Sunday, May 1, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award contender 2016: Julie Roberts

Welcome to Julie Roberts, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Julie.
How long have you been writing? 10 years. I started writing short stories, then novellas and now full length novels.  
Is this your first published piece? This is.my first published commercial novel, titled The Hidden Legacy. I write with four co-authors themed anthology books.
Titled: Fish Pie & Laughter, The Guilty Suitcase, The Virgin Sardine and our latest, Aphrodite’s Picnic.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the NWS for nine years. I submitted to the NWS a full length novel each year. On two occasions they were resubmissions.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Publisher; I am with Accent Press

How did you find your publisher? I started out ‘hunting the agents’ at the 2014 Winter Party. Five very kindly asked me to submit. I had replies of ‘I’m tempted, but …’ or ‘I like it, you have a good voice, but …’ or ‘Good luck, you can write, but …’ I then submitted my manuscript to Jay Dixon, Commissioning Editor for Accent Press. And three days before Christmas I was offered a contract. What better present could anyone give me!

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
My contract is for two books

When was your book published?
Publication day is 23 June 2016. I was thrilled when I had this date given to me. BUT it’s now Referendum Day! Is this good or bad? Are there any authors out there with suggestions of how I can use this to maximize sales?

Tell us something about your book
It's 1815. Meredith Sanders is a female artist in a man’s world. When she receives a legacy from her deceased guardian, she is drawn into his criminal past and into danger.

Export businessman Adam Fox suspects Meredith may be involved in an art fraud. Despite her fear of betrayal, she sees he is the only man she can turn to and trust. Together they face the dangers of trying to find a Turner that must be returned to the Royal Academy before their Summer Exhibition opens.
And whatever her feelings for Adam, Meredith will not reveal the secrets of her own humble past…


What are you currently working on?
I have the first draft of another historical novel set in 1822. The working title is A Tangle of Secrets.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Firstly, you are very lucky to be a member.
Secondly, don’t waste those precious writing months before the end of August dallying. Get writing, keep writing and where possible send in a full manuscript. This gives your critique author the opportunity to assess all the aspects required in the novel. Some of their comments are harsh, but they are meant to help you. Cry a few tears, have a glass of wine and put the manuscript away in a drawer. But only for a couple of weeks, then get it out, re-read the report and get started on your revisions. And most important, don’t forget to renew your NWS subscription. It is the best value for money you will ever spend. I know, I’ve done it and come out a published writer. And I record here my heartfelt thanks to all the authors who take on the role of assessor. Best of luck, you could be writing on this form next year.
  
Links:
Twitter          
Website          

Thank you, Julie, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Karen Aldous in the South of France


We are delighted to welcome Karen Aldous to the blog today as she takes us to another beautiful location in France.

Your fourth book with Carina is soon to be published. Without giving too much away can you tell us a little about One Moment at Sunrise.
I love Evie Grant, my main character. Evie has everything, a gorgeous little girl, lives in a beautiful villa in southern France by the Canal-du-Midi with a talented and highly regarded singer-songwriter– her life, you imagine, so perfect, every girl’s dream. However, her life is empty, her loneliness desperately painful. This is where her emotional journey stems. The story unravels as her misery is explored and she discovers what is missing in her life.

Is the setting for your latest novel similar to those that came before? How important is location to you?
One Moment at Sunrise is set along the coast from my previous books; on the beautiful, man-made Canal-du-Midi where characters are woven from its history and influential to the story. I enjoy reading stories set in exotic locations, as well as writing them, they allow me to soak up the atmosphere and the holiday mood so I want my readers to immerse themselves in that too. A world away from their daily routine.

How much time do you devote to social media?
I try to limit it because it can be hugely distracting when I’m writing, but there are so many interesting stories, pics and snippets people post - it’s difficult. So, I try to do a half hour three times a day and I like to do a guest blog-post once a month. Obviously at launch times this all goes out the window, but hey-ho, it’s what writers do nowadays and its lovely to connect to readers.

Do you have a regime and do you stick to it or are you adaptable if something else ‘turns up’?
I have to be adaptable – I need balance in my life, I’m a Libran after all! I’ve never been one to rigidly stick to routine. My family and friends are core, so having them around or, taking off somewhere on an impulsive whim is possibly my weakness! Being so curious I can’t sit still long, so in some ways I’m purpose-built for writing but, of course, when deadlines are there, it’s all hands on keyboard!

Is there another book waiting in the wings?
Of course…I have so many ideas buzzing around, I can’t tell you so, yes. I never want to stop writing and I will soon start planning the next. Right now, I’m off to the Alps and I need to leave Evie to get on with her life and give my head an opportunity to recharge. You can’t imagine how much I’m looking forward to meeting my next characters and getting to know them.

Have you ever considered changing genre? Is there something quite different you’re burning to write?
Absolutely. I’d love to try a psychological suspense but the one burning desire I have is to write a beautiful sweeping epic. In fact, I began outlining and writing a synopsis as well as carrying out quite a bit of the research last spring, which although is still in its embryonic stage, it’s developing. It’s a dual time line, and a bit of a project. An eclectic mix of family drama, suspense, romance and historical fiction.

And finally, what is next for Karen Aldous?
All the above. And, I’ve also set myself a challenge to improve my writing skills. I’m in awe of writers such as Elena Ferrante, Tracy Rees and, Iona Grey, the recent Romantic Novel of the Year winner and the book I’m reading at the moment; it’s a spookily similar format to the epic I’ve planned, but these authors organise their words so beautifully.

Biog.

Much of Karen's inspiration comes from her travels. The UK, France, Switzerland and USA are just some you’ll be transported to in her books, but wherever she goes, new characters invite themselves into 'Karen's World' screaming to tell their stories; strong independent women capable of directing their own lives - but struggle to control them...especially when temptation strikes!
Karen feels so much of her success derives from support of fellow writers at Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Write Place.



Karen’s books published by Carina are available on Amazon:

Links:
Twitter: @KarenAldous_

The RNA blog is brought to you by
Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman
If you would like to write for us please get in touch: elaineeverest@aol.com



Friday, April 29, 2016

Elaine Roberts at The London Book Fair

Earlier this month Elaine Roberts wrote about her expectations of The London Book Fair and how she was planning her trip. So, how did she get on?

As a London Book Fair (LBF) virgin I found it to be a fascinating place. The only thing I can give you for comparison is the Ideal Home Exhibition but bigger, much bigger. It is my understanding that this is the first time the event has been held at Olympia, in previous years it was Earls Court.

Before the day I was advised to do some preparation work. Where did I want to go and whom did I
Welcome!
want to see. That was very sound advice and something I would tell others to do. However, I did try this but the LBF website contained so much information, some quite difficult to find, so I gave up on that idea. I went along with friends, some experienced and some not so and was lucky with fabulous weather and a straightforward journey from Kent.

Once we were scanned in we picked up a leaflet that was the floor plans/maps for the event and it told us which companies were attending and where they were situated. The first stop was a cup of tea/coffee and a study of the maps. We clearly needed a plan to work to, which we did try and formulate but for me it was all a little overwhelming. So, unlike me, I decided to become a sheep and be guided by the others in my
Floor Plan
group. A lot of time was spent trying to work out where we were in conjunction to where we wanted to be and it was comforting to know we weren’t alone in that. People were standing around staring down at maps, pointing and looking very confused.

At lunchtime we made our way to the Pizza Express, although there were many eating-places to choose from. Over lunch we began talking about the strategy for the afternoon. However, it needs to be said that if you get four writers round the table they are going to spend more time talking about their writing, and we did.
Lunch!

What the event did was emphasise how big the world of publishing is and, yes subconsciously I did know that but to see it under one roof was quite spectacular. There were many talks to choose from. We sat in on “How To Promote Yourself”, which covered social media and events. It was a good talk but it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know through attending the London Chapter, The Write Place and the RNA Conference.

My impression of the event is that it is a trade fair where a lot of behind the scenes business is done. All aspects of publishing appeared to be represented from self-publishing, small independent publishers to the large publishing houses as well as all genres, both fiction and non-fiction. There were also plenty of places to eat and sit for five minutes.

As an RNA New Writers’ Scheme member I have attended several conferences and chapter meetings where I have learnt some valuable lessons and listening to the talks at the LBF reinforced how much I already know. Would I recommend attending? Yes I would, even if you are only going for the realisation that as a writer you are joining, or attempting to join, a fascinating and hugely complex world.


Francesca Capaldi Burgess, who had previously attended the London Book Fair, makes comparisons between the two venues.
·      From a practical point of view, I found that Olympia is more open and airy than Earl's Court was. It also has more cafes with seating to take a break in.

·      Earl's Court was easier to get to via its underground station, although Olympia (with a station that is often closed) is an easy ten minute walk from West Kensington tube station or a bus ride from Earl's Court.

·      The directory of exhibitors used to be included in the ticket price at Earl's Court but now costs £10 extra, though I imagine that's the doing of the Book Fair organiser, not the venue.

Thank you, Elaine, for telling us about your interesting day.

The RNA blog is brought to you by,

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

If you would like to write about a writing event or your own writing life please contact the blog: elaineeverest@aol.com




Thursday, April 28, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award contender 2016: Ros Rendle

Welcome to Ros Rendle, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Ros.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I have only been writing for about eight years; since I retired from being a head teacher, in fact. I self-published my first book to test the water so this is my second.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the NWS for two years and submitted two manuscripts in that time.

What came first, agent or publisher?
I am as yet, un-agented, but I live in hope.

How did you find your publisher?
I explored via the internet and submitted to a couple of the big ones but this was the second offer I had and the deal seemed acceptable.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
At the moment it’s for one book about which I’m happy. Since I’m so new to all this I don’t mind keeping my options open.

When was your book published?
September of last year - 2015

Tell us something about your book
Freed from nursing duties, Fliss throws caution to the wind and carves a new life for herself in France. Will she be accepted by the disparate villagers, an eccentric and endearing array of characters in Fleurus-le-Comte? Will her new relationship with Jean-Christophe survive? Just when everything seems on a positive trend something happens about which Fliss has no control at all. It will change many lives forever but will it bring everyone together?

What are you currently working on?
I have just indie published the first of an historical romance trilogy. That one is set in WW1 and the one I am writing currently is set in WW2 in Vichy France. They demand a lot of research.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Be thankful to have been accepted onto such a fantastically supportive scheme. Take time to read all the advice and decide what you want to use from it.

Links:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/RosalindRendleAuthor
Twitter: @ros_rendle

Thank you, Ros, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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




Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award Contender 2016: RJ Gould

Welcome to RJ Gould, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Richard.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I've been writing for about twelve years. A Street Café Named Desire is my first mainstream published novel; I’ve self-published my fiction for some time.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of NWS for a year, A Street Café Named Desire was my submission.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Publisher.

If you do have an agent who is it that represents you?
At present I don’t have an agent though I am reconsidering trying to engage one.

How did you find your publisher?
I spoke with Hazel Cushion, founder of Accent Press, on the phone. As we chatted she Googled my Amazon reviews and dipped into the two novels I had on kindle and liked what she saw (though she made it clear that didn’t include the covers!). I was offered a contract when we met at the 2014 RNA Conference. She was very open and honest about her ambitions for the company and I was delighted to sign up.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
I had an initial two book contract with options for further novels.

When was your book published?
December 2014


Tell us something about your book
David and Bridget meet at a twenty-five year school reunion. Neither of them had been part of the in-crowd at school and on the evidence of this event, their social standing hasn’t improved. Disengaged from other party-goers, David develops a teenagesque passion for Bridget. Obstacles ahead of a relationship developing include demanding soon to be ex-wife; deceased husband; tyrannical new boss; encounters with the police; and children struggling to get used to the new state of affairs. In addition to planning how to hitch up with Bridget, David sets out to fulfil his dream of opening an arts café.


What are you currently working on?
Editing has been high on the agenda over recent weeks. I’ve now completed and submitted  my third and fourth novels. Jack and Jill went Downhill follows the fortunes of a couple who meet on Freshers Big Party Night at university. They share the joke that their names match those of the nursery rhyme. Down the line, they fail to recognise that their lives mirror the plot. Nothing Man is the story of a man in his mid-fifties who is contemplating suicide. He meets a woman who is his inspiration for starting afresh and it soon becomes evident that he’s anything but a nothing man. I’ve just started writing a novel about a couple who are competing over who can have the most embarrassing mid-life crisis.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
It's been a valuable experience for me. In my opinion, it's best to sign up at the point when you think your novel is as good as you can make it rather than submitting a first draft. This maximises the benefit of the comments you receive. I had a novel to submit the day after I signed up and I got a detailed and encouraging review only a few weeks later. Whatever anyone says about your work, do reflect carefully and consider all suggestions, but opinions are subjective and it’s up to you to decide what to adopt and what to disregard.

Links:
Website:  
Twitter: @RJGould_author

Thank you, Richard, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award contender 2016: Heidi Swain

Welcome to Heidi Swain, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Heidi.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I recently discovered, courtesy of a school chum, that my literary aspirations were well known amongst my friends before I left school so therefore I would have to admit to writing for at least thirty years. However, I was in my thirties before I decided to really take my writing seriously and yes, The Cherry Tree Café is my first published novel.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the NWS for just one year before securing my publishing deal.

What came first, agent or publisher?
My publisher came first. I haven’t looked for an agent yet!

How did you find your publisher?
I discovered my wonderful publisher through the joys of social media. Books and The City are the digital imprint of Simon and Schuster and in 2014 they opened their inbox to unsolicited manuscripts using the hashtag #onedayonly. I prepared my submission package, pressed send and the rest, as they say, is history.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
My initial contract was for two e-books; The Cherry Tree Café and Summer at Skylark Farm (which will be published on June 2nd this year). In December 2015 I signed a contract for two more books, this time in both e-book and paperback format. Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market is scheduled for release on October 20th and the fourth (as yet untitled), will be published in the summer of 2017.

When was your book published?
The Cherry Tree Café was published on July 16th 2015

Tell us something about your book
The Cherry Tree Café tells the story of Lizzie Dixon who, finding herself unceremoniously dumped on her birthday, moves back to Wynbridge, the East Anglian town she grew up in, and sets about helping her best friend Jemma run the Café.

Lizzie has a passion for sewing and crafting and eventually plucks up the courage to offer classes while Jemma perfects her baking. Lizzie’s high school crush Ben is fortuitously also back in town and along with the advances of local journalist Jay, Lizzie soon discovers she has much bigger decisions to make than just which cupcake to sample next!

What are you currently working on?
Summer at Skylark Farm is now ready for publication so I am working on the edits for Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market while planning novel number 4. My writing life is pretty hectic right now!

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
The NWS is an amazing springboard to publication but you have to be vigilant. Always be on the lookout for submission opportunities and make sure you establish a good social media platform as you go along. Good luck everyone!

Links:

Thank you, Heidi, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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



Monday, April 25, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award Contender 2016: Catherine Miller

Image courtesy of
Neaves Brothers Photography
Welcome to Catherine Miller, one of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Catherine.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I’ve dabbled since my teens. I wrote my first ‘novel’ on my Grandad’s computer, then another attempt while at University studying physiotherapy. It wasn’t until illness prevented me from continuing my physio career that I started to take writing seriously. I had short stories and pieces accepted for anthologies early on and it spurred me on to try novel writing again.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member for five years and over that time I submitted two different manuscripts on five occasions. Waiting for You has taken three trips as I had twin girls in 2013 and only had a first chapter to hand-in when they were six weeks old. I wrote about my second submission with this manuscript over on The Romaniacs blog. We have been through what can only be described as an epic journey.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Publisher. Carina UK made me an offer nine days after submission and it was a dream come true! All those years of prep were worth it.

How did you find your publisher?
I submitted the first chapter to the Festival of Romance New Talent Award and was shortlisted for the award in 2013. I had a one-to-one with Carina and they wanted to see it when it was complete. Two years later it was finished and I sent it in.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
I have a two-book contract and I have just sent the second one into my editor to start the revision process.

When was your book published?
March 10th 2016.


Tell us something about your book
All Fliss Chapron wants is to be pregnant with her much longed for second baby. As the negative tests stack up, dreams of completing her perfect family feel more hopeless every day, but can anyone really be at fault when it comes to having a child…

Waiting for You is a heartfelt look exploring at what cost the shape of a family should take when life isn’t going to plan and finding happiness in the most unexpected places.



What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished my second book following Dawn as she deals with the aftermath of being a surrogate. It’s called All That Is Left Of Us.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Make writing your priority. It is so easy to let everything else take precedence. In theory having twins should have stopped me from writing, but instead it made me focus more on what I wanted to achieve when I did get time. If you find yourself with a spare ten minutes, make use of it!

Links:

Thank you, Catherine, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

The RNA blog is brought to you by

Elaine Everest & Natalie Kleinman

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