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Happy Birthday New Romantics Press

New Romantics Press - Five YearsIt’s five years since New Romantics Press published their first novels. We won’t repeat how the group formed, our path to publication has been covered in previous posts. Here we are in 2012 looking all fresh faced and hopeful. So you ask, what have we achieved since then, and what next? Cue drumroll and clash of cymbals.

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Lizzie Lamb

A retrospective is a great idea. It gives us a chance to thank readers/reviewers/bloggers and friends for the help and encouragement NRP has received over the last five years. I have a #1 bestseller (historical Scottish) and #3 bestseller (Scotland’s/Highlands and Islands) under my belt and have rubbed shoulders on Amazon with Diane Gabaldon and Jenny Colgan. I look at my four novels and ask myself: did I really write those?  It turns out that I did. I’m now working hard on a romance set in Wisconsin USA, then its back to Scotland and the Black Isle for #6. Thank you for travelling with me on this amazing journey. 

 

From Wednesday 22nd November to Wednesday 29th November my novels will be available to download for 99p. So, here’s your chance to stock up on some great romances and hunker down in front of the fire with until the first shoots of spring appear. 

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June Kearns

First, a huge thank-you to the lovely readers who are still discovering my first two books and reading and reviewing them!

On to book three, where I’m currently in the middle of 1960s London, unravelling the lives of three women (and one man) when their histories suddenly collide. The mother, no longer alive – a former D-Day Dame. Her daughter Lillie, now in the midst of an exploding London fashion scene, together with Margaux, the Frenchwoman who brought her up – formerly a seamstress at a Paris fashion house. Add an arrogant American photographer on a mission to that mix, and shake vigorously!

(I was in London myself at exactly that time and have probably been enjoying the research a bit too much!) Publishing date? Spring 2018. A headsup – my novels will available to download for 99p from 23rd November – 29th. So, fill up your kindle. 

Adrienne Vaughan

The last five years have certainly been a whirlwind. To achieve my life’s ambition to become a novelist is, without doubt, a dream come true and quite simply wouldn’t have happened without the support, encouragement and friendship of Lizzie, June and Mags.

To date, we’ve independently published a number of highly-acclaimed and award winning novels including my series of Irish-American romantic suspense – The Hollow Heart, A Change of Heart and Secrets of the Heart – each shortlisted for reader awards by the Festival of Romantic Fiction. Together with my collection of short stories and poems, Fur Coat & No Knickers – recently shortlisted for the coveted Irish literary CAP Award – this now means I have four warmly-received books being enjoyed by readers every day. What a thrill!

 My latest novel That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel, is published in January 2018 and in honour of this and my forthcoming birthday, I’m delighted to offer all my books for 99p for one week from Tuesday 21st November – Enjoy!

 

Mags Cullingford

Where I am now

Five years on, I am half way through writing my third novel. My intention was not to be so ‘palely loitering’. Regrettably, this tantalising stage was reached eighteen months ago, but real-life events have had to take priority. So, no ‘writer’s block’ to report as a sorry excuse, or losing the plot by having no idea of what happens next. That’s all there in my head, and now, with the Fates’ permission, I plan on publication by Midsummer 2018.

My third novel – title yet to be decided – is a departure from my first two. In both, a clever but emotionally naïve woman falls for the wrong man, or men, before meeting the right one. Number three involves mystery and intrigue although, inevitably, tortured relationships do figure. Private investigator, Forbes discovers past secrets and lies after Lexie Neave, the only daughter, and heir of a single well-heeled parent, is threatened after her mother’s suspicious death – and begins: Alexandra Neave, you now have something valuable, very valuable which by rights is mine.

Link to author page:  http://tinyurl.com/qj2hzlf 

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Here’s a slideshow of some of the highlights of the past five years.

 

 

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Passion, Tenderness, Love – or 50 Shades of Greece

Mags pic 2And now for something completely different to follow June Kearns’s thoughtful and humorous Romantic Lurve – or 50 Shades of Beige.

Greece is oh so not monochromatic beige or grey. Her colours are intense, sublime –

Adam wished he could paint, sea-jade, sapphire, fir-green, brilliant white, Cal an ideal model . . . creamy skin deepened to tawny gold . . . hair bleached lighter by the sun, caught the afternoon light. She lolled like an odalisque in the prow of the boat. He wished he could paint like Matisse . . .

The scent of earth-rooted herbs from the rocky shoreline was intense, an invisible umbilical cord connecting them to their Earth Mother.

Beguiling to the eye, Greece is a feast for all the senses.

They ate their first Greek salad of the year dressed in rich olive oil . . . tomatoes flavoured by the hot sun, cucumber crunchily refreshing, slices of sweet red onion, succulent olives and tart green peppers topped by a slab of creamy-sharp feta sprinkled with basil. They drank white wine full of fruit with an aftertaste of honey.

. . . She wanted to be alive to the sounds and smells of Ithaca, schurr of sea on shingle, those unrelenting cicadas . . .  feeling the sun’s warmth on her body.

[From Twins of a Gazelle]

Mags pic 3Surrounded by such sensuality, such fertility, little wonder Shirley Valentine didn’t dream of “being bent over the hostess trolley and beaten on the bottom with Woman’s Weekly” [see 50 Shades of Beige]. Instead, she swam naked in water like silk on the skin – you perhaps know how it feels. Afterwards, dried by the sun’s warmth, she chose to have hot sex with Costas on his boat. And, finds out who she really wants to be, just as Calista does in Twins of a Gazelle.

In our culture, our attitude to sex seems ambivalent. We cloak our uncertainty with humour, and, prurient, veer between being curious about its sterile mechanics – pornography, BDSM, ‘I **** hard.’ – Or, afraid of feeling too deeply, inhibited settle for something almost asexual. Fondness steeped in a superficial sentimentality which has little or no bearing on the rough and tumble (no pun intended) of a sexual being.

Where’s passion – ardent love; sexual desire; an enthusiastic interest or direction of the mind; [Chambers Dictionary].

Mags pic 1Where’s love for another so intense, “You love her because everything about her makes your heart sing.’ Will was never so emphatic. . . . ‘Is that how you feel about me?’ ‘Since I set eyes on you,’ he said, returning her kiss. [From Last Bite of the Cherry]. Something so fierce to begin with it will sustain a relationship “in sickness and in health”, through all subsequent trials – paying off the mortgage, rearing children, learning to tolerate one another’s irritating foibles.

MetaxaIn my opinion, during the first throes of passion, the mutual pleasure and enjoyment of each other’s naked bodies is a given with no need for the titillation of concealment. If, when I write about love-making and sex, I try to make what happens integral to who the characters are and will become. Love scenes which do raise the temperature, and arise out of the natural progression of the plot. I appreciate June’s point ‘that what floats my boat, may well scupper yours’, but I very much hope I don’t cause my readers to cringe with embarrassment. Only they can say whether I do or not.

A thought to leave you with – “To fear love is to fear life, and those who fear life are already three parts dead.”  [Marriage and Morals, Bertrand Russell 1929] No chance of that if you surrender to 50 shades of Greece. And afterthought, passion can also mean suffering. By ’eck, so can love, and then some.

Mags Cullingford

LOVE CAN’T BE HURRIED…

…NOR COULD TWINS OF A GAZELLE, MY SECOND NOVEL!

Twins of a Gazelle MEDIUM (2)Twins of a Gazelle is out, a mere year and three months later than my New Romantics Press co-conspirators got out their seconds, the other fab three, Adrienne, June and Lizzie. My small band of readers are probably wondering, ‘So, what took you so long?’ Taking my cue from The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”, I couldn’t hurry Twins of a Gazelle. No matter how hard I tried, I just had to take as long as it took. How (see below) will probably explain everything.

Way back in March 2014, Sarah Houldcroft told us what every writer needs to know which is what readers want to know. I will do my best to answer her five questions.

1. What inspired you to write your novel?

Twins of a Gazelle began with a house nestling in the Leicestershire countryside. Over the years I have regularly driven past this house very much like the one in the picture [insert jpeg of Calista’s house]. I thought, one day I shall write a story about the people who live there. Lonely, disillusioned, contrite Calista Blake and her charming, wealthy and manipulative husband Adam Burgess seemed ideal occupants. They began to haunt the house as they did my imagination. BUT, Calista needed to escape her comfortable prison and where better than to the enchanted Greek island of Ithaca where she becomes spellbound by PJ Wood.

The Old Rectory

2. How, why and where do you write?

catEasiest one first, where, here in my small back room. Not in a café, a library or on the kitchen table, an attention-seeking cat is distraction enough, though interruptions from The Long-suffering One with coffee or tea are always welcome.

Easier second, why, because I must or I would go ever so slightly madder.

How, slowly and with difficulty. I start with a character, to-date, a woman, clever, successful at what she does. Her flaw, to begin with, she is emotionally naïve. In both Twins of a Gazelle and Last Bite of the Cherry, the main character’s story-thread is interwoven with that of a second female character who started out as my heroine. On reflection, theirs was, for me, too straightforward, not so Calista’s in Twins of a Gazelle, nor Monica’s in Last Bite of the Cherry. I like to probe their character, their motivation, their psyche, find just the right words to convey their state of mind, their emotions, and the undercurrents beneath an-on-the-surface ordinary situation. All this is equally relevant to the men they fall in love with, the two or three or more ‘heroes’ before they find ‘the one’. To me all my heroes are lovable in their own way, even Adam. As a reader, please feel free to take your pick. My novels are so not boy-meets-girl, jump through a few hoops and then live happily ever after. For me, there are no endings, just new beginnings. At the end, I would like my readers to think, ‘Knowing them both as well as I do now . . .’ Maybe some do.

Afterthought: One of my reviewers of Last Bite of the Cherry wondered if the ending would have been ‘happy’ – to my mind it was more like ‘satisfying’ – if the main protagonist had been ‘poverty struck’. If I were to write about people struggling to make a living, feed their children, becoming homeless, that would be something quite else, which brings me to question 3.

3. Have you experienced first-hand any of the aspects in your books?

Well, I have been known to fall in love with unsuitable men, not unsuitable in themselves, just not for me. That’s character-building and informative. Makes you think ‘What do I really, really want?’ Answer: ‘Not this’. Also, many moons ago, I took myself by surprise by becoming pregnant. Now there’s a surreal experience. Anyone agree?

4. Did you base your character on a real person?

My characters come from my imagination based on many years’ observation of the way people are and behave towards each other. At social gatherings, events, meetings, airports, in trains, part of the time, most of the time I love sitting back people watching. Fascinating.

5. If so, was it you?

I suspect I do what most writers do which is imagine myself as the person I’m writing about at any given time, what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing, smelling, doing. I try my best to make it ‘real’. Then it’s me in so far as it’s what I may have thought, felt etc. in similar situations.

‘Nuff said, I think. I shall now sail off into the sunset in PJ Wood’s sloop.

PJ's sloop

Extract from Twins of a Gazelle:

‘PJ Wood.’ She took the hand he extended. Not used to callouses her turn to recoil except she didn’t. ‘Everyone calls me PJ.  Not even my mother has the courage of her convictions.’ He spoke clear, educated English with just a hint of mid-Atlantic. She refused to ask why he was known by his initials.

‘Calista Blake. I mean Burgess.’ He took the chair opposite. Whilst he discussed with Marcos what he would eat and drink, she could observe him without seeming rude. Beneath his polo shirt, he was lean and sinewy, the ideal shape for a long-distance runner. She wondered how he earned his living. ‘Are you eating?’ He smiled across the table. His face lit by light from inside the taverna, his eyes startled her. They were the deepest lobelia-blue. ‘I’ve already eaten.’ Not very much, her insides had been a tangle of knots. The thought of spending the night up at the villa alone . . . Anyone would think she was not used to being on her own, and Kioni was the least threatening of places. ‘Only a salad,’ Marcos said. ‘Why don’t I get Petros to prepare you the mixed fish dish for two? PJ would like that.’ He agreed he would. She was tempted. The wine had helped her relax and the mezedhes had given her an appetite. A meal would prolong the time she could spend in company. Her eyes met PJ’s, his look as guarded as she felt.

Twins of a Gazelle, by Margaret Cullingford, available on Amazon –http://tinyurl.com/qj2hzlf