Friday, June 27, 2014

Welcome to Author Kathryn Freeman.

Kathryn is a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.

With two teenage boys and a husband who huffs at buying a Valentine’s Day card, any romance is all in her head. As Kathryn says, ‘his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn't always about hearts and flowers - and heroes come in many disguises’.

Thank you for having me on the RNA blog – it’s been a pleasure to answer your varied and interesting questions.

Being a writer can be a lonely occupation. What do you do to escape the house and meet other writers and how do you relax? 
I’m sure being a writer can be lonely for some, but not in my household! In between juggling my ‘other job’ (a self- employed medical writer) and providing a taxi and catering service to my teenage boys I use most of my spare moments to write. I love interacting with fellow writers on social media and meeting them at the RNA parties. As for relaxation, I run, swim or play tennis most mornings (well, maybe not relaxing, but it takes me off my backside for a while!). I also read – a lot.

I see you’ve been published in ebook and paperback. What do you prefer and why? 
As a reader – an ebook. I can buy one at the click of a button, try lots of new writers without breaking the bank and easily fit a library of books into my handbag.
As a writer – a paperback. That moment when I held my first paperback book, with my name on it, for the very first time. Priceless.

Your first book, Too Charming, is set in the world of the law and your latest book, Do Opposites Attract, involves a medical charity. Did you need to do much research for these and how did you do this? 
For the last twenty odd years I’ve worked in the pharmaceutical industry and much of my role involved researching medicines and disease. Admittedly the research I do for my books – law, refugee camps, motorsport (see final question) – is more varied and more interesting but it involves the same process. It’s mainly internet based but I also seek out friends (or friends of friends!) who have an involvement in the area and fire questions at them – then bribe them to read the manuscript and sense check it.

You have a very good website. How important do you feel it is for authors to have a presence in the world of social media? 
If you’d asked me this a year ago I’d have said yes, it was probably important but my heart would have sunk because I really didn’t know what it entailed. A year on I’m getting to grips with blogs and Facebook and Twitter (and yes, often I’m really enjoying it, too!) and my answer is that it’s not probably important, it’s vital. I only wished I’d begun it all years ago.

Agent or Publisher? What is your preferred route to publishing? 
I didn’t have a preferred route – I submitted my manuscript to both and crossed all fingers and toes. I was lucky enough to be picked up directly by Choc Lit and haven’t looked back since.

I see that you have written short stories. How do you find this in relation to writing novels? Do you see yourself writing more short stories? 
Give me a novel to write, any day. I think short stories are a real art form and I so admire writers who seem to be able to effortlessly produce them. For me, developing characters and a cracking story line in under 3,000 words is a real challenge. While I’m happy to accept that challenge now and again (Choc Lit are putting together an anthology for summer), I don’t think you’ll ever find a book of short stories by Kathryn Freeman.

Would you ever write under another name? 
Yes, if I wrote a different style. I’m not sure I ever will – my head seems full of contemporary romance (note, my head, not my life!) – but you never know.

What’s next for Kathryn Freeman, Author? 
My second novel, Do Opposites Attract is out in July – though the ebook is available now. I also have a novella, Life After, out later this year and then next year hopefully a book close to my heart – a romance set in the pharmaceutical industry. No research required! My work in progress involves a racing car hero – on my desk is a well-thumbed volume of Formula One for Dummies.

Amazon book links:  

RNA blog posts are brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

We are currently seeking articles on the craft of writing. Contact us on if you would like to write something for the blog.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Chatting to Ian Skillicorn of Corazon Books

Today we are pleased to welcome Ian Skillicorn to the blog. Ian is going to tell us about the Sophie King Prize and the accompanying anthology. Welcome, Ian.

The Sophie King Prize was launched in 2012, to support new romance short story writing, by both published and previously unpublished writers. As a prolific short story writer, and writing tutor, Sophie is a long-time champion of short stories. For my own part, I've been involved with the form for many years - as an audio producer and publisher, and as the founder of National Short Story Week. The Sophie King Prize seemed to us the perfect opportunity to showcase new writing in a form we are both passionate about. We have also been fortunate to have support from the online luxury gift catalogue The Handpicked Collection, which has sponsored the prizes for the competition for the past two years.

Sophie and I have both been thrilled with the enthusiastic response from writers to The Sophie King Prize; last year we had entries not only from the UK, but also from continental Europe, the USA, New Zealand and Japan, among other countries. Some of the short-listed entrants are members of the RNA, including Johanna Grassick and Mary Lally. In fact, the standard of the entries was so high we felt that the best stories really deserved to get as wide a readership as possible, so Corazon Books has recently published an anthology of the top 10 stories (now available as an ebook, with a print edition coming in early August).

Johanna says of her own story, Rum Truffle, about a young widow called Katie: "My inspiration came from thinking about anniversaries and how they’re not always a time for celebration. They can be a link with the past and sometimes make it difficult for people to move forward. But even after a great loss like Katie’s, life goes on, and romance is at the heart of that. Also, I visited the pretty Cheshire village of Nantwich (which has some lovely cafés), and I wanted to write a story which involved cake! This will be my first published piece and I’m thrilled to be part of the anthology. Sophie King is a well-known and respected member of the RNA. The fact that she singled out my work means a lot to me."

Sophie says: "I picked those stories that surprised me and also left a lovely warm feeling. A bit like a love affair, really …"

Organising the competition, reading the entries, editing and publishing the anthology, and working with a talented group of writers, has been a real pleasure. I hope readers will enjoy these great romance stories, and that even more writers will be inspired to enter this year's Sophie King Prize, which opens during National Short Story Week - 17th to 23rd November 2014.

 Ian Skillicorn
Corazon Books

Love is All You Need: Meet 10 women, from different places, backgrounds and times, and each with a different experience of men and romance. Their stories in turn hold the promise of romance, reflect on finding love, or show the lengths we'll go to for the special person in our lives. An anthology of stories which are funny, thought-provoking, and thrilling, with characters you'll empathise with as they discover that ... Love is All You Need.
 Stories by Alyson Hilbourne, Yvonne Eve Walus, Johanna Grassick, Pauline Watson, Melanie Whipman, Linda Triegel, Laurel Osterkamp, Helen Yendall, Mary Lally, Sherri Turner.
Thank you, Ian.
This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to write a piece for the blog about your own writing or the craft of writing please contact us on

Friday, June 20, 2014

Love and emotion in an alternative environment

Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternative history thrillers with strong heroines. A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. Both INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, which was also shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award, and PERFIDITAS, the second in series, have been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion.  Alison’s third book SUCCESSIO came out in June 2014.

Alternative history stories are based on the concept of the standard historical timeline splitting and going off in a different direction. In Kate Johnson’s The UnTied Kingdom her heroine’s adventures are set in a dystopian England that has developed into a war-riven and disintegrating state.  My own story’s timeline split in AD 395 in the Roman dusk when dissidents founded a new city state with Roman value systems but a feminist twist.


As an early survival strategy, women in the imaginary Roma Nova ran social, political and economic life based on family and tribal lines while men fought to defend the fledgling state. In the end, daughters and sisters had to put on armour and take up weapons. Fighting danger side by side with brothers and fathers to defend their homeland and their way of life reinforced women’s roles through the centuries.  More at
In the 21st century, women in Roma Nova head families and organisations. Men marry into women’s families and inheritance is through the female line. And of course, a woman can take on any job, profession or task suitable to her talents and inclination...

How do heroine and hero meet in this setting? Is it through work, a family crisis, an inheritance, at a party or in dangerous, even criminal circumstances? Are they thrown together by an event, forced to work together by a third party or happy to meet? Any of these can happen, so plenty of room here for the personal and emotional conflict you typically find in romantic stories. So far, so normal.


But in Roma Nova, the complicating layer and additional dynamic for conflict is the social structure. My heroine belongs to a powerful family while her hero is a few steps further down the social food chain. But in their professional life as Praetorian officers, he is her superior in rank. They work hard to keep these two aspects separate but, of course, one day it all explodes in their faces.


Women in this society are used to making the decisions and leading action, but don’t lose their essential feminine nature; they just don’t feel limited by it. Writing this is not always straightforward; I sometimes catch myself writing ‘through the male gaze’ and switch the gender roles, thoughts and dialogue in my head to readjust. Try it sometime with your own writing. You may be fascinated by the result!

However alien or unfamiliar the setting, our characters must act and react like real people. In essence, we have to root for them, flinch with them and celebrate with them. Human beings of all ages and cultures have similar emotional needs, hurts and joys. Sometimes, they're expressed differently in an alienating or (to us) peculiar way. But a romantic relationship, whether as painful as in The Remains of the Day or as instant as Colonel Brandon when he sees Marianne in Sense and Sensibility or the careful but intense relationship of Eve Dallas and Roarke in J D Robb’s Death series set in 2057 New York, binds us into their stories.


Whether the story is pure romance, historical, paranormal or suspense, the core emotional relationship must resonate with readers and link with their own actual or wished for experiences. They want to smile and sigh at the heroine’s and hero’s tender moments and agonise when they argue or misunderstand each other. Readers love to watch the growth in commitment to each other, the characters’ realisation that they are made for each other, the bonds that hold them whatever else happens in the rest of their lives.  In my latest book, SUCCESSIO, the heroine and hero’s relationship is strained to breaking point. I was agonised writing it. Whether it snaps, you’ll have to read it to find out!


Connect with Alison on her blog
Twitter @alison-morton

Amazon universal buying link:

RNA blog posts are brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

We are currently seeking articles on the craft of writing. Contact us on if you would like to write something for the blog.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES: Organising the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards

After a fabulous evening spent at the recent Romantic Novel of the Year event we began to wonder how such talented authors became part of the short list and what was involved in the judging system.
We spoke to the four ladies who know about such things.

Pam Fudge (PF) is the outgoing organiser of the Romantic Novel of the Year and Nicola Cornick (NC) is the incoming organiser.
Chris Stovell (CS) is the outgoing RoNA Rose organiser with Tracy Hartshorn (TH) the new organiser.

Thank you, ladies for finding times in you busy schedules to answer our questions. Apologies for there being so many. It is an interesting subject that many of our members will be interested in reading.

What is the difference between the RoNA’s and the RoNA Rose?
CS: The RoNA Rose Award celebrates shorter/category fiction, for example Harlequin Mills & Boon or My Weekly Pocket Novels.  Entries may be modern, period or historical but the main focus must be on the central romantic relationship.  There is a minimum word length of 30,000 words.

PF: The categories for the RoNA’s are:
Romantic Comedy for romantic novels that are humorous or amusing
Contemporary for romantic novels set after 1960
Epic for romantic novels containing for grittier fiction including sagas/multi-generational
Historical for romantic novels set in a period before 1960
Young Adult for romantic novels where the main characters are teenagers/young adults.

It is the publishers who decide which category each book is entered for not the organiser – unless the book is entered by the author, in which case the author will decide

 Who reads the books during judging?

 PF: Each book is sent out to three readers. The readers are volunteers and members of the general public, not members of the RNA. Shortlisted books are read by RNA members who have no vested interest in that category or book. The winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year is then selected from the category winners by an independent panel of judges.

CS: A gallant and very hard-working panel of voluntary readers, spanning a variety of age groups and occupations, who do not belong to the Romantic Novelist’s Association

NC: The books go out initially to a reading panel. Three independent judges read and score each book. Those books that are awarded the highest scores then go through to the fourth round judging before the final judges make their choice of the Romantic Novel of the Year.

Can anyone apply to be a reader?

 PF: Anyone can apply to be a reader – as long as they do not belong to the RNA and they reside in the UK (because of the cost of postage)

TH: Readers can be from any walk of life, but they cannot be members of the RNA. This ensures there’s no bias towards RNA members who enter.

 NC: We welcome applications from anyone who reads and enjoys romantic fiction and can undertake to read the books within six weeks and exercise unbiased judgement. That said, members of the RNA cannot be readers in order to avoid any suggestion of a conflict of interest. It’s important that the whole process is seen to be fair and we pride ourselves on the rigorous nature of the judging. There is a reader application form here, for anyone who would be interested in joining the team:

 How many readers are there?

 PF: I was dealing with the RoNA books and I had a list of 100 readers

NC: I currently have over ninety readers standing by!

CS: For the 2014 RoNA Rose Award there were initially 21 readers, a good number, but bear in mind that these are unpaid volunteers with busy lives and differing tastes. One of my readers, for example, had been recently bereaved and requested not to be sent stories with medical themes. Some readers prefer historical novels, others contemporary. It was very important to me to be sensitive to the readers whilst doing my utmost to make sure that all entrants were judged on a fair and level basis.

Do you receive many entries?

PF: During my year I received 156 entries and, in spite of the work load, it was encouraging to see so many published books when authors are constantly told that books aren’t getting published!

CS: After a slow start, a total of 49 entries was received from 24 authors.  Many entries were not submitted until the last weeks of the competition.  Some were late because authors were waiting for copies, but, in some cases, authors needed a little encouragement to enter!

NC: I’m waiting to see! As this is my first year organising the RoNA it’s all a new experience for me, but as it’s such a well-known and prestigious award I’m prepared for a lot of interest in it.

How many times is each book read?

TH: In the first instance, the books are read by three readers. Then if a book is shortlisted, it goes to a fourth reader.

PF: The category winning books are read by a panel of independent judges who decide the overall winner of Romantic Novel of The Year

How many copies of each book does the entrant submit?

TH: They have to submit four copies of their books.
PF: The entrant – usually the publisher but sometimes the author – submits the four copies of each book

How do you cope with your home and writing life while juggling entries and arranging readers?

CS: Most of the time it was fine, but the volume of late entries meant that some readers were disappointed not to have books for their summer holidays, others were busy in September starting courses or otherwise occupied once their children returned to school. This did require some juggling and meant that organising the RONA Rose took first priority over everything else.

TH: It’s my first year organising the competition (though I was scorekeeper last year), so I’m still learning how to do this, but so far it’s going okay. I try and put by half an hour to an hour a day to deal with RoNA Rose admin, but I expect that time to rise when I have to start posting out books to readers and collating scores. Like with all things, this will be much busier towards the end, as last minute entries are coming in and we’re chasing up readers for scores.

PF: Luckily I live alone and I’m my own boss. During the busiest time – which was pretty much June through to December – my dining room was full of boxes of books. When I was actually sending books out to readers – which was constantly - my dining table was lined with piles of books all in their specific categories. There were two of us packing five books per parcel, each book was sent together with the appropriate score sheet. We worked from check sheets to ensure there were no mistakes made. I gave up trying to write at all during the busy months!

Also, I live on the coast of west Wales, a pretty far-flung part of the world, so the nearest post office is a car drive away and attending RNA committee meetings means a minimum of two, sometimes three days away from home because of the constraints of public transport here. However, I’d taken this into consideration before accepting the role and I wanted to give a bit back to the RNA.

NC: I’ve tried to be as organised in advance as I can be, setting aside time each day to deal with emails from readers and publishers, answer all the queries and do the paperwork. It reminds me of my time as NWS Organiser when I almost disappeared under a huge pile of manuscripts, only this time it’s a pile of books! Still, there are worse ways to go…

Are there times you wished you’d taken up knitting instead of organising such a prestigious competition?

PF: It was a steep learning curve and I really had no idea what I was letting myself in for when I took on the role of RoNA Organiser. The scale of work involved is huge and it is a massive responsibility. Luckily I was used to working with spreadsheets and that made life easier when it came to keeping track of the books coming in and going out, plus the scores. It takes over your life. However I did enjoy the contact with authors, publishers and readers.

 TH: There were certainly times when I was doing the scorekeeping last year that I wished I’d taken up knitting. The problem is getting people to do what you need them to do in the time you need them to do it. We appreciate that everyone is very busy, but becoming a reader is a big commitment, so I would suggest that anyone wanting to be a reader for the competitions makes sure they have the time and energy to devote to the competition. We’ve had people agree to read then say ‘But I’m going on holiday for (whatever time frame we needed to get the books back in!)’

CS: I had a few sleepless nights because I took my role as RoNA Rose Organiser very seriously and didn’t want to let anyone down

NC: I haven’t got to that stage yet but I have a sneaking suspicion it will have its stressful moments!

 How do you manage to work on your own novels whilst liaising between entrants and readers?

 PF: I actually stopped working on the book I was writing because it became impossible to get into any sort of routine because you never knew when books were going to arrive or how many. I got to know the postman and various delivery drivers by name!

 TH: It takes some discipline, but it is doable. The trick is to give yourself permission to wait to deal with the comp entries, and do your own writing first. At least that’s how I’m doing it this time. So in the morning I write, and in the afternoon I deal with RoNA Rose admin. This is easy because my post doesn’t come till around noon anyway. But I’m always arranging the RNA Parties so I’ve no idea how this is going to work when they overlap in November when it’s time to work out the shortlist and I also have to finish last minute party details. Like many committee members, I do more than one job in the organisation. Somehow it all works out.

CS: Well, my third novel, Follow A Star, has just been published so I did manage it… just!

NC: It’s already been quite tricky as the preparation for the award process does keep the organiser busy. I try to protect my writing time by allocating specific periods of time to it and not being tempted to read and respond to my emails etc until I’ve met my word count. Everyone who has a busy job or other commitments knows how tricky that can be!

How is each book judged?

CS:  Readers are sent a selection of up to five books and asked to read and judge them according to the score sheet. The Romantic Novel Awards are awards for excellence and the winning novel should reflect this.  Readers are reminded that they should try not to be biased one way or the other by big names.  They’re asked to consider whether or not love and romance is a major theme in the novel.  Is it a good read?  Is the writing of a high standard?  In short they’re asked to be critical in their approach so that it’s the outstanding books which reach the short list.

TH: Each book is sent to three readers, who are given a score sheet. They score based on characters, dialogue, setting, plot, romantic element etc, and each book can potentially earn 500 points in all. They can also earn minus points too! Then the first three sets of scores are added together, and the six books in each category that scores the most goes to a fourth read. Then all four scores are added together, and we should get one book that scores the most.

Where can we find the rules?

NC: The rules can be downloaded from the RNA website:

 I’m also happy to send out a copy to anyone who is interested and would like to email me on

How much does it cost to enter and does the publisher or the author pay the entry fee?

CS: There’s an administrative fee as follows:

Entries by publishers — £15 per book, irrespective of whether author is RNA member 
Entries by agent or author — £15 per book where author is RNA member
Entries by agent or author — £65 per book where author is NOT an RNA member

Rona Rose:
Entries by publishers — £10 per book, irrespective of whether author is RNA member
Entries by agent or author — £10 per book where author is RNA memberEntries by agent or author — £60 per book where author is NOT an RNA member.

What happens at the Awards event?
TH: It’s a very glitzy, enjoyable event, where we can all dress up and eat canapés. There’s generally a celebrity prize giver. In the past we’ve used Richard and Judy and the glorious Darcey Bussell. The shortlists are read out, and then the winners announced and everyone goes away feeling very smiley and happy, even if they don’t win.

PF: The shortlisted authors will know who they are and the event commences with a photo call for the shortlisted authors in each category. Following the meal the winner in each of the categories – including the RoNA Rose category – is announced and they each collect their trophy (this year from Darcey Bussell) before the winner of the Romantic Novel of the Year is announced.

NC: Its years since I’ve been to the Awards event and I am looking forward to next year’s ceremony very much indeed!

Is there a prize?
NC: There is a trophy for each category winner and a special trophy for the overall winners, plus a cheque for £5000.

PF: There was a trophy and £5,000 cheque for this year’s Romantic Novel of the Year winner, Veronica Henry, with her novel A Night on the Orient Express and a £1,000 cheque for the RoNA Rose winner, Kate Hardy.

Thank you, ladies for answering our questions in so much detail.

If you have a question for the organisers of the awards please add it to the comment section below and it will be answered.

This blog was brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleimman.

Friday, June 13, 2014

America Calling: Radio Ga Ga in the USA

We are thrilled to welcome, author Hazel Gaynor who tells us of her experiences with American radio.

 It’s 8.20pm on 14th April. My phone rings. My heart starts to race. I’ve been waiting for the call all day - my first live radio interview, with a station in Seattle. Ten minutes later, it is all over and a bit of a blur. I think I sounded reasonably sane. I managed not to swear. The kids didn’t interrupt me. One down, nineteen to go.

Two weeks earlier, my debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME – A Novel of the Titanic had been published in America. Full book-promo mode kicked in: guest posts, interviews, reviews, giveaways and, most unexpectedly, a U.S. radio tour, came my way.
It started with an email from my publicist: ‘Would you be up for a radio tour to promote the book?’ Would I what?! I expected a slot on one or two shows. It turned out to be twenty shows, spanning the entire U.S of A. Gulp!
Most of the interviews were scheduled for 15th April to coincide with the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. Most were live on air. Some were pre-recorded. I chatted to energetic morning show hosts (like the alarmingly-named, but ever-so-lovely, Bulldog) and had more serious conversations with hosts like Cindy Wolfe Boynton at Literary New England. I spoke about my characters, Titanic, research, the writing process and my cat. I even managed to get in a song request for my children.
Promoting my debut novel live on air was a strange and wonderful experience. Now that I’ve had chance to reflect, here’s a little of what I’ve learnt …
1) The phone will work. It won’t inexplicably break, just because you’re expecting important calls from America. You don’t need to keep checking the dial tone (although, of course, you will).
2) No matter how quiet you ask the kids to be while they play Hobbits downstairs, real life carries on outside. The ice cream van will blare out ‘Pop goes the Weasel’, the neighbour will cut his grass and someone will call the fire brigade. All you can do is cringe, close the window and hope America can’t hear.
3) At least once, you’ll forget the question. Good idea to scribble them down as they are asked in case you go off on a tangent, or have a ‘Hobbit’ unexpectedly appear and distract you.
4) Listen to live streaming before you go on air. Every show is different. While you are prepared to talk knowledgeably about Titanic and your novel, you may find the host wants to chat about gin, Jägermeister and your cat. Really – they might.
5) Stand up when you’re talking and walk around. Someone once advised me to do this when I worked in an office and had a difficult phone call to make. It works.

6) Give the title of your book – preferably several times. Saying ‘my novel’ won’t help people identify it when they go to buy it.
7) Don’t be put off by the sixteen members of your family you’ve invited round for Good Friday lunch (yes, it really happened). They’ll threaten to start heckling after they’ve drunk all your Prosecco, but you must remain professional at all times – i.e. retreat to the attic and ignore them.
8) Keep an eye on the time, or set a stopwatch. Ten minutes passes very quickly. Make your point and don’t overrun. The stations work to tight schedules (and you have guests to feed, remember).
9) Keep a note of the host’s name. You don’t want to thank Tom when you are now talking to Bonnie. This is easily done when you have back-to-back segments and a ‘Hobbit’ hiding under the desk.
10) Have an extra bottle of Prosecco in the fridge for when it is all over and you can collapse in a deck chair in the garden.
If you’d like to hear the interviews, visit my website where I’ve posted a selection of podcasts. I’m also thrilled to be speaking at the 2014 RNA Summer Conference on ‘Romance and Disaster: Love and the Titanic’ and look forward to meeting lots of you there!

Hazel x

About Hazel:
Hazel Gaynor is a novelist and freelance writer. Her debut novel THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME – A Novel of the Titanic was published by William Morrow (HarperCollins) in the U.S, UK and Ireland in April 2014. Hazel is also a guest blogger and features writer for  Originally from Yorkshire, she now lives in Ireland with her husband, two children and an accident-prone cat. 

Twitter: @HazelGaynor

Amazon page: The Girl Who Came Home

Thank you Hazel

RNA blog posts are brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

We are currently seeking articles on the craft of writing. Contact us on if you would like to write something for the blog.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

New Writers Scheme and Beyond

Today we welcome Natalie Kleinman who is going to tell us about her graduation from the New Writers Scheme

Welcome Natalie.

You are a graduate of the RNA’s New Writers Scheme. Why did you decide to join the scheme?
I was very lucky to be a student of The Write Place where I was pointed in the right direction. Frankly I didn’t have a clue! At the designated time in January 2013 I emailed my application and I have nothing but good things to say about the RNA and its NWS.

Did you find the report from your reader helpful?
Immensely helpful and very encouraging. You can imagine how I felt when I read. ‘Your ability with dialogue is excellent’.

How long after receiving the report did you send your book out into the big wide world?
There were edits to do, naturally, but not huge changes to make. I fired it off pretty quickly.

How did you find your publisher?
Again I have The Write Place to thank. Safkhet was just one of the publishers on a list that was made available to the students. Submission was by email and I was offered a contract within a week

I understand you attended the Conference at Sheffield last year. Would you recommend it to new members of the RNA?
Without a moment’s hesitation. I learned so much in that one weekend, knowledge that has been invaluable. I would recommend it to anyone aspiring to be published.

How about RNA chapters? Do you attend one? What do you gain from your chapter?
I attend the London and Southeast Chapter as often as I can, which is most meetings. Unfortunately I can’t make the next one as I have a wedding to go to. People are so inconsiderate aren’t they?

I suppose I’d better ask about the parties. Great or Fabulous?
Both. People are so helpful and welcoming that after my first party in the summer of 2013, when I went with my ‘comfort group’, I had enough confidence to attend the winter party on my own as they had something else arranged for that evening. Glass in hand, naturally, I moved into a hall so teeming with people there was barely room to stand. At first I only recognised one person…but that was enough. I was taken by the hand, literally, and introduced first to one member, then another, then…

How important is your relationship with your publisher?
It’s very important. While there is necessarily the business side of things to deal with, it’s been a joy to liaise with people who have a wonderful off the wall sense of humour that I can relate to and which frankly suits me down to the ground.

Your book, Voyage of Desire was published two weeks ago. You must be busy with promotions? Is this important and how are you coping?
I had a lovely time organising an online ‘launch’ party (sorry about the pun) on Facebook and am at present in the middle of a blog tour. How am I coping? A year ago I would have had no conception of the amount of work and time involved in promoting a novel. Had I done so I might have headed for the hills. I’m so glad I didn’t. I’m enjoying every moment and have been privileged to meet new people and make new friends. I’m overwhelmed by how supportive other writers have been, helping to promote me on Facebook, tweeting and retweeting. So yes, it’s been important both in terms of raising my profile and affirming my faith in human nature.

Would you encourage new writers to join the RNA New Writer Scheme?
Unreservedly! I have never wanted to go the self-publishing route and there is no question in my mind that without the RNA and its wonderful scheme I would not yet be published. It was wonderful, too, to graduate in my first year.

So, what’s next for Natalie Kleinman, author and RNA member?
I am fortunate enough to have a People’s Friend pocket novel, Secret Love, (DC Thomson) hitting the newsagents and supermarkets shelves on 17th July. In the meantime I have dug out a manuscript from my bottom drawer and am in the process of rewriting my first book – different point of view, different hero, same basic story. It was written four years ago and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned in that time. I almost put it back in the drawer but I do so like a challenge.
Thank you, Natalie.



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