Monday, August 7, 2017

Jean Fullerton: Changing Partners

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Jean Fullerton to the Romantic Novelists’ Association blog today. Jean is a friend to many members of the RNA and her journey to publication is one that has thrilled many NWS members who still dreamt of their first publishing deal. Here, in the week that Jean’s latest book is published, she tells of the latest turn in her extraordinary life as an award-winning author.

Now let me tell you being a writer is just the greatest job in the world and there’s nothing better than
when you’ve sweated blood to bring a story together someone emails you to say how much they love your book. However, before you can receive such an email your book needs to get into the hands of the reader.

Now I know today you can be independently published and many good friends have decided to follow that pathway. I applaud them for their bold decision for me however, I decided to take the traditional route to publication and I have been fortunate that for the past ten years Orion have been my publisher.  

The publishing industry are always working a year in advance so this time last year when Wedding Bells for Nurse Connie was released my agent and I were deep in negotiation for the next contract. Over the summer as the discussion went back and forth it became increasingly clear I was not working out so after a couple of lengthy discussions with my lovely agent Laura Longrigg at MBA Literary Agents I told her to say thanks but no thanks on my behalf. Now, I won’t pretend that being without a publisher for the first time in eleven years I didn’t wake up in the wee small hours in a cold sweat on a few occasions but in the cold light of day I knew I’d made the right decision.

Over the past few years other publishers had approached my agent but as I was already under contract at the time we couldn’t pursue their offers. However, within a week or two of Laura putting out feelers she had a phone call from my original editor at Orion, Sara O’Keefe, who is now Editorial Director at Atlantic. The rest, as they say, is history.  I am now under contract with them and just finishing my second East London WW2 book for them and am hopeful of many more to come.    
Turning down a publishing contract is a leap into an uncertain future but sometimes you just have to hold on tight to your self-belief and say no.  

About Jean:
A Londoner who worked as a district nurse in East London for over twenty-five years and is now a full-time author.  She has won multiple awards and all her books are set in her native East London.  Her first series was set in the early 1800s but her most recently four books about nurses Millie and Connie have jumped forward a century and are set at the end of WW2. Her latest book, POCKETFUL OF DREAMS, is the first of her East London WW2 series featuring sisters Mattie, Jo and Cathy Brogan and their extended family.

Twitter:  @JeanFullerton_
Pocketful of Dreams
It's 1939, and the Brogan family of London's East End are ready to show Hitler what for. But things don't seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test.
When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans' local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need - and for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she'd ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home.
As the young couple race to protect the East End, as they know it, can their dreams survive the darkening backdrop of wartime...?

Thank you, Jean, and good luck with Pocketful of Dreams.

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Ask the Industry Expert: Literary Agent Tracy Brennan

It's a great pleasure to welcome literary agent Tracy Brennan of the Trace Literary Agency to the RNA blog today. Tracy is here all the way from Mishawaka, Indiana, to talk to Helena Fairfax about her agency and about her role representing British and Irish authors.
Welcome to the RNA, Tracy!

The Trace Literary Agency is based in Indiana, and yet you represent many top contemporary Irish authors, as well as authors from the UK. Please could you tell us how this came about, and
how you came to set up your business.
This is a question I get all the time.  And I always say, “How much time do you have?” 14 years ago I was traveling with my husband and then 8 month old daughter to Dublin.
About 400 miles off the coast of Ireland, the airplane caught fire!  A cooling fan in the cargo hold overheated, causing a fire somewhere below the first class cabin.  The pilot had to take the plane down to 10,000 feet so he could open the cockpit windows to let the smoke out.  He then made the announcement that he would ‘try’ to make a landing in Shannon!
When the coast of Ireland appeared, the danger had not passed.  There was no way of knowing if the fire had damaged the landing gear.  Eventually the airport runway came into view, lined with firetrucks and ambulances.  When we did land, all the passengers were told we’d be taken by a fleet of buses to Dublin.  Unbeknownst to me, this is where the business of becoming a literary agent would begin.
I met a very lovely woman on the journey from Shannon to Dublin.  She held our daughter the entire time.  She gave us her business card and told us if we needed anything while in Dublin, to let her know.  Her name was Terry Prone, then director of Carr Communications; now with The Communications Clinic in Dublin.  We had no idea that she was a radio and television personality and very famous Irish author.
To make a very long story short (and I don’t think I’ve done a very good job here), Terry and I remained in contact for a couple of years after that trip exchanging emails, letters and even Christmas presents.
So how did I become a literary agent?  Plain and simple, the credit goes to Terry Prone. She was my first client. I started working on her books trying to place them with US publishers. Terry then introduced me to several other Irish authors.  Over the years Trace Literary Agency has grown and I now represent authors from Ireland, Wales, England, Scotland and the US - may of whom are award-winning authors.

Do you often visit Ireland and the UK? Or do you feel it's possible now for agents to work with authors all over the world without the need for travel?
I usually make one, sometimes two trips a year to Ireland and the UK.  I do think it's much easier with the internet and publishers requesting e-files to do a lot of work via email, Skype, FaceTime, etc.  But it is still nice to meet face to face and talk with your clients and get to know them on a personal level.  I usually meet potential clients at book launches I attend or at Literary Festivals.  I only have a couple of clients that I’ve not met personally. 

One of your authors – Nicola Cassidy – has just signed a deal with Bombshell Books, which is a new imprint of Bloodhound Books. How do you stay abreast of publishing news/developments in Ireland and the UK? 
I do a lot of networking and research.  Sometimes I am referred to a particular publisher from editors I’ve worked with.  And I always ask my clients to give me a list of the publishers they would like me to contact, as there are quite a few that I am not familiar with.

What is it you are looking for when a manuscript lands on your desk? Are there any specific plots or themes you’d like to see?
My interest is quite diverse.  I enjoy women’s commercial fiction, historical fiction, YA and I am now working with a lot of crime/thriller novels.  I am dabbling a little in non-fiction as well.

Do you ever find authors outside the slush pile? If so, how?
I do.  If I am uncertain or don’t have a strong feeling one way or the other, but there is just something that catches my eye, I ask a reader/book reviewer for their input.

What advice would you give someone submitting to you?
Do your homework.  Make sure the agency represents the type of book you are writing. Write a clear, concise query letter of introduction. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself.  This is the time to brag about your accomplishments. Include a brief synopsis that tells the story without giving away the ending.  Make sure your manuscript is complete and has been edited.  There is nothing worse than reading a manuscript that an author is dying to have published, but is full of grammatical errors, spelling errors, and has poor pacing.

What’s your favourite romance novel of all time?
That’s such a hard question.  There are so many to choose from.  I’d probably have to say The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks.

Apart from your own authors, which book have you enjoyed the most in the past twelve months, and why?
I’ve enjoyed re-reading some of the books I read as a student in Great Books Seminar:
The Catcher in the Rye, The Grapes of Wrath, The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird and there’s more on the list.  Just never enough time!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love traveling, boating, photography and spending time with my family.

If you could describe your working-day in just three words, what would they be?
Busy, exciting, challenging.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Tracy. That's certainly one of the most dramatic introductions to literary agency we've encountered! I'm so glad your plane journey ended happily.

If you've enjoyed Tracy's interview, or have any questions or comments at all, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you!

About Helena

Helena Fairfax is a romance author and editor. Her latest release is a feel good summer romance called Felicity at the Cross Hotel. You can find out more about Helena's books and her editing services on her website

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

Thursday, August 3, 2017


Another month and another batch of wonderful books from members of the Romantic Novelists' Association. Thank you to Sheila Riley for her diligence in collecting and compiling the list and cover images.


Marrying His Cinderella Countess
Historical Romance
Ebook, paperback and large print
Harlequin Mills & Boon
August 2017
Ellie Lytton is resigned to her life as the very ordinary, lame housekeeper to her half-brother and an author of children’s books. But when the high-handed Earl of Lytton arrives on her doorstep with shocking news she blames him, the man who has been haunting her dreams and fantasies, for the sudden change in her circumstances. He can escort her to her new home, she declares, and he reluctantly does so. His honour tells him he has to look after her – even if she fights him every inch of the way, especially when he declares that she must become his countess. Ellie knows it is only his sense of duty and her pride is not going to allow her emotions to dictate her answer, to allow herself a dream of Cinderella marrying her prince. Can two stubborn people finally admit to what is in their hearts? 

The Honey Farm on the Hill
Contemporary women's fiction.
Paperback and Ebook
24th August
We never forget the one who got away.
Eighteen years ago Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and life changed for ever.
Nell's daughter, Demi, has never met her dad. Nell never saw him again. When she gets the chance to return to the hilltop town of Vounoplagia - where everything began - Nell can't resist the urge to go back and find him. Working on a honey farm perched high up in the hills, there's plenty to keep her busy. And she will quickly realise the town harbours just as many secrets as she does. But if Nell's favourite romantic films are right, there's a happy ending in store for each of us. All she has to do is seek out the magic of the mountains...  Jo Thomas takes you there.

Escape to Willow Cottage
Ebook and paperback
Avon, HarperCollins
10th August 2017
Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo. When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage. Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under
your nose…

Pocketful of Dreams
Paperback and Ebook
WW2 Saga
3rd August 2017
It's 1939, and the Brogan family of London's East End are ready to show Hitler what for. But things don't seem so rosy when rationing, evacuation and air-raids start to put this larger-than-life family to the test. When a mysterious young man arrives at the Brogans' local parish church, he provides just the dazzling distraction they need - and for eldest daughter Mattie, the promise of more than she'd ever wished for. But as the pair fall deeper in love, they are drawn into secret dangers, rife on the very London streets they call home. As the young couple race to protect the East End as they know it, can their dreams survive the darkening backdrop of war-time...?

Tempted by the Bridesmaid
Medical Romance
Traditional and Ebook
Mills & Boon
1 August 2017
A woman to unlock his heart?
The last time brooding Italian surgeon Luca Montovano saw bubbly heiress Francesca Martinelli was at his best friend's failed wedding. Sparks flew then, and now she's made a surprise appearance at his mountaintop clinic, bringing a much-needed whirlwind of laughter! Aristocratic Luca just wants to be left alone to care for his orphaned niece. The scars on his face reach right to his heart, and he's learned to push people away. Until Fran forces him to see the world through her eyes!

Taming His Pregnant Princess
Medical Romance
Traditional and Ebook
Mills & Boon
1 August 2017
"Hello, Beatrice." Face-to-face with the man she'd loved and lost two years ago, Dr. (and Princess) Bea di Jesolo knows she has no right to forgiveness, but she hopes they can call a truce for the sake of their patients. Pediatrician Dominic Coutts had always seen the woman beneath the royal fanfare that surrounded Bea: at heart, she was more surgical gown than ball gown. But loving her had cost him once. Could he risk his heart again—especially when he discovers her secret? 

Ethan's Daughter
Romantic Suspense
Paperback and Ebook
Harlequin Super Romance
There's safety in solitude…isn't there? Single dad and best-selling thriller writer Ethan James has no problem being Templeton Cove's most famous recluse…until a surprise visit from the past plunges him into a real-life crime drama just as feisty nurse Leah Dixon barges her way into his world. Ethan's first priority is to protect his daughter. His second priority is to keep Leah out of this dark web—and that means out of his bed. Except Leah isn't going anywhere; she's afraid little Daisy is in danger. Ethan couldn't live with himself if anything happened to Leah…but pushing her away may be even harder!

The Truth About You, Me and Us
Contemporary women's fiction
Paperback and Ebook
Accent Press
25 August 2017
Sometimes the hardest person to be honest with is yourself…
Five years ago Helen Walters walked out on her ‘perfect’ life with the ‘perfect’ man.
Wealthy, glamorous and bored, she longed for something more. Now a talented artist with a small business, Helen creates crazy patchwork crafts to support her young daughter, Megan. Penniless, content and single, she is almost unrecognisable. But when her past unexpectedly collides with her new life, Helen finds herself torn. She knows what the easiest choice is, but is it what she wants?

The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop
Contemporary romantic fiction
Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs! That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before - she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right? When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie…
Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance…

Guiltless - A Cheshire Love Story
Adult Romance Suspense
Paperback and Ebook
Black Opal Books
Date of Release  26th August
Managing Director of her own successful fashion house, Lauren Chandler should have everything going for her. But at twenty-nine, she finds herself single again, and bored.
Seeking a new challenge in her life, under the guise of saving her company money, Lauren embarks on a mission to model their latest range of lingerie herself. She just needs a photographer. When Byron Lord makes an unusual proposal, Lauren is adamant he won’t win the contract. Riddled with guilt, photographer, Byron Lord, embarks on a path he never wanted. OCD is only one of his unusual traits. As co-owner of Broadway Studios he is determined to provide job security to his off-beat workforce and he needs Lauren Chandler’s help to do so. Byron may have underestimated how far Lauren would be prepared to go. He had definitely underestimated how much she would demand of him. With an ultimatum of her own, Lauren gets far more than she bargained for.
But things rarely go to plan. Something isn’t right at the studio and Byron needs all his wits and courage to protect those around him and fight his own demons. To top it all, the question “what to do about Lauren Chandler” just won’t go away.

The Tregelian Hoard
1st August 2017
Paperback large print
Linford Romance
With her engagement in tatters, Jonquil Jones, a Portable Antiquities specialist,
moves to Cornwall for a fresh start.  When a golden torc that has lain hidden underground for centuries is unearthed, she can feel her soul stirring with excitement. Is it a single find or part of an extraordinary treasure trove? It's Jonquil's job to find out.  But there is one problem: Sebastian Ableyard, who reported the find, is the man Jonquil holds responsible for the break-up of her engagement...

The Woman in the Shadows
Paperback and Ebook
Accent Press
Historical Fiction/Romance
4th August
When cloth merchant’s daughter, Elizabeth Williams, is widowed at age of two and twenty, she is determined to make a success of her husband’s cloth business, but she has powerful enemies. When she meets Thomas Cromwell, ambitious merchant turned lawyer, Elizabeth finds a protector and is determined to marry for love this time round but it isn’t easy being married to the wife of an influential, headstrong man in Henry VIII’s London. Can love and respect survive in a city filled with ruthless people. Will a long concealed secret be their undoing?

Fearless - The Shaws, Book One
Georgian historical romance
Ebook and paperback
22nd August
When Lady Charlotte Engles receives an offer of marriage from an eligible suitor, she’s finally ready to let go of her long-held hope that her engagement to Lord Valentinian Shaw will result in marriage. For despite the betrothal their families made between them, Val shows no interest in leaving his reckless life behind in favor of one with Charlotte. But when her plea to end their arrangement ends in a heated embrace, suddenly Val seems reluctant to let her go… The last thing Val wants is a wife, despite how desirous his lovely bride-to-be has become. But when he discovers sweet Charlotte is planning to marry a dastardly man, he feels duty bound to keep her safe, even if that means making good on his marriage pledge. Then Charlotte is taken hostage by her dangerous suitor and suddenly Val is ready to risk everything for the woman who has won his heart.

A Hundred Tiny Threads
Ebook Paperback
Historical family saga
Publisher: Honno Press (17 Aug. 2017)
The prequel to the Haworth trilogy, this is the story of the parents of the protagonist, Mary Haworth in  in Pattern of Shadows, Changing Patterns, and Living in the Shadows.

It’s 1911 and Winifred Duffy is a determined young woman eager for new experiences; for a life beyond her well-off family and their prosperous grocer’s shop, a family ruled over by her domineering mother. On the opposite end of the social scale is Bill Howarth. His scars from a troubled childhood linger; he is an angry young man.. The only light in his life comes from a chance encounter with Winifred, the girl he dreams about and is determines to make his wife. But meeting her friend Honora’s silver-tongued brother turns Winifred’s heart upside down and they begin a love affair that Bill can only watch from a distance. But after a suffrage rally turns into a riot, Honora and Conal disappear. Abandoned Winifred has nowhere to turn but home. The Great War intervenes, sending Bill abroad to be hardened in a furnace of carnage and loss. When he returns he is unemployed and, desperate for money, joins the Black and Tans to quell the riots for Independence in Dublin. But all is not what it seems there and Bill deserts, still dreaming  of Winifred and the life they might have had… Back in Lancashire, worn down by work and the barbed comments of the narrow-minded townsfolk, Winifred faces difficult choices in love and life.


New Doctor at Chestnut House
Contemporary Romance
Fabrian Books
12th August 2017
Is home a place—or a person?  
Anna's about to leave Bramblewick behind. She's due to marry her childhood sweetheart in a few weeks, and then she'll be heading to Kent and a whole new life. Connor's a new arrival in Bramblewick. He's bringing with him a whole lot of baggage, and he's doubtful that this small village on the Yorkshire Moors is the ideal place for him and his daughter, Gracie. It's not easy for Anna, watching Connor move into her family home and take over from her beloved father at the local surgery, but she's determined to help him settle in and adjust to rural life, so that the villagers get the doctor they deserve. Connor's not convinced. This country practice is very different to what he's used to, and the locals have some strange expectations of their GP. Protective of Gracie and hiding behind self-constructed barriers, Connor struggles to adapt to life in Bramblewick. Can Anna convince him that this is the place where he and Gracie can finally find happiness? And can she convince herself that leaving Bramblewick is the right move for her?

One Night in Kuala Lumpur
Erotic Romance
Tirgearr Publishing
In search of inspiration, successful artist Ziva Clarke takes a trip to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Her exhibitions in the UK have left her exhausted and she's had no fun in ages  - the exotic Far East could be just what she needs. Charmer Sam Tempest is visiting KL on business, but behind the impeccable suit and the wicked smile, he’s not a happy man. Duty bound to join his family’s international business, Sam longs to follow his
true passion—to carve wood sculptures. The two lonely souls meet by chance on a crowded street, and when it turns out they might not be the strangers they first thought, so begins a night of confessions, shared dreams and hot sex. Can one steamy night in Kuala Lumpur be the answer to both their dreams?

Escape to Sunrise Cottage
Contemporary romance
Fabrian Books
1st August
When artist Violet Brooke leaves her engagement ring on top of a Chinese wedding cabinet and runs away from the trendy apartment in London’s Brick Lane, there’s only one place to go – Sunrise Cottage. All she wants is to cosy up in her rural retreat, get on with her painting, and forget about Jayden Fox, bad boy of the East End art scene – he’s certainly forgotten about her. The last thing she needs is romance. But then handsome antique dealer Max Finch shows up in the middle of a field and the problem is, he’s impossible to resist. As much as Max wants Violet to stay in the village, somebody else wants her gone, and they’re making sure she knows about it. But who? And why? Is this Violet’s cue to head back to London and pick up her real life? Or is Sunrise Cottage – and Max Finch – as real as it gets? 

Looking For Juliet
Medical Romantic suspense
Clean Reads
‘More than her heart is in danger’
Looking for Juliet is the latest release from multi-award winning, best-selling novelist Nell Dixon. Dr. Neil Forrest’s introduction to Juliet, his new practice nurse got off to a fiery start in more ways than one. Juliet, and her small son, Charlie are hiding out from something or someone, but who and why? Neil quickly realizes that he has to leave his own past behind if he is to be there when it counts for Juliet, and for Charlie.

Summer in San Remo
Romantic Comedy.
18th July.
Anything could happen when you spend summer in San Remo …
Running her busy concierge service usually keeps Cassie Travers fully occupied. But when a new client offers her the strangest commission she's ever handled she suddenly finds herself on the cusp of an Italian adventure, with a man she thought she would never see again. Jake McQuire has returned from the States to his family-run detective agency.
When old flame Cassie appears in need of help with her mysterious client, who better than Jake to step in? Events take the pair across Europe to a luxurious villa on the Italian Riviera. There, Cassie finds that the mystery she pursues pales into insignificance, when compared to another discovery made along the way … 

Four Riddles for Jane Austen (and her artful maid Tilly)
Regency historical
Corazon Books
12 July 2017
At 31, impoverished spinster and keen observer of life Jane Austen uses her marginal place in society to team up with her loyal maid, Tilly Marshall, and unmask the malicious, vengeful and desperate in a world where money and status are all, not everyone is who they seem and secrets are worth killing – and dying – for. Along the way, Jane loses her heart, as well as coming close to losing her life. Full of witty dialogue, pacy action and memorable characters (above and below stairs), Jane and Tilly’s encounters cement their lasting bond and provide inspiration for Jane’s best-known works. Seasoned Janeites will enjoy references to some of her most beloved characters, but if you haven't read a word of Jane Austen before, it won't spoil your enjoyment of a devilishly twisty plot!


In His Place - Sonic Idols Book 2
Ebook and paperback
7th July
Four years after the tragic death of his brother Joe, Sonic Idols drummer Si Delaney still struggles to cope with what happened to the man whose shoes he subsequently filled. A forced hiatus from touring unleashes feelings he's tried hard to push aside, and Si knows he needs to seek forgiveness before he can ever truly move on. Determined to make amends he sets off in search of Joe’s fiancĂ©e, Allie. Can Allie help Si to realise he wasn’t to blame for the tragedy, or will he forever feel like an imposter in Joe’s place?