Mega Monday Announcement – Jessica has a Super September

10582889_751759908196645_2794101897649874998_o-12014 is shaping up to be an incredible year for The Write Romantics. Helen P released book 2 and both her fantastic Annie Graham novels continue to storm the charts, Rachael has just released her debut novel following her success in the SYTYCW competition earlier this year, Alys secured an agent in the summer, and Harriet announced her call from Crooked Cat last Monday.

September is turning out to be an incredible month for us because Super September is the month that just keeps on delivering. On 1st September, I woke up to “the call”. It wasn’t actually a call as such but an email from a US publisher wanting to publish my debut novel, ‘Searching for Steven’. Eek! A few email conversations later and this became a three-book deal because ‘Steven’ is actually the first in a trilogy. Harriet got her call at the end of that same week but was able to make the announcement sooner because her contract came with her offer whereas my publisher took a different approach of sending me a template to consider, receiving questions, then pulling together the official contract.

P1050673During this waiting time, I faced a dilemma. I had two more submissions outstanding and, although the professional and honest part of me wanted to go back and say “thanks but no thanks”, I felt a little superstitious about doing this until I’d signed on the dotted line. Just as well I felt that way because it would appear that publishing deals are like buses; I’d waited around for about a year and then two came along at once! They were very different offerings and I had to take a few days to make sure I was making absolutely the right decision although I knew that, after my initial conversation with the Publishing Director of the second publisher that my heart lay there. If you’re interested in how I made my decision, I’ve written a two-parter called ‘A Tale of Two Contracts’ on my blog.

I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that I’ve signed to So Vain Books, a new publishing company with a very exciting vision for the future. ‘Searching for Steven’ will be released in the spring or summer of 2015 in eBook and published format. I can’t believe that, this time next year, I’ll have a book that I’ve written in my hands. Talk about a dream come true!

P1050693I collect teddy bears and I made a lovely addition to my collection this weekend to celebrate. I wanted something relevant and a bear with “love” on his dungarees felt very relevant for a romance writer! My good writing friend and fellow-founder of The Write Romantics, Jay, sent me a lovely bear too with “You got ‘the call’ Julie” on it (Julie being my real name and Jessica being my pen name). He sits pride of place on my desk.

So what do I write? My trilogy is set in the fictional North Yorkshire town of Whitsborough Bay and follows the lives and loves of three women: Sarah, Elise and Clare. The debut novel, ‘Searching for Steven’ tells Sarah’s story. When Sarah Peterson finds a clairvoyant reading that’s been missing for 12 years, she’s shocked to discover all the predictions have come true … except one; she’s about to meet the man of her dreams and his name is Steven. The search for Steven starts and there’s certainly no shortage of them. So why can’t she stop thinking about new friend Nick? And former flame Andy? Could one of them really be her Steven?

It’s taken me twelve years from the idea for ‘Steven’ to receiving my publishing offer but I’ve learned my craft during that time (and am still learning every day). I also had huge gaps where I didn’t write at all e.g. a few years during pregnancy and the baby/toddler years although I never stopped thinking about writing. Book 2, ‘Getting Over Gary’, tells Elise’s story and has taken about eighteen months to write so I’m picking up pace! The third book, ‘Discovering David’ tells Clare’s story.

And September keeps on delivering … but that’s not my news to tell 😉 Do watch this space for more exciting announcements from The Write Romantics.

My final words would be to say that, if you’re a writer and have a dream of being published, never give up as you never know when your bus will arrive. And it may be quickly followed by another!

Jessica xx

The Saturday Spotlight on Sophie Rose Williamson

Our guest blogger today is Sophie Rose Williamson, who has stopped by to tell us all about the experiences that have influenced her writing and the journey that the characters in her best-selling novel ‘Here Come The Girls’ have taken her on.

S2I am a writer, a wife and a mother. My magical woven carpeted journey towards making the shelves of America’s biggest bookstore Barnes and Noble has been a rollercoaster of twists and turns. I suppose it is a bit like the funfair. There were many rides along the way. Some of them were fairly scary. Some were terribly frightening.

I thought about giving up so many times. The price of making it, of becoming published, famous, a success, is quite steep. The secret of my work and writing has been hard work. I never give up. Sometimes it is quite demoralising. There are no big cheques, a few small ones. Sometimes you don’t make it into the top ten. Yet on the other side of the pond you make it into the American Charts at number 16. That is a staggering feat for a little known Irish paperback writer.

The greatest influence on my writing is my childhood. It was so breathtaking. We spent each and every summer in Garryvoe and Shannon Garry which is situated near Midleton in East Cork, Ireland. Our large extended family drenched the surrounding houses and caravan parks. We took long summer walks along the green cliffs to mesmerizing places like Paradise Cove. The different coloured rocks, the snow capped waves crashing against the stony beaches.   Mam would always be waiting when I arrived home. She never scolded me. Though my father would be irate all the while thinking it was far too dangerous for a little girl to go.

My cousins Anthony and Kenneth would join us. They were my best friends really. All through my childhood they were my constant. I loved them dearly. I wished they would never leave my side. Discos, tennis, running, crazy golf, pottery making classes, summers spent racing through the hot waves and chasing each other on the sand. My imagination went wild. As such, as a teenager living in the equally dreamy sand soaked island of Cyprus my writing career began.

These are the locations which my books are based on. The series Here Come the Girls, followed by Gypsy, are based on my experiences, loosely and in the fictional sense. They are trapped full of Christmas trimmings, childhood and teenage romances. The delectable principal character in my series gets married and moves in with her handsome, sophisticated, business man husband. He leaves her for his mistress. A horrible nervous breakdown ensues. She chases fame, gives birth to an adorable gaggle of children. We are drawn towards a broken women, engulfed in despair, in pain and overcome with grief.

I cannot begin to explain how my books crossed over into the mythical and magical world of another realm. Yet they did. As a broken women, who seems to cry uncontrollably, Amber enters a fantasy world. It takes her away from the despair of her tragic domestic reality. The dark reality that her husband left her one day for the other women, younger, sexier, far superior in each and every way.

I would say that my children, my childhood, my romances and my studies have hugely influenced my writing. I studied history of art at the S1fantastic Trinity College Dublin. It was such a privileged and amazing experience.

So magical mythological creatures, gothic churches with illuminated arched windows, furry snowy owls, and candy floss god mothers, dark lords and dragons creep along the pages of the adult series Here Come the Girls. I am guessing, Amber, the principal character, needed to take a train, to somewhere just to escape the sheer misery life without her children had become. Here Come the Girls is for everyone. It is so innocent, incredibly sexy, a tide of emotions and tears.

The third instalment, Wish List is in the making. I am planning to lock myself away in a quiet place to finish my books. For now its glitz, glamour, photo shoots, hair straigherners, and lip gloss as the books hit the press.  I am focusing on my writing, businesses in the beauty world and building a modest life for my ever growing family.

To find out more please visit my website. The Here Come The Girls Series is available at Barnes and Noble across the USA, Publish America and Amazon worldwide.

Sophie

Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Sophie, and for that poetic and fascinating insight into your past experiences and the way you have woven these into your stories.

Find out more about Sophie and her books here:

http://sophie-rose.weebly.com/

sophierosewilliamson.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sophie-Rose-Williamson/150651671739185?fref=ts

On Twitter @sophierose77

Fab Friday announcement – Meet the tenth Write Romantic

When the Write Romantics formed in early 2013, there were just two of us. As unpublished writers, we realised quite quickly that we may struggle to post regularly so we placed a thread on the RNA’s online support group to see if anyone would like to join us. Within a couple of weeks, two had become ten! A few months later, we dropped down to nine when one of the group found she really didn’t have the time to contribute due to personal circumstances.

The nine of us have had an amazing eighteen months. We’ve gone from one publishing deal to five deals and an agent (see Monday’s post for more details), we’ve developed an incredible support network, and we’ve nearly all met either before or during this year’s conference. This is quite an achievement for nine women who had never met before but share the same passion and dreams.

As time has passed, we’ve realised that the nine Write Romantics aren’t really nine. There’s been a tenth writer who has shared the highs and lows of our journeys and shared her own experiences with us. Two of us have had the pleasure of meeting her on several occasions, she’s been amazing in promoting our work and our news, and she comments on all our blog posts, frequently giving her own Wednesday Wondering response. To all intents and purposes, she’s been a Write Romantic in everything but name. Which was just ridiculous. So we decided to rectify that.
The Write Romantics are therefore delighted to announce that we’re back to The Power of Ten. We’re absolutely thrilled to welcome fellow-RNA member, talented writer, and all-round lovely person, Sharon Booth, to our group. Time for me to stop wittering and to hand over to Sharon who’ll tell you a bit more about herself and her writing journey so far.

Jessica on behalf of The Write Romantics

xx

The new Write Romantic - Sharon Booth

The new Write Romantic – Sharon Booth

Thanks, Jessica.

Well, what can I say to that? If you’re surprised by this announcement you’re not the only one. It never occurred to me that I could become a Write Romantic. I mean, they were already formed when I heard about them – and perfectly formed at that, in my opinion. I had no idea what was in store when I picked up my phone one day to find a message that they were waiting to talk to me – urgently. Thinking it may be about the forthcoming anthology (plug, plug) I went online to see what was so urgent, and there they were, issuing me with this amazing invitation. Do you want to be a Write Romantic? Er, let me think about that…

Of course I flipping well do!

It’s been lovely for me getting to know these ladies over the last fifteen months. I met Alys through Romna, the online chapter of the RNA, when she introduced herself and mentioned she was writing a novel set in Glastonbury. That caught my attention! I replied, and within weeks we’d arranged to meet up, along with Alys’s friend Jessica. That’s when I learned about the Write Romantics and it occurred to me what a good idea it was to form such a group. Writing can be a very lonely business and there’s much to be said for being part of a community of like-minded people, sharing the ups and downs of this strange creative life, having someone to talk to, ask advice of, share information with, rejoice at good news and commiserate when the news isn’t that great.

I really got to like the whole group. Because of Jessica and Alys I met the other members online and followed this blog and delighted in their virtual company. So yes, when they asked me to join them I was stunned but absolutely delighted.

They’ve all made me very welcome and I’m looking forward to sharing the next part of my writing journey with them, as well as with you. It promises to be a very exciting few months and, seeing the fantastic news that’s winged its way to several of the Write Romantics lately, I’m really hoping some of their good fortune rubs off on me! 🙂

Maybe I’ll never be a perfect ten – no “maybe” about it to be honest – but I feel I’m part of the perfect ten now. I’m a very happy lady!

Sharon xx

The Write Romantics Book Group: The Kiss of the Concubine

After reading The Kiss of the Concubine by Judith Arnopp, I felt I had a different view of what Anne Boleyn’s life must have been like. The story of Anne Boleyn has fascinated me since school history lessons and Judith tells this beautifully evocative story in the first person, weaving Anne’s thoughts skilfully with known facts from the time.

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It is a wonderful chance to imagine what it must have been like at the Tudor court and how she might have felt about her family and the then very dashing King Henry. Her daughter, Elizabeth, who went on to be one of England’s greatest queens, is much loved in this story, but the marriage was always about a son, an heir and a future king.

 

From Anne’s viewpoint in this story I feel she must have loved Henry and was terribly saddened about not being able to give him what he wanted most. A son.

Of course the story doesn’t have a happy ending, but Judith leads us up to those last days and shows a very calm woman, accepting of her fate. I could imagine how she must have felt as she returned to The Tower, to the rooms she’d occupied prior to her coronation, but this time through Traitors Gate.

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I felt her unease as she lived in comfort, but watched the scaffold being erected for her own execution? Only last week I stood looking down on the green where the execution was believed to have taken place and The Kiss of the Concubine was very much in my mind.

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Despite the known unhappy ending of this story, Judith created one which leaves the reader with hope that Anne was at last at peace and is well worth reading.

 

Next month Jay Bartlett has chosen The School Gate Survival Guide by Kerry Fisher and I’m really looking forward to reading this. Reviews can be found here and if you’d like to join us and talk about the book that would be wonderful.

Happy Reading!

Rachael

Mega Monday: Remarkable Things are happening for Harriet!

‘The call’ from Laurence at Crooked Cat – well, an email actually – came on a Friday afternoon. I’d finished with the computer for the day, then later I happened to wander past it – no hand-held technology for me – and thought I’d have another quick check for emails and Facebook chat, like you do. And there it was.
To say that the call had been a long time coming would be an understatement. Not that Crooked Cat were anything but speedy. Once they’d requested the full manuscript of ‘Remarkable Things’, it was only a matter of a week or so before the offer of publication arrived. But behind that trailed a paperchase of submissions, each slightly different from the one before (the query letter never seems quite right, does it?) and each sent out with a big dose of faith and renewed hope. But that’s all in the past now, at least it is for this book, and how strange it feels to be saying that!
So what do you do after the call? Well, you jump up and down a bit, a lot, actually, and then you just want to be quiet, disappear into yourself and take it all in, or try to. At least that’s how it was for me. This is after you’ve saved the precious email and its attachments in at least two places and printed it out in case it disappears in a puff of smoke, leaving only a smirking ‘ha ha, got you!’ in its place.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the Saturday morning, feeling restless and still in a bit of a dream, I went into town and bought a new notebook and a shiny orange box file in which to keep said print-outs. I always buy a new notebook when I start writing a new book; new chapters call for new stationery, and I was certainly beginning a new chapter.
I’m not superstitious, at least the real me isn’t. But this Harriet person, she’s not averse to a bit of witchery, apparently, because it wasn’t long after I took her on as my writing persona that I got the offer from Crooked Cat. I wrote about the ‘real’ Harriet in an earlier blog post called ‘Harriet, writing and me’ and I reckon she was smiling down on me and sending me the luck of the black cat. Yes, all right, I know, but it’s a nice thought.
I’ve had such wonderful messages of congratulations from all over, particularly from the friendly authors at Crooked Cat. Already I feel like part of a family, and I think we’re a good fit.
The hard work really begins now. There will be edits, and all manner of stuff I’m not familiar with, and amid all the excitement, somehow I have to find time to write…
We cracked open the champagne last Sunday when the family came, and lovely it was, too. Cheers, everyone!

Harriet x

Rachael’s release day.

My first book, A Deal Before the Altar is now available, online and in store. It is the realisation of a dream I’ve been seriously chasing for the last seven years and I still have to pinch myself!

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Since ‘the call’ in January offering me a two book contract, I’ve encountered all sorts of new experiences, from doing revisions to seeing my first cover. I’ve held a Goodreads giveaway and Romantic Times gave my book a 4star review, saying Thomas’ high-society romance is a terrific debut. I’ve also appeared in my local paper. Even more excitingly, today I am returning from London and my first Mills and Boon author lunch – but that’s a post for another day!

This is the first cover I saw, the North American cover and I was totally blown away by it, but somehow it still didn’t feel real. I was after all, used to seeing the UK covers. I finally realised it was real when I opened the parcel with my UK books inside.

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It’s hard to believe that this time last year I was just about to enter Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write. It was the start of something special and I’d like to thank everyone who supported me in the competition.

From my experience, I would definitely advise aspiring writers to enter competitions. Success isn’t guaranteed, but perseverance and love of writing will certainly help.

 

After Happily Ever After

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My parents celebrated their Golden Wedding anniversary last month with a party.  It was a lot like a wedding reception as there was a sit down meal, live music and ballroom dancing.  As the eldest of their children I was asked to give the speech and propose the toast.  Talking to my parents before I wrote the speech and hearing their stories about their wedding day made me realise how that day was only the start of their story.

IMG_0875In books the wedding is so often the end of the story.  The full stop in a ‘Reader, I married him’ kind of way.  But in real life it’s never that simple.  This is an issue that I’m battling with in my writing at the moment.  Having given two of my characters a HFN ending in my first novel (Beltane), in the second book in the trilogy (Lughnasa) we get to see what that actually means.  They went through a pretty traumatic time in Beltane and it would be wrong to think that it’s all heart and flowers for them now.  They’ve got challenges but (so far!) they’re facing them together.

How much information to give readers at the end of a book is a difficult question for writers and I guess that’s why epilogues are popular.  It gives writers the chance to show us what happens next so that we get the satisfaction of seeing the characters tying the knot or having a baby.

But some couples need more than a quick epilogue.  Some need another mention in a later book to reassure dedicated readers that they’re thriving in happy ever after land.  Other couples go on to demand new books all to themselves, sometimes from completely different writers.

Elizabeth and Darcy are a great example of this, hence the proliferation of Pride and Prejudice sequels.  Apparently there are over sixty of these with Death at Pemberley being probably the best known.  Other classics (and I use that word loosely) are ‘Mr Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman’,  ‘Mr Darcy’s Undoing’ and ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ (and no, I’m not making that one up!)

My well loved copy of Pride and Prejudice

My well loved copy of Pride and Prejudice

Being a bit of a Jane Austen purist I’m not keen on any of these.  In my opinion even P.D. James shouldn’t mess with Austen.  But that’s just me.

What do you think?  Are there literary couples who leave you wanting more?  What sequels have you read?  Did they work for you or did they leave you a bit dissatisfied?   I’d love to know.

Alys

Photographs from Golden Wedding Party by Maynard Case www.maynardcase.co.uk