Friday, February 28, 2014


Today we welcome Victoria Lamb to our blog to talkabout the last in her Lucy Morgan trilogy.

Her Last Assassin is the final book in my ‘Lucy Morgan, Shakespeare’s Mistress’ trilogy, and is published this week in hardback and ebook. This was my first-ever fiction series, and it’s been a steep learning curve from contract to publication of Book Three. So I thought I’d describe how it was commissioned and developed.
Back in spring 2010, I produced a detailed synopsis and the first 25,000 words of The Queen’s Secret, a Tudor Court novel with thriller elements. My agent sent it to Selina Walker at Transworld, who was interested enough to suggest changes. I continued to work on The Queen’s Secret for the next six months, then we formally submitted the finished manuscript to Transworld along with synopses for the next two books.

On November 17th 2010, I headed to the RNA Winter Party in London with a group of glam writer friends. During our pre-party drinks, my mobile rang. It was my agent, telling me Transworld had made an offer for the trilogy. I was over the moon, and blurted out my good news to everyone. I was going to be a Transworld author! And it was my birthday too, by happy coincidence.

His Dark Lady was the second book. At nearly 150,000 words with four narrative characters – Lucy Morgan, William Shakespeare, Elizabeth I, and my fictional spy Master Goodluck – it is the most complex piece of fiction I have ever tackled. The action of The Queen’s Secret takes place over nineteen days: His Dark Lady spans nine years. One story strand follows the Babington Plot against Elizabeth I, and ends with the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, implicated in that conspiracy. Another deals with Shakespeare’s rise in the theatre, and the disgrace of his mother’s kinsmen, the Ardens. The plotting alone – working out fiendishly complicated character arcs and timelines - took weeks.

So we come to Her Last Assassin, the third and final book in my Lucy Morgan Trilogy. During the course of this novel, my heroine Lucy Morgan faces her greatest challenge, Shakespeare embarks on a love affair which could lead to his death, Queen Elizabeth comes under threat from a secret assassin within her own household, and spy Master Goodluck is forced to confront his shadowy past when his world begins to crumble. And the one who pulls all these strands together is Lucy.

Writing a trilogy is a difficult challenge, not least in terms of maintaining continuity and narrative tension from book to book. But I find it more liberating than writing a stand-alone novel. You can return to lost threads or answer a question in a later book, and build your world and its characters slowly and deeply, adding layers in each volume.

Now I’ve tasted trilogy writing, I’d love to write an even longer series. Meanwhile my Tudor trilogy comes to its conclusion with Her Last Assassin – rather a sad thought, but it will be exciting to start a new project!

Photo by Barbara Alderton: from left to right, Cal Andrews, Victoria Lamb and Jenny Barden at the RNA Winter Party 2010, the night Victoria 'got the call'

Victoria Lamb’s website:

Her Last Assassin: available in hardback/ebook on Amazon UK

Thank you, Victoria

Complied by Elaine and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.

Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog or would like to write a craft article.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Australia to England and Back Again - in print at least

Janet grew up in the Australian outback, but has travelled to more than 50 countries as a journalist and a computer consultant.  She has found herself at gunpoint more often in the latter role, which surprises her. Writing books is by far her safest job. She lives in London with a green-eyed Englishman and a grumpy cat.

Jessica Pearson is carrying a terrible burden of guilt. Will flying an outback air ambulance help her atone for a lost life? And what of Adam Gilmore – a doctor with dark secrets of his own. Can they find redemption and love in a town on the edge of nowhere?

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?
Some years ago, while on holiday in the central Australian desert, I fell ill. The Royal Flying Doctor Service transported me out of there – may even have saved my life. And it did not cost me one cent. I always wanted to write a book about what it’s like in the remote outback. Basing the story around an air ambulance seemed a good way to do that.
I started writing this book at what was a difficult time for me. I had just lost my father, my husband and I had just moved to New York City – a fabulous place, but very lonely if you don’t know anyone. I usually write a book in about 7-8 months. This took over a year but I am proud of the result.

When promoting your books do you prefer radio interviews or blogging - and why?
I was a TV journalist for many years – and I do find it quite strange to be on the other side of the microphone. Radio interviews make me a little nervous.
I rather like blogs – because I always come back and read the comments – and reply to them. It brings me closer to my readers… and I like that.

How did you carry out your research?
The town of Coorah Creek is fictional. The first thing I had to do was find a suitable place to build it,
somewhere that would support a town of this size. Then I started to draw a map of the town and buildings so I wouldn’t get lost when writing.
Jess is the pilot of an air ambulance and luckily I knew a pilot who was happy to help me with that. It was the same with medical knowledge for Adam’s character… I found a friendly doctor to help.
The internet of course, is a wonderful research tool – but I am always careful to choose reliable sources …

What is next in your writing life?
I have almost finished writing the second book set in Coorah Creek. This is the story of Dan – the ranger at the national park, who was involved in a rescue in the first book. Other characters from the first book appear in this one too. I want my readers to feel as if going back to Coorah Creek is like going home.

If you could rescue only one book from your burning home what would it be?
I have a rare old cloth bound edition of Rudyard Kipling’s Animal Stories. It has the most wonderful colour plates. It contains the first short story I ever read – a story about a polo pony called the Maltese Cat. My father introduced me to Kipling’s stories when I was very young, and this is what inspired me to start writing before I was even a teenager. 

If your book was turned into a film who would you like to play the main   characters?
I think – Dr Adam Gilmore is Aiden Turner – although about five years older. Or maybe Richard Armitage (yes – I loved the Hobbit).
For Jessica – maybe Claire Danes – she has that mix of strength and vulnerability.

Thank you for being with us today Janet.
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas
Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog or would like to write a craft article


Friday, February 21, 2014


Jean was born in East London and in 2006 she won the Harry Bowling prize, giving her an agent and a contract with Orion. After four award-winning Victorian novels Jean jumped forward to post-war East London with her fifth, Call Nurse Millie, released last year. The second in the series, All Change for Nurse Millie, is now out and she as just finished the third. 

Nurse Millie Sullivan is now Nurse Millie Smith, married to aspiring MP Jim Smith. NHS has just started, so nurses are busier than ever as the community realise that they no longer have to pay. Minor ailments need attention, babies need to be helped into the world and larger-than-life characters need keeping in line so Millie has enough drama to deal with without more at home...and Alex Nolan, her ex-fiancé, is back in town.

All Change for Nurse Millie has just been published. Was it hard to find another storyline to carry Millie into book three?                                           
Thankfully not. I’d plotted the storyline for the second book and the first book of Connie’s alongside Call Nurse Millie to too ensure continuity. Of course, things changed as I wrote it but it’s about getting the timelines to stay true.

Christmas with Nurse Millie was easy because I already had student nurse, Annie, in Call Nurse Millie and the O’Toole family in All Change for Nurse Millie so I just bought both thread together for the Christmas Novella.   
Your first books are set in the 1800s and your later ones post WW2. Which time period do you prefer?
I’m not really sure. I’ve loved all things historical since Roger Moore galloped across our 9” TV screen in Ivanhoe. Each book I write is like a history project. In the post-war books is I am able to bring much more family history into them as it’s the period my parents lived though. For them things were always before or after the war. My father fought in Africa in the 8th Army while my mother endured the blitz and was even trapped in the Bethnal Green Tube disaster.
How do you carry out your research?
I go back to primary sources as much as possible. I must have every 20th century nursing biography good, bad and dire. I also have a sizable selection of 1940/50s nursing, midwifery and medical text books which I base the nursing elements of the story on plus my own 25 years of nursing knowledge.
Would you like to have worked with Nurse Millie?
I think Nurse Millie worked much harder than I ever worked and for less pay. Nursing was a vocation not a job. In Millie’s fictional timeline she started training in 1937. At that time a nursing career meant foregoing marriage and children, Thankfully for Millie - and my story - WW2 changed that as post-war there was a shortage of nurses. To read more fully the differences between Millie’s working life in East London and mine visit My time as a District Nurse    
How do you fit your writing around your busy home life?
Goodness only knows. I still work full-time and I write in the evenings and Saturday, aiming for 1500 or a scene a day. That way I don’t forget what I’ve written the last time. It’s the only way. Sadly, 124,000 words don’t write themselves.
What is next in your writing life?
I’ve just finished the first book of Nurse Connie Byrne’s story and will be starting her second in a month or two. Then who knows but I’m certain whatever I write after that it will be set in East London.   
Jean’s website:

Many thanks for chatting with us today, Jean.
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.

Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog.


Today your blog team is more than thrilled to be able to announce the publication day of Truly, Madly, Deeply. The team will be front of the queue to buy their copies.

Truly, Madly, Deeply is the second anthology of the Romantic Novelists' Association and we’re just as proud of this fantastic collection of stories as we were of the first, Loves Me, Loves Me Not (2010), both published by Harlequin Mills & Boon.

The paperback edition of Truly, Madly, Deeply contains 24 fabulous short stories. As a wonderful bonus there's also a digital extended edition containing a further 11 stories - fantastic for those who like to read electronically!

Speaking of giveaways, The Romantic Novelists' Association has some copies of Truly, Madly, Deeply to give away, along with pretty RNA fans - the kind of fan that you wave around in front of your face to cool you, not the 'We love the RNA!'-type fan. Although we’re sure they're all pretty.

Click HERE to be entered into the free draw, your chance to win one of the first copies of Truly, Madly, Deeply.

And come along to the Truly, Madly, Deeply Facebook Party from 9am on Friday 21 February 2004! Lots of the contributors will be posting about their own romantic experiences – either ‘truly romantic’, ‘madly romantic’ or ‘deeply romantic’.

Google Play

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Meet the gang behind Romaniac Shorts!

Today we welcome The Romaniacs who will introduce themselves and tell us all about their fabulous charity anthology.

We are honoured to be on the blog today to tell you about our anthology, Romaniac Shorts.
We each have our individual strong points which has been amazingly productive in getting the book to this stage. Here’s how we did it …

Promo Chick – Lucie
I love promotion so took the reins, sourcing blogs and sites to visit, including the RNA, and writing the launch posts. I may consider ordering a sandwich board…

Cover Girl – Vanessa
 We all brainstormed the kind of look we wanted for the cover before I started work – style, colour scheme etc– and I took everyone’s input and designed a bright, bold, illustrative cover. The different colours and styles of the shorts represent not only the eight Romaniac’s but also our eight differing writing styles – an eclectic mix that blends together beautifully!

Strapline Sweetie – Laura

I tend to throw every idea in my head into the Romaniac pot, which the ladies miraculously manage to sort, and that's how the strap line came to be. In true Romaniac form, we voted, and 'Fashionably Brief' won.
As a lover of concision, I enjoyed the challenge of putting together the Amazon description.

Grammatical Goddess – Jan
 With very little experience at writing short stories or flash fiction, I felt nervously excited by the challenge and found the whole process from budding concept to blossoming creation to full bloom Romaniac anthology, hugely gratifying. I've also a good eye for detail so thoroughly enjoyed helping to wheedle out those grammatical gremlins and pesky typos.

Yummy Mummy – Catherine 
I've been in charge of the baby board meetings. They like to give the okay on everything. Here they are signing off the final proof.

 Magnificent Multitasker - Celia 
I have never had any confidence in writing short stories until meeting The Romaniacs, but in the last few months I have read their excellent work, picked up tips and had lots of advice. With the launch of our first book I'm proud to be part of this excellent collection.  With the amazing support from the others, even with lots going on in my very busy day job, I have managed to not only contribute to the anthology but, hopefully, give a lot of advice and encouragement back.

Dame Discussion – Debbie
There’s nothing better to get creative juices flowing than to have a discussion about things. And there’s nothing I’m better at than adding my two-penneth (which I did several times whilst compiling our anthology stories!) When deciding which charities to support, it was me who suggested Dyslexia Action as I felt it was a more general cause that everyone could relate to.

Tech Queen – Sue
As Geek Girl, it was my job to format and load 'Romaniac Shorts' onto Amazon through Kindle Direct Publishing. Loading it was relatively straightforward but the formatting took extra work. It wasn't until I had everyone's stories that all the little differences in presentation were apparent. Things like font, margins, indents, speech marks, spacing, etc, all these had to be adjusted for continuity purposes. I also had to make sure I had an up to date copy of the anthology as it circulated the group for proofing and editing. From a technical point of view, I think we've all learned a great deal from the process - it's been a lot of work but it's also been great fun and extremely rewarding.


Romaniac Shorts is a diverse collection of short stories and flash fiction and is available to download now on Amazon. All proceeds shall be donated to Dyslexia Action and the RNA. 

Thank you, ladies!

Brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.

Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog.

Friday, February 14, 2014


Mary is the author of sixty books, all but one of them novels. She writes historical romance for Mills & Boon and longer sagas for Allison and Busby, alternating them to give her a change of genre.
Escape by Moonlight is the story of two girls, Elizabeth de Lacey and Lucy Storey, from a Norfolk village, the one wealthy and privileged and the other the daughter of the local stationmaster, linked by war and the men they love.
What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?

I read a lot of World War 2 books because it is an era that fascinates me and one I can remember. It is a mine of good plots. Once I had established the main premise of how war brings together people who would not normally associate, like Topsy, Escape by Moonlight sort of grew. It took me about six months to write the first draft and perhaps a month more checking and polishing.
Escape by Moonlight is a lovely title. How do you decide on titles for your books?
With difficulty! Very often the first title I choose is not the one we go with and I spend an inordinate amount of time agonising and writing lists and sending them to my publisher. Together we somehow manage to hit the right one. 
How did you carry out your research?
Reading, reading and more reading. For every book I write I usually need about a dozen reference books. I read them straight through at first without taking notes, just to get the 'feel', then a second time making notes of the bits I am going to need. I also ask questions of experts (including RNA members, who are a knowledgeable lot) and I have found people very helpful, over questions of fact. Sometimes I'll visit a place but I find that places change so dramatically over the years, it isn't much help for a historical novel. Maps, pictures and contemporary descriptions are more useful.
You set your novels in East Anglia. How important is that to you?
East Anglia is where my roots are and Norfolk is where I spent my most formative years during World War 2. I think where you were happy as a child sticks with you throughout your life and is easy to recall. I live in Cambridgeshire now, where the fens are as flat as a pancake and the skies are glorious. With the weather we've been having lately I am beginning to think the landscape is returning to what it was before the fens were drained in the 17th century!  
What do you do to relax when you aren’t writing?
Believe it or not, I read and I do crosswords, word puzzles and sudoku, anything to keep my ageing brain active. Until a couple of years ago I played golf but have given that up now and exercise and walk instead. When I have time, that is!
What is next in your writing life?
I have a new book for Allison and Busby, A Different World, coming out in hardback on February 20th, the same day as the paperback of Escape by Moonlight, I have a new Mills & Boon book coming out in April and I am three quarters of the way through my next Allison and Busby book. After that another Mills & Boon.
Amazon UK:  Escape by Moonlight
My blog can be found on my website.
Thank you for joining us today, Mary. 
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas
Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog or would like to write a craft article




Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Juliet Greenwood writes about the brave women of the Great War

A big welcome to Juliet who tells us how she came to write her latest book.

Juliet has been a member of the RNA for over ten years. She has been a committee member and a reader for ‘The New Writers’ Scheme’. Having previously lived in London, she now lives in a traditional stone cottage amongst the mountains of Snowdonia. Her first novel ‘Elissa’s Castle’ was published by Transita. Her second novel ‘Eden’s Garden’, published by Honno Press, is currently a finalist in ‘The People’s Book Prize’ for 2014. Juliet also writes short stories and serials for magazines as ‘Heather Pardoe’.

When I first had the idea for We That Are Left (Honno Press) I knew I wanted to write about the experience of women in the First World War.

I have always loved the war poets since studying them at school, and I have family in France so I’ve visited the trenches and the war graves and been moved by them. But so much of what is written about the war focuses on the trenches and I wanted to know more about the lives of civilians, both here and in France. Most of all, I wanted to learn about the women, who moved out from being simply wives and mothers to take over the roles of the missing men, proving beyond doubt that we are not fragile and likely to lose our minds if we use them, and that we are more than capable of being managers, businesswomen, tram drivers, coal merchants, bricklayers. Not to mention working on the front line as ambulance drivers, and picking up the dead and the dying in no man’s land between battles.

I love Margaret James’ ‘The Silver Locket’, and Rose’s story really inspired me to follow my heart and the idea that had settled in my mind of a young women living a conventional, comfortable middle-class life, putting her own discontents down to her own inability to grow up and face facts. At that point all I knew about Elin was that I wanted to follow her both during the war, when she is tested and grows in ways she could never have imagined, but also afterwards, when she is expected to return to being the dutiful, infantile wife who has, in reality, gone forever.  

I loved every minute of my rollercoaster ride with Elin on her journey of survival and self-discovery. To my surprise, I also found myself drawing on my own childhood memories of my parents’ generation, who had lived through another war, and particularly of my mother’s terrifying journey through France as a teenager on the day the Second World War broke out. Her descriptions of a country descending into war, with families being torn apart at railway stations as fathers and sons were mobilised, most likely never to return, have always haunted me, along with everyone on her ferry home being told to stay still and quiet to avoid detection by the German submarine that was stalking them.

Despite the tragedy of the First World War, Elin’s story is not all doom and gloom. In using the family estate to provide food as it becomes expensive and then rationed, Elin rediscovers her passion for cooking and creating tasty recipes out of the most unpromising of ingredients. This was where I had fun too, rediscovering my mother’s own recipes, along with traditional Welsh dishes, which Elin inherits from her mother, and some wonderful creations from the newspapers of the time. I’ve had fun trying them out, too, with the results (okay not the burnt heaps and the collapsing junket) and recipes all ready to start appearing on my blog.

I hope you enjoy trying them out just as much as I did!

Elin lives a luxurious but lonely life at Hiram Hall. Her husband Hugo loves her but he has never recovered from the Boer War. Now another war threatens to destroy everything she knows.
With Hugo at the front, and her cousin Alice and friend Mouse working for the war effort, Elin has to learn to run the estate in Cornwall, growing much needed food, sharing her mother's recipes and making new friends – and enemies.
But when Mouse is in danger, Elin must face up to the horrors in France herself. When the Great War is finally over, Elin's battles prove to have only just begun.
Juliet’s website:          
            Book Trailer:

Thank you, Juliet.

Compiled by Elaine and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.

Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Photo Courtesy of Marte Lundby Rekaa
Pia Fenton (writing as Christina Courtenay) writes historical novels, time slip and Young Adult contemporary romance. She’s half Swedish but has also lived in Japan and Switzerland. Pia is the RNA’s current Chair. Her third novel Highland Storms won the RoNA for Best Historical in 2012; her latest, The Secret Kiss of Darkness, is now published. It is a time slip novel set in Devon. The heroine’s life is turned upside down when she almost bankrupts herself to buy a portrait of a mysterious 18th century gentleman at an auction. Forbidden love, smugglers and romance!

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?I was visiting the National Gallery in London when I came across a painting by Anthony Van Dyck (my all-time favourite artist). It was a portrait of a man’s face and it was amazingly well painted, so much so that I felt he might be about to talk to me at any moment! When I moved, it was as if his eyes followed me, he was so real. That gave me the idea of having someone’s soul (or spirit) trapped in a painting and the rest of the story grew from there. I can’t honestly remember how long it took to write, but probably about six months.

Amazon UK:
Amazon US:  (not until March)
When promoting your books do you prefer radio interviews or blogging - and why?I much prefer blogging because it gives me time to think about my answers.  Whenever I do radio interviews I’m always terrified I’m going to say something really stupid and they either won’t or can’t edit it out. Also, sometimes you’re put on the spot and your mind just goes blank – a total nightmare!
How did you carry out your research?First of all, I went on holiday to Devon with my family to find suitable settings for my story. I ended up falling in love with Saltram House, a National Trust property near Plymouth, and decided the hero had to live in a house like that. I also loved the scenic Devon coastline and the various towns there. I read up on the life of Thomas Gainsborough, who features briefly in the book, and 19th century smugglers. And, because my heroine buys her painting at Sotheby’s auction house, I dragged my husband along to one of their auctions to see what it would be like. It was great fun (even though I didn’t buy anything)!
What is next in your writing life?I will soon be doing edits for the third book in my Kinross trilogy. It’s called Monsoon Mists and follows on from Trade Winds and Highland Storms. It’s mostly set in India and I’m looking forward to concluding this series. After that, I’ll be working on the third book in my other (Japanese themed) trilogy, which is provisionally called The Snow Ghost.
Quick fire questions:
A writing ritual? – Eat some chocolate, sit down, read through previous day’s work, write
Paperback or Kindle? – Paperback (although Kindle is handy for travelling)
Lark or Owl? – Definitely Owl – hate mornings!
Wine or chocolate? - Chocolate
Dog or cat? – Dogs (plural)
Corrie or Eastenders? – Neither

Thank you for sharing with us today, Pia. What is it about writers and chocolate?
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.
Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The RoNA Awards 2014

As anyone who has ever been to a Romantic Novelists Association do will be able to testify, the RNA knows how to throw a party. You’ve never been? Well now’s your chance to try.
Tickets are available now for one of the highlights of the year, the Presentation of the RoNA Awards 2014.

The Reception and Presentation of the RoNAs will be held on Monday, 17th March, in the Reading & Writing Room (how appropriate) and the Gladstone Library of One Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2EJ, from 6 - 10pm.  Tickets are priced at £55 for RNA members and £65 for non-members.  (There is a 10% discount for early booking of tables of 10).

The application form for tickets can be found in the latest issue of Romance Matters or it can be downloaded from the RNA website, where you'll find it under the section headed Activities. Or, if you’re feeling lazy and incredibly busy, here it is below.

There will be ample opportunity at the reception to meet old friends or make new ones. Please let Liz know if there is anyone you would particularly like to sit with and she will do her best to accommodate you.

If you have any queries please contact Liz Harris -  lizharriswatlington

Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.
Please contact us at if you wish to be featured on our blog.