Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FOCUS ON: Irish Chapter

What a delight to welcome the newly formed Irish Chapter to the series. Ruth Long was kind enough to answer our questions.

How long has your chapter been running?
Our first ever meeting was on 9th April 2016. We met in the Mint Bar, downstairs in the Westin Hotel on Westmoreland Street, Dublin.

How often do you plan to meet?
We hope to meet quarterly. This is going to be fairly flexible however as we have members from all over the island and would like to accommodate as many as possible.

Where is your regular meeting place?
For the same reason, we hope to meet in different locations. Rather than make the same people travel the longest distances all the time, we’d like to mix things up a bit. Also there is the fun of visiting different places to see friends.

How many members attend your meetings?
There were 9 of us at the first meeting, but we now have 23 members on our Facebook group. It’s growing all the time as RNA members and friends join. We’re all writers, all at different stages and it’s a great way to offer support to each other. Hopefully there will be more of us at the next meeting.

Do your meetings include a meal?
Yes. We love food. It could be finger food, afternoon tea or a sit down lunch, whatever the individual organisers feel like organising. Variety is the spice of life.

Is your chapter open to non-members of the RNA?
It is. We welcome everyone writing romance or strong romantic elements. Basically lots and lots of writers. I think the idea is to have a support network and people to rely on. We have new writers and old hands sitting down together and exchanging ideas.

How long are your meetings?
We are very laid back so maybe a couple of hours of chat and food. Perhaps the odd drink. The main idea is to provide a space for writers to interact and share, to support each other and have a good time. It can be such a solitary life, so having a group is invaluable.

Can you give an outline of speakers/guests you’ve had in the past year?
None as yet, but once we hit our stride I’m sure we’ll start to arrange more.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2016?
We’re just about to start planning our June meeting. It would have been July but the date clashes with the RNA Conference so we moved it back a month. Then hopefully we’ll have another in September. We also have members having book launches (Hazel Gaynor in June, and myself in September, so naturally all members are invited to those as well).

What would you say makes your chapter of the RNA so special?
Very friendly and open, still finding our way so we’re hoping for lots of involvement from members with an aim to getting the type of group we want to be part of. There is of course the Irish gift for get-togethers to take into account as well. We are known for our welcomes, all one hundred thousand of them. We’re really looking forward to moving about the island a bit for different meetings and seeing different places as well. We could even work in some research trips along the way. I think ever writer has an adventurer inside them.

Does your chapter have a website, Facebook page or Twitter account?
We have a Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/groups/169428223430539/

Who is the contact for new members?
Ruth Frances Long, info@rflong.com, or the Facebook group.

Thank you, Ruth. Your enthusiasm is inspiring. We wish this new group in our family of chapters every success for the future.

This post was compiled by Natalie Kleinman
If you would like to write for the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Karen King: My First Chick Lit!

Writing my first Chick Lit

I’m so excited about having my first chick lit ‘I do …or do I’ published. It’s a dream come true for

me as this a genre I enjoy reading and have always wanted to write for, but I’ve been too busy writing children’s books for the past thirty years. Finally, eighteen months ago I took the plunge and decided to have a go. I’d already got my story idea so set about writing it up. I had to slot it in with all the other things I do for a living, commissioned writing (including six picture books for a publisher in India) and teaching writing.

At 75,000 words ‘I do…or do I?’ is the longest book I’ve ever written. Obviously children’s books are shorter, most of my books have been under 10,000 words, many under 500. I thought I’d never finish it. There’s a lot involved in writing a long book. A lot more planning, revising, keeping an eye on timelines, sequencing, continuity, making sure your characters are consistent and that’s before you even get started on the plot, subplots, conflicts and resolutions. I used a lot of post-its and note books to keep a check on it all.

On the plus side, I didn’t have to worry about vocabulary, sentence structure, the age group of my reader and all the other things that children’s writers have to consider as well as coming up with a marketable idea, thinking about where it will fit into the publisher’s list and writing it up in a pacey way that will grab the young reader straight away.

I have previously had two contemporary romance novels published, so had some practice, but at 50,000 words each they were shorter, and my chick lit was lighter, more humorous – I hoped! I angsted a lot over that book, lost a lot of sleep, thought I’d never make it but somehow I did. And Accent Press snapped it up. Then they gave me a contract for two more books. Two more long books of 75k words! I couldn’t believe it. I celebrated, kept reading the contract to make sure. Then I started plotting and planning, angsting and worrying – what if they don’t like this book as much as the first? What if I can’t do it again?  But every time I doubted myself I took a look at the cover for my first book and told myself if I did it once I can do it again. And I did do it again, book number two has been delivered and I’m working on book three. Here’s the covers, aren’t they gorgeous?

 About the story
Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy and his 'Monster-in-Law' mother Sylvia wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID images to take photographs of the extravagant wedding, Cassie has no idea what she's walking into. The elusive JM who is the newest photographer employed just so happens to be Jared, Cassie's first love and ex-fiancée, who broke off their engagement to follow his life-long dreams.

Jared is back to earn some cash before jetting off on his next wild adventure. When Cassie is asked to write an article with top tips and advice for Brides to Be, she jokingly writes a column depicting her current scenario and a co-worker submits it in place of the real article.

Cassie's column is soon making the headlines with readers asking the age old question Who Will She Choose?

About Karen:
A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.


Twitter: @karen_king

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Ellie Holmes: The Flower Seller

Today we are joined Ellie Holmes who talks about her debut novel 'The Flower Seller. Ellie's inspirational tale reminds us that persistence definitely pays off because, after twelve years, her novel is finally published this June.

I first joined the RNA in 2004 and eagerly submitted my manuscript The Flower Seller to the New Writers’ Scheme.  The report I received was tremendously helpful in highlighting where the weaknesses were and how they might be tackled.  I knuckled down and in 2005 submitted the reworked manuscript to the NWS, having taken into account a lot of what my reader in 2004 had suggested.  This time The Flower Seller made it through to second read stage so all the hard work was worth it.

2005 was also the year of my first RNA Conference.  At that conference I attended an Agents’ Panel discussion when the wonderful Broo Doherty (now of DHH Literary Agency) spoke of her wish to find new authors.

I didn’t think she could possibly be talking about me.  After all The Flower Seller still needed more tweaking and I felt sure Broo would only want people who were the finished article.  Then the fabulous Nicola Cornick of this parish (who at the time ran the NWS) spoke to me, asking if I was going to contact Broo. I explained my reasons for not doing so. Nicola, in the nicest possible way, gave me a metaphorical slap round the head and told me to contact her anyway. A few weeks’ later, the ink was drying on my contract with a London literary agent.

Over the years that I have worked with her, Broo has made me a better writer but despite her best endeavours we never landed that elusive contract for The Flower Seller or my later books.

As the marketplace changed, I decided I would go down the self-published route and it made sense to make The Flower Seller, which is so dear to my heart, my first release.  I took it out of the forgotten folder it had been tucked into on the computer and set about giving it a polish and an update (smartphones were only a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye when the book was first written). Taking my courage in both hands I set out on the path to becoming an indie author benefitting hugely from all those who have gone before and been generous enough to share their experiences.

The Flower Seller was finally published on 2nd June. A nice little postscript to this tale is that as I was putting The Flower Seller together for publication I made my first sale to a traditional publisher. I am used to those kind of kinks in the road now.

There are several things I’d like you to take from my tale:-

The RNA is a wonderful organisation and the NWS is a wonderful scheme.

Rewrites that are focused and with a purpose in mind are all part of the job.

We all need cheerleaders – mine were Nicola and Broo.
The road to publication may have as many twists and turns as your plot so be prepared.

About Ellie:
Ellie Holmes writes commercial women's fiction and romantic cosy mysteries.  Born in Essex but made in Cornwall, Ellie takes her inspiration from the beautiful Essex countryside and the sublime Cornish coast. Juggling commitments to family and friends alongside a part time job in the law and her writing, Ellie describes her days as hectic and her nights as long but says she wouldn’t have it any other way.



Thank-you for taking the time to tell us here at the RNA Blog about your experiences Ellie. We hope this story is the first of many we will see from you.

If you wish to write something for the blog or be interviewed please contact elaineeverest@aol.com

Friday, June 17, 2016

Bestselling author Anna Jacobs on her writing career and the release of her 75th novel

We are absolutely delighted to welcome author Anna Jacobs to the RNA blog today and to join her in celebrating the release of her 75th novel.

First of all, Anna, congratulations! What an awe-inspiring achievement. Please could you tell us a little about your first ever novel? What year was it published?
Persons of Rank was published in 1992 by Random House Australia, after winning a $10,000 prize in a big Australian writing competition. It’s a regency romance, because at that stage I was trying to write like Georgette Heyer, my favourite novelist. I’m still very proud of the book, but I only ever wrote two regency romances, because I found my own voice and style

Have you always wanted to be a writer? And did you have an occupation before you turned to full-time writing?
I wanted to be a novelist from the age of 10 when I figured out that someone had a job writing the stories I loved. I’d call myself a storyteller more than anything else these days. I was a teacher, lecturer and equal opportunity officer before I became a full-time novelist.

What are the biggest changes in publishing that you’ve seen since your first novel was published?
The Internet, of course. It wasn’t even around in 1992, well it was but not in high focus, so I never noticed. I don’t know how we’d manage without it now. One big impact is that it’s helped reduce the loneliness for authors because they can get on line and ‘talk’ to other authors in a variety of ways. For an author as isolated as I am – Western Australia is far away even from the rest of Australia! – it’s a lifesaver. Other changes are the number of books published annually, fewer publishers, ebooks, more independence for authors to self publish if they wish, so many things.

You have published under two names. Please could you tell us about your alter ego, Shannah Jay, who writes fantasy and sci fi?
I’m not writing as Shannah Jay these days and haven’t for a good many years, though I’ve self-published my backlist and there is a film option that’s just been renewed on one Shannah Jay book (Envoy). I cross my fingers and toes every time I think about it. LOL. I don’t do any PR for Shannah Jay these days. I’m flat out busy with Anna Jacobs.

Do you find there is one particular theme that you are fond of developing in your novels?
I like to write about people, especially women, overcoming adversity - in both my historical novels and my modern stories. In the modern tales I like to focus on older women making a new start in life, as indeed I did myself when I turned into a novelist - my first novel was published when I was 51. And I’m very fond of featuring large old houses, again in both types of novel. Houses can have such a huge influence on the lives of the people who live in them.

Many writers get asked this question, but after 75 novels we’re even more intrigued to know…where do you get your ideas??
I only have to go out among people to get ideas – or watch the TV – or read research books – or dream. There are ideas everywhere for people with a ‘what if’ attitude to life and a keen interest in their fellow human beings. I have a long list of story ideas noted down for future use. I just hope I live long enough to use them!

Whereabouts do you live? And is there any particular place you’ve lived – or that you love to visit – that you most enjoy using as a setting?
We live half the year in Western Australia and half in the UK, which makes life complicated but enriches it greatly, as we love both countries. I’m published in the UK, so it’s important to come here and touch base with my editors and agent. I particularly love to write about Lancashire where I was born and whose history is amazing. Since we bought our UK house in Wiltshire, I’ve been researching that beautiful county and using my part of it in some stories. But my favourite place of all is ‘the tops’ ie the moors  between Lancashire and Yorkshire. When I talk about ‘the border country’ I’m not talking about Scotland!

How do you spend your spare time when not writing?
With my lovely husband mostly. We’ve been married for 53 years and haven’t run out of conversation yet! We watch TV together and we’re both interested in history and big picture analysis of the world and cultures around us. We like to be with our family as well, two grown-up daughters and one grandson in Australia and siblings in the UK. My husband does have another love – golf! And I read a lot for pleasure, usually 3 novels a week.

What is your favourite romance novel of all time?
I don’t just have one after all the reading I’ve done. I love Heyer’s ‘Friday’s Child’, Nora Roberts’ ‘Born in Fire’ and Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Restoree’, probably the first SF romance ever. Heyer taught me so much about vivid minor characters, Roberts about pace and Anne McCaffrey about letting your imagination fly.

What’s your next writing project?
I write at least three novels a year, so there’s always something on the go. I’m currently writing the second book in a new series which hasn’t debuted yet. The Ellindale stories are set in the Lancashire Pennines and they’re loosely linked to the Rivenshaw series. The latter is set just after WW2, and the Ellindale stories are set from 1930 onwards. Book 1, One Quiet Woman, comes out later next year. You know how far ahead we work in the publishing industry. The final book of the Rivenshaw series (Gifts For Our Time) doesn’t come out till January 2017. It’s a wonder we writers manage to hold things together in our heads, we are so often to-ing and fro-ing between stories to edit or proof read or (bliss!) simply to tell a new tale.

Thanks so much for dropping in to answer our questions, Anna. Your writing career is an inspiration for many of us. We wish you all the best with your seventy-sixth novel!

It’s already written, and I’m working on the 79th at the moment.

A Time to Rejoice, Anna’s latest novel, is the third in the four-part Rivenshaw series, set mainly in Lancashire just after World War 2. Francis Brady is working day and night to salvage what he can from his bombed home in Hertfordshire before joining war-time friends as chief electrician in their new dream building firm in Lancashire.
But things are not going to plan: his chief partner, Mayne, isn't answering any of his letters and Francis' wife is having a change of heart about moving up north, while her parents seem set on destroying his reputation and marriage. Francis doesn’t want to break up with Diana, but how can he turn down the opportunity for a new life?
Meanwhile in Rivenshaw, newly married Mayne and Judith's plans to convert Esherwood house into flats have come to an abrupt halt. While clearing out the house in readiness for the rebuild, they've discovered that someone has been stealing valuables and hiding them in the old Nissen hut. Are they planning to return for them? And a gruesome discovery brings in the military police, causing further delays

Buy link

About Anna Jacobs
Anna Jacobs has had 75 novels published, plus short stories, poems and articles. She lives in both Western Australia and England, and produces powerfully written modern and historical novels that span the world. Her readers most commonly tell her that they can’t put down her novels! She doesn’t mind at all.

Anna is the fifth most borrowed author of adult fiction in the UK library service in 2014-15 and is equally popular in Australia.

You can find Anna on Facebook and on her website

* * *

This interview was brought to you by Helena Fairfax on behalf of 'The RNA Blogging Team'

If you would like to write for the RNA blog, please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Competition Monthly: June

Francesca Burgess brings us news of the latest writing competitions along with helpful tips on how to enter and succeed. Please post in the comment section below if you have been successful with a competition or know of one that would interest our readers.

There are a variety of competitions this month including the prestigious Costa Award. The prize
money is impressive and will attract a lot of people and a high standard. On the other hand, it's free, so what have you got to lose?

Whichever competitions you're entering, it's worth having a look at the winning entries from previous years, if they're available. Or investigating what kind of books have won novel prizes. They'll give you a feel for what kind of entry is favoured, whether it's literary, general, light, funny, quirky, dark and whether they prefer happy endings or are okay with ambiguous or non-happy endings. It's also worth having a look at what genres the judges write in (if they're writers, of course).

The Telegraph Travel Just Back competition is a little different, since it's nonfiction. Most of us holiday at some point, and I know there are those of you who also go on trips to do research for your novels. Why not use some of that knowledge to try and earn a bit of extra cash? Some of the past winners can be read online.

Power to your pen (or keyboard!), and good luck everyone.

**Closing soon**
The Luke Bitmead Bursery
Theme: Adult fiction only, over 60,000 words and completed, entrants not to be traditionally published with a novel.
Prize: Publication contract with Legend Press plus £2,500
Competition deadline: 15 July 2016
Entry: £10

The Costa Short Story Award
Theme:  Open, 1,000 words max.
Prize: £3,500 / £1,500 / £500
Competition deadline: 5 August 2016
Entry: Free
Details (scroll down to 'You can read the Terms and Conditions here')

Elbow Room Short Fiction Competition
Theme: Open, 3,000 words max. (Also poetry.)
Prize: £200 / £50 / £50. Anthology publication
Competition deadline: 14 August 2016
Entry: £4, £10 for three

Exeter Flash Fiction Competition
Theme: Open, up to 250 words max.
Prize: £100 / £50
Competition deadline: 31 August 2016
Entry: £4

Aesthetica Creative Writing Award
Theme: Open, 2,000 words max. (Also poetry)
Prize: £500. Publication in an anthology. Consultation with Redhammer Management.
Competition deadline: 31 August 2016
Entry: £15

Save As Writers Short Story Competition
Theme: "Rebellion", 3,000 words max. (Also poetry)
Prize: £100 / £50 / £25 plus publication in an anthology.
Competition deadline: 31 August 2016
Entry: £4

Red Hen Press Fiction Award (novel/novella)
Theme: Open. Minimum of 150 pages
Prize: $1,000 plus publication by Red Hen Press
Competition deadline: 1 September 2016
Entry: $20

Telegraph Travel Just Back Competition
Theme: A feature article on your travel experience, 500 words max.
Prize: £200 plus publication in Daily Telegraph Travel section and online. (Also £1,000 for article of the year.)
Competition deadline: Weekly – to be sent by midnight on the Wednesday to be considered for the feature ten days later.
Entry: Free

Francesca Burgess has been placed or shortlisted in a number of competitions including Twyford Writers, Winchester Writers' Conference, Chorley and District Writers' Circle, Flash a Famous Phrase, Meridian Writing, People's Friend and Writing Magazine. She's had stories published in magazines worldwide and in three anthologies, including Diamonds and Pearls and 100 Stories for Haiti. She is a member of the RNA New Writers' Scheme.
Twitter: @FCapaldiBurgess
Blog:     Write Minds Blog

Thank you, Francesca!

If you would like to write for the blogging team please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com