Allen is working on her 49th historical romance for Harlequin Mills & Boon and her 44th, Scandal’s Virgin, won the RoNA Rose Award 2015. She focuses on the late Georgian/Regency period and also writes historical non-fiction. To the Field of Waterloo: the first battlefield tourists, will be out on Kindle shortly.

Annie Burrows has been writing light-hearted Regency romances for Mills & Boon since 2007. Her first book, His Cinderella Bride was the top seller in the historical line that year. Subsequent books have gone on to win the coveted Reviewer's Choice award from Cataromance. Her books have charmed readers worldwide, having been translated into 19 different languages

Sarah Mallory has written over 20 historical romantic adventures for Harlequin Mills & Boon and won the RoNA Rose Award in 2012 and 2013 for two of her titles. She also writes as Melinda Hammond, and her latest time-slip short story And the Stars Shine Down is now available on Kindle.
Authors' photos – courtesy of Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Thank you, ladies for this most interesting post and good luck with your publications.

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Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Wendy Clarke: Serial Writer!

Have you thought about writing a short story? How about a serial? Today a very busy Wendy Clarke visits the blog to explain about these different styles of fiction writing.

Welcome, Wendy. How long have you been writing? Is it a full time job for you?
I started writing in the spring on 2011. I had been an English teacher at a small private primary school and had recently received the news that it would sadly have to close due to the recession. Unsure of what the future held, and unable to make any decisions, I enrolled on a writing course for something to do. To my surprise I loved it and when it finished, did a second. The following year, I

was brave enough to send out some stories to magazines and three months later, had my first sale. After much discussion with my supportive husband, I decided that writing would be my new career and have been writing for magazines ever since. It is not a full time job, though – I try and balance my writing life with other things.

You write short fiction for the women’s magazine market. How many stories have you sold and do you have a preference for a certain style of short story?
I recently had a count and found that I had sold one hundred and twenty and I am very grateful to the magazines for liking my work. I write in a range of styles and genres, twist, humour, historical... but I write a lot more romance than anything else and my stories have often been described as having emotional depth – which I hope is true.

At what point did you decide it was time to write a serial?
Until I started writing, I’d never thought of myself as someone who liked a challenge but each year, I seem to be striving for something new and a serial seemed a logical progression. I had been writing regularly for The People’s Friend and my editor had been encouraging me to write a serial for a while, but I kept resisting. Then one day, I was trying to write a short story about the German occupation in Guernsey, and realised that the characters and storylines were too many and too complex to fit into 3000 words. It was my light bulb moment and my first serial, Charlotte’s War, was born.

How does a magazine serial differ from a short story? Is there a certain word length?
There are several differences between short stories and serials - the most obvious being that a serial, especially a longer one, takes more stamina! The plot needs to be more complex, with several stories interweaving, and each instalment must end with a cliff-hanger. This is because a serial has to keep the reader interested for a longer amount of time and at the end of each instalment they must be left desperate to know what is going to happen next.
There will also be more characters in a serial. Whereas a short story will usually have one or two main characters, a serial will have a whole cast – each with their own unique problems which will become sub-plots. Unlike a short story the serial will be told from the viewpoint of two or three characters.
One of the biggest differences, for me anyway, is that a serial needs to be planned out. It’s essential to keep the storyline tight and on track and the magazines won’t accept one without a synopsis. I never plan my short stories, I just get an idea and start writing but, although daunting, being made to plot out the storyline for the serial really helped me get to grips with it before I started.
As for word count, I can only speak for The People’s Friend, as they are the only magazine I have written serials for. They accept stories of between four and ten instalments, the first one being 6000 words and the following ones 5000. Quite a lot longer than a short story.
The bottom line is serials are more intense... but very rewarding.
Are you given free reign to write the whole serial or is the idea pitched to the fiction editor.
How it works is you pitch your idea along with the first instalment, a synopsis and a character list, to the fiction editor. If they like the idea, they will assign you an editor to work with. You then write one instalment at a time which has to be checked (and maybe edited) before you write the next. Patience is a virtue in the serial game!
How long does it take you to write a serial?
I suppose it depends whether you mean how long does it take to physically write it or how long does the whole process take? What I did was to set aside a week to write an instalment then would send it to my editor, who might get back to me with some proposed changes. This would then be looked at by the fiction editor and then the magazine editor before I’d be given the go ahead for the next instalment – maybe several weeks later. While I was waiting to hear, I would spend my time writing short stories which suited me very well. To put it into perspective, I started writing my first serial in July 2013 and it has just been published this month. In that time I have written a second serial.
You write articles for writing magazines. Can you tell us about this?
That was another of my challenges! I fancied trying my hand at writing a feature and wanted to write about things that affected me personally. At the time, my blog Wendy’s Writing Now, was getting more followers and I was starting to have guests (either by request or invitation) on it. I was also being asked to write my own guest posts for others and it made me think about the guest/host relationship and how it could be beneficial to both... as long as certain steps were followed to make things run smoothly. With this in mind, I wrote my first articles for Writing Magazine, ‘How to Be a Good Blog Guest’ and ‘How to be a Good Blog Host’. This was followed by a Writing Magazine article which talked the reader through my experience of putting my first short story collection together using KDP. Finally, I have an article in this month’s magazine where I talk to People’s Friend fiction editor, Shirley Blair and other serial writers about writing serials for the magazine.
You are now a member of the RNA New Writers’ Scheme. How do you balance your writing time between short stories, serials, your novel and articles?
Let’s just say I’d never be any good in a circus, as juggling might not be my strong point! My problem is, I love writing all of these things and don’t want to give anything up. I have to be sensible though and because I have started a novel (and it would be nice to have something to submit to the reader in August!) I have said that I won’t write any more serials until it is finished. The plan is also to cut down on the articles too but I am still writing short stories alongside the novel – after all, they are my income!
How do you see your future as a writer?
I seem to be following a path that others have taken before me – moving from short story, to serial, to novel. I suppose, like everyone else, I would like to see myself as a published novelist... but we’ll just have to wait and see!

About Wendy:
Wendy Clarke is a full time writer of women's fiction. Her work regularly appears in national women's magazines such as The People's Friend, Take a Break Fiction Feast and Woman's Weekly. She has also written serials and a number of non-fiction magazine articles.
Wendy has published two collections of short stories, Room in Your Heart and The Last Rose. Wendy lives with her husband, cat and step-dog in Sussex.


Thank you so much for visiting the blog, Wendy and good luck with your NWS submission.

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Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write something for the blog please contact us on