As Sarah Taylor, awards organiser, says: “With the highest number of entries the awards have had in their four year history, the standard this year was exceptionally high with many highly rated novels not making the shortlists. The breath and depth of quality writing in romantic fiction should be celebrated and that’s what these awards are all about.”.You can read the complete lists for all categories here but this is the line up for Adrienne’s category:
Best Author Published
Mary Bennet by Kate Allan
Sweet Occasions by Linn B Halton
Drumbeats by Julia Ibbotson
Fairlights by Jan Jones
Christmas Yves by Nicola May
The award ceremony is at the Festival of Romantic Fiction on the evening of Saturday 13th September 2014 at Leighton Buzzard Theatre. There are many fabulous events happening at the Festival to interest readers and writers alike. . . .the book fair in Leighton Buzzard High Street from 10am to 3pm and the Traditional Afternoon Tea with the Authors at The Green House, Market Square, Leighton Buzzard. Adrienne will be attending all of these but especially the Awards ceremony in the evening, The other members of the New Romantics 4, sadly cannot attend this year – Lizzie is chasing men in kilts in the highlands of Scotland (all in the interests of research, of course). June is packing up thirty years of her life in boxes prior to moving house and Mags is putting the finishing touches to her second novel. But we all say to our darling Ade – break a leg, sweetie, you have worked so hard to complete your ‘HEART’ trilogy and deserve all the accolades you can win.
Here we are at last years Festival of Romance held in Bedford with all our gorgeous books on display. Hopefully, we’ll all be there next year with our third novels in tow.
September already! How the summer has flown by. To celebrate the start of the new “school year”, we’ve made a short video about us and our writing – we hope you enjoy it. And if you have a look below the “Loose Women,” you’ll find a few words from each of us about where we are with our projects.
Two years ago I uploaded Tall, Dark and Kilted on Create Space and tentatively pressed the ‘GO’ button. That kick-started my adventure as an indie author and it’s been a whirlwind ride. I now have two books available on amazon, a raft of reviews, thriving social networking presence and a growing number of readers. It’s been hard work but I’ve done it and I’m proud to have travelled the road with my fellow New Romantics: June, Adrienne and Mags. What does the future hold for me? Hopefully a new novel published early 2015 and one a year after that. As I have said on my blog – Life is not a rehearsal, if you have a dream go for it. That’s what I’ve done.
Without Adrienne, June and Lizzie, my debut novel, Last Bite of the Cherry, was unlikely to have been published in 2012, nor would I be about to bring out my second (eBook and paperback), Twins of a Gazelle. Both have a similar theme – clever woman, emotionally naïve, initially makes disastrous choice of man (men) before meeting ‘The One’. Not the conventional Girl-Meets-Boy love stories, so not instantly appealing to agents or publishers, yet my select band of readers seem to have enjoyed Last Bite. Some say they look forward to my next novel. To quote Russell Grandinetti of Amazon, “The only really necessary people in the publishing process now are the writer and the reader” [see The Observer, 17.08.2014]. With 30,000 words of as-yet-untitled novel number three in the bag, I hope he’s right.
Firstly, a huge thank-you to the lovely readers who’ve bought, reviewed and supported mine, Lizzie, Adrienne and Mag’s books this year. You’ve been wonderful.
So … where am I now, with my current WIP?
Um, not quite where I was supposed to be.
My 1930s novel hadn’t been going well – piles of clean white paper glaring accusingly whenever I sidled past my desk.
Then a plea came, via Twitter, for 60’s memorabilia, and as I rummaged through bits and bobs – match-book covers from jazz clubs, Biba receipts, photos – BINGO! I had one of those bombshell moments, (the sort that usually strike in the middle of the night, only to be forgotten the next morning!)
This, I thought, is what I should be writing about. The Sixties!
So, in the next 6 months, I hope to be well on the way to completing a first draft of said novel – 60s London setting, photographer hero – while still keeping abreast of all strands of social networking (gulp) – because failure to do these things will result in being beaten with a big stick by Lizzie.
I recently rediscovered my ‘long lost novel’ aka first attempt, and was horrified to find I first typed ‘The End’ nearly 30 years ago!
It wasn’t until I hooked up with Lizzie, June and Mags, that this long ago dream finally came true. With two books published, The Hollow Heart and A Change of Heart, and the final in the trilogy, Secrets of the Heart, well underway, I am, at last, a novelist with readers who love my books! #followyourdream
At first sight, the programme for the first ever London Author Fair looked interesting, yet so much looks interesting these days, particularly if you’re the type of writer who finds business fascinating.
So after weighing up the pros and cons, money invested, energy expended, and a whole day writing sucked away forever – I used the first ever London Author Fair as a totally, valid excuse to whiz to the capital and procrastinate with all the other authors in attendance. However, if I thought a lazy day, swanning about, taking leisurely notes was on the cards, I was in for a short, sharp, kick in the pants.
The London Author Fair was high energy, full-on, non-stop and totally absorbing. With no less than 21 workshops – running con-currently – nine seminars and over 50 publishing professionals giving talks, hosting, teaching, sharing their expertise and industry knowledge; it was one of those days where I wanted to put everything on a memory stick and download it directly into my brain.
It managed to be a huge event and a one-to-one experience at the same time. I chatted with well- known literary agents, a couple of journalists, made friends with award-winning authors, learned about Discoverability – yes, there was some pretty amazing American input throughout – and generally had a brilliant day. All made even more pleasurable by the arrival of best-selling authoress and chum , Adele Parks, who spoke eloquently and realistically about the industry, making a staunch and much applauded defence of good books and good writing whatever the genre, length or format.
In short, the industry is not changing, it HAS changed; the task now is managing change; but fear not, I’ve seen the future, and it’s definitely author-shaped!
Today we’d like to welcome Georgina Troy to the NR4 blog.
Georgina has a new book out on 2nd April and we are thrilled to share a sneak peak of A Jersey Affair. Georgina lives in Jersey near the sea – well, most people do in an island only 9 miles x 5 miles in size. She’s always wanted to write and being an impossible romantic is always falling in love with heroes both real (hopefully), in fiction (definitely) and those of her own creation (absolutely).
A Jersey Affair is the second in a series of stand-alone romances based in Jersey, which Georgina hopes you’ll read, enjoy and maybe tell your friends about. The first book, A Jersey Kiss is out now.
Jilted by the man she was expecting to marry, Paige Bingham, a shoe designer from the tiny island of Jersey, decides to enjoy her honeymoon-for-one in Sorrento. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a mysterious entrepreneur, Sebastian Fielding, when she gets to Italy. Sebastian helps soothe her faith in men and gradually the pain recedes from her battered heart as he introduces her to the beautiful sites he knows and loves.
Unfortunately, not long after Paige returns to her small island home off the coast of France, she discovers that not only is this charismatic man’s company taking over the struggling store where her business is based, but that her concession is probably going to be surplus to his requirements.
How can Paige stop her fledgling shoe design business from falling apart? And what can she do to restore her reputation now that the paparazzi have published their untruths about her romance with Sebastian, as well as the unwanted publicity they’ve generated about, A Jersey Affair?
If you’d like a taste of Georgina’s writing, read on!
Chapter One – A Dizzy Height
“I hope you’re phoning to tell me you’ve arrived safely?” Olly asked, his tone willing her to confirm that she had.
“Yes.” She blew her nose once again, wondering why she always felt the need to phone him every time she became too miserable. “Nothing awful has happened since you dropped me off at the airport this morning and I haven’t changed my mind about being here, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
“Good. Now stop snivelling and go and search for an Italian bloke to take your mind off Jeremy.”
“Surely you don’t seriously expect me to be interested in anyone after everything that’s happened?” She slumped down on the balcony chair conveniently placed under the ivy covered pergola, grateful for its shade from the midday Italian heat.
“Don’t be such a drip,” he said. “Anyone would think your ex-fiancé was worth keeping. Now get off your bum, put on a pair of your more colourful sandals then go and explore Sorrento.
“Fine, but if I can’t find something to wear that doesn’t make my bottom look the size of a small Shetland pony, I’m not going.” Paige glanced at the yellow shift dress she’d just dropped onto the bed and wished she hadn’t bothered packing it.
“You’ll be back in Jersey soon enough, moaning about wasting your trip. If nothing else, you can get inspiration for your next set of designs.”
“You’ve been talking to my sister, haven’t you?”
“How can you tell?”
“You don’t know anything about women’s shoes and I’ve never heard you say the word sandal before,” she laughed.
“Clem’s worried about you. I had to stop her from racing round to Jeremy’s house and giving him hell for jilting you.”
Paige chewed her lip guiltily. She should turn to Clem before Olly, but worried about upsetting her sister further. Her one-person honeymoon had been the only good thing to come out of this mess. She still couldn’t believe she’d had the nerve to come alone to Sorrento. “I need time to think.”
“A break up is always hard and it’s only been a week since everything happened. You’ll be fine though, I just know it. Once you’ve had time to recover from the shock I bet you’ll come back here and be ready to focus on your shop again.”
He was probably right, but it was still a little difficult accepting that Jeremy had changed his mind about their marriage and she hadn’t seen it coming. Then again, at least now she understood why he’d been acting so strangely recently, so much for pre-wedding nerves.
“Paige, are you still there?”
Had Jeremy turned to Gretchen because she’d spent all her time thinking about future designs for her shoes like he’d said?
“Stop dwelling on that jerk,” Olly shouted, interrupting her thoughts.
“Ol, you’re the perfect best friend and always ready to listen to me.” She couldn’t help smiling, he knew her so well and she hated the thought that her situation was causing upset with those closest to her.
“Probably because you don’t often moan about things,” he laughed, his voice sounding tinny down her antiquated phone. “When you get back we can spend time working on the new website designs. I’ve had a few new ideas that should perk it up a bit.”
“Good, I know the one I have now isn’t nearly stylish enough for the image I want to project.” She brushed a fly off her ankle.
“Never mind that now. You go and make the most of that incredible place and I’ll speak to you soon.”
“I thought I’d have a look at the shoe shops here and see how their designs compare with mine.”
“You see?” Olly laughed. “You must be feeling a little better because you’re thinking about your shoes. Right, I’ll put some ideas together while you go and mooch around Sorrento.”
“Thanks Ol,” she said glancing towards the window and staring at the rays of white gold light filtering through the metal shutters.
“Good, now get out and I don’t want you back in that room of yours until it’s time for you to go to bed.”
“Okay, I’m going, but I won’t enjoy myself,” she teased before replacing the receiver onto the eighties-style phone.
Paige picked up her red clutch bag, slipped on the matching shoes she had designed to complement it, and set off toward the confines of the old town. Treading carefully along one of the narrow roads, she breathed in the scent of oregano from the spice-filled air. This was more like it. She walked down the steps from the back garden of the hotel, at times holding on to the handrail especially where they tilted away from the cliff face. She stopped and concentrating on not looking down, gazed across at the spectacular view across the sea to the other side of the Bay of Naples.
She gripped on tightly watching every step and breathed a sigh of relief as she reached the small supermarket at the beginning of the main thoroughfare. She was a little surprised to see so many designer shops dotted along on both sides of the road. Forgetting her nerve-wracking walk down there, she paid particular interest in the shoe shops and thought about the rumours her father had shared with her before her fateful meal with Jeremy.
What if her dad was right about De Greys? If the store goes bankrupt then she would have to start up her business elsewhere. It had cost most of her business loan just setting up her concession in De Greys, she didn’t think she would be able to afford to set up in another shop so soon after moving to King Street.
She stepped into the road, tripping over the pavement in her panic to avoid an oncoming car that almost hit her. Hands seemed to come from nowhere, catching her under her arms before her bottom smacked down onto the tarmac. She didn’t understand what her rescuer was saying to her in the confusion, but managed to regain her footing with his help.
“Grazie,” she said smoothing down her skirt and taking her bag when he picked it up and handed it to her.
She went to say something else, but the immaculate hero smiled briefly, said something and pointed to indicate that he had somewhere to go. Then he was gone among the crowd of pedestrians passing her by. Paige didn’t want to know if anyone else had seen her reckless attempt to cross the road, so stopped to gaze at the closest window display while she gathered her senses. It dawned on her that none of the shoes in this particular shop had designs as quirky as her own. She could see the prices were similar to those that she charged and the shoes were beautifully made. Paige walked in.
Many thanks for sharing your first chapter with us, Georgina.
The New Romantics 4 write romance in its many forms . . . romantic adventure/suspense, romantic comedy, historical romance and dark romance with a soft centre. It being Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d share the moment when our hero and heroines experience the coup de foudre which will change their lives . . . forever.
Read our extracts and let tell us . . . when did you know that you’d met the love of your life?
‘Take care of my heart, I’ve left it with you.’ Edward Cullen
True Love? Romance? Ha! Rare as hen’s teeth in England after the First World War. After a trip to Texas, (The 20’s Girl), Gerardina Chiledexter is sure she’s had her one and only glimpse of both.
Back home, she confides in her friend, Prim:
Minutes ticked by.
Then, a slow, slow shake of Prim’s head. ‘Oh … my … Lord.’ She folded arms across her chest.
‘You admire him, don’t you?’
‘No! No, not in that sort of …’
‘You do. You’ve fallen for him.’
‘Well …’ Gerry sighed ‘… what if I have? Nothing happened.’ A few lovely moments of closeness and understanding, a frisson of pleasure. Nothing more. ‘It’s the land that Coop loves, the Circle-O.’
‘I knew it. Oh, Gerry …’
Fallen? Gerry was thinking. Is that like casting yourself over a cliff? Out of control, tumbling, floating through air? How do you get back, then? Can a person ever recover?
If only he hadn’t kissed her.
She could have stayed as she was, a frustrated spinster, in her narrow monk’s bed. Like Prim and most other women here. All those slowly breaking hearts, under buttoned-up layers of woolly cardigans.
Must stop thinking about it, must, must. Such a bad idea. But thoughts kept running away, out of control. She’d forget, eventually, of course she would.
‘Mmmn, yes,’ she imagined herself saying, eons later, ‘of course. I remember it now. There was someone once. That man, the man with no last name. Wrong time, wrong person.’
How long would it take to reach that stage, that blessed blur of not remembering? Until then, whenever the urge to think of him came over her – his touch, his mouth, that kiss – she’d have to lie down and wait, until it passed.
Whatever it was, it was over. The end.
‘Anyway …’ she said brightly, to Prim. ‘I’m here now, aren’t I. I’m home.’
Home. With rain pecking at the windows and the entire rest of her life stretching out emptily, in front of her.
Never again, she said to herself. Never again.
Movie star, Ryan O’Gorman arrives unannounced on the island of Innishmahon, hoping to rebuild the relationship with the love of his life Marianne Coltrane. Marianne can’t believe he’s turned up, assuming their troubles are in the past, and though she’s never been happier to see anyone in life, she doesn’t want him to know that …just yet.
“You mean you don’t want me here,” his voice was harsh in his throat. He laid a hand gently on her shoulder. It branded like an iron. She swallowed. She could smell him. He moved closer, his musky sea-scent filled her nostrils. She could not breathe. She ducked under his arm and found sanctuary by the kitchen door. She opened the top half, letting the breeze cool her. He came to stand beside her, following her gaze out past the little windblown garden, the gate to the lane and the sliver of sea beyond. Grey clouds broiled above the Atlantic.
“Marie,” he whispered, “tell me you want me back.” She did not answer. He stayed there, looking out to sea. She stole a glance at him as he watched the horizon, the breeze lifting his hair, thumb prints of tiredness stamped beneath his eyes. He caught her looking at him, and moved to block her view, lifting her chin with a finger, eyes burning into her.
“Well?” he lowered his mouth to hover over hers, she tasted his breath. She stepped back, slamming the top of the door closed.
“You’re wet. Go and shower, we’ll talk later,” she dismissed him.
“Did I do the wrong thing?” he asked again.
“Yes, Ryan you did,” she replied.
“Don’t you love me then?” he spoke quietly.
“Yes, Ryan I do,” she told him, avoiding his eyes.
“Gotcha!” he shouted, making them all jump. “Knew I was still in with a chance, can’t resist me, mad about me, that’s obvious.”
She picked a cushion up and threw it at him.
“Don’t get carried away, boyo, we’ve a lot to discuss, things we should have agreed before now, before this.” She made a gesture encompassing them all.
He gave an involuntary shudder.
“Shower!” She pointed at the door.
He left, attempting a sort of squishy samba, she rolled her eyes as he sashayed up the stairs.
“God loves a trier,” she told Monty, who was waiting patiently for his soup.
August 1973, Monica Sommers, eighteen years old, and Will Ackroyd, twenty one, are on their way to Florence, Italy on Will’s motorbike stopping off to spend a week on the French Riviera:
At last Cap d’Antibes, unerring, Will found their quaint little hotel . . .
‘Monsieur, comme vous voulez, un chambre avec un grand lit.’ . . .
‘You specifically asked for a double-bed?’ Monica said
‘Ah, bliss.’ Sitting on the side of what looked like a comfortable modern divan, Will undid his boots and kicked them off, then flung himself backwards, bouncing as he landed flat on his back. He closed his yes. ‘No road winding in front of me.’ A few seconds and he sat up looking concerned. ‘I’ll see if we can swop for singles, shall I?’
She turned away to pull open wider the tall window, push back shutters, lean over the wrought iron balustrade, breath in warm Mediterranean scents, wormwood, rosemary and pine. There room overlooked a secluded garden vibrant with scarlet geraniums, magenta bougainvillea, and white jasmine. To her left, an awning shaded a terrace where the hotel guests could sit and eat. Swivelling round, she inspected their room, white walls, white linen, white-matt painted armoire, dressing table, except the white wasn’t white. In early evening the room shimmered shades of pale apricot, its shadows tinged amber.
She looked across at Will. He was watching her, wary. Wet with sweat his curls clung tightly to his head, his face flushed with heat, beads of perspiration glistened on his upper lip. He was beautiful.
‘There’s a small hotel . . . Softly, she sang the opening lines of a song she remembered from one of her father’s old 78’s.
Will’s smile of relief only made him more beautiful. She rushed over, and pushing him backwards, threw herself onto him. He responded to her kiss with such hunger, she was taken by surprise.
There was a certain something about him; an air, a manner of just being that set him apart from the other men in their Paul Smith suits and two-hundred-pound shoes. It was almost as if, like her, he was here under false pretences. Then she assured herself that it was his clothes – battleship grey linen and silk mix trousers, loose-fitting jacket and white Sea Island cotton shirt – that made him stand out. Nothing more. Except – perhaps – his Byronic good looks. Charlee grimaced. If she was beginning to think in clichés, it was time for her to put down the empty glass and head for the cloakroom.
She was intrigued by him, by his mood switches and sudden change of tack. There was a story here, one the journo in her wanted to investigate. Why, for example, did he have a long, grey cashmere scarf wound loosely around his neck in this overheated room. Affectation? How come his eyes were dark-circled beneath his tropical tan – as though he was recovering from a long illness? Why, despite his obvious youth and vigour did he look world-weary – as though he’d been there, seen it, done it – and had worn out the tee shirt?
‘You walked off without giving me a chance of a rematch,’ he said smoothly, looking over Charlee’s shoulder at the photographs of the exhibition. His warm breath stirred the tendrils of hair on the nape of her neck and a tiny shiver of reaction travelled the length of her body. Charlee put the frisson, and the goose bumps in its wake, down to the fact that the gallery was cooling now that the evening was almost over and the big doors were wide open.
At the end of each summer term we could look forward to an eight week break from rules, homework and school uniform. Since forming the New Romantics 4 and publishing our first novels last autumn we’ve learned that tide, time and readers’ expectations wait for no man. Last week, we met in Lizzie’s garden to draw up the road map for the months ahead, culminating in the launch of our second novels on Amazon as kindle downloads and paperbacks, individually launching our novels on our websites, attending the Festival of Romance and hosting four Red Carpet Road Shows in November.
Wisely, Lizzie wouldn’t let us have any prosecco until we’d been through the Agenda, and revealed our writing schedules for the next couple of months. They look something like this.
Lizzie’s Cunning Plan
Having edited #2 and had it back from beta readers I’m leaving it to ‘settle’ before giving it one final edit and then sending it to be checked by a copy editor and proof reader. Then the exciting bit, sending the finished manuscript to Jane Dixon-Smith to be formatted for e-reader and paperback, while I choose images for the front/ back cover. There will be a cover reveal in September, followed by a tweetathon when the book is launched – so you won’t have long to wait. Last time I held a tweetathon, I was locked up in Twitter Prison for sending out too many tweets!! Next time, you’ll need L plates, pink stetsons and bum-freezing skirts to take part in the fun. Oh, and if you can speak Russian, that’d help, too. Intrigued? Good!
I’m also planning to launch my brand new website www.lizzielamb.co.uk with some giveaways and competitions and hopefully starting a quarterly newsletter. And to thank those friends and readers who came to our launches last autumn and bought Tall, Dark and Kilted, I will be hosting a garden party at Chez Lamb on July 28th.
Too Cool for Skool – Adrienne Vaughan
Aha amigos, isn’t it strange how the’ Brrr…’ of the British Isles succumbs to the ‘Meh!’ of the Mediterranean whenever we are blessed with more than a few days of consecutive sunshine?
Well, here in the wilds of South Leicestershire, all the doors and windows are flung wide, the heat is on and we love it!
As the tabloids scream ‘SIZZLE’, ‘SCORCHING!’ and ‘PHEW!” with reason enough to display as much exposed flesh as they dare, even those donning layers of linen beneath exotic parasols have to admit, to be able to plan a meal outdoors is heaven. Even better to sip a cool cocktail, watching the sunset as a soft evening breeze flutters candles in the dusk. Blissfully romantic, even if you’re only sharing the view with next door’s cat!
My horoscope said recently that if I stopped looking elsewhere I would find paradise in my own back yard. On days like this, the stars are not wrong. As for editing the new novel…ah manana!
Have a great Summer, see you in the Autumn, when my new novel, A Change of Heart will be ready just in time for a cosy, fireside read.
An Ideal Summer – Mags Cullingford
My ideal summer holiday was, is and always will be to idle away endless days beneath the shade of a Tamarisk at the far end of a secluded Mediterranean beach listening to the soothing schurr-schurr of waves displacing pebbles. A vast sweep of bay, in the distance a harbour, a white-washed village, a backdrop of spectacular mountains, olive groves shimmering silver in the sun covering the foothills. Just being, observing the sea’s changing hues, at dawn milky opal, later aquamarine – turquoise – jade – sapphire – streaks of red-gold as the water reflects the setting sun. A change of scene, submerge, discover the plants and creatures below the water’s surface, or simply float on top face to the sun, eyes closed, let your body rock in its silky cradle. This restores a tired mind, heals an unquiet spirit.
This summer, “due to circumstances beyond my control”, I must be content to live vicariously while polishing my second novel, Twins of a Gazelle for publication in October. Calista Blake spends three weeks on the Greek island of Ithaca. Will the island’s magic work its spell, banish the disillusionment she feels about her marriage? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see.
Distractions From The 20s – June Kearns
This summer, after chop-chopping and pruning A 20’s Girl’s Guide to Ghosts and All That Jazz (still a working title! Eek!) – I’ll be mostly colouring in.
Like many of us, I suppose – when I start writing, it’s all light and shade. Then, some slash and burn, before adding quirky bits and tweaks that hopefully zizz the story up and bring it to life. That’s my colouring in.
But … desk is a mess of old bits of paper, crumpled post-its and blue-tacked bon mots (who said that? why did I need it?)
Plus, I keep drifting over to last, seductive stage, where I fling sequins and sparkly bits all over it!
That 20’s music, it’s distracting me. Tunes of the time. Sniffing out titles as snazzy as the (much later) George Formby hit, that someone in this house keeps singing: ‘If Women Like That Like Men Like Them , Why Don’t Women Like Me?’ (Oh, boy.)
I’ve found ‘Doo-Wacka-Doo’ and a few more gems. ‘Olga, Come Back to the Volga’. Other top 20’s titles, anyone?
No, no! Headphones off. Head down. Must get on. Apparently, someone’s arranging a London book launch for us this year. Ooh heck!
WHAT HAVE YOU GOT PLANNED FOR THE SUMMER? Please leave a comment – we’re dying to know.
Lizzie and Adrienne’s Literary Lunch
In a trail blazing moment the New Romantics 4 hosted a literary lunch at The Belmont Hotel, Leicester. (See the poster on our EVENTS page) Adrienne secured the gig through a long-standing business connection and co-presented it with Lizzie. The event was part of Leicester’s 2013 Book Fest and fitted in well with the NR4’s aims to bring their books to the attention of a wider audience. The majority of the twenty-three ladies who attended the lunch were businesswomen – although one brave gentleman (Rodney!) and a fellow writer (Lilian) bought a ticket, too.
Fortunately, Adrienne and Lizzie are no strangers to public speaking – so, the event held no terrors for them. Adrienne regularly gives talks to business leaders as part of her role as a MD and PR consultant; and after 34 years in education Lizzie declared that the audience was better behaved than the 350 primary children she regularly ‘entertained’ during school assembly.
The lunch consisted of a complementary drink and three courses followed by coffee – and the time simply whizzed by. The first talk was down to Adrienne and she described her reasons for becoming a writer. When it was Lizzie’s turn, she simply pointed to Adrienne and declared: “What she said!” – much to the amusement of the lunch guests. Between courses, Adrienne and Lizzie gave brief précis of their novels and then read an extract. This was followed by a question and answer session after a delicious dessert.
Their lunch guests were interested in all aspects of writing and were keen to know
- where Lizzie and Adrienne they got their ideas from
- if they’d be writing a sequel
- were their heroes based on real men
- how closely the heroines mirrored THEM !
- what was their next novel called and when would it be published
To round off a very pleasant lunch, Lizzie and Adrienne read a further extract for their novels, posed questions and awarded a prize to the winning entries. There was a quick signing session of the guests’ complimentary copies of Tall, Dark and Kilted and The Hollow Heart (cleverly included in the cost of the luncheon) and then the hard working executives returned to their businesses. During a short de-briefing session, the literary lunch was pronounced a great success and it is hoped that June and Mags will host a similar event lunch sometime this autumn when the New Romantics 4 publish their second novels.
…diary of a virgin book clubber!
As a fledgling novelist, I daydream about what it would be like to have readers not only enjoy my book but to overhear them discussing it; talking about characters, themes, the cover – that would make me feel like a real author, I sigh!
Imagine how I felt when the call came through?
February 23: Leicestershire, at my desk researching (ie daydreaming).
“Hi Adrienne, Deirdre here,” says a blast from the past.
“Dee! Haven’t seen you in an age,” says I.
“The thing is, I’m in a couple of book clubs here in Dublin and we want to feature your novel. When we’ve read it, would come and talk to us about it?” says she.
“Would I what?!” says I, booking my flight before we’ve finished talking.
But what had I agreed to? Not only have the Irish produced some of the best examples of English literature in the world, the Irish are very well read. Yikes!
April 11: Getting ready in my childhood bedroom, Inchicore, Dublin 8.
To say I am nervous is a heart-stopping understatement, I’m petrified. Much of The Hollow Heart is set in Ireland; I haven’t lived here for over thirty years. What if these educated, intelligent and opinionated women think my voice is unauthentic, my characters unrealistic, my story…well, hollow? The Irish are lovely, warm and welcoming people, but don’t imagine they won’t tell you what they think, especially if you’re ‘one of our own’.
Deirdre, trying to put me at my ease, chatted away, giving me a profile of my waiting audience, as we drove across the city to a well heeled coastal suburb, where I was welcomed into a stunningly beautiful home by a charming lady called Barbara. Barbara greeted me warmly and I was shown to a chair in the centre of an elegant lounge; eager faces nodded and smiled as we made our introductions – I could barely sip the delicious glass of wine our hostess placed before me. I need not have feared.
An animated discussion ensued. How do I write? Where do I write? Who are my characters based on? Then debates about themes – motherhood, forgiveness and romance as a genre; these ladies take their literature seriously, I was honoured they had taken the trouble to read my book. I left elated and glowing, if I had given them a fraction of what they had given me, the evening had been a success.
April 12: Fidelma winds down the window so I can hear the bells of Christ Church Cathedral as we drive by. My mother Marion and Deirdre’s mother Edna are in the car – it’s Friday night, it already feels like a party.
We arrive as Deirdre opens the doors to her stylish home filled with candles, white roses and laughter. I was introduced and handed a drink as we crowded into the room. Deirdre started the questions and in no time the girls were firing all sorts at me, from how a book is produced, to how to write good sex – Loose Women had nothing on us!
I’d made up a quiz based on the novel, which some of the girls took so seriously they even tried to look up the answers. Sheena, however was a clear winner, and I was delighted to present her with her own Hollow Heart pendant – she knew more about the story than I did!
Saying goodbye, I signed the Harte sisters’ copies, including a comment on Nuala’s favourite page 245 – you’ll need to read it to find out why it’s her favourite – and we headed happily home, ending my very first encounter with book clubs; two different but equally wonderful experiences, so special just recounting them makes me want to cry with joy!
These gorgeous, intelligent women made me feel like a real author, they took me into their homes and my novel into their hearts. If my writing has done anything, it has rekindled old friendships and made new ones – without doubt the best thing about this whole experience.
I’ll certainly be back when the sequel A Change of Heart is published later this year…that’s if they’ll have me.
Fantasising about my heart’s desire, you know gazing doe-eyed at people on trains, in restaurants, in fact everywhere, was becoming a habit. No, not searching for the love of my life you understand but for the other thing I so desperately needed…a literary agent!
It manifested itself in earnest at the airport. I was idly scanning rows of world-weary passengers, fiddling with clear plastic bags, when I noticed an attractive woman and found myself staring at her, and doing it again, wondering, just wondering. Read the rest of this entry →