DIDN’T WE HAVE A LOVELY TIME?

The venue for the RNA (Romantic Novelist’s Association) conference this year was at the Queen Mary University in Mile End, London, which has the very pretty Regent’s canal running through it and a really unusual Grade 2 Heritage old Jewish cemetery right in the middle of the campus.

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It was worth a photograph although it’s not looking the best this time of year as they wait for the bluebells to die back before they tackle the weeds.

As usual, by the time I arrived, hot and clueless as to where I was supposed to be, I was perspiring nicely, my fringe stuck to my forehead. Luckily I spotted another fellow RNA member who I recognised simply because the suitcase she dragged behind her looked, as it should, to contain three parts wine to two parts clothes. Yep, she was one of us!

Peaked a bit too soon on the first night as the excitement of meeting old and new friends made me guzzle wine from a glass that was topped up far too many times. Pretty sure it was made for Thumbelina though, not someone like me, so I probably didn’t have half as much as I thought (yeah, right!)

It was just SO lovely to see everyone- not one miserable face amongst us, although there were a few more sweaty ones, as we were all simmering nicely by the end of the evening.

Sweltered the night away in the Thumbelina sized bed. (are you getting a bit of a theme going on here? These beds are not made for barge arse ladies like me; they are made for starving students, as thin as Sheldon Cooper.)

My face the next morning, gave the game away, big time, that I’d had fun the night before. It didn’t really recover if I’m honest, but it did improve as the weekend went on and I soaked up the wonderful optimism of my RNA writer friends in what is a very tough market to crack.

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I was spellbound by the very lovely Hazel Gaynor who talked about promoting ourselves, scribbled totally illegible notes as Hazel Cushion from Accent Press told us what she was looking for in a best seller, and repeated Julie Cohen’s mantra to CELEBRATE finishing a novel, and that REPETITION IS DEATH to a novel. Again: REPETITION IS DEATH! She also likes Post It notes, apparently. Who knew!

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Had a catch up with the two other ‘Write Romantics’ at the Conference, Rachael Thomas and Helen Rolfe, while the lovely John Jackson prepared Champagne Cocktails for us from a Mary Poppins like bag, complete with sugar cubes and Angostura Bitters. We then headed off for the Gala Dinner in the spectacular Octagon Library welcomed once again by Eileen Ramsey.

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Everyone looked lovely in their best frocks although my dress remained resolutely in my suitcase, as once again it appeared to have been made for Thumbelina. No idea how it ended up in my suitcase, but hope it enjoyed its trip out to London.

The Elizabeth Gouge prize was won by Rae Cowie, who I met briefly at the conference; she seems a thoroughly nice person and deserved winner.

On the way home I was really touched as two young men asked if I wanted help with my case on the underground; they didn’t know I could have lifted it with one finger now the wine was gone. It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror that I realised they probably thought I was an ancient old crone, living on borrowed time.

Had a wonderful, though exhausting time, and think I only made two Faux Pas the whole weekend, which is pretty good for me. Also have a vague memory that I smoked a cigarette, but pretty sure I dreamed that and if anyone mentions it -ever, I will plead amnesia, and as all writers say- put you in my next book as a baddie with pongy breath and embarrassing personal habits.

Jackie Ladbury

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Book Group: Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

Shallow Waters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reviewing books had never been my forte, so this will only be a short review. I love to read and it’s the one thing I miss since becoming a published writer. I have such tight deadlines now that it leaves me very little time to read like I used to do every single day of the week.

However this month I had to find the time to read a book for this blog and I’m so glad that I did.

I chose to read Shallow Waters by Rebecca Bradley

It is a crime book of the highest degree and I would compare it along the lines of some of my favourite crime writers who have been writing for years.

The story follows DI Hannah Robbins and her team in the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, I was drawn into the story from page one and it just kept pulling me in. It is very well written, the story flows seamlessly and it was very, very believable.

This is the blurb from Amazon: When the naked, battered body of an unidentified teenager is found dumped in an alleyway, post-mortem finds evidence of a harrowing series of events.

Another teenage death with the same MO pushes DI Hannah Robbins and her team in the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, to their limits, and across county borders. In a race against the clock, they attempt to unpick a thick web of lies and deceit to uncover the truth behind the deaths.

But it doesn’t stop there.

When catching a killer isn’t enough, just how far are the team willing to push themselves to save the next girl?

It was hard hitting, page turning, thought provoking and heartbreaking. A fantastic read.

Next month is the turn of the very lovely Helen Rolfe who will be reviewing The Miniaturist by Jessie Barton.

Helen Phifer

 

Holiday! by Helen J Rolfe

2014 saw my return to the UK from Australia, and December was the most magical month. With the lead up to Christmas from the cold and the dark, to the twinkly lights and the preparation of all the food, I couldn’t get enough of a cold Christmas. But now …

I REALLY NEED A HOLIDAY!  relaxing

What I’d really like is for someone else to plan a holiday for me – do all the booking, the shopping for everything I need, then just tell me where to be and when and I’ll love every minute. But of course, it doesn’t happen that easily.

I’ve already started to think about where to go and when, because this year of course, we are in the Northern Hemisphere so it’s all a little different. Do we head down to Cornwall for a week and relax at the British seaside, avoiding airports and passport control? Or, do we go all cultural and head over to Europe – Paris perhaps? Or should we make it all about the kids and go to Center Parcs or Eurocamp?

Now can you see why I’d like to outsource the job of the planning to someone else?

Thinking about holidays this year has brought back some memories of holidays that have stuck in my mind, so I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you. I may inspire you to try something different, I may inspire myself to get something booked and quick…but most of all I hope that you enjoy reading about my three most memorable holidays:

Florida – the good old U.S.A

In May 1997 I went with a group of five friends to Florida. It always stands out in my mind as the most memorable holiday because we got to watch the shuttle launch of Atlantis. We’d visited the Kennedy Space Center days before and saw the shuttle on the launch pad, but the excitement didn’t really kick in until the launch itself.

From memory it was four o’clock in the morning and as the countdown began over the loudspeaker – “T minus 10 seconds…t minus 9 seconds…” that was when I knew I was about to see something amazing. As the shuttle left its Launchpad the entire sky lit up … it was something that I’ll never forget. I just wish it had been in the days of Facebook and I could’ve shared the moment with everyone!

Hamilton Island, The Whitsundays 

I went to Hamilton Island three times so it felt right to include it in list.

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Hamilton Island is one of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, Australia. What I love about the island is that it feels like an escape from everything, yet if you want it to be, it can be action-packed and exciting.

There are no cars on the island except a few vehicles for transporting passengers to and from the airport, delivering goods to the hotels. To get around you either walk or hire a golf buggy. We did both but the buggy was so much fun when we decided to take it a bit easier! There’s a freedom zipping around in the sunshine and in all that fresh air that is difficult to replicate anywhere else, and we spent the week snorkelling, eating at amazing restaurants, and just escaping reality for a little while.hol3

I also made the most of the balcony and the view over the Coral Sea. I curled up with a good book more times than I can remember 🙂

 

 

 

Center Parcs, UK

In 2011, on a visit from Australia, I met my brother and his family and my parents at Center Parcs. I’d never been anywhere like it before…hiring bikes, swimming every day, cooking barbecues outside our chalets.

This sort of holiday came without the hassles of passports and airline tickets, without the delays at the airport and the fear of lost luggage. Center Parcs was so organised and I left after four days feeling tired, but a happy tired. It was a real getaway and all that fresh air a blessing. There’s so much to do there for kids and adults.

So… tempted by any of the ideas above for a holiday? We’d love to hear all about your favourite holiday, or your worse – if you dare to share. I must admit I’m close to booking Center Parcs, although I’ve heard Eurocamp is pretty amazing too.

Let the investigations begin!

Helen R 🙂

 

Fab Friday announcement – we have a winner!

As regular readers of the blog will know, November will see the release date of The Write Romantics and Friends’ anthology in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.  If you haven’t already heard about this exciting project, you can read all about it on our anthology page.

winter3We’ve been running a competition to come up with a title for the anthology and we were delighted to receive over thirty entries.  There were some really creative names amongst the suggestions and they had us all thinking about cosying up in front of a roaring log fire – yes, even in August!

Our eventual winner was a title of elegant simplicity with a link to the literary king of them all, William Shakespeare.  After much deliberation, and a gentle debate over whether to include an apostrophe or not, we had our title and tagline:

Winter Tales” – stories to warm your heart

The winner of the competition was the lovely Liz Berry from Crawley in West Sussex, pictured here with a backdrop more like toLiz Berry bring summer to mind, and a £20 Amazon voucher is winging its way to her as we speak.

Please do support the anthology if you can.  It will be available as an e-book and in paperback from November and very soon we will be having our next big announcement – The Cover Reveal!

Thanks again to everyone who took part and who has supported us so far.  You’re all winners in our eyes.

Mega Monday Announcement – A Write Romantic Competition

Thomas1Christmas is Coming!  Okay, well there are 212 days to go, but The Write Romantics announced recently that we will be releasing a winter and Christmas themed anthology in November to raise funds for two incredibly worthwhile causes. The charities are the Teenage Cancer Trust, in memory of Stephen Sutton, a young man who stole all of our hearts, and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. We chose the CF Trust because of another gorgeous young man called Thomas, who is Write Romantic Alex’s nephew.Thomas2

Alex tells us not to be fooled by the pictures – although Thomas might look angelic, he can be a cheeky monkey too when he puts his mind to it! As you can see, Thomas spends far more time than he should not being well enough to let that cheeky side really shine through, which is why we think the CF Trust is such a wonderful cause, in how it strives to help children like Thomas and fund research into this horrible disease.

Winter1The Write Romantics have been absolutely thrilled by the support we have received so far with the anthology and Carol Cooper, who is the Sun Newspaper’s GP and wrote the fabulous One Night at the Jacaranda, which is a finalist in the 2014 Indie Excellence Awards, has agreed to write the introduction for us. We will also be joined by the following guest writers, who span a range of genres from romance, via fantasy to thrillers and back again!

 

  • Rhoda Baxter (author of Dr January)
  • Jennie Bohnet (author of Shadows of Conflict)
  • Sharon Booth (author of soon to be released There Must Be An Angel)
  • Kerry Fisher (author of The School Gate Survival Guide)
  • Linda Huber (author of The Paradise Trees)
  • Sarah Lewis (author of soon to be released My Eighties memoir)
  • Annie Lyon (author of Not Quite Perfect)
  • Zanna Mackenzie (author of If You Only Knew)
  • Holly Martin (author of The Guest Book)
  • Alison May (author of Much Ado About Sweet Nothing)
  • Terri Nixon (author of Maid of Oaklands Manor)
  • Sarah Painter (author of The Language of Spells)
  • Liv Thomas (co-author as Isabella Connor of Beneath an Irish Sky)
  • Samantha Tongue (author of Doubting Abbey)

We also owe a huge thanks to Mark Heslington, Write Romantic Julie’s super talented husband who has shared these three great winter themed photos with us and will be producing both the cover art for the book and taking care of the type-setting.  The anthology will also be the debut release of The Write Romantic Press.

winter4We can’t thank our lovely guests enough and the anthology will also showcase the work of the nine Write Romantics with everything from short stories to flash fiction and perhaps even a bit of Pam Ayres style poetry! So how can you get involved? Well, obviously you can buy the book when it comes out, getting a great read, packed with stories from the impressive list of writers we have on board, but you can also enter our competition. The Write Romantics are looking for a name for our anthology, so we invite you to send in your suggestions to thewriteromantics@hotmail.co.uk

IMG_0671Write Romantic Jo will be co-ordinating the entries and the rest of the WRs will then judge the entries blind, with Jo retaining the Simon Cowell vote in the event of a tie! The full terms and conditions will be sent out to you on entering the contest and the prize is in two parts, the first is a £20 voucher for Amazon and the second will be a mention of your contribution in the acknowledgements section of the book. The closing date for entries is 31 August 2014.  So please start sending those ideas for a title in and look out for more announcements about the anthology coming your way soon.