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Best Book Launch Party – EVER!

On a cold and miserable February morning, June Kearns, Mags Cullingford and I set out to catch the 11.32 from Leicester to St Pancras. We had our friend Maisie with us and were looking forward to meeting our bestie, Jan Brigden later that day. Why were we there? Why, only to attend the BEST BOOK LAUNCH PARTY – EVER for Adrienne Vaughan’s latest novel, That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel.

‘Seahorse’ is Adrienne’s fourth full length novel but she has also written a book of poems and short stories, and produced two collaborative works. You can find out more about Adrienne, here.

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After lunch at the fabulous Betjeman Arms we sallied forth for some retail therapy, homing in on the new MAC shop where I bought some makeup brushes and WHISTLES where Mags bought a fabulous tunic . An Author has to look glamorous, right? And the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s  annual awards (aka the RoNAS) are just around the corner. Anyhoo, I digress . . . At 4.30pm we rocked up the a private room in the Betjeman Arms where Adrienne was waiting to greet her guests.

As friends, family, and fellow writers gathered, the excellent and attentive staff made sure that no one’s prosecco glass went unfilled. Adrienne, her agent and publisher Lisa Eveleigh and Natalie Keene, Associate Director at AVA PR,  had ensured that the room looked fabulous and books were available to purchase. Many of us had already downloaded Summer at the Seahorse Hotel but were keen to obtain a signed copy for our bookshelves.

Upon arrival, each guest was asked to choose a tarot card from a set proffered by Adrienne. I drew The Emperor and then settled down as Adrienne read extracts from ‘Seahorse’. Click  here  to read the first few chapters of That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel. You will also be able to download a copy here, too. Seahorse Cover Thumbnail

Earlier, Christina Courtenay had drawn THE KNIGHT OF SWORDS from Adrienne’s pack and that was declared as the winning tarot. Her prize was a copy of ‘Seahorse’ and a some chocolate to take home. Readings over, books purchased, we all queued up to congratulate Adrienne, and then had a great time catching up with friends. RNA members in attendance were: June Kearns, Mags Cullingford, Lizzie Lamb, Sue Moorcroft, Jean Fullerton, Cathy Bramley, Pia Fenton and Julie Vince.

All that remained was to gather New Romantics Press together for one last photo before catching the train back to Leicester.

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Fabulous blogger Anne Williams who’d written a review of ‘Seahorse’ earlier that week was also in attendance. You can read Anne’s review here. Two other bloggers/book reviewers have also reviewed Adrienne’s novel, Many thanks to Rosie Amber and Jessie Cahalin for their support.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone, I’ll be spending mine within the pages of ‘Seahorse’, I can smell the briny and hear the waves crashing on the shore from here.

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New Romantics Press welcomes Julia Wild

Julia Wild

An Interview with talented novelist – Julia Wild 

Firstly, I must thank Lizzie Lamb for inviting me onto this wonderful blog.

Julia, you have always been unfailingly kind and supportive of New Romantics Press so it is our pleasure to have you on our blog. So, pull up a pew and tell us something about yourself.

I’m the current Hon Secretary of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, I’m just beginning my third year in the position. The post involves dealing with day to day admin of the RNA taking and producing minutes after meetings. I’m lucky to be working with such a fabulous bunch of hard-working committee members. Until I joined the committee, I had absolutely no inkling of all the effort that goes on behind the scenes of the RNA.

 

 

 

My writing life began in childhood when I would dream up stories to star in. As time went on, I wrote stories for chums, involving them and their choice of pop star/film star – or boy in our class. It was always romance, at its most innocent.

Before I married I had a variety of jobs, bank work (was politely asked to leave due to numeric dyslexia, which I didn’t know I had) Nightclub waitress (mini-skirt, butcher’s apron, white knee boots) loved it – but had all my tips stolen from apron pocket. Needlewoman Shop assistant in Regent Street, legal secretary…

 

 

 

As you do I married, had children, and then one fateful Saturday in 1989, I was given a Saturday job looking after a double glazing showroom. Well, as you can imagine, it wasn’t the busiest shop in the street! Once I’d done a bit of dusting and hoovering, I pulled a romance book from my handbag and began reading… And pretty soon thought: ‘I can do better than this.’ Anyone who writes knows – it’s seriously not that easy and there is so much you can only learn by actually writing. The obsession began. I wrote tomes – a contemporary crime/romance, three whopping historicals – 250 thousand words each – typed and retyped many times!

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In 1993, I won a competition to spend a week on a historical writing course and whilst on this, one of the tutors, the late Pamela Cleaver said I must join the RNA. I joined the New Writers’ Scheme and spent until 1997 submitting a variety of historical, contemporary romances and medical romances until in 1997, my book was accepted for publication. It was called Dark Canvas and went on to win the RNA’s New Writers’ Award (now the Joan Hessayon Award). Since then I had another four books published and Illusions won the RNA’s First Romance Prize (now the Rona Rose) in 2003.

 

 

 

The publishers closed though in 2003 and in 2014, when I was made redundant from my library post of 18 years– I decided to go through the process of publishing my backlist. Once I obtained the rights back, with the help of the Society of Authors, who are amazing. I had help and advice on self-publishing from several RNA members – Lizzie Lamb included (thank you, Lizzie!) Freda Lightfoot and Jenny Haddon. I’m sure there are more who I spoke with – apologies for not mentioning your names.

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One of the highlights of self-publishing was to bring out a new book, Moon Shadow – a book that was accepted by two publishers but never made it to print. In 2016, I brought this one out and it felt wonderful to free it from the office drawer at long last. A lovely university art graduate called Bori worked on the covers for me, and as anyone who has been involved in this process will know – it does take a lot of tweaking.

To read a sample, buy or share this book, click here. 

I write as Julia Wild and have recently freed my 18th Century romances from their corsets in the cupboard. One of them is currently with my editor friend who will tell me honestly whether it is worth working on! I hope so – I did shorten it from 250 thousand words to 96 thousand words, and I think when you do that, you can never be sure it has worked! Time will tell.PhotoFunia-1464513640

Before I leave, I must say thank you again to Lizzie Lamb and the New Romantics’ Press Blog for generously inviting me along here.

The pleasure has been all ours, Julia. See you very soon.

Julie Vince (Writes as Julia Wild) – do go over to her Amazon page for reviews, blurbs, and much, much more about her books. 1-PhotoFunia-1496071553

New Romantics Press @ the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference

Two members of New Romantics Press – Lizzie and Adrienne, travelled to Telford to attend the Romantic Novelists’ Association‘s conference. First stop was the LAMB INN – most appropriate, or so we thought – until we discovered it was the-inn-which-had-no-food. They were prepared to make us a tuna sandwich (thanks, but no thanks) so we quickly got back into Adrienne’s car and headed for Harper Adams University.

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The eponymous Lamb Inn – which had run out of food!

Luckily, we managed to hit the snack bar before it closed, then high-tailed it to our rooms where we unpacked and got ready for the highlight of our day: the Indie Authors’ Cocktail Party,  which Adrienne and I hosted in our kitchen. The guest of honour was lovely Freda Lightfoot  (author of over 48 books) who went from saga writer to hybrid author, publishing her own backlist on Amazon in 2010. Freda was joined by another hybrid author, Margaret Kaine who has been a great supporter of NRP since it was first formed. Listening to Freda’s fascinating summing up of her career, we wish we’d put our books on Amazon before the algorithm changed and T&C became less favourable. The old adage time and tide wait for no man certainly

The old adage time and tide wait for no man certainly applies here. Cue clock face …..

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Tempus Fugit – The clock tower at Harper Adams University

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Freda talking to Margaret Kaine, hybrid author and supporter of NRP, about the difference between ‘then’ and ‘now’.

The purpose of the party was to celebrate the many successes achieved by indie authors, such as New Romantics Press and others, and to celebrate them. In recognition of the changing face of publication, the RNA  established the Independent Author category almost two years ago. Lizzie was the second member to make the transition from the New Writers’ Scheme, with Alison Morton pipping her at the post as the first! After three years Independent Authors become full members of the association and have voting rights accorded to them. Here’s a snapshot of some of the Incredible Indies who joined us at our drinks party, along with newly designed Chair of the RNA – Nicola Cornick and Vice-Chair Alison May.

Recent blogs have concentrated on the marvellous panel talks and workshops organised by members of the RNA. But this post is all about how we spent the weekend networking, talking to agents, meeting editors and generally having some downtime after publishing ten books between us in under five years. Twelve books, if we add on June and Mags’s books, too.

One of the best parts of the conferences is touching base with friends we only see on social media and this conference was no exception. Shrieks of delight and recognition greeted us every time we turned a corner and bumped into old friends.

The gala dinner is always the highlight of such events and Harper Adams did us proud, ensuring that the food was top notch and banished all thoughts of the tuna sandwich we’d earlier turned down! Lizzie was glad that her new dress from GRIZAS (Lithuania) had arrived in time and didn’t clash with Adrienne’s zig-zag catsuit. Purrfect.

One notable absentee at the conference was the late Carole Blake, a wonderful agent and great supporter of the RNA. Sadly, Carole died last autumn and this fabulous quilt was auctioned off in her memory. As a result, enough money was raised to pay for two delegates to attend the conference in Leeds next summer. Carole would have heartily approved.

At the end of the gala dinner, two lovely NWS members sought Lizzie out to tell her how much they’d enjoyed TALL DARK AND KILTED. Next day, they bought more of her books

Lizzie and Adrienne went their own way during the conference, attending those workshops which took their fancy, but meeting up back in the kitchen to share their experiences. Lizzie especially enjoyed the TIME SLIP seminar and Adrienne became a SCREENWRITER, albeit temporarily. Perhaps she’ll turn her Irish trilogy into a film? Wonder who’ll play the hero? Aiden Turner, perchance?IMG_4897.jpg

To round up the conference, Lizzie attended the ‘warts and all’ talk given by Mandy Baggot on her path to publication. New Romantics Press respect Mandy’s work ethic and how she’s made the transition from indie to contracted author at prestigious Ebury Press. Lizzie will be writing up Mandy’s talk for a forthcoming edition of Romance Matters, edited by Adrienne.

Well, that about wraps up this personal take on #RNACON17. Hope to see some of you at the Winter Party or an RNA Chapter Meeting very soon. Footnote: neither June nor Mags could make the conference this year and were missed. We hope they join us at the next one in Leeds, or at the Historical Novel Conference in Glasgow August 2018.

And finally, a big thanks to everyone who organised this fabulous conference – and a couple of photos which sum up the spirit of the conference for us and which we hope will leave you smiling –

And our favourite, taken by Anita Chapman . . .

Fifty Shades of Plaid – or why Lizzie loves a kilted hero

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I’ve always loved romantic heroes, be they highwaymen, pirates, Regency bucks or men in kilts.

I think the element of ‘costume’ removes the hero from the real world and transports both him and the reader into the realm of fantasy. The costumed hero is, generally, aristocratic – and while he does not have to work to earn his daily crust, he often has emotional scars which only the heroine can heal. And, in the case of men in kilts, there is the additional tease of whether or not they’ve gone ‘commando’ , in true Scottish fashion.  So, while I loved the Wicked Lady, Frenchman’s Creek and the Scarlet Pimpernel, my favourite books and movies are Scottish-themed.

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My interest began as a child in Scotland, reared (courtesy of Saturday morning cinema) on the exploits of highlanders featured in such movies as Rob Roy, Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Ghost Goes West (one of my favourites) and -sob- Grey Friar’s Bobby.  After the movie (or fil-um, as we pronounced it) the children in my street would re-enact Rob Roy’s leap and subsequent escape through the waterfall, and the scene from Kidnapped, where Davie Balfour is almost murdered by his evil uncle. Our dogs were dragooned into being “Bobby”, loyally guarding his master’s grave on Grey Friar’s kirk. But they never quite ‘got’ what was required of them and were always wandering off, much to our annoyance.

The girls, of course, loved to act out Flora Macdonald helping Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape over the sea to Skye.
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In June we visited Scotland, travelling as far as Skye to see the Fairy Pools and  Flora MacDonald’s grave, amongst other things I wanted to research/double check before publishing for my forthcoming novel SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS.

The written word had its place, too; we knew Young Lochinvar off by heart and would declaim:

“He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone . . .

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,

He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;

But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,

The bride had consented, the gallant came late.”

I frequently found myself in trouble because I wanted to be Lochinvar, and wouldn’t take my turn as ‘the Fair Ellen.’ Nothing much changed there, then.

Those images and the tales of brave Covenanters and Jacobites stayed with me  as I grew up and read more Scottish themed novels . . . The Jacobite Trilogy by D.K. Broster (falling in love with Ewen Cameron), The Lymond Chronicles (who could resist Francis Crawford?)  and, more recently, the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon featuring uber-hero Jamie Fraser. For me, he is the ultimate kilted hero and has it in spades – looks, sense of honour, loyalty, is sex-on-legs and can speak Gaelic. If you’d like to see images of Jamie Fraser, check out my Pinterest board and you’ll see what I mean. I’ll even admit to subscribing to Amazon Prime so I could watch the TV Series: OUTLANDER. For me, a hero wearing a suit, carrying duct tape, rope and plastic ties just doesn’t cut it. Give me an exiled, Jacobite laird every time.

Which brings me full circle to my novels. In Tall, Dark and Kilted my hero is sexy laird Ruairi (Roo-ary) Urquhart who has to fight to safeguard his land and inheritance.

One week to go (3)

In Scotch on the Rocks I give you kilt-wearing, gorgeous Brodie – an American with auburn hair, who arrives on Eilean na Sgairbh on the back of a storm wind and turns my heroine’s life upside down.

Share with us your favourite ‘hero’, whether in book or film.

now available –

NEVER LET ME GO

 We all have books we simply can’t bear to part with because, like the old friends they are, they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin.

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The oldest book in my collection is Clarendon’s History of the Great Rebellion (1858) followed by The Wild Bird – Margaret Stuart Lane, (1933) The Scarlet Pimpernel (1927), The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel, Rupert of Henzua (1930).

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My other  ‘keepers’ are the books which saw me through from girlhood to womanhood: Greengage Summer, I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Dud Avocado.

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With the fickleness of youth I abandoned these when I discovered Jilly Cooper’s novels (1976).  My love of rom coms  developing within their pages  before coming full circle with Bridget Jones in 1996. 

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I can’t let go any of my penguin classics or historical  romances by the likes of  Georgette Heyer, Daphne Du Maurier, Jean Plaidy, Margaret Irwin, and Anya Seaton. My particular favourite – Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine.

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When I want to remind myself how to write humorously, I re-visit Wodehouse, Terry Pratchet, Tom Sharpe  – and the anarchic Catch 22.

I  also treasure my poetry books . . .  John Donne, W.B.Yeats, The War Poets, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin.

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And in particular, The Mersey Sound – Adrien Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten which reminds me of when I was recovering after an appendectomy in Grantham General (1970).  I was reading poems to the other patients in my ward and causing such hilarity that it was confiscated by the ward sister until I was discharged. Honestly . . .

I have two comfort reads Tristan and Isuelt by  Rosemary Sutcliffe, (so beautifully written) and Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford which is great fun. I want to spend the afternoon with the Mitford gels in the Hons Cupboard discussing topics considered unfit for young ladies.

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Want to come with me?

So come on, trade – what’s your favourite book?

THE ONE YOU’LL NEVER LET GO.