Jessica is Dreaming About Daran

What started out as a snippet of an idea thirteen years ago grew into something bigger. I had a protagonist, Sarah, who needed two best friends for her story to work. One of them needed to support her in her ‘quest’ and the other needed to think that the ‘quest’ was a “pile of bollocks”.

Whilst I loved Sarah and her supportive friend, Elise, her not-quite-so-supportive friend, Clare, really captured my imagination. Feisty and full of fun, she was a friend with a past and, as the words to my debut novel Searching for Steven poured out, it became apparent that both Elise and Clare had their own stories to tell. Stories that could not possibly be justified as a sub plot in Steven. They needed novels of their own! (Greedy characters!)

Dreaming About Daran CoverElise’s story  – Getting Over Gary – naturally needed to be told as the first sequel because I knew hers was going to be a bit gentler. Clare’s would be more explosive and bring a fitting climax to the trilogy.

Today is the launch day and I’m delighted to release Dreaming About Daran into the world to join my other boys. It’s my favourite cover of the three stories, my favourite character, and my favourite story… although don’t tell Sarah and Elise as I love them too and don’t want to upset them.  It’s also a bit deeper and darker that the two before so be warned!

I’ve had a few technical issues with my paperbacks so can’t include any pictures here of me dressed in blue to match the cover (I have colour coordinated myself for both of the other ones – does that make me a bit sad?) but I can put a picture of what they look like together before Daran got boxed up again and sent back to the printer.

I’m thrilled to hear that there are already three 5-star reviews on Amazon from reviewers who obtained a copy early for an honest opinion. And I mean honest opinion. If these reviewers don’t like a book, they will say so. Therefore, getting 5-star reviews from them is a dream-like thing!

Here’s the blurb about Daran:

Sometimes, you can run from the past, but you can’t hide. Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:

  1. Don’t talk about Ireland
  2. Don’t think about Ireland
  3. Don’t go to Ireland
  4. Never let anyone in

And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, some amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future’s all that counts, isn’t it?

However, when her boss insists she travels to Ireland to repair a damaged relationship with a key client, Clare finds herself drawn back to the small village of Ballykielty where she comes face to face with the one person she’d hoped never, ever to see again.

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Can Clare stick to rule number four?

Happy reading!

Jessica xx

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Mega Monday Book Launch: Dirty Weekend (and my tribute to Cilla Black) by Deirdre

FINAL FINAL COVER with taglineIt seems like only yesterday I was knocking back the champers to celebrate the release of my first traditionally-published novel, Remarkable Things.  Now, just three months later, here I am with the second!

But hold back on the gasps of wonder – the small gap is not a sign of my hard work and dedication to the job.  It’s all in the timing, as I had already written most of Dirty Weekend whilst tally-ho-ing my way across the bumpy publishing terrain in pursuit of that elusive contract for Remarkable Things.

I’d always planned to write a book set in the 1960s, one day.  Well, it was ‘my time’ after all, and they do say write what you know.  When I merrily signed up to NaNoWriMo with about five minutes to spare, I did it with no prior thought as to the kind of book I was going to write.  All I knew was that it had to be easy and fast-paced, which suggested humour and young characters – in this case, eighteen year-olds – and then the era just came along with that.

Naturally, I didn’t succeed in hitting the NaNo target, but that wasn’t the intention.  I did get a whole lot of words down in the time, though, and that was a most satisfying experience.

As I say, there is humour in Dirty Weekend – at least I hope it raises a smile or two – but there’s a deeper, darker side, too.  I was surprised to find that one of the most enjoyable scenes to write was the one with the most violence.  I’m not quite sure what that says about me!

And I know it’s a writer’s cliché, but once I’d finished the book, I really missed my four main characters –  Carol-Anne, Terry, Mark, and Jeanette.  Obligingly, they lived for me through the pages, and I suspect I haven’t seen the last of them.

If you download the book, thank you, and I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did in the writing.

Dirty Weekend will be published by Crooked Cat Publishing on 4th August, at the special introductory price of 99p.

Deirdre

PS. It was while I was finishing this piece that I was saddened to learn of the death of Cilla Black. For us, Cilla was the sixties. We danced to her music, copied her fashions, and used up gallons of hairspray trying to get our kiss-curls to stay in place – like Cilla’s.  International singing star and friend of the Beatles she may have been, but she had no airs and graces.  She was one of us.  So, thank you, Cilla, and God bless. x

A Glimpse into the World of a Full-Time Author by Jessica Redland

Exactly one month ago today (a Monday morning), I went into work looking forward to one day in then the rest of the week off to celebrate the launch of my debut novel, Searching for Steven. My manager had been on holiday the previous week so we had a catch-up meeting arranged. Except we didn’t “catch up”. I was made redundant instead! Eek! I hadn’t seen it coming at all.

_MG_4314-2Talk about an extreme week: Lose job on Monday, launch book on Wednesday! By the time Sunday came round and my friends and family launch party was over, I was absolutely drained.

I reluctantly went back into work the following week. I’d hoped that my employer would grant me gardening leave when I was first told about the redundancy but it was refused. A week’s absence must have helped get things into perspective because, when I got back, I was asked to finish a few things off and then granted gardening leave for the rest of June. This resulted in me having two weeks off, ending yesterday. Today sees my return into full-time work as a Recruitment Consultant at a local employment agency. I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to walk out of one job and straight into another. Phew.

_MG_4959The fortnight off outside of school holidays has given me a glimpse into another world: the world of a full-time author and it’s going to be very strange letting it go. I’ve been able to keep on top of the goings on in the worlds of Facebook and Twitter (well, almost). I’ve been able to spend time – quality time – working on the structural edits for book 2, Getting Over Gary. I’ve been able to tidy my office … although I somehow managed to trash it again. Oops. And I’ve been able to do a few things with my daughter that I’ve not normally been able to do like the school run, taking her to swimming lessons, attending the summer fete, and watching sports day for the first time ever (she’s 8 so I’m feeling a little guilty about this one).

On Monday I took a long lunch break and finished a book I’d been reading and I was able to post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads almost immediately. I needed to nip into town one day, so I did, and I had a bit of prep to do for a Brownies meeting (I’m a Brown Owl) another day, so I did that too.

It’s been a wonderful glimpse into the world of being an author, yet it’s also shown be that, the more time I have to write, the less time (proportionately) I spend writing. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly had a few days where I’ve really cracked on with it and put in a full day’s work, but I’ve also had a few days where social media, a little nap, and the temptation of DVDs have distracted me. But surely that’s one of the niceties about being a full-time author; working long hours when it’s deadline time and taking the foot of the pedal at other times? I like it. A lot.

11406714_884714794901155_6795003481857504518_oSo, from today, I’ll be back to the old routine of writing on an evening. One thing I’m looking forward to is having more time to read. I was a five-minute car journey away from my old job but I’m a ten-minute bus journey from this one. I know ten minutes doesn’t sound much but add in ten minutes waiting for the bus on the morning (I’m always paranoid I’ll miss it) and ten to twenty minutes waiting at the end of the day and I’ve suddenly got heading for an hour of reading in every weekday. Luxury. Knowing I only have two-three hours on an evening to write will probably force me to be much more structured with my time because it’s all I have and I’d only be causing myself problems if I wasted it.

I’m excited about the new role, but I will definitely miss the opportunity to write full-time on those days when the creative juices hit and my fingers are on fire because, let’s face it, that doesn’t always happen between 7.30-10.30 in the evening.

Do you write full-time or do you work full-time and squeeze writing in around it? Whichever you do, I’d love to hear from you as to how you get the balance right. Or perhaps you haven’t managed to get the balance yet and would like some tips. Just click on the comments next to the tags below.

Thanks

Jessica xx

Saturday Spotlight: Me and my new baby! by Lynne Pardoe

My first published book didn’t have quite the same beginning as others I had written.  Usually I delve deep into my my memory and write in the first person but this one was totally different, and one that I never guessed would do so much good. It all began because of an illness and my totally bored octogenarian mother.
FB_20150120_18_33_36_Saved_PictureThis is the story. It started it one gloomy winter’s day a couple of years ago. Unusually I was at a loss to know what to do, so I let myself daydream for a moment. I’d been reading Alison Uttley’s lovely autobiographical books and Thomas Hardy, my favourite all time novelist. My daydream was hardly original. You can imagine the sort of thing, young woman in period dress opens a gnarled, ancient, wooden door to her parents’ home. A little while later she’s skipping along an ancient  green path on her way to her job in the big house when she falls and breaks her ankle and has no way of getting home.
Well, that was it, real life intervened and I got caught up in a flurry of family duty and I forgot all about that book, believing that my future lay in writing fiction books about social work, which I enjoy and have had a lot of interest in. But my mother became ill, she desperately needed a hip replacement but her bad heart prevented her undergoing any sort of surgery.
Visits to her became difficult, we couldn’t take our usual trips around the shops and she was very bored. So I told her about my story and we were both enthralled. Mum made quite a few helpful suggestions about character, motive and so on. Before long I had a plot.
I wrote it up, thinking it needed to be 50,000 words but it ended at 40,000, so I left it on my hard disk and there it stayed for many months. Then one day someone sent me a link to the People’s Friend message board and on there was a call for stories for their Pocket Novels – and guess what, they wanted stories of 40,000 words!
So I rescued the story from a dry and dusty corner of the hard drive, gave it a bit of a polish, and sent it off to Tracey Steele. Within a day she asked for the full, within a week she’d bought it!
I was delighted! Tracey arranged to put mum’s name, Margaret Pardoe, on the cover leaving my Lynne Pardoe nameMeant for each other cover free for my social work stories, so people know what they’re buying when they look at each.
Well, it hasn’t quite spawned a miracle, mum still isn’t very well, but she is so chuffed to have her name on the cover and I’m so pleased it was accepted. It bought us closer together. I liked the story, I have a soft spot for the heroine, who took a big risk to do what is right. It’s my baby and I was really chuffed to see it on the shelves!
Lynne

Launch Day Has Arrived!!!! Crack Open the Champers!

Anthology coverIt’s here! The day we’ve been talking about since early spring has finally arrived and we are beyond excited. For The Write Romantics, today is the day when our dreams come true because it’s the day we can all stand proudly and declare: “I’m a published writer!” Is it a bit sad to admit that I really will be doing that?!

Wow!

For most of us, this has been a dream spanning a decade or several. Some of the group have had success over the last couple of years and others will see their debut novels launched in 2015 but, wherever we are in our journeys, today is an exceedingly proud day for us all.

The Write Romantics and guests are absolutely thrilled to present to you: Winter Tales – Stories to Warm Your Heart. And they really will warm your heart because, not only are the stories all uplifting, but all proceeds go to charity. Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust are charities close to our heart and we’ve felt quite touched and privileged that eleven other writers have spared their time and talent to share a short story alongside those penned by The WRs. We can’t thank you all enough for your generosity and all the promotional work you’ve done/will do for this book in order to raise as many funds as we can for the two worthy causes. For the full listing on who has joined us, please click here.

IMG_0671The e-Book is available right now on Amazon at a price of just over 10p per story. Where else can you claim such an amazing bargain? The weather’s looking pretty grim this weekend so we suggest you curl up on the sofa with your Kindle, a mug of hot chocolate, and a slice (or three) of cake and read, read, read. But if you can bear to wait a little longer, the paperback will be available from 22nd November although we hope it will appear for pre-order before then (watch this space!)

This afternoon, we partied online. This post was meant to be another reminder of it but, for some obscure reason, it didn’t post so I’m tweaking and re-posting! Thank you to everyone who joined in. If you want to see what we discussed, feel free to check it out but, please note, we’ve all staggered home with our bellies full of cake and cocktails so we won’t be able to participate in any more banter.

10733884_10205442784014952_4540159388851962023_oThank you to everyone who has supported us in this journey and thank you in advance to everyone who is going to download or buy (or both) a copy of Winter Tales. You really can make a difference to the lives of children with Cystic Fibrosis like Write Romantic Alys’s three-year-old nephew, Thomas, and those who are battling against cancer like Stephen Sutton whose story inspired us to pick Teenage Cancer Trust as our second charity.

Enjoy the read, thanks for your support, and let us know what you think of the stories. Because if you love them, we may do a summer one too … but perhaps in 2016 as this has been a long journey so far!

Jessica xx

Monday Interview – Lin Treadgold

Lin Treadgold is the author of ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’ set in Whitby in Yorkshire and on the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall. Lin has a husband and two grown-up children and has lived in The Netherlands since 2002, having previously travelled the world by sea with the Merchant Navy. Lin is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

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We know that, like us, you were formerly a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you were a member for, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?

I was inspired to write through early retirement. When I began writing ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’ the work had a different title and I’d never heard of the RNA or the New Writers’ Scheme. I was a complete newbie to writing although I’d studied a creative writing course in the 1980’s and allowed it to drift for ten years. I began writing again in 2004 and couldn’t stop! Three months, every day, for about four hours a day, I was unable to put it down; something was driving me on or driving me crazy! I wasn’t sure which. I suppose it was all the stress of leaving England to live in Holland and finding a new direction. I gave up my profession as a driver trainer and company proprietor to be with my husband for his job. The Dutch laws wouldn’t allow me to carry on teaching; I would have had to spend a lot of money taking my exams all over again in Holland, which to me, for many reasons, didn’t make sense.

I didn’t set out for my book to be a romance novel, it kind of happened that way, in fact, I didn’t know my genre at that time—I wrote it straight from my head to the computer. I think my training as a driving instructor gave me the skills to write in a logical sequence. Then someone suggested I should join the RNA. I checked the web site and thought it sounded like a good idea. I had a reasonable level of romantic element in the story, some adventure, tragedy, conflict, desire, and resolve, all key elements if you want to engage your readers. It seemed the RNA was able to help me push my dreams to a higher level and allow me to have a rod to measure my abilities as a writer. So I joined, received lots of help from the NWS, and five years later I have a published novel due out on 1st July. An incredible journey I suppose. A success for the RNA as well as for me.

Please can you tell us a bit about your journey so far, including how ‘The Call’ for Goodbye Henrietta Street with Safkhet publishing came about?

Reality is good. If you can be as realistic as possible in your writing then go for it. My recent reviewers tell me they love the realistic dialogue and well researched scenes in Goodbye, Henrietta Street.

I find new writers tend to concentrate on ‘the rules of writing’. My own golden rule in contemporary romance is to keep it natural, tell it how it is. Don’t use words that don’t really fit into the story or try being flowery in your prose only because that’s how novels are supposed to be written. Your own unique voice should be in there. It all helps if you can be a silent character in the book as you write it; stand on the street, watch the cars, see the main character about to step into danger and go— save her! Write the words as it happens. Don’t be pretentious in your writing; enjoy the moment. I think this is the essence of being you and allowing your voice to shine through. You can hide yourself within the storylines, watch and observe your characters’ movements, tell the story, and show the thoughts and feelings, be natural. It’s amazingly satisfying. One last word of advice – place a DO NOT DISTURB notice on the office door! The family will get used to it in time. It allows you to be in that special frame of mind. Get the hankies ready and feel the anger and pain of your characters. If you can taste the salt spray on your lips as you ride the waves on the boat that sails into the sunset, then you hope the readers will feel the same way.

When I completed the book, about six years later, I began to submit my work. The agents were often slow to respond and the publishers as well; it was very frustrating and at this point I felt quite alone. I used the W & A Yearbook to seek out publishers, and the internet to find those who were accepting the latest submissions. I read their guidelines very carefully, providing them with exactly what they asked for. I think, in total, I wrote about twenty five e-mails over about six months and to my surprise in the last month, I was accepted by three publishers, two of which I turned down, not suitable for my needs. Safkhet Publishing wanted to see more. I asked the questions; each answer ticked all the right boxes. The contract seemed normal and uncomplicated and I wanted a paperback version as well as digital; they said they could that for me.

Lin Ts book 2

The first rung of the ladder of author success is an important one, but it’s vital that you ask questions. Don’t be afraid to turn down a contract if it doesn’t seem to fit your expectations or you find yourself sucking in your breath with the complicated legal jargon when you read it! Get some help and advice before signing. Be brave.The next part of your journey perhaps involves more ‘out of your comfort zone’ tasks and what you don’t need is a publisher who will put all the work on to you because you signed a contract and didn’t realise what you were getting into. Don’t be afraid to ask all the right questions first! Safkhet do a lot for me and although I arrange my own book signings (which makes sense) they promote behind the scenes, blog tours, advertising, promotional materials etc and daily support as well as the editorial service and proofreading. The whole thing for me is about teamwork. With Safkhet I get all of those things. There will be bumps and scrapes on the way, because it’s all new, but expect it, and now I am at the stage where my book will be out soon and the really satisfying work begins.

What’s next for you, Lin, both with the forthcoming launch of your first novel and future project?

My book launch is on The Isles of Scilly in July with a live party at the local pub on St Mary’s. Bone Idol are singing sea shanties and the event is in collaboration with the local Wildlife Trust. Here is the link to my book tour. http://itslinhere.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/the-most-awesome-live-book-tour-ever/ I spent years dreaming of this day! Time and time again I’ve proven that you can be anything you want to be if you, wish it, dream it, and then do it!

Goodbye, Henrietta Street is a poignant romance set in 1986 with a wildlife theme. I had to do a lot of careful research to ensure that I didn’t offend any local people. There are only two thousand inhabitants on the islands, I felt it was safer to go back in time rather than present my readers with a cliché novel in the present era. So far I have been met with much enthusiasm because the book will make a small contribution toward the islands’ economy. I hope people will want to go there through reading the romantic story of Sven and Pippa and make people more aware of how fragile life can be in such a small community.

My next project is written in the era of 1976. It was inspired by a true story. When Jessica Stamp leaves home for a new job in the south of England, she finds herself residing on a commune where the people are living a lie and the area is hardly the place to find romance. Does the owner of the house really practice witchcraft? Will Jess manage to find love? What is Jonni the herdsman’s secret? I have a working title of The Wiccan of Dalewood, but all that could change by the time the book is complete. I have at least another six months of writing to do; it’s going well so far and most days I manage to complete more edits and improve the story line. I’m a ‘write it now and fix it later’ kind of person.

What are your dreams and aspirations as a writer, in terms of your long-term career?

As long as my health holds up I will keep writing books. I hope, like my favourite author, Annie Murray, that I will keep writing as long as I enjoy doing so. I was inspired by Mary Wesley’s The Chamomile Lawn. She began writing in her early seventies and had seven books published before she died. One of them was made into a TV series. I’m starting ten years earlier than she did, so there’s time for many more books. I have two more in progress at the moment. If you can be one jump ahead it helps.

What has been the single biggest benefit of joining the NWS, do you think?

It’s all about meeting like-minded people, networking, workshops, and going to conferences. The RNA has huge respect from most publishers and agents. I feel that being a member is like wearing your coat and scarf on a freezing cold day, you can’t do without them. They are a cosy organisation and most members are like family. I love the way they provide you with the support needed to understand the business of being an author. What I liked most with the NWS, are the professionally written reports, honest and very clear. Most of my reports over a four-year period were very helpful and positive; I couldn’t have got this far without them. Not all will be favourable, of course, and the last one I had, I didn’t feel that my reader was all that keen on the book. You can’t please everyone. As a new writer you have to realise that not every book will be provided with a wine and roses report. Be prepared to make changes and it doesn’t mean to say your book is to be thrown away. Carry on; in most cases it’s all subjective viewpoint, but take note and fix what you feel could be improved. I did that, listened, re-edited and after a while I realised they were right. I learned a lot from the authors who had a vast wealth of experience.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or any other advice you can offer?

Other than the usual ‘keep writing and don’t give up’ my personal advice would be that once you are ready to submit your work, you should learn as much as you can about the role of publishers and agents. Once you get a ‘’YES’ reply, you must know what will come next and how to deal with it and, of course, learn more about social networking. In today’s world you have to keep up with book promotion. If you attend the York Festival of Writing this September, there are loads of workshops to help you. All these events are so important in case your life changes overnight. Don’t sit at home thinking someone is going to do all this for you – you have to be prepared as a new author, to work hard to keep your book up there with the rest of them. With a small publisher, I like the idea of starting small and working up, because it provides me with the chance to learn at a pace I can handle. I wish all new writers success, keep asking questions, and get help along the way. Don’t hold back. I am very keen to help new writers and through my teaching and mentoring skills, I am always glad to support the newbies. Sometimes they just need some tender loving care, nothing more. As a driver and driving instructor, I was never allowed to forget that I was once a learner!

Thanks again for taking the time to share your story so far with us. The Write Romantics wish you every success for the future and we will be keeping a look out on the best seller lists for you!