Tuesday, September 30, 2014

With the Accent on Xcitement

Today we are pleased to welcome Hazel Cushion, founder of Accent Press and Xcite Books, to answer our questions about her well known publishing company.

Can you tell our readers how Accent Press began?
It all started in my front bedroom when I was a single mother to 6 year old triplets. I did an MA in Creative Writing intending to be an author but, when putting together our anthology, I learnt how to make a book and I was hooked! I realised that making books had become very easy with the advent of desk top publishing software but selling them would still be hard. I’d worked a lot in the charity sector before and came up with the idea of combining sex and charity in short story collections – the first was called Sexy Shorts for Christmas and raised money for a Breast Cancer charity. Katie Fforde was amongst the authors that kindly donated a story and her name helped sell it into WH Smiths. We still do at least one charity book a year but these days our main focus is on contemporary women’s fiction and crime.

You kindly undertook one2ones at the RNA Conference. Did you enjoy the experience?

Yes, I did, very much. I have a great deal of empathy with authors as I’d planned to be one myself and know well the disappointment of rejections and the joy of an acceptance or positive feedback. Without a doubt digital publishing has opened up new opportunities for writers and enables us to offer a wider and more interesting range of titles. I think it’s an exciting time to be an author as you can now reach a truly global readership and there aren’t the rigid genre restrictions that finding the right place, on the right shelf, in a bookshop used to impose.

What are you looking for from authors? The winner of the RNA's Joan Hessayon Award, Jo Thomas, was published by Accent Press. How important are competitions and awards to your company?

Yes, we were very lucky to be the launch pad for Jo Thomas who was then sold on to Hodder Headline and is continuing to win awards for The Oyster Catcher. Last year I had a very proud moment when we were shortlisted for Independent Publisher of the Year alongside Bloomsbury, Faber and Faber and Constable and Robinson. For a small and relatively new publishing company to be up against those three established London companies was simply incredible. We didn’t win, Bloomsbury did, but it was a huge endorsement and boost for me.
I do think awards are really important to both us and our authors.

Our erotic imprint Xcite Books has won the ETO Best Erotic Book Brand for the last five years and gives us some serious international marketing clout and credibility. I would always encourage people to enter awards because even if you don’t win there are often other benefits and recognition for being shortlisted.

We understand you will shortly be running your own competition, closing date 30th November 2014. Can you give us details?

We are currently running a novel writing competition with Woman magazine and I really hope your readers will participate in that as they can win a writing holiday in France and a publishing contract. Here’s the link to the full details: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/woman-writing-comp.html

Accent Press has grown to become well known in the publishing world. Are there plans to move in other directions in years to come?

This last year has seen a great deal of very positive growth for the company and I have been able to establish a wonderful new team which includes four full-time editors. That has enabled us to take on a lot of new authors – these include debut writers, self-published ones or those, like Christina Jones, who had a strong backlist.  Without a doubt our strength lies in our digital marketing where, due to the way the Amazon algorithms work, authors benefit from being part of a stable of authors that includes top 100 Kindle bestsellers.

One new innovation is our Accent Hub which we are developing as a meeting http://accenthub.com/
place for readers, authors and reviewers – anyone can join so I do hope your readers will as it’s a great place to connect.

Have you ever considered writing a novel?

Yes, and I have two outlined but I have so much fun publishing other peoples that I doubt they’ll ever get written. My triplets are now 18 and have all left for university this September so just maybe, I’ll get around to it. I doubt it though as I have the attention span of a teabag and lack the self-discipline required. I’m genuinely in awe of authors who do ever managed to get to write The End – the dissertation for my MA was 20,000 words and I ran out of things to say at 17,000 so I really don’t think there’s much chance of me bashing out a 70,000 word bestseller any time soon!

Hazel, thank you for finding time in your very busy life to join us today

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, September 26, 2014

From the Top

This is the second in our new blog series where we chat to authors about their start in the publishing world and their advice to new writers. We’re delighted to welcome our own Katie Fforde as our guest today.  

I’m Katie Fforde, proud President of the Romantic Novelists' Association (RNA), and writer of twenty one books.  I live in the country with my husband, and see my children and grandchildren often.

My latest book, The Perfect Match is about an estate agent.  I wanted a chance to paint them in a better light as I always think they get a bad press.  My sister’s house hunt locally was extremely useful to me.

How long did it take before you held your first published book in your hand?
It took me ten years to actually get a book in my hand.  Eight years to get a publisher.

Would you follow the same path to publication if you were starting out today?
Very hard to say if I’d have taken the same path to publication today as the world has changed so much, but I think so.

Agent or publisher? What would you advise?
I’m very old school - agent, agent, agent, every day of the week.

Tell us one thing that kept you going while you worked towards being a published author.  
It was the RNA that kept me going during the long years it took me to learn to write. I aimed for Mills and Boon until I finally accepted I couldn’t actually get that camel through the eye of that needle.  But if it hadn’t been for the New Writers' Scheme (NWS) (the rules were different then) and the support of my fellow writers, I probably would have given up.

What would be your advice to new writers?
My best advice to new writers - any writer, actually - is to read, read, read.  If you read enough you will eventually learn to write.  Although to also have to write, write, write, too.  That, and join the RNA, of course.

I see your latest book, The Perfect Match, was published on 13th March this year. Do you have a work in progress?
I always have a book on the go.  I’m currently copy editing Vintage Weddings that will be out in February, 2015 and the next book is forming in my head.  Two of my children got married this year which is where that one came from.

Amazon UK: The Perfect Match

Thank you, Katie, for finding time to answer our questions and good luck with your next novel.

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What's in your Pocket?

Today we are delighted to welcome Tracey Steel who works as part The People’s Friend fiction team, with special responsibility for Pocket Novels. We asked her about these books, complete in their own right but following a very different path to publication from the ‘norm’.

Did you work for DC Thomson before taking on your current job?
I joined DC Thomson straight from school at the tender age of 18! That was way back in 1987 and my first job was writing the horoscopes on Jackie magazine. It’s true….they’re made up! From there I worked on most of the teenage titles then I had the brilliant job of serialising books for the Dundee Courier. One month it was John Grisham and the next, Joan Collins!

How many Pocket Novels are published each year?
Twenty-four. Two a month.

Where can we purchase Pocket Novels? Twenty-four novels a year is a huge amount. Can you tell us something about their ‘shelf life’?

Each Pocket Novel is available for a fortnight. They are available from most supermarkets or you can order them on line at www.dcthomsonshop.co.uk

What happens then, after you withdraw them?
The author can then self-publish or sell to Large Print AFTER we’ve published it. They also have to use their own original manuscript i.e. not the one we’ve edited.

What would you say is the best word count for a People’s Friend Pocket Novel
With our new larger print they tend to come in between 40,000 and 43,000 words.

How does an author submit and does she/he have to have written for the People’s Friend Magazine?
Anyone can submit a Pocket Novel manuscript. All I need is a synopsis and the opening three chapters…anyone can have a go!

What would be the normal lead time before you can reply with an answer?
It really does vary as I’m part of the weekly Fiction team as well, so please bear with me! We have rather a lot of manuscripts

How long does it take from acceptance to publication?
It can be anything up to around six months.

Is there a genre that readers prefer?
We had a pretty detailed survey done a couple of years ago and no one genre came out on top. As long as the story’s engaging it doesn’t matter where or when it’s set.

What are you looking for at the moment?
Family sagas, ‘gentle’ crimes, but not murder, and romance!

What do you enjoy reading and how do you spend your leisure time when not working on Pocket Novels?
I’m a crime fan! I love forensic-based books and thrillers!

Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope there’s room in you inbox after our followers have read this.

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, September 19, 2014

Personal Assistance

Today we are pleased to welcome, Louise Rose-Innes to the blog.

It's hot, really hot. The sky is cobalt blue, and the sun shines down relentlessly. The streets are barren and a fine layer of dust coats everything in sight. The buildings are mere shells of their former selves. Wiring and electronics hang out of broken windows like disgorged entrails. In the distance is the sound of rifle fire. A sound that is as common in this city now, as the sound of children playing in the streets once was.

This could be Damascus, or Libya, or any other city on the front line of conflict in the Middle East. Scenes like this flitter across our TV screens regularly these days. The powerful images stay with us. We can imagine how awful it is for the people living there, for those who have been forced to flee their homes, taking their children and scarce belongings with them.
Such is the setting for my latest romantic suspense, Personal Assistance.

Stark and unromantic, you may argue, but I chose this setting for a reason. Firstly it’s very topical right now, and we can’t ignore what is going on in the world around us, but also because even in an environment like this, love can flourish.

Hannah Evans is a British employee, working in the royal compound of Prince Hakeem, ruler of a Middle Eastern Arab kingdom. She stumbles upon a state secret so powerful that it could alter the course of the war. On the run for her life, she joins forces with disgraced SAS commander, Tom Wilde, the only man capable of getting her out of the war-torn country. But Tom has a hidden agenda and Hannah can’t be sure he’ll stick to his end of the bargain.
“Fast-paced”, “great action” and “suspenseful” are some of the comments from reviews of Personal Assistance. I like to think that this in some way is attributed to the volatile setting where nothing stays still. How can it in a war zone? But also the stark heat, the characters under duress, a country in turmoil and a military desperate to get its hands on the secret that Hannah has taken all contribute to the pace of the story.

One can never underestimate the power of setting in a novel, romance or otherwise.
Personal Assistance is available from Amazon.

Louise Rose-Innes writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. Born in sunny South Africa, Louise is a lover of sunshine and the sea, and this is often reflected in her novels. After completing a post graduate in Marketing Management, Louise headed off to the United Kingdom to gain work experience and travel. She now lives in leafy Surrey with her family, and when she’s not writing, is traipsing through the beautiful countryside, or kayaking on the river Thames.

Her debut romantic suspense novel, Personal Assistance, has recently been published through Entangled Publishing. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) in the UK, and the Romance Writers Organization of South Africa (ROSA)

Thank you, Louise.

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.
If you would like to be featured on the RNA blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chatting with Cathy Mansell

Today we are delighted to welcome Cathy Mansell to the blog

Thank you Natalie and Elaine for having me as your guest today. It's a pleasure to be on the RNA blog again.

In 2013, when Shadow Across the Liffey became a contender for the Joan Hessayan award, I had no inkling of what was to come. You know that old saying; you wait ages for a bus and then three come along at the same time. That's the best way to describe what happened next. Two more books followed in quick concession. Her Father's Daughter in June 2013, and Shadow Across the Liffey came out in paperback. Galway Girl was released in May of this year, followed by paperback of Her Father's Daughter. Where the Shamrocks Grow, my recent novel, was released as an eBook this month. All published with Tirgearr Publishing who have mentioned doing paperbacks of Galway Girl, and Where the Shamrocks Grow, next year. If that wasn't enough excitement, Magna have taken all four books for library large print and audio. Audio is scheduled for 2015. This is a dream come true for me, and to say I feel fortunate, is putting it mildly. These four books went through the new writers' scheme where the feedback was invaluable. 

In a past life I edited an anthology of works funded by Arts Council England. I also appeared on the TV show Food Glorious Food in 2012. Nowadays, I write novels set in 19th century Ireland, depicting the lifestyle and hardships of families in those days, together with the emotions of her characters when they become wound up in intricate criminal plots. 

We asked Cathy a few questions: 

You began your writing career with short stories and articles. What made you decide to move to novel writing?
While writing articles for Woman's Way, Woman's Own and Yours etc., I embarked on writing my life story. Just for my family. It turned out to be 90,000 words. It was then that I realised I wanted to write novels and joined the RNA NWS in 2002. I still write the odd article and short story, but mainly stick to writing novels.

How much did your upbringing in Ireland help in the setting of your novels?
It helped enormously. Having lived my childhood and teenage years in Dublin, Ireland during the 1950s/60s, it gave me plenty of ideas. I write my stories around things and events of the rimes I remember, without having to do too much research.

Your latest novel, ‘Where the Shamrock Grows’, has recently been released. Is there another in the planning stage?
Oh, yes. I'm writing another romantic suspense set in the 60s Dublin. I'm half way through writing it, and have given myself a deadline to finish it by February 2015.         

How good are you at planning your work? Do you prefer to ‘wing it’?
I'm not that clever. I would never get away with "winging it!'  I'm a planner. The story is usually in my head long before I start to write it. I need to know where I'm going and work out a chapter chart and then I follow it like a map. It works for me.

Following that, how do you fit your writing round your family life?
That can be hard at times, especially with grandchildren. I have quite a few, so birthdays and Christmas can be expensive. My eldest granddaughter lives in Perth, Australia, and my son and his family live in New Zealand. Even so, I still have enough grandchildren here to keep me busy. My husband is amazing and gives me space to write. As a writer who loves writing stories, I will always find time to do what I love. Life is too short not to.

Finally, what aspect of your writing do you most enjoy?
All of it, but I have to admit there is a certain amount of satisfaction in editing the finished manuscript. I enjoy researching especially when it takes me over the sea to Ireland. One of my favourite places in the world.

Where the Shamrocks Grow’ is set against the backdrop of the Irish Civil War, Jo Kingsley is transported from her turbulent childhood to the sophisticated life at the beautiful Chateau Colbert. She meets Jean-Pierre, grandson of her employer Madame Colbert, and discovers the desire of men.

Destiny takes Jo to America where she experiences more than dreams of becoming a music teacher.

Facebook:    www.facebook.com/cathymansell4
Linkedin:     http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/cathy-mansell/46/b50/550/
Website:     www.cathymansell.com

Thank you for joining us today, Cathy

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

But On The Other Hand...

Today Natalie Lloyd-Evans, writing as Natalie Meg Evans, compares the RNA with the Romance Writers of America.

In July, I attended RWA14, the conference of the Romance Writers of America which this year, took place in San Antonio.  

During the three packed days I spent shuttling between the Marriott Rivercenter and Riverwalk hotels in San An, it bore in on me that the RWA Nationals must be the busiest writers’ gathering anywhere. At signings, readers queue up in their hundreds to buy books by their favourite authors. There’s a bewildering array of workshops and retreats. Friendships are made and so are deals. I have an American agent because I sat in front of her for a few nerve-wracking minutes in a conference room in Anaheim Ca in 2012. Being an RWA member has not only got me through doors, it has opened my eyes to one of the largest potential markets for UK writers.

There are many differences between the RWA and our RNA and I’ve listed some that leap out at me. Please note, I do mean ‘differences.’ I’m not implying better or worse. 

Difference #1 - Successful authors Stateside are loud and proud. When I became a Golden Heart © finalist and travelled to Anaheim for the awards, I discovered that you get a special ribbon and brooch, and get congratulated and called ‘awesome’ by complete strangers. Dancing in corridors is encouraged and will be applauded. The attention fades if you don’t win (I didn’t) but while it lasts it’s lovely, particularly if you’ve been writing alone for a long time. 

Difference #2 - Career focus. It’s in the constitution and is one of the key driving forces. Where the RNA has probationary and full membership, the RWA has General, PRO and PAN. PRO authors are those submitting work and awaiting the call while PAN stands for ‘published author’s network’. To become PRO, you present evidence of action in the form of letters to agents and publishers.  PAN requires a published novel, an ISBN and proof of earnings over a certain limit – not that different from RNA requirements for full membership. However, to qualify for its tax status with the IRS, the RWA can only allow full status to members actively pursuing writing as a business. Those who write for fun or who are gently developing at their own rate should, in theory, opt for associate membership. The RWA is tightening up on this.
A Nationals veteran with several years' of awards behind her

Difference #3 - What is romance? Yes, that old conundrum. The RWA board has narrowed the definition of a romance novel, affecting members who write romantic suspense, or crime or inspirational books with romantic elements. Books submitted for the annual RITA and Golden Heart awards are judged on the following criteria: Is the love story the main focus of the book? Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic? Compare this rule with the existence of the ‘Epic’ category for the RONA awards.   

Difference #4 - Output. I attended six workshops and in all of them, the panel took it as a given that to be successful in the digital age, writers must produce at least two books a year, preferably four. I heard a woman behind me make a sound like a wounded beagle.

Difference #5 - Promo and branding. If you want to stock up on personalised nail files, mini torches, blister first aid kits, fridge magnets, hair slides . . . you get the picture. ‘Promote your brand’ was a constant refrain. Promotion and marketing should be 50% of your working week, I kept hearing. It isn’t 50% of mine, more like 15%.  I quote: ‘If you don’t enjoy the business side, get over yourself.’

Difference #6 - Get thee to an attorney. At one workshop, a smart literary attorney invited everyone to raise their hand if they’d used one of his profession to check their publisher’s contract. All hands but mine rose. ‘Because I don’t know any,’ was my answer to his obvious question. He walked over, presented a card, and said ‘You do now.’  

Difference #7 - Security. Can you imagine dodging a sex pest at an RNA summer conference? An unpleasant individual attempted to molest female guests in the main hotel. It dawned on me how vulnerable women-only conferences are when access to the building is public. Mace sprays fit in any handbag.

Difference #8 - Climate. San Antonio, Texas, is like sharing a blast furnace with mountains of wet washing. Do not go out without water, I was told.  Ever. However, once inside a hotel, the air con is severe. RWA Nationals visit a different city each year, and if you’re planning to go, take a woolly.  
Next year, the RWA is in New York City and I’m looking forward to being there. I’m hoping the tight definition of romance won’t edge me out. I like having a foot in both worlds. They are not the same, but vive la difference.

Natalie Meg Evans is author of The Dress Thief, a historical novel set against the background of Parisian haute-couture of the 1930s.   In 2012, Natalie won the Harry Bowling Prize and in 2013, was shortlisted for a Daphne du Maurier Award. Natalie was a probationary member of the RNA throughout the 1990s, and rejoined this year as a full member.

The Dress Thief available in paperback and ebook from 29th May 2014 at www.quercusbooks.co.uk

Thank you, Natalie. A fascinating piece

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Right Connection

Laura E James talks about the theme of her novel, Follow Me, Follow You

Thanks to a fantastic Julie Cohen 2013 RNA Conference workshop on theme, I realised my second Choc Lit novel, Follow Me, Follow You, is about reconnecting. Connection is a universal human need, which most likely took root in the days when hunting for food required teamwork ‒ where safety in numbers ensured mankind’s survival. A group can provide protection for the individual and share the workload.

I loved team sports when I was at school – I wasn’t naturally athletic, but I enjoyed the interaction and the process of working towards a common goal. To celebrate a win or commiserate over a loss with others is emotionally more satisfying and healing than whooping or crying alone. Being part of the team gave me a sense of belonging; a sense of being part of something greater than just me. And it gave me a sense of acceptance. This is what Victoria Noble, the heroine in Follow Me, Follow You, is missing. A divorced mother to four-year-old Seth, with whom she has a difficult relationship, and let down by the men in her life, she seeks sanctuary in her virtual world of computers. At work she doesn’t suffer the risk of emotional rejection, as the only connections she has to make are professional, but it’s here she unintentionally fulfils her basic human need of being part of the bigger picture.

However, what strikes me about Victoria is her obvious need to reconnect with the real world ‒ with real people. Her sanctuary, where she escapes the harsh realities of life, is a business she’s built centred on social media. EweSpeak is the number one social networking site, with all sorts of people interacting with one another. Victoria rarely engages with her flock, but she facilitates others to do so.

When we first meet Victoria, she’s beginning to understand the importance of the human connection and wants to fix the broken bond between her and Seth. The problem is she doesn’t know where to
Seth on Chesil Beach
start. ‘
The fact he provoked such intense feelings within her was proof she loved him. Wasn’t it? The question banged around her sore head. She wanted love to flow through her veins. She wanted it to flood her heart and be her life force, but it was hard with a child who communicated with words of hatred.

To secure and nurture the connection, interaction is required, which means both parties need to be open to the idea. To make matters worse, Seth connects with others with astonishing ease. And then there’s a romantic connection with her first love, Chris Frampton, Victoria has to address …

She has a long journey ahead, and she has no idea if she’s taking the correct path. She knows from past experience rejection can lead to negative emotions ‒ anxiety and poor self-esteem, to name two. It’s a tough call.

To my mind the importance is not in how we make those connections, but in the fact we have the courage to pursue them. The human race needs to belong to survive. I am lucky. I have found my place in the world. I have established connections that make me happy. I am secure. I am accepted for who I am, along with my disabilities, limitations and funny ways. I love and I am loved. And for that, I shall be eternally grateful and thankful.

Follow Me, Follow You is available on all major digital platforms and as a paperback.

Laura is married and has two children. She lives in Dorset, but spent her formative years in Watford, a brief train ride away from the bright lights of London. Here she indulged her love of live music, and, following a spectacular Stevie Nicks gig, decided to take up singing, a passion that scored her second place in a national competition.
Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, and an editor of the popular Romaniacs blog.
She was runner-up twice in the Choc Lit Short Story competitions. Her story Bitter Sweet appears in the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Anthology. Truth or
Dare?, Laura’s debut novel, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Romantic eBook 2013 and the 2014 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. Follow me, follow you is Laura’s first Choc Lit novel published in paperback.


Thank you for joining us today, Laura

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, September 5, 2014

Difficult Second Novels

We are delighted to welcome back, Hazel Gaynor who will tell us about her approaching second book.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that second novels are a curious thing. Like that ‘difficult second album’ so many bands struggle to produce (I’m thinking especially of T’Pau, Mr Blobby and the Sex Pistols here) so too the ‘difficult second novel’. What if it doesn’t live up to expectations? What if all those readers who loved your first novel don’t fall in love with your second? What if, what if, what if. Realising you have ONE published, actual book is quite something. Doing it all over again is both a terrifying and exhilarating prospect.
My second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS will be published in February in the U.S and March in the UK and Ireland. Final proofs are in. Back cover blurbs have been written. The (beautiful) cover has been designed. We are on the final countdown toward ARE’s and galleys and early, nerve-shredding, reviews and I suddenly feel crippled with self-doubt and writerly angst. I’m sure this is normal and expected (please tell me this is normal and expected), but it’s a strange sensation all the same. While part of me cannot wait for this novel to be published and read, to be an actual book (rather than words on a screen or notes scribbled on a pile of papers), another part of me wants to creep into a distant cave and hide until it’s all over.

So, here are my ten truths about writing second novels:
1)      Second novels are like a second child. You are much more relaxed about it in many ways (you’ve been through this all before, right), but then you panic as you realise you can’t remember what on earth you are supposed to do.

2)      Second novels come with expectation. Yes, debuts come with expectation also, but it’s your first (bless), people expect the worst and are surprised if it is actually any good. But if it is, people expect this one to be even better. Readers have something to compare your second novel to. This makes you feel nauseous.

3)      Second novels come without the cotton wool and pampering of debuts. Much like a second pregnancy, people soon forget you’re going through the same aches, pains, insecurities and fears. They assume you have it all figured out, because you’ve done it once before. You’re a writer now. Yeah, yeah. We know.

4)      Second novels come with a contractual agreement. With deadlines. With a publication date. No namby-pamby flouncing around and ‘look at me, I’m writing a novel’ with this one. This is serious, dude. You have schedules to stick to.

5)   Second novels come with experience. You know what’s coming. You know everyone won’t gush with praise. You know some people might even be downright nasty. This makes you feel nauseous.

6)      Second novels have to be juggled with the first (which you are still promoting). You cannot indulge them with your undivided attention like you did with your precious debut. Sometimes, one or the other may be a little bit ignored. And if you’re already writing your third, Lord help you.

7)      Second novels must (naturally) improve on the first. You must have learned something in the process of writing, editing and publicising your debut, and you must prove this with your second. No pressure then.
  8) Second novels show your readers who you really are – the style of your writing, your voice, your brand, your ‘thang’. You are setting your stall out. Pitching your tent. Get it wrong, and people may just quietly walk away and pick up the new Robert Galbraith instead.

  9)Second novels come with the potential for all those lovely ‘Praise for …’ quotes from your previous novel and might even come with a ‘from bestselling author’ splash on the cover. Oh, the joy!

10)  Second novels are, ultimately, brimming with opportunity. They are wonderful, frightening things that consolidate your place as a writer; your space on the shelf. And when all is said and done, you wouldn’t swap that for the world.

Hazel Gaynor is a mum, novelist and freelance writer. Her debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME is a 
NY Times and USA Today best seller. Her second novel A MEMORY OF VIOLETS will be published in
 February, 2015. Hazel is also a guest blogger and features writer for writing.ie 
Originally from Yorkshire, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and an accident-prone cat.

Read more about Hazel and her books at http://www.hazelgaynor.com/
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/hazelgaynor
Twitter @HazelGaynor

Thank you, Hazel and good luck with book number two!

This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write about the craft of
writing or perhaps be interviewed about your writing life please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sue Moorcroft: Loving the Research

When I decided to set The Wedding Proposal in Malta I knew that I was going to enjoy researching the setting – Malta has a special place in my heart.
As part of an army family, I lived in Malta when I was a child. When we left after our second tour of duty I was eight-and-a-half and had lived in Malta for more than half of those years. We referred to the UK as ‘home’ but I’d only lived there for a couple of years and didn’t remember it much. But when my dad’s next posting took us to London I discovered something.
I’d really thought of Malta as home all along.
Sunshine, dust, honey-coloured stone, palm trees, sea, snorkelling, scorpions, lizards, geckos, church bells, freedom, ramparts, festas and horse-drawn taxis – they were what I knew and loved. And now they were lost.
I suggested to my parents that we return but the army had other ideas and so I’ve had to make do with (many) holidays to Malta ever since. And setting a book on the island gave me an excuse to shoehorn in an extra visit.
So, what was I likely to have to research, given that I was a frequent visitor? A lot of detail.
Flat overlooking Ta'Biex Marina
I’d lived in a flat overlooking the Ta’ Biex yacht marina so when I decided to put Elle and Lucas together on a 42’ boat for the summer that was the obvious place to moor it. (Additional research note: Elle and Lucas had been together four years earlier and didn’t expect to have to share a small boat for the summer. The man who kindly showed me around the real life twin of the Shady Lady said, ‘If they’re not ‘together’ then sharing a boat this size is going to cause friction.’ He was probably surprised when I laughed and rubbed my hands gleefully.) Knowing the shape of the marina and the taste of the sea when you fall in, these things weren’t enough. I had to find out where in the marina each of the boats in The Wedding Proposal would berth, and how (stern-to, ie blunt end to the shore), how essential services were accessed – one yacht owner told me when it was the time for the ‘black waste’ to be emptied ‘You go far, far out to sea’. But there is actually an on-shore disposal point!
Happily, most people don’t seem to mind falling into conversation about their boats and my brother put me in contact with one English person and one Maltese who’d moored at Ta’ Biex.
And when I needed to know a depth at an exact spot, I asked a fisherman. He stuck his rod in the water, pulled it out and pointed to the wet section. ‘That deep.’ We decided it was two metres. Basic research never fails me …
And even when I feel I know my subject well, I never fail it.
Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Is this Love? was nominated for the Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was shortlisted for a RoNA in 2013. Sue is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

Sue’s latest book The Wedding Proposal is available as an ebook from 4 August 2014 and as a paperback from 8 September.

Twitter @suemoorcroft

Thank you, Sue. You make research sound like a lot of fun.

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