Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy Graduation!

This month Nikki Moore shares her journey through the New Writers' Scheme to Graduation and Publication

On 24th April my dreams came true … My debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love was published by the fantastic Harper Impulse (digital first romance imprint of Harper Collins) as an ebook, with paperback following in June.

Publication was exciting, scary and satisfying. A lot of hard work, angst and energy has gone into getting here. So how did I do it? Well, apart from supportive friends and family, very patient children, learning my craft and reading a lot,  I can thank the Romantic Novelists Association's (RNA) New Writers' Scheme (NWS).

The NWS is a probationary membership where for an annual fee you get to attend events including meetings, parties and the conference (fees apply) and can be part of the friendly, informative cyber-chapter ROMNA where you can chat to/get advice from/share news with other authors. Most importantly, at least in my view, you can submit a manuscript to be anonymously read and critiqued by a full member of the RNA. 

I was lucky enough to join the NWS in 2010 and the last four years have been amazing. I've attended RNA conferences including going to unbelievably helpful workshops and nerve-racking but positive one to one appointment with editors. I've drunk wine at and reported on the Winter and Summer parties for the RNA magazine, Romance Matters, I've received support and guidance from some fabulous, lovely authors (some of them household names) and had the confidence to take part in a workshop with our Vice-Chair Sue Moorcroft at the Festival of Romance. Crucially, I've submitted manuscripts to the NWS every year - two different books, each of them twice - and received bracingly honest but effective critiques in return.

It's always hard when someone points out that your baby isn't quite as beautiful as you'd hoped :)  but every NWS report has been clear, helpful and constructive and both manuscripts have undergone rewrites as a result … and it has made them much better books.

I will be honest. It was not always easy. In fact it was pretty painful, de-constructing stories I knew, loved and utterly believed in and then putting them back together again. I didn't always agree with everything the readers said, so I used my instincts and some of the suggested changes weren't made. And sometimes it felt like the rewrites were going on forever but I got my head down and pushed through … and some of the things my editor loved about Crazy, Undercover, Love when I pitched it to her at the RNA Conference 2013 was down to NWS feedback - which is why I've just sent thank you cards out to my NWS readers via the tireless scheme organiser Melanie :)

So, where am I now? Well, I've just graduated from NWS member to full RNA member and I'm working on my next book for Harper Impulse. So if you're out there, an aspiring author, and you're wondering if it's ever going to happen for you, make it happen. Join the RNA New Writers Scheme at the end of this year. And be part of our gang.

Harper Impulse: Crazy, Undercover, Love

Thank you for sharing your journey, Nikki

This blog is brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to feature your RNA Chapter, promote a book or write a craft feature please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, April 25, 2014

Lin Treadgold going Dutch

Lin Treadgold was born in Saltburn by the Sea, on the east coast of England. She a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and The Society of Authors. In 2001 she moved to The Netherlands. Her romance novel, 'Goodbye, Henrietta Street' was launched on 1st July 2013.

‘Goodbye, Henrietta Street’, is a poignant romance novel based on the Isles of Scilly and Yorkshire. Pippa Lambton leaves home for the beautiful Isles of Scilly, for a chance to rediscover herself. She meets Norwegian, Sven Jorgensen. Is this the eternal nature holiday or just a passing wave on the beach?

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?
A place to which I have always returned are The Isles of Scilly in Cornwall. Its very special to me and fulfils all those dreams of paradise and warm conversation. Life is caring and provides an appreciation of all the things we take for granted on the mainland and the wildlife is a pleasure to watch with puffins, seals, and wonderful flowers.   
I wanted to provide the rest of the world with information about this lovely part of the UK, through a romance novel and I wrote Goodbye, Henrietta Street with my heart in the writing.

I went to Scilly with a friend who had cancer and he encouraged me to write the book. ‘You never know until you try.’ he’d said.  ‘Life is too short.’ Six months later he passed away. It was his words that made me want to see it through. 

How did you find your publisher?
I made twenty or so submissions and was accepted by two publishers but I turned them down, as their contracts were not to my needs.  I eventually found Safkhet Publishing who offered me everything I required for a first novel and I accepted their offer.

When did you decide to become a writer and how did you start this new part of your life?
I have always loved writing stories but I never got around to being serious about it until I moved to Holland. I opened a journal on my daily routine in early 2001.  After reading through the proposed book, written in longhand, I started to type it out on the computer.  I searched for a creative writing tutor. Jacqui Lofthouse who gave me all the right information on how to write and what to look for. http://thewritingcoach.co.uk/ . I had previously undertaken a creative writing course with Leeds University in the late 1980’s so I was able to get out my notes and start the whole process again.

What is next in your writing life?
Try to stop me writing and it would be like having my teeth pulled.  No sooner had I launched my first novel, I wrote the second one. To quote my editor at Cornerstones Literary Consultancy,‘The Tanglewood Affair’ has all the ingredients of a gripping and absorbing novel: an array of colourful and interesting characters, an unusual setting, sinister goings-on and a central love story. It makes for a really engaging read.’ I hope very soon it will be ready for submission. I am now making the final changes to the text.
To have a consultant and bounce ideas is worth a lot to me, providing me with a very professional report. I also have Sue Moorcroft to thank for her input. It is up to the author to set up a presence with book signings and so on and build a rapport with readers. My previous life experiences showed me how to do this. 
The third novel has the first seven chapters written with a working title of Harold, The Good Soldier.  The story is very real and poignant inspired by original World War II letters from a prison camp in Italy.  So watch this space. I enjoy working on two books at the same time.  I also have a novella in progress.

Safkhet Publishing: Goodbye, Henrietta Street

Thank you for joining us today, Lin.

Brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman

If you wish to be featured on the RNA blog or would like to submit a craft article please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

FOCUS ON: Oxford Chapter

This month we welcome Liz Harris, Convenor of the Oxford Chapter who tells us about their Retreat Day.

The members of the RNA Oxford Chapter chose to locate their Writers’ Retreat Day in the pub (now stop that sniggering!) where they meet monthly for the Ox Lunch. The central nature of The Victoria Arms, Old Marston, with its large car park, made that the ideal venue for the Ox lunchers, some of whom come from as far as Gloucestershire.

The planned day comprised talks and discussions, punctuated by tea and coffee and a pre-arranged buffet lunch. The subject of each of the three talks had been chosen by the members.

The first was entitled Promoting One's Novel and the Social Media. Writing a novel is just the start; the next, very important stage is selling that novel, and the members, both traditionally published and self-published, were keen for guidance about how best to do this.

Illustrating her informative talk with images flashed on to the screen, RNA PR officer, Maggi Fox, covered the traditional forms of book promotion, indicating the key points that should be observed. After Maggi, Janet Gover took everyone through aspects of blogging and statistical analysis in a talk that gave the listeners plenty to think about. There is a wealth of information to be obtained from google statistics, and members were encouraged to use it to the full. Finally, Liz Harris drew attention to the advantages of accessing twitter through an engine such as tweetdeck, pointing out that the time spent morning and evening on the social media can be seen as the equivalent of driving to and from work.

After a buffet lunch, experienced blurb-writer, Anselm Audley, took the group through the key points of writing a blurb for one's novel. It was a very useful talk, dealing as it did with a subject of great importance to those both traditionally published and self-published.

This was followed by a most entertaining and informative final session: multi-published author, Anita Burgh, spoke about the publishing industry as it used to be, illustrating her talk with many an amusing anecdote. When Anita had finished her talk, Catherine Jones took over, speaking about the realities of publishing today, a topic which stimulated much discussion.

By the end of the day we were all only a teeny bit older, but we were a great deal wiser and better informed about aspects that relating to our own writing, as well as to the publishing industry today.

The Oxford Chapter finished the day by expressing their gratitude to the RNA committee, for helping to make such an enjoyable, informative day possible.

For details of the Oxford Chapter meetings please contact Liz Harris: lizharriswatlington@yahoo.co.uk

Thank you, Liz.

This blog is brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to feature your RNA Chapter, promote a book or write a craft feature please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, April 18, 2014

SERENA FAIRFAX: Loving That Feeling

Today we have author, Serena Fairfax visiting the blog.

Welcome, Serena, please tell us a little about your life.
I spent my childhood in India, qualified as a Lawyer in England and joined a London firm. Romance is hardwired into my DNA so my novels include a strong romantic theme. A few of my favourite things are collecting old masks, singing (in the rain) and exploring off the beaten track. 

Loving That Feeling is a great title. What is the story about?
Seared by a bigamous love cheat, London designer, Deborah Tremaine backs off sex. But when charismatic Serbian, Zoran Pavlović, who wants to demolish an art deco cinema she’s campaigning to save, crosses her path she’s up for a fling. Incidents trigger the revelation of their personal demons. Can they escape the black holes?

When writing your novels which is your favourite genre? 
It’s contemporary romantic fiction.

How do you fit your writing into your busy life? Are you a lark or an owl?
I write in the lunch hour at the office, I take my laptop to the office library and tap away there. You’d be surprised how many of us are beavering away at some sort of  magnum opus – plays, novels, poetry.  I write a few pages before I go into the office and when I return home. I’m a hybrid - a ‘larowl’ - which is both a lark and a night owl.

What advice would you give to those just starting out on their writing careers?
Read, Read, Read. Write, Write, Write. Don’t give up!

What is next in your writing life?
My next book is due for release by Siren BookStrand in Spring 2014. Then I’m off on holiday to Ukraine (political situation permitting) and hope to find inspiration there for another book.

Thank you so much for chatting with us, Serena. We hope that you enjoy your trip to the Ukraine.

The RNA blog is brought to you by the team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.
If you have a book due for release or would like to blog about a writing topic then please contact us on: elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Mining History: A Story Seed Goldmine

Welcome to Frances Susanne Brown who is going to show us how to think about writing history.
History is made fresh daily. Every minute, every hour, every day that passes, events tumble into the endless well of ideas available to any writer of any genre. Today I would like to share with you three ways history can be used to inspire and shape a novel: as a backdrop, a springboard, and as a puzzle.
History as Backdrop
My favorite period of history is the Middle Ages. This fascination sparked the beginning of a writing career when my historical articles began to appear in magazines such as Renaissance, Herb Quarterly, the History Magazine, and Family Chronicle. But the concept of utilising a specific time period or historical event extends far beyond magazine articles.History as backdrop forms the framework of your story by providing the setting and the backbone. John Steinbeck wrote Grapes of Wrath about the American Great Depression in the Dust Bowl, but the work reached far beyond a documentary. Steinbeck created a family, the Joads, and overlaid their individual, fictional story against the backdrop of the world they lived in. Documented facts about how life affected real people during those times provided Steinbeck with a realistic source for how his characters reacted to their own situations.
History as Springboard
Authors often use one small element from history as inspiration to create an entire fictional world. Tracy Chevalier did this in Girl with a Pearl Earring. Chevalier claims her book was born while staring at her poster of this Vermeer painting. “I wondered,” she said, “what did Johannes Vermeer do to make the girl look at him that way?” From this one what if? Chevalier created Grete, the girl in the painting, an entire cast of characters, a situation, and an intriguing plot. Although she researched Vermeer’s life extensively, she didn’t find much documented about the elusive Dutch artist. Chevalier used the painting as a springboard for her entire story.
History as a Puzzle
What if history is incomplete? Dan Brown took bits and pieces of what is referred to as “alternative religious history” to create his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code. Instead of using only one element for inspiration, Brown chose fragments from multiple historical periods and theories, combining them in a unique way to create his highly controversial novel. Controversy, however, isn’t always a bad thing. Press is press, and The Da Vinci Code went on to become a blockbuster in both print and on the screen.
What period of history fascinates you? Do a little research and become an armchair scholar, if you haven’t already. Then ask the question, what if? What if the duke or baroness had a secret lover nobody else knew about? What if star-crossed lovers boarded a ship destined to sink? How would that have played out against the backdrop of the times? Or perhaps you own a reproduction of a favourite painting you see every day. Take twenty minutes to sit in front of that image and free-write, creating a story about the people, place, or event it depicts – use it as a springboard.
You may be one who wonders about the mysteries in our human past. The unsolved crimes, the unexplained phenomena. Pick a few known facts out of what little information exists. Become a weaver of words, intertwining and recombining bits of history into a brand-new, completely original and compelling puzzle that is sure to attract the interest of any reader seeking an exciting new journey.
But then, doesn’t that describe every reader?
Frances Susanne Brown writes historical features for magazines, and her memoir, Maternal Threads, is due out in 2014 from High Hill Press. She is an avid fan of romance where history plays a role. She writes romance under the pseudonym Claire Gem. Her contemporary with paranormal elements stars a book-hurling ghost from the past haunting the hero and heroine. Read more at www.clairegem.com

Thank you, Frances for your most informative piece.

Brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman
If you would like to write a craft article for the RNA blog please contact the team on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, April 11, 2014


Today we welcome author, Jane O’Reilly to the blog.

Tell us something about yourself, Jane.
I started writing as an antidote to kid's TV when my youngest child was a baby. My first novel was set in my old school and involved a ghost and lots of death. It's unpublished, which is probably for the best. Then I discovered contemporary romance.

What gave you the idea for Indecent Exposure?
Initially I intended to write a short novella, and the first draft was only 15K. This took me about a week. Over subsequent drafts, I extended it until it was closer to 30K. I had specifically wanted to write erotica which was not BDSM focussed, and the lovely window of a photography studio near to me gave me the idea of a heroine who takes boudoir photos on the side.

How did you find your publisher?
I was looking for a UK based publisher and I knew that the newly established Carina UK was looking for writers. I submitted in the usual way, with a partial followed by a full. All in, it only took a couple of months from the initial query to acceptance.

What would be the perfect item to help you survive a holiday?
Factor 50 sunblock. I think I must have been a vampire in another life.

What’s next in your writing life?
I'm currently writing more erotic romances for Carina. Three were published in March, and I am contracted to write another four by the end of the year. I am also working on a romantic space opera trilogy (also known as the crazy space book) about a space pirate and a genetically modified woman.

Tell us about your latest book.
Ellie Smithson is a respectable photographer by day –  but after dark, she takes pictures of a more…intimate nature – a dirty little secret she’s kept from her accountant Tom. Then she discovers he is the subject of her next racy shoot.


Thank you, Jane and good luck with you busy workload.

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

If you have a book due for release and would like to be featured on the RNA blog please contact elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

FOCUS ON: Leicester Chapter

This month we welcome members of the Leicester Chapter who tell us about their activities.

The Leicester Chapter of the RNA is organised by Lizzie Lamb and June Kearns and has twenty one members including Sue Moorcroft (Vice Chairman) Jean Chapman, Anthea Kenyon (Vice Presidents) and Adrienne Vaughan (Hon. news editor). The chapter meets once a month on a Friday at The Cow and Plough, Stoughton, Leicestershire from 12 noon to 3.30pm. Members come from as far afield as Manchester, Norwich and Sheffield but we are also joined by local writers. We share industry news, successes, and support each other through the good times and the bad.  Lately the chapter has had lots to celebrate with members gaining publishing contracts, being taken on by an agent, holding book signings in Waterstones for Valentine’s Day and forging ahead as indie authors.

In the past, the Leicester Chapter has held writers’ days at a local tea room, but as some of the membership already meet weekly at Leicester Writers’ Club and/or The Just Write Workshop it was felt that informal gatherings suited the chapter best. Having said that, twenty three chapter members recently spent a fabulous day at The Belmont Hotel, Leicester discussing a wide range of topics. These included: social networking – does it actually help to sell books/ Goodreads- how it works/ writing for the magazine market/ becoming more visible on Amazon through refining ‘tags’ and categories’/how to promote your books without turning off readers. This day was generously subsidised by the RNA and the chapter is already considering holding a similar day in the autumn.

More about the Leicester Chapters’ Writers’ Day will appear in the next edition of Romance Matters.

Well, that about sums up the Leicester Chapter. If you would like to join us please email Lizzie Lamb on cyberlambo@hotmail.com and come along and give us a try. We’re a friendly bunch who like helping others.

Thank you so much, Lizzie.
The RNA blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to see your Chapter featured here or have a craft article you'd like to share please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com
If you have a book due for release why not book a blog spot and we will interview you?
We are now booking for June and July.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Plus One is a Lucky Number for Teresa F Morgan

Teresa F Morgan tell us how she found her publisher

A mum to two boys by day, romance writer by night. I’m at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or creating a touch of escapism with heroes readers will fall in love with.

Sophie Trewyn has a wedding to attend, and no one to go with, until her friend convinces his best mate, Adam Reid to go with her.  All the pretending, Sophie starts to wish it were true. But with some surprises in store, will Adam regret saying yes?

What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write? 
I’ve always liked the concept of two people pretending to be in love. Is the affection real or pretend? It’s my favourite kind of storyline. Plus One is a Lucky Number is a little bit inspired by the film The Wedding Date. I wrote the first chapter for the Mills and Boon New Voice competition for September 2010 and had it finally finished and polished in 2012 to send out to publishers.

How did you find your publisher? 
Since joining the RNA New Writers’ Scheme, I have been attending the Bath and Wiltshire Chapter meetings organised by Rachel Brimble. Last summer, one of my chapter members (Lorraine Wilson) had just been accepted by Harper Impulse, so I checked out the company to see they were brand new, and thought let’s send it off! The manuscript was with the New Writers’ Scheme and I did contemplate waiting to hear back from them first, but decided to grab the bull by the horns. To cut a long story short, Lorraine helped me get to the top of the slush pile by mentioning my name to Charlotte Ledger, and as they say the rest is history. I believe Lorraine found out before I did that Harper Impulse wanted my book.

How do you fit your writing into your busy life? Are you a lark or an owl? 
I’m definitely an owl. I can’t get myself out of bed early to write. I’m up at 7am anyway with the boys to get them to school. I write best during the day while they are at school (when I am not doing the day job and real life isn’t getting in the way too much) and in the evenings, once they are in bed. I try to write/edit for at least one hour a day – where possible. I work Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, which usually leaves me too tired, so I try to do other (what I call) Writing Related Activities, i.e. reading, blogging, etc. on those days.

What is next in your writing life? 
I’m contracted with Harper Impulse for a second book and so I am trying to work through that at the moment. It’s at about 80,000 words but needs editing and some ‘additing’ (a word I made up in NaNoWriMo 2006). I really want to get it off to my publisher soon, as it feels like for a couple of years now I haven’t actually worked on anything fresh.

Amazon.com: (ebook) Plus One is a Lucky Number

Amazon.co.uk (paperback release 8th May 2014) One is a Lucky Number

Thank you for joining us today, Teresa

Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Glittering Night - The RoNA Awards

Welcome to Karen Aldous who tells us about her first trip to the RoNA Awards.

I’d really been looking forward to this event. Not only did it give me the opportunity to meet my editor for the first time but being among so many writers and getting the chance to meet them was truly amazing. The Gladstone Library at One Whitehall Place, SW1, provided the perfect setting to celebrate romance and the prestigious annual RoNAs. Glistening chandeliers fought with period fireplaces for my attention but the sparkling wine, unwavering chatter and anticipation diverted my focus.

Over two hundred guests attended the event including authors, editors and agents, all passionate about romance and eager to hear this year’s results. TV’s Strictly Come-Dancing Judge and ex-ballerina, the stunning Darcey Bussell CBE, presented the awards. Christina Courtenay was the first prize winner for her novel in the Historical Romance Category, The Gilded Fan, (Choc lit). Christina said ‘I’m truly honoured considering the massive group I’m up against.’

The Winners
An overcome and tearful Kate Hardy received her award next for the RoNA Rose Award for her series romance Bound by a Baby (Harlequin Mills & Boon).

Under the Epic Romantic Novel category, Jennifer McVeigh graciously accepted her trophy for The Fever Tree (Penguin) whilst Imogen Howson, admitting to shaking furiously, claimed her prize in the Young Adult Romantic category, for her novel Linked (Quercus).

A stunned and emotional Milly Johnson lit the stage with her humour as she collected the award for Best Romantic Comedy for her novel It’s Raining Men (Simon & Schuster). The only thing she’d won before, she told us, was a brick, and she was in the bottom of a pool in her pyjamas!

There was also a special award and huge applause for Dr David Hessayon, who continues to support the RNA New Writers Scheme on behalf of his late wife and historical romance novelist, Joan Hessayon. Dr Hessayon, famous for his own gardening-book series, revealed Joan’s motivation was never about the fame, in fact, she never sought it – her research and writing were enough, but her legacy came from her passion for wanting to help other writers. Many writers of romance are indebted to Joan and David’s generosity.

This year's Outstanding Achievement Award went to the legendary, Helen Fielding for her Bridget Jones Diary series which is still a huge favourite of mine. A delighted Helen surprised me when she confessed she’d never had an award for her achievements before but owes her inspiration to another legend who advised her to ‘write as if you’re writing a letter to a friend’. Encouraging for most of us writers was the news she too had received her share of rejections. Proof enough that persistence pays off. She wished us all every success.

Huge congratulations go to Veronica Henry for winning the prestigious prize for Romantic Novel of the Year with her title A Night on the Orient Express which also won the Contemporary Romance Category. Veronica was clearly chuffed and I’m sure, considering the accolade, her son will forgive her for missing his eleventh Birthday!

Finally, a big thank you must go to RNA President, Katie Fforde for introducing the event and Chair, Pia Fenton and her committee for the organisation and running of such a lovely evening.

Thank you, Karen,
If readers wish to know more about this exciting event please look at the full report on the RNA website: 

Brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman

If you wish to be featured on the RNA blog or would like to submit a craft article please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com