Old Newsletters

News - Spring 2012

I was thrilled to hear recently that my debut novel, Reprobate Lord, Runaway Lady, has garnered a second award. The book was voted the Cataromance Reviewers Choice for 2011- a great honour. And though I didn’t win the Romantic Times Best First Series Romance for 2011, the novel was one out of only five romances of all types published in both the UK and the USA to be nominated for the award. So a little glory for basking in!

The novel I self-published, Walking Through Glass, is selling steadily on Amazon though I don’t expect meteoric results. It seems that if you self-publish, patience is definitely a virtue, as is willingness to do a great deal of marketing. I believe in the book wholeheartedly but I’m not the pushiest kind of person and find it difficult to promote it as widely as I should. And, of course, marketing takes up a lot of time which means less time spent writing. And that’s where my heart is.

The manuscript for a fourth Regency romance is now with my editor at Harlequin and I’m nervously waiting to hear her verdict. There are bound to be revisions but I want her to like it as much as I do. If it’s accepted, I have one further novel on my contract with Harlequin but I’m hoping to put that on the back burner for a while.

Instead I want to start work on a book that’s quite different or at least begin on the research. I think there will be a lot involved but I know I’ll love doing it, so happy days ahead. My mother went out to India in 1937 to marry my father and I want to use that background as a story of romance but also of mystery. I have a stack of books to read on the Indian Army, the social and political situation in India in the late 1930s and on the lives of English families in the last days of the Raj.

When the book’s finished, I’ll probably self-publish again. But I’m not going to look that far ahead - it’s sufficient that I’ve a fascinating project in store!

News - Winter 2011

Some exciting news!

My very first book, Reprobate Lord Runaway Lady, has been nominated in the US by Romantic Times for their Best First Series Romance award. My editor at Harlequin is delighted as Romantic Times is well known and well respected. I’m feeling pretty happy about it too!

My next Regency romance has now been christened. It's to be called Society's Most Scandalous Rake and will be published in May 2012.

And the last piece of excitement but still very important: I’ve managed to publish Walking Through Glass (a Victorian time slip novel) on Amazon – and all by myself! I have to admit I had a little help with the cover design but I’m feeling quite smug that I managed to cope with the technical business of reformatting the manuscript for Kindle. For some, it must be so easy it’s laughable but for me it was a triumph!

Now all I want is for eager readers to download it. I really like the story and I had great enjoyment writing it, particularly doing the research which I loved. Fortunately there’s a lot of material available on the Great Exhibition but there were some areas of the book on which I could only make an educated guess. For instance, I could find very little on 19th century architects’ offices. In fact, I discovered only one photograph and that revealed some surprises. The ‘office’ looked more like a drawing room with a decorative mantelpiece, small side tables and easy chairs. It left me guessing where the architects actually drew their plans. I also had to guess at more mundane elements – what for example did they do for refreshments during the working day? I read somewhere that it was general practice to get drinks from the local coffee house – and there were plenty of those in Victorian England – and carry them back in a suitable container. So that's what I plumped for.

After winning the e-book struggle, I’m now trying to sort out a reasonably priced printed edition of Walking Through Glass. Meanwhile I’m delighted that the novel is ‘out there’ and hope readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

News - Autumn 2011

It’s now the fag end of summer or what has passed for summer here in the UK and it’s often the time of the year when people start thinking what they might do in the autumn. So here are a couple of dates which might be interesting for you as readers and writers of romance fiction.

The first UK convention on romance, The Festival of Romance, is taking place this October. The convention will give readers, authors, agents and publishers of romance fiction the opportunity to meet and talk. There are plenty of activities too: workshops, talks, competitions and fun events. Have a look at what’s on offer at www.festivalofromance.co.uk

September sees the launch of New Voices 2011. It’s a competition run by Harlequin Mills and Boon to find new authors for their lists, so if you’re interested in writing for them, keep an eye on their website at www.romanceisnotdead.com. Reading as many of their books as possible will give you a good idea of what they are looking for.

Autumn is also when my second Regency romance comes out in the UK (it was published in the US in June this year). It’s called The Earl Plays with Fire and is available from 7 October.

A third Regency romance should be published early in 2012. The novel is a sequel to
The Earl Plays with Fire but this time set in Brighton on the Sussex coast. So far, I don’t have an agreed title but watch this space!

News - Spring 2011

The great thing about submitting to Mills and Boon is that you don't have to
worry about finding an agent. They are one of the very few publishers who
encourage aspiring writers to submit their work direct. And if they think you've
got promise as a Mills and Boon writer, their editorial team will work with you to
help you produce a manuscript ready for publication.

The difficulty of getting an agent has recently been brought home to me
forcefully. I've just finished writing a mystery romance that doesn't fit the
requirements of a Mills and Boon historical novel. So I need to find a different
publisher which in fact means finding an agent who will feel passionate enough
about my book to attempt to sell it to a publisher.

So far I've had five agents reject me. They've said nice things about my writing
but none of them have been sufficiently hooked on the story to want to represent
me. I'm just about to send out my sample chapters to a couple more but from
what I hear on the grapevine, I will be very lucky to get anyone interested.

The alternative is self-publishing, either online or in print form or a mix of both.
There are numerous firms who offer this service, some reputable, some not. So I
need to learn more. I belong to an authors group in the South-East and by great
good fortune self-publishing is on the agenda for a forthcoming talk. Meanwhile
I'll keep sending out those sample chapters!

My second Mills and Boon novel, The Earl Plays with Fire, comes out in the US
this June and in the UK in October, and a third historical is currently with my
editor awaiting her opinion. So I have my fingers crossed for it – and for you,
too, if you're also struggling up the same hill.

News - Autumn 2010

Readers are very often aspiring writers, so I thought it might be interesting if I said a little about my writer's journey so far.

I guess most writers say they've always wanted to write and that's vaguely true of me, but I have to confess the desire was never really serious until a few years ago. As a child I wrote stories, as most of us do, and in my teens I wrote magazine articles which never got published. But it wasn't until my two children had left for university that I made any real commitment, by signing up for a class in creative writing. That class was very important to me. For a start it led to me producing a short story that won a writing competition but far more importantly it broke down the very real barriers I'd managed to create for myself.

You see, for many years I worked as a teacher and my subject was literature. Years of academic analysis left me feeling that I couldn't possibly compete. I'd try to write – a phrase, a sentence, maybe even a paragraph, then I'd look at it and think 'rubbish!' or worse. All the time this horrible censor in my head was telling me 'don't bother, you'll never be Virginia Woolf.' What the creative writing class did was tell me that no, I wouldn't be Virginia Woolf, I wasn't even competing. What I would be was me. My way of seeing things, my way of expressing what I saw, thought, felt, was wholly individual and that was OK, more than OK, valuable. It was a revelation and it set me on my present path. I would never have thought I could write a whole novel. In fact I couldn't have written a novel if it didn't suit me or if I'd been forced to submit myself to an agent's disapproval. By that I mean that historical fiction just felt right and Mills and Boon are one of the few publishers that accept unagented manuscripts.

So it had to be historical fiction and because I've always loved the early part of the 19th century, it had to be Regency. Once that was decided, the rest came fairly easily. It didn't come quickly though. I sent my first three chapters and a synopsis to Mills and Boon in June 2007 and didn't hear from them for eleven whole months. I'd almost given up hope but the wait turned out to be worthwhile when they requested the rest of the manuscript. According to Kate Walker's book, 12-Point Guide to Writing Romance, that was the gold rosette in responses. But the euphoria died quite quickly and the waiting began again. This time I heard nothing for eight months. Then in Feb 2009 I opened a letter from Mills and Boon giving me a detailed critique of my novel: there were things they liked and things they didn't like. Crucially they liked my 'voice', that will o' the wisp quality which is so hard to define. I was invited to revise the manuscript taking account of their critique or if I preferred I could submit another partial ms. I chose to revise as I didn't want to waste the love I'd lavished on my baby. And of course I couldn't let my characters down! So I spent three months trying to get the novel as right as I could and resubmitted in June. More silent months passed and then on a day in December when I was snuffling miserably on the sofa suffering from 'flu - and real 'flu at that - the call came!

It was hard to believe but it was true. A two book contract! Further revisions followed, a general tightening up which was entirely beneficial to the book, and I've ended up with a novel, Reprobate Lord, Runaway Lady that I'm really pleased with. I'm now on book number three (number two will be published in October 2011) and have somehow fallen into a whole new career. If you're seeking publication, my best advice would be to try hard to improve on your writing – read books, go on courses, attend workshops etc – but don't be too severe on yourself. Give yourself permission to write badly at times and learn from the experience. But make sure that you keep writing. The very best of luck!

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