Friday, July 29, 2016

Lynda Stacey: Learning to Juggle!

Welcome to first time author, Lynda Stacey, who gives us an insight to her life and how she juggles her busy working life.

I’ve worked towards this moment for over thirty years. I ‘m so proud to be able to finally call myself
an author. I tell everyone that I meet about my novel, but when I do, I always get the same response. “But, you work full time; how do you find the time to write books as well?” Well, that’s easy. I’ve always worked two jobs; sometimes three: I’ve had no choice.

I was married very young. My first husband amongst other things had Asperger’s syndrome. He had many problems, and life became unbearable. I eventually found the courage to leave, after which he committed suicide and I was left with his massive debts he’d incurred. These were debts that I’d previously known nothing about and at 23 years old, I found myself with a debt of over £120,000. All of which I found to my horror that I had to pay back.

I spent the next twenty years doing just that. I worked as a nurse, an Emergency First Response instructor, and as a model - I know, hard to believe it now. I worked in bars, nightclubs, laboratories and in later years, I trained as a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor. I set up my own school, and worked most weekends. I’ve even taught in open water while snow was coming down sideways. Crazy you say, yes, I thought I was just a little crazy too.
I’ve always been ambitious, and I did all of this while working my way up through a company, where I’d begun doing just a few deliveries and a few sales, to now being the Sales Director for that same company.

So, being busy has never been a problem. I’d had no choice, but I was proud of what I’d achieved. I’d made my mark on the world and I managed to pay back all my first husband’s debts, as well as living a reasonable life with my new husband, Haydn.
However, in 2009, I was involved in a freak car accident which left me with limited mobility in my right arm. I had no strength to rescue students and couldn’t risk teaching Scuba any more. My school had to sold and for the first time in my life, I had nothing to do.
This is when I once again began writing.

My writing week
I work full time, five days a week and finish somewhere between five and six o’clock, I then go home, make tea, tidy up and by 6.30pm I sit down to relax. This is when I write and even though I have a perfectly good home office, I prefer to sit on the settee, with my laptop on my knee. I never work to a word count, I can’t. Some nights I only get an hour in which to write, some nights I get three or four hours. It all depends on what else is happening, and of course, how much time I spend on both Facebook and Twitter.
My main writing time is on a Saturday or Sunday morning. I tend to get up very early, at around six o’clock. This is MY TIME, the time when no-one else is around, no television to spoil my thoughts and no one else who I need to talk to. It’s during this time that I tend to go back over the work that I’ve done during the week, and I edit as I go. But when I type the words ‘THE END’, I know that it doesn’t really mean ‘THE END’.
All ‘THE END’ really means is that the story has found its final chapter and that then, as we all know, is when the hard work really begins.

Lynda x

Lynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire. Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.

Lynda joined the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme in 2014 and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition. She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her husband, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.

Twitter: @Lyndastacey

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

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

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Carol Cooper: How did I end up here?

It is a delight to welcome Dr Carol Cooper to the blog today. We all have our personal journeys to publication and we are sure Carol’s will resonate with many of our members.

When people ask about my writing routine, I admit I don’t have one. Other stuff keeps getting in the way. I’ve always wanted to write novels, even as an undergraduate, when I knew nothing except how to pass exams.

After qualifying as a doctor, I put my energies into medicine. Then I went part-time, raised children, and wrote lots of books on parenting. By now I was a GP, and teaching medical students at Imperial College. I was also busy with broadcasting and medical journalism, contributing to titles as varied as The Sun and The Lancet.

Writing fiction seemed less possible than ever. Then my father died. The plot of a novel about dating came to me while on the plane to his funeral.  I scribbled notes furiously onto a paper napkin over a drink. Those jottings eventually turned into a story.

My debut novel One Night at the Jacaranda came out in 2013 and was short-listed for a couple of awards. The next novel would have followed a bit more promptly, but I got side-tracked again.
I have a memory from long ago, of a consultant who phoned me shortly after an interview. Someone else had got the job, but, she added, “Nothing is ever wasted.” Yeah, sure. They were just words to let me down gently. I thought nothing more of it.

On July 1, I had two new books out. One is my second textbook of general practice. Aimed at medical students, it tries to convey the essence of primary care, its richness, complexity, and the many opportunities for getting things wrong. The other book is my second novel. Hampstead Fever tells of the intertwined lives and loves of six people one hot summer as emotions reach boiling point.
Chef Dan should be blissfully happy. He has the woman of his dreams and a job in a trendy Hampstead bistro. But his over-anxious partner, engrossed in their baby, has no time for him.
Burnt-out doctor Geoff finds solace in the arms of a moody actress. Journalist Harriet’s long-term relationship with Sanjay is on the skids, leaving each of them with serious questions. Meanwhile single mother of four Karen lacks the appetite for a suitable relationship. As with my first novel, Hampstead Fever evolves through multiple viewpoints, and each chapter often has several scenes.

Why do I write like that, people ask.  I don’t know. It’s what comes naturally to me.

I’m a GP. Every ten minutes or so, there’s someone new in front of me.
Medicine has kept me away from writing. But it has taught me to be observant and to put myself in other people’s shoes. My patients also show me life and share things they’ve never told anyone else. There’s not a single real patient in my novels, but they’re there all the same, and it’s a privilege to have known every one.

That’s why and how I write.  As that consultant said, nothing is ever wasted. I could do with a routine, though.

About Carol:
Carol Cooper is a doctor, journalist, and author. 
She graduated from Cambridge University where she studied medicine and her fellow students. Following a string of books on childcare and an award-winning medical textbook, she made her fiction debut with the independently published One Night at the Jacaranda.  Her latest is Hampstead Fever, and further novels are in the pipeline.
Carol lives with her husband in Hampstead and Cambridge. She has three grown-up sons and three step-children. Her books are available in bookstores and links below.

Twitter: @DrCarolCooper

Thank you, Carol and good luck with your writing.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Jean Fullerton: The RNA’s Chapter Liaison

We welcome the lovely Jean Fullerton to the RNA blog. Jean will be taking on our monthly interviews with the RNA chapters. So, if your chapter has not yet been interviewed please get in touch with Jean.

For those who don’t know me I’m Jean Fullerton and I write sagas set in the East End of London but the other hat I wear is that of RNA Chapter Liaison and it’s in that capacity that I’m on the blog today. 

Firstly, let me say how thrilled I am that Elaine has asked me to organise the monthly chapter blog
spot. As many of you will already know I am passionate about the RNA Chapters as I believe they are the backbone of the organisation. With that in mind I thought I’d tell you a little about what I’m hoping to promote over the next year or so. 

As the Chapter Liaison I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting the Norwich, Cambridge, Southern, Exeter, Oxford Leicester, Southern Belle and the Cornish chapters as well as regularly attending my home chapter, the London and SE, in the past twelve months. I’m hoping to drop in on many more before too long. Enjoyable thought it is to have lunch with you all and getting together with different chapters it has also given me some ideas about how we might increase members participating in chapter events.

I’ve proposed a set of chapter guideline and although this may sound very official it is in fact just setting down what many chapters are already doing. However, in addition it will cover things such as financing of events and creating new chapters.

I’d also like to encourage chapters to put on regional activities such as the recent Yorkshire and Chelmsford Chapters’ afternoon teas both of which were a huge success.  By holding such events members who are unable to attend the London based awards and parties can celebrate and network with RNA friends closer to home.

I’m hoping, in conjunction with Alison May our membership secretary, to assist members to locate their nearest chapter and set up a buddy system so new members can link to a long standing member to allay the anxiety of turning up to a meeting and not knowing anyone. To this end I’m looking at ways of contacting all members to provide details of their local chapter.

However, I won’t be doing all the work as I’m looking for chapters to write an account of their news and activities for the RNA blog.  Watch out for an email from me popping into your inbox.

Please feel free to contact me on with any suggestions or queries about the RNA chapters as I’m more than happy to help.

Thank you, Jean. We look forward to your monthly bulletins and interviews.

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

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Clare Flynn: The Green Ribbons

RNA Blog Team member, Ellie Holmes invites you to read her interview with author, Clare Flynn.

Welcome to the RNA blog, Clare. Please tell us about your latest release The Green Ribbons.
The book is about good intentions and bad decisions. The heroine, Hephzibah Wildman, is young – orphaned at eighteen and left with no one to offer help and guidance as she makes her way into the
world after a sheltered life. Catapulted into Ingleton Hall to work as a governess to the young daughter of the lecherous Sir Richard Egdon, nothing in her past life as the daughter of an Oxford academic has prepared her for what lies ahead.
You use modern themes in a historical context in your novels. What are the particular challenges in doing that?
Most of the issues we face today in personal relationships are perennial. It's the way we respond to them that's different. One of the challenges is to allow the characters to act in a way appropriate to the times they lived in, yet relevant to the concerns of readers today. Problems don't change but the ways in which they present themselves and the social and cultural context in which people respond to them do.
I try to avoid inappropriate heroine feistiness. Readers love strong independent heroines (who doesn't?) but the pitfall to avoid is having them behave like women today. At the time of The Green Ribbons women couldn't petition for divorce, all rights were vested in men. Only in 1923 were they able to petition on grounds of adultery and only in 1937 was this extended to other grounds such as cruelty. Husbands, regardless of their own culpability in the failure of a marriage, were automatically granted custody of children. All this caused women to be disadvantaged compared with today and conditioned how they behaved.
At the time of The Green Ribbons, pre-nuptial pregnancy among the working poor was a common custom. Men earned more when they were married and wages increased with children, so there was an economic pressure to breed and a tendency among men to check out their future wife's fertility in advance!

If you could go back in time, which period of history would you choose to visit and why?
A Medieval village so I could witness how ordinary people lived. I'd like to get a vivid impression of the smells, movements, sounds, colours – everything. One caveat! I only want to spend a day there, just enough to take it all in, but no risk that I could get burned as a witch or stuck in the stocks!

The first draft of your novel A Greater World was lost when thieves burgled your home and stole your computer and the laptop which held the back-up copy. You must have been heartbroken. How did you go about recreating the manuscript?

Yes I was heartbroken. I was numb for months and more or less decided to give up writing. Then I read that TE Lawrence left the manuscript of Seven Pillars of Wisdom on a train and wrote it all again from scratch. It only took him three months to produce 400,000 words from memory – so how could I not rise to the challenge! I sat down right away and started writing and I'm convinced it came out much better second time around.

You have travelled extensively and have used your travels as a source of inspiration for your work. Where are you off to next?
France in September, for a week, to paint. I hope it will be less eventful than my last painting trip - in May to Montenegro when I tripped on the way to breakfast on the first day and broke my wrist. As you may have gathered by now I am not one to take setbacks lying down, so I painted very shakily with my left hand.
My inspiration for the next novel is here at home though – Eastbourne in WW2. Also Ontario, Canada so maybe a trip there will be in order! Eastbourne was the most heavily bombed in SE England and was home to three regiments of the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade for three years of the war. Around 150 women went to Canada as war brides from the town.

Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?
I use both. But I prefer Twitter for promotional purposes as there's less risk of boring the pants off my friends and family.

How do you relax when not writing?
I quilt and paint when I have time. Right now, having recently moved house, I'm busy overseeing home improvements. And of course I read voraciously - for pleasure but also as background research for my books. I also shout at politicians on the telly a lot these days.

What’s next for author, Clare Flynn?
The next book. I'm only two chapters in and am mostly reading around the subject. I'm also looking forward to the Historical Novel Society Conference in Oxford in September, where I'll be catching up with a lot of RNA author friends since I couldn't make the RNA conference.

Links to:

About Clare:
Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. She is a graduate of Manchester University where she read English Language and Literature.
After a career in international marketing and consulting , working on nappies to tinned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels and Sydney, she now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea.

Book Blurb:
"Two men will love you. Both will pay the price for it."
In 1900 Hephzibah Wildman loses both parents in a tragic accident and is forced to build a new life for herself. Penniless and only eighteen, she must leave the security of the Oxford college where her stepfather was Dean and earn her living as a governess.
On the recommendation of a man she has never met, Merritt Nightingale, the parson of Nettlestock, Hephzibah finds herself at the impressive Ingleton Hall. The latest in a long line of governesses, she soon learns why: her employer Sir Richard Egdon has a roving eye and turns his unwanted attentions to her. Hephzibah has no choice but to leave – until a chance encounter with Egdon's handsome son, Thomas, leads to her eloping with him.
Marriage to Thomas Egdon is not the dream Hephzibah had envisaged. More interested in training his racehorses and losing money at gambling, Thomas has little time for her and she begins to suspect he is having an affair. When Sir Richard threatens to disinherit Thomas unless the couple produce the requisite heir, Hephzibah makes a desperate decision that will put the lives of both Thomas and her friend Merritt Nightingale on the line.

Thank you Clare and Ellie. Good luck with the book, Clare. We look forward to reading it.

If you have a book due to be published and would like to be featured on the RNA blog please get in touch with the Blog Team on