Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Light Bulbs and Strait-Jackets by Johanna Grassick

Posted by Johanna Grassick
I’ll let you know a secret…I’ve been on Kate Walker writing courses before, so I know they’re always fun and really informative, and that’s why I signed up for the Advanced Romance Writing Course which runs every February in Fishguard, Wales.
© Fishguard Bay Hotel
Because she’d met us all on previous courses (to attend the Advanced course writers must have already been on Kate’s basic Writing Romance course), Kate tailored the course to our needs and requests, covering topics from character to conflict to sex (yes, we had sex on Sunday morning J). We were given exercises to get us writing and spark ideas for new characters, and our discussions really got things flowing so insights were flashing up around the room like light bulbs. 
As an unpublished writer what’s most valuable to me is feedback on my work, and we were offered a one-to-one meeting with Kate to discuss the work we sent in for the course. I came away from mine with a page of notes, ticks and scribbles all over my manuscript, and precious advice on how to improve my opening chapter.
Kate has been writing 25 years and had 60 novels published, so she’s a mine of information. “There are no rules”, she told us, when writing romance – even Mills & Boon books. It’s important to remember this because aspiring writers of the genre can regard the guidelines as a strait-jacket, when in fact publishers are looking for unique voices and new twists.
So “be brave” is the mantra I brought home with me.

Details of Kate Walker’s courses are on her website:
And Writers Holidays run other courses too:

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Next Big Thing - Never Trust a Rake by Annie Burrows

I've been tagged by fellow writer Anne Bennett to participate in The Next Big Thing, where authors tell you all about their latest book. So here goes!

What is the working title of your new book?

Never Trust a Rake
You can buy it here: Never Trust a Rake

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I have no idea - I was probably doing something incredibly boring and drifted off into a daydream. Why my daydreams so often feature Regency Rakes pursuing innocent young misses is a question probably best answered by a psychiatrist.

What genre does your book fall under?

Regency romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

There are no actors sufficiently rakish to portray any of the heroes I dream up. That is why I have to dream them up for myself, rather than becoming a fan of someone real (and therefore flawed).

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Rake meets his match in an innocent country miss.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

An agency? Do you mean, do I have an agent? No, I don't. But the books I write are published by Harlequin in the US, and Mills & Boon in the UK and Australia.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It usually takes me about 6 - 7 weeks to do a first draft of a book, during which I just fling everything I can think of at the page. Then I print it out to see what I've got, groan in despair, and start frantically revising. This part often makes me feel as though I'm shut in a dungeon trying to spin gold out of straw. When I've gone through the entire story to my satisfaction, I print it out again, and usually by this stage it only needs a few more tweaks before I feel it is in good enough shape to send to my editor.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can't compare my work to anyone else! I do the best I can, with ideas I think I've come up with all by myself - but who was it said that a writer's mind is a bit like a compost heap? I write the kind of story I enjoy reading, so I'm sure I've been greatly influenced by Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and everyone else who's ever written a regency romance since I've been old enough to read them. But I wouldn't dare say my work is like anyone else's - it would either make me sound as though I was boasting I was as good as them, or as though I was writing pathetically slavish parodies.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

Well, if you enjoy light-hearted regency romance, then you might enjoy reading about a man who doesn't trust women, but needs to marry to produce an heir, go about the business of finding a wife he can trust - and getting completely bowled over by the unsuspecting girl he targets.

The next author I’ve tagged to tell you about her new book is my fellow Novelista Trisha Ashley.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Launch Party for 'If You Were the Only Girl'

If there is one thing the Novelistas enjoy more than a good book, it’s a party to celebrate the publication of a good book. This month we met up for the launch of Anne Bennett’s If You Were the Only Girl, which is already at number 25 in the bestseller chart.

The lovely Anne Bennett with her new bestseller
The story is about Lucy, who is forced to take a job as a scullery maid at Windthorpe House, home to the aristocratic Hetherington family. When Lucy and Clive Hetherington fall in love, they are determined that the class difference won’t keep them apart. But it is the eve of the Second World War and Hitler’s troops are gathering.

Nothing like the feel and smell of a brand new book

 You can buy the book here: If You Were The Only Girl
The launch was held at the Travellers Inn, in North Wales, and after we'd toasted the book’s success we all enjoyed Anne’s wonderful chocolate cake.

A novel idea - anyone for cake?

Friday, 1 February 2013

If You Were the Only Girl by Anne Bennett

Thank you to all the people who read about my next Big Thing which was, of course,  the publication of my book, If You Were The Only Girl, which hit the bookshelves on 17th January.  Many events were planned to promote this book, but the weather had other ideas.  I was due to go down to Birmingham, where the book is set, to give talks on Thursday 24th and Friday 25th January, but Tuesday night it began to snow, and snowed all that night and through the next day. The libraries had to be closed and the staff sent home, and even the M6 was closed at one point. The promotion was understandably delayed for three weeks and the talks are now going to be on 14th and 15th of February, which I am really looking forward to.

The story We'll Meet Again did appear in My Weekly on 26th January however, and The People's Friend ran an article on me this week. The story I wrote for them, now titled She Couldn't Help It  will be in the next issue, which is all good news.  So now the next Big Thing is my launch, which will be next Friday and is for my Novelista friends to celebrate with me.  Champagne and cake will, I'm sure, be the order of the day so cheers to you all!